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Knight Of Winter

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  1. Knight Of Winter

    Workable Objectivism (Ayn Rand)

    You could maybe say that this was a discourse - but not with the opposing side, but with the public . Whole strategy seems a bit like a public courtroom - you present (with actions, behaviour, words...) your side, opposing side presents theirs, you don't engage with each other but wait for the judge (public) to bring a verdict who presented himself best. I'm not trying to move goalposts or anything here, you presented a good point that I hadn't considered so far - so I'm thankful. Maybe I should clarify. I'm not afraid on rational level - i don't fear that whatever they say (and I mean "say" not "do", hence "speech"), that they will somehow win the day or carry the argument, or convert me to their side - or achieve much generally. I am afraid on emotional level - namely that, as you say, their ideology relies sometimes not only on words but on actual violence and discrimination - which is why I stop supporting their right for speech as soon as it e.g. starts advocating violence against anyone. I'm aware that I'm separating here in theory what may be inseparable in praxis: namely the speech itself (X are bad) and sets of behaviors which can be derived or assumed from that speech (we should hurt X) - but I feel an effort must be made. __________ And now to tackle the main dish: namely the proposition that discourse doesn't achieve much, and that force is the main ingredient of societal change. Force itself can be very effective in local, limited settings - putting a gun so someone's head will certainly make him obey you. But for any kind of societal, structural change, force has only ever played second fiddle to cooperation and discourse. Always and ever, in any point in human history - at no point in time was force the dominant factor in wielding power or making changes. How can I tell? By looking at the most powerful people in human history: kings, generals, CEOs, movement leaders, presidents etc. If force was somehow the deciding factor in obtaining power (and thus the opportunity to enact change) - all of aforementioned positions would be basically a physical strength contest - new CEO's would, for example, be appointed by boxing matches, or the guy who violently murdered the former president would instantly succeed him. For all of human history, leader was not once the physically imposing guy who exerted the most force - but the guy who convinced (and by convinced I mean anything from "politely explained" to "brainwashed") most individuals, or few powerful individuals, to follow him. If you want to obtain power - make sure you have their support. If you want to keep power, make sure you don't lose it - or failing that, make sure that your opponents can't united and coordinate with each other (that's why controlling the media comes in handy). Even if you do plan on achieving something through force - like starting a revolution or overthrowing a government - you need a critical mass of allies and supporters who will go along with you - and you can't gain these followers and allies by force alone. Usually you need some kind of ideology that they will latch to. By contrast, using force and force alone will never get you very far. And people get that. When one has an argument with e.g. a wife, a friend, a coworker or boss - the subtext here is not "do as I say or I'll beat you up". Even in larger settings - like class deciding on where to go on a trip, or county elections, or shareholders deciding on a new CEO - the final result is a complex mix of negotiations, barters, bribes, intimidation, blackmails or following the charismatic individuals - rather than any threat or show of force. But somehow, on a largest level - that of society - people think that threat of force is the only or best way to go. Actually - there's a name for people who follow that maxim: terrorists. They certainly have their agenda they'd like to promote, and they certainly don't hesitate to use threat of violence (or actual violence) to back it up. So again, if their method is so good and effective - why is it that we don't cheer for them? I'm not advocating for passivity and meekness here - and I certainly think that everyone (person or group) would do well with having a capacity for violence. For when someone violently oppresses you, you're more than right in violently pushing them back. But to view and entire history as a series of groups and factions using violence to forcibly enact changes they want upon other groups is, IMO, a gross oversimplification of human history, human civilization and human nature.
  2. Knight Of Winter

    Workable Objectivism (Ayn Rand)

    Lol, @larrytheimp, if I were you, I'd make sure I was knowledgeable and educated enough before accusing others of being ignorant or historical revisionists. Both Gandhi and MLK were very explicit and direct about their movements not using violence as a method. Also, all of my deplatforming arguments were directed to Kalbear and varysblackfyre and were aimed as response to points they made. I've never claimed any of what's happening here is deplatforming - and I'm not sure if you understood that. Although, truth be told, while it's not deplatforming per se, it's creating atmosphere where other side can't say anything without being told how stupid he is - and that's not far off. Someday, larry, you may find yourself in a similar position as OP here (or maybe you won't. Maybe you prefer to be safely and securely locked in epistemological bubble with people who think just like you, eternally righteous and eternally certain of their own shared ideology. But, for the sake of argument, let's hypothetically assume that's not the case) : surrounded by people who not only think differently and genuinely consider everything you say as either stupid, or bigoted, or otherwise morally heinous in some way; although you certainly won't think that yourself. When that happens, you'll pray that they'll treat you better then you treated OP. It's very easy to be rude, condescending and dismissive when you're safely in the majority camp (as evidenced here) - someday you'll maybe learn how it looks like when you're in minority. @DMC - while everything you said is factually correct, I think we're thinking of a different things under the concept of "public discourse". The way i see it, discourse is not inherently meek and passive. It can be very passionate, strong and "active". It can be brave and courageous, disobedient and moralizing. It can attack and demonstrate other side's fallacies and wrongdoings. It can help you assert yourself as a moral (or legal, or scientific, whatever the context is) authority and showcase superiority of your position to the entire world. As long as you, IMO, use words (maybe words is a bit of oversimplification, better would be to use free expression of your thoughts, which can include not only words but actions) to push forwards your ideas and allow the other side opportunity to do the same: it's a civil discourse for me.
  3. Knight Of Winter

    Workable Objectivism (Ayn Rand)

