Linked by Flatland_Spider on Wed 24th Sep 2008 21:56 UTC
In the News Reason Online, the online presence of libertarian political magazine Reason, is featuring a book review of Cory Doctorow's book, Little Brother. Little Brother re-imagines George Orwell's classic, dystopian novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, as a modern cyberpunk thriller for a young adult audience.
Order by: Score:
What is this boingboing ?
by mikesum32 on Thu 25th Sep 2008 05:13 UTC
mikesum32
Member since:
2005-10-22

Corey is a fine author, but he flogs this book almost every day.

Reply Score: 2

RE: What is this boingboing ?
by David on Thu 25th Sep 2008 18:24 UTC in reply to "What is this boingboing ?"
David Member since:
1997-10-01

True, but not everyone reads his blog. And what use is is having a popular blog if you can't use it to promote your new book?

Edited 2008-09-25 18:25 UTC

Reply Score: 1

1984
by project_2501 on Thu 25th Sep 2008 08:36 UTC
project_2501
Member since:
2006-03-20

what's wrong with kids reading the original 1984?

Reply Score: 3

RE: 1984
by kaiwai on Thu 25th Sep 2008 12:42 UTC in reply to "1984"
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

what's wrong with kids reading the original 1984?


Because too many cannot extrapolate ideas in the book into today's situation in reference to the internet and so forth. The average person these days lack the ability to be able to think for themselves and come up with original ideas - unless these ideas are spoon fed to them, they miss the point altogether.

Then again, just look at our society right now, and how willing this generation is to give up freedom for a welfare hand out and an assurance of 'security'. Its pathetic to see it in action - heck, New Zealand is a prime example of where people demand welfare hand outs with one hand and then bemoan the ideas of anti-smacking legislation and telling parents what their kids are allowed for lunch at school.

Then again, as Hayek said - the road to serfdom is paved with good intentions. The recent financial crisis is an example of what happens when there is too much government. Again, its too bad that so many here read 1984 and ignore the frightening parallels we see today under the guise of a 'caring and sharing' society.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: 1984
by Thom_Holwerda on Thu 25th Sep 2008 12:55 UTC in reply to "RE: 1984"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

The recent financial crisis is an example of what happens when there is too much government.


That's a weird assessment. The situation is as bad as it is in the US exactly because there was TOO LITTLE government. Had the US gov stepped up earlier to properly protect its citizens, the mess would be far less bad than it is now.

I've never heard the "too much government" as a cause for the recent financial crisis. Any sources, perhaps? Genuinely interested.

Reply Score: 4

RE[3]: 1984
by irbis on Thu 25th Sep 2008 14:27 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: 1984"
irbis Member since:
2005-07-08

I've never heard the "too much government" as a cause for the recent financial crisis. Any sources, perhaps? Genuinely interested.

It also seems to be an essential part of the US political lingo and culture that we Europeans (and to some extent even Canadians) often have hard time to understand.

In the everyone-for-himself style paranoid American atmosphere government and even things like welfare system are often seen as the cause of problems rather than a solution, as odd as it may sound to a happy person living in a happy European welfare state. I suppose its been like that since many refugees, Utopian groups or people just looking for easy riches left the European shores to build a better life of their own in America, free from their former oppressive European governments. They might have had many things right then, but things have changed and we are just not living in the 1700's anymore.

Americans, on the other hand, seem to have difficulties understanding (central, Nordic & western) European democratic politics where many parties, instead of only fighting, and at least ideally, try to find a solution that is as good for everyone as possible, by means of constant negotiation and compromises. Americans do not often seem to trust negotiation, not to mention compromises, as a political solution but want money and direct power for themselves instead.

Edited 2008-09-25 14:38 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: 1984
by irbis on Thu 25th Sep 2008 15:17 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: 1984"
irbis Member since:
2005-07-08

American atmosphere

Maybe I should have used the term Anglo-American as many English speaking countries seem to share similar political culture to some extent?

