How is fascism created from "capitalism in decline"?

Fascism is created from capitalism in decline via the following mechanisms:

1. Long-term decrease in real wages (i.e. loss of buying power, social status, etc.). Over time, it is inevitable that increased efficiencies, mass production and the search for cheaper labor and natural resources are exhausted — even as profit continues to be maximized at the same time — result in workers receiving less and less in real wages. And that is exactly what has happened in the U.S. since about 1972 — even as GDP and per capita productivity increased during that period, all that wealth went to the wealthiest owner-shareholders, and never “trickled down” to anyone else.

2. Loss of economic mobility. As income inequality expands, economic mobility decreases for the majority of a given population. So while they still are working just as hard (or even harder), the opportunities for advancement or even basic financial security evaporate.

3. Fewer jobs, and lower quality jobs. In order to fuel economic growth, the consumer base must expand as production costs shrink. This creates an ever-widening capture of cheap labor and resources, and an ever-enlarging global marketshare. Jobs must of necessity either be automated or exported away from affluent countries. Innovation can sometimes fill the job gap, but usually only for short periods.

4. A resulting frustration among formerly affluent populations. Factors 1–3 lead to increasing dissatisfaction and frustration among groups that had once held the most political, social and cultural capital. They become increasingly angry that the promise of economic freedoms and opportunities — and the cultural prestige — once afforded them has evaporated. But beyond that, there is real suffering as poverty begins to take root, and especially when yet another “false promise” in the form of increasing and inescapable debt adds fuel to resentments.

5. Xenophobic scapegoating and nationalistic romanticism. Someone has to pay for this loss of status, loss of affluence, and the snowball effect of failed promises. It could be anyone…and “big bad government” is a frequent target…but it is much easier and more concrete to scapegoat a powerless, vulnerable or “foreign” group than to rail agains more abstract institutions. Political scapegoating can, after all, backfire when half of the population is the group being targeted as scapegoats — they can rise up and exercise a dominant political will. But poor immigrants or helpless refugees fleeing violent oppression are much easier to villainize — especially when they are tarred and feathered as “attacking” a proud national heritage. It does not matter that that national heritage is being viewed through rose-colored distortions…only that it is being attacked by “Them.”

My 2 cents.

What does Corporate Social Responsibility in a developed country look like?

A2A. In my experience, there are really five distinct aspects to this topic that are generally considered in formulations and assessments:

1. The intent of CSR for a given organization.

2. Its ideological context of CSR for that organization.

3. The internal and external marketing spin.

4. The efficacy of a given company’s approach (with respect to its intent).

5. The impact of CSR on the bottom line.

Only when all five of these areas are carefully assessed can we know what CSR “looks like” from any perspective. Often only one or two of these areas are examined or emphasized, which is one way to quickly skew data to confirm a preexisting bias. Taken altogether, however, we can begin piecing together the objectives and effects of CSR in a holistic way. What makes this challenging is that, in many instances, the change agents involved (top execs, board members, activist shareholders, etc.) are not entirely transparent about one or more of these components, preferring to engineer outcomes that align with an undisclosed or deliberately clouded agenda. Needless to say, CSR can be used as cover to accomplish many objectives that are not — in any way — socially responsible.

That said, when there is transparency, genuinely prosocial intent and ideology, and a skillful approach, the result can be a measurable offset to negative externalities, an improved work environment for employees, a higher quality product or service for customers, and (potentially) an increase in brand and employee loyalty from those with shared values. However, none of this necessarily facilitates one of the two extremes promoted by proponents or critics: i.e. cumbersome business processes or improved profitability. Once systems, metrics and adjustment strategies are in place, it generally seems to be the case that CSR is not that difficult to implement, but also has little impact on the bottom line one way or the other.

So really, if the intent is genuine, the results can satisfy that intent without having much influence on business at all. Which is interesting, since, if the intent is not genuine and the efforts are superficial, this can actually backfire in a spectacular way once it is disclosed (see factor #3).

My 2 cents.

Was the busting of Standard Oil necessary and or was it already losing control of it's monoply?

I see this question has already received plenty of neoliberal propaganda in response, so I’ll try to balance the scales with some sanity.

Yes, absolutely Standard Oil’s monopoly needed to end. Adam Smith was perhaps the first to write passionately about the dangers of monopoly, and Standard Oil’s 90% marketshare could have been a poster child for Smith’s predictions. After all, it resulted in:

1. Ruthless and destructive anti-competitive practices involving spying, lying, deception, back room deals, bribes, threats, physical violence, etc.

2. Careful and deliberate amplification of political corruption that supported Standard Oil’s monopoly.

3. Extraordinary, near-absolute influence over markets (price controls, supply manipulations, etc.)

4. Widespread public distaste and mistrust in the resulting consumer conditions imposed by Standard Oil.

While it is true that Rockefeller’s initial success was fueled by increased efficiencies and clever cost recovery strategies and innovation, those advantages paled in comparison to the truly brutal market manipulation that Standard Oil imposed later, when it had finagled and coerced the power to do so.

My 2 cents.

What do you think of Bertrand Russell's political ideas?

In response to this question, I read Russell’s Political Ideals and found myself agreeing with most of what he wrote. There isn’t much that is original there except Russell’s clear and carefully reasoned voice, but his assessments of the problems of capitalism and State socialism are spot-on. His proposed solutions are more about recommended principles than prescription — that is, he doesn’t offer a lot of details regarding those solutions — but again I find myself agreeing with most of his sentiments about the importance of self-governance, avoiding the use of force, the dangers of unrestrained possessiveness, the importance of creativity, and so on. The only criticism I might have is that Russell leans a bit too far in the direction of individualism, and too frequently looks to the State for intervention. In other words, he relies too heavily on the State to manage society, and demands a rigorous protection of individuality that, IMO, is corrosive to civil society. I would quote specific passages, but Quora will undoubtedly flag my post as “plagiarism” and collapse it…so, alas, I cannot back up my assertions with Russell’s actual words. :-) Regardless, however, I was impressed with Political Ideals, especially given the time period in which it was written.

My 2 cents.

Has Milton Friedman's "Capitalism and Freedom" aged well?

LOL. No the book has not aged well, except in two areas. Here’s a quick breakdown of why:

1. Friedman’s monetarism is absolutely his most influential contribution to what has remained an effective toolbox for government economic influence at the macro level. That section of the book has aged very well.

2. A guaranteed minimum income (negative income tax) is still a popular idea among some reformers — though usually on the radical Left — but it’s not Friedman’s original idea and is usually lost amid his other points. So I’d say that although the idea persists, Friedman’s contribution hasn’t aged well.

3. Plenty of far-right-leaning folks still carry a torch for school vouchers and resistance to government oversight of education, but the jury is still out on whether this will do anything but improve educational choice for rich people, and decrease economic opportunity and mobility for everyone else.

4. Everything else in the book (that is, the majority of his criticisms and proposals) are now viewed as utter bunk by anyone serious about economics or cognizant of recent history. Many of Friedman’s ideas ideas have been tried — all around the globe — and they have failed utterly. This doesn’t stop neoliberals from quoting Friedman, of course, so in that sense the book has “aged well” as a propagandizing tool for Milton Friedman worshipers, market fundamentalists, proponents of laissez faire economics, right-libertarians and other fervent ideologues. In the real world, however, Friedman’s ideas have been soundly discredited. So in the sense of respect from policy makers and economists, only the blindly and irrationally loyal still hold Friedman’s ideas in any regard.

My 2 cents.

Was Karl Marx actually a socialist?


There is a lot of confusion around this topic, in no small degree because pro-capitalist, neoliberal market fundamentalists in the U.S. and elsewhere have worked very hard to promote propaganda that keeps anything to do with Marx rather confused (for some elaboration on this, check out the post WWI and WWI “Red Scares”).

Here’s how I would lay things out:

The two main threads of socialism that were championed during the 1800s where social democracy and communism. Marx stepped into this debate with a theory of “historical materialism” that asserted that a specific order of evolution and revolution would occur in human society — one relating to the inherent conflict between the classes that form around different modes of production. It’s an interesting theory with quite a few salient observations about observable dynamics in history (such as the influence of modes of production on sociopolitical systems and consciousness), but it is also very simplistic…which has made if fairly easy to criticize. However, a moneyless, wageless, classless society was always the endgame of historical materialism as Marx envisioned it. And of course this would be facilitated through social ownership of the means of production…which is, of course, socialism.

But then came Vladimir Lenin, who asserted that “socialism” was actually an interim stage in the evolution from capitalism to stateless communism. And because of this interjection of differentiation, the waters became a lot muddier. Before Lenin, a more consistent differentiator between communism and socialism was that communism promoted atheism, whereas socialism did not. But after Lenin, communism was promoted as the endgame superior to socialism, and so perpetuating “socialism” per se would be — in this context at least — antagonistic to an evolution into communism. And for these and other reasons, Marx became forever disassociated with threads of social democracy that evolved in Europe and elsewhere, and which have resulted in the many mixed economies that attempt to balance the worst distortions of capitalism with socialist institutions.

Now something to note…and this is kind of important IMO…is that Marx was pretty permissive regarding violent expropriation, and pretty noncommittal about promoting specific forms of democracy. Marx did praise the democratic process he observed of the Paris Commune — which was itself aiming for social democracy — but apart from that, much of his language leans toward rhetoric like “the dictatorship of the proletariat.” In Capital, Marx does indicate that capitalism’s transformation of “scattered private property” into “capitalist private property” is inherently more violent and oppressive than the transformation of capitalist private property into socialized property: “In the former case, we had the expropriation of the mass of the people by a few usurpers; in the latter, we have the expropriation of a few usurpers by the mass of the people.” But apart from that comparison, he gives every indication that a revolutionary transition away from capitalism is going to be messy — and not just in terms of counterrevolution. Instead Marx fetishizes the proletariat as an idealized champion of moral rectitude in an unjust class division, and the bourgeoisie as the villains who must be overthrown. And of course this could only embolden the Bolsheviks in their murderous consolidation of power, Pol Pot’s brutal methods, and so on. In any case, I think these two issues — a lackluster and unspecific promotion of democracy, and a permissive attitude (or presumption of inevitability) towards violent revolutions — were Marx’s greatest errors.

With all of this said, the one point the OP is definitely getting wrong is asserting that Marx “never says that the proletariat is justified in revolting or that society will be better off afterwards.” The whole point of Marx’s theory of history and (and advocacy of proletariat self-governance) is liberation — emancipation really — and an end to oppression and exploitation. That’s a really difficult point to miss if Marx’s writings are taken as a whole: he is completely oriented to remedying the problems of capitalism, and insists that such remedies will, in fact, arise of their own dialectic, evolutionary imperative.

Lastly, I’ll leave you with this excerpt of Marx…because it is so wonderfully concise, and so insightfully accurate, in elaborating the very problems of capitalism we see manifesting in full force today:

From Marx’s Capital, Vol.1, Part VIII:

“As soon as this process of transformation has sufficiently decomposed the old society from top to bottom, as soon as the labourers are turned into proletarians, their means of labour into capital, as soon as the capitalist mode of production stands on its own feet, then the further socialisation of labour and further transformation of the land and other means of production into socially exploited and, therefore, common means of production, as well as the further expropriation of private proprietors, takes a new form. That which is now to be expropriated is no longer the labourer working for himself, but the capitalist exploiting many labourers. This expropriation is accomplished by the action of the immanent laws of capitalistic production itself, by the centralisation of capital. One capitalist always kills many. Hand in hand with this centralisation, or this expropriation of many capitalists by few, develop, on an ever extending scale, the co-operative form of the labour-process, the conscious technical application of science, the methodical cultivation of the soil, the transformation of the instruments of labour into instruments of labour only usable in common, the economising of all means of production by their use as the means of production of combined, socialised labour, the entanglement of all peoples in the net of the world-market, and this, the international character of the capitalistic régime. Along with the constantly diminishing number of the magnates of capital, who usurp and monopolise all advantages of this process of transformation, grows the mass of misery, oppression, slavery, degradation, exploitation; but with this too grows the revolt of the working-class, a class always increasing in numbers, and disciplined, united, organised by the very mechanism of the process of capitalist production itself. The monopoly of capital becomes a fetter upon the mode of production, which has sprung up and flourished along with, and under it. Centralisation of the means of production and socialisation of labour at last reach a point where they become incompatible with their capitalist integument. This integument is burst asunder. The knell of capitalist private property sounds. The expropriators are expropriated.”


My 2 cents.

What do Keynesian and Austrian economists agree about?


LOL. This question got a healthy chuckle out of me. About the only intersect that I can think of is that they both acknowledge the existence of money and markets. Aside from that, I’d say searching for further intersects is like trying to find common ground between the Phoenix (an imaginary bird with no empirical basis) and a Penguin (an actual bird, but one that “flies” underwater) - they are both “birds” in the broadest sense, but that’s about it. Really the Austrian School is more of an individualistic economic materialist religion that has never borne any actual fruit in the real world other than failure, whereas what Keynes observed and proposed — albeit still in the philosophical sphere that economics occupies — has been repeatedly validated by actual historic trends, policies and events.

Comment from Sean King: "…You do know that the concept of opportunity cost was borne from the Austrian School right? And the marginal revolution? It would be one thing to argue that the Austrian hasn't made any significant advances since its revival in the 70s. I'd disagree with you but I could understand that. But to outright dismiss its contributions to our understanding of markets is irresponsible."


That is a fair critical tack to take with my very brief answer — though I would say that, at least at 30,000 feet, the Austrian School has been more wrong than right in its assertions. At a more granular level, however, Menger, von Wieser et al made some pretty salient observations that did contribute to our understanding and dialogue overall. I don’t disagree with that. But there is a BIG difference between accurately observing certain components in economic forces, events or metrics, and then using those observations to create an overall system that demonstrates predictive efficacy. Big difference indeed — and that is what I was speaking to, because that is where the Austrian approach has failed, and where Keynes has prevailed.

As a separate, more specific consideration of the two issues you raised, von Wieser wasn’t the first to observe or describe opportunity cost…he was just the first to attach a very catchy phrase to it — and one that stuck. As for marginal utility, again it was von Wieser who seems to have come up with a useful term that endured, but this concept is widely accepted to have originated with Bernouilli, was then developed by Menger and his non-Austrian contemporaries, all before culminating in the work of Marshal, von Wieser et al. So I wouldn’t say you can really lay the marginal revolution at the feet of the Austrian school…only that they helped support and expand the concept of subjective valuation.

As for being irresponsible, I don’t mean to be dismissive out-of-hand, it’s just that most of what I have encountered in Austrian-leaning thinking (particularly at the Mises/Rothbard end of the spectrum) has proven itself to be utter nonsense in the realm of real-world policy consequences.


From Quora: https://www.quora.com/What-do-Keynesian-and-Austrian-economists-agree-about/answer/T-Collins-Logan

How can property rights be justified without appealing to capitalist culture?

This is a pretty squirrelly topic, because so many assumptions have been made over time that have no “universal” basis or ground; in other words, they don’t have empirical validity that is replicable across all cultures around the globe, or throughout all of history…and sometimes they don’t have a clear logical basis either. For example:

Theory of labor appropriation: Based on the faulty assumption that primitive peoples throughout history claimed “ownership” when they applied their labor to land, objects they created, etc. This is actually a pretty modern idea (in terms of the total span of human culture and civilization). Locke actually used the Native Americans for his example - and he was just wrong. In actuality most Native American tribes either had no conception of “ownership” at all, or a collective (tribal) view of ownership or use — especially regarding land, hunting rights, etc. Locke was, well, just mistaken — as countless others have been who haven’t actually studied cultural anthropology when making assertions about primitive cultures.

The tragedy of the commons: A thought experiment that was repeated and amplified over decades to justify ownership and private control of resources. The irony, however, is that Elinor Ostrom documented dozens of instances of “common pool resource management” in cultures all around the globe that shared a non-depleting egalitarian access to the commons without mishap…and without either government ownership or private ownership.