    To few things. One is how all of your examples consist of genuine nazis, racists, bigots etc. or, in case of pro-lifers: ignorants. Is there any room for people who are not morally or scientifically lacking - and still have the opposing opinion? The second is that yes, indeed, there are a lot of bigots around the world. But even more, I think, are people who are trying to shut down others by proclaiming them bigots and thus justifying their verbal aggression. IMO, people in general are way to quick to label others as bigots when confronted with an argument or idea they don't like (or in some cases - but not here - an argument they don't like to face). So, it's not enough for br16, for example to just be wrong (and again - I think he is wrong), but also he has to to immature, stupid and oppressive, an expy of evil ideology who came here to preach his insidious ideas to good people of asoiaf.westeros using polite speech to camouflage his heinous thoughts. This is not aimed at you personally - but at most people in this thread. The third is that, even with confronting actual bigots, shouting how they're all evil and dumb is not the good way to achieve..anything really. Ok, point taken. Though I'd still ask you if you think approach you've all taken here is the best one. I'm not talking about private venue - everyone is free to invite whom he likes on his own property. When you're talking about e.g. people you deem racists and bigots, you're not just talking about not inviting them to your conference, you're talking about completely erasing them off the realm of public discourse, because that's how morally heinous they really are. See, other people like far-righters are equally passionate and equally righteous in their worldview, and they'll have no problem using the same methods to shut you down. If your film offends them in some way, they'll shut it down (from public or private-owned cinema, in makes no matter). If you write about their primitivism in media, they'll sue and harass you. all of this has already happened where I live. That was one of my main points against deplatforming: that it's not nearly as much fun when idelogically opposite people are the ones doing it. So, when I asked you if you would be willing to live in a society where deplatforming is based on people's personal idea of morality - that's what I meant. Yes, it does. And it makes me very uncomfortable. Disgusted even. But my own personal disgust of their ideas is not a good reason enough to censor them. I'm doing to elaborate on this a bit, because I feel this is a key point where we disagree. Consider every popular good idea that today's society has: gender equality, racial equality, worker's rights, democracy etc. There was a time, not so long ago, when each of these ideas were not popular and were not considered good by majority of people. And they naturally, tried to "take away the mike", hoping, just like you - that now it will be clear to all that these "viewpoints aren’t normal and overtime that becomes truer and truer. " Today we know that it didn't work out - what just flatly censoring someone or something doesn't per se mean that he, she or it are not normal. And it doesn't solve the problem, not in the least. Prohibition didn't stop alcohol consumption and anti-abortion laws didn't stop abortions, altough lawmakers in both cases certainly hoped that taking away the mike would achieve something. Taking the mike away not only doesn't solve anything, it can also be flat out counterproductive. While adherents of the "censored ideology"won't change their mind, they'll crate the allure of forbidden fruit around their ideas which will lure more than a few unsuspecting minds. You'll get the situation where many will know that "censored ideology" is supposed to be bad, but they don't know why it's bad, since they've never seen it challenged (and how could they, since it's censored). And lastly, it creates the impression of fear - that we're ought to be afraid of some ideas so it's best to preemptively shut them down, which to me signals insecurity and impotence. I'm not afraid of nazi, racist, sexist or bigoted speech - I'm more than confident in my ability to battle them with arguments. I'm also confident they won't convert me to their ideology. And while I may find their ideas disgusting or heinous, that by itself is not a good reason enough to shut them down. In fact, while they're spouting their nonsense, I don't want to complain how horrible it is that such people ever got the platform, I want to be right next to them, challenging their ideas and showing everyone how wrong they are. I don't agree here. Being told by strangers what is ethical and what isn't is not a good way of convincing anyone of anything. In-group pressure, as Kalbear suggested, might work - but it's a different pair of gloves. Wait, doesn't it show the exact opposite? If these women managed to convince people, doesn't it show the effectiveness of public discourse? Anyway, the point I way trying to make with this example was a case where both sides were too powerful and deplatorm the other, so they had to resort to other approaches. And it worked just fine. While I generally agree with your idea that we can't rely on sanctity of good ideas to carry the day (we not only need to be right, we also need to be smart about it - smarter than nazis in your example), this is a point I'd like to address. Can you correlate ostracizing white-supremacists to the decline of white supremacy movement? I could just as easily argue that diverse society is the one that did the white supremacy in. After all, if you live in a community where whites, blacks, Asians and all kind of mixes between them are all present and have to interact with all of them - it becomes pretty hard to retain your view that one race in particular is somehow better then others. Which is why I argue for inclusion and exposing to other beliefs, and against segregation and deplatforming. Bad ideas should IMO, not be actively promoted and platformed, but when they do appear (and appear they will) - we need other, more effective methods of combating them than outright shutting them down.
  4. Knight Of Winter

    Workable Objectivism (Ayn Rand)

    I can relate to that. Topic itself had potential, but quickly degenerated for various reasons, OP failing to deliver good arguments in favor of objectivism being one of them. While objectivism as a whole is way too much based on lack of empathy and self-aggrandizement to be valid (not to mention Rand's occasional hypocrisy with regards to herself and her followers) - I do believe it had some interesting elements and ideas which could be contructively debated upon and perhaps be used to take something of value from. Alas, not here. I did offer examples in my posts, and I can easily find more: gay rights movement, MLK, Gandhi etc. I'll be the last one to deny that violence and threat of violence has installed and toppled many ideologies and change the world for better or worse, but such approach has its limitations. The chief being the inability to use it when the group you're fighting for is much less powerful than other other group. In fact, this has been one of main themes of the recent (100-150 years) history: how can we construct a society in such a manner that violence is not necessary for the change? This in particular seems overly excessive. On a personal level, have you ever been touched or moved by a picture or a paining you saw? Or a movie, poem, book or song? Have you ever changed your opinion after hearing some particularity well written speech? Have you ever changed as a person due to complete stranger's testimony, speech, book or film? Or have all your opinion changes been due to threat of violence or in-group pressure? Surely not. And yes, I'm lumping all of these together under "public discourse" because all of them are indeed from of public discourse. Art and free speech are both variants of "freedom of expression" concept. Oh, I agree here very much, people are irrational beings, first and foremost. And I'm thinking that's not a bad thing overall. But who said that public discourse has to be done with rational arguments only? Feelings, ideals and thoughts are all equally valid tools in a discourse. In fact, all of mot effective public speakers and charismatic people use little to no "facts and data". All in all, I get the feeling (and correct me if I'm wrong) that you're arguing from the position of perpetual majority and the comfort it provides. You advocate deplatforming without worrying that you'll be the one getting deplatformed; you speak of "threatening to ostracize those who disagree" , but have you considered that those whose disagree may actually be right?
  5. Knight Of Winter

    Workable Objectivism (Ayn Rand)

