A question about objectivity in politics

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In summary, the conversation discusses the idea of applying scientific objectivity to understanding politics. The speaker argues that while objectivity is important in scientific enquiry, it is often disregarded in discussions about social and political issues. They suggest that people tend to approach politics and morality with a more subjective and personal mindset, making it difficult to apply the scientific method. The conversation also touches on the role of social sciences in understanding political phenomena and the challenges of maintaining objectivity in a subjective topic.
  • #1
alexandra
Hello all

I have been lurking on these boards for a while, and following some of the discussions in this forum as well as in the science and maths forums.

I have a question: I was just wondering whether anyone thinks that the kind of objectivity one pursues in scientific enquiry is also a worthwhile goal when trying to understand politics?

I mean, I have read various discussions in which people have said that scientific 'truths' and 'facts' are always provisional, and that 'facts' sometimes change in the light of new knowledge. I have read that scientific theories supported by individuals on this forum are re-evaluated in the light of new information. This is, in my view, as things should be.

But I have observed that this rule does not seem to be applied at all when the discussion is social or political. In social or political discussions, many of those people who claim to always be open to re-evaluating their scientific theories and beliefs in the light of new knowledge seem to actively resist re-evaluating their political and social views at all. They seem to refuse to consider any information that is presented to them that may contradict their views.

Does this mean that people believe that it is neither possible nor desirable to seek (at least provisional) political and social truths?

I consider my question to be political rather than philosophical (that is why I thought it fits best in this forum) because the answer to this question has real and important political implications - but I may be wrong about where I am posting this question (this is my first post). And my own view is based on my perception of myself as a social scientist (which means that I believe that it is possible - through honest and disciplined enquiry - to correctly interpret and evaluate social phenomena).
 
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  • #2
alexandra said:
I have a question: I was just wondering whether anyone thinks that the kind of objectivity one pursues in scientific enquiry is also a worthwhile goal when trying to understand politics?
I have, a number of times, argued for the application of the scientific method to politics (and morality/ethics). As I often say, there is a reason why its called "Political Science".
I mean, I have read various discussions in which people have said that scientific 'truths' and 'facts' are always provisional, and that 'facts' sometimes change in the light of new knowledge. I have read that scientific theories supported by individuals on this forum are re-evaluated in the light of new information. This is, in my view, as things should be.
Quick clarification: theories are provisional, facts are not. Now, if you redo an experiment with better equipment, you can get more accurate data, but that isn't the same thing: the old data is still factual, but has an (at the time) unknown error in it. Scientists always try to minimize, predict, and explain their errors, but even an old, error filled experiment can provide useful insight.

Applied to history, take the US Constitution: What the US Constitution says historical fact. No amount of new information will change that. About the only thing that could is some kind of historical trickery, which would be akin to someone faking their experimental data in science.
But I have observed that this rule does not seem to be applied at all when the discussion is social or political. In social or political discussions, many of those people who claim to always be open to re-evaluating their scientific theories and beliefs in the light of new knowledge seem to actively resist re-evaluating their political and social views at all. They seem to refuse to consider any information that is presented to them that may contradict their views.
I agree, and it seems to me that the reason is that people think about politics and morality far too much like its religion. They also take it far more personally than they do science. With physics, for example, a scientist performs an experiment. In morality, each participant in the discussion is also part of the experiment.
Does this mean that people believe that it is neither possible nor desirable to seek (at least provisional) political and social truths?
As I said above - in my opinion it is both possible and desirable. We have had some success with the limited case of Marxism. Applying historical facts to the theory of Marxism reveals a theory that failed. That is somewhat well recieved, but people don't like to try to apply that method elsewhere.
And my own view is based on my perception of myself as a social scientist (which means that I believe that it is possible - through honest and disciplined enquiry - to correctly interpret and evaluate social phenomena).
In many ways, politics is an extension of sociology. To me, that's just self-evident (again - Marxism: it fails because it doesn't fit human nature).
 
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  • #3
There is a significant difference between the pure sciences and social sciences. Though some scientific method may be applied, for example trying to control for variables in conducting polls and applying statistical analysis in presentation of the results, ultimately the original topic/inquiry will be of a subjective nature. Politics, and especially moral issues are very subjective, and the majority of the population do not reach their conclusions based on fact. This is the unfortunate reality, and the lack of interest and prevailing ignorance of the general public has been debated in this forum many times as a problem to be studied in itself.
 
  • #4
alexandra said:
Hello all
I have a question: I was just wondering whether anyone thinks that the kind of objectivity one pursues in scientific enquiry is also a worthwhile goal when trying to understand politics?
Only if you're trying to understand the politics of someone else's country. It's hard to maintain objectivity if the observer is part of the experiment - especially if the outcome of the experiment will have a definite impact on the observer.
 
  • #5
I agree with everyone that it is more difficult to be objective when thinking about social and political issues (than it is in the sciences) because we are part of the situation we are trying to analyse.

russ_watters, while I agree with some of the things you say, I definitely and absolutely disagree with the statement that marxism is a 'theory that failed'. What historical evidence are you thinking of to support this claim? Do you mean the 'collapse' of the Eastern bloc? Or the fact that the 'worker's revolution' has not happened? Contrary to statements made by postmodernist theorists such as Fracis Fukuyama, history has definitely not 'ended' (as the various conflicts around the world so powerfully demonstrate).

This brings up another question: I am really curious about what you mean by 'Marxism' - do you refer to it as a method of analysis, or do you equate it with 'socialism' or 'communism'? So much depends on the definitions of terms.

I suspect we may be talking about different things when we disagree on this one. I have been studying marxism, and have been using marxism as a tool of analysis for studying the social and political world, for many years now. It remains an incredibly powerful tool of analysis and I have not yet found a theory that can better explain capitalist society (having read critical theory, functionalist theory, feminist theory, etc). Declaring 'marxism' irrelevant does not in actuality make it so (just as declaring that the universe is static would not make it so).

Like any 'good' theory, marxism is useful in that it provides tools of analysis that can be used to explain (in a way that makes sense) the key aspects of capitalist societies, as well as current trends in the globalisation of capital. I realize that there are ideological reasons for 'writing it off' as a theory - but ignoring it doesn't change anything; the fact is, it DOES explain key aspects of the social world :smile:
 
  • #6
alexandra said:
russ_watters, while I agree with some of the things you say, I definitely and absolutely disagree with the statement that marxism is a 'theory that failed'. What historical evidence are you thinking of to support this claim? Do you mean the 'collapse' of the Eastern bloc? Or the fact that the 'worker's revolution' has not happened? Contrary to statements made by postmodernist theorists such as Fracis Fukuyama, history has definitely not 'ended' (as the various conflicts around the world so powerfully demonstrate).