Anyway, there are many types of governments and rule. I would rather hand the power to a democratically elected multi-party government and parliament that is forced to negotiate with all the parties of the society, than to, say, a single party or some behind-the-scenes elites and/or corporations. (Besides of 1984 you could read some new cyperpunk dystopias too where, for example, big corporations have the power and government role is restricted to a minimum; not exactly a nice place either).

Somebody is going to hold the political power anyway, whether we wanted it or not, even in total anarchy. Better to make the system as transparent and democratic as possible in order to avoid corruption and decisions that are wrong from the start. Democratic government sure has its problems, as people are not perfect and as they may sometimes act like fools, but I haven't seen a better form of government yet.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: 1984
by Thom_Holwerda on Thu 25th Sep 2008 17:06 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: 1984"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

It also seems to be an essential part of the US political lingo and culture that we Europeans (and to some extent even Canadians) often have hard time to understand.


Exactly my point. I don't get it!

On this side of the pond - well, in NL at least - we look with amazement towards what's happening in the US. People receiving mortgage and loans even though they aren't credit-worthy? Shady practices in the financial world? The country's largest banks in financial troubles? Isn't there anyone regulating and overseeing the financial industry over there?

In NL, all banks and financial institutions are under strict regulation by the state, and they are strictly monitored, because we realise that without a solid, trustworthy financial structure, your economy is in serious danger. If people lose confidence in their banks - simply put - and withdraw their money, the whole economy will collapse.

This is what is happening now in the US. The financial system is collapsing, and had the government controlled it much more tightly, this would have never happened.

Why do you think that so far, this large financial crisis left NL more or less untouched, even though we have one of the most outward-facing (and thusly supposedly the most affected) economies in the world? Exactly - because our system of monitoring and controlling the financial institutions in order to foster confidence is working.

People who advocate no governmental meddling at all (Libertarians) should take a long hard look at the world, and realise the countries which have the lowest crime rates, the best monetary distribution, the most equality, the least amount of people living below the poverty line, and the happiest people are welfare states.

Like I said on my weblog today, show me one example of a libertarian governmental model working out better for citizens than a welfare model as seen in most European countries. Just one.

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: 1984
by MamiyaOtaru on Fri 26th Sep 2008 02:26 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: 1984"
MamiyaOtaru Member since:
2005-11-11

"On this side of the pond - well, in NL at least - we look with amazement towards what's happening in the US. People receiving mortgage and loans even though they aren't credit-worthy?"

What you seem to be missing out on is that it is the government's fault so many non credit worthy people got mortgages and loans. You've been given the links in this very talk section.

Here's another from 1999:
"Fannie Mae, the nation's biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits."
- http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C0DE7DB153EF933A057... (the pressures alluded to in the article were painted as a positive thing)

OK yeah, maybe it looks a little weird to you to see us happy to leave companies out to dry when they fail. For us it's the flip side of being able to take risks and get ahead. People losing homes a: maybe shouldn't have tried to get them in the first place (but were free to try, a good thing) and b: were encouraged to do so by government pressure on financial institutions. The blame is split between freedom/risk taking, which we like (and hey, it's worked pretty well for us for the most part), and the government. Hardly any surprise then that it's the government that gets most of the flak.

Edited 2008-09-26 02:27 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: 1984
by Flatland_Spider on Thu 25th Sep 2008 14:34 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: 1984"
Flatland_Spider Member since:
2006-09-01

It's not so weird. The assumption that there was too little government assumes this was a market created problem. It's not; the government played a huge role in creating it.

In this instance, the politicians used the government to enable the banks to give out risky loans, which they mandated the banks do, rather then letting the market handle it. Simplification: the problem was caused by the government meddling in financial affairs.