    Sorry for the late reply, I was at a friend's wedding for a few days. @Varysblackfyre321 That's a rather simplified, almost Manichean worldview. On one side there are various various bigots, racists and other -ists, and on other are righteous people whose holy duty is to call out a former group where they see them. There's no room for nuance or shades of grey in between them. There's no room for misinterpretations or difference in opinion or anything similar. Even the word dehumanizing s being thrown around way too liberally, Has OP ever claimed, for example that " trying to politely argue why the working poor are worthless ", as you directly said. He hasn't, to my knowledge. From the fact that he spoke favorably of objectivism, you deduced that he somehow supports all the worst facets of objectivism. You could also do so for pretty much any ideology on planet Earth: - you're a Catholic? Oh, that means you must support pedophile priests and Inquisition. - you're leftist? You monster, how dare you support likes of Mao and Stalin? - you're rightist? How dare you exist, you sexist, racist and nazi piece of shit? etc. Come now, give the guy at least some benefit of doubt. Try asking him a question of two before jumping to the conclusion that he thinks the poor are worthless and so. It will lead to a more constructive thread, I guarantee. @Kalbear A few quick things first. - I don't agree with your take for 19th century feminists. They were perhaps censored by the government, but they were censored by the people as well. Somehow I doubt that all the institutions and organizations of the 19th century were vying to give feminists the platform but couldn't because of government. - filmmaker actually got shut down pretty effectively. He only became more popular after the magnate in question (whose corruption film exposed) fell from grace and faced prosecution. And this: While I very much agree with the bolded, I do think "public discourse" is indeed "it", or at least significant part of "it". Can you elaborate your position here, I'm interested in your arguments why you think oppositely? The rest of your argument, I think, relies on this particular proposition, so I'll discuss it here: 1) Just like how you assert that deplatforming can stop bad ideas and cease their spreading, it can likewise stop good, even phenomenal ideas and halt the progress we all want. And this is true for both "deplatforming by government" and "deplatforming by people". That's what I was getting at while mentioning filmmaker's and feminists' examples, but the variations are practically limitless. I live in country where, for example, far-right (think of it as American alt-right, just more powerful and influential within the country) successfully deplatformed some artists by using basically exactly the same argument that people here are using: by proclaiming that art (or idea; or ideology) in question is morally heinous. So if there's one things I'd like to emphasize and cut to the truth of it - it's this: would you want to live in such a society? Would you like to live in a country where far-right can deplatform you if they think your speech doesn't match their idea of morality? After all, far-righers are no less people than you or me, and thus have the equal right to decide who or what gets deplatformed? @Varysblackfyre321, same question goes for you. Arguing against deplatforming, for me, means admitting a certain measure of humility and ignorance. It means admitting that no single person, and no single group within society, is qualified enough to measure by themselves what kind of speech should or shouldn't be deplatformed, and that you need some kind of objective criteria to do that. Speech inciting violence, for example, is one such criteria. 2) Deplatforming doesn't solve any problems, it just moves them out of sight, where they continue to persist. I've spoken to few people who, for example, ashamedly admitted to being anything from "discomfortable around the idea of gays" to "strongly homophobic". In each and every case, what changed their mind was that they met a gay or two, started to hang out with them, and saw that they really are no different than the rest. Then, and only then, did they start to question their beliefs. Then, and only then, did they start to change and improve as people and feel ashamed of their former selves. What applies to people applies to societies as well. If parts of society holds bad or harmful beliefs, the solution is not to segregate them - the solution is to expose them to the arguments - and not only arguments but also feeling, emotions and thoughts - from the other side. To appeal to their better selves etc. That's how you make a lasting change. I've spoken of anecdotal personal evidence so far, but wide-scale examples also are numerous. Fine example would be recent Ireland abortion referendum, where two sides were simply both to big to shut down/deplatform each other and had to rely on other methods to make their case. And I daresay that pro-choice official campaign played it pretty smart - instead of incoherent rambling how pro-lifers are vile misogynists, monsters and oppressors (an argument that is bound to convince exactly no one), instead they played on people's ideals. They presented it as a human rights issue. They brought forward many women who spoke how abortion laws struck the personally so that everyone listening could see how much pain and suffering it brought. And hey - it worked. Whatever pro-choice campaign did- it worked, for they won in a landslide. Some people admitted to changing their minds after hearing women's testimonies. Bogaletch Gebre could make a fine example, as well. I implore anyone who hasn’t heard of her to check her out – for she is IMO one of greatest do-gooders and forces of progress living on planet Earth. Ethiopian sceintist and activist fighting against truly horrible ancient practices – such as forced marriage of little girls or FGM whith stunning success rate: in last few decades she managed to reduced rate of FGM in her region from around 90% to 3%. Anyway, I’ve read an interview with her where journalist asked her about her methods. She’s obviously very successful at convincing large amounts of people to rethink their beliefs and changing the society (for the better), so how did she do that? Gebre’s answer in basically the opposite of deplatforming. Although confronted with villagers whose practices she (and us) must have deemed monstrous, she didn’t belittle or judge them. She treated them as people, she helped them with small stuff to gain their trust – and she basically platformed everyone involved. Soceties she tried to change were burdened with lot of segregation of various groups with insufficient communication between them: men and women; young and old etc. Gebre encouraged each of them to talk to each other, to realize each other’s problems and to partake in their solution. And only then did the things start to change – only after they heard each other’s perspective thanks to massive platforming that she provided. There are more examples, but all of them have the one thing in common. They show us that change is hard but possible. That confronting beliefs and ideas we would undoubtebly dub as toxic and outright vile take courage and patience – but that it ultimately pays off. Conversely, deplatforming somebody is a easy way out: effectively removing not the problem but your perception of a problem. Deplatformed nazis won’t stop being nazis. Confronted nazis might. And there’s something very intuitive about that. People want to be validated and recognized. They want their opinion to be heard and acknowledged – and then, and only then – are you able to change it. If you shut them down and keep talking how stupid and bigoted they are (aka deplatform them), you’re denying them the possibility. The solution to fighting dehumanizing ideas paradoxically is not to dehumanize people who have them. 3) Deplaforming is only effective agaist people who are otherwise not really powerful. Deplatforming would work great against e.g. that filmmaker we were talking about, or agaist likes of you and me. If, for exmaple, facebook, twitter and newspapers decided to deplatofrm us, our ability to reach the public would be de facto brought to zero. Who deplatforming doesn’t work against are people and groups who deplatofrming is mostly aimed against. Even if you ban every neo-nazi you see, they’ll still find some facebook group or online forum and speak their mind there. 4) The possibility of deplatforming leaves great chance to various abuses and misuses. Try as we might to believe that deplatforming is a great tool for holding genuinely horrid ideas at bay, the truth is that it could (and will) just as easily be used for less noble purposes. People will deplatform various ideas they don’t like, have no arguments against or are unwilling to face. Most likely they will post facto rationalize their decision by proclaiming the ideas they deplatformed as bigoted or morally wrong otherwise; just to justify this censorship to themselves. Not to mention how deplatforming can be a great tool for oppression. There are very few ways to publicly hurt any group – be it LGBT, civil engineers or scientists – than to deny them any platform to speak on or to shut them down should they manage to find one. I don’t think I have to explain how bad this can be. 5) Deplatforming may cause people to turn to other, less constrcutive ways of expressing themselves. This is speculative from my part, but still worth discussing, IMO. So let’s say we found someone whose opinions we dislike or find toxic and deplatform them. The question is: what will they do once they can’t express themselves by usual manner – by speech in public discourse? And I suspect the answer won’t be something along the likes they’ll meekly accept that they cannot speak – more likely they will find other, less good ways to push their opinion forward and expressing it to the world. And there’s all kinds of destructive behaviours – even violence – which people can do – to themselves or others as a result. As I said, this is speculative and I’d be very interested to hear if there’s any psychological research on this. @Rippounet Firstly, let’s make it clear: lot of posts here crossed the boundary between polite criticism of one’s ideas and toxic personal ad hominems. Secondly, and more importantly – I don’t think we understood each other here. I was not saying that each of us should be polite because each idea is equally worth, or because we’re all fragile flowers whose delicate feelings may crumble if we hear a rude word; in fact, my advocacy of civil discussion and non-deplatofrming mainly stems from two different ideas: the first one is that I’m denying myself any possibility of learning something new or useful this way. I’m approaching this thread, and every other thread, considering the possibility that the other party may know something that I don’t – no matter how stupid or ridiculous his idea may sound at first. For example, if my memory serves me well: in the other thread, I’ve seen you speak favorably about Soviet communism – a system infinitely more dangerous than anything that Ayn Rand said or did, with millions of human corpses to prove for it. And yet, should we ever engage in a debate about this, I’ll try to speak politely and engage you constructively. Why? Because I’m considering the possibility that you know something (or many somethings) about the subject that I don’t. I’m considering that supporting an ideology doesn’t mean supporting all the worst aspects of it, and that probably you don’t support Maoist and Stalinist murders. I’m considering that there are perhaps some interesting aspects, angles and ideas you find inspiring, even if you don’t agree with overall result. Etc. That way, I can actually learn something and profit from a discussion. And I believe I owe the same to br16, and objectivists in general. I think they’re worth giving benefit of doubt to that they’re not heartless monsters to don’t care about the poor. Maybe they don’t agree with everything Rand said, but just find her overall approach to be interesting. Maybe they found some particular aspect of objectivism particularly interesting or inspiring. There are a thousand maybes here, and I believe they should have the chance to clarify what they meant before we lambast the shit out of them. And in turn, once you open yourself to the (probable) possibility that the other side is not wholly stupid, misguided or ignorant, you also open their receptiveness to anything you say – a fact that they’ll genuinely appreciate. Maybe they’ll come out of the debate enriched by new ideas and seriously considering your arguments. And neither of what I said above is possible without civility. I don’t think I have to explain how toxic and detrimental to the discussion is insulting and humiliating the other side. Once you call someone an idiot or a fool, you basically shut down any probability what the two of you will take anything constructive from what was once a debate. Second reason is that being insulting and non-respectful usually represents an useless act motivated by ultimately selfish reasons. I’ve learned a long time ago that collective intelligence of the people is not something to be proud of, and I’m reminded of that fact daily as soon as I open my facebook wall or read comment section of some news portal. Each time anew, I’m defeated by sheer stupidity, toxicity and complete lack of any critical thinking from post posters. So, believe me, I do know the urge you feel when you see something incredibly dumb or toxic written – an urge to respond with something like “How the hell did you survive so long in this world by being so monumentally dumb?? You likely didn’t have a single intelligent thought in your entire life, you sexist, vile, ignorant piece of shit!” or something milder like “Lol, everything you say is uttrely stupid”. And a few times, I did just that. And the other guy sometimes didn’t respond. Sometimes he insulted me back, and we’d traded few volleys back and forth until one of us got tired. And this kind kind of approach led me exactly nowhere – I was none the wiser, and neither was he. Our exchange of words has been counterproductive and monumental waste of time. So it dawned to me how selfish I’ve been, how utterly motivated by sheer self-gratification at the expanse of others I was. I didn’t use the gift of language to speak my mind constructively, or to understand other party, or to create something new and meaningful – instead I used it to gratify my primitive self-congratulatory desire to humiliate the other side by calling him stupid. So, yes, even when you’re faced with most stupid and ignorant interlocutor who’s speaking no sense at all, I maintain there’s a lot of reasons to remain respectful. Of course, you’re under no obligation to face him at all: in which case ignoring and saying nothing still is an infinitely better option. But if you do engage with him – you owe both him and yourself (yourself foremost) to do it in a manner that has at least some chance of being constructive.
  6. Knight Of Winter

