Endtimes for Democracy and Capitalism? What next?

A philosophical appraisal of covid-19

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Re: Endtimes for Democracy and Capitalism? What next?

#41  Postby OlivierK » Apr 13, 2020 2:15 am

gobshite wrote:
OlivierK wrote:
gobshite wrote:
OlivierK wrote:
It's a wealth creator. That's its role in a mixed economy, and it does it well.

That's debatable, given a general inability to price in externalities and longer term costs like global warming.

Failures to price in externalities are failures of government.


It's not mutually exclusive. If capitalism won't do it (which it repeatedly shows it won't), then governments are left to do it.

It's not a case of governments being "left to do it", it's their job.

It's like saying that if dogs won't drive buses, then bus drivers are left to do it.
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Re: Endtimes for Democracy and Capitalism? What next?

#42  Postby gobshite » Apr 13, 2020 2:18 am

Why do you think pricing in costs isn't in the remit of capitalism?
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Re: Endtimes for Democracy and Capitalism? What next?

#43  Postby gobshite » Apr 13, 2020 2:20 am

Thommo wrote:
gobshite wrote:
Thommo wrote:
gobshite wrote:I'm thinking more about the repeated need for bailouts.


I fail to see the relevance, sorry. I struggle to conceptualise any non-pathological socialism based system of government that would not make equivalent efforts to underwrite affected areas of economic activity in response to a pandemic. Something that happens in both cases is not an argument for or against either one.
Red herring. That socialism may or may not likewise bail out an economy says nothing about capitalism's success/failure.


Not so. The epidemic was not caused by capitalism and capitalism's response* is directly equivalent to the response of the proposed alternative. That's completely relevant to the comparison.

An alternative is only preferable (in some regard) if it offers gains (in that regard and according to some system of values).

*Strictly speaking the response of governments who operate capitalist economies.
Why are you talking about alternatives? This is a red herring. The fact that capitalism had to be bailed out by the state is proof that capitalism couldn't handle this (and the GFC) crisis. It's a clear case of privatise the profits, socialise the losses.
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Re: Endtimes for Democracy and Capitalism? What next?

#44  Postby Thommo » Apr 13, 2020 2:26 am

gobshite wrote:Why are you talking about alternatives? This is a red herring.


It's not, but I'm not sure anyone gains from each of us repeating ourselves.
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Re: Endtimes for Democracy and Capitalism? What next?

#45  Postby OlivierK » Apr 13, 2020 2:44 am

gobshite wrote:Why do you think pricing in costs isn't in the remit of capitalism?

Because it's the job of corporations to maximise profit, within the laws of the societies they operate in. In most jurisdictions, directors of companies are legally bound to act in the best financial interests of shareholders.

You're equivocating here by swapping in the word "costs" for "externalities", and it's important. Internal costs such as materials and labour are concerns of companies almost by definition. Externalities are, on the other hand, not (hence "external"), unless the regulatory environment makes them so. Creating the regulatory environment is a job of government.
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Re: Endtimes for Democracy and Capitalism? What next?

#46  Postby Hermit » Apr 13, 2020 2:45 am

OlivierK wrote:
Hermit wrote:
OlivierK wrote:
gobshite wrote:
That's debatable, given a general inability to price in externalities and longer term costs like global warming.

Failures to price in externalities are failures of government.

True, but are you perchance suggesting a disconnect between governments and economic systems?

I'm suggesting that government and capitalism both have roles, and that those roles are distinct, in a mixed economy social democracy.

Thinking of Australia and the USA, but also - albeit to a less extent - mixed economy social democracies, I sometimes wonder: When a business tycoon dies, who inherits his/her members of parliament/congress/bundestag/...?
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Re: Endtimes for Democracy and Capitalism? What next?

#47  Postby Spinozasgalt » Apr 13, 2020 3:24 am

jamest wrote:
Spinozasgalt wrote:
jamest wrote:
Spinozasgalt wrote:Pfft. Speed limits were the real end of democracy. And seatbelts.

