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Discussion in 'Politics & Current Events' started by American Brummie, Sep 5, 2011.
Keep telling yourself that.
Wait, are you arguing that documents like the Constitution, the Declaration of Indenpendence, or books like the Wealth of Nations or Theory of Moral Sentiments or more recent books like On Liberty, etc., are irrelevant?
The opposite - i am arguing they are just the context of where we are today.
I actually come from a relatively conservative westminster constitutional background.
As it happens, I have recently been watching a period drama with a painstaking reconstruction of the Lloyd George WWI era.
What strikes me is just how long we have been living with the same old problems.
But no Englishman pretends that Sir William Pitt holds the answers
Surely the lesson of your Founding Fathers is that they CHANGED a shit system for the better - not that they slavishly stuck with the old.
Brummie is reactionary where they were activist.
Jitty I've never really held a high opinion of the ability of people on this site to read more than a post back from the current one, but this really takes the cake. The entire reason for this argument between Russ and myself is that I've been saying that Adam Smith was a man of his time and to carry all of his lessons forward without realizing his context is a bad idea. Russ wants to carry Smith to 2011 without reading anything into the document, just take it at face value as if Smith were in his mid-40s today. I believe that the Constitution is a living, breathing document, BUT it got its philosophical roots in classical liberalism. Anybody who thinks that classical liberalism is not the predominant paradigm today is fooling themselves; even authoritarian countries like China have elections and market capitalism. Philosophy itself does not advance very quickly, and I see no reason for us to abandon Locke and Montesquieu because of an economic downturn that, for all its devastation, has not destroyed our ability to feed the homeless, have elections, and assist other countries in their quest for self-determination.
As for the "same old problems:"
1) Democracy has essentially ended great-power conflicts
2) Diseases such as polio and smallpox were ended after two centuries of sustained classical liberal structures and not millennia of authoritarian rule
3) The standard of living in the past two centuries has exploded upward
4) We've begun to explore outer space
5) We have recognized man's contribution to the environment and are beginning to take steps to clean up after ourselves
6) We have developed technologies that can feed, clothe, and shelter every human being on the planet
7) The belief of the rights of the individual is so entrenched in society that even countries with strong collective personalities (East Asia, for example) are adopting liberal ideas...places like Japan, South Korea, and Malaysia, for example.
Compared to all the fantasy (and real) dystopian alternatives, I'd say our messy little system has done just fine, and will continue to do so. That's why I'm so confused why you think we need to fix it, make drastic changes...it's working.
The current system is poor at allocating resources and selecting appropriate policy. See the last 30 years.
Now you are misrepresenting me as bad as you misrepresented Smith.
This is not a progressive complaint. Nor is there really a "progressive" position on free trade.
You're right, let's ask the Queen what she thinks about it.
First, this is a bizarre argument because Adam Smith was a political economist, not a political theorist (and for "political economists" AB's statement is decidedly false). Second, I presume Jitty Slitter is suggesting that asking what Montesquieu would have made of our today's political system by reading "The Spirit of the Law" has little practical application, which is true.
That being said, I'm not sure what relevance Wealth of Nations really has today, other than to a person interested in the history of economic thought. As a work of economics, it's hopelessly outdated, and as a work of philosophy only, not terribly interesting or useful.
Compared to what?
The current system has been relatively bad at allocating resources and selecting appropriate policy for Western Europe and the United States for the past thirty years. If we were to compare economic development of Western Europe/US to the rest of the World over the past thirty years, I'd say you don't know your stuff. China, India, Brazil, Russia, Argentina, Chile, Kenya, Libya, Nigeria, South Africa, Malaysia, Vietnam, so on and so forth, are all drastically improved compared to the past thirty years. And they have done so using either one or both of the main tenets of the political philosophy that led to the rise of Western Europe, democracy and market capitalism. Chinese and Indian growth has averaged over 5% each year for each of the past ten years. South Korea is about to surpass the rest of the world in internet connectivity and bandwidth. I mean, not to sound blunt, but how xenophobic does someone have to be to say that the current system has been ineffective? Especially since much of the economic growth of the prior 200 years was built on the backs of colonialism and slave labor?
Every time this happens I wonder how you could have posted this without any attempt to clarify. If I do misrepresent your claim due to either my misinformed nature or pure accident, you had that post - and many more - to help me see the light. Enlighten me.
It's always enjoyable seeing you read through my posts despite having me on ignore. However you dice it, the line between political economy and political philosophy is thin indeed.
Talk about post facts, this is a long podcast but Graham Hancock being interviewed by Joe Rogan about the whitewashing of the secrets of the ancient world is just fantastic.
Like I said before this has been happening forever.
So lets see - the man who starts a thread called the post fact society thinks the system is working well?
Then gives the utter clustfuck that is Vietnam as evidence?
Whitewashing of the secrets of the ancient world? So you're saying Jesus was black after all??
Maybe. But he still had a 6 pack.
Not hard when you can just turn water into booze.