    Workable Objectivism (Ayn Rand)

    And who or what exactly is collective public? It's not an uniform group - rather it's a mess of various peoples and groups with different opinions and ideas. Rightists will want to deplatform leftists, and vice versa. People who oppose death penalty often want to shut down people who favor it, and receive the same in turn. So out of these two (four), which one represents the general public? Who gets to decide? Free speech is a compromise, as I said, between all the conflicted groups which enables them all to have their say under certain conditions. Or maybe you think that the dominant group represents the "collective public" and get to decide who gets (de)platformed. And that works pretty well when you're in the majority (like on this forum), but it gets incredibly incredibly dangerous in other circumstances. It means, for example, that Jews get deplatformed in Nazi Germany, or that feminists gets deplatformed in patriarchal comunities. That Trump-voters get to decide who will speak and who won't in many American states and cities. Seriously, why is it, when someone advocates deplatforming - that they absolutely never consider if they were maybe the ones who will get deplatformed. Of course you don't and nobody is forcing you to. But I daresay you do have to converse with objectivists respectfully - and attack their ideas instead of them personally - if you want them to behave the same towards you. Or you can choose to help create a world where everyone trashes everyone else as soon as they set a enter a community of different-minded folks. And if you genuinely consider objectivism to be a horrible idea and want world to get rid of it - ask yourself what kind of approach is best suited to achieve this? Maybe it is indeed trashing every objectivist you see together with your ideological buddies, but maybe...just maybe some other approach could yield better results.
  7. Knight Of Winter

    Workable Objectivism (Ayn Rand)

    @sologdin - that's a interesting angle to consider, and the one I haven't thought so far. Perhaps one could say that crying bigot is also "economically" inefficient - since you're expanding time and energy into ineffective method, and since you're already committed to saying something - you're better off using a ethod that has a chance of actually working. @Varysblackfyre321 There's a lot of various stuff I want to respond to here, so I hope my post sound coherent enough. First off, it's important we make a distinction between what you can/are allowed to speak, and what you should (n't) speak. The first one is, we seem to agree, pretty broad category: you can speak almost anything you like, provided you give others the same opportunity. I haven't disputed this. So yes, you can call others racists, bigots, inhumane or whatever, but the question remains whether you should. Will it lead to productive discussion or are you saying it just to gratify your desires. The thing is - while it's true that there are actual nazis, bigots etc. out there who genuinely don't care whether they hurt or step on somebody else, I don't think there's that many of them. Far more common is, I believe, that proclaim others as racists, nazis etc. and then justify these labels to shut them down. Just look at this very thread, for example: one guy opened a topic on a subject he was interested in, was immediately bashed by almost everyone, was labeled various nasty labels a dozen times and then retreated when discussion became too toxic (and this is without going into content of the discussion, for I disagree with him in almost everything he said). Does this sound like a insidious nazi quietly spreading his propaganda to you using polite speech? Have we become so fearful, so afraid and frightened that we must protect ourselves against one objectivist by proclaiming him inhumane, stupid or whatnot; and to assume he's masking some nefarious agenda by being polite and respectful? If so, we have a huge problem ourselves. In fact, it's telling that, when I mentioned how you might find yourself surrounded by majority who may try to shut you down, you immediately started talking about genuine nazis and racists - people who are, in modern society - almost an archetype of "bad" or "evil". But the world is rarely so black and white - what happens e.g. when you're arguing for women's right to have an abortion, and can't make your argument becuase the other side is rabidly calling you child murderer? Or e.g. when you speak about being an atheist, and bunch of deeply religious people are labeling you as amoral psychopath. Or maybe the opposite occurred: maybe you happen to be religious and found yourself among atheists who were more than happy to tell you how dumb and deluded you are. In all of these (each of I've seen actually happen) what happens is always the same: majority is uninterested and unwilling to engage and hear the opposing side, and finds it much easier to tag some label onto them. Being polite and respectful, on the other hand, simply means giving the other side the benefit of doubt: assuming that they aren't really evil jerks with dark agenda, that they maybe have something interesting to say and that they - like you - are arguing in good faith. That's it. And I can't help but think that world would be a better - and smarter - place if this was default position for every argument each of us had. So, case in point, can we extend the same courtesy to br16? Can we not a priori assume that he is somehow vile, immature, uncompassionate or uncaring - provided that he does the same to the rest of us (which he did)? Are we strong enough to meaningfully engage with him or are we truly so frightened that we must preemptively shut him down? Take this post for example: polite, without ad hominems and with lot of substance (i.e. arguments). Exactly the kind of post you're happy to read in every debate, the posts which presents one's arguments well and contributes to the discussion. My question is: why isn't every post in this topic like that? Because people are more ready to judge than to understand and like to assume the worst about others who don't share their epistemological bubble - that's why. But what about the cases where the deplatformed is not an utter asshole? What if he merely has a different opinion or even is outright progressive? What about e.g. 19th century feminist fighting for women's right who couldn't get her/his message across becuse nobody wanted to give her/him a platform? What about a filmmaker whose movie details huge amounts of corruption and the highest level - but he can't get it played anywhere because no cinema (or TV station) wants to make enemies of some powerful people (this happened in my country 2 years ago)? In general - who is to say who gets platformed and who gets deplatformed? The world is built upon many various groups, who across all levels are opposed, if not outright inimical to each other: leftists and rightists; pro-choice vs pro-life; capitalists vs communists; religious vs atheists; people who oppose death penalty vs people who favour it. Etc. What keeps all these groups from tearing at each other is the possibility of public discourse. They each had to choose between being allowed to speak and allowing others the same; and shutting down others and being shut down by them in return - and somehow each of them figured that former is the better option. That's why the idea of free speech is so important, and should be IMO limited only in narrowest of circumstances (such as inciting violence and such).
  8. Knight Of Winter