You make a good point actually as JS Mill is my favourite philosopher when it comes to freedom etc.., but his (AND MINE) bottom line is that any democratic government should be protecting the freedoms of THE WHOLE at the expense of the few. Therefore, laws should be imposed to protect the many, such as restricting speed limits.

If we extend Mill's philosophy to THIS emergency, you will see that everything our government is doing now is to protect the needs of the few at the expense of the many, including themselves.


There is no nice way of saying this, as many people are going to suffer and die. But what needs to be stated here is that current policy will eventually kill more people than Mill's policies would have allowed for and that (into the price) democracy and capitalism will also die.

The whole? How do you protect the freedoms of the whole at the expense of the few? The few are a part of the whole. You mean the many (which you switch to in the next para), I assume. No idea why you're citing Mill or what part of Mill you want to draw my attention to.

You're not communicating clearly.

Mill's 19th century philosophy, which I was fortunate enough to encounter several years ago, is similar to Spock's: "The needs of the many outweight the needs of the few". It's a democratic philosophy of the whole, which seeks to encompass the differences thereof.

The point of it all (wrt this thread) is to reconcile freedom/democracy with law. It should be fucking obvious, for sure, that a democratic government imposes the MINIMUM amount of laws in order to honour the ideal of democracy, which should seek at all costs to maximise the freedoms of its people.

Why do I even need to explain this, especially in a room half-full of Americans? :scratch:

Ah yes, that Mill. That philosopher who never once championed the individual against the tyranny of the majority. I am not at all surprised that instead of citing the philosopher you cite a tv show character.

I'm not American, I'm Australian. And I'm still not sure what you want to say. Are the "few" that we need to sacrifice for the "many" just the people who will die of COVID-19? You don't really say who is who. There's just lots of innuendo and drama. If there were drag costumes, I'd find it entertaining.
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Re: Endtimes for Democracy and Capitalism? What next?

#48  Postby Thommo » Apr 13, 2020 3:27 am

Spinozasgalt wrote:I'm not American, I'm Australian.


You and everyone else. The closest the thread comes is two sentences by a Canadian.
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Re: Endtimes for Democracy and Capitalism? What next?

#49  Postby Matt_B » Apr 13, 2020 4:06 am

Hermit wrote:
OlivierK wrote:
Hermit wrote:
OlivierK wrote:
Failures to price in externalities are failures of government.

True, but are you perchance suggesting a disconnect between governments and economic systems?

I'm suggesting that government and capitalism both have roles, and that those roles are distinct, in a mixed economy social democracy.

Thinking of Australia and the USA, but also - albeit to a less extent - mixed economy social democracies, I sometimes wonder: When a business tycoon dies, who inherits his/her members of parliament/congress/bundestag/...?


For a semi-serious answer, it's more a case of leasing than ownership.

Politicians are generally only beholden to their backers so long as they're funding the next campaign for re-election.
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Re: Endtimes for Democracy and Capitalism? What next?

#50  Postby gobshite » Apr 13, 2020 4:06 am

OlivierK wrote:
gobshite wrote:Why do you think pricing in costs isn't in the remit of capitalism?

Because it's the job of corporations to maximise profit, within the laws of the societies they operate in. In most jurisdictions, directors of companies are legally bound to act in the best financial interests of shareholders.


I'd modify that slightly by saying that profit and financial interests are to be maximised in the short term. Which necessitates ignoring long-term costs and/or externalities. Are the expected costs of global warming in the financial interests of most shareholders?

You're equivocating here by swapping in the word "costs" for "externalities", and it's important. Internal costs such as materials and labour are concerns of companies almost by definition. Externalities are, on the other hand, not (hence "external"), unless the regulatory environment makes them so. Creating the regulatory environment is a job of government.


This is probably a fair point, except it leaves us with the notion that capitalism is good at generating wealth, except when it isn't and then it's the government's fault. I'm having trouble swallowing that. Not least because capitalism isn't a monolithic entity, it's composed of the government and the people that make up its markets.