This brings up another question: I am really curious about what you mean by 'Marxism' - do you refer to it as a method of analysis, or do you equate it with 'socialism' or 'communism'? So much depends on the definitions of terms.

I suspect we may be talking about different things when we disagree on this one. I have been studying marxism, and have been using marxism as a tool of analysis for studying the social and political world, for many years now. It remains an incredibly powerful tool of analysis and I have not yet found a theory that can better explain capitalist society (having read critical theory, functionalist theory, feminist theory, etc). Declaring 'marxism' irrelevant does not in actuality make it so (just as declaring that the universe is static would not make it so).

Like any 'good' theory, marxism is useful in that it provides tools of analysis that can be used to explain (in a way that makes sense) the key aspects of capitalist societies, as well as current trends in the globalisation of capital. I realize that there are ideological reasons for 'writing it off' as a theory - but ignoring it doesn't change anything; the fact is, it DOES explain key aspects of the social world :smile:
The thing with Marxism is that it has been tried dozens of times in various forms. And it only works on the extremely small scale (many church governments are forms of communism). Lenin was considered a Marxist, but he deviated considerably from Marx's vision. Why? Because Marx never developed his vision into a workable form of government. And the dozens of people to try to do that ended up as vicious, murderous dictators.

In short, the fact that there is not a single Marxist government in existence today is evidence of its failure. Yet, capitalism/democracy has resulted in virtuall all of the peace and prosperity in existence in the world today - not to mention the oldest government in the wold - the United States government.
 
  • #7
russ_waters said:
The thing with Marxism is that it has been tried dozens of times in various forms.

This is precisely what Alexandra is denying. Specifically the USSR, PRC, Cuba, Albania, etc. are/were not marxist. Lenin and Mao, and still more Castro and Hoxha opted for practical tyranny over marxist solutions. "Socialism in One Country" is not marxism! The long march and the great leap forward had nothing to do with marxism, except that they waved red flags.
 
  • #8
How exactly are you to implement Marxism without tyranny? I would hardly think it coincidence that all leaders/nations that tried to implement Marx's vision decided to do so by tyranny. Unless you expect several million people to voluntarily give up their hard-earned private property, which seems to me a fairly unreasonable expectation.

By the way Alex, I would argue that the best theory by which you can understand capitalism is not Marxist theory, but rather capitalist theory.
 
  • #9
russ_watters said:
The thing with Marxism is that it has been tried dozens of times in various forms. And it only works on the extremely small scale (many church governments are forms of communism). Lenin was considered a Marxist, but he deviated considerably from Marx's vision. Why? Because Marx never developed his vision into a workable form of government. And the dozens of people to try to do that ended up as vicious, murderous dictators.

In short, the fact that there is not a single Marxist government in existence today is evidence of its failure. Yet, capitalism/democracy has resulted in virtuall all of the peace and prosperity in existence in the world today - not to mention the oldest government in the wold - the United States government.

Ok, thank you russ-watters - now I know how you define marxism, I can continue with the discussion. Please do note that I am not trying to convince anyone that I am right and they are wrong, and was not myself going to discuss marxism explicitly in this thread. However, since the issue has arisen, I would like to explore it a bit if anyone else is interesed:-)

I have formally studied political science, and the 'political science' definition of marxism is that it is a system of analysis (a theoretical perspective which gives one tools with which to analyse the socio-political-economic world) rather than a system of government. Of course, Marx's theory also incorporated a possible 'vision' for the future (what you were talking about, russ_watters), but this is not the aspect of his theory that I am referring to when I talk about marxism - I am talking about the theoretical tools.

As a system of analysis, marxism provides a number of conceptual tools one can use to analyse capitalist society. As you probably already know, two key marxist concepts are 'class' and 'historical materialism'. I believe that a marxist analysis is a very powerful theoretical tool that is still very much valid because it enables social scientists to understand capitalist societies since:

1. Classes still exist (capitalism is, by definition, a 'class' society - ie. there are different economic classes). Marxism does define 'class' in a very specific way, but that may be a bit too technical to go into at this point.

2. A properly conducted marxist analysis involves examining the historical context of whatever one is interested in investigating. Perhaps people will agree that one cannot really understand any single event taken out of context, and that one has to consider the historical evolution of events in order to understand them?

3. A marxist theoretical perspective adopts a materialist position when trying to explain events - it does not draw on reasons such as 'religious beliefs' to explain conflicts, for instance, but looks for material reasons (eg. the acquisition of territory, or of material resources). Marxist explanations can therefore be supported by the use of relevant evidence and are, in scientific terms, therefore more credible.

4. It is a dynamic perspective that uses the 'dialectical' method of analysis (from philosophy), recognising the every socio-political situation is fluid and changing, and that there are a multitude of variables interacting with one another and affecting one another in the interaction. In other words, a rigorous marxist analysis takes into account the complexity of the socio-political world, which is not something many other theoretical perspectives are capable of doing.

My main point is this: if ever there were a theoretical perspective/tool of analysis in the social sciences that was scientific, marxism is the one. That is why I could not agree that it has lost its explanatory power: it explains capitalist societies in a depth that no other theoretical perspective achieves. Of course, one first has to learn about how to work with the theory - what the conceptual tools of analysis are, and how to apply them. This takes dedicated study, as is the case with many difficult theories in the sciences as well. It is also possible to do completely crude so-called 'marxist' analyses -but such simplistic analyses cannot really be considered to be marxist.

So, that's it. It doesn't matter if people disagree with me (I expect them to), but I do think many disagreements occur because people argue 'past' each other and do not clearly state what exactly it is they are arguing for or against. Thanks for this dialogue, russ_watters; it's interesting :smile:
 
  • #10
selfAdjoint said:
This is precisely what Alexandra is denying. Specifically the USSR, PRC, Cuba, Albania, etc. are/were not marxist. Lenin and Mao, and still more Castro and Hoxha opted for practical tyranny over marxist solutions. "Socialism in One Country" is not marxism! The long march and the great leap forward had nothing to do with marxism, except that they waved red flags.

Yep, selfAdjoint - I agree: none of those political systems were actually socialist or communist (not by the technical definitions of these terms). The fact that they claimed they were socialist or communist does not mean that they actually were. There has not yet been a socialist system of government in this world - never mind a communist system.

I would just like to add that I think it is confusing to use 'marxist' as a synonym for 'socialist' or 'communist' - the terms have erroneously been used interchangeably in the mass media, and that is the source of the confusion. We should separate these terms so we all know what we're talking about. Technically, there can never be any such thing as a 'marxist' political system or system of government since marxism is a theoretical or analytical perspective. Another common source of confusion is the use of the word 'Stalinism' as if it had the same meaning as 'socialism' and 'communism'; it doesn't.
 