    Workable Objectivism (Ayn Rand)

    With regards to tone civility of the discussion - I tend to believe it very important. Not because there are no stupid, ignorant or misguided people whose ideas can and should be criticized. but because being condescending or offensive towards the other party defeats the whole purpose of the discussion. When you repeatedly call someone a bigot, or kid who needs to grow up, or inhumane, or anything or the sort - you achieve absolutely nothing: you deny him the opportunity to learn anything from you (really, when was the last time any one us us learned anything from someone else after being called an idiot); and you deny yourself an opportunity to learn anything from him and meaningfully engage with his ideas. Instead of both of you being smarter and enriched after hearing each other's opinion - and thus maybe actually profiting from it, what you got instead is perhaps few pats on the back from ideologically like-minded people and self-gratifying feeling how you proudly unmasked yet another racist/sexist/bigot/nationalist/insert_slur_here. If that's what you want from a topic - fine. But you could do a lot better (so kudos to few people who actually posted meaningful and constructive posts with arguments). This is not directed at you personally nor only to you, I just find this segment to be representative with regards to lot of what I'm talking about. Sooner or later, you'll find yourself in a debate where you'll be in a minority, or even up against everyone else. And likewise inevitable is that someone from the opposing side will find you ideas stupid, appalling, disgusting or even dehumanizing, although you certainly won't think that yourself. When that happens, last thing you'll want is for your opponents to brazenly hurl insults and slurs your way instead of trying to engage you with arguments. And to dub people who try to defend your right to speak your mind as bigots, egoists or idiots. ___ As for objectivism itself, I don't hold it in particularly high regard - any system based on lack of empathy for your fellow humans is not particularly healthy for either an individual or society in large. If you want a philosophy based around individualism and personal strive for excellence, reading someone like e.g. Roman stoics would be immeasurably better idea. And for all that, I think objectivism is relatively harmless. By its very definition it's bound not to be popular with large amounts of people, and I can't imagine any society ever adopting it as their ideology. If you want to combat ideologies that have actual potential to be dangerous, start with opular ones - and there's no shortage of these.
  9. Knight Of Winter

    What should be done... about climate change

    Don't see any inconsistency. Individuals (and countries) need to make changes even though they are insignificant. For a multitude of reasons: being principled (i.e. consistant with your values), not being hypocritical (i.e. expecting others to shoulder a burden you yourself are unwilling to take), encouraging others to adopt similar behaviour etc. If fight against climate change is an individual's goal, he will (and should) pursue it regardless of what other people do. And who knows, if enough people (and countries, and organizations, and companies) adopt the similar principle - results will be far from insignificant.
  10. Knight Of Winter

    What should be done... about climate change

    Just to kick off with few things about religion and religious approach to fighting climate change: first off, thinking that it's more prone to cause violence is not, IMO, supported by human history. For the most part, wars and conflicts had other causes: Greeks and Romans, for example, never conquered other in name of religion. Mongol Empire, one of the most brutal conquering nations in history of humanity - was religiously pretty tolerant. And for many millennia eastern Asia was a site for interplay between many different religions: Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Shintoism etc. The only two major exceptions to this: Christianity and Islam. A digression: research was done about actual causes of human violence, and the answers were pretty diverse: from absence of central authority to having your status and wealth measured by goods which can't be easily stored and protected (such as livestock). With that said, I don't think that religious approach to combating climate change would work. As we can all agree, climate change is a definite problem, and ideally you'd want a open-minded system which pools various ideas and solutions and filters out best ones to actually implement. Religion, with its tendencies towards dogmatism, isn't one such system. Secondly, who's to say that people in charge of climate change (i.e. religious leaders) would be the ones best fit for the job? Most likely they would end up a bunch of demagogues, populists and schemers - rather than actually competent ones. And lastly, this new religion would fall under the category of monotheistic (just replace "god" with "fight against climate change") and universal one - just the type that's historically most likely to e.g. be intolerant, punish "heretics", wage wars etc. And now for the main topic: climate change. The one thing that irks me quite badly are good portion of climate change activists: bunch of whiners who expect others to do all the work for them. "Hey, climate change is their responsibility. Them - governments and corporations. They should do something about it. Meanwhile, I'll just continue burning fossile fuels, traveling expensively and generously using vats amounts of energy. Don't expect me to change (that's on corporations) - that would be inconvenient for me. I'll limit my fight to writing angry Facebook posts". With that kind of attitude, you don't really need climate change deniers: eco-movement will simply sabotage itself from within. Second would be the realization what humanity isn't just damaging environment for shits and giggles: the energy and resources produced this way is actively raising the living standard of billions of human beings. It lifted and continues to lift millions from poverty. It helps to end world hunger. Etc. Rich people and corporations may indeed be the ones who are profiting the most from environmental damage, but they're also the ones who will lose the least once the change becomes necessary. They're rich: they'll make do with alternative approaches, no matter how expensive or inefficient they currently are. But poor and developing countries, who are using fossile fuels to...well, stop being poor - they're the ones I'm worried about the most. They're the ones who will pay the highest price if some hypothetical international eco-laws were passed tomorrow. Thirdly, as it was noted before - this fight needs to be done on international level. Even if e..g Canada or Germany were to radically change their laws, their contribution would practically be meaningless, for other countries would not follow suit. And some countries are just particularly ignorant of the necessities: I'm talking about Russia and USA, for example. And especially USA under Trump. With all o this I'm not for a moment saying we should give up on our fight for better and cleaner planet. What I am saying is that change won't be easy. It won't be pleasant - in fact it will likely cause pain and suffering for people who are the least responsible about the whole situation we've found ourselves it. In fact - I'm considering this to be a first major test for humanity as a global whole. If everyone sets their personal interest aside to fight a common enemy - it may be possible to avert a disaster. If not - well, we will have only ourselves to blame.
  11. Knight Of Winter