In any case, I'm going to retreat to my rephrasing of your initial point: capitalism is good at stealing wealth from the developing world and future generations. When viewed this way, it's fairly questionable whether capitalism is actually generating much wealth at all. It's expropriating it.
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Re: Endtimes for Democracy and Capitalism? What next?

#51  Postby OlivierK » Apr 13, 2020 4:21 am

gobshite wrote:This is probably a fair point, except it leaves us with the notion that capitalism is good at generating wealth, except when it isn't and then it's the government's fault.

I'll note that I didn't say that. I think it's a decent wealth-creation mechanism when done well, and like anything it can be done well, and done badly. I certainly don't blame government for failures of corporations to be profitable, including in cases where reasonable regulations to safeguard environmental or social capital render a business non-viable.

gobshite wrote:In any case, I'm going to retreat to my rephrasing of your initial point: capitalism is good at stealing wealth from the developing world and future generations. When viewed this way, it's fairly questionable whether capitalism is actually generating much wealth at all. It's expropriating it.

Well, yes. Just as capitalism is good at privatising (or stealing, if you prefer) the common wealth when environmental or social regulations are looser than they should be. So the business of government should very much be constructing a regulatory environment where corporations can only make a profit by actually creating value rather than expropriating capital (social, environmental, or financial) from those that current systems fail to adequately defend. I'm confident that in general, it's still possible to make a profit while operating ethically.
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Re: Endtimes for Democracy and Capitalism? What next?

#52  Postby Spearthrower » Apr 13, 2020 4:32 am

A philosophical appraisal of covid-19


:doh:

Seriously, not a goddamn clue.
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Re: Endtimes for Democracy and Capitalism? What next?

#53  Postby tuco » Apr 13, 2020 4:36 am

I prefer exploiting.
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Re: Endtimes for Democracy and Capitalism? What next?

#54  Postby Spearthrower » Apr 13, 2020 5:05 am

jamest wrote:In my opinion, democracy and its associated freedoms are clearly meaningless ideals wrt to governments who have imposed policies upon its citizens which counter the universal ideals of democracy/freedom, which they've done.


Except they don't, in any way, shape, or form counter any ideals of freedom - let alone supposedly 'universal' ones. As always, and has already been noted to you, a democratically formed government has been granted a mandate by the people to make laws to protect and maintain society. In this case, a virus is running rampant through that society, and the only way to get it under control and to ensure that millions of people don't become sick and possibly die is to make laws placing temporary restrictions on people's movement.

As for democracy - it became clear with regards to Brexit that you have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. At no point have you ever grasped that democracy is a form of government where executive power is ultimately - if abstractly - exercised by the citizens of that nation. Nothing that has happened in response to Covid-19 is anti-democratic. We elected representatives that comprise parliament and the executive body of government. They haven't suddenly become an unelected class of people just because they're making laws you've ironically decided (despite declaring the end of the fucking world is nigh) you don't like. Freedom in democratic terms is not absolute, and never has been - governments wield law to limit your freedoms all the time, it's just you don't think much about anything and consequently haven't noticed that your freedoms are routinely curtailed.


jamest wrote:JS MILL would not have closed down the World's economy for this virus and neither would I.


Neither you nor Mill (all caps because...?) have the power or authority to close down the world's economy, so the point is irrelevant. Funny how you immediately appeal to an individual decree when you're supposedly declaiming against democracy. And really, don't put yourself in the same sentence as Mill because there's fuck all in common.


jamest wrote: Why? Not because we're greedy bastards, but because "closing down" freedoms is the biggest crime of all, and because it's UTTERLY short-sighted to think that the current strategy is going to save the most lives in the medium to long-term.