  • #11
loseyourname said:
How exactly are you to implement Marxism without tyranny? I would hardly think it coincidence that all leaders/nations that tried to implement Marx's vision decided to do so by tyranny. Unless you expect several million people to voluntarily give up their hard-earned private property, which seems to me a fairly unreasonable expectation.

By the way Alex, I would argue that the best theory by which you can understand capitalism is not Marxist theory, but rather capitalist theory.

:biggrin: I was hoping you'd respond, loseyourname - I wanted to compliment you on your choice of signature message; it's great! I would also like to 'borrow it' for a while (while we are having this discussion, during which I expect to have my views 'attacked' from many quarters - but I don't mind).

Ok, back on task... It is true that one cannot get beyond the capitalist system of private ownership of property by asking the rich to 'be nice' and 'share' (this is the sort of naive, utopian plan that the early French socialists had, and Marx completely dissociated himself from them as he wanted to develop a scientific theory to explain social change).

Just as the transition from feudalism to capitalism involved a political revolution (the French Revolution, which Marxists refer to as the bourgeois revolution since it transferred power from the aristocracy to the emerging capitalist or 'bourgeois' class), the transition from capitalism to another soco-political system would, realistically, involve a political revolution. It is not reasonable to expect to ask very rich people to give up what they have out of 'the kindness of their hearts'. The point is, though, that there are relatively *very few* rich people - the capitalist class (as defined by Marx: the owners of the means of production) is not only relatively small, but the gap between what they have and what the rest of the world has to share is also widening.

So, Marx predicted that when the material conditions are right (ie. when the vast bulk of humanity is so impoverished that the ordinary people have nothing to lose), people will unite and do whatever is necessary to try and secure their physical survival. It's a sort of 'survival instinct' thing: either that, or they will simply starve to death! We shall have to see how history unfolds, and it is no use arguing about it. It does not matter in the least whether you and I agree or disagree about whether or not this will happen - but it is something to consider, perhaps? An interesting thought experiment?

When you say that I should use 'capitalist theory' to understand capitalism, I don't really know which theory you are referring to. Please point me to some readings. If you are interested, I am sure you could easily locate some of Marx's work to read as well - it's a fascinating intellectual exercise, if nothing else:-)
 
  • #12
loseyourname's point is really all that needs to be said about the attempts at Marxism. I have only one thing comment on:
My main point is this: if ever there were a theoretical perspective/tool of analysis in the social sciences that was scientific, marxism is the one. That is why I could not agree that it has lost its explanatory power: it explains capitalist societies in a depth that no other theoretical perspective achieves.
I'll accept that it attempts to explain capitalist societies, but is it successful? It has predicted failure and revolution. It simply hasn't happened - in fact, the opposite has happened: capitalism is expanding, and with it, prosperity. Marxism fails on both sides of the coin: the predicted failure of capitalsim and the predicted rise of communism. It has failed as completely as any hypothesis can.
 
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  • #13
I was just wondering whether anyone thinks that the kind of objectivity one pursues in scientific enquiry is also a worthwhile goal when trying to understand politics?
Interesting question.

It would be nice if the politicians could pass laws and make decisions on an objective basis. However, that is certainly often not the case.

Also, there is the matter of discussions and deals going on 'behind closed doors'. How could one apply objectivity when so much is 'hidden'?

Comparative studies of different political and economic systems may be done objectively - one can certainly measure the inputs, outputs and some state variables. But when one tries to understand why communism failed or capitalism succeeded, one may not be able to 'look inside the black box'.

Whether or not capitalism or communism, or any other politico-economic system succeeded or failed may depend on the criterion (criteria) or definition of success or failure.

Personally, I find failure in all systems, and invariably personal corruption (which fosters institutional corruption) is the major cause.
 
  • #14
I have only pity for someone who seemingly devotes his life to the study of Marxism. One may just as well use the Bible as a means to determine the Earth is 6000 years old. It is a useless waste of one's life. It would be far better to study the reasons for the remarkable success the US has had in enriching the lives of all its citizens.

In this post,
alexandra said:
Ok, thank you russ-watters ...
you provide four well written paragraphs, four well written paragraphs that say nothing.

If there is any substance provided, it lies in these fallacious statements:

"Classes still exist (capitalism is, by definition, a 'class' society - ie. there are different economic classes)."

That is not a definition of capitalism except possibly in the minds of those wishing to destroy it. Marxism requires the wealth of the nation to be controlled by the state under the guise of public ownership. That obtuse concept does not warrant any discussion. You cannot ascribe to Marxism the concept of an equal distribution of wealth; Marxism is the denial of wealth to the individual. Distribution of wealth, slowly, steadily, inexorably is a natural outcome of a capitalistic economy in a free society. How many US citizens perusing these forums are not invested in private enterprise? IBM has more stockholders than Marx had viable brain cells. Forty percent of America’s poor own homes equipped with conveniences the royal princes of the 19th century would sell their sisters to have. The growing wealth of the US citizen, the increase in his quality of life is a consequence of capitalism not a consequence of the idiotic ranting of a failed philosopher.

"A marxist theoretical perspective"

I suppose theory is a word that can be ascribed to many writings that should be dismissed as ignorant ramblings. Marx's offering is as ludicrous as that offered by the demented author of "Mein Kampf". Each proclaimed capitalism as the reason for the evils of mankind; each attributed malevolent intent to minority groups or individuals; each was responsible for spawning despicable and despotic governments.

It is not possible to dismiss "Stalinism”, ”Maoism”, “Castroism” or the like as poorly or incorrectly implemented versions of Communism. Communism requires a despotic government; it cannot tolerate dissent, it cannot tolerate individualism, it can only tolerate the more equal of the equals, the ruling elite, and the worker ant toiling for the greater good. The greater good is of course the preservation of the ruling "class" and its deserved access to the better things in life.

..
 
  • #15
It would be far better to study the reasons for the remarkable success the US has had in enriching the lives of all its citizens.
All!? Not quite. I can take you to many places, in most large cities and across rural America where this is absolutely not true. Let's start in the Appalacian mountains of the Carolinas, Tennessee, Kentucky - then rural south.

The growing wealth of the US citizen
Many Americans are slowly losing ground.