    Anime

    Thanks again. From what I hear, Fate series is indeed a rabbit hole As for Kara Kyoukai's fifth film - yes, I believe that's the one. Madoka I've watched relatively recently, and I've liked it. Psycho-Pass one among the first anime series for me, and it's still one of my favourites. But since I see we have similar taste in anime, allow me to venture a recommendation or two of my own. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - perhaps the best-known anime cyberpunk series. The concept is very similar to Psycho-Pass, indeed SAC was one of the main influences for PP's creators. Again we have a group of police officers (although they're more like special agents in SAC's case) who live and operate in technology-dominated, slightly dystopian world of the future. Themes are also recognizable: the relationship between humanity and technology in years to come, how will technology change our lives for better or worse; and how humanity itself will change, relationship between body and mind etc. Not to be confused with Hollywood's Ghost in the Shell movie with Scarlett Johansson - which is a remake of (also great) 1995 Japanese animated movie, but with significant drop in quality. Shinsekai Yori (aka From the New World). A relatively little known anime, which is a pity, considering it's one of the most unique and interesting examples of the medium I've experienced. Set in a apparently utopian future, where people happily live in arcadian little villages, with everyone able to use magic and being genetically conditioned not to use violence against each other. However, soon a series a strange events occurs, and plot slowly starts to unravel. Primarily a social commentary, but also mystery, drama and coming-of-age story, I can't recommend it high enough.
  12. Knight Of Winter

    Anime

    Thanks, I've bookmarked El-Melloi Case Files to watch later Having also watched Kara no Kyoukai, I've very much liked them - definitely one of the best thriller anime I've seen. 5th movie was the best, IMO: intriguing plot, good mystery, great action and non-linear storytelling made for a awesome combination. And Yuki Kaijura of course, whose music elevates every anime she's ever worked on.
  13. Knight Of Winter

    Anime

    As someone who seems to have watched a lot of Fate series, which ones would you recommend? I've watched only Fate Zero and Unlimited Blade Works so far, and heard that series quality rapidly drops in lot of other Fate iterations.
  14. Knight Of Winter

    Workable Socialism

    Interesting and informative. Thanks for this info.
  15. Knight Of Winter

    Workable Socialism

    What OldGimletEye said in the beginning is the crux of every problem: there are just too many ways people see and define socialism that it's nigh impossible to discuss it with everyone involved thinking about the same thing. Does socialism include abolition of private property or not? Can it work alongside capitalism or not? Is it compatible with democracy or not? Ask 20 different people (even in this thread) and they'll give you 20 different threads. With all that in mind, some common grounds are necessary for this discussion, so I'll take this as a starting point: Nordic model - which is currently, IMO, one of the best - if the the best - economic systems Earth can offer right now. Every great idea (with regards to economy) left had during the last 2 centuries: fight against poverty, limiting the wealth disparity, workers' rights and unions, social state, regulated market etc. has been well incorporated with free market, private property and other tenets of capitalism. And it seems they've achieved a pretty good balance: Nordic countries are continuously at the top with regards to the GDP per capita, and more importantly their HDI, their reported levels of their citizens' happiness etc. Whatever they're doing, they're doing it right. Socialist firms, where workers own at least a percentage of their company: in theory, this has the valid psychological background - people should work better and harder, and be less alienated - if they actively partook in the companies they work. In practice - it didn't work so well. A variant of this was tried in former Yugoslavia - they called it "self-governance", and it turned out that working in a company doesn't mean per se that you're qualified to successfully lead it. I'm even skeptical from a purely ideological point: namely that it makes workers happier and less alienated from their work. I'm interested, for example, if you rounded up thousands of successful, happy or fulfilled workers in carious companies and asked them about reasons for their job satisfaction. I'd speculate that almost none of them would cite I'm a shareholder in my company as their reason, instead noting stuff like: my job suits my interests and personality or I have a good salary or working atmosphere is great and similar reasons. Soviet model - this one has conclusively been proven to not work, over and over and over again. It led to tens of millions of deaths of people supposedly killed in the name of perfect society to be: from malnutrition, gulags, political persecutions and other causes (and that's not even counting Stalin's incompetent leadership in WWII, causing way more Soviet deaths than it should). It violently dealt with anyone who dared to think differently - ridiculing traditionally left ideas such as inclusiveness and diversity of thought. It oppressed and violently subdued its client states who dared to rebel (like Hungary and Czechoslovakia). And though it did achieve some stunning successes in their space program, it came at the cost of welfare of ordinary citizens. American economy was strong enough to pump billions of dollars into space program and still work - Soviet economy wasn't. Even its supposed economic successes are dubious. I mean, just look at Germany: divided between capitalist and democratic and capitalist West Germany and Soviet puppet state East Germany. Both of them suffered collapse and huge devastation as a consequence of WWII, and both had to be built basically from the scratch. If Soviet economic system truly was superior, East Germany should have come out on top, right? Well, it didn't - by the time of 80s and 90s, West Germany was several times richer, while East Germany was the one who had to build a wall in order to stop its citizens from defecting. No wonder that Russia, along with former Soviet republics, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Romania, Albania, Poland, Bulgaria and Hungray all voluntarily abandoned communism the first chance they got in late 80s and early 90s.
  16. I'm currently making a quiz for ASOIAF - the book series, not the show - and as always, I'm looking to make questions cool, interesting and requiring good knowledge of the books. So, I'd like to ask anyone who's willing to help. What cool, unusual, deep or interesting piece of ASOIAF plot or lore do you think would make a good quiz question? Feel free to be creative. Any help is appreciated
  17. Knight Of Winter

    What binds people together (?)

