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Let's talk about the capitalist idea of 'freedom': free trade

by alexandra
Tags: capitalist, free, freedom, talk, trade
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EL
#19
Jan11-06, 03:50 PM
Sci Advisor
P: 789
Quote Quote by russ_watters
The basis of your feelings is hard-wired into your DNA. It cannot be changed.
Ever heard of environment? Do you think you were born with a gene for capitalismloving?

You wouldn't - but why would you live in a place that didn't fit you?
Ehh? Practical reasons?
Why would anyone want to live in e.g. North Korea? Why don't they just leave?
(Btw, I could leave Sweden anytime, and maybe I will in the future, but I like this place.)

That's why, in the US, voting is considered a patriotic act
Then USA can't be a very patriotic country...

So while it is true that I gave more extra money to the tsunami relief than I ever gave to a homeless person, that's only because I already give so much in the form of taxes.
Well the difference is that one cannot choose directly where the taxes go.
alexandra
#20
Jan11-06, 10:35 PM
P: 603
Quote Quote by rachmaninoff
The OP situation is absurd. Does a country not have the right to refuse to sell its military technology to a rival country?
No, the OP situation is not absurd: according to the BBC article, Embraer is a Brazilian private company, not a US company. But I don't know - perhaps Embraer is a US company based in Brazil? One can't tell from the website: http://www.embraer.com/english/conte...sa/profile.asp

The US government is telling a private enterprise based in a completely different country who they can and cannot sell their product to. This is my point. Even if the US government forbade a US-based company from selling products to a purchaser (as they do, in fact, do) this illustrates the myth of the existence of 'free markets'.
alexandra
#21
Jan11-06, 10:39 PM
P: 603
Quote Quote by EL
Agree, it was a quite strange example. However I guess she wants to discuss the subject in a more general manner.
Correct, EL, though I don't think it was a strange example - perhaps it was more 'dramatic' than strange I'm focusing a lot of my research on what's happening in Latin America at the moment, so that's why I used that particular article. What I want to discuss is the notion of 'free markets' in general - particular examples are brought up to focus the discussion in reality rather than just leaving it at the level of theory.
TheStatutoryApe
#22
Jan11-06, 10:42 PM
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P: 1,550
Quote Quote by alexandra
No, the OP situation is not absurd: according to the BBC article, Embraer is a Brazilian private company, not a US company. But I don't know - perhaps Embraer is a US company based in Brazil? One can't tell from the website: http://www.embraer.com/english/conte...sa/profile.asp
The US government is telling a private enterprise based in a completely different country who they can and cannot sell their product to. This is my point. Even if the US government forbade a US-based company from selling products to a purchaser (as they do, in fact, do) this illustrates the myth of the existence of 'free markets'.
When was the last time any one described the US as having a truely free market? I can't think of a time when it has been. I believe that economists that push for more purely free market economics here have been doing so since the US became an independant nation. It's never actually happened as far as I know.
alexandra
#23
Jan11-06, 10:54 PM
P: 603
Quote Quote by russ_watters
What hypocrisy? It says right there in the first paragraph of the US Constitution that the US government exists for the benefit of the citizens of the US.
There is no hypocrisy: you are arguing a strawman for the purpose of baseless USA-bashing.
IMO, Russ (and this can be seen in the subtext of all my posts), the first statement you make above is a commonly-held fallacy. It may be the case that the US Constitution asserts that the US government exists for the benefit of the citizens of the US - my understanding, however, is that it exists to secure and further the interests of a particular class of very powerful and very rich citizens in the United States, not all citizens.

Your second statement is incorrect. It is not my intention to do 'baseless USA-bashing', and anyone reading my posts throughout all my time in this forum will see this. You have to understand the subtleties of my arguments: never once have I 'bashed' ordinary US citizens - in fact, I really sympathise with the predicament that many US citizens find themselves in, living under an administration who is doing things the people find totally repugnant. I critique the actions of the powerful when these actions deserve it. We can't just ignore what's happening, can we? So please don't accuse me of 'baseless USA-bashing'; it's not what I do. You will notice that I critique other governments as well - but perhaps it is because the US government is so strong and so active around the world that most of our discussions focus around it? My basic problem is not with this government or that - it is with so-called 'democracies' and the ruthless economic system they represent.

