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The Golden Bore

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  1. bionaut
    Member

    I am hijacking @Norman_Gold's reply to my post on the MP and Rush thread. Let's see if anyone finds this interesting...

    @bionaut, Cape Cod - that's something! My daughter went there once during her stay in Boston.

    I am 55 years old, born and raised in Germany. Due to my profession as a sales engineer for an industrial company, I lived nearly half of my adult life in other countries, mostly out of main cities, where I helped to build up local branches. Since the fall of the iron curtain, I'm an avid observer on the effects of globalization and multilateralism, its impacts for the various social classes and, of course, the political arrangement. By 1992 and eventually with the partly un- and antidemocratic implementation of the Maastricht Treaty then, I was confident that this all won't work out the way the elites would like to have it.

    Just before Super Tuesday: Who is your favourite candidate so far for the 3rd. of November?

    Bernie. Go...

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  2. Norman_Gold
    Member

    bionaut, thanks for opening this thread. I hope that we get posts here from various members, covering the whole spectrum.

    As I wrote a lot so far, please tell me: What are your views / preferences / beliefs? Why Bernie? What is your opinion on Trump and his agenda?

    Posted 2 weeks ago #
  3. Norman_Gold
    Member

    Hans Boller:

    Wow Norman, I'm impressed!

    Thanks Referencing to your post in the other thread: You obviously understood parts of my post totally wrong, by 180 degrees. As your post comes by partly mazy and as an emotional rant, it would help if you read my post again slowly, carefully.

    supernaut:

    I don't get how Norman's ramblings are not patronizing or snobbish but I'd be happy to have this board chilled. There's enough of these holier than thou and I have facts to crush your petty opinions "discussions" all over the webs and so far this phorum has been quite uniquely devoid of those. So that's it for me.

    I understand that it's cozy to stay in your safe space, consuming the synchronized coverage of the mainstream media, surrounded by like-minded people. Unity instead of diversity, confirmation instead of dissent.

    You have "facts to crush your petty opinions"? Bring them! Because I don't believe you. And don't take your "it's too stupid for me"-attitude as an alibi to hold back.

    Posted 2 weeks ago #
  4. Johnny_Heartfield
    Member

    If every unbeliever in mainstream media and mainstream political institutions and organisations spits his bile into this thread we might soon have an ocean of gob...
    Not because the evil centralized press/government/holding co. pisses of everybody (sometimes it does...), but because so many people get hysterized by their small-minded opinion bubbles and believe their smartphone-generated trash information every word while at the same time accusing well-researched and well-written "official" news of lying.

    I don't believe everything published in the "mainstream", but still I was quite happy to have a corner here to discuss and trade opinions free from the hysterized conspiracy discussions that seem to overflow everwhere. Please keep it like that - there's too many half-wits out there, so let's keep them out (or ban them inside this thread).
    Awaiting your anger-fueled replies

    Posted 2 weeks ago #
  5. bionaut
    Member

    I propose that we all agree that this thread is not a safe space. That said, I do not intend to bring anger to the conversation. We all need to figure out how to talk to people who hold ideas we cannot understand. So, my views, preferences, beliefs in no particular order...

    I live in what seems to be the most fucked up country on the planet. Dave Wyndorf, a great American philosopher, sums it well...

    "I fed my dog the American dream
    He rolled over and he started to scream
    He said, I dig the taste of salt,
    But it won't keep me alive"

    There is a lot to unpack in that statement, but suffice it to say that America is a place where the dogs are smarter than the people. That, in a nutshell, is how Donald Trump got elected.

    I first became aware of Trump in the 1970's when I was a teenager. I lived near NYC, and this guy was in the local news all the time. It was clear to me that the guy was a self-centered asshole of the first order, and I have never understood the fascination. Interesting anecdote: Keith Richards once had to be restrained from knifing The Donald (look it up).

    I will give Trump one thing. He is probably the greatest con man of all time. I say this grudgingly, as Titanic Thompson really deserves the title. Titanic never conned a country into electing him president, though. That's a game changer.

    Trump captures the worst qualities of America and humanity in general. All this talk of Ayn Rand is nonsense when you try to apply it to Trump. Trump is an animal. He does not think like a human. He does not care about you, or me, or anybody else. He only has eyes for the mirror. This is not what Ayn Rand espoused. I think this article discusses this concept well enough...

    https://ari.aynrand.org/the-anti-intellectuality-of-donald-trump-why-ayn-rand-would-have-despised-a-president-trump/

    As far as the socialism discussion goes, let's not lose sight of the truth. America is a socialist country right now and has been for some time. We just practice socialism in our own way. Our government gives money to corporations too fucked up to stay in business without help on a regular basis. That's how American socialism works. It is selective, just like racism. It starts with the 14th Amendment, and we keep the party going with the Citizens United decision. Corporations have the rights of an individual, and campaign contributions are free speech. Ha ha ha!