Communism requires a despotic government;
Not quite, although that is usually they way it has happened historically.

it cannot tolerate dissent, it cannot tolerate individualism, it can only tolerate the more equal of the equals, the ruling elite, and the worker ant toiling for the greater good. The greater good is of course the preservation of the ruling "class" and its deserved access to the better things in life.
You mean the Bush Administration, right? :biggrin:
 
  • #16
Astronuc said:
All!] Not quite. I can take you to many places, in most large cities and across rural America where this is absolutely not true. Let's start in the Appalacian mountains of the Carolinas, Tennessee, Kentucky - then rural south.
And yet none migrate to communist nations to improve their lot. Few if any migrate to the EU to improve their lot. Many poor, many wealthy migrate to the US, presumably to enjoy a lower quality of life.
Astronuc said:
All!] Many Americans are slowly losing ground.
While many more are gaining ground.
Astronuc said:
All!] Not quite, although that is usually they way it has happened historically.
There’s an exception?
Astronuc said:
All!] You mean the Bush Administration, right? :biggrin:
Ho-hum, back to the typical persuasive liberal discourse.
 
  • #17
GENIERE said:
I have only pity for someone who seemingly devotes his life to the study of Marxism. One may just as well use the Bible as a means to determine the Earth is 6000 years old. It is a useless waste of one's life. It would be far better to study the reasons for the remarkable success the US has had in enriching the lives of all its citizens... That obtuse concept does not warrant any discussion. ..

Tut-tut, GENIERE, do you pity me, then? The concepts I raise areobtuse , are they? I have uselessly wasted my life, have I? Well, why don't I just crawl into the little hole I belong to and be done with it? Actually, GENIERE, I was really expecting a much higher standard of discussion from the people on this forum - for some reason, I thought there were intelligent people here, people who cared about understanding the world.

So anyway, let's try to continue without getting personal. It is a discussion, not a name-calling exercise, I was after. There are plenty of forums I can go to if I want to participate in name-calling, and I sincerely hope that this one rises above that level - perhaps if we could all consciously work on keeping it civilised and impersonal.

GENIERE said:
In this post,
you provide four well written paragraphs, four well written paragraphs that say nothing.

If there is any substance provided, it lies in these fallacious statements:

"Classes still exist (capitalism is, by definition, a 'class' society - ie. there are different economic classes)."

That is not a definition of capitalism except possibly in the minds of those wishing to destroy it. Marxism requires the wealth of the nation to be controlled by the state under the guise of public ownership. That obtuse concept does not warrant any discussion. You cannot ascribe to Marxism the concept of an equal distribution of wealth; Marxism is the denial of wealth to the individual. ..

Actually, Marxism does not require "the wealth of the nation to be controlled by the state under the guise of public ownership". Marx's theory suggests that if humanity is to progress at all (and that is a big IF) then social organisation will move beyond private ownership of wealth to *true* public ownership of wealth. That is Marx's vision: true public ownership of wealth, the eradication of huge discrepancies in wealth and life chances, a truly egalitarian society in which there is no want and no poverty and in which human beings actually care about other human beings. This has not happened yet, but this does not mean it cannot or will not happen. Wow -anyone would think, the way people react in their minimal knowledge of Marx's work (and how they wilfully REFUSE to read his actual writings), that equality and an equitable distribution of wealth and life-chances were a bad thing. How is this bad? How is it wrong to want to adopt a more human approach in social organisation?


GENIERE said:
Distribution of wealth, slowly, steadily, inexorably is a natural outcome of a capitalistic economy in a free society... It is not possible to dismiss "Stalinism”, ”Maoism”, “Castroism” or the like as poorly or incorrectly implemented versions of Communism. Communism requires a despotic government; it cannot tolerate dissent, it cannot tolerate individualism, it can only tolerate the more equal of the equals, the ruling elite, and the worker ant toiling for the greater good. The greater good is of course the preservation of the ruling "class" and its deserved access to the better things in life. ..

To these statements I have only one response: read your own laws - the 'Patriot Act': http://www.epic.org/privacy/terrorism/hr3162.html

GENIERE said:
IBM has more stockholders than Marx had viable brain cells... the idiotic ranting of a failed philosopher ..

Ok, how do you expect me to respond to the above statements? Apart from the fact that you are conducting a personal attack rather than addressing the issues under discussion, it is preposterous to suggest that Marx was stupid and a 'ranting idiot'; the only way in which you can honestly think or make such a statement is if you know nothing at all about his intellectual development and his intellectual work. I know you won't do this (because people make up their minds about things without even reading original authors - for some reason they think they can judge others' work without even knowing the work involved), but I don't see how we can have an intelligent, meaningful argument unless we know what we are talking about. Here is a website that publishes only SOME of Marx's vast body of works in case you decide you really want to learn anything about this: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/cw/index.htm . His most important work is Capital Volume 1, for those who are really interested in intelligent debate.

GENIERE said:
Marx's offering is as ludicrous as that offered by the demented author of "Mein Kampf". Each proclaimed capitalism as the reason for the evils of mankind; each attributed malevolent intent to minority groups or individuals; each was responsible for spawning despicable and despotic governments...

Well, Marx = Hitler, huh? Ok, this is pure, irredeemable slander. Again, I know that you will not do this, but here is my suggestion for anyone who wants to
be intellectually honest about this - read about Hitler's intellectual background and compare this with Marx's, and tell me how you can compare their work after that. Mein Kampf is not a research-based intellectual work, and it is Hitler's only publication. Marx's theory is developed over a number of complex works/writings that drew from respectable disciplines like English political economy (Adam Smith, David Ricardo) and German philosophy (Hegel, Feuerbach). Marx was a scholar whose work was based on extensive research and the application of his well-developed intellect (he trained as a lawyer, read in philosophy, edited a newspaper, studied political economy, etc).

It is both grossly unfair and *very misleading* to compare Marx's life's work with that of Hitler, who was a school drop-out and a general failure intellectually. Just in case anyone is curious to read more objective histories of Marx, this Wikipedia URL is a good starting point: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marx . You can also read up Hitler's biography on the Wikipedia site to check that what I say is correct, ie that he was a school drop-out and cannot be compared to the serious scholar, Marx.

I am after honest debate - let's try to be objective. Is it possible to be objective when discussing politics, I ask again? If not, then just declare that you refuse to be objective. But then I think it is important to be aware of your subjectivity, and not to fool yourself into believing that you have any interest whatsoever in truly understanding the world.

Reading the kind of dialogue that passes as arguments in some of these political discussions, where people refuse to even read the references the 'opposing side' provide and to consider the hard evidence presented, is very frustrating. It is as frustrating to a political scientist as a physical scientist would find trying to talk to someone who believes the Earth is flat and help them see, through the evidence of their own eyes (if only they would look) that it is NOT flat. Oh no, no matter what evidence you present, they stick to their view... Very, very frustrating.
 
  • #19
alexandra,
I wish I were more competent in political science. I don't even reach the level of amateur. But I'm enjoying very much your views and clear, informed exposition.
I hope you meet interesting debatants in this forum. Please don't be disappointed too soon. Hope to keep on reading. Thanks.
 