Property rights as “natural rights” extending from sovereignty over one’s own person for one’s survival via mixing with labor: As the Austrian School (Rothbard, Hoppe) philosophically argued variation of Locke’s labor appropriation, this really just becomes an absurd extension of individualistic economic materialism, assuming (completely without rational or empirical basis) that social agreements, cultural preconditions, cooperative prosociality and all the other hallmarks of human civilization aren’t necessary or required for human survival; that instead they can be replaced with 100% self-sufficiency. In essence, it is an article of faith grounded in individualistic (atomistic) beliefs that are not supported by empirical research on how homo sapiens has actually survived and thrived as a species. This thesis becomes even more absurd when it extends beyond “personal” possessions (a knife, a jacket, a blanket, wild-harvested food or anything used for survival in a given moment) to things that will be utilized by everyone (i.e common resources) just because the “rightful owner” was “the first to show up and claim it.” Here there is an even greater leap of faith. It’s all very silly, and Hoppe and Rothbard can never really justify their positions other than to say, well…it makes sense to them (i.e. using statements like “how could it be otherwise?”).

So we can conclude fairly easily that conceptions of private property are a faith-based enterprise that contradicts both sound reasoning and empirical facts. What we do know, however, is that private property (as either a universally accepted principle or as a feature of law) is most certainly necessary for capitalism to function, so much so that anarcho-capitalists, laissez-faire neoliberals, Randian objectivists and other market fundamentalists will scrabble tooth-and-nail to justify the concept. The irony, however, is that liberty is greatly impeded by the concept of private property; in fact we could say that private property is itself one of the most profound sources of interference to freedom that humanity has every invented. To appreciate why this is the case, I recommend this essay: The Goldilocks Zone of Integral Liberty (scroll down linked page to read it - no need to sign into Academia)

Ultimately, then, the answer to the OP’s question is: No, property rights can’t be justified in a rational or empirical way that promotes either liberty or personal sovereignty, and are actually intrinsically antagonistic to both. Private property is a very handy concept for the haves to exploit the have-nots, however…and so it evokes religious conviction among the pro-capitalist crowd.

My 2 cents.

Comment from Steeve Chaboussie: "And yet, I’m pretty sure you lock your door. I am genuinely interested with how you reconcile that with “So we can conclude fairly easily that conceptions of private property are a faith-based enterprise that contradicts both sound reasoning and empirical facts.”


There was a time when everyone in a given culture would “cross themselves” whenever someone looked at them in a strange way, o perhaps pointed at them with an index finger. There was a time when various cultures felt compelled to sacrifice animals on altars to appease their gods. There was a time when it was “common sense” that the Earth was flat and the Sun and Moon revolved around it. Today we have equally irrational beliefs that guide our daily lives. Beliefs about the importance of “knocking on wood,” or that certain numbers are “lucky” for us, or that people of a certain skin color — or accent, country of origin, etc. — should be feared, or that synchronistic events must inherently “mean” something. Our species is, essentially, predisposed to superstition, irrationality and rationalization. Which is where the fear-based reasoning that enshrines private property in law (and fences off yards, and locks doors) comes from. It isn’t rational, it isn’t necessary, and in terms of the evolution of civil society, it isn’t “natural” in the sense it has been argued to be for the last few hundred years. It is instead an invention of our superstitious, fearful, systematizing minds. That was my point.

Now, if your are asking if I participate in this delusion along with everyone else…well of course I do. Because that is currently how we have restricted freedoms in civil society to an immense degree: by cordoning off 99% of the world around us as “privately owned” and inaccessible to non-owners. People who do not respect these artificial, fear-based boundaries are considered to be “breaking the law,” and because those who willfully and knowingly “break the law” in this way generally have nefarious agendas in mind, it would be unwise not to conform to the societal standards as they have evolved — despite the ridiculousness of their underlying premise. In the same way, a nudist who believes wearing clothes is…well…just a silly convention that hides or attempts to shame the natural beauty of all human bodies will also wear clothes in public. We conform — to whatever degree we must — in order to survive.

This is how I reconcile the hypocrisy of many of my own behaviors that I fundamentally despise. I also allow people to pay me for the services I provide — I would prefer they didn’t, as I find it distasteful and undermining of relationship and trust — but there is currently no other means for me to reliably obtain food and shelter for my family. And yes, I have tried some alternatives, and admire planned communities that attempt to do the same, but we are so embedded in a commercialistic, capitalistic society that “stepping outside” of it fully is extremely difficult. In fact, the only folks I know who have done so with ongoing success have had to leave the U.S. altogether…and many of them are still struggling to live according to their principles without external support.

However, these de facto conditions of “private property oppression” are not immutable, and my hope is that more and more inquisitive and thoughtful folks will gradually wake up to the fact that these conditions need to change in order to maximize the promises of democracy and liberty. It’s why I have been working to promote Level 7 proposals. But we shall see….

The Venus Project: What do people think about the Resource Based Economy predicted by Jacques Fresco?

I see lots of encouraging intentions - in fact I was delighted to find intersections in some of Fresco's work and my own - but I also encountered quite a few problems with Fresco's proposals.

The main problematic issues as I see them:


(I)

Fresco frequently alludes to the idea that we can't solve resource scarcity issues using the same old tools that got us into the current mess. Unfortunately, he does not approach technology and science with exactly the same rigor, instead elevating them to a vaunted "solution"s status rather than acknowledging that they are really inherent to many of the challenges in modernity. Alas, this is magical thinking.

Breaking this down...As a former IT expert with some twenty years of experience with complex computing technologies, I would say that relying on computing and technology to manage production and resource allocation is extremely foolish. Technological determinism - or "technology as panacea" in this case - is a consequence of not knowing how fragile and easily disrupted technological systems inherently are, especially as they increase in complexity. A la Kurzweil and others, it's become a bit of religious conviction that some sort of tipping point "is bound to occur" that frees humanity of its labors and existential challenges. From the perspective of someone who has spent nearly half of his life installing, building, programing and maintaining all manor of technology-dependent "cybernetic solutions" to complex problems, I'm here to tell you it simply will not work. Certainly not in our lifetime...and probably not ever. It is instead a romantic religious conviction cradled in a love of science fiction...and nothing more. Well, actually, it is something more...because such reliance (on any scale) inevitably leads to abrupt and calamitous unintended consequences.

Along the same lines, the scientific method should certainly be part of a larger toolbox in problem-solving...but we shouldn't place it on a pedestal. It has been much too easy to "capture" scientific research and decision-making and processes with opposing values sets, so that science can be used to justify completely different conclusions or reinforce preexisting biases. This is in large part because - in the same spirit as Fresco - many folks romanticize "logical" deductive reasoning, imagining that it is somehow independent of emotions, interpersonal relationships, spiritual perceptions, cultural conditioning, or indeed somatic patterns and proclivities. But it isn't - reason is one small part of a larger organism we call "consciousness." The reductionism inherent to Fresco's investment in science is just a problematic as relying solely on reading pigeon entrails - it excludes too much of the human experience. To appreciate what I'm alluding to, consider reading my essays on Sector Theory and Managing Complexity.

Which leads to the next point...


(II)

Values hierarchies are a reflection of moral development; without specific attention to how we mature our ethical frameworks individually and collectively, there will be no stable solutions available to replace the current self-destructive maelstrom. Human beings will undermine any and all systems whenever their values diverge from it. This is a central consideration of my own Level 7 proposals, and unless I’ve missed something, Fresco seems to rather polyannishly sidestep it (i.e. saying instead that it “will emerge naturally” as resource abundance is actualized - see Values | The Venus Project). I don’t entirely disagree with his sentiment here, but I also think moral development itself should be a more consciously and carefully considered facet of any effective proposal.


(III)

There is very little acknowledgement of the current population problem in the Venus Project. Our planet actually can't sustain the Earth's current population at developed countries' consumption levels - even if we "build everything to last" and maximize the efficiency of production as Fresco proposes - and certainly not for the population projected over the next hundred years. Sorry...it's just not possible. So reducing population has to be part of the mix...which again invokes issue #2 above. It's also a fundamental test of Fresco's target to produce "only what is needed;" folks routinely confuse needs and wants for all sorts of complex psychosocial reasons. Until families around the globe embrace the reality that it is immoral and reckless to have more than one or two children, all proposed systems will inevitable be under tremendous pressure to stratify the "haves" and "have-nots," simply out of practical necessity. Fresco tries to brush such concerns aside with his conviction that people will change their minds when presented with "scientific proof" of what they need...but again, this is more evidence of romantic idealism.

With these prominent exceptions, I actually agree with much of what Fresco says about property, currency, democracy, pilot projects and so forth. I just have different ways to address the same challenges. And that raises one last critical concern: the distributed and diffused nature of human social function. I think one reason many libertarian socialist proposals encourage reliance on community-level organization is because that is where humans are most comfortable - their circle of relationships can only be so big, and their engagement in self-governance and indeed productive activities can only extend as far as our wiring for emotional and social intersubjectivity. This sidestepping of subsidiarity is a major flaw in Fresco's understanding of human beings, which frankly presents to me a bit like how someone with Autism Spectrum Disorder might see the world; again, it misjudges the relationship between moral maturity and prosocial choices.

(See my Level 7 website for further discussion of many of the issues alluded to above….)

My 2 cents.

From Quora: https://www.quora.com/The-Venus-Project-What-do-people-think-about-the-Resource-Based-Economy-predicted-by-Jacques-Fresco/answer/T-Collins-Logan

Why isn't libertarian socialism more popular?

IMO there are three potent reasons for this situation….

1. Libertarian socialism is a well-rounded ideology that countervails every aspect of the current status quo. In other words, it inherently opposes neoliberalism, market fundamentalism, crony-capitalism, conspicuous consumption, economic materialism, individualism, atomism, egotism, etc. As such, it is anathema to nearly all corporate-controlled media, habituated consumer dependencies, apathetic and plutocratically captured democratic processes, and the economic patterns and civic institutions that concentrate wealth and oligarchic power.

2. The term “libertarian” has been coopted by anarcho-capitalists in the U.S., who in turn have consistently been manipulated to serve a neoliberal agenda (i.e. Koch brothers capturing the Tea Party, Friedman and Mises pretending to be libertarian, etc.). At the same time, the Red Scare rhetoric after both World Wars has poisoned American attitudes about “socialism” to the extent that most Americans don’t know they live in a partly-socialized country (i.e. a “mixed economy”). As a result, the term “libertarian socialism” strikes many Americans as confusing or contradictory…the achievement of over a century of propaganda.

3. Some libertarian socialist ideas can be difficult to explain in a sound bite; there are no libertarian socialist equivalents of “free markets!” or “no more taxes!” or “get out the vote!” or “equality now!”

Why isn’t Noam Chomsky ever interviewed on any mainstream media outlet? Why don’t high school students in the U.S. learn about the successful libertarian socialist enclaves that once existed in Spain or the Ukraine? Why isn’t what’s happening right now in Rojava avidly debated in either mainstream media or on college campuses? Well because these realities threaten the lucrative status quo…and we can’t have that, can we?

My 2 cents.

Does libertarianism lead to social darwinism?

I’m left-libertarian so I’m not a fan of Mises or anarcho-capitalism. In fact I think capitalism, private property and unregulated market environments are pretty destructive to civil society on the whole, and individual liberty in particular. But that’s another discussion. Because this question seems to be targeting right-libertarian thinking, it’s only fair for me to say I’m answering from a perspective that is critical of that end of the libertarian spectrum….

So to answer this question as amended to read “right-libertarianism:” Yes, absolutely right-libertarianism promotes a form of social darwinism. The reason is that right-libertarianism celebrates the profit motive, which inevitably encourages the following selective characteristics:

1. The lowest-common-denominator of I/Me/Mine moral function, where individualistic economic materialism subjugates prosocial traits to grubby egotism and acquisitiveness.

2. The toddlerization of consumers into perpetual dependence on unhealthy commercial products and services.

3. De facto wage-slavery (albeit contractual and voluntary) that likewise disrupts self-sufficiency and personal growth.

4. Multi-generationally amplified cognitive stupefaction via inherited concentrations of private property and wealth.

5. A persistent isolation and atomization of the individual that disrupts psychosocial well-being, interpersonal relationships, cultural capacities and skillfulness, and (ultimately) evolutionary advantages through group selection.

6. Disregard for any other externalities of commercial production (environmental pollution, stress-related illness, decreasing food quality, poor socialization, etc.) *that have a demonstrated negative epigenetic impact*.

Over time, the amplification of such characteristics through the market dynamics, products and services inherent to profit-centric owner-shareholder enterprise models will inevitably decimate the human species. It’s already happening, and the only current bulwark against a steepening downward spiral is regulatory oversight…which is also failing. As the State can never adequately react to the fluid and persistent energies of the profit motive (or worse, succumbs to its capture), this will always be a losing battle; the organs of the State are simply too cumbersome, while rent-seeking is a wily and pernicious viper. That is, unless and until: All enterprise submits to worker self-management, community level oversight, and daily democratic controls; all resources are freed of private ownership and returned to the commons; and profit is redefined to support civil society rather than undermine it. If not, humanity is doomed to become dumber, less healthy, and more ethically incompetent with each generation. There can still be competition and indeed limited markets in a left-libertarian world, but those mechanisms will be subjected to the collectively agreed upon priorities of civil society - instead of the other way around as things are today. Essentially, then, market fundamentalism has to go the way of all other forms of fundamentalism to avoid any new mutations of feudalism that can degrade our genome.

My 2 cents.

From Quora: https://www.quora.com/Does-libertarianism-lead-to-social-darwinism-1/answer/T-Collins-Logan

Did Milton Friedman really help the Chilean economy to prosper?

This is one of the funniest bits of propaganda the neoliberals, anarcho-capitalists and other market fundamentalists will throw around. It is almost ENTIRELY FALSE. In fact, the only reason anyone believes a “Chilean Miracle” happened at all is because…well…Milton Friedman boasted that it did. Utter hogwash though. Here’s what the consequences of 7 years of Friedman’s policies (recommended by him personally, and by his Chicago Boys to Pinochet) actually were:

1. Unemployment first increased to 14%…then to 20%.

2. Sub-poverty population increased from 20% to 40%.

3. Real wages fell by 20%.

4. National output initially fell by 15% and then only ever leveled out (never got above pre 1970 levels)

5. Per capita GDP grew only 1.5%/year, as compared to several times that nearly everywhere else in Latin America.

6. Well-paying, working-class jobs evaporated (i.e. income disparity increased across population due to a “hole in the middle”)

7. Inflation reduced from 500% to 10% (really the only good thing that happened, economically, as a consequence of neoliberal policies)

8. A handful of folks got rich.

And of course all of these metrics reversed or improved once the neoliberal policies under Pinochet were abandoned….

So basically, Friedman’s “miracle” was to devastate most of the Chilean population.

You’ll notice that I didn’t mention the atrocities of the Pinochet regime - but really, if Milton Friedman was such a “champion” of individual liberty, why didn’t he loudly and soundly criticize Pinochet’s murderous oppression of the Chilean people…? Utter hypocrisy. Even more bizarrely, even as Friedman would insist Chicago School reforms helped the country economically (despite all evidence to the contrary), he would also take credit for Chile’s transition back to democracy, insisting that Chicago School policies were what led to that event. But this is astounding and delusional, really, since that transition was a consequence of pressures from the rest of the military leaders, who continued (yes, even after the referendum) to insulate their power from civilian control. In other words…they just wanted to get rid of Pinochet!

The video below is one of the funniest (or saddest, depending on how you feel about mental illness) snapshots of how Friedman would later try to distance himself from Pinochet while simultaneously taking credit for imaginary “miracles.” Watching it closely we can witness how Friedman’s ego delights in his delusions:


(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzgMNLtLJ2k)

My 2 cents.

From Quora: https://www.quora.com/Did-Milton-Friedman-really-help-the-Chilean-economy-to-prosper

Why isn't feudalism considered an early stage in the development of capitalism?