    So, here we have Bernie Sanders running for president. He is not a prefect person, but he is authentic. He's an actual bomb thrower. He's not conning anybody. If he would just start playing MC5 as his walk-on music at campaign events... but I digress. America needs to stop itself. We are a runaway train. No other candidate is up to the task.

    Posted 2 weeks ago #
  6. Norman_Gold
    Member

    America is a socialist country right now and has been for some time. We just practice socialism in our own way. Our government gives money to corporations too fucked up to stay in business without help on a regular basis. That's how American socialism works. It is selective, just like racism. It starts with the 14th Amendment, and we keep the party going with the Citizens United decision.

    I see your point, and I'm partly with you. But that's not a kind of socialism, it's corporatism with Hillary Clinton as its most popular representative back in 2016. Implemented at least a decade earlier, it culminated in the Troubled Asset Relief Program in 2008. By 100% this would have turned out differently under Trump.

    But in your view, he "captures the worst qualities of America and humanity in general", he is an "animal", "does not think like a human", "the greatest con man of all time"; America "the most fucked up country on the planet" - really? To answer on such absolute negativity is impossible. To what do you compare? So any other country on the planet would suit your needs better than America? How do you explain that America has always been - and still is - the most preferred destination for emigrants worldwide? On the opposite: Why have people always desperately tried to leave socialistic governed countries?

    I know people with your views here in Germany. They criticize capitalism, the democratic system, the society, money and wealth as such, the concept of nation states... Ironically, most of them are the ones to benefit most from the circumstances they bash. Our word for this attitude: Geistige Wohlstandsverwahrlosung. Mental neglect due to wealth.

    What they don't bring up - and what I would like to hear from you as well - are better alternatives. Because if they throw in ideas, their relic proposals proved to have failed numerous times, everywhere they have been applied. In the west, left-wing politicians and intellectuals were always enthusiastic for countries trying socialism; think of Venezuela as a recent example. Then as soon as the experiment fails, suddenly they state that only the implementation has been done wrong. That leads to the tautology: Only a successful socialism is a correct socialism - but such a socialism doesn't exist until now.

    So the trick is to avoid a comparison of the real existing capitalism with the historic events of socialism, but with the utopia of an equitable, anticapitalistic society. That's equally fair as if you don't compare your marriage with the ones of other couples, but with romantic portrayals in dime novels. Compared to the idealized phantasies of a perfect world, even a successful system as capitalism turns out bad, though in the last decades it liberated hundreds of million people, especially in Asia, out of bitter poverty.

    Posted 2 weeks ago #
  7. Johnny_Heartfield
    Member

    They criticize capitalism, the democratic system, the society, money and wealth as such, the concept of nation states... Ironically, most of them are the ones to benefit most from the circumstances they bash. Our word for this attitude: Geistige Wohlstandsverwahrlosung. Mental neglect due to wealth.

    I must admit there is some US bashing by political idiots here in Germany who rather prefer to lick Putin's ass. But there is also a lot of criticism of US Government and a lack of understanding of more special aspects of the US American way of life that does not necessarily reject democracy or capitalism as a whole. Nevertheless our understanding of democracy is often slightly different and we criticise aspects in the US that to us seem undemocratic. On the other hand many of our social achievements (social security, unemployment and health insurance, tax system) appear quite socialist to many Americans and they are very supprised when they learn that not a communist government but the Kaiser's right hand and Reichskanzler Bismarck introduced them.

    Criticism of the excesses of capitalism has been a part of our Western European culture for centuries - as well as the view that capitalism has developped over the centuries and will change again - without disappearing totally, but the way it is these days is not set in stone forever. For me and several of my friends who have been to the US a permanent life there is unimaginable. At the same time these people mostly stress the very open and kind nature of most of the people they met - apart from the natural beauty of the counry, whis is out of question. So the critical view of US and US lifestyle here is quite differentiated and not always as plump and aggresively anti-American as you mentioned.
    The fact that America is still a favourite goal for the poor and uneducated (and scientists and artists who rather enjoy the radical, if unsocial freedom of the US)does not mean the US of A is the best, most democratic and most enjoyable place on the world to live in - as an American you may have that feeling - good for you, but I certainly don't think so. Despite its weeknesses and shortcomings Europe, that is the EU, is still the place to be for me and will hopefully remain so. Especially if you count the number of Motorpsycho Concerts over the years in Norway, Holland, Germany or Italy compared to those in the US

    Posted 2 weeks ago #
  8. bionaut
    Member

    Hi Norman, Sorry to go dark for a bit. I have a busy life!

    Absolute negativity? That's funny. You don't get America.

    In any case, the truly interesting part of this discussion is the question of better alternatives. I am not the guy to do the heavy lifting here, but I will tell you that one person who has the right of things is Noam Chomsky. If you are familiar with his thinking, then you know what I am talking about.