  • #20
To quote Marx
From each according to his ability, to each according to his need

This is the essence of Marxism. Slavery of the able to the lazy as such a proposition can only be implemented by force. Nobody is going to give up his right to life voluntarily.


alexandra said:
To these statements I have only one response: read your own laws - the 'Patriot Act': http://www.epic.org/privacy/terrorism/hr3162.html

You should go to North Korea then.

If you are equating the Patriot Act with dictatorships, then you really need to learn something about dictatorships
 
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  • #21
russ_watters said:
capitalism is expanding, and with it, prosperity.

Hello again. I am looking for evidence that prosperity is expanding. I am doing google searches right now to find credible sources of evidence for this. Just to let you know that I am not ignoring the substance of your argument - but if we are going to argue about this, I do require some facts and figures to base the discussion on. I am really, really trying to apply scientific methods to our political discussion here. If you find any information that credibly proves what you are claiming before I do, please give me the reference, russ_watters. Then we will have a starting point for our discussion.

Sorry for being annoying like this - but I presume (and have read on other boards in this forum) that you do not mind my asking for evidence? You also ask people for evidence to support their arguments regarding GR and the BB, etc - especially when they propose theories that you do not agree with. I am trying to be as intellectually rigorous as you in this very important field of study: politics.
 
  • #22
sid_galt said:
To quote Marx


This is the essence of Marxism. Slavery of the able to the lazy as such a proposition can only be implemented by force. Nobody is going to give up his right to life voluntarily.

This, sid_galt, is merely your interpretation of what that means. Marx does not say that people will be lazy and live off the backs of others. Here's another interpretation for you to think about: the capitalist class is lazy and lives off the backs of the working class. It doesn't do a stitch of work in its lifetime, but it profits obscenely from using up the lives of people who earn barely subsistence wages. How many assets do the 'big capitalists' have? I will not mention individuals' names here, because this is not what our discussion is about. I see the capitalist class as a class - and as a whole, as a class, it exploits others in order to lead its obscenely decadent lifestyle.



sid_galt said:
You should go to North Korea then.

If you are equating the Patriot Act with dictatorships, then you really need to learn something about dictatorships

You are being unfair, sid_galt. When did I hold up societies like North Korea (or even the ex-USSR or any other country) as models of democracy? They were all dictatorships. When we argue, please let us be fair (or is that too much to ask for?)
 
  • #23
Astronuc said:
Interesting question.

It would be nice if the politicians could pass laws and make decisions on an objective basis. However, that is certainly often not the case.

Also, there is the matter of discussions and deals going on 'behind closed doors'. How could one apply objectivity when so much is 'hidden'? .

Thank you for thinking my question worth asking, Astronuc :smile:

The 'hidden deals' of politics is a problem, I agree - but a Marxist analysis illuminates the 'what', 'why' and 'how' of these issues: the politicians are either part of the ruling class or they are the servants of the ruling class - and are very well-paid for the job. A Marxist analysis reveals this, and thus uncovers what is hidden. Politicians in capitalist systems are not neutral, despite the fact that this is how they try to present themselves - they cannot be. They have to take sides: the side of 'big business'. Only a Marxist analysis reveals this - otherwise it is hidden, and we wonder why the politicians do what they do. This is not really a mystery - they are a part of, and defenders of, a particular class' interests. Showing the deception is a crucial part of marxist analysis.

Astronuc said:
But when one tries to understand why communism failed or capitalism succeeded, one may not be able to 'look inside the black box'.

Ah, Astronuc - but has capitalism succeeded? I question that. History is still unfolding, right now. It's not as if there is no conflict anywhere. There are the obvious big conflicts in the Middle East and in the ex-USSR region - but there are also the daily, smaller-level class conflicts in every capitalist country. These don't get reported on much in the mass media. One has to go to non-mainstream media websites to find out about them. I will put up the URLs of such websites on request. Anyone who is interested, just let me know (because I don't want to be accused of forcing my views on others).

Astronuc said:
Whether or not capitalism or communism, or any other politico-economic system succeeded or failed may depend on the criterion (criteria) or definition of success or failure.

Personally, I find failure in all systems, and invariably personal corruption (which fosters institutional corruption) is the major cause.

Hmm, yes it is easy to lose hope in humanity. I am desperately trying not to :smile:
 
  • #24
antfm said:
alexandra,
I wish I were more competent in political science. I don't even reach the level of amateur. But I'm enjoying very much your views and clear, informed exposition.
I hope you meet interesting debatants in this forum. Please don't be disappointed too soon. Hope to keep on reading. Thanks.

Thank you for your encouragement, antfm - I am feeling a little bit beleaguered at the moment :-p . It does not surprise me that I am being so vehemently attacked, though (I expected it - because people have ideologies and deeply-held systems of beliefs that they often don't have the will to challenge - I know this), but I will try to keep on discussing this rationally and calmly. We'll see how my plan pans out. I think many people on these forums have rigorously-trained minds because they are used to working with scientific theories that require evidence and proof, and I am hopeful that we may be able to do this (crossed fingers).
 
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  • #25
GENIERE said:
Forty percent of America’s poor own homes equipped with conveniences the royal princes of the 19th century would sell their sisters to have. The growing wealth of the US citizen, the increase in his quality of life is a consequence of capitalism... ..

And I claim that GR and the BB are utter nonsense - the idiotic ravings of lunatics! Yes, this is true. It is true because I assert it to be true. I'm telling you, GENIERE, you have wasted your life on useless theories that explain nothing. Actually the universe was born of a turtle's egg.

Ok, let's get real here. Please provide me with references as evidence of what you say above.
 
  • #26
alexandra said:
Thank you for your encouragement, antfm - I am feeling a little bit beleaguered at the moment :-p . It does not surprise me that I am being so vehemently attacked, though (I expected it - because people have ideologies and deeply-held systems of beliefs that they often don't have the will to challenge - I know this), but I will try to keep on discussing this rationally and calmly. We'll see how my plan pans out. I think many people on these forums have rigorously-trained minds because they are used to working with scientific theories that require evidence and proof, and I am hopeful that we may be able to do this (crossed fingers).

Had to say that this discussion, in its own wicked sense, is a welcomed exception ... and am very happy you're pulling it through the way it is supposed to. It seems that many topics under political are un-discussionable due to the associated complete loss of objectivity - a most prudent question which started this marvellous thread - and as such don't rise to the level exercised in other parts of PF (could it be that scientifically informed people are too "stuck with their numbers" and "short-term" logic in order to converse less quantified issues building up their looks in life...). Great to witness in-depth and (for some parts) well informed political discussion.
 
  • #27
alexandra said:
I have a question: I was just wondering whether anyone thinks that the kind of objectivity one pursues in scientific enquiry is also a worthwhile goal when trying to understand politics?