Quote Quote by russ_watters
In addition, one person saying that the US sometimes acts out of egalitarianism does not mean they are saying the US always acts out of egalitarianism. Conversely, showing that the US sometimes acts out of selfishness or self-preservation does not prove that the US always acts out of selfishness. You're using the same logical fallacy that Burnsys used in the thread about the US spreading freedom.
Again, I would prefer us to focus on the underlying issue: how 'free' is the so-called 'free market'? As stated above, the most counter-examples that exist to counter the argument that capitalism is about free markets come from the US government's actions as this is the administration that is supposedly on a mission to liberalise the whole world and 'free' its markets.
alexandra
#24
Jan11-06, 11:02 PM
P: 603
Quote Quote by TheStatutoryApe
When was the last time any one described the US as having a truely free market? I can't think of a time when it has been. I believe that economists that push for more purely free market economics here have been doing so since the US became an independant nation. It's never actually happened as far as I know.
But the entire justification for overthrowing foreign governments (eg. Iraq, just to take one example) is to bring 'freedom' and 'democracy' to the world: the US government purports to take these actions in order to further these principles, for the good of humanity. If the US government is not actually promoting 'free market' policies, or freedom in any way, then the whole justification is a lie! Does everyone know this and think it's ok? It was my understanding that these issues need to be discussed because people obviously don't seem to know what's happening. It's a very sad state of affairs if people actually do know what's happening and just don't care about the lies.

In effect, I'm trying to examine the ideology of 'capitalism' and 'free markets'. People keep going on about how 'socialism/communism' could never work, and that the only proven system that can work is capitalism. I'm trying to examine this statement. What is capitalism? Is it good? Is it really the best we can do, our only option? Is it, in fact, a viable option at all in the long term? These are the underlying questions.
TheStatutoryApe
#25
Jan11-06, 11:21 PM
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P: 1,550
Quote Quote by alexandra
But the entire justification for overthrowing foreign governments (eg. Iraq, just to take one example) is to bring 'freedom' and 'democracy' to the world: the US government purports to take these actions in order to further these principles, for the good of humanity. If the US government is not actually promoting 'free market' policies, or freedom in any way, then the whole justification is a lie! Does everyone know this and think it's ok? It was my understanding that these issues need to be discussed because people obviously don't seem to know what's happening. It's a very sad state of affairs if people actually do know what's happening and just don't care about the lies.
In effect, I'm trying to examine the ideology of 'capitalism' and 'free markets'. People keep going about how 'socialism/communism' could never work, and that the only proven system that can work is capitalism. I'm trying to examine this statement. What is capitalism? Is it good? Is it really the best we can do, our only option? Is it, in fact, a viable option at all in the long term? These are the underlying questions.
Whoa there... you're jumping back and forth here. You've equated "free markets" and "freedom" in general and went on to say that since the US doesn't actually promote pure free market economics then it must not really care about freedom and so what it says about it's intentions about promoting freedom are lies and then you're back on to free markets and.... Do you see the crazy sort of mish mash you have going on here?
Perhaps you can rephrase this and make your logic a bit clearer? Also perhaps we can talk about Capitalism instead of taking off on tangents about the US and it's supposed lies?
alexandra
#26
Jan12-06, 12:48 AM
P: 603
Quote Quote by TheStatutoryApe
Whoa there... you're jumping back and forth here. You've equated "free markets" and "freedom" in general and went on to say that since the US doesn't actually promote pure free market economics then it must not really care about freedom and so what it says about it's intentions about promoting freedom are lies and then you're back on to free markets and.... Do you see the crazy sort of mish mash you have going on here?
Perhaps you can rephrase this and make your logic a bit clearer? Also perhaps we can talk about Capitalism instead of taking off on tangents about the US and it's supposed lies?
Phew, I'm exhausted! Ok, I'll have to rethink how to put this. You want me to distinguish clearly between 'free markets' and 'freedom' in general? I think I have an approach that may work: I'd better revisit what the US administration currently claims to be fighting for in Iraq, and what it wanted to achieve with the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA) - that may clear things up. Intelligent response pending... I'm now going to log off and go outside for a walk and a breath of air
russ_watters
#27
Jan12-06, 06:27 AM
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P: 22,243
Quote Quote by EL
Ever heard of environment? Do you think you were born with a gene for capitalismloving?
There is only so much that the environment can do. It cannot, without essentially brainwashing you, counteract the capitalism gene.
Ehh? Practical reasons?
Why would anyone want to live in e.g. North Korea? Why don't they just leave?
I doubt many people feel patriotic about living in North Korea - bad example.
(Btw, I could leave Sweden anytime, and maybe I will in the future, but I like this place.)
Well, then I hate to break it to you, but you are patriotic!
Well the difference is that one cannot choose directly where the taxes go.
Yes.
russ_watters
#28
Jan12-06, 06:42 AM
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P: 22,243
Quote Quote by alexandra
IMO, Russ (and this can be seen in the subtext of all my posts), the first statement you make above is a commonly-held fallacy. It may be the case that the US Constitution asserts that the US government exists for the benefit of the citizens of the US - my understanding, however, is that it exists to secure and further the interests of a particular class of very powerful and very rich citizens in the United States, not all citizens.
Now you are contradicting yourself and getting off point. Lets go over your main thesis again: You said that people (who, you did not specify) are hypocrites for saying that the US exists to spread capitalism, but the US Constitution (not to mention the Declaration of Independence) is clear in saying that that is not the case. Thus, your assertion is clearly false (ironically, it's clearer that your assertion is false than your assertion is clear).
Your second statement is incorrect. It is not my intention to do 'baseless USA-bashing'.....