The majority of people don't want the government bailing out companies. They would rather let them sink, so the perception of government meddling is very high. Also, the political atmosphere is very charged here. If the government started handed out free kittens, people would complain it was being irresponsible and moan about how much the kittens are costing us. Not to mention it isn't considering the cat problem down the road when the free kittens start breeding.

http://iusbvision.wordpress.com/2008/09/21/in-plain-english-how-did...

http://hotair.com/archives/2008/09/23/video-whos-responsible-for-th...

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: 1984
by amagi on Thu 25th Sep 2008 15:46 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: 1984"
amagi Member since:
2007-06-04

"The recent financial crisis is an example of what happens when there is too much government.


That's a weird assessment. The situation is as bad as it is in the US exactly because there was TOO LITTLE government. Had the US gov stepped up earlier to properly protect its citizens, the mess would be far less bad than it is now.

I've never heard the "too much government" as a cause for the recent financial crisis. Any sources, perhaps? Genuinely interested.
"

It's not all that weird. If you're really interested just google "Austrian Business Cycle Theory" or just head straight for the source and visit http://mises.org

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: 1984
by irbis on Thu 25th Sep 2008 15:59 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: 1984"
irbis Member since:
2005-07-08


Ludwig von Mises Institute is a strongly political institute promoting its own economic and political agenda and so having rather biased opinions about things. It seems that usually they first have their preferred goal and conclusion in mind and after that try to write a theory that could support it (nothing new in that though, as far as economic and social sciences are spoken of...).

Besides of the Austrian school "Anarcho-capitalist thinkers such as Murray Rothbard have also had a strong influence on the Institute's work". "The Institute's stated goal is to undermine statism in all its forms." "The Institute is generally critical of statism and democracy, with the latter being described in Institute publications as 'coercive', 'incompatible with wealth creation' and 'replete with inner contradictions'." "The Institute's economic theories depict any government intervention as destructive, whether through welfare, inflation, taxation, regulation, or war."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludwig_von_Mises_Institute

Edited 2008-09-25 16:08 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: 1984
by amagi on Thu 25th Sep 2008 16:31 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: 1984"
amagi Member since:
2007-06-04


Ludwig von Mises Institute is a strongly political institute promoting its own economic and political agenda and so having rather biased opinions about things. It seems that usually they first have their preferred goal and conclusion in mind and after that try to write a theory that could support it (nothing new in that though, as far as economic and social sciences are spoken of...).

Besides of the Austrian school "Anarcho-capitalist thinkers such as Murray Rothbard have also had a strong influence on the Institute's work". "The Institute's stated goal is to undermine statism in all its forms." "The Institute is generally critical of statism and democracy, with the latter being described in Institute publications as 'coercive', 'incompatible with wealth creation' and 'replete with inner contradictions'." "The Institute's economic theories depict any government intervention as destructive, whether through welfare, inflation, taxation, regulation, or war."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludwig_von_Mises_Institute
"
That's nice, if inaccurate and irrelevant. The theories I'm referencing, particularly related to money, interest and causes of the business cycle are older than either the institute or Rothbard himself.

Thom asked for sources of this alternate explanation and I provided one.

Everyone has an agenda. The people attempting to explain this debacle away as a "failure of capitalism" and "too little government regulation" have a vested interest in expanding the role of the state in financial markets just as much as others have an interest in removing these government induced disasters. The statists have the added impetus that they are attempting to shift blame away from themselves and their policies.

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: 1984
by irbis on Thu 25th Sep 2008 16:58 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: 1984"
irbis Member since:
2005-07-08

I'm not interested in blaming anyone for the possible current economic crisis anywhere, and neither have I any "vested interest interest in expanding the role of the state in financial markets" anywhere. Economy is complicated and blaming this or that entity for all the economic problems is short-sighted and useless.