    I really don't see any condescension either way. If I made a wrong reading of your tone or your meaning - simply point it out and I'll try to correct it. Without implying condescension. Sigh...I only used that phrase because you yourself quoted it from Kalbear's post. It's simple and straightforward, so I assume everyone will understand my meaning. Yeah...that's how inductive reasoning works. If you get repeated evidence for A, you'll assume A is indeed correct, unless you have some good reason to believe otherwise. Else you couldn't prove or disprove existence of anything: you couldn't infer the non-existance of unicorns from repeated observation of non-unicorn animals. So, overall, are there some evidence that morality is at least in part hardwired in brain - yes. Is there evidence to the contrary - that morality is completely taught - no, as far as I know. So I don't see how would it be logically fallacious to assume the former as truth. Of course, if you have proof for the latter case - please present it. Ok, maybe I didn't clarify enough in my first post. There was no two sets of experiments. When I said that A knew that B would reject the "unfair" offer, I thought it was clear that A used his innate moral sense of fairness to see that e.g. 90-10 offer will be considered unfair and assume (correctly) that B will be outraged to even hear it suggested; hence he refrained from making such an offer in the first place. I really didn't come here to dabble in semantics, and my knowledge of English is not good enough to know how strong of a claim wording "pretty much" describes. So I'll put it in simpler terms: every society that I know of, and every society that psychologists I know of who researched that subject - like Haidt and Pinker to a lesser extent - has some universal principles for its morality: fairness, care, purity etc. Yes, they may differ on opinions about "what is pure" or "what is harmful", but core principles remain the same. I won't go into much depth, Kalbear already did it in his response. Of course, should you have any counterarguments which prove the opposite, I'm all ears. I understand your argument here and don't disagree with it much. My point was that "traditional" in-group feeling was based on personal knowledge of your fellow in-group member: he was a part of your tribe; or a colleague; or a freind - in any case, someone whom you knew and interacted on a regular basis; and your "in-group" sentiment was based on that personal relationship the two of you shared. I find it remarkable achievement of human psyche that that same in-group feeling started (in case of nationalism) being based not on personal knowledge of said individual, but on the fact that both of you belong to some vague abstract concept, such as state or religion. Nationalism (in the way we today understand the word) is indeed a recent invention - for it is based of a presumption that all inhabitants of some country share a connection, a bond that unites them into a greater whole known as state. For the most of human history, such a feat was impossible: you could maybe invoke a sense of national pride in e.g. Spanish noble or perhaps a citizen; but majority of population was made of farmers and peasants who couldn't care less about some abstract entity which doesn't influence their daily lives at all. They could perhaps feel a sense of belonging to a local community or some other kind of local-patriotism, but that's as far as it went. Some common connection based of a fact that all of them are part of Spanish nation was non-existent. Peasant from Leon felt no common ground with peasant from Aragon whatsoever. Only in cca 19th century did countries became strong enough, and technology advanced enough for rulers to reach all of their subject and instill in them a sense of common national belonging. As for racism, it's indeed old and common - what I said was that it was not universal; that it was far from norm. Some societies were racist, others weren't. I questioned whether something sporadic (such as racism) could be considered an offshoot of something well-established and universal (such as monkeysphere).
  18. Knight Of Winter

    What binds people together (?)

    I'd honestly like to know what's so terrifying about the possibility the human morality comes in part from brain wiring, from nature as opposed to nurture? If it were indeed the case, how would it it any way diminish our morality or our striving to act in a moral manner? As to your question - there's a relatively easy way to check this. If large multitude of people have moral reaction (positive or negative) to the same issue, we can pretty safely assume that their moral reaction is natural. For it's exceedingly unlikely that all of these subjects had exactly the same moral upbringing that lead them to execute exactly the same moral judgement. Or even better, check subjects cross-culturally to eliminate the influence of one particular culture. Famous Ultimatum game is one such example. The experiment goes like this: person A is given 100 bucks, and must divide them in any way between himself and person B. If person B accepts A's suggestion - they both get what A proposed. If B rejects, nobody gets anything. Now, normally you could expect different reactions from different B's to various offers. For example, if offered some ridiculously small amount (like 5 or 10 dollars) - you'd expect that many of them would accept the offer: after all, getting 10 dollars is infinitely better then getting none. But no, all of them furiously rejected. And not only that, they were offended to be even offered such a small amount. Knowing that, A's would not propose such deals, offering either half or close-to-half split in most cases (like 50-50 or 60-40). So this would suggest, for example, that people have some innate notion of fairness ingrained in them; some sense of fair play and reciprocity. Otherwise, they would not all feel cheated in experiment above. And indeed, if you asked random people about their notion of morality, most would naturally list fairness of a integral part of it. Of course, fairness is not the only element of morality - you could list others as well, such as loyalty or care or purity etc. These may be up to debate. But what I believe is certain is that there are some universal factors upon which humans base their morality; otherwise social mores would not be in part so similar all around the world. Pretty much all societies promoted fairness and kindness within the group (what exactly is a group is a trickier question. It may be a family, tribe or a social class. It goes back to important in-group vs out-group distinction mentioned earlier), punished arbitrary violence, murder or cheating within the group, rewarded loyalty, shown disgust for things they considered impure etc.
  19. Knight Of Winter

    What binds people together (?)

    Is it? Monkeysphere (and in-group vs out-group distinction in general) is as old as humans - or even older - appearing in every person in every society ever made. Latter two are not: nationalism, as we now understand it - started to develop only in 19th century. Racism as well - it was fa(aa)r from norm in human history. I've even heard Harari speak how nationalism could be considered as a step in tight direction. Before, people felt loyalty to their immediate family, friends and colleagues. Nationalism far broadened the scale, making people loyal to millions of strangers whom they've never met before. Next logical step would be to include not only one nation, but entire humanity into that circle of loyalty (as much as human nature allows, of course. People will always i.e. put interests of their kin ahead of interests of stranger; no matter how nationalistic or humanistic they are). Speaking of which, I think he was on the right track when he wrote about the very issue this thread is about: what binds people together. For smaller numbers (up to Dunbar's number linked by Kalbear): it's informal stuff such as loyalty based of kinhsip or friendship, common goals, shared interests etc. The concept of monkeysphere refers to this type of relationships: always informal and always on personal level. For larger groups, on the other hand, it's always a shared belief in some abstract common myth, and this can be applied to nations, religions, money, political parties etc.
  20. Knight Of Winter

    Cool ASOIAF knowledge and trivia for a quiz

    Thanks, Euron
  21. Knight Of Winter

    Cool ASOIAF knowledge and trivia for a quiz

    Moderate to slightly hard - questions which readers who casually read the books once would not know most of the time, but which average e.g. forum contributor would usually know. And related exclusively to the main series and information available there - so no F&B, TWOIAF, PATQ, D&E novellas and such.
  22. Knight Of Winter

    Billionaires, making the world a better place (for them)

    In which case, we're on pretty much same page, along with everyone else. I'm hard pressed to find anyone who'd argue that various people should not have equal opportunity. However, this is not what good portion of these thread is about. Some posters here are not talking about better education, state support for young start-up businesses, scholarships for excellent students, call for more transparent relations between companies and politics, anti-dumping laws and other stuff which could be categorized under equal opportunity set of goals. What they are talking about is taxing and distrusting the rich (OP even claims we shouldn't trust them when they're giving away to charities), because being rich must mean they got their wealth in unfair or deceitful way, and thus need to be "punished". That's not equal outcome per se, but it's a step in that direction. Please, do tell more, for it sounds swell. When and where was it? Where can I find more information? Correct, but redundant, I think. Pretty much everyone reasonable today thinks that public education should be free, available to everyone and as good as it can get (at least in Europe; in USA, if I understood correctly, students struggle for years or even decades to repay their student loans after they've graduated) - indeed, it's one of pillars of equal opportunity you mentioned above.
  23. Knight Of Winter