Well Marx certainly thought it was a preceding stage (see historical materialism). But really I would go so far as to say that capitalism is just another expression of feudalism - or a thinly veiled morphing of the same thing. To wit:

Lords & Nobility in their fiefdoms = Wealthy owner-shareholders, whose only real status comes from their ownership of private property, and who routinely pass that property, wealth and status on to their offspring.

Vassals & Knights = Career politicians who defend the wealthy owner-shareholders and fulfill their agendas, and who in turn have privilege and influence because of the wealth of those corporate Lords.

Serfs & Peasants = Worker-consumers who owe fealty to their political vassals and corporate Lords, must fight and die to protect the privileges of their owner-shareholders, must demonstrate lockstep loyalty to their political party, and must provide all of the labor to their corporate Lords in exchange for subsistence wages.

Homage = The tribalistic loyalty rituals demanded of worker-consumers in service to corporations and political parties. For example, at political rallies and fundraisers, or at corporate “team building” events that indoctrinate workers with a corporate brand, or in the mandatory consumption of some product or service to maintain social status.

Freemen = Small, independent business owners who will never become wealthy, but who can maintain some independence by paying rents to the owner-shareholders instead of pledging fealty.

So capitalism is really just a slight-of-hand that allows people the illusion that “anyone can become a Lord.” In reality, that possibility is like winning the lottery: very, very few people get to become wealthy owner-shareholders. So the same, essentially feudalistic arrangement continues under a capitalistic bait-and-switch deception. Sure…the same percentage of the worker-consumers could potentially earn their way to “freeman” status as peasants could under feudalism…but moving beyond that to become a wealthy owner-shareholder…well, that blessing is in largest part bestowed on the children of those who already have the wealth.

Now there is one striking difference between feudalism and capitalism: instead of a King with a Divine Right to rule over everyone, capitalism installs the striving for profit itself as the Ruler of All, and dismisses anyone who does not honor and worship greed and mammon as a witch or a heretic, wholly deserving of persecution and a lowly lot in life. In a way, capitalism exerts the same oppression of the poor as feudalism did, only justifying it with “the Divine Right of Wealth.”

My 2 cents.

From Quora: https://www.quora.com/Why-isnt-feudalism-considered-an-early-stage-in-the-development-of-capitalism

“The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.” To what extent do you agree with this Karl Marx quote?


This is one of a few areas where I think Marx oversimplifies things - mainly because he restricts the definition of “class” to an individual or group’s relationship to the means of capitalist production, and consequent self-identification and collective affinities as a consequence of that specific relationship. Because of this narrow focus, Marx then centered his ideas about class conflict around the bourgeoisie (those who control production, and benefited most from it) and the proletariat (those who don’t control production, and are exploited by it). And I think this was an overly reductive error.

As to why…well let’s start with some factors - in addition to, or aside from, control of production - that contribute to power differentials, freedoms, agency and so forth in civil society:

1. Economic status and mobility - from abject poverty to rentier, there are plenty of conditions and privileges that have nothing to do with control over production.

2. Race/ethnicity - this has a tremendous impact on freedoms, agency, opportunity, institutional bias, justice, etc. and also have nothing to do with control over production.

3. Gender & sexual orientation - ibid.

4. Native intelligence and levels of education or language ability - ibid.

5. Physical disability - ibid.

6. **Religious beliefs** - ibid (though more so in some societies or periods of history than in others…)

There are other variables, but this provides a general idea about how different “classes” of people can percolate up out of any given population, and how these class variables can potentially overlap or countervail each other. From thirty-thousand feet, Marx may have wanted to sort all of these different characteristics into his two major class distinctions, but that can result in a pretty inaccurate snapshot.

Let’s examine just one potent example to illustrate this point. A rentier does not - unless they are an activist investor - exert much control over production…if any at all. They are often purely beneficiaries of abstracted instruments of investment, having very little idea or concern about how their investments accrue, or how they impact society. So how, according to Marx’s definition of class, are they participating in class struggle? Through indulgent consumption of certain goods and services? Through supporting certain political causes? Through supporting certain types of capitalist? Okay…but what does that have to do with control over the means of production…?

Now what I do think Marx got right was that human history is very often energized by the struggle between the oppressors and the oppressed - within a given society, or between different societies. But this oppressive relationship can exist outside of the confines of control over the means of production (or exploitation by the means of production): to wit, women’s rights, or the cultural scapegoating of certain ethnic minorities, or prejudices around someone’s age or physical appearance, and so on. So while economic status certainly has a huge impact on oppressive relationships, so does the color of one’s skin (i.e. “white privilege”), or one’s gender, or whom one falls in love with, etc. Thus “class conflict” is IMO trumped by “the struggle between oppressors and the oppressed;” they may intersect, but they are not always the same.

My 2 cents.

From Quora: https://www.quora.com/%E2%80%9CThe-history-of-all-hitherto-existing-society-is-the-history-of-class-struggles-%E2%80%9D-To-what-extent-do-you-agree-with-this-Karl-Marx-quote

How did GA Cohen argue that financial inequality limits freedom/choice?

In capitalist societies (or any society supremely boundarized by private property ownership), money facilitates choice. The less money a person has, the less choices they have, until…ultimately, if they have no money at all…their choices become so limited that they have virtually no “freedom” by any standard. I expand upon the same basic ideas in my paper The Goldilocks Zone of Integral Liberty, where I quote Cohen:

“Consider those goods and services, be they privately or publicly provided, which are not provided without charge to all comers. Some of the public ones depend on special access rules (you won’t get a state hospital bed if you are judged to be healthy, or a place in secondary school if you are forty years old). But the private ones, and many of the public ones, are inaccessible save through money: giving money is both necessary for getting them, and, indeed, sufficient for getting them, if they are on sale. If you attempt access to them in the absence of money, then you will be prey to interference.”


My 2 cents.

From Quora: https://www.quora.com/How-did-GA-Cohen-argue-that-financial-inequality-limits-freedom-choice

What do socialists think of impossibilism, the view that capitalist reform is counterproductive to the achievement of socialism?


I think there are several issues in play, all interacting with each other to create “the perfect storm:”

1. The Spectacle - Consumers become infantilized dependents of a capitalist system, always looking for something to buy to cure their woes. Reforms are often just another “commodity” peddled by plutocrats to pacify the exploited.

2. Superficiality - Many reforms are just wolves in sheep’s clothing. Consider B-Corps or “benefit corporations:” the objective may be noble, but many companies simply jump through the requisite hoops to differentiate themselves from competitors for the sake of profit - without any real commitment to the values they say they promote.

3. Unintended Outcomes via Values Inversion - Without changing the fundamental orientation of society to prioritize civil society and collective well-being above rent seeking, all reforms in capitalism will ultimately replicate the unhealthy priority of profit over people. It is inescapable; to rephrase a well-known adage: the arc of capitalism is long, and it always bends towards greed. For more on this topic, consider reading Reframing Profit.

4. Pernicious Corrosion - Capitalism is toxic to human being and planet Earth. Why try to perpetuate it at all…? For more on this, see The Case Against Capitalism.

However, even though I feel strongly about all of these issues, I believe there is an important demarcation between highly destructive chaos and a moderately destructive status quo. In other words: complete breakdown of our current system is not likely to result in an anarchist paradise, but something much worse (and much less facilitative of socialist ideals) than building on the democratic civic foundations that have already been laid. So the goal is to foment revolutionary transformations that can use at least some of our civic institutions and systems as a launching point. For more on why I think this, consider reading: Revolutionary Integrity.

My 2 cents.

From Quora: https://www.quora.com/What-do-socialists-think-of-impossibilism-the-view-that-capitalist-reform-is-counterproductive-to-the-achievement-of-socialism

What are your thoughts on the 19th century publisher and anarchist Benjamin Tucker?


I think Tucker is important because he is representative of a flavor of individualism that has amplified itself in the U.S. anarchist tradition in fairly pronounced - if not unique - ways over time, and which continues to do so today. In other words, he is an important part of that canon. In addition, as a publisher and translator, he was also an instrumental and seminal influence in the U.S. movement, bringing truly original and disruptive ideas (such as Nietzsche and Stirner) into the fray. As a consequence of all of this, I would also say that Tucker occupied a singular position in promoting some of the fundamental errors in the thinking of individualists, egoists and anarcho-capitalists over time. These include:

1. Differentiating economic equality from equality of liberty (i.e. from individual or collective agency). We simply can’t do this and remain intellectually honest, because concentrations of wealth always result in concentrations of influence and/or formalized political power. There is simply no precedent for real-world situations unfolding differently (whether government is involved or not). Because of this, liberty is always negatively impacted by economic inequality, which becomes de facto coercion. This is an inescapable truth, and is perhaps best illustrated both the consequences of natural monopolies throughout history, and by Nozick’s theoretical elaboration on the inevitability of “voluntary slavery” in laissez-faire environments.

2. Misunderstanding the relationship between collective agreement in civil society and individual liberty (individual agency). Without the collective agreement expressed in and by civil society and its institutions (and I do not mean the State, but what can be diffused and distributed civic mechanisms), individual liberty either does not exist, or it becomes an arduous process of constant renegotiation that itself is prohibitive to agency. One the one hand, it would be like having to negotiate how to progress in a safe and orderly fashion through each intersection when driving - at each intersection, over and over again, coming to a mutual voluntary agreement about how to proceed. And on the other, the individualist anarchist is simply not recognizing the facilitation of liberty that civil society (again, ideally in diffused and distributed capacities) establishes over time; that liberty is in fact positively created by the very conventions that individualists tend to rail against. As I write in “The Goldilocks Zone of Integral Liberty:”

“It doesn’t require much investigation to realize that… the idealized pinnacle of individual sovereignty in modern society is supported by an endless intersection of facilitative factors, like the majority of mass for an iceberg that lies below the water but is invisible to the casual eye.”


3. Being overly attached to the Labor Theory of Value and its corollary/extension via private property and labor appropriation. For me this is the least subtle problem with individualist variations of anarchism. Firstly, this belief inevitably results in the entire world being fenced off by those actively employing their own precious portion of private land for their own purposes, thus depriving anyone else of the freedom to access and use that land. This is simply an untenable proposition, given (among many other reasons) the fact that land is limited, but human population keeps growing. Secondly, what constitutes labor or utility is entirely subjective. If I spit on a stick, am I adding value? If I plant trees on my property to create artwork that is only viewable from space, can’t I claim utility in perpetuity (or at least as long as the trees are alive)? These are just some of the problems inherent to the LTV and theory of labor appropriation, making their suppositions either absurd, or ultimately dependent on the same institutionalized collective agreements that individualists strive to shirk.

4. A tendency to reject a priori, intuitive, emotional, relational and spiritual dimensions of human cognition and experience - in favor of empiricism, reductionism, solipsism, nihilism and egoistic utility. This has always been - and continues to be - one of the biggest divides in philosophy. In my view, it is inherently problematic to exclude any of the input streams available to human experience and consciousness, or claim - as an arbitrary and capricious value judgment - that only one of them has primacy over all of the others. I have written about what I think the model should be: integrating all available input streams in a balanced, careful and conscious way. You can read about that here: Sector Theory 1.0 – Todd's Take on Epistemology; and here: Managing Complexity with Constructive Integralism. (the full PDFs are also available here: Essays by T.Collins Logan)

At the same time, Tucker’s thinking is so diverse that I also find myself agreeing with at least some of it - such as his description of the Four Monopolies and concerns with what came to be called “rent-seeking” behaviors (i.e. what Tucker calls “usury”).

My 2 cents.


From: https://www.quora.com/What-are-your-thoughts-on-the-19th-century-publisher-and-anarchist-Benjamin-Tucker/answer/T-Collins-Logan

What are some reasons on why Anarcho-Capitalism doesn't work?


Here are the basic failure points in anarcho-capitalism, as evidenced by what we know of history:

1. Natural monopolies occur even if there is no government. And once those monopolies occur, there is no longer competition, and the advantages of a free market evaporate.

2. Voluntary contracts can still be coercive, exploitative and oppressive if there is no other way to survive except to submit to them. In anarcho-capitalism, there is nothing standing in the way of of the “haves” effectively enslaving the “have-nots” in exactly this voluntary fashion.

3. Private property is tyrannically oppressive to liberty - the “fencing off” of the world to first-come, first-serve opportunists effectively eliminates liberty and opportunity for everyone who shows up late. Multi-generationally this exacerbates capricious inequity, especially if children can inherit what they haven’t earned. The same is true of wealth accumulation and its relationship to power. Private ownership and its inevitable concentrations of capital ultimately consolidates power and freedom around a select few.

4. The profit motive has been predictably corrosive to social cohesion and civil society in its amplification of individualist materialism, rewarding of psychopathic egotism, and toddlerization of dependent consumers. It’s just not a good idea to rely on the profit motive to sustain civil society. You usually end up with despots and thugs in fairly short order.

5. For any form of anarchism to function, the entire society - down to every outlier - must voluntarily agree to whatever basic assumptions and expectations are in play for things like commerce, transportation, communication, morality and the other nuts-and-bolts of civil society to function reliably. And frankly we just aren’t there yet - the diversity of such assumptions and expectations is just too great.

My 2 cents.

From: https://www.quora.com/What-are-some-reasons-on-why-Anarcho-Capitalism-doesnt-work/answer/T-Collins-Logan

Socialists: How would you deal with the "incentive" problem?


I'm asking in the context of current reality, not in a post-scarcity society. In a world of “from each according his ability, and to each according to his needs”, how would you induce people to work, rather than mooch? How do you avoid having high performers create black markets or leave?


So first I had a good chuckle over the ideological distortions among many pro-capitalist answers. Wake up folks. The data is in. This very old question has been thoroughly answered by real-world successes. For example:

1. **Open Source.** Many years ago I implemented Linux across hundreds of enterprise servers. It worked better (was more scalable, reliable and faster) than every other commercially available server environment. And all of the software running on those boxes was also Open Source. Some of it was authored by coders with pseudonyms, and supported by the faceless, nameless geeks in discussion groups. None of this software production cost anything. No one was rewarded. No one got an “attaboy” or ego boost from my implementations. All of the Linux-based environments were a product of passionate devotion to intelligent, flexible, open design. And because nearly all of the initial implementations were on old, retired hardware destined for the trash heap, there wasn’t even any capital outlay for that (it was like giving Moore’s Law a kick in the nads).

2. **Publicly Funded Research & Innovation.** Again returning to the tech industry, you know who created most of the innovations we rely upon today in our most beloved computing gadgets? Publicly funded academic and government research. Yup. And these students and researchers weren’t incentivized by the profit motive either. They were curious, or competing with their peers, or stubborn problem solvers…not folks working on commission or hoping for juicy patent windfalls.

3. **For Fun, Passion or Compassion.** There are clubs, societies, non-profit NGOs, government agencies, charities and a host of other organizations around the globe that engage the world with innovation, highly professional services, excellent products and high levels of productivity because they care. And the more they care, the harder they work, the more they innovate, the more they create…and so on.

The only reason that these obvious examples seem to be persistently overlooked by market fundamentalists is that they don’t want to see or acknowledge the obvious contradictions to their most cherished beliefs. Classic confirmation bias. In other words, the answer to “Where is John Galt” seems to be “He has no idea, because he can’t see the glaring truths in front of his face.”

My 2 cents.

Comment from Pieter Rossouw: "Great valid point. But, it’s hard to eat or drink Linux and if I wore it to town to see a movie I would be arrested. All 3 your points were made possible by wealth created by free markets affording the creators a good basic standard of living."


Ah that is the fantastical narrative that neoliberals, anarcho-capitalists, Randian objectivists and the like would have us believe. But it is false. What created the conditions for the activities, pursuits and values I’ve described was not “free markets,” but civil society. Without civil society - the rule of law, the willing sense of political obligation, the mutual generosity and support, the active engagement in society’s betterment, protections for the marginalized and exploited, the elevation of prosocial behaviors, etc. - there would be no “good basic standard of living.” There would be no social good at all…just thuggery. All of the wealth would simply concentrate in a few lucky thieves and cunning opportunists. That is the true nature of unrestrained capitalism and laissez-faire “free markets” - at least as demonstrated throughout history and into modern times. It is a lovely fantasy, to be sure, for us to believe that natural monopolies do not occur, that slavery does not occur, that oppression and exploitation do not occur, and that capitalism left unchecked does not simply result in a brutal resurgence of feudalism. But this fantasy is a distortion (and/or a nefarious hoodwink) that we need to leave behind - IMO as soon as possible, so that we can focus on what really matters.