But what I would like to see more is people looking for and working together towards common good instead of just fighting each other and for the money and ultimate power without much concern for others. For that end, government intervention like laws and regulations are a clear necessity, otherwise we would be living in a wild anarchy without any rules or someone taking care that the rules are followed. Or would we really want to see, say, several private police companies competing for best protection deals instead of a democratically regulated state police and laws?

I rather live a in a free market economy than in a some totalitarian communist state, that's for sure, but neither is free market economy in itself only an almighty god that solves all the social and economic problems automatically. Anarcho-capitalist ideology http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarcho-capitalism without any regulations or democratic government to look after those regulations is as much a Utopian myth like Communism is and dangerously close to a secular civil religion in some people's minds.

That's nice, if inaccurate and irrelevant.

Like how? I was just quoting a Wikipedia article. You can try to correct the original encyclopedia article if you disagree with it.

Edited 2008-09-25 17:08 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: 1984
by kaiwai on Fri 26th Sep 2008 03:09 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: 1984"
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

"The recent financial crisis is an example of what happens when there is too much government.


That's a weird assessment. The situation is as bad as it is in the US exactly because there was TOO LITTLE government. Had the US gov stepped up earlier to properly protect its citizens, the mess would be far less bad than it is now.

I've never heard the "too much government" as a cause for the recent financial crisis. Any sources, perhaps? Genuinely interested.
"

Incorrect. Look at the laws passed by congress to force banks to lend to people with low or no credit history under the guise of 'stopping discrimination'. To quote the Rand Institute:

Washington, D.C.--“Everyone is blaming ‘the free market’ for today’s financial crisis,” observed Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute. “But we should be blaming the unfree market. The mortgage and financial markets have been thoroughly controlled by government--and that is why they failed.

“It was the government’s hand in the creation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Federal Reserve Board’s inflationary policy of keeping interest rates artificially low, the irrational lending standards forced on lenders by the federal Community Reinvestment Act, and the quasi-official policy of bailing out large financial institutions deemed too big to fail, that contributed to creating a situation in which millions of people were buying homes they could not afford, in which the participants experienced the illusion of prosperity, in which billions upon billions of dollars were going into bad investments.

“We do not need more regulation or economic ‘supervision.’ What we need to do is remove the government’s power to coerce, bribe, reward and bail out irrational decisions. The unfree market has failed. It’s time for a truly free market.”€


There have been more indepth analysis of this; both the Republicans and Democrats have meddled in the economy and caused the crisis. The same thing happened back in the depression as well. Too bad we have born again marxists trying to turn this into a class of classes rather than what it really is - government screwing things up yet again.

Edited 2008-09-26 03:12 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: 1984
by irbis on Fri 26th Sep 2008 19:55 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: 1984"
irbis Member since:
2005-07-08

The USA has had one of the freest market economy there is in the world. US companies are given, by the government, quite free hands to arrange their business as they see best. For example, in many European countries governments control the economy much more than in the USA, yet we are talking about the economic crisis is the USA now, not in the EU.

As to loans given to ordinary people too easily, one should also ask why the same thing hasn't happened elsewhere in the world, and why so many American people have got or needed so many loans? Why is there such a loan system in the USA? Most sane people don't want to take expensive loans just for fun even if encouraged to do so. Could it have something to do with many other things in the US society and economy too than just some politicians forcing banks to give people loans?

"Born again marxists"...? I'm sure there may be a couple of hardcore Marxists left even in the USA still, but those few oddballs surely have nothing to do with the current US economic situation.

Biased and narrow-minded thinking whether right or left-wing is no lasting solution to serious nationwide problems.