So please don't accuse me of 'baseless USA-bashing'; it's not what I do.
When so much of what you say is factually wrong, heavily biased, and phrased generally or as questions instead of specific, declarative statements, the only thing we end up seeing here is baseless USA-bashing. I cannot believe such a writing style would go over well in your political science classes.

We are trying to enforce standards of quality here - that means that the OP must make a clear thesis (not ask leading questions without answering them) and then substantiate it. You did neither (though you did sorta provide a thesis in your second post).

[edit: This may sound paternalistic, but I expect more from you than I otherwise would because I know something about your background and I know what you are - or should be - capable of. The scientific areas of this forum see posts of high quality because people who have knowledge of those fields posts high quality posts. The politics forum is a cesspool because people - even those with some knowledge and intelligence - post crap.

Show me that your intention here is not simply spewing crap: start over from scratch and write out a post in essay format. Start with a brief introduction, then state a coherent, declarative, specific thesis, then defend it. Otherwise, it just looks like you read an article that said something you didn't like and you jumped straight from that to a vague generality about the USA and capitalists, without any coherent thought process in between. ]
Again, I would prefer us to focus on the underlying issue: how 'free' is the so-called 'free market'? As stated above, the most counter-examples that exist to counter the argument that capitalism is about free markets come from the US government's actions as this is the administration that is supposedly on a mission to liberalise the whole world and 'free' its markets.
Again - you are asserting a contradiction where clearly one does not exist. Perhaps you could provide us with some evidence to back up your claims from the op and subsequent posts:
So-called "free trade" is one of the holy grails of capitalism, is it not? And the USA takes the lead in creating and defending free markets? How, then, does one explain this?

...this would be ok, were it not for the hypocrisy, the ideological obscurantism involved in claiming that one is promoting 'freedom' when one is, in fact, not.
In declarative form:

1. "Free trade" is one of the holy grails of capitalism.

2. The USA takes the lead in creating and defending free markets.

3. (implied) The US always/never acts in defense of capitalism, even globally.

4. Someone (who, you do not specify, but the USA as a whole is implied) is hypocritical by saying they act for free trade, but not actually acting for free trade.

Statement 1 is far too general to really be useful, but yes - in general, free trade is a good thing to a capitalist. In points 2 and 3, you are trying to create absolutes so that you can knock them down with one piece of evidence. You need to prove that those absolutes exist. Ie, you need to prove that the US always claims to be acting in the name of capitalism, even internationally. That'll be the tough one since, as my conversation with El implies, what is good for the country and what is good for the world are often in direct conflict with each other. You could argue that the USA (again, the USA is not a person) claims to act more for capitalism than against or that the USA is the world leader in spreading capitalism, but then you would lose the contradiction that you are looking to show - that would just be an argument over how successful the US is in achieving its goals. And in point 4, you must be specific about these so-called contradictions: who said what, exactly, and how did they act differently? If you aim to prove that Bush is a hypocrite, you may just succeed, but you'll need to start going through his speeches and finding specific statements that he said that he didn't follow-up on. If you aim to prove some broader contradiction....well, that's already been proven wrong.

