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Shermer on the humanist movement, and on libertarianism
Posted: 18 September 2007 09:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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I have read several of Noam Chomsky’s articles, listened to him lecture and read several of his books.
1) Noam is correct in sounding the call against Mercantilism: corporations using governments—to again advantage—similar to organized crime syndicates or sub-contracting to organized crime.
2) I think he is a member of the consensus of intellectuals: rule of law, free markets, social safety net.


Who is are the underclass
a) below average intelligence population
b) those with poor social skills ( fight with managers and co-workers)
c) mentally ill
d) addictive personalities narcotics, alcohol…
e) severely dysfunctional abusive families

Many individuals have the same aversions, to the occupational opportunities, they are qualified to perform. I would not want to be a custodian, hod carrier, painter, food service worker. Noam states it is our duty to minimize the factors, that are under our control, which could mitigate those factors from our societies.

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Posted: 18 September 2007 12:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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Jackson - 16 September 2007 06:18 PM

The message of the New Atheists like Dawkins might be considered libertarian because people make their own choices rather than an ecclesiatical elite.

I must admit that I find libertarian claims very elusive to understand, and that I could have a wrong idea about libertarianism. As I see it, libertarianism propproses the lack of state, lack of taxes and leave almost everything to the individual initiative. I understand that libertarianism claims that if you cannot pay anything, you should not get it. Please correct me if I am wrong, but it I understood from Ayn Rand’s books.

Regarding Dawkins, have you seen ‘Nice guys finished first’?. It is mid 80’s documentary.

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Posted: 18 September 2007 03:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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It really boils down to a problem of terminology, I think. We have:

atheist

skeptic

humanist

They are not the same thing, and indeed none of them even implies any of the others. Nothing preventing a skeptic or atheist from being hard-right, pro-war, even willfully delusional (cf. Hitchens). Humanism strongly implies a sense of solidarity with other humans as we make our way and embrace the human condition together. I would argue that this life-stance would strongly favor much of what he describes as “left” positions and thinking.

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Posted: 18 September 2007 03:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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I agree with you, Steve.

Moreover, I’d say that it is possible to be a non homogeneous skeptic: we are more willing to be skpetic with certains things. For instance, there is no proof of the existance of an ‘invisible hand’ beyond certain point of equilibrium and a lot of skeptics (skeptics about the paranormal and even the religious claims) are willing to accept it.

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Posted: 18 September 2007 04:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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Libertarians propose smaller government not abolition of government. They think that private non-profit, religious organizations and community organizations would be more effective in providing a safety net. They would agree with Noam Chomsky: on the protectionist forces of large corporations or Corporatism. Barry Goldwater wrote an easy read on conservatism. The conservatives and neo-conservatives favor big government for militarism, law enforcement and coercion in morals and mores. Liberal-Socialists favor big government—to provide a strong safety net for the elderly, single mothers, disabled… Most of the notions are plausible, but have little chance of every being implemented. The labels change over time. Studies show that we align ourselves based on which political faction brings the most resources to us. I was very conservative, while in the U.S. Navy, as are a majority of active duty military. College students and single mothers are majority liberal-socialist. The professionals are majority libertarian, conservative. The truly wealthy are left of center classic liberals. Those who perceive themselves as strong lean toward libertarian and conservative; those feeling weaker liberal-socialist, because they want resources and protection.
Hope that helps

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Posted: 18 September 2007 05:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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BradIndianapolis - 18 September 2007 04:16 PM

Studies show that we align ourselves based on which political faction brings the most resources to us.

I can’t accept such a bleak assessment of how people decide what posture to take. I’m among those “richest 5%” that Al Gore railed against in 2000, but I am a classic liberal-socialist. Why, because I know such a structure will help many other people, who are not as fortunate as I have been. We humans are thinking, reflective creatures, and are capable of acting in solidarity and aligning ourselves based on which political faction helps our fellow citizens. We’re not all bloodless, selfish creatures.

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Posted: 18 September 2007 06:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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The truly wealthy are more liberal and tolerant leaning left. You are in line with the hypothesis. A classic-liberal is very contextual and historically temporally dependent political science term. John Kerry and Edward Kennedy have vast wealth and are classic liberal or post-WWII liberals. They supported the civil rights movement and the Great Society. The most conservative or regressive are the skilled working class males. Look at buddies Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. They have given billions to charitable causes: over half their wealth. The Ford family has a liberal foundation… I have traversed up and down the class ladder. Living in a Bahamian penthouse going to cocktail parties with cabinet members and billionaires. Contrasted by living in one of the highest crime neighborhoods in North America working as a middle aged hod carrier following years of working in investment banking. My upper class family basically—thinks I am an eccentric. We do not have all the political parties differentiating the factions and viewpoints most developed countries have.