From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/Socialists-How-would-you-deal-with-the-incentive-problem/answer/T-Collins-Logan

Why didn’t quantitative easing affect inflation in 2008?

A complicated issue which we can attempt to break down this way:

- First it would be good to bone up on the concept of financialization. It can be said with some confidence that the 2007–2008 financial crisis was a direct consequence of some thirty years of the U.S. converting to increasingly financialized productivity where speculation, derivatives, and debt-based financial instruments dominated profit seeking. At a fundamental level, aided as it was by loosening leverage ratios and lax oversight of financial institutions, this meant that there was “no there there” in terms of real assets. This was all pretend…psychological, high risk gambling really.

- Now if banks don’t have adequate cash reserves to cover such risky gambling, and that gambling gets exposed for what it really is (i.e. payments come due and can’t be made), then the whole game falls apart like a ponzi scheme. The “no there there” becomes a financial death spiral - lending seizes up to disrupt the credit cycle, banks and insurers go under, and economic productivity grinds to a crawl. Remember…this shift away from a production/consumption economy to a debt-servicing speculation economy meant that there wasn’t anything to take up the slack in terms of investment (well there actually was…it just wasn’t perceived to be such any longer, but we’ll get to that in a minute). So the bottom fell out, resulting among other things in tremendous deflationary pressure - especially in terms of debt deflation. [BTW, this is a classic example of how the market fails to make good decisions at a macro level…but that’s another discussion. The point is, this face-plant created a huge amount of essentially unsecured debt that couldn’t be rescued.]

- Here is where QE steps in. How do you get banks to start lending again? Well fatten their reserves of course - every dollar in reserves can lead to $1,000s in economic activity once reinvested. But..um…what if they just pocket the money and don’t lend it out? And, well, this is exactly what happened. Credit remained ridiculously tight…ironically, for much lower risk investments than had previously been gambled upon. For example, small business loans and lines of credit just could not be got, even with a sterling business credit history. That seems odd, doesn’t it? Well it is. It’s actually ludicrous. But remember that lenders had essentially “forgotten” any other investments besides their beloved debt instruments…so they just packed QE surpluses away, like rats building a nest in the dark. But remember those “deflationary pressures” I mentioned? Well they kept holding the interest rates down with voracious psycological intensity - collateral (residential real estate, for example) remained both undervalued and in an excess supply…a supply that grew rather than diminished. Which meant there was no inflation. And because that excess supply also discouraged traditional productivity (no labor, materials or other inputs were required), economic growth remained stagnant from such inactivity as well.

- Eventually, of course, the credit cycle did loosen up a bit and businesses and consumers could get loans, which in turned began to generate more economic activity. It has taken several years, though, for those deflationary pressures to relax, and increasing collateral value and pent up demand to evidence themselves. I think it’s still pretty tenuous, still in process, still uncertain, and still sluggish.
Which brings us up to the current political and economic climate, which is happily broadcasting a renewed loosening of financial restrictions, a relaxing of oversight, and and encouragement of shiny new risky gambling behaviors. The good news, of course, is that the American taxpayers are still available to socialize the risk of Wall Street high rollers - a role they seem quite happy to accept, since they voted in 2016 to make the an unstable and unsustainable U.S. financialized economy “great again.” Weehaa!

My 2 cents.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/Why-didn%E2%80%99t-quantitative-easing-affect-inflation-in-2008/answer/T-Collins-Logan

Was Thorstein Veblen a social democrat?

This is an interesting question to me because it exposes the critical issue of interpreting how movements/ideologies change over time - and how definitions of those movements/ideologies change over time as well (and not always in a synchronized way). If we take a snapshot of Veblen’s culminated ideas about institutional (social) economics and criticisms of rent-seeking financialization, these do indeed seem to be broadly supportive of what social democracy eventually came to embody after WWII. But at the time Veblen lived and wrote, the term “social democrat” would have been too narrow of a box to confine Veblen’s thought, as I believe it was more specifically focused on transitioning capitalism to socialism at that time. So although there are some similarities of appearance - when viewed from afar - the endgames would have been quite different. I think Veblen was much more interested in restoring industrial production and the LTV to their “rightful place” in a classical economics sense, and either taxing non-value-adding activities, or pointedly excluding them from profit-seeking and shifting them into the public domain. This could then be viewed as pragmatic socialization in the context of a mixed economy - so again this might align with what “social democracy” came to represent in the latter 20th century.

Now at the same time this would also be perceived by neoliberals as extreme “socialist” intervention, to be sure…but Veblen’s provocation of such reactions has, I think, always been and continues to be mostly about his criticisms of those self-serving rentiers, rather than about his proposed institutional remedies or desired linkage between capitalist enterprise and social value. In other words, it’s a knee-jerk reaction. Remember that any regulation, attempts to constrain monopoly, attenuate the advantages of inheritance, reduce worker or consumer exploitation, or shift speculative risk back to the speculators is a direct frontal assault on the neoliberal fantasy. Neoliberals believe that any and all profits (and subsequent concentrations of wealth) are self-justifying…no matter how obscene or destructive they may be to society itself. And since Veblen’s intense criticisms of such views are bound to resonate with Marxists, libertarian socialists, anarchists and the like, it would be (and has been) easy to overgeneralize that proposals from all of these camps share the same goals. But of course they don’t…not really. Further, would Thorstein Veblen agree with all “Third Way” social democratic formulations and trajectories that evolved later still? I dunno. On the surface, perhaps, it might seem that he would. But I suspect that he would also have a biting, snarky and insightful critique to offer about them as well.

My 2 cents.


From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/Was-Thorstein-Veblen-a-social-democrat/answer/T-Collins-Logan

What do Socialists think of the statement, "The trouble with Socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money"?

Speaking as a socialist, I think it’s a pretty stupid statement. But it exemplifies what has happened to our political landscape: the reduction of complex concepts into propagandizing sound bites. It’s how elections are won, and both Reagan and Thatcher were arguably brilliant at jingoistic oversimplification en masse. At the same time, of course, their neoliberal ideologies failed - and continue to fail wherever they are implemented. But such facts don’t discourage pro-capitalist folks from continuing to promote supply-side or trickle-down economics, austerity measures, destruction of social safety nets, and the aggressive obliteration of successful and/or popular government programs. Ironically, the most successful economies in the world are mixed economies - where socialized public sector controls and enterprises coexist with the private sector - rather those economies that lean more towards laissez-faire capitalism.

Now at the heart of the sentiments expressed by this silly sound bite is a profound conviction that welfarism, mixed economies and “The Nanny State” are all antagonistic to both wealth production and wealth accumulation. This is a primary tenet of the neoliberal belief system, and drives resentment of regulatory “government interference” in markets, a general mistrust of government bureaucracy, a constant anti-tax drumbeat, and apoplectic frothing-at-the-mouth over Keynesian economic policies or New Deal styled progressivism. But is this sentiment justified? Part of it is, sure - the interference with obscene concentrations of accumulated wealth is real. But this neatly sidesteps the reality of how much of that wealth is generated: that is, by callous rent-seeking activities, financialization of the economy, the exploitation of cheap labor and perpetuation of wage slavery, wanton destruction and depletion of natural resources, and complete disregard for any and all negative externalities. In other words, the feudal lords of neoliberalism want to oppress, exploit and despoil everyone and everything around them to amass their profit, and then prevent any crumbs from falling from the master’s table onto the floor for the rest of us. It’s a pretty nasty way of looking at the world, IMO, but it gets transmuted into the type of leadership and rhetoric that Thatcher exemplified, and into quips such as “taxation is theft.”

At the other end of the spectrum, we could say “The trouble with capitalism is that eventually you run out of other people’s labor.” But here again, this is a gross oversimplification.

My 2 cents.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/What-do-Socialists-think-of-the-statement-The-trouble-with-Socialism-is-that-eventually-you-run-out-of-other-peoples-money/answer/T-Collins-Logan

What do you think about Karl Marx's Fragment on Machines?


see: http://thenewobjectivity.com/pdf/marx.pdf
http://thenewobjectivity.com/pdf/marx.pdf

Well I think we have waded into the “deeper waters” of Marx’s complex thought here.

To appreciate what Marx seems to be saying, we need to go back to his fundamental assertion that what makes human labor unique is the creative and knowledge value that human beings add to their work. This is a critical consideration in understanding how capitalism then corrupts, distorts and negates this value - through subsuming labor, objectifying it, abstracting it, appropriating it, alienating it, commodifying it - in this case via mechanical automation. Machines help turn people into predictable, usable, but essentially valueless and non-living variations of fixed capital. At the same time (and here Marx contradicts himself a bit - or at least provides contradictory arguments for similar ends) machinery both reduces the time that human labor is involved in a given measure of productivity, while at the same time prolonging a worker’s capacity to work. In one way or another, Marx sees this as working against capital’s own definition of how wage slaves can enrich themselves, even as surplus value (profit) is expanded for the capitalist. Thus Marx is arguing that both the qualitative and quantitative value of labor is being eliminated in service to capital, and that this is - intuitively, if not obviously - unsustainable and self-defeating.

The second part of Marx’s argument, concerning disposable time, is a bit more subtle. What I think he is getting at is that the increase in worker free time because of automation will result in greater self-development of the individual. And this development, in turn, will inherently set itself against the non-agency of automatic, mindless, lifeless labor - because “real wealth” will then be measured in disposable time, rather than wage income. The irony he points to is that the objective of capitalism is to maximize surplus labor, while a consequence of that very effort is an increase in disposable time, which is antithetical to surplus labor. Further, all of these trajectories - an increase in disposable time, an increase in soulless labor, and a desire for greater profit from surplus labor - are all fundamentally contradictory. And this is what Marx hints to be an inevitable transformative current in society. At least I think this is what he is getting at here. If someone can find the original German for these passages and post it here, I might be able to provide some better insight. Translation is an art…and not always accurate if the person translating doesn’t understand the concepts being discussed.

As to what I think of all this…I think Marx is basically correct, and that history has already proven much his assessment to be valid. I also think that he was essentially inventing language for concepts and dynamics which themselves were relatively new, which is why his wording and reasoning can sometimes be so abstruse.

My 2 cents.

P.S. As I was describing this post to my wife, I ended up summarizing it this way: “Basically if Marx watched Office Space, he would nod knowingly and say ‘Yes, yes, I saw this coming….’”

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/What-do-you-think-about-Karl-Marxs-Fragment-on-Machines/answer/T-Collins-Logan

What are the criticisms against market socialism?


Here’s the thing: there are many different forms of market socialism. I am actually a proponent of one form, which I call a Level 7 political economy (you might call it “market-friendly libertarian socialism”). However, I am critical of some other forms, so I will focus on one of those and describe how my proposals seek to remedy its problems.

Proudhon’s mutualism is probably the most widely-considered version of market socialism - at least when differentiated from authoritarian, State-centric Marxist-Leninist proposals. I actually agree with several components of Proudhon’s reasoning (for example, his arguments regarding property), but differ in a few important areas. One of these is the Labor Theory of Value. The LTV attempts to rigidly constrain the value of a good or service to the labor required to produce it - and then restrict the exchange to other goods and services with equivalent labor inputs. We can quickly see the problem with such a system with respect to the realities of subjective valuation - how people actually value things in a social context. You can also read about additional criticisms here: Criticisms of the labour theory of value - Wikipedia.

My answer to this problem is to create a different system of valuation that is non-capitalist, but still encourages friendly competition for some (but not necessarily all) goods and services. I call my approach to property exchange value “holistic valuation,” and it includes a host of factors - intersubjective use value, effective nourishment value, accounting for negative externalities, etc. - that redefine scarcity as “scarce quality” or “scarce safety,” and advocate consideration of perverse utility that potentiates harm. These concepts are discussed in more detail at this link: Level 7 Property Position, and in the book from which that excerpt was taken (also linked at the top of the Property Position page). Such property then can be part of an exchange economy that includes both limited for-profit and non-profit businesses that are owned and managed by workers and members - with input from the surrounding community. My goal is to include as many democratic controls as possible over larger free enterprise and the markets themselves.

With respect to various forms of market socialism, there are also other questions regarding resource valuation and management, how currency is backed, and how essential infrastructure and services are provisioned. My approach to these also departs from other proposals as well, as I advocate a Social Credits System tied to a Universal Social Backbone, to avoid the moral hazards of a social dividend or basic income. In addition, I believe it is critical to address the issue of economic growth - both as a functional dependency and as an unsustainable trajectory - which is why I also advocate Sustainable Design principles, proof-of-concept piloting, the precautionary principle, etc. Again you can explore these concepts by perusing the Level-7 website links.

My 2 cents.


From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-criticisms-against-market-socialism/answer/T-Collins-Logan

How do religious anarchists reconcile their religion and political views?


Most religions of the world (theistic or non-theistic) teach very similar principles with respect to civil authority: don’t make waves, follow the law, be a good citizen, and practice your faith on a personal and interpersonal level, rather than a political one. In fact, nearly all of them advise against overt political involvement (with respect to applying particular spiritual principles, for example), since politics is about worldly or illusionary power, and religious traditions are “supposed” to be about spiritual or ontological concerns. However, many also encourage compassionate action that could be expressed in one’s voting, or proposing legislation, or working to elect a candidate who seems to embody compassionate values.

Now in reality most wisdom traditions eventually get coopted by dogmatic “orthodoxy” and highly political institutions. This is where the worldly and political overtake spiritual, interpersonal and ontological concerns. It is in this context that the spiritual instruction of a given tradition will apply most directly to politics: that is, the politics of one’s own religious institution. Beyond that, the larger political sphere has little or no intersect with spiritual practices and beliefs (in terms of it competing with them), because it is not focused on the interpersonal. So, because the basis of your question assumes that there is a competing intersection, that is really where the disconnect resides.

In my own life, my personal beliefs and spiritual practice will continue regardless of the political environment I happen to live in. However, my investment in left-libertarian political solutions is grounded in my spirituality and informed by my personal beliefs. For me, moving away from individualistic materialism, conspicuous consumption, and corporate exploitation and enslavement is a spiritual as well as pragmatic imperative. Because I care about the well-being of my fellow humans, I would prefer they retain their personal and collective agency and liberty - and have relief from suffering - and the skillfulness with which I approach aiding others in this way is informed by my spiritual beliefs.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/How-do-religious-anarchists-reconcile-their-religion-and-political-views/answer/T-Collins-Logan

What are the main differences between how Bakunin and Kropotkin saw Anarchism?


I think there are some important differences. Kropotkin developed the idea of “mutual aid” as a way of understanding natural forms of cooperation (in Nature and human communities) and what we now call prosocial character traits. This played a central role in his conceptions of a collectivist society. However, Bakunin’s vision seemed to retain the prevailing view that competition and reward were driving social and productivity factors - at least in part. More specifically, he still saw a role for an exchange economy, albeit where prices were set by production costs and labor value, rather than via demand. This is also, I think, why Bakunin still framed human work as something that required specific valuation and remuneration (labor vouchers) - and the question then became whether control over such valuation would lead to problematic hierarchical (and potentially bourgeois) relationships - or even resentment and conflict between different sectors of his exchange economy. By the same token, this is why Kropotkin rejected the idea of money and payment for labor - and the concept of labor value in general - in favor of free distribution and collective production grounded in the sentiments of mutual aid. In Kropotkin’s vision, there would therefore be less of a need for an exchange economy, and indeed little requirement for “work” that was tied to conceptions of productivity. We can also see a parallel contrast in how Bakunin and Kropotkin viewed violent revolution: Bakunin advocated for it almost fanatically, while Kropotkin resigned himself to the possibility while advocating careful preparations of persuasion and education to mitigate bloodshed. In one way, we could summarize their major philosophical and operational differences this way: Bakunin was still oriented to capitalistic scarcity in his proposals and expectation of both competition and conflict; whereas Kropotkin oriented his thinking around a more voluntary, cooperative, relaxed and decidedly post-scarcity system.