Let's not oversimplify things or paint the situation in black and white, good guys against the bad guys, our perfect ideology against their evil ideology. Economy is complicated and the nationwide economic situation is always the sum of all things in the society.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: 1984
by erikharmon on Fri 26th Sep 2008 14:51 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: 1984"
erikharmon Member since:
2007-06-20

The government harassed banks into giving out loans to non-creditworthy people based on a theory that homeownership created better citizens because they had a stake in the economy and a stable life. The practice of only giving loans to the people who could likely pay them back was called "racist" because many poor people are minorities and recent or illegal immigrants. Once the subprime market got opened up, banks got stupid greedy and that's why you see 500,000 dollar houses being sold under "subprime" loans to middle class people that could easily afford a reasonable house within their means, but were pushed a McMansion at a variable rate. Banks are greedy of course, and are culpable in many ways, but the government caused this by coercing banks into starting an entirely new field of risky loans. It's actually kind of funny how it ties into illegal immigration and the McMansion phenomenon, you've got more poor people who need a place to live, they can't afford houses, you open up the subprime lending field which causes a construction boom which cries for more cheap labor in the form of illegal immigrants who need houses. Construction is huge, they are now pushing bigger houses because they know that no matter how much money you make you can get a (risky) loan for a HUGE house. The contractor builds it and pockets the money from the bank, who cares if the people foreclose, you just sell it to someone else.

So the government messing with banking out of a mentally deficient idea of "equality" hastened a banking collapse, increased consumption of giant, low-quality and wasteful housing, and encouraged massive illegal immigration for construction jobs. Even when people lost their houses the jerks in construction and banking made their money and didn't care, this became a "crisis" when the banks foreclosed so many houses that they couldn't sell them again promptly, so they were sitting on mountains of rapidly depreciating houses that were costing them money instead of making money. Banks only make money from occupied houses they own.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: 1984
by modmans2ndcoming on Thu 25th Sep 2008 13:55 UTC in reply to "RE: 1984"
modmans2ndcoming Member since:
2005-11-09

Most of those peopel giving up freedom for security are the generations that grew up in the early years of 1984 being in publication.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: 1984
by modmans2ndcoming on Thu 25th Sep 2008 13:57 UTC in reply to "RE: 1984"
modmans2ndcoming Member since:
2005-11-09

Too much government?

You are kidding right? This problem stemmed from banks not regulating themselves. There was a need for more government in order to keep these greedy morons from givng credit to the uncredit worthy.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: 1984
by Sophotect on Thu 25th Sep 2008 19:27 UTC in reply to "RE: 1984"
Sophotect Member since:
2006-04-26

You have forgotten to mention "Brave New World" from Aldous Huxley, these two go hand in hand in describing the same totalitarian thing from different points of view.

Yah, well, gimme my SOMA.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: 1984
by kaiwai on Fri 26th Sep 2008 03:17 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: 1984"
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

You have forgotten to mention "Brave New World" from Aldous Huxley, these two go hand in hand in describing the same totalitarian thing from different points of view.

Yah, well, gimme my SOMA.


You're right - just look at this generation. its like a nation of SOMA takers - "I can't handle this, so I'll take a drug to fix it".

The "Brace New World" on the other hand is a headonistic, nihlistic dystopia. What we are living in today isn't the age of atheism, we are living in an age of headonistic nihlism where storm term pleasure and satisfaction is the aim of the game.

Reply Score: 2

What is this CNN?
by ratatosk on Thu 25th Sep 2008 14:03 UTC
ratatosk
Member since:
2008-07-01

If one were to Google Ron Paul it'd easily be possible to find opinions expressed that would find government culpable. While the crooks are on Wall Street various forms of government interference/intervention provided a framework that now allows this crisis to occur. The subject is complex but at a basic level most ask: "How did so many default on mortgages?" This is directly related to well-meaning government action:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community_Reinvestment_Act

This act *required* the lenders to give to the "uncredit worthy" and provided special treatment for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Edited 2008-09-25 14:08 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: What is this CNN?
by adkilla on Thu 25th Sep 2008 16:10 UTC in reply to "What is this CNN?"
adkilla Member since:
2005-07-07

You may then want to read about this law:
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2008/05/bankruptcy-refor...

and this documentary:
http://books.google.com/books?id=zjHTClK0qyQC

You will then see how FICO works and that the Federal Reserve is owned by private banks. Ever wondered why credit cards are issued to freshman college students in America? In europe and asia, you need to demonstrate your ability to repay credit (either with assets or a job) even before you could get your paws on a credit card.