I mean, I have read various discussions in which people have said that scientific 'truths' and 'facts' are always provisional, and that 'facts' sometimes change in the light of new knowledge. I have read that scientific theories supported by individuals on this forum are re-evaluated in the light of new information. This is, in my view, as things should be.

But I have observed that this rule does not seem to be applied at all when the discussion is social or political. In social or political discussions, many of those people who claim to always be open to re-evaluating their scientific theories and beliefs in the light of new knowledge seem to actively resist re-evaluating their political and social views at all. They seem to refuse to consider any information that is presented to them that may contradict their views.

Itd be great but the problem with 'factual' politics is that no one likes that and politics entirely deals with the "everyone". Funny enough you can say you have taxes and then conservation of energy. Energy is always conserved because that's just how it is because nature says so. In taxes, people "say so" and the idea of low taxes nad high program funding is what hte people want yet its illogical and impossible. People want everything for nothing and there's always 2 contradicting philosophies. In nature there's 1 philosphy, the philosophy of nature. Nature dictates what works and there is no 2nd nature peopel can subscribe to. In politics of course, there's a multitude of philosophies and one is actually capable of forcing their philosophy on others whether its right or wrong. Along with that, there is no "right" or "wrong" as there is in the universe (E =mc^2 and that's it for example). Since its all about personal preference, you always have people who want one thing and people who want another thing. Since politics caters to all sides, its inveriably trying to gather up personal preferences and taking a nice half-way point in between statistical averages. In science, no, there's no 2 sides, there's no preferences, no averages, nothing but nearly definitive truth.

Actually though, there are a FEW yes and no's in social studies.but there almost useless. Pretty much everyone wants at least some funding for schools and everyone wants water. Useless of course lol.

But one thing you bring up is that "facts change". Well the problem with that is there's fact and perceived fact. Nature works in 1 way no matter what. Our set of "facts" may not mirror nature's way but we try to get as close to it as possible and attempt to refine our facts to match nature. The reason this doesn't work as we know it in society is that we just can't take into account the entire world. Science facts are independant of the environment they take place in. Social facts arent as far as the level we can understand them is concerned. We could technically determine say, the effects on 8 year olds of drinking soda but the theory would have to have provisions and expand to every single variable imaginable (form where you live to how many steps you take every day to what speed you brain works at). Every change in density of the material the kid steps on would have to be a variable in the theory and the theory would be almost infinitely long. Thats why they say social science is just "some people like this, some people dont".

But even on hte more understandable, base level that we can use, there's too many variables to make broad policy decisions and there's always someone dissatisfied.
 
  • #28
alexandra said:
This, sid_galt, is merely your interpretation of what that means. Marx does not say that people will be lazy and live off the backs of others.

I don't see how. Can you explain

alexandra said:
Here's another interpretation for you to think about: the capitalist class is lazy and lives off the backs of the working class. It doesn't do a stitch of work in its lifetime, but it profits obscenely from using up the lives of people who earn barely subsistence wages. How many assets do the 'big capitalists' have? I will not mention individuals' names here, because this is not what our discussion is about. I see the capitalist class as a class - and as a whole, as a class, it exploits others in order to lead its obscenely decadent lifestyle.

I challenge you to justify your statement that the capitalist class is lazy and evil. If it hadn't been for the capitalist Henry Ford, we might not have seen cheap cars and a revolution in methods of production for decades to come. If it hadn't been for an "evil" capitalist called JJ Hill, the North would have taken ages to develop. If it hadn't been for the "evil" capitalists, you wouldn't even be able to type what you are typing - there would be no computers. If it wasn't for the "evil" capitalists, 50% of the children would still be dying before the age of 10. If it hadn't been for the "evil" capitalists, most of the people in the world would still have been struggling to make their ends meet. If it hadn't been for the "lazy" capitalists, there would have been no Industrial Revolution.

And for your information, the "evil" capitalists most likely work the hardest with the possible exception of scientists and engineers.
Does a common laborer take the risks a capitalist takes? Does a common laborer work for 3 nights without stopping? Does a common laborer use his mind as much as a capitalist does?

Your notion that capitalists rely on their workers for their wealth assumes that man is only muscles with no mind - that businesses and machines, inventions and factories, only need a brawn to make and run, not brain. Your notion is false.



alexandra said:
You are being unfair, sid_galt. When did I hold up societies like North Korea (or even the ex-USSR or any other country) as models of democracy? They were all dictatorships. When we argue, please let us be fair (or is that too much to ask for?)

I am not being unfair alexandra. GENIERE said that Communism requires a despotic government which cannot tolerate individualism. You responded by pointing to the Patriot Act. By this you are directly implying that the Patriot Act is as evil as the communist dictatorships.
 
  • #29
alexandra said:
The 'hidden deals' of politics is a problem, I agree - but a Marxist analysis illuminates the 'what', 'why' and 'how' of these issues: the politicians are either part of the ruling class or they are the servants of the ruling class - and are very well-paid for the job. A Marxist analysis reveals this, and thus uncovers what is hidden. Politicians in capitalist systems are not neutral, despite the fact that this is how they try to present themselves - they cannot be. They have to take sides: the side of 'big business'. Only a Marxist analysis reveals this - otherwise it is hidden, and we wonder why the politicians do what they do. This is not really a mystery - they are a part of, and defenders of, a particular class' interests. Showing the deception is a crucial part of marxist analysis.

Ah, Astronuc - but has capitalism succeeded? I question that. History is still unfolding, right now. It's not as if there is no conflict anywhere. There are the obvious big conflicts in the Middle East and in the ex-USSR region - but there are also the daily, smaller-level class conflicts in every capitalist country. These don't get reported on much in the mass media. One has to go to non-mainstream media websites to find out about them. I will put up the URLs of such websites on request. Anyone who is interested, just let me know (because I don't want to be accused of forcing my views on others).

I won't even bother going into a full scale argument on this one but let's just say this. Our tax system is a progressive system. Our tax system has capital gains taxes. No one who has ever claimed politicians are owend by "big business" has ever been able to explain those 2 concepts of our tax laws. They are in 100% direct contradiction towards your idea (I also want to know what your sources are for facts for the concept that big business owns politicians).

Secondly, capitalism has existed for hundreds of years. Most people who bring up this argument usually are unable to setup a timetable for what "success" would be (and most likely, the timetable starts ending at a theoretical failure of capitalism in their minds). And remember, those "un-published" problems occur in every nation, socialist or capitalist or communist or traditional.
 