My 2 cents.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-main-differences-between-how-Bakunin-and-Kropotkin-saw-Anarchism/answer/T-Collins-Logan

How can one determine the size and variation of flows on which the incomes of ordinary people depend on in a given territory?


First I think you would need to define your terms more specifically. Who are “ordinary people,” in terms of income and spending habits? What is a “given territory,” in a macroeconomic context? Also, what is the timespan involved? The “size and variation of flows” for any combination of sectors is going to be informed by these descriptors.

Even with specific definitions, this is an especially complicated and dynamic calculation. Let’s say you could account for every sector…when you then attempt constrain those sectors to a given geographical region, the data gets a bit slippery. For example, intersecting financial capital flows with that income data, how can we arrive at a regional representation when the actual assets and exchanges could be anywhere? Imagine, for example, a person who works for a transnational corporation and receives matching 401K contributions as part of their “salary,” and where those contributions, in turn, are invested in a REIT with widely distributed assets. How would all the flows involved (the international employer’s assets, diverse investment portfolio assets, tax-deferred income, etc.) be holistically represented? And how would all of the income velocity and transactional velocity in play over time be captured for any given increment? It could be done, but not without higher quality data than is currently available methinks. Of course, such data could be approximated in order to estimate such flows…but how accurate would it be? Hence the tough nut. Then again, if you restrict this type of speculation mainly to more generalized, large-scale macroeconomic models that are both homogenous and span large periods of time, you could come up with some useful insights. At least…that seems to be the domain where economists get it right more often than not. :-)

My 2 cents.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/How-can-one-determine-the-size-and-variation-of-flows-on-which-the-incomes-of-ordinary-people-depend-on-in-a-given-territory/answer/T-Collins-Logan

Why do some people think that anarcho-communism can work?


To me, the idea appears as an oxymoron. Communism requires some authoritative power (government) to be successful and anarchy is a lack of government. Am I wrong with this logic? If not, what can I tell a peer who identifies as an anarcho-communist to talk some sense into them?



Thanks for the A2A…I think.

So first off your assumption is incorrect: no oxymoron here. Your conception of communism seems rooted in Lenin’s version of a rather murderous and authoritarian form of Marxism, which was then exported to China, Vietnam, etc. Marx and Engels had envisioned a much more democratic arrangement (read up on the Commune of Paris | 1871 as an example). Also there were examples of a more spontaneous form of anarcho-communism “in the wild” in many places around the globe. Not just what happened early on in the Russian revolution, before the Bolsheviks killed off the competition and consolidated power, or what arose in Spain prior to Franco. A pretty sound argument can be made for primitive communism being the default mode of political economy in early, primitive societies. In any case, one problem was that Marx presumed some stages of transition did indeed involve expropriation, central controls…and yes, violent revolution. So there is that. But folks like Kropotkin (whom you should read) had a very different vision of distributed, diffused and self-directing communistic transitions and management. His The Conquest of Bread is a fascinating read. Before you engage your friend, I would encourage you to read that book - it’s pretty short and easy reading (unlike most of Marx).

Now your broader misconception - that communism requires centralized authoritative power - is an understandable mistake. It’s one that Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mao and many others also made. But I think that is mainly because revolutions involving force were the only examples or models those folks had for change - in a historical sense; their information was limited. In any case, I would encourage you to look into libertarian socialism (of which anarch-communism is a subset) for a broader understanding of nonviolent approaches to cooperative proposals. Also, you can check out my website, which also approaches political economy from a libertarian socialist perspective: Level 7 Overview.

My 2 cents.


From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/Why-do-some-people-think-that-anarcho-communism-can-work/answer/T-Collins-Logan

What are Milton Friedman's debate secrets?


LOL. Thanks for the A2A. I would say they include:

1. Lie like your life depends on it. Have real conviction.

2. Dismiss any complex or nuanced positions your opponent offers as if they are an idiot.

3. Cherry pick highly selective economic data to support your position.

4. Sound very reasonable when in fact you are promoting a totally insane position.

5. Revise history to fit your worldview.

6. Smile a lot.

7. Interrupt your opponent precisely when they are summarizing really good data that eviscerates your argument.

8. Admit that your opponent is partially correct, but then accuse them of overemphasizing or over-applying that small slice of truth (when in fact this is exactly what YOU will be doing).

9. Completely exclude entire chunks of reality from your argument, and constantly speak around them as if they are unimportant or don’t exist (for example, underestimating the impact of monopolization and corporate power on market distortions).

10. Don’t have any integrity at all with your own stated ideals with respect to how you actually comport yourself (and advise on economic policy) in the real world.

11. Frequently wave both your hands at your opponents like your are casting a banishing spell.

My 2 cents.


From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/What-are-Milton-Friedmans-debate-secrets/answer/T-Collins-Logan

How can one get the best out of the wisdom of the crowd?


For Surowiecki’s assertions to hold, you need to create an environment were everyone a) shares the same motivation (i.e. will benefit in the same way from the outcome); b) is informationally, socially and operationally separated from everyone else, while still receiving the information around their choice at the same time; and c) represents diverse, widely distributed perspectives and positions relative to both the effort and the outcome. In other words, pretty ideal conditions prior to aggregation. Throw in some advertising and marketing campaigns, and the wisdom is disrupted. Social media engagement where people are aware of each other’s input or communicate about the question? Won’t work. Homogenous group sample? Won’t work. Choice or question delivered to different folks at different times? Won’t work. Opportunity for different folks to benefit in different ways from the choice? Won’t work.

As you can see, it is pretty difficult to engineer all of these variables in a consistent way. Further, if the crowd involved knows it is being observed, that tends to change the outcome as well (a variation on the Observer effect). So in one sense, the “getting the best out of crowd wisdom” likely involves remaining an unseen observer of natural crowd behaviors where all of the above variables emerge on their own - rather that inserting oneself into the mix or trying to create ideal conditions.

My 2 cents.


From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/How-can-one-get-the-best-out-of-the-wisdom-of-the-crowd/answer/T-Collins-Logan

Is there a cause and effect relationship between supply and demand?


My answer would be “sometimes,” either unidirectionally or bidirectionally in our modern environments.

If there is pent up aggregate demand for a good that is known - i.e. has existed and fulfilled a particular utility for some time - then a new player could decide to begin producing that good, or an existing player could increase their production, or either could find ways to reduce prices on that good…all in order to meet pent up demand. This happens quite frequently in fact, and represents a unidirectional causal relationship between demand→supply. A common example of this would be established communities where there is no inexpensive housing, or that lack any grocery stores or gas stations within a convenient distance, or that only have access to one really pricy ISP. Another example would be a vast array of goods and services after a prolonged economic downturn.

There may also be what I would call “unconscious” pent up aggregate demand for a newly discovered or introduced good. A culture that has never been exposed to something that is commonly produced somewhere else - alcoholic beverages, coffee, silk fabrics, cigarettes, eyeglasses, etc - may quickly ramp up demand once exposed to that good. Likewise, a new service or product that satisfies some basic human need that isn’t being thoroughly provided for in existing society (or has been difficult to access) - such as pornography, social media, spiritual nourishment, for example - may create a boom of commoditization and consumption, and their responsive supply.

If someone invents a new good and exerts tremendous marketing effort to persuade people that they have a need (even if they didn’t before), then they may successfully create artificial aggregate demand. This also happens quite frequently, and represents a unidirectional causal relationship between supply → demand. An example of this would be pharmaceuticals marketed directly to consumers, especially where the efficacy of the drug is questionable, or the symptoms or condition are much less common than are being represented by advertising. Now of course it’s the marketing that stimulates artificial demand - not the supply alone - but in this case many such drugs just didn’t compete well with others for a given treatment, so the companies try to recover their R&D investment by gaining approval to treat conditions unrelated to their initial objective. In other words, without this preexisting supply there would be no marketing, so the causal chain remains intact.

Now I think it is important to note that these different scenarios can exist in both for profit and nonprofit environments, and among both privatized and socialized goods and services.

Where things get more interesting (to me at least) are situations that foster bidirectional causality, where a feedback loop amplifies both demand and supply. This occurs not infrequently in financial and information economies. For example, when psychological momentum builds around a speculative opportunity - such as high tech companies that could, perhaps, produce something that people want, but actually don’t produce anything at the moment (or haven’t made any profit producing what they do). And suddenly the demand for stock in these companies skyrockets - and stock values skyrocket along with that, which stimulates a boom of high tech companies entering the market that could, potentially, meet a demand that could, potentially, exist. But all of this is just make-believe. There is nothing there but a psychological demand-supply feedback loop.

It is also important to note that neither supply nor demand are the end of the causal chain. There are often many other factors in play - things like cultural capital, habituation and addiction, shareholder pressure to increase profits, macroeconomic events, etc. But if you use “supply” and “demand” as aggregate representations of economic function, then you can delve into other factors as subordinate or superior causes and effects.

My 2 cents.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/Is-there-a-cause-and-effect-relationship-between-supply-and-demand/answer/T-Collins-Logan

What do you think of a basic income for everyone?


UBI is attractive for many reasons, but it also has some problems. Rather than going into all the pro/con details, I’ll direct you to my alternative….a Universal Social Backbone accessed via Social Credits that are tied to civic contributions. This is a setup I developed under my Level 7 political economy proposals, and you can find details about it on that site. Basically, what I envision is a system in which a certain baseline of social credits are provided to everyone - stored digitally and distributed via a Unique Digital Identifier provided to every citizen. These credits provide absolutely basic (i.e. very minimal) public goods and services that are part of a network of essential infrastructure and services in this alternative political economy. This Universal Social Backbone is run by a combination of worker-owned or member-owned non-profit enterprises that are tactically managed at the community level, but strategically managed (in terms of standards and long-term planning) in a more central way, and both management schemas are facilitated by direct and semi-direct democracy, as well as citizen’s councils appointed by civic lottery. In other words, this is a completely different setup than either socialized, centralized State systems or for-profit privatized systems, and aims to conform more to some of the design criteria enumerated by Elinor Ostrom from managing the commons. In any case one of the key characteristics of the Social Credit systems is that citizens can increase their balance of credits by being civically productive - producing a positive impact on civil society in some way. They can also be penalized by committing infractions. In this way, the available social credits incentivize civic responsibility and accountability. As to which contributions are considered the most “civically responsible” or productive, that would likely be left to individual communities to decide. It could mean, for example, active participation in Daily Direct Democracy (another feature of Level 7), or providing sound contributions to a Public Information Database (ibid) the pubic relies upon for “real facts,” or inventing/creating something beneficial for their community, or being a Good Samaritan, and so forth.

My 2 cents.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/What-do-you-think-of-a-basic-income-for-everyone/answer/T-Collins-Logan

Why are bad economic occurrences generally seen as being due to “sod's law” when some economic actors are capable of greatly influencing outcomes?


There are a few angles to this IMO, depending on who is making the observation. For an entrepreneurial business owner, there is often a requisite character trait of eternal optimism that can often ignore variables with proven downsides. In a large bureaucratic corporation, there is an institutional inertia and arrogance that often refuses to adjust to new variables, even if they are known to be toxic. For macroeconomics geeks and policy wonks, there can be a deeply entrenched investment in a given economic philosophy that may prevent them from admitting certain variables exist at all - let alone admitting that they might have a predictable negative impact.

And for all of these players, we can reliably observe a “partial reinforcement” phenomenon: because their business strategy or ideology succeeded (or endured) in one situation with a given risk characteristic, they often assume this can happen again. This is why people gamble. And when the environment is dynamic and variable as in most business environments, the PREE (i.e. resistance to letting go of a belief that X behavior will produce Y outcomes, and ceasing the behavior) is amplified. Instead of recognizing this, folks will blame outcomes on Sod’s law (or Murphy’s law here in the States) - it’s a sort of confirmation bias. But you are quite correct that, in many cases, a negative outcome is entirely avoidable - even statistically inevitable. But just try telling a habitual gambler that.

My 2 cents.

From Quora question: https://www.quora.com/Why-are-bad-economic-occurrences-generally-seen-as-being-due-to-%E2%80%9Csods-law%E2%80%9D-when-some-economic-actors-are-capable-of-greatly-influencing-outcomes

What are some great reasons for protecting the environment?


It depends on your moral orientation. For example:

1) If your moral orientation is doing everything for I/Me/Mine, then you could justify protecting the environment because it supports your individual existence, health and goals. For example, polluting the air and water where you live will make you sick. Unfortunately this leads to NIMBY attitudes that ignore pollution or destruction of “other people’s” environments.

2) If your moral orientation is more about your family or tribe/community, then you could justifying protecting the environment to create a safe and healthy place for your family to grow up and thrive, or your tribe/community to flourish. Unfortunately this can still lead to NIMBY attitudes that impact other families and tribes.

3) If your moral orientation is around the well-being of the human species as a whole, then clearly you could justify protecting the environment for all of humanity’s continued life and well-being. However, this can still lead to unintended destruction - and harm to humans - if the connection between a given environmental impact and human well-being over time is not fully understood.

4) If your moral orientation embraces a love and appreciation for all life on Earth - inclusive of humanity - then it becomes easier to justify actions that contain or restrict environmental destruction of any kind. When all life is valued and appreciated, it is much clearer and more imperative to protect it. As you can imagine, however, this tends to create tension with the I/Me/Mine, tribal and all-humanity moral orientations, because those are not interested in containing or restricting their own behaviors for anyone or anything else.

For more about this, see: Integral Lifework Developmental Correlations

My 2 cents.

From Quora question: https://www.quora.com/What-are-some-great-reasons-for-protecting-the-environment/answer/T-Collins-Logan

What is the most misunderstood thing about economics?

As a caveat, I’m not an expert in economics. Yes I’ve read a bit, researched a lot, written some…but one thing I’ve learned (so far) is that economics is pretty vast. Lots of different schools of thought. Lots of different angles - a lot of which I don’t have deep knowledge about. But that’s never stopped me from having an opinion before. ;-) First off I’d like to say I appreciate Austin Middleton's post here. Understanding the specific methodology being discussed or evaluated is absolutely critical. All of which brings me to my first point: I don’t think it is possible to generalize with confidence about “the most misunderstood thing” regarding this particular topic. It’s just too wily of a beast to pin down in that way. Of course that was a generalization…but I’m sure you get my drift.
That said, I’ll share some of my own personal misunderstandings about economics - or at least how my understanding has evolved over time. I suspect that others - perhaps many people - have begun with similar initial assumptions to my own. So here goes:

1. Initial assumption: Macroeconomic models and analysis have fully understood and expressed how economies function. Current conclusions: not by a long shot; there remains a level of mystery and complexity to macroeconomic interdependencies that no one has penetrated.

2. Initial assumption: the time for Keynesian approaches is long past. Current conclusions: Keynes is, thus far, one of very few theorists who seems to have made consistently accurate predictions about cause and effect at the macroeconomic level.

3. Initial assumption: game theory is a cool and sophisticated mathematical way to go about evaluating and modeling economic interactions. Current conclusions: game theory is an almost silly, tail-chasing exercise that is mainly relevant only to itself.

4. Initial assumption: It is possible to intuit or deduce the economic dynamics of a given micro or macro situation from a consistent ideological standpoint, prior to collecting empirical data. Current conclusions: Freakanomics.

5. Initial assumption: the Austrian School has something viable to contribute to economic theory. Current conclusions: the Austrian School is a silly, absurd tail-chasing exercise predicated on flawed assumptions about human behavior.

6. Initial assumption: Authoritarian State socialism is the only kind of socialism widely implemented. Current conclusions: there are nearly as many variations of socialism as their are hairs on a cat, at least half of which focus on diffused, democratic, highly distributed models without central controls, and many different models have been tested - or have occurred organically - in the real world.