The financial industry is too large to be regulated, they regulate themselves. In the US, if you are rich and powerful, you can lobby for any laws to be put in place.

Reply Score: 3

Governments fault
by smitty on Fri 26th Sep 2008 20:25 UTC
smitty
Member since:
2005-10-13

The people who are talking about how the government caused this problem are certainly partially right. The 2 basic tenets of the Bush economic policy have been

1. that giving money to the rich will trickle down through the economy and help everyone, and

2. that everyone should own a home, and the US would become an "ownership society".

Point #2 almost certainly contributed to the problems we are now seeing. (and i'm not just blaming bush, really every recent president has encouraged the same type of thing)

It would be a huge mistake to blame everything on that, though. This entire problem could have been avoided if risky loans had actually been regarded and treated as risky. Instead, the banks treated them as extremely safe investments, under the theory that housing prices would continue to rise at a high rate. Since these loans were considered both highly profitable and safe, they were widely embraced by every single person on Wall Street, and that is why you haven't seen a single investment bank survive this.

This was a classic boom/bust cycle in the economy, and those can happen quite naturally without any kind of government interference. In this case the govt might have encouraged the bad behaviour, but blaming them for everything is like blaming McDonalds for making you fat. Exercising a little restraint could made this a minor downturn instead of a huge issue.

Reply Score: 3

American psychology
by Quag7 on Fri 26th Sep 2008 22:13 UTC
Quag7
Member since:
2005-07-28

I've always thought that the reason for suspicion of regulation or intevention in financial markets is that the American mind equates this with things like censorship, illegal search and seizure, eminent domain, and so forth.

To an American who opposes government involvement in the economy and social affairs, these are all the same thing. Many Americans see the very wealthy and think, "That could be me." The US does not have the same kind of class consciousness you find in other parts of the world (where it exists, it is racial - acting "too white" or whatever, the crabs in a bucket thing).

Libertarians certainly are the vanguard of people who think this way. To them the "initiation of force" involved in banning a book has an analog in things they call "restraint of trade" or other regulations.

This is also a masculine culture, where self-sufficiency is, at least among libertarians and traditional conservatives, one one of the major values. The hostility to the welfare state comes either from moral grounds (robbing Peter to pay Paul, aka initiation of force by Paul), utilitarian ones (trickle-down economics, basically), or just an outright hostility to rewarding dependence. Most Europeans do not have the same worldview or perspective. I have tried to understand both.

Increasingly I am of the mind that different peoples of the world are in different situations, and that maybe one political system that is appropriate for one people is not appropriate for others. I am fairly certain I wouldn't personally feel any less free living in, say, Sweden, than I do here in the US. But I don't really connect myself to guys like Warren Buffett so there you have it.

But getting back to this, the same hand, then, that regulates banking, to these folks also is the same one that "meddles" in economic affairs. Honest libertarians and conservatives see this as an opportunity for a lot of rich people to rightly lose their shirt, along with (what they probably regard as) careless investors being taught an important lesson (My personal objection is the way these loan products were "encrypted" into the market in a way no reasonable person could ever untangle, but that's a separate issue).

In recent years, I have noticed that corporations especially walk like little fiefdoms, talk like little fiefdoms, and in essence act largely with impunity. Corporations may not be government, but they are close enough for me to have the same distrust and suspicion of them as I do government. The subtle difference of sovereignty that seems important to libertarians is one I do not share. And as I believe government ought to be restrained by law, as much as possible, I have come to believe the same of corporations.