    Chomsky's basic position on the better alternative is the, "lesser of two evils," solution. Normally, I would not want to hear about that kind of thinking, but in his case, I get it. He thinks Bernie would be the least evil. Why? Let us first understand that we are talking about a metric other than money.

    You see, the flaw in so many arguments is the attempt to measure well-being with financial metrics. To me, that is nonsense. Maybe to you, it's not. Let me ask a question. What does the word 'soul' mean to you?

    Posted 1 week ago #
  9. suntripper
    Member

    I am not entirely trusting of Chomsky. He is very clever, and very persuasive, and a number of things he says make a lot of sense. However, I wonder whether he himself is, in a way, an example of what he ascribes to other individuals and institutions when he accuses them of occupying a position which controls opposition and essentially says "this far and no further".

    Do I think we should be looking further to the left than Chomsky? Absolutely not. That, I believe, really is dangerous territory. I question, anyway, the whole left/right paradigm. The kind of limitation I am coming to suspect that Chomsky represents (and, bear with me, because this is thinking-in-progress on my part) is one that keeps us in what I'll call the mainstream mindset (although I'm not very satisfied by that term).

    Have a look at how he addresses - or fails to address - the issue of the (privately-owned) Federal Reserve and the debt-based money system. (As for 9/11 (yup, I brought it up!), he won't go near it.)

    There are plenty coming from the right as well as the left who can see there is something very wrong. I would suggest that, for a section on the left, Chomsky is doing a similar deceptive disservice to that Trump is doing to a section on the right.

    But I could be wrong on both counts.

    Posted 1 week ago #
  10. Norman_Gold
    Member

    Hello again to all of you!

    Chomsky's basic position on the better alternative is the, "lesser of two evils,"

    Sorry, but it's just common thinking for any grown-up to realize that the one perfect solution, if at all, only rarely exists. That's my point when I name the advocates of socialistic ideas as infantile. Their dreaming of a perfect, harmonized, synchronized society is not only totally naive, but it has been proven numerous times that the attempts to install paradise on earth leads into hell: Poverty, doom, injustice, corruption, misfortune, early mortality, mass unemployment (ok, that won't impress people on the hard-left as they hate to work anyway), social riot, up to civil war and terror. But in the forefront of that, and because the human being urges instinctively towards liberty, autonomy and self-determination, socialism can only be established in an authoritarian, dictatorial regime. How many more tragic examples are necessary to convince even the dumbest?

    Furthermore, since Chomsky's disgraceful denegation of the Khmer Rouge terror, he is on the same low level as the morons who deny the Holocaust or the Gulag. Ugly.

    What does the word 'soul' mean to you?

    A conception, an imagination, something indefinable - all of which could be used to lead the discussion towards a cloudy, esoteric territory. I had these talks (simplified: Reality vs. Spirituality) with people who either took too many drugs in their life or never overcame their narcissistic, egocentric childish behavior. No, we will have to keep it on solid ground to evaluate the pros and cons of different ideas.

    You see, the flaw in so many arguments is the attempt to measure well-being with financial metrics.

    Totally wrong. There's absolutely no "flaw" in that. Well-being - or being well - primarily depends on wealth, which first builds up and stabilizes the nation, communities, the individual. As soon as basic needs like security and infrastructure are covered, and with more wealth available, a social state can be implemented for the ones in need to have a life in dignity. Now here in Europe, these institutions become more and more sponsors for individuals and groups that would not need support, but are clever enough to utilize the system for themselves in an anti-social way. That's a deeply egoistic behavior that needs to be fought against. I hope that you agree on that.

    1) Free competition in a capitalistic economic environment plus 2) a developed, extensive democracy plus 3) an independent constitutional state - that's the successful combination to lead a society into peace, wealth, happiness. You don't believe it? Then go to meet people in poor countries. Ask them what they whish for a better life. And please don't be as arrogant as some of the rich, fat western intellectuals to tell them that they should kindly be happy to be poor.

    Posted 1 week ago #
  11. Great King Rat
    Member

    Hi everybody!

    @bionaut: I take it you are American? Could you define the term "socialist", please? I've had conversations like these with Americans before and there seems to be quite a big difference between the ways people in the US and in Europe use it.

    @Norman_Gold: Where's the "It has been proven..." from your last post gone? I was gonna refer to that! Nevermind...

    1) Free competition in a capitalistic economic environment plus 2) a developed, extensive democracy plus 3) an independent constitutional state - that's the successful combination to lead a society into peace, wealth, happiness.

    You can put it that way if you like but I think you have to ask the question: at what cost? Or better: whose costs? All of the big industrialized European countries have exploited other countries during the age of imperialism in order to provide ressources for their growing industries. They have taken natural ressources and committed genocides. After the abolishment of colonialism, the exploitation has continued (and still is!) through means of the free market. One of many examples: In the EU too much milk is produced for its inhabitants to