Gods that's thick as shit and it's definitely got bugger all to do with Mill. I bet you've not even read Mill, have you? I bet Wikipedia is the sum total of your knowledge of Mill. The utilitarian motto is to bring about the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people - contextually, a government that fails to respond to this crisis and allows the disease to run rampant through their society despite having legal, democratic power to exercise the functions of law to help prevent it is failing abysmally at this - preventable mass sickness and death is not something Mill would be arguing for because he wasn't clueless. Rather, the greater number of people here is society as a whole, so if a few plonkers can't go to the beach or go clubbing for a few weeks in order to save hundreds of thousands of people from getting seriously sick and potentially dying, then quite clearly from a utilitarian perspective, that is serving the greater number of people over the interests of a minority, and it is producing much greater good. So despite your appeal to a philosopher presumably in the hope of some of his light may be reflected on you, you don't appear to grasp anything about his philosophy or how to do philosophy. Quelle fucking surprise!

As for your final sentence, this is directly reflective of your ignorance of Biology coinciding with your hubris. The strategy of minimizing infections - spreading them out - offers by far the greater chance of minimizing deaths because there are finite resources from a medical perspective, but those resources are reusable, so if it's possible to treat 1 million people a week and we have 2 million people sick, then 1 million of them aren't getting treatment, and assuming the lack of treatment increases their risk of dying, then 50% of our patients are now at greater risk. However, if we can spread the transmission out over longer periods - 2 weeks in our simple scenario crafted so in the hopes you may be able to grasp it - then we can treat 1 million people this week and 1 million people next week, meaning 100% of people can receive treatment and thereby gain the maximal opportunities for recovery.


jamest wrote:I might sound like a heartless cold-hearted bastard, but what I'm saying here is in the best interests of both democracy/capitalism and human life in the long-term.


You do, but not nearly as much as you sound like you don't have a clue what you're jabbering about.

And as for your inane contention that you know what's best - I wouldn't even be confident that you'd know you're arse from your elbow.


jamest wrote:History will unveil all of this,...


That's crackpot language... I will be shown right one day!


jamest wrote:but it's fucking obvious anyway. Wake the fuck up.


Foolish fucking ignorance.


jamest wrote: Your government is both selfish and short-sighted and is simultaneoulsly destroying the concepts of democracy/capitalism.


As usual, jamest doesn't grasp the concept of there being multiple governments represented here, and that those governments are actually employing different strategies, but hey - comparative to the litany of idiotic mistakes he's making, this is relatively minor.

Of course, no democracy has been destroyed at all - jamest just doesn't know what the term means. Capitalism will bounce back, not that I could care either way as capitalism's benefits are counterbalanced by its negative impacts, and of course, no discussion is contained in this thread about capitalism anyway.


jamest wrote:When one of you realise this, I'll get onto the "What next?" aspect of the title.


Go away you silly little man.
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Re: Endtimes for Democracy and Capitalism? What next?

#55  Postby Spearthrower » Apr 13, 2020 5:14 am

jamest wrote:
Spinozasgalt wrote:Pfft. Speed limits were the real end of democracy. And seatbelts.

You make a good point actually as JS Mill is my favourite philosopher when it comes to freedom etc.., but his (AND MINE) bottom line is that any democratic government should be protecting the freedoms of THE WHOLE at the expense of the few. Therefore, laws should be imposed to protect the many, such as restricting speed limits.


So laws should be imposed to protect the many, such as limiting individual liberties for a few weeks stopping people go to a nightclub for example, in order that the many don't get sick or die?

Like that you mean?

And he's your 'favourite philosopher' is he? :doh:


jamest wrote:If we extend Mill's philosophy to THIS emergency, you will see that everything our government is doing now is to protect the needs of the few at the expense of the many, including themselves.


Um no, exactly the contrary which is why any temporary limitations on freedom are warranted - some people can't do what they want in order that the many won't get sick and died.


jamest wrote:There is no nice way of saying this, as many people are going to suffer and die. But what needs to be stated here is that current policy will eventually kill more people than Mill's policies would have allowed for and that (into the price) democracy and capitalism will also die.


Many more will get sick and die in the absence of these laws - that's the entire fucking point. Stop typing and start thinking.
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Re: Endtimes for Democracy and Capitalism? What next?

#56  Postby Spearthrower » Apr 13, 2020 5:36 am

jamest wrote:Worst case scenario the UK will lose the low end of a 6-figure amount of people over the course of about 18 months due to covid-19.


