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

  1. Jan 11, 2006 #1
    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':rolleyes:

    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
     
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  3. Jan 11, 2006 #2

    russ_watters

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    The US, like every country, is first and foremost out for its own self-interest.

    So what?
     
  4. Jan 11, 2006 #3

    EL

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    Sure. (We have all noticed US politics is mainly based on self-interest...:wink: )
    Although I think it's a quite sick attitude. I've never understood this patriotic stuff.
     
  5. Jan 11, 2006 #4

    russ_watters

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    :confused: :confused: What do you mean? Are you saying that most other countries are not primarily out for their own self-interest?
     
  6. Jan 11, 2006 #5
    You ask 'So what?' My response to this question is that 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.
     
  7. Jan 11, 2006 #6

    EL

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    I said "sure", which means I agree with that most countries primarly acts for their own best, and I especially find that it holds well for USA.
    However, I don't like (and cannot really understand) that patriotic attitude, and hope it will change in the future.
     
  8. Jan 11, 2006 #7

    Gokul43201

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    Where does patriotism even come into the discussion here ? :confused:

    The guiding principle is self-preservation.
     
  9. Jan 11, 2006 #8
    Conservatism is more accurate. It does share some elements with nationalism.
     
  10. Jan 11, 2006 #9

    EL

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    Yes. Self-preservation of individuals.
    However, I have a hard time to see why I should care more about a random Swede than say a random American or Arab.
    Ok, it's of course sometimes that carying more about my countrymen could give me personal advantages, but I don't find it's like that in general.

    Take a hypotetical situation where you have to chose between killing either a compatriot or a foreigner, and you don't know any of them at all. Who would you choose?
    Myself i would have to toss a coin since I cannot see why I should save the Swede just because he happened to be born on "the rigth side" of an imaginary line...
    But my impression is that most people don't think like that.
     
  11. Jan 11, 2006 #10
    The OP situation is absurd. Does a country not have the right to refuse to sell its military technology to a rival country?
     
  12. Jan 11, 2006 #11

    EL

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    Agree, it was a quite strange example. However I guess she wants to discuss the subject in a more general manner.
     
  13. Jan 11, 2006 #12
    It's not so free when technologically advanced and militarily powerful countries dominate weaker countries using force when necessarily.
     
  14. Jan 11, 2006 #13

    russ_watters

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    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.

    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.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2006
  15. Jan 11, 2006 #14

    russ_watters

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    You answered your own question - but whether it makes you uncomfortable or not, it's a reality. A person's first duty is to him/herself. If you are not prosperous, you can't help Sweden become prosperous. If Sweden is not prosperous, it can't help the Arab world become prosperous.

    People see it as greed or selfishness, but it is a useful, practical reality and there isn't anything wrong with it.
    Why be so negative with the scenario? (I don't think that scenario fits the conversation): consider a homeless person who lives on the corner of your street vs one who lives in Iraq. Which one do you toss your daily change to? As with the above, the fact that you have a personal connection with the poor person on your street corner (you have to look at him every day, while you'll never meet this faceless Iraqi) does not make it wrong to give him the money instead of some Iraqi that you will never meet - even if you are only tossing him some change out of a sense of personal shame.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2006
  16. Jan 11, 2006 #15
    The U.S. isn't ideologically 100% Capitalist. We're more capitalist than any major country in the world, but we're not solely devouted to one ideology at the expense of everything else.

    For what it's worth, I really don't think Republicans are Capitalist at all...
     
  17. Jan 11, 2006 #16
    Capitalism is a system that'd collapse if truely free.

    Though, I don't understand why they'd block that particular deal.

    What I mean is like outsourcing.
     
  18. Jan 11, 2006 #17

    EL

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    Sure. But reality can be changed.

    Agree.

    And say if I don't like the typical Swedish values very much. Why should I want Sweden to become prosperous?
    What I can't stand is this "unconditional love" of ones home country. Often it is not a self-preserving attitude, but mostly something just others benefit from, without you getting anything back. Or even making things worse for you. (Note that I'm not saying you or anyone else here is of this type, but there are plenty of them out there...)

    Well I hardly see any homeless people in this country. If they are, they are so of their own free will.
    Anyway I have given much, much more money to organizations working in Africa and Asia than I have given to poor people here.
     
  19. Jan 11, 2006 #18

    russ_watters

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    The basis of your feelings is hard-wired into your DNA. It cannot be changed.

    edit: Nor should you want it to be changed. Your feelings - whether the physical like hunger or the strictly emotional like love - are what keep you alive, healthy, and happy.
    You wouldn't - but why would you live in a place that didn't fit you?

    That's an essential component of patriotism - I live in the USA because I like the USA. If I didn't like the USA and thought my ideals were fundamentally incompatible with the US's, I'd move somewhere else. So in the practical sense, patriotism is simply a biproduct of liking where you live because you live where you like it.
    I've never seen "unconditional love" in any commonly used definition of patriotism. People often bring it up as a strawman attack on the concept patriotism, but true patriotism requries that you be able to see and attempt to correct the problems in your country. That's why, in the US, voting is considered a patriotic act and people often say "if you don't vote, you can't complain".
    99% of such people live in monasteries and their 100% altruistic way of life is fatally flawed and impotent. Bill Gates and Bono are just the sort of rich, greedy capitalists that alexandra hates most and the fact of the matter is that those guys will accomplish more in one year than all the monks on the planet combined. Why? Because they satiated their own ambition first and acquired the resources necessary to make real changes in the world.
    I won't pretend to know how it works in Sweden, but in the US, a significant fraction of our taxes go toward helping the less fortunate. 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.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2006
  20. Jan 11, 2006 #19

    EL

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    Ever heard of environment? Do you think you were born with a gene for capitalismloving?:wink:

    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.)

    Then USA can't be a very patriotic country...:tongue2:

    Well the difference is that one cannot choose directly where the taxes go.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2006
  21. Jan 11, 2006 #20
    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/content/empresa/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'.
     
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