7. Initial assumption: Milton Friedman was vehemently opposed to crony capitalism. Current conclusions: Milton Friedman’s entire life’s work was spent engineering the tools and techniques crony capitalists use to manipulate markets and maintain their power…and Friedman both knew this and actively participated in it.

8. Initial assumption: Adam Smith was the forefather of neoliberalism. Current conclusions: Neoliberals consistently disrespect the insights and principles Adam Smith championed.

9. Initial assumption: Marx’s conceptions of the flaws of capitalism were simplistic and quickly overtaken by the evolution of modern industrial, informational and financial economies, but his ideas about historical materialism seemed to be compelling. Current conclusions: Historical materialism is probably Marx’s greatest error and has contributed to the worst possible outcomes for socialism, but Marx’s understanding of the flaws of capitalism were spot on, and are still being vindicated today in nearly all of its manifestations.

10. Initial assumption: That the “tragedy of the commons” is an actual real-world inevitability. Current conclusions: The tragedy of the commons is more of a thought experiment that has been overapplied, and is contradicted by empirical studies such as Elinor Ostrom’s common pool resource management research.

As you can see…there are lots of facets here. We could pick any one of them to launch a lengthy discussion on what misunderstandings exist, why they exist, who seems to have them, etc. And then we would probably disagree. So, returning to my initial point: economics is a wily beast.

One last thing I would bring up is that the battles over various schools and methodologies in economics seem to be almost tribalistic or religious in nature. Like whether PCs or Macs are better computers, or whether Democrats or Republicans have better sex. It’s almost as if economics was intended to be vociferously ranted about late at night, over several beers.

My 2 cents.

(I may come back and add more topics as I think of them, just for fun…)


From Quora: https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-most-misunderstood-thing-about-economics/answer/T-Collins-Logan

Cutting Through The Bunk: Why The World Is Self-Destructing, And What We Can Do About It



"Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms, those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny; and it is believed that the most effectual means of preventing this would be, to illuminate, as far as practicable, the minds of the people at large..." - Thomas Jefferson, A Bill for the More General Diffusion of Knowledge, December 1778


Like most folks who enjoy tracking the news, opinion pieces and stories circulating on social media, I've been deluged with opinions lately. About why Trump got elected, why liberal ideals are flailing, why cultures around the globe seem to be regressing, why the working class is so angry, why there is an upsurge in nationalistic sentiment, why the global economy is sputtering, why Islamic extremism won't go away, etc. And I have to say, nearly all of the explanations I've seen or read seem to be...well...almost complete bunk. Not entirely, but almost. Even the folks that I admire and respect - and whose writing I've followed for years - appear to be missing what is obvious, and choosing instead to follow the crowd down a rabbit hole of elaborate speculation. It's almost as if our cognitive dissonance between the way we expect the world to be, and the way the world actually is, has hit a hard, thick, impenetrable wall. And, perhaps as an understandable consequence, our collective realm of thought is self-destructing along with everything else. It really feels like all of humanity is undergoing a psychotic break.

But enough of this positive, uplifting preamble. Am I now going to sell myself as the one sane voice in the wilderness? The one person who can see through the fog of delusion, into realms of pure causal clarity? Well I haven't performed any miracles lately, or won a Nobel Prize, or even succeeded at ridding our back yard of its prodigious gopher population...so I can't assert any special knowledge or authority on the state of reality. But perhaps I can at least poke some holes in what I perceive to be a sort of mass hysteria around the current state of affairs, and inspire one or two minds to free themselves from what - to me at least - seems like a glaring oversight of several basic facts, and several fairly reasonable, even predictable conclusions about why we have arrived at this rather bizarre moment in global and domestic affairs. I've also got some proposed solutions up my sleeve.

Okay so let's start with the easy stuff....


HOW DID TRUMP THE IMPERIOUS IDIOT BECOME POTUS?

Trump won the election for four fairly straightforward reasons:

1) Tapping Into a Deeply Felt, Enduring Anger

A large number of fearful, uninformed and relatively gullible people were really angry - and in fact have been really angry for quite a while now - and Trump tapped into that anger and channeled it to his own benefit. How did he tap in? Mainly by amplifying the blame for all white working class sufferings on a Bogeyman painstakingly propped up by decades of propaganda (see #3 below). The groundwork was already laid for Trump in this regard, he simply capitalized on it. And sure, Trump also called upon the timeworn tactics of racism, sexism, Islamaphobia, xenophobia, "pro-life" religious conservatism, and mixed these with extraordinary lies and grandiose exaggerations, even stirring a pinch of Occupy Wall Street speak into the mix. Here again there was nothing new, just borrowed ideas and rhetoric from previous streams of propaganda and populism - his opportunistic tools. I have discussed elsewhere how Trump also deployed a uniquely American flavor of salesmanship, and tapped into longstanding fears about the decline of testosterone and an ascendance of the feminine, and perhaps these were even more representative of his unique character. I've also discussed some of the other factors involved in this post. But the main driver behind the success * of Trump's nationalistic populism was anger - an anger surely shared by many around the globe.


2) Hillary Clinton's Flaws as a Candidate

Hillary Clinton was simply not a winning enough candidate. Despite her capturing the popular vote, a diverse and widely-distributed group of Democrats who showed up for Obama didn't vote at all in 2016 (about 7 million of them I believe), because they simply weren't inspired by Hillary. Another large portion of Democrats in the Rust Belt voted for Trump instead...because they really didn't trust or like Hillary Clinton. And of course when Hillary ran for President previously, she lost the Democratic primary to someone who was simply a more attractive candidate to many people. I'm not saying Hillary wasn't qualified, mind you, just that she wasn't compelling enough to mobilize voters. Imagine, for example, how exciting things could have been if a Sanders/Warren ticket - or a Warren/Booker ticket - had emerged from the primaries. Gosh golly I think some otherwise apathetic peeps might have gotten themselves to the polls.


3) Decades of Relentless Propaganda and Manipulation


A concerted propaganda effort over many years - and costing billions of dollars - was executed by wealthy conservatives (the Koch brothers, Roger Ailes, etc.) to misinform U.S. citizens about anything and everything, mainly to get them thoroughly and irrationally fired up against President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Democrats, the Affordable Care Act, marriage equality, liberal immigration policy, Black Lives Matter, protecting minority voting rights, or anything else smacking of progressive ideology, "big government," liberal elitism or the dreaded socialism. The Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, FOX News, Glenn Beck and The Blaze, Rush Limbaugh, RedState, Infowars, Breitbart, and carefully organized Tea Party grass roots activism all propagated very similar (sometimes identical) narratives about the failures and "evils" perpetrated on America by these nefarious, malevolent ne'er-do-wells. Most of this propaganda had little internal logic, and relied on few real facts, generating instead a slew of "alternative facts" that conformed with an alternative Bogeyman/conspiracy reality.

This propaganda has also made a concerted effort to vilify "the liberal media," evidence-based analysis of policies and practices, anything that sounded too "intellectual" or wordy, and even the usefulness or viability of scientific research. This was a transparent tactic to undermine contradictory perspectives that threatened the propaganda narrative - that is, a transparent tactic to undermine the truth itself. As a consequence, a new breed of Republican politician began to surface that could provide a charismatic, often hokey or folksy front for this "anti-establishment" propaganda machine, often without an ounce of real substance to back up their facade. This is part of why the ignorant and silly sound bytes of Michelle Bachman, Todd Akins, Sarah Palin, George W. Bush and others seemed to skyrocket them to popularity, and how folks who are clearly unqualified, incompetent or just plain stupid have attained positions of immense power in Republican administrations. It's all part of a clear and deliberate effort to prop up an alternate reality narrative.

We must also keep in mind that any Republicans who disagreed with this narrative or its political offspring were also rapidly ejected from the herd. Skilled, intelligent, well-meaning Republicans were quickly forced to either dumb themselves down and conform to the silliness, or switch parties, or retire. This was all about capturing and retaining political power, a hoodwinking of America to facilitate plutocracy and corporatocracy. And of course we are already seeing the new Trump administration continuing these same distortions and tactics to support their particular reality field.


4) Underhanded and illegal help.


We may not know for some time all the details about Russia's intrusions into the 2016 U.S. elections. We also probably can't know exactly how much they really influenced voter turnout and choices. We do know, however, that these actions were deliberate, well-planned and pervasive. We also know the aim was to influence the specific outcome of denigrating Hillary Clinton, and several other Democrats, so that Trump and other Republicans could win these contests. We also know Russia has been involved - and continues to be involved - in such activities in other countries. And did FBI Director Comey's actions in the weeks prior to the November vote have a significant impact? We may not know that for certain either. In addition, however, we also know that Republicans both gerrymandered many states to provide a majority in both local legislatures and the House of Representatives, and aggressively purged voting rolls of African American Democrats to similarly skew results in their favor locally and nationally. And because the margin of the election wins in some areas (Arizona, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, for example) are relatively small, all of these underhanded and illegal efforts combined could easily have made a substantive difference in the final electoral vote distribution.




IS ALL THAT ANGER TRUMP TAPPED INTO JUSTIFIABLE?

Of course it is. It's just been artfully stoked, molded and misdirected away from the real causes of very real problems. At whom - or what - should these folks be directing their ire? Well, let's take a look at what's really going on....

What has caused so much market instability, loss of jobs and a living wage, huge increases in consumer debt, a steadily climbing cost of living, widening wealth inequality, and precipitously declining consumer buying power? Folks, it's not any of the factors being bantered about in the media or expounded upon by most pundits and sages, and it's certainly not anything new (as just one example, real wages have been in decline in the U.S. since about 1968). The underlying problem is kind of like the air we breathe - if we were fish, it would be the ocean we are swimming through; we just can't see it because we are so profoundly reliant upon it. But it's croniest, clientist, commercialist corporate capitalism folks. Really...that's the complete, well-rounded, precise and truthful cause of all these problems. The only things that keep us from seeing this clearly are the fish-in-the-sea/elephant-in-the-room/emperor's clothes phenomenon...artfully reinforced by the carefully crafted propaganda alluded to earlier. But if we are willing to open our eyes to the obvious, this explanation is inescapable.

Let's look take a quick peek at some supportive details.


Capitalism is growth-dependent.


Our current form of capitalism relies on cheap labor, cheap resources and expanding markets to keep growing. Why? Because as standards of living increase, a tipping point is inevitably reached where domestic workers expect to be paid more than companies can afford to pay them and still remain profitable. Why? Because companies are selling products and services to the same workers who are producing them, while at the same time having to pay for other inputs (raw materials, equipment, buildings, taxes, service inputs, etc.), and of course wanting to extract profit from the equation as well. To make matters worse, public owner-shareholders who add zero value to the business itself always want to extract more and more profit for themselves. But you can't have your cake and eat it to. Finally, eventual natural consequences like market saturation, price inelastic demand, and "lower prices are better" consumer expectations add additional restrictions on profit. All of this results in a situation where, once a certain peak standard of living and affluence are reached across a large enough segment of society, there is simply no more room for profit. In this sense, the "middle class" of America is the natural enemy of capitalism, forcing free enterprise to perpetually seek cheaper inputs outside of the United States. This is one reason why the U.S., at only 5% of the Earth's population, has been using close to 30% of global resources to support its standard of living.

So without this growth, profits rapidly diminish and even evaporate. This is a primary reason why globalization has been so critical to the function of capitalism - the desire for inexpensive labor and resources, as well as new populations of consumers, has become increasingly strident. In fact, this growth-dependency can become so urgent and toxic that it causes military conflicts and trade wars in order to secure more low-cost inputs and new market opportunities. And over time, when cheap labor, cheap resources and new markets inevitably become scarce - when there is nowhere else to go - the focus of free enterprise necessarily shifts to increasing various efficiencies. And the first stops on the efficiency train are usually three considerations: labor efficiency, economies of scale, and reducing competition.

1) Labor efficiency. Labor is one of the most expensive inputs to capitalism, and there are a number of strategies to reduce costs once overseas outsourcing reaps diminishing returns. One is automation and computers that permit fewer workers - or cheaper workers with less skill - to create the same output. Another is reducing wages, often by replacing seasoned workers with a younger, lower cost workforce; or by shifting full-time employees to part-time or contract status to avoid paying benefits and taxes; or by breaking and ousting labor unions. Another is increasing the productivity of employees, through expecting longer work hours for the same pay, or restructuring salary to performance-based incentives, or using an intimidating management style of quotas and reprimands.

2) Economies of scale.
Becoming bigger - even to the point of completely monopolizing a given industry on a transnational scale - introduces many potential efficiencies and greater control of all the inputs involved. It also provides greater influence over relationships with suppliers, local governments and distribution channels. The ultimate result is not only a lower cost-per-unit, but more security and leverage over everything from workforce to government regulation. This level of control is very appealing to owner-shareholders who expect consistent profitability.

3) Reducing competition. Here the strategies are also fairly predictable. Either companies will try to position themselves as the only game in town through mergers and hostile buyouts, or they will engage in other anti-competitive business practices that provide a lock on how their products perform in that market. Common anti-competitive practices include things like price fixing, exclusive dealing, dumping products at a loss until competitors have fled the market, and intellectual property protections that guaranty exclusivity or disrupt competition (patenting crops, etc.). There are some very creative and wide-ranging options, though, and I recommend consulting the link above for more examples.

What are the consequences of these practices? Almost always these result in larger and larger monopolies, fewer jobs and lower pay, regulatory and political leverage in governments (sometimes to the point of complete capture of government), and price inelastic demand for an ever-widening array of commodities. At the same time, however, once these approaches are widely and aggressively deployed, the impetus to grow business and profits is still just as urgent...but now the easiest tools have already been used up. The available options have been shrinking. Subsequently, when stagnant or diminishing profits begin to worry investors and frustrate entrepreneurs, the focus has to shift into new territory. This might include:

1) Veblen goods. On the one hand, these luxury items can appeal to a shrinking slice of society with disposable income, who are willing to pay top dollar (read maximum profit) for goods and services with cultural cachet. Innovations in this arena can pay off much more handsomely than a new design for inexpensive mass-produced gadgets.

2) Planned obsolescence, "newer is better" marketing, and meaningless innovation. Ever wonder why everything from dishwashers and vacuum cleaners to housing and cars don't seem to endure as long or perform as well as they once did? Or why there seem to be frenetic updates and upgrades to everything we buy, which a product or service won't work without? Because it doesn't pay to make things that last, or that don't require maintenance, or that can't be upgraded. It's much more lucrative to engineer a rapid turnover of goods, or goods that require constant servicing and enhancement. If consumers can be persuaded to believe that every tiny feature, no matter how trivial or irritating, is a "must have," well then it becomes very foolish to produce anything simple, enduring or fully functional from the get-go...doesn't it?

3) Recurring consumer reliance or addictions. This is a subtler, longer-term strategy that can be very effective. Moving away from single sales to a subscription model, for example. Or medicating the symptoms of chronic conditions with expensive pharmaceuticals, instead of treating the underlying causes. Or pricy "club" memberships that lock consumers into a single source for their purchases, so that they are compelled to recoup their membership fees via that one retailer's "deeply discounted" products. Ironies abound of course. Consider, for example, e-cigarettes marketed to help nicotine addicts wean themselves off of traditional cigarettes, simply trading one addiction for another for equally negative health effects.

However, once again these strategies are only sustainable if there is a large pool of consumers still available with adequate disposable income. But, recalling that labor reduction and impoverishment is one of the prominent efficiency strategies, and that worker-consumer exploitation and dependency have already been in play for some time, existing markets inevitably will contract or become saturated. Add to this the hallmarks of "lowest price!" consumer expectations, owner-shareholder profit expectations, spreading price inelastic demand, and the other pressures we've enumerated so far, and the final straw pretty much breaks the camel's back.

What's left? Where can capitalism go from here...?