Your source, please?
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Re: Endtimes for Democracy and Capitalism? What next?

#57  Postby Spearthrower » Apr 13, 2020 5:37 am

jamest wrote:Mill's 19th century philosophy, which I was fortunate enough to encounter several years ago, is similar to Spock's: "The needs of the many outweight the needs of the few". It's a democratic philosophy of the whole, which seeks to encompass the differences thereof.

The point of it all (wrt this thread) is to reconcile freedom/democracy with law. It should be fucking obvious, for sure, that a democratic government imposes the MINIMUM amount of laws in order to honour the ideal of democracy, which should seek at all costs to maximise the freedoms of its people.

Why do I even need to explain this, especially in a room half-full of Americans? :scratch:



You don't need to 'explain' it - you need to 'understand' it.
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Re: Endtimes for Democracy and Capitalism? What next?

#58  Postby gobshite » Apr 13, 2020 6:07 am

OlivierK wrote:
gobshite wrote:This is probably a fair point, except it leaves us with the notion that capitalism is good at generating wealth, except when it isn't and then it's the government's fault.

I'll note that I didn't say that. I think it's a decent wealth-creation mechanism when done well, and like anything it can be done well, and done badly. I certainly don't blame government for failures of corporations to be profitable, including in cases where reasonable regulations to safeguard environmental or social capital render a business non-viable.

gobshite wrote:In any case, I'm going to retreat to my rephrasing of your initial point: capitalism is good at stealing wealth from the developing world and future generations. When viewed this way, it's fairly questionable whether capitalism is actually generating much wealth at all. It's expropriating it.

Well, yes. Just as capitalism is good at privatising (or stealing, if you prefer) the common wealth when environmental or social regulations are looser than they should be. So the business of government should very much be constructing a regulatory environment where corporations can only make a profit by actually creating value rather than expropriating capital (social, environmental, or financial) from those that current systems fail to adequately defend. I'm confident that in general, it's still possible to make a profit while operating ethically.


I hope (perhaps naively) that there will be a greater recognition and acceptance of the role of government in our society after this virus thing settles down. I'd say we need to create a disaster fund that can help in situations like this, but when money is this cheap to borrow perhaps borrowing and then using surpluses (fairly non-existent lately) to pay back those loans is a better way to go. Piling up debt does feel pretty uncomfortable, though. We really need to get back to surpluses (raising taxes is going to be the only way we will do this while keeping society primed to deal with future disasters). In Australia, at least, we have been running structural deficits too long. The neoliberal approach of cutting taxes in the hope of increasing revenue has proved to be pretty hollow in the last decade+ I'd say. So to answer the OP's question of What Next? - i'd say we need to move to a stronger role for government, and perhaps re-nationalisation of some critical parts of the economy. Basically a strong Scandi social democracy.
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Re: Endtimes for Democracy and Capitalism? What next?

#59  Postby OlivierK » Apr 13, 2020 6:30 am

If there's one political philosophy that's being bloodied and bruised by the pandemic and responses to it, it's not democracy, or capitalism, but libertarianism. And indeed james's horror of what's unfolding is being preached from a libertarian pulpit, wherein every individual freedom, no matter how small, is elevated over the common good.

But reality is taking a bit of a shit on libertarianism, brutally exposing its amorality by forcing us to accept our shared interests as a society by making those shared interests literally a life and death issue. Funnily enough, when people's lives (or those of their loved ones) are on the line, suddenly the "I ought to be free to do as I please, no matter the consequences for others." types are getting the contempt they've always deserved.

From most people, of course, not all. :roll:
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Re: Endtimes for Democracy and Capitalism? What next?

#60  Postby Spearthrower » Apr 13, 2020 6:53 am

Want to live in society and reap the rewards, then you are implicitly agreeing for your liberty to be partly subordinated to that society. The degree to which that occurs is up for discussion, but if you want absolute - go live in a fucking cave and fend for yourself.
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