We also live in a country that, some people say, starts false wars. If you haven't heard of it, read the articles on the Tuskeegee Syphilis Experiments or COIntelPro or MK-Ultra, or even Japanese internment during WW2. There's a whole history of horrible abuse and authoritarianism in the US that gets a lot of people wound up about state power (understandably and in most cases, in my opinion, rightly.)

Our own cultural and political history is rooted in a small, non-interventionist government. This goes a long way back. It will not change. The US's alleged "obsession" with firearms is part of this. When people understand Second Amendment people in the United States - truly understand them rather than stereotype them, make strawmen, or imagine they have an understanding of this from television) - most other things will also be understandable.

The sovereignty of the *individual* is what I think lies at the basis of most of this kind of political thinking. That "in the beginning" there is the sovereign individual who then grants government powers in the interests of protecting his rights and interests. Sovereignty flows from the individual to the government, and not the other way around. This is, in American thinking, not nearly as abstract as it sounds. This is very nearly a national religious belief. It is a radical reconception of the relationship between the individual and government - proposed by radicals, implemented by radicals, and still lying, often dormant but still present, in the soul of most modern Americans.

I don't apologize for this. I'm happy to live a country that despises statism to the degree so many Americans do (the ones who aren't hypocritical about it, which many, admittedly, are).

But what I don't understand or share is this idea that modern multinational corporations are distinctly separate from governments or that, even in a kind of libertarian utopia, they could or would ever allow themselves to be limited to that. The money and power amassed in such entities is a *self corrupting mechanism*. And even if you can somehow get the government to not tap your phones and arrest your protesters, I'm not sure you'll ever get corporations to not act that way. Corporations *will* pollute rivers, streams, and air, because they operate with impunity, paying fines as a *tax* or *cost of doing business*. If absolute power corrupts absolutely, my opinion is, so does money. As matter is a kind of "frozen energy," so, too, is money a kind of "frozen power." I used to be on the other side. I used to be a libertarian. I am not anymore.

In the vacuum of political power, economic power will step in. That's just my political position.

But arguably, given the US government's conduct in recent years (with help from their corporate friends in Halliburton and defense companies), I would posit that if you are not an American, greater American contempt for government can only help you and the world situation at large. My only hope is people begin to understand that while power corrupts, money does too. Money is simply frozen, transferrable power.

You are free to disagree with this assessment, but I really think people abroad think they have an understanding of American attitudes, or think they understand Americans as simple, deluded people, and in some cases this is fair, but in many cases, it isn't.

I've lived here now for 36 years and I still cannot posit a grand unification theory of the United States, everything I just typed notwithstanding (even it is only broadly or generally true).

How one country can contain Mississippi and San Francisco and still be the same country, I do not know.

But I despise unchecked government.
And I despised unchecked financial/economic power.

The effect, to me, is the same. The consequences are the same.

That said, I could be wrong, and no one gets kicked away from my table for thinking differently. We all walk in our own shoes, and we all come from different countries, backgrounds, civilizations, and no one is omniscient. I wonder how my thinking would be different if I grew up in another country. It might well be. But I also wonder how the thinking of people who grew up in Europe or elsewhere might be different if they grew up here.

The hardest thing in my life is to detach myself from my own ideas and really try to understand what it is like for others. I think Americans are particularly bad at this. I don't apologize for a lot of the things people try to tar us with, but this is definitely a weakness of ours as a culture.

The Internet helps.

Sorry for all the politics; I really do try to stay on topic here.

Reply Score: 4

RE: American psychology
by RandomGuy on Fri 26th Sep 2008 23:50 UTC in reply to "American psychology"
RandomGuy Member since:
2006-07-30

But I despise unchecked government.
And I despised unchecked financial/economic power.

The effect, to me, is the same. The consequences are the same.


Amen!

Actually, libertarians creep me out just about as much as communists.
I don't really care if I'm getting enslaved by corporations or governments.
I'd just like to keep my freedom. Blind faith in ideologies, be it capitalism or communism, is something that scares the sh*t out of me. Unfortunately, a lot of politicians display a complete lack of common sense...