Once the easiest efficiencies, marketing strategies and product choices have been exhausted, there is only one thing left to do: abandon production of traditional goods and services altogether. The next step in capitalism's decline is financialization - that is, transitioning to a financial economy. Here profit is sought mainly through speculative investing, elaborate financial instruments, litigious enterprises (patent trolling), increased loan leveraging, and the cultivation of ever-increasing consumer debt. In other words, making money directly from money or through manipulating the law, without the intermediate step of providing an actual service or producing an actual good. And, in keeping with the previously established aims of efficiency, monopoly, dependence and so forth, owner-shareholders become more and more wealthy, while jobs for worker-consumers become fewer and lower-paying, buying power continues to decline, benefits and privileges that were once ubiquitous become more scarce, and debt-slavery replaces wage-slavery as the new norm for the working class. For most people, life gets harder, more stressful and a lot less fair; the American dream of a middle-class lifestyle becomes harder and harder to achieve or sustain. And all of this is happening against a backdrop of promises that each generation would be better off than the last.

Is it any wonder that people are really pissed off?!



But we're not done yet. Eventually, towards the end of this final phase, capitalism flails around for additional labor sources, natural resources, efficiencies, speculations, lending avenues and so forth...but these are increasingly hard to come by. The strategies just aren't working as well anymore, even as owner-shareholders are expecting greater profits, workers are clamoring for more jobs and better pay, consumers are insisting on lower prices, markets are becoming more saturated and less competitive, and more commodities become subject to price inelastic demand. The pressures on the capitalist system only increase. Which is how bubbles are formed, and why crashes occur. Which of course only pisses everyone off that much more.

However, there is one remaining avenue of new inputs, and that is to privatize public goods and anything socially owned. To facilitate this, corporations must aggressively roll back or capture as many regulatory and trade restrictions as possible. And, over the last decades, we've seen all of this playing out not only in the U.S., but globally. In the U.S., we've had the FCC selling off the public broadcast frequency spectrum to corporate bidders; school voucher programs that direct public funds away from public schools; the freezing of EPA enforcement via executive order; the SEC loosening leveraging restrictions; staunch opposition to the ACA and single payer healthcare; vociferous advocacy of privatizing Social Security....It's all clear as day. As for the rest of the world, check out the consequences of the World Bank and IMF's "structural adjustment policies," or who benefited most from our biggest trade deals. At the same time, the capitalist system self-protectively socializes as many risks as possible for its increasingly unreliable experiments, so that it can - like a self-destructive gambling addict - expend a final set of borrowed inputs for a last spasm of profit. Bailouts anyone? Too big to fail? And of course all of the stages I've described generate instability in boom-and-bust cycles along the way, which is exactly what we've been experiencing on a global scale.

Now, rather unfortunately, we are finally and irreversibly arriving at the very end of a death spiral, where capitalism has busily begun consuming itself. There is nowhere else to go. In the next boom-and-bust cycle (or maybe, optimistically, the one after that), there will be nothing left to feed into the world's economic engine. In our current trajectory, stock valuations are a consequence of magical thinking and psychological reactions, with no correlation to anything real. And, like most conditions that are not based in reality, it is totally unsustainable. Yes, it is possible that some new storm of innovations will create a new, temporary ecosystem for profit, and perhaps extend the death rattle for a few more precious months or years. But the end of capitalism is, I think, truly and irrevocably upon us.

So perhaps now it has become clear why people have become so desperate, agitated, angry, and afraid. Not just in the U.S., but all around the globe. Intuitively and experientially, they know the writing is on the wall. Human beings - even the folks who voted for Trump - are not entirely stupid. They sense the game is up, even if they can't admit the underlying causes to themselves. They are witnessing a capitalist system that is no longer generating returns adequate to support civil society - let alone the opulence, excesses and tremendous wastes of U.S. consumerism - and that system is going to take them down with it. And, as the global economy teeters on the edge of the abyss, a rallying cry of the pro-capitalist propagandists gurgles forth: "Just give us one more try! Do if for your country! It's not your fault and it's not our fault...it's the Bogeyman's fault! Just trust us and we will make you great again!" Oh yes, the worker-consumers of the world have every reason to be lividly pissed off - now and for many decades past. But unless we all work together to turn the Titanic, and soon, our suffering will only intensify and the options decrease, until all that is left of capitalism is a set of rotting teeth, gnashing away at nothing in the dark.


WHAT ARE OUR OPTIONS NOW?

As folks have been waking up to the reality that our current capitalist system isn't working, a number of dead-end proposals have been put forth for our consideration. These have included:

1) A return to FDR New Deal style solutions engineered by government. This would undoubtedly soften the blow for those feeling the most economic pain, and perhaps create some temporary, well-paying jobs. Increasing taxes on the wealthy to pay for this expansion would also work - in the short run. This was what Bernie Sanders was championing. And this probably would have ushered in a temporary golden age of flourishing quality-of-life for mainstream America, possibly even expanding the middle class once again. But it still wouldn't have solved the underlying self-destructive currents in capitalism that we've explored in this essay, and so, in the long run, it would not have averted inevitable decline and collapse being witnessed. In fact, it might have even accelerated destabilization - by encouraging capital flight, for example, or by amplifying boom/bust cycles and comorbid inflationary pressures, debt burdens, and so forth. So, not a reliable long-term solution.

2) Freeing up the engines of capitalism with laissez faire reforms, reducing government deficit spending, and expanding tax cuts for the wealthy, then attempting to focus beneficial outcomes on the U.S. economy with trade protectionism. This seems to be the solution Donald Trump and Paul Ryan are offering. Unfortunately, not only does this approach fail to address the flaws in the capitalist system itself, it also exacerbates some of the more pronounced factors that undermine overall economic productivity, stability and mobility. In fact, all of these strategies have already been tried in the recent past, and they have just made things worse, and very quickly. Just follow these links or do quick web searches on "trade protectionism," "regressive taxation" and "austerity economics" for relevant disastrous examples and analysis. Oops!

3) Try to maintain a status quo crony capitalist arrangement, with a government just strong enough to facilitate corporate interests, a monetary policy that effectively controls inflation, and taxes just high enough to keep social safety nets from becoming exhausted. This is what Obama did fairly successfully, and I think it is also what Hillary Clinton would likely have done in some variation. It is a strategy that promotes stability, and stretches out the timeline of decline and collapse, likely to its greatest possible limit. If we added Picketty-inspired wealth taxes to this scenario, it might actually stretch things out for decades. But...oh well. The underlying issues we've raised here are still not addressed in any substantive way. We would still be looking at the collapse of capitalism over the longer term.

Okay...if these options would work, what's left to try? Is there a viable escape hatch?

Well that's what I've been thinking about for the past few years. And my unsurprising conclusion is pretty straightforward: we need to replace capitalism with a more egalitarian political economy. Not State socialism - absolutely not. But there are other options, the components of which have actually already been tested and proven in the real world. I provide detailed proposals and supportive information for those on my Level 7 website. But in short, consider thinking of a new political economy as you would a new kind of air to breathe...or a new kind of ocean to swim in...realizing that it will take some time and effort to fully grok all of its dimensions. Then take a steady, considered breath, and dive in.


A LEVEL 7 SOLUTION

I've summarized the basic idea of a Level 7 political economy in the acronym EPIC-SEEDS, which stands for:


E ngaged - Civic engagement and political obligation become fundamental expectations of all citizens, and are tied directly to proportional access to public goods, infrastructure, services and privileges.

P iloted & Precautionary - Starting small, proving the concept, replicating, and measuring the outcomes, impacts and externalities in a multidimensional way.

I ntegrity - Embodying the values, principles and approaches of the desired political economy in all revolutionary activism and successive phases of execution.

C ommons-Centric - Neither privatization nor State ownership, but migrating resource ownership and governance to a user-based, self-organized and self-managed model.


S ubsidiarity - Shifting the center of all decision-making, service provisioning and economic production down to the most local level possible, ideally the community.

E galitarian Efficiency - The aim of both equality of opportunity and equality of outcome for all citizens, in all circumstances.

E volved - Supporting individual and collective moral evolution beyond I/Me/Mine or Us vs. Them, to a more cohesive and compassionate We.

D irect Democracy - At all levels of government, and all levels of free enterprise, in concert with elected or appointed technocrats and managers, while holding representatives and civil servants accountable, and overriding them when necessary.

S ustainable Design - Systems designed to ebb-and-flow in cyclical steady states, without depleting natural resources, destroying cultures or ecosystems, or creating new forms of slavery.



For the full overview of what I think needs to be done - with lots of supportive information and resources on how it all works - please check out http://www.level-7.org. Although the website is becoming fairly comprehensive, the objective was to create a starting point for a more participatory long-term solution. So I hope you will check it out and offer some feedback. We have a long way to go, but the roadmap is clear.



*Footnote regarding the prevalence of anger: It should be noted that the angry voter percentage in the 2016 U.S. elections really wasn't that large in electoral terms. For example, Ronald Reagan won the Electoral College 489 to 49 over Jimmy Carter, whereas Trump only won 306 to 232 over Hillary Clinton. Trump's margin ranks him 46th out of 58 Presidential elections...hardly a decisive win, even when we ignore his record-breaking margin of loss to Clinton in the popular vote.




What's the most unhealthy thing that society encourages us to do?

A lot of answers on Quora have touched on the symptoms that are unhealthy, without touching on the root cause. Nearly all of the most destructive “unhealthy things” that have been described so far are the product of one thing: a belief that capitalism is the most viable economic system, and our perpetuating and participating in that system unquestioningly. If we want to move away from conspicuous consumption, unhealthy diets, addictive products, self-destructive lifestyles, an obsession with accumulating “stuff,” wanton destruction of the planet and exhausting of its resources, etc., all that we really need to do is transition to a different political economy. One where corporations are not in charge, where we aren’t programmed to solve all our problems through purchasing decisions, and where people actually participate in self-governance through democracy. One where caring about our fellow human beings takes priority over exploiting them. One where wage-slavery, obscenely disparate concentrations of wealth, and fencing off the world into private property are abandoned in favor of a commons-centric, worker-managed, more directly democratic model. One where technologies, innovations and advances are designed primarily to improve the well-being of the greatest number for the greatest duration…instead of just making shareholders happy. One where civic responsibility is mainly about enhancing the public good, rather than just championing childish individualism. There are many ways we could do this, but the primary feature of any new system will be giving up on capitalism altogether. We need fundamental change, not a facelift to hide our mistaken trust in a broken concept.

To that end I have a work-in-progress, which you can view here: Level 7 Overview. This is intended to be a participatory effort, so please feel free to send me your thoughts. Just please take time to look over what’s there first. :-)

My 2 cents.

Is it possible for the State to no longer exist?


Yes. There are a few options:

1. Let corporations take over all of the functions that the State currently provides, offering what amounts to “voluntary” contractual slavery to maintain concentrations of wealth and power in the hands of a few. This is where anarcho-capitalism, laissez-faire objectivism, and Nozick-style minarchism eventually lead, and doesn’t really present much of a difference to traditional Statism in terms of the coercive force of poverty or enforcement of the rule of law. It’s basically just stripping off the facade of political self-determination we have in our crony capitalist “representative” democracy. I find it rather humorous U.S. right-libertarianism is so critical of the “excessive and inefficient police state,” when their solutions would likely enhance corporatocracy’s interferences with liberty even more - especially as monopolies consolidate over time.

2. Maintaining a mixed economy and a welfare State, but introducing more direct democracy into the mix - following Switzerland’s hybrid setup, for example. Then, over time, attenuating the responsibilities and authority of the State, and shifting more and more decision-making and accountability to direct democracy and/or down to the community level. The problem with this approach is that, if corporations aren’t democratized and diffused in the same way, they will still represent huge concentrations of wealth and power that disrupt civil society and usurp or countermand democratic will. So this approach is, at best, a temporary fix.

3. Combine semi-direct democracy with worker ownership of production, and rapidly diffuse political and economic power out to the community level. As direct democracy is increasingly implemented across all civic and commercial institutions, centralized power will likewise become more distributed. All that remains is an examination of accumulations of private property and for-profit activities that sabotage egalitarian conditions for liberty, and gradually migrating those into a commons-centric model. For this shift to be voluntary, however, those who have accumulated much power and wealth will of necessity need to mature far enough along the moral spectrum to “gift” their accumulations back to society. In other words, we’ll all need to grow up a bit and graduate from an “I/Me/Mine” toddler mindset. Personally, I think most people have an intrinsic propensity to act prosocially and collectively for everyone’s best interest, it’s just that capitalism has arrested our natural development by constantly reinforcing materialistic individualism.

My own proposals around how and why humanity should transform its political economies away from capitalism and towards left-libertarianism can be found here: Level 7 Overview (http://level-7.org/).

My 2 cents.

From Quora: https://www.quora.com/Is-it-possible-for-the-State-to-no-longer-exist/answer/T-Collins-Logan

Which is more useful for society to believe in, free will or determinism?

Thanks for the A2A Robert.

Historically speaking, the answer to this question has generally depended on what utility is being sought, and by whom. For example:

- Theological determinism and religious fatalism have been quite helpful in pacifying followers within many different religions over time. So from the perspective of the religious elite who are interested in the conformance of followers, it has been quite a useful tool.

- In the same way the Divine Right of Kings - which has a similar flavor to theological determinism - helped stabilize the right of succession and pacify the unruly masses. So again, for Kings and Queens it was extremely useful.

- In any form of democracy, if the people believe that they have “free will,” this can provide a similar pacifying utility when the democracy doesn’t really represent the will of the people. Here again, it is quite useful for anyone in an elected position of power - and for the folks who bankrolled their campaign - to encourage this belief among the electorate in order to maintain an oligarchic status quo.

- It is also quite handy for owners of corporate monopolies when consumers believe they have “freedom of choice” - that market competition is providing better products at lower prices, whether or not that is actually the case.

- In the U.S., we routinely see the enhancement of free will promoted in competing political ideologies. Quite often, however, the outcome of persuading voters that one ideology is better at promoting or providing free will than another is usually increased oppression and exploitation of those same voters. In other words, just as with the previous examples, the “belief in free will” is most useful for the hucksters trying to establish or maintain their own influence.

Now, lest anyone think I am being overly pessimistic, I personally think it is vitally important in a democracy for the electorate to both believe in and insist on free will. Because whenever voters become fatalistic or begin to think their vote doesn’t really matter, they tend to abdicate their civic responsibility and obligations, and disengage. The greatest corrosive force to democracy is apathy - which is essentially letting other forces determine outcomes, instead of actively participating to shape an outcome. The challenge, however, is to protect and educate democracy sufficiently for the voice of the people to be artfully expressed using their own judgment…instead of their just being conned by snake oil salesmen.

My 2 cents.

From Quora: https://www.quora.com/Which-is-more-useful-for-society-to-believe-in-free-will-or-determinism/answer/T-Collins-Logan

Open Letter: Apology from U.S. to the World for Electing Trump


Hi Folks. We’re sorry about Trump - for a number of reasons.

On the one hand, we’re sorry that nearly half the U.S. electorate:

• Is unable to think critically or separate fact from falsehood.

• Could not see Mr. Trump for the erratic, narcissistic, blowhard demagogue that he is.

• Is swayed by conspiracy theories, irrational fear-mongering, neoliberal propaganda, yellow journalism and false advertising.

• Confuses gambling of inherited wealth with business acumen.

• Has the mistaken impression that voting once every four years is the only political obligation necessary to support civil society.

• Allowed entertainment value to override wisdom and common sense.

• Actually believed that Trump would follow through on his campaign pledges.


You might wonder why so many people fell under the spell of this mass-hysteria. Here are some likely contributing conditions:

• Poor diets and insufficient exercise, which negatively impact brain development and function.

• Tribal conformance and groupthink brought on by insular and homogenous communities.

• Frustration, anger and mental illness, brought about in part by the multigenerational stresses of waning social status and economic immobility.

• The immaturity and entitlement induced by commercialistic habits, compulsions and dependencies.