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Posted: 18 September 2007 10:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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Brad, I’d like to know if what you are claiming is based on some quantitative study, and if you are talking about USA specifically or the generalization you made are applicable to the rest of the world.

I, as a ‘skilled worker class male’, don’t feel that you claims represent me or my environment.

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Posted: 19 September 2007 10:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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The categories are United States specific to the post-WWII era. A skilled laborer is a plumber, electrician, mason, mechanic, fireman, policeman or crane operator…
These are only aggregate generalisations. The economic classes have pluralities; who identify with another faction: sexual orientation, religion, education, family loyalty to a party… My VMI political science course was over twenty years ago. The websites, for the major polling consulting firms, may have abstracts? The middle class and upper classes are the most power classes in United States. Middle class: doctors, lawyers, engineers, middle managers, small business owners, professors, administrators, police chiefs usually having earned a masters, professional degree, MBA… Individuals change through their life-cycle and move up and down the classes. Families can have members of several classes. Medical doctors use government power to limit supply of medical credentials—below that of market demands—to maintain high salaries. A system as sophisticated and complex as the U.S. voter population is victim to reductionist and simplistic rhetoric.

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Posted: 19 September 2007 12:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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steve,

I dont doubt that you are a decent person and I dont doubt that the existing structures of society helps “many” people, but that doesnt mean it doesnt have many problems that cant be solved with altering - and in some instances, abolishing - the existing structures. Because I feel many of our problems can and must be resolved through some form of popular social revolution/grassroots movement. Even in the most despotic features of humanity, tyranny has helped many people. However, that’s hardly an acceptable excuse for maintaining it or supressing desired change.

Anyway, about libertarianism: in the US the concept has had a strong appeal to corporate conservatives or anti-social people who want to take isolationism to an absurd level and do away with regulations that hinder capitalist exploitations.

In Europe libertarianism was more of a code word for social anarchism, because of how anarchsits were being treated at the time (primarily France, where the phrase Libertarian Socialism was more popular). In the American sense; the Ayn Rand Objectivism sense, I am opposed. I get a strong impression that these people have a negative and “lowly view of humanity in general” (the Satanist representative who visits here occassionally), and dont want to replace structured authority with communal bonds, but rather a lawless form of barbarism. Again, there are stark differences between the European and American concept of libertarianism, and I favor the former. I would like to see existing structures replaced or taken over by workers and citizen councils; with something where free individuality and social solidarity can blossom together. Some have argued that without centralized authority there could/would be mass starvations, plagues, famines, etc. Simply acknowledging the possibility gives us the option to be prepared and meet these challenges without having to resort to centralized authority. The argument just does not suffice, in my opinion. I simply do not see how any problems cannot be dealt with without private or state tyrannies.

I read the below quote lastnite and it inspired me alot. Yeah, ultimately the revolution Durruti was speaking of materialized and it ultimately was brutally put down. Some, solely for the sake of argument, point to that and numerous other experiments and conclude: it doesn’t work! I strongly disagree. The fact that these experiments have repeated themselves so many times all over this planet shows that they do in fact work and work well. The problem has been external forces using massive amounts of violence to sabotage and kill it; to strangle it at birth. All that shows is that the revolution needs to be bigger and it reminds me of the organizing slogan: think globally; act locally.

“The real thieves are the bourgeoisie, who live by stealing the products of our labor; they are the traffickers of commerce who speculate with our hunger; they are the great banking financiers who manipulate rates sprinkled with proletarian blood and sweat; they are the politicians who make promises and gorge themselves once they become deputies, accumulating salaries and forgetting everything they pledged as soon as they are in the stable of the state. But you, the workers who hear me, you already know them very well, just as I know them. Need I say more?

….