If you are not interested in making logical arguments and more importantly, providing factually accurate evidence to back up that argumet, then we come back to my previous point...
russ_watters
#29
Jan12-06, 08:01 AM
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P: 22,243
Quote Quote by alexandra
Ok, I'll have to rethink how to put this....

Intelligent response pending...
I can't wait! Please (honestly) feel free to ignore the points in my previous post and just start over from scratch with a coherent essay about what you are trying to say/prove.
alexandra
#30
Jan12-06, 08:25 AM
P: 603
Quote Quote by russ_watters
I cannot believe such a writing style would go over well in your political science classes.
We are trying to enforce standards of quality here - that means that the OP must make a clear thesis (not ask leading questions without answering them) and then substantiate it. You did neither (though you did sorta provide a thesis in your second post).
Now, in reading the following response, try to imagine the stereotypical Australian drawl, the really lazy one you would hear in a movie like 'Crocodile Dundee': Russ, I could get really angry about this statement. You have no idea what classes I teach, and when I am talking to 'internet friends' on a discussion board I am in no way communicating in the same way I would in my classes. Such statements (remember, I'm not angry - though I suppose I would be well within my rights to get angry) constitute a personal attack and imply that I cannot do my job professionally. It does not matter to me what you think about my ability to do my job, but it's sort of slanderous to make such baseless accusations about what you infer to be my inability to do my work. Remember, too, that no matter how angry your political ideology makes me sometimes, I never make statements implying that what I see as your illogic must impact on your ability to do your job. Ok, smiles all round now - I will address the rest of this post tomorrow, perhaps. Sometimes, though, I wonder why I bother. I guess the only reason I bother is because you would like it so much if I stopped, Russ! I think I'll continue 'spewing' my 'crap', just to annoy you; makes our lives more interesting, doesn't it?
EL
#31
Jan12-06, 08:35 AM
Sci Advisor
P: 789
Quote Quote by russ_watters
I doubt many people feel patriotic about living in North Korea - bad example.
Actually I think a lot of people in North Korea are (fooled to be) patriotic.
But less extreme counties say e.g. Nigeria, Uruguay, Turkey or Pakistan then.

Well, then I hate to break it to you, but you are patriotic!
I think we have discussed this before, but please state how you define "patriotism" then.
SOS2008
#32
Jan14-06, 02:56 PM
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In reading through this thread, I noted the following:

Patriotism – I agree with EL that many Americans support bad policies based on nationalistic emotions rather than intelligent research and thought. The “support the troops” paraphernalia is a good example that I have mentioned more than once as very annoying (okay, asinine). This is really about supporting Bush and his damn, idiotic invasion under the pretenses of patriotism. If these people were REALLY patriotic they would get rid of Bush and start working on ways to bring the troops home so as to focus on rebuilding our nation beginning with decreasing our national debt (according to certain member's premise of self-perservation). And as EL notes, as a whole the U.S. is not really very patriotic in view of our disgustingly low voter turn out, and an entire range of behavior contrary to democratic premises.

Okay, back to the basic premises of this thread and problems inherent in the idea of a pure free trade market…

Quote Quote by russ_watters
When so much of what you say is factually wrong, heavily biased, and phrased generally or as questions instead of specific, declarative statements, the only thing we end up seeing here is baseless USA-bashing. I cannot believe such a writing style would go over well in your political science classes.
Aside from the usual ad hominem (attacking the messenger with lack of maturity and professional courtesy), patronizing (like who is a political science expert, you?), over use of bolded words in your writing style, etc., I very much agree with alexandra that the U.S. acts in favor of those who are in power--not the general population. That is such an obvious no-brainer, which has been a topic of discussion throughout the ages. Those who resort to off-handed accusations of “U.S. bashing” tend to be those who support the status quo because they are in the ruling class, or most commonly, they believe they will be in the ruling class (Hah! Feel free to calculate the odds and get yourself a reality check. Then go on and see what the heck has happened to the so-called American Dream--you know, the one most Americans can no longer achieve, so it has become exactly that--just a dream.)

It is common to hear of today’s world economic system as being “free trade” or “globalization”. Some describe the historical events leading up to today’s global free trade and the existing system as “inevitable.” …Instead, various factors such as political decisions, military might, wars, imperial processes and social changes throughout the last few decades and centuries have pulled the world system in various directions. Today’s world economic system is a result of such processes. Power is always a factor.
http://www.globalissues.org/TradeRel...Criticisms.asp

How do we separate free trade (capitalism concepts) from freedom (life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness)?

"[T]he emergence of capitalism represents a culture that is in many ways the most successful that has ever been deployed in terms of accommodating large numbers of individuals in relative and absolute comfort and luxury. It has not been as successful, however, in integrating all in equal measure, and its failure here remains one of its major problems. It has solved the problems of feeding large numbers of people (although certainly not all), and it has provided unprecedented advances in health and medicine (but, again, not for all). It has promoted the development of amazingly complex technological instruments and fostered a level of global communication without precedent. It has united people in common pursuits as has no other culture. Yet it remains to be seen when the balance sheet is tallied whether capitalism represents the epitome of “progress” that some claim." — Richard H. Robbins, Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism, (Allyn and Bacon, 1999), pp. 11 - 12

I don’t see how you can separate the two. Okay…carry on…(I don’t have any more time for this at the moment).
X-43D
#33
Jan14-06, 03:43 PM
P: 152
Depends what is meant by freedom. In capitalism freedom is money because without it one cannot access the market.
Art
#34
Jan14-06, 03:59 PM
P: 1,511
It's a shame to see some of the mentors here (one in particular) continues to abuse their priviliged position to post patronizing, ad-hominem attacks on those whose views they do not agree with. Perhaps if we simply ignore such posters they'll get bored and go away.

Interestingly asserting somebody is deficient in their work is 1 of only 3 slanders / libels actionable per se. i.e. the complainant doesn't have to prove actual damages to win.
alexandra
#35
Jan29-06, 12:07 PM
P: 603
Quote Quote by russ_watters
When so much of what you say is factually wrong, heavily biased, and phrased generally or as questions instead of specific, declarative statements, the only thing we end up seeing here is baseless USA-bashing. I cannot believe such a writing style would go over well in your political science classes.
*First point, Russ: prove that what I write is factually wrong, rather than just asserting that it is.
* Second point: In my job I am trained not to 'impart knowledge' but to develop my students' abilities to think critically. I therefore ask them to question the world they live in. I don't know what the education system in the US teaches students to do, but as far as I am concerned the main aim of tertiary education is to develop students' critical thinking skills, and one cannot do that by telling students what to think: one asks questions (it's called the Socratic Method). By the way, this goes over very well in my classes. Of all classes students are enrolled in, I pride myself that it is mine in which they learn how to think for themselves. And, amazingly, they seem to appreciate this - they keep enrolling in as many classes as I teach!

Quote Quote by russ_watters
We are trying to enforce standards of quality here...
Oh, really? Pardon me for not meeting your high standards!
Quote Quote by russ_watters
...that means that the OP must make a clear thesis (not ask leading questions without answering them) and then substantiate it. You did neither (though you did sorta provide a thesis in your second post).
Well, I raise questions. That is my style. I am not arrogant enough to feel that I have all the answers.

Quote Quote by russ_watters
[edit: This may sound paternalistic, but I expect more from you than I otherwise would because I know something about your background and I know what you are - or should be - capable of. The scientific areas of this forum see posts of high quality because people who have knowledge of those fields posts high quality posts. The politics forum is a cesspool because people - even those with some knowledge and intelligence - post crap.
Look up the Socratic Method of teaching/learning, Russ - actually, I'll make it easy for you... here's a link: http://education.yahoo.com/college/e...ic_method.html
WarrenPlatts
#36
Feb7-06, 05:37 AM
P: 237
Quote Quote by alexandra
Hi all

So-called "free trade" is one of the holy grails of capitalism, is it not? And the USA takes the lead in creating and defending free markets? How, then, does one explain this?

Just one example of 'capitalist freedom'

This is just the tip of the iceberg, of course - if we delve deeper into 'free markets' (which perhaps we may care to do in this thread) . Some introductory reading can be found in the links at the bottom of this webpage: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_trade
You'll have that. It'll be all right.


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