Reply Score: 2

Libertarianism and the Anarchist Utopia
by irbis on Sun 28th Sep 2008 21:27 UTC
irbis
Member since:
2005-07-08

The fact that even someone like Noam Chomsky describes himself as as a libertarian socialist http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noam_Chomsky tells about the dominance of libertarian thought in the US political thinking and of the diversity of libertarian thought too.

However, in common thought libertarianism usually means very liberal economic philosophy that tends to oppose practically every form of government control in economy.

Minarchism, a moderate form of libertarianism acknowledges the necessity of a state government, but claims that it should be minimal and only protect the liberty and property of each individual. They at least admit the fact that we cannot live without laws, legislation, police force etc. However, some right wing libertarians claim that minarchism can actually be closer to Big Government thinking than to genuine libertarian thought. In a similar vein some libertarians themselves claim that anarcho-capitalism is the only logically consistent form of libertarian belief.

Personally I can understand people being afraid of (potentially) totalitarian governments. That understandable fear seems to motivate many libertarians too. But I cannot understand the belief that the economy (big corporations etc.) all by itself, could control crimes and other such bad things in a society without the help of any government control.

Corporations are typically driven by profit as their highest goal, they need not have any higher ideals than that in order to be successful, although many corporations may also have some higher goals like good service to their customers etc.

For example, many very successful international criminal organizations work much like big corporations too. What makes them criminal and different from other business is legislation and government control. In a total anarchy there would be no higher power saying that this or that action would be criminal, practically giving all sorts of criminals free hands to kill, rob and do what ever they wish.

Nowadays almost everyone (except the totalitarian governments themselves) seems to oppose totalitarian governments and supports individual freedoms. However, as to libertarian politics, corrupt corporatocracy is a serious danger too, a weak government controlled by big corporations. I doubt it would support individual liberties and rights much better than a totalitarian state government would, all by itself.

I think the key word here is democracy. People who oppose democracy seem odd to me; they would either like to replace democratically elected governments with some supposedly enlightened elite (basically a one party system) not responsible for its actions to the people, believing that the elite always knows things better than the people do - or they support anarchy and see democracy as a too slow and bureaucratic form of government. However, I'm sure that even primitive stone age people, like all other societies too, had their own kind of very sophisticated social organization and rules and did not live in total anarchy. Organized, transparent and balanced democratic decision making can sometimes seem slow and bureucratic with all its phases of consulting experts and listening to various parties etc. but that may simply be the price to be paid for balanced and good decision making.

Anarchy always seems like a temporary phase in society before people get their society arranged again or someone takes the power by force. Better to hand the power to democratically elected governments that use power transparently, take care of legislation and other basic needs of a society, and are directly responsible to people for their actions than to believe in some Utopian laissez-faire anarchism that would have no laws and no entities to prevent crimes and other counter-constructive actions from hurting everyone.

Edited 2008-09-28 21:41 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Paranoid Linux
by Almafeta on Mon 29th Sep 2008 09:46 UTC
Almafeta
Member since:
2007-02-22

Sorry to distract everyone from the banal politicking, but there was something interesting in the article mentioned. Apparently, a fictional distro from the novel is being made into reality:

http://paranoidlinux.org/

To quote the site and the book that spawned it, "Paranoid Linux is an operating system that assumes that its operator is under assault from the government (it was intended for use by Chinese and Syrian dissidents), and it does everything it can to keep your communications and documents a secret."

My own OS design thoughts have always leaned towards that goal... or at least, security through "What the hell is this crazy system?!" obscurity. Simply put, it would be wonderful to have this out there. At least until the various governments start making things like encrypted filesystems illegal, that is...

( And yes, I know it's odd for me to be excited over something Linux-based. I can always hope the relevant bits of PL will be free (MIT, BSD) instead of copyleft. )

Reply Score: 2