“The Republican-Socialists need to understand this and so we’ll say it very clearly: either the Republic resolves the peasants and industrial workers’ problems or the people will do so on their own. But can the Republic resolve those and other pressing problems? We don’t want to deceive anyone and will reply firmly, so that the entire working class hears us: neither the Republic nor any political regime of the sort – with or without the Socialists – will ever resolve the workers’ problems. A system based on private property and the authority of power cannot live without slaves. And if the workers want to be dignified, to live freely and control their own destinies, then they shouldn’t wait for the government to give them their liberty. Economic and political freedom is not something given; it has to be taken. It depends on you, the workers listening to me, whether you’ll continue being modern slaves or free men! You must decide!” - Buenaventura Durruti

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Posted: 19 September 2007 01:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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I have never seen any data on the composition of libertarians. They are a very small minority. They are not the focus of much polling, and have little influence. We progress by inquiry and open minded investigation of notions—especially when they disagree with our deeply held values and world view. I am challenging many individual environmentalists secular humanists; who are anti-procreation. Challenging those with an egalitarian ideology, which does not accept variances in populations genetic traits. Anecdotal, I sense a ground swell of radical discontent. The forces to conserve institutions such as: teachers union, physicians guild, military industrial complex, global mega corporations and elite politicians—are very, very, very powerful. I would wage against any significant reforms of these institutions in the next five years.

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Posted: 05 November 2007 11:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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As far as politics is concerned, I’m closeer to being a libertarian than I am to conservatism or liberalism etc., but my laissez-faire attitude has been tempered in recent years by the realization that religious conservatives have co-opted us for their own goals, like home schooling and reducing public services in general so the churches move back to their formerly dominant position in the community. And faith-based initiatives are just the icing on the tombstone for a secular society!

I’ve really started to become alarmed with all of the “Christian libertarians” I’m reading about today—like Vox Day of Wing Nut Daily or Christian Reconstructionist author Gary North. The real hardcore reconstructionists seem to be of the opinion that the virtual anarchy created by an anarcho-capitalist( extreme libertarian) government would leave them the freedom to establish Christian theocracies in the pattern of the original Puritan colonies.

I still call myself a libertarian; it’s just that I’m not as libertarian as I used to be!

Ron

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Posted: 06 November 2007 06:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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That’s pretty interesting, workinprogress, it’s a view I am fairly unfamiliar so you provided some insight.

I wish I could find the interview with Michael Shermer about his moderating his Libertarian stance. Basically he was saying that while working on his book, The Science of Good and Evil, he saw more greed and less checks and balances then he was aware, which caused him to modify his economic Libertarian stance. Socially, it appears to me that Michael is fairly liberal, but I find much in the Libertarian social stance as close to liberalism. But, I think this is often modified when it becomes obvious that this can be taken advantage of, such as the examples you have given.

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Posted: 06 November 2007 07:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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Ron, I think what you mention is one of the worst problem with libertarianism. The absolute absence of regulation won’t make us free, it will make us slaves of the people with the power to enslave us and the freedom to use it without limits. Libertarianism relies on the idea of the invisible hand regulating the society. This idea is pretty simple, beatiful and interesting: if everyone had the freedom to reject any offer they consider inconvenient and accept what is considered convinient, the society will reach an equilibrium of wellfare for all of its members. The invisible hand arises when no one has the power to influence the market by him/her self alone, and in the real world, as you mention there are player who can, by themselves, influence in the social behaviour.

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Posted: 07 November 2007 02:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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zarcus - 06 November 2007 06:53 AM

That’s pretty interesting, workinprogress, it’s a view I am fairly unfamiliar so you provided some insight.

I wish I could find the interview with Michael Shermer about his moderating his Libertarian stance. Basically he was saying that while working on his book, The Science of Good and Evil, he saw more greed and less checks and balances then he was aware, which caused him to modify his economic Libertarian stance. Socially, it appears to me that Michael is fairly liberal, but I find much in the Libertarian social stance as close to liberalism. But, I think this is often modified when it becomes obvious that this can be taken advantage of, such as the examples you have given.

In the days before John Maynard Keynes and FDR’s New Deal, a liberal was essentially a libertarian by today’s definition. The economic collapse of the Great Depression caused most liberals to lose faith in the marketplace and start advocating a greater role for government to manage the economy. Libertarians range from disciples of Milton Friedman who want limited government to outright anarchists that would end taxation and dismantle and privatize basic services provided by government.

I haven’t read Michael Shermer’s thoughts on libertarianism, but many of us have started re-thinking libertarian ideas such as charter schooling and support for private schooling now that we have seen how the religious right has used these policies to put education under church control. Unlike public schools, these private Christian academies are free to teach creationism and intelligent design in all of their science classes. I doubt Michael Shermer is happy about that situation!

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