Vietnam's GDP/PC PPP has gone up from $1850 to $3100 in ELEVEN YEARS. That is almost doubling your economic output. Do you consider that to be a bad thing? Here are the other non-Western countries who are employing market capitalism and/or liberal democracy from 1999-2010:
Brazil - $6100 to $10800
China - $3800 to $7600
Chile - $12400 to $15400
India - $1800 to $3500
South Korea - $13300 to $30000
Total (with Vietnam) - $39200 to $53700
Compare to the:
EU - $26900 to $32700
USA - $33900 to $47200
Total - $60800 to $79900
Again, you see doubling of economic output in most of the top five, versus much more modest growth in the bottom. With the exception of China and Vietnam, all are liberal democracies. Could it be possible that - and again, sorry to be blunt - you are being xenophobic? That because Western Europe and the USA have not doubled their output in the past eleven years while these places have, you overlook their success in order to fit your own Western-centric worldview?
How much time have you spent in vietnam mate?
Because had you actually ever been there - especially before AND after the freemarket miracle that has come with entry in to the WTO you might understand the way the countryside and cities are being utterly ruined by the worst sort of runaway development.
Now true that in 2000 the internet went off if it rained, and now there is better infrastructure.
But only a boffin huddled over his text book could think that it was a good way to do modernisation.
Unfortunately it just happens to be the only sort of corrupt and greed led approach that flies
Well, do consider the distribution of wealth at all? (Chile's is worse than the US)
I don't think China, Libya, or Malaysia fit the definition of democracy?
Slavery? How much actual economic growth was due specifically to slavery? I want facts.
So China operates under the "current system" that the U.S. uses?
Hmmm. That's speaking very broadly indeed. A more useful portrayal of China in my view is that the country has enjoyed massive economic success with a government-led and government-driven economy, and either the free-marketers are correct about how governments misallocate resources and China will prove a massive bubble failure, or the free-marketers have been talking out of their collective asses and need to shut up about how governments shouldn't be involved in economic allocations.
It's one or the other.
The same applies actually to most of the countries on the list. In my view, they are as much a repudication of U.S./Western economic thought as they are an affirmation of it.
You're starting to sound like a textbook Marxist. Not a useful venue to pursue. I would have thought that the experience of 19th century England would have taught you that rapid industrialization/urbanization is a good thing rather than a terrible thing that ruins pristine farm communities.
Also a valid point. China's growth thus far isn't that dissimilar from Soviet growth in the 50s and 60s, and we saw how that turned out.........
There is a literature out there that talks about how white Westerners feel entitled to tell the rest of the world how it ought to live. When non-Western nations live up to that standard, it often gives Westerners a pretext for, say, colonizing the 'savages,' or imposing trade sanctions on them, and so on and so forth. How you can come one here and say "Nope, they're not really playing by the rules I want so they're not doing it correctly" is beyond me.
Marxism is utter shite. See Vietnam up until WTO.
But that does not mean what they are doing is good - just less shite than before.
We can do much better than rampant and uncontrolled development.
A classic example is the traffic in Hanoi. With bikes and motorbikes it was terrible and dangerous. When 1000s buy cars, it is fucked.
Just one of many examples of how poor the market is at assigning resource.
Who cares if it is better than Marx? Its still outrageously dumb.
In other words....
You've never been there, and have no idea what you are talking about.
Go an see what it means on the ground - then come back to me.
As for the xenophobe bit - that is just insulting.
Remember I am a kiwi living in a foreign land.
It's so cute how much he knows about the world yet he has experienced so little of it.
It's not a strawman. When you make an argument that a typical Marxist would make, it's worth pointing that out.
Human decisions are relative, and I'm not aware of a better system for developing countries than capitalism. If you are, I'd love to hear about it, but every single developing country that has evolved to a "developed" one has generally followed a similar economic pattern.
And I was in Vietnam just in June, so don't need the "you've never been there" line.
Unless Malaysia and Vietnam follow completely exclusive patterns of growth (spoiler alert: they don't), I do know what I'm talking about. Being on the ground has made me appreciate, not discard, their model of development, which is (and God this hurts to say) exactly why Nicephoras brought up England in the 1800s. Modernization comes with a price, and if anything I'd say we did it worse than Vietnam and Malaysia are, but because of how bad we made it, their effects exacerbate the problem. As an American, are you familiar with how much tree cover the US had in 1400 compared to how much it had in 1900? The numbers would shock you. So it's entirely possible you are assigning blame to the wrong men (capitalism and democracy) when you should attack other factors of human nature (Manifest Destiny, colonialism, man's desire to 'tame' nature).
As we criticize a $500 million loss on Solyndra, the Chinese government has caffeine-boosted its own country's market share on solar panels to 54%, thanks to massive government subsidies that dwarf what the U.S. did for its solar-panel industry.
I an intensely interested to see 10, 20 years down the line which strategy proves the soundest. My definition of a good politician is a politician who doesn't state now who will win this contest. Yes I know good luck with that.