• Economic insecurity resulting from globalization and the boom/bust cycles of growth-dependent capitalism, along with the ever-enlarging wealth inequality created by monopolization, cronyism and clientism.

• Rapid cultural and technological change, which were also accelerated by growth-dependent capitalism.

• Below-average analytical and emotional intelligence, which interfere with the capacity to comprehend or navigate complexity.

• Willful ignorance as a lazy, amoral choice.


We are sorry about these conditions, too, because they are a consequence of our ongoing committment as Americans to invest in conspicuous consumption, atomistic individualism and greedy materialism as our guiding lights, while at the same time decimating our public education system, news media integrity, and cultural truth metrics. We have also routinely abdicated our political obligations to corporations and individuals with huge concentrations of wealth, allowing them make more and more of our decisions for us – and take over more and more of our government and civic institutions – and we’re sorry for that, too.

On the other hand, those who appreciate complexity, want to champion progressive values, and believe in a more participatory, informed and egalitarian future are also sorry. Because we didn’t make our case to the American people, or effectively counter the ridiculous spectacle of Donald Trump…or in many cases even go out and vote. Shame on us.

So for all of this…and for the inevitable suffering of so many millions of people that will result from a morally and mentally crippled Trump administration…we are also truly and deeply contrite. In our confusion and pain, we the people of the United States of America have allowed an impulsive, feckless idiot to become our leader. Intuitively, most of us knew this was a bad idea, and that “making America great again” was really just a last-ditch attempt for poor and middle-class white people to feel like their penises mattered (or feel like their father's, husband's or son's penises mattered, as the case may be). But, like tantruming children, too few wanted to face the reality of that shrinking decline…or have much compassion for it...so a lot of folks lashed out.

Again, so sorry.


What is needed to improve the amount and quality of civic engagement in the United States?

I think there are several issues in play, and we will need to address all of them for civic engagement and a sense of responsibility to be fostered. This means removing barriers as well as inspiring participation - and also holding folks accountable to some degree. Mainly I think we need to return governance more directly to the people - and in a more distributed and localized way - so that citizens have “skin in the game” as it were. Currently, our elected officials and their work are too far abstracted from the day-to-day concerns of average citizens, and this creates a “consume and forget” model of electoral abdication.

To address this I think we first and foremost require more frequent and direct forms of democracy, and some of my ideas about that are discussed here: Direct Democracy. Also for the long term, I would offer proposals around community involvement (see: Community Engagement) that emphasize non-governmental as well as governmental institutions and processes - many of which are well-tested in the real world. I also envision a system of social credits for utilizing essential infrastructure and services that is tied directly to civic participation (see: Social Credits System).

At the same time, we will also need to remove substantive barriers to folks even wanting to be involved - and ensure they have enough accurate information to do so skillfully and meaningfully. Regarding the former, I discuss the some of the primary concerns here: The Spectacle; Commercialist Distortions; Neoliberalism; Oppression of Women; and The Tyranny of Private Ownership. Regarding the latter, I would promote major revisions to education, the press and public information management that depart from today’s coopted and corrupted practices (see: Education).

Of course not all of this can happen at once. But if we don’t address all of these issues to a radical degree, I just don’t see change happening. The systemic failures and opposing forces are just to great. In terms of first steps, I discuss some of those here: L7 Action

My 2 cents.

(From Quora question: https://www.quora.com/What-is-needed-to-improve-the-amount-and-quality-of-civic-engagement-in-the-United-States)

Why do the top 1% of people in the world have half of the world's wealth?

Setting the statistical details of your question aside, and focusing on the underlying observation of extraordinary wealth inequality, I believe there are a combination of factors. Here are the most significant ones (in no particular order):

1. Capitalism. It is the nature of capitalism to concentrate wealth by rewarding owner-shareholders while exploiting worker-consumers and capturing everyone and everything else (i.e. environments, governments, technologies, etc.) that can be placed in service to profit.

2. Consumer Mindset and Addiction. This is a bit more subtle, but essentially imagine a world where everyone is convinced (individually, socially, culturally) that happiness, well-being and success are all externally consumed, and that the self-actualization principle with the highest efficacy is conspicuous consumption. Further, imagine that the products and services being offered are habit forming in nature, so that the pressures to consume create a snowball effect, thereby infantilizing the public and making people perpetually dependent. Why perpetually? Well because those products and services don’t actually deliver happiness, well-being or success…so the cycle continues.

3. Cronyism and Clientism. Through regulatory capture, revolving door self-empowerment, corruption of democratic institutions (corporate personhood, SuperPACs, the Hastert rule, gerrymandering, etc.), authoring legislation (A.L.E.C., etc.), quid-pro-quo political dealings and so forth so that the wealthy maintain de facto control over any government that is supposed to counter their overreach…thus expanding plutocratic wealth and power.

4. Financialization and Speculation. A nasty runaway train that often involves socialization of risk, extensive leveraging, and huge amounts of debt…all in order to enrich the captains of banking and industry who are already wealthy enough to play such high stakes games.

5. Monopoly. Consolidation of production, assets and influence in every industry - and often across multiple sectors - that concentrates economic controls and wealth production in the hands of fewer and fewer people.

6. Clever Propaganda. I think Milton Friedman was the first to really champion neoliberal delusions for the common person, persuading them that government, taxes and “socialist” policies would sabotage their well-being and the American success story, and that all challenges could be solved by a “free” market. It was of course a fabricated narrative without any basis in fact, but it has sold well. So now we have everyone from the Tea Party to Trump supporters voting against their own best interests, and blindly throwing their energy into this perpetual hoodwink.

7. The Spectacle. This is a complex idea that I elaborate on in the link provided, but essentially think of an elaborate, self-perpetuating engine of panem et circenses, executed via mass media and mass consumption, that anesthetizes the masses into complacency. Just enough affluence and entertainment to make them forget that their votes don’t really count for much, their “freedom” is becoming much more limited, and their real wages have been stagnant or declining since 1968.

I explore many of these topics and more on this website: Level 7

My 2 cents.

(From Quora question: https://www.quora.com/Why-do-the-top-1-of-people-in-the-world-have-half-of-the-worlds-wealth)

Are there any libertarians that are critical of the Non-Aggression Principle?

This is a bit of a hot potato IMO. In the U.S., there is a somewhat myopically individualistic and self-referential version of libertarianism that not only embraces the NAP, but expands it (via Murray Rothbard) into all property, treating individual ownership as an extension of one’s person. This is a pretty extreme distortion that imposes a tyranny of private property equally on all, thereby depriving all of significant liberty. So, in this context, the answer to your question would be a resounding “most libertarians;” meaning most libertarians outside of the U.S. (and indeed most throughout the history of libertarian and anarchistic thought) would reject the application of the NAP to property as U.S. Libertarians tend to do. Of course, there are also left-libertarians (libertarian socialists) in the U.S. who also take exception to the…er…aggressive application of the NAP to property by right-libertarians. As I said…a bit of a hot potato.

As for the underlying sentiment of non-aggression, I think that is more widely shared by anarchists and libertarians of most persuasions. But even here what precisely constitutes “aggression” (or coercion, compulsion, etc.) is widely debated. Where right-libertarians seem to see all actions of the State (and sometimes even community-level government) as executed “under the threat of force,” a minarchist libertarian socialist would defer to collective agreement around a given issue to assert its persuasive legitimacy, and not view it as coercive or oppressive in the same way. In other words, for a right-libertarian individual sovereignty tends to be the central compass for defining non-interference (negative liberty), while the left-libertarian views collective cooperation as a preferred standard for facilitating liberty for all.

I think all of this orbits around the question of political obligation, and I write more about that here: http://www.tcollinslogan.com/resources/IntegralLiberty.pdf

(From Quora question: https://www.quora.com/Are-there-any-libertarians-that-are-critical-of-the-Non-Aggression-Principle)

Do non-college educated, financially disadvantaged people think they know more about economics than educated white-collar professionals do?

I’ll try to answer this question by describing what I see going on underneath it. In this instance, several forces are at work that undermine “educated” assessments of any kind:

1. The human-created economic realities-on-the-ground have become much more complex - and globally interdependent - than perhaps any time in human history.

2. At the same time, consumers have been trained through commercialism and advanced communications technology to pay only a vague amount of attention to reductionist, hyper-simplistic sound bytes offered by mainstream media - and often ones crafted by supposed “experts” - that generally ignore complexity or nuance in favor of truncated, black-and-white quasi-facts.

3. Those whom the media selects - or who have self-selected - to become representatives of the “expert” class are often not all that bright, and not all that educated, but simply have the drive and/or language skills to become valued sound byte wizards.

4. In order to package lockstep ideologies for mass conformance, politicians and political propagandists further muddy the waters with deliberate distortions of reality-on-the-ground that frame their POV in the most favorable light, further disrupting their adherents’ grip on what is really going on.

5. Add to this the psychological stresses of modern society, poor diets, lack of exercise, lots of neurologically and biologically active chemicals introduced by human industry, and a seeming increase in the incidence of mental illness.

Now when you take all of these elements, stir them into a big cauldron of fascist populist sentiment, then superheat that concoction with the flames of authentically felt economic pressure (shareholder impatience, job insecurity, stagnant wages, resource scarcity, growing income inequality, exploding financialization and debt, boom-bust volatility, price-inelastic demand, monopolization, narrowing profit margins, etc.) the result is fairly predictable: poor choices in an increasingly nonfunctional democracy.

So I would say it has little to do with education or class, and a lot more to do with the pathologies, anxiety, economic insecurity and societal tensions created by capitalism itself.

My 2 cents.

(From Quora question: https://www.quora.com/Do-non-college-educated-financially-disadvantaged-people-think-they-know-more-about-economics-than-educated-white-collar-professionals-do)

The Unseen Tragedy of a Trump Presidency…and Our Collective Responsibility

Between A Rock and A Hard Place


Like many other progressively-minded folks, I am in still in shock over what happened last night, and likely will be for some time. I have an image burned into my memory of a team of seasoned journalists finally conceding to what the voting results meant, sitting around the table in stunned silence, staring at their hands. Fifteen seconds of dead air said it all. And now those same pundits are attempting to explain away the errors in their predictions, pointing to a much deeper and larger pool of angry white folks than anyone imagined as a primary factor for Trump’s victory. So I wanted to speak to that group, along with my more like-minded progressive friends, in exploring exactly what this election means for the United States of America.

The real tragedy in this election will not be the thousands of young women who, once Roe v. Wade is overturned, are either forced to obtain illegal abortions, or to live in poverty without support as they struggle to raise an unwanted child. The real tragedy also won’t be the millions of Americans who lose their health insurance, are unable to obtain adequate coverage for chronic conditions, or can’t afford healthcare once the Affordable Care Act is repealed. It also won’t be the immigrants whose families are ripped apart by accelerated deportations, or the millions of businesses – including the farming backbone of America’s food supply – that close down because they can’t find workers for entry level jobs at subsistence wages. And it won't be a runaway train of "Trump effect" bullying against the LGBT community, people of color, nerds, disabled folks, social outcasts and the other traditional objects of fear and hatred by ignorant white people. The real tragedy will also not be those billions among our next generations who, because of the U.S. abandoning global climate agreements and strategies, will have to navigate a chaotic weather, rising sea levels and an explosion of tropical diseases. All of these may be predictable outcomes of a Republican majority under Trump’s leadership, and they might be very unpleasant for Americans to suffer through, but they are not the most extreme travesty now in the works.

What is really the most tragic and distressing consequence of this election actually pertains to all those angry white folks who voted for Trump. Why? Because he promised he could help them. But here’s the rub regarding that, folks: Trump can’t help you. The demographics of the U.S. are still going to shift to a white minority population, even if all immigration were to be cut off. All those people of color who are U.S. citizens are still going to have families, and the population trends will remain basically the same. Good jobs are still not going to be available to U.S. workers, because no industry can afford to pay U.S. workers a decent wage and still produce a profit for goods sold either in the U.S. or on the global market – it has been true for some time that U.S. companies depend on cheap labor and resources sourced outside of the U.S. to maintain the growth and affordability of their products. This is one reason real wages have been in decline for many decades. In fact, you could say that the economic isolationism championed by Trump is about the most effective way to destroy any chance of jobs or a living wage in the U.S. And because Trump’s tax policies will focus on benefiting the most wealthy Americans, and will do absolutely nothing beneficial for the middle and lower classes (possibly even raising taxes on those groups - see Batchelder), this whole combination of tactics is almost guaranteed to make the plight of most white, middle class, blue collar Americans already struggling to make ends meet a hell-of-a-lot worse. Trump’s strategies will also burden Americans with increasing amounts of debt, as we must of necessity plunge further and further down the rabbit hole of financialization. A ballooning national deficit will merely be the tip of this spear.

In terms of international relations, jihadi terrorism, friendliness with Russia and so forth, the prospects for improvement are equally dire. But of course the U.S. isn’t the only player on the world stage, so who knows: maybe these issues will resolve themselves despite any poor choices we make in terms of U.S. trade or foreign policy. But my main point – and the one that I hope will evoke some empathy and compassion for angry white America from my progressive friends – is that all those folks who voted for Trump are now truly and resoundingly fucked. Because of their blindness and resentment regarding the inexorable realities of the modern world, they have chosen a government that will make things much, much worse for themselves over the short and long term. Americans voting against their own best interests has happened before – most recently with the eight years of a Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz debacle – but this hard lesson hasn’t yet been fully learned by the American electorate. Perhaps it never will be. Perhaps we humans are just prone to making irrational choices when we are fearful and distressed, and the consistent Republican investment in amplifying such fear and distress in order to win elections is now reaping its just rewards.

But, for our dear angry white Americans: remember those “elite” you have blamed for taking away your liberties, eroding Christian values, creating terrorism, ruining the U.S. economy and threatening your way of life…? Well, you just elected more of them into office. Gingrich, Juliani, Trump, Pence and their ilk are not your champions or your friends, they are a potent team of self-obsessed, arrogant, power-hungry sociopaths who will take America deep out into the woods, bend her over a log of lies and delusion, and violently ravish her – economically, politically, socially and spiritually – very much against her will. All the while they can of course invoke Randian, Libertarian or neoliberal propaganda that rationalizes such actions as “American exceptionalism,” further empowering corporate oligarchy at the expense of U.S. citizens. But you will likely be too busy trying to survive to fully appreciate how you have been duped. This is what you’ve done…to yourselves. And so this is why I sincerely feel progressives should go beyond patience, beyond endurance and tolerance, beyond kindness and sympathy, and reach out to console and, yes, help Trump voters as best they can in the coming months and years. Those who understand what the outcome of this election really means must overcome our disappointment and grief, and arm ourselves with agape. Because when the Trump Administration is done raping and pillaging its very own supporters, those fellow Americans will not just feel doubly betrayed and doubly hurt, they will feel cold and alone in those haunting woods, with copious amounts of patriotic blood streaming endlessly from their…wherevers. And they will need our help.

So to explore longer term and more realistic solutions to our current dilemma – as well as what activism we can engage in to move us toward those solutions – I would encourage folks to visit my latest website: http://www.level-7.org, and in particular the Action Guide. What we are now facing may indeed be a chaotic transition of sorts (take a look at my friend David MacLeod’s thoughts on this topic at his Integral Permaculture blog), but if we can shift our focus away from damage control to a new, truly workable vision for tomorrow, we just might emerge from the next few years with a chance of healing and hope. This is our collective responsibility. We can no longer be passive consumers of domestic politics, trusting the advertising claims of the product we are being sold during the election season, then disengaging from civic responsibility the rest of the time. To fuel our optimism, we also know that left-leaning folks are the real majority in the U.S. - it's just that half of us didn't vote in this election. So we all need to be more conscious, informed and proactive purveyors of our democracy persistently and perpetually. Together, we must fully understand what is happening in our country and around the world, and make thoughtful decisions about how to proceed. And if we can care enough about each other to recognize the real pain we all share – and how to remedy the conditions that caused it through our own cooperative efforts – then our vision for a more harmonious and mutually supportive future could actually become real.

My 2 cents.