    Billionaires, making the world a better place (for them)

    My point was - even in most equal society with everyone starting with equal wealth and equal opportunities - some people will rise to the (economic) top thanks to competence, ability or at least sheer luck. Society with equal outcome for everyone would thus be deeply unfair. Other than that, I pretty much concur with this part of your post. Yeah, it is "undeserved" that some people are enjoying a luxurious life through inheritance rather than doing anything productive, but I don't see any good way to fix this. You're arguing against social darwinism here, which is not the ideology I either support or think anyone should be implementing. Just as I think there's bound to be inequality in any society, no matter how just or fair, I'm also aware that these inequalities are (partially) fault of rigged system. If there's anything I'm arguing against - these are oversimplifications of the problem of social (in)equality and naive solutions that people propose. Lots of people here seem to think that taxing the shit out of rich at every opportunity is the magic wand that will make all things better, which is, IMO, gross oversimplification. If it's possible, when are where was it achieved - in which country and in what time period? I'm not being facetious here - I'd genuinely like to know. Lots of legitimate criticisms can be thrown out before capitalism: that it cares more for abstract concept of money rather than people, that it exploits, that it alienates the worker from his work etc. However, it has at least one thing going for it: sheer productivity. It always produces more resources than either feudalism or communism or any other economic system. Since we're talking about malnutrition, do you know when was the last time western country (as apotheoses of capitalism) was struck by a natural famine? Sweden, in 1869. What was the last time communist or non-capitalist country in general was struck? Much more recent, and with much higher death toll: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_famines .I find it very hard to argue that socioeconomic system has nothing to do with it. One could also argue that advances in science and technology had something to do with it, that new scientific discoveries and technological advancement improved quality of life for everyday people, and that reflected in less poverty, longer life expectancy, less malnutrition and other similar stuff. But then again, which countries made most technological and economical advances advances in the last few centuries - capitalist or non-capitalist? Which countries invented/discovered electricity, steam energy, trains, cars, radio internet, market stock or most vaccines? Like you, I also think capitalism is full of flaws. I'm not defending it because I think it's great, but because I think all the other systems we tried are much worse. Nowdays, in the 21st century, pretty much every person that posts here is living in a capitalist system with some socialist elements. Personally, I think that this combination works better than anything else and that we should contunue investing in it - if nothing else, for the lack of better alternatives. If you have a different opinion, I'm eager for a discussion. Yes, I'm calling it great, because it's way way better than anything we had in the last 10,000 years. Teleport yourself to pretty much any country during any period of human history and you'd see what I'm talking about. You'd encounter widespread poverty. Constant wars. People getting killed literally in millions by diseases today eradicated. You'd face slavery pretty much everywhere. You'd see most children dying before the age of 15, if they managed to survive than long at all. To not call today's world "great" would be deeply dishonest in my mind. And all of this is not a reasons for complacency and self-pride, but rather a somber call to improve even further and eradicate poverty and diseases once and for all, to enable people all around the world lives worthy of human beings. And if you're worried about "we have the resources to end starvation virtually overnight", consider that this is probably the first time in history that we can make such a claim. Before people were starving not just because of uneven distribution, but for simple lack of resources. That we even have enough to feed all the people is a huge step forward. As I noted, if we're more concerned about the poor that about the rich, let's consider the fact that being poor nowdays is much better than being poor 100 or 1000 years ago. It would mean that we're at least doing something right regards to distribution of our resources
  24. Knight Of Winter

    Billionaires, making the world a better place (for them)

    Why is it so hard to respond to one post politely and without ad-hominems? I didn't say we've solved all our problems or things are perfect, I said things are getting better. And I gave three pieces of data: that rate of poverty is getting lower , that malnutrition is decreasing, and that life expectancy is increasing. All of these, it's important to note, relate directly to the issue we're discussing here: the one of wealth distribution. You've rebutted none of these; instead going completely off tangent with climate change and nuclear warheads (which, btw, Iran is the last country you'd want them to get. Being enemy of your "enemies" doesn't make them swell). These are major problems, I agree, but utterly unrelated to this thread topic - and hence I didn't mention them. If you're interested in discussion, maybe make a separate thread.
  25. Knight Of Winter

    Billionaires, making the world a better place (for them)

    That's one tough question. The problem of (in)equality and fair distribution of wealth is one humanity has been struggling with for a long time now. One one hand, some people (usually on the conservative end of specter) will claim that society is made out of individuals who differ in ability, intelligence or industriousness. Thus, smarter, more talented or hard working individuals will naturally rise to the top and earn more thanks to their ability. To take away their legitimately earned wealth would be downright unfair. And not only unfair; for since society should promote and reward excellence in its individuals – it would also be downright regressive. And these are some fine points. To this, other people (usually on the left) will counter that such meritocracy is purely imaginary i.e. nonexistent in reality. They'll point out that the system can be inherently flawed and rigged in favour of the rich. Rich will bribe and lobby with the politicians, pay their workers less than they deserve, launder their money and cheat on taxes – and use their power and influence to get away with it all. Thus, left will argue, we need some sort of control (whether it's government control of the market, progressive taxes, independent media, legally required minimal wage...) so that the system is not abused, and to make sure that people at the bottom of the totem pole don't get chewed and mistreated by the people at the top. All of these are, as well, legitimate points. Society we know today tries to dance carefully between these two sides. Both freedom on one end and equality on the other are important values we all hold dear, and it's clear there has to be some kind of compromise between them. And what compromise it is and how to achieve it is pretty much anyone's guess. USA, for example, leers more towards former, while Scandinavian states gravitate towards latter (with countless layers between them) and each is trying its best to balance between the two. Correct trade-off is difficult to find. With that in mind, I'm very wary of answers such as let's just get rid of all rich. Overly simplistic answer which proposes to solve quite an complex and multi-layered problem with one simple fix. Moreover, I find that whole idea that – if someone is rich: it automatically means he obtained his wealth by malice, oppression or deception and should thus be punished for it – very dangerous. Dangerous and potentially leading to a political, economical and humanistic disaster; and I say this as someone who has considered himself as leftist since he was old enough to think. And to end on an optimistic note – I'm less inclined to deal with ultra-rich as a problem, as long as we're doing fine on the other end of the spectrum. And for now, we're doing much better than ever before, in fact, we're doing great. Rate of absolute poverty is quickly diminishing. Less and less people are dying from starvation. Life expectancy is increasing. It would seem that overall growth in world's wealth is pouring into the pockets of people who need it the most at least to some degree, and that's an awesome thing.
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