  • #30
@sid

Yah no one ever dares bring up the businessman who never gets to see his family or the CEO who dies at 45 of a heartattack because his work stressed him out beyond healthy limits or the homeless guy who lost his shirt because his business failed (but then again people say the homeless are the victims of rich capitalist??). I am starting a business and things are looken like for a few months, ill be worken 24-32 hours a week for 0 salary just because i need the business to HOPEFULLY take off. Maybe, at some point, after years of low or no salary and graduate school, i may get somewhere and hit that "evil lazy capitalist class that doesn't do an ounce of work" level of income.
 
  • #31
alexandra said:
Thank you for your encouragement, antfm - I am feeling a little bit beleaguered at the moment :-p . It does not surprise me that I am being so vehemently attacked, though (I expected it - because people have ideologies and deeply-held systems of beliefs that they often don't have the will to challenge - I know this), but I will try to keep on discussing this rationally and calmly. We'll see how my plan pans out.

After reading this thread and comparing it to other capitalist vs. communist threads I've seen/participated in, i am absolutely amazed that you can call this a "vehement" attack (even though you quickly returned the 'attack' to teh same degree). This thread's savage attack towards you compared to absolutely every other debate on the topic is like... your so called attack was comparable to a firecracker... every other thread I've ever read on the topic would be like every nuclear weapon on Earth detonating at the same time. I mean you were practically being complimented compared to most of the things i see from people.

I see this tactic among many anti-capitalists though. They ALWAYS go "of course, i was attacked for my beliefs" when they do the exact same thing. It also makes me curious as to how you even allow yourself to comment on the American style of capitalism. You do not live in our country (as you implied in a post) and know nothing about our laws or system yet you present an argument and then complain when we don't agree with you and say your "vehemently attacked for my beliefs"

And please, before you act like a majority of the left-wingers of the world and make a fool of yourself, please state what exactly is wrong with our Patriot Act and be specific about it or appologize for such a reactionary statement.
 
  • #32
PerennialII said:
Had to say that this discussion, in its own wicked sense, is a welcomed exception ... and am very happy you're pulling it through the way it is supposed to. It seems that many topics under political are un-discussionable due to the associated complete loss of objectivity - a most prudent question which started this marvellous thread - and as such don't rise to the level exercised in other parts of PF (could it be that scientifically informed people are too "stuck with their numbers" and "short-term" logic in order to converse less quantified issues building up their looks in life...). Great to witness in-depth and (for some parts) well informed political discussion.

Thank you, PerennialII :shy: It worries me that any topics become impossible to discuss, especially on the PF - it seems to me that it is worthwhile trying to address this issue. I will really try to keep a rational discussion going. It may take me a while to get back to people sometimes (because I do have to respond from an informed and thoughtful position that is thought-provoking), but what I intend to do is to find the actual substance of people's arguments and try to respond to these rather than to respond emotionally and allow the whole discussion to degenrate into a slanging match. As a social scientist, I believe that it is possible to achieve some level of clarity and reasoned argument in discussions.

For the record, I am also a mathematics student and have a keen interest in cosmology (this is what attracted me to PF) - but I would not dare to participate in discussions on those matters as I do not feel I have enough knowledge at this point and would have no expertise to offer. I may, however, one day have questions to ask on the relevant forums. By the way, everyone, I really, really enjoy reading your discussions there :smile:
 
  • #33
Pengwuino said:
Itd be great but the problem with 'factual' politics is that no one likes that and politics entirely deals with the "everyone". Funny enough you can say you have taxes and then conservation of energy. Energy is always conserved because that's just how it is because nature says so. In taxes, people "say so" and the idea of low taxes nad high program funding is what hte people want yet its illogical and impossible. People want everything for nothing and there's always 2 contradicting philosophies. In nature there's 1 philosphy, the philosophy of nature. Nature dictates what works and there is no 2nd nature peopel can subscribe to. In politics of course, there's a multitude of philosophies and one is actually capable of forcing their philosophy on others whether its right or wrong. Along with that, there is no "right" or "wrong" as there is in the universe (E =mc^2 and that's it for example). Since its all about personal preference, you always have people who want one thing and people who want another thing. Since politics caters to all sides, its inveriably trying to gather up personal preferences and taking a nice half-way point in between statistical averages. In science, no, there's no 2 sides, there's no preferences, no averages, nothing but nearly definitive truth.

I agree with much of what you say here, Pengwuino, but I draw somewhat different conclusions. When we discuss something like environmental issues, for instance, I totally agree with you that "In nature there's 1 philosphy, the philosophy of nature. Nature dictates what works and there is no 2nd nature peopel can subscribe to." This is exactly why it is important (if we are thinking of environmental issues) to properly think through the political and economic issues as well - as you say, we cannot impose our own rules on nature, but what we do in our productive activity (a social, economic and political issue) impacts on nature. Experts in groups such as the Union of Concerned Scientists ( http://www.bapd.org/gunrts-1.html ) can provide technical information and scientific evidence to back up their assessments of the situation. Current economic activity is sometimes predictably dangerous to the environment and sometimes its effects are unpredictable. Sometimes we just don't know whether human activity is causing irremediable damage to the environment, but it seems likely that we are: "In nature there's 1 philosophy..." So do we just ignore the damage because it's not happening right here, right now? Doesn't anyone on this discussion board have children? Doesn't anyone think they'll have grandchildren?

Pengwuino said:
But one thing you bring up is that "facts change". Well the problem with that is there's fact and perceived fact. Nature works in 1 way no matter what. Our set of "facts" may not mirror nature's way but we try to get as close to it as possible and attempt to refine our facts to match nature. The reason this doesn't work as we know it in society is that we just can't take into account the entire world.

Hmm, it seems to me that when you are attempting to discover how nature works, there are also many variables involved. For example, I would imagine there are many more variables involved when one is trying to understand the universe itself than there are when one is trying to understand human society? Both intellectual activities (trying to understand physics/the universe and trying to understand social organisations) are complex - yet we do not balk from the task of trying to understand the origins and ultimate fate of the universe. It does not make sense to me that, given that ambition, we should give up on attempts to understand humans and their social organisations.

Pengwuino said:
Science facts are independant of the environment they take place in. Social facts arent as far as the level we can understand them is concerned. We could technically determine say, the effects on 8 year olds of drinking soda but the theory would have to have provisions and expand to every single variable imaginable (form where you live to how many steps you take every day to what speed you brain works at). Every change in density of the material the kid steps on would have to be a variable in the theory and the theory would be almost infinitely long. Thats why they say social science is just "some people like this, some people dont".

But even on hte more understandable, base level that we can use, there's too many variables to make broad policy decisions and there's always someone dissatisfied.

I'm tempted to bring up the argument here that even pure science can no longer claim objectivity. I have read several 'popular science' cosmology books that say that even in the physical sciences, the very act of observation changes the results of the experiment. I do not, however, have any real or deep knowledge about this so I would call on experts who know science to contribute (I simply don't have time to do the deep amount of study it would take - though I intend to study these things over the next few years). So, can anyone help me out with this one? Is science completely objective, or is it also the case that the observer is a part of the observation and influences it? If the latter is the case, perhaps we should stop 'doing science'?
 
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  • #34
sid_galt said:
I don't see how. Can you explain .

Ok, this is why I say that when Marx wrote "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need" he did not mean what you interpret it to mean, ie. that "Slavery of the able to the lazy as such a proposition can only be implemented by force. Nobody is going to give up his right to life voluntarily."

What Marx meant was that people are good at (and are interested in) different things, so they should work at the things that they are good at and interested in ("From each according to his ability..."), and that all people living in a society should make a useful contribution to their society. For example, in every social organisation we will need both doctors and garbage collectors; both are necessary since without the latter (garbage collectors) we'd need a heck of a lot more doctors to cope with the results. Now, some people have the intellectual skills to study medicine, and also have the desire and the required self-discipline for such study, so that is what they should do and then their contribution to society will be as doctors. Some people just aren't cut out for that sort of study, or just aren't interested, or just aren't suited to being doctors because they faint at the sight of blood (my lame attempt at a joke; sorry!). So they should contribute to the social welfare of the community they live in in other ways - for example, by becoming garbage collectors. In other words, Marx meant that *everyone* has to make *some substantial* contribution to society in return for having their physical survival needs met ("...to each according to his need"). This is why I disagree with your interpretation - Marx just never said what you claim he said.



sid_galt said:
I challenge you to justify your statement that the capitalist class is lazy and evil. If it hadn't been for the capitalist Henry Ford, we might not have seen cheap cars and a revolution in methods of production for decades to come. If it hadn't been for an "evil" capitalist called JJ Hill, the North would have taken ages to develop. If it hadn't been for the "evil" capitalists, you wouldn't even be able to type what you are typing - there would be no computers. If it wasn't for the "evil" capitalists, 50% of the children would still be dying before the age of 10. If it hadn't been for the "evil" capitalists, most of the people in the world would still have been struggling to make their ends meet. If it hadn't been for the "lazy" capitalists, there would have been no Industrial Revolution..

sid_galt, I do not use emotional language such as 'evil'. It would be infantile of me to argue from such a simplistic position, and I find it insulting that you should accuse me of this. Please point out where I speak in terms of simple things like 'good' and 'evil'? I should hope that my analysis is more sophisticated than that! So, everyone reading this, please go back to what I have written and confirm that I never used such an argument. I made a real point of stating that I am talking about economic classes, and not about individuals.

My statement about the 'lazy capitalists' (words I DID use) was a counterargument to something you said. I regret it. I let my guard down, and will have to be more rigorous in future. My apologies, sid_galt, for allowing even that much emotive language creep into my response.

It is an elementary marxist understanding that capitalism furthered human social organisation. Capitalism was, as you point out, a necessary stage and, again as you say, without this stage of social development there would have been no Industrial Revolution and we would all still be peasants living as serfs in ignorance, and I would not be sitting here having this lively and invigorating discussion with you. We have no argument there; I agree with you :smile:

sid_galt said:
And for your information, the "evil" capitalists most likely work the hardest with the possible exception of scientists and engineers.

sid_galt, I am not convinced about the hard-working capitalist theory of yours. No matter how hard one works, when most people are earning barely enough to subsist on, is it fair for CEOs to earn as much as they do? After all, aren't there only 24 hours in one day? How hard can these CEOs possibly be working? Here's a WorldWatch Institute article with more information about this: http://www.worldwatch.org/features/vsow/2003/08/27/ . An extract: "In 2001, the average annual pay of U.S. CEOs topped $11 million—some 350 times as much as the U.S. factory worker, who earned on average $31,260." I don't know whether CEO earnings have risen or dropped since then, but I imagine if they did drop it would not have been by much. Actually, I've just found a more recent article at USAToday: http://www.usatoday.com/money/companies/management/2003-03-31-ceopay2_x.htm - it confirms that nothing much has changed...

sid_galt said:
Does a common laborer take the risks a capitalist takes?

According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, working as a common labourer can be hazardous to your health and can result in fatalities: http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshsum.htm . There's heaps of information on this site, so please excuse me if I don't have time to summarise it.

sid_galt said:
Does a common laborer work for 3 nights without stopping? Does a common laborer use his mind as much as a capitalist does?

Hmm, ok - you tell me. Where can you give me evidence that a capitalist works for 3 nights without stopping? (I presume you mean straight through three days and nights?). I'm not sure that this is a major issue in the argument, but it is interesting. And regarding whether or not a common labourer uses his mind as much as a capitalist does... well, I would argue that all work involves problem-solving of some sort, and awareness. I doubt that we can measure who uses his mind more. But my question is, why is this relevant to our discussion? Is using one's mind a lot more valuable than using up one's body?


sid_galt said:
Your notion that capitalists rely on their workers for their wealth assumes that man is only muscles with no mind - that businesses and machines, inventions and factories, only need a brawn to make and run, not brain. Your notion is false.

Oh no, sid_galt, I certainly do not assume that 'man is only muscles with no mind'. After all, I consider myself to be an intellectual worker too, and am pretty hopeless at anything practical or involving manual work. I believe that all people use their brain in all jobs - no job is purely manual. Surely one has to be thinking about what one is doing all the time, even if the job is only digging up dirt? I certainly believe in the importance of intellectual labour - I guess I just don't believe that the *really* rich have to do this themselves: they pay to employ other people's brains - managers, scientists, engineers, etc.



sid_galt said:
I am not being unfair alexandra. GENIERE said that Communism requires a despotic government which cannot tolerate individualism. You responded by pointing to the Patriot Act. By this you are directly implying that the Patriot Act is as evil as the communist dictatorships.

Yes, I do need to clarify this. The Patriot Act can be used in a way that erodes the rights of US citizens and the rights of other people who are not US citizens. It gives the government the power to infringe on the privacy of individuals, whether or not they are a 'threat'. That is what I meant. I meant that this Act can be badly misused. No doubt I will have to expand on this explanation at some stage, but it is getting late now and I am tiring... soon I will say something silly that will come back to haunt me if I don't stop now :wink:
 
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  • #35
alexandra said:
Marx could do maths too! An 'idiot', huh? Here's the link: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1881/mathematical-manuscripts/index.htm

For some reason, I thought this may help you see that he has intellectual credibility. After all, I presume everyone on this forum respects maths and a mind that can understand it?
alexandra, this isn't about credibility. Marx was a genius and a visionary. But that doesn't automatically make his theory right. Even Einstein made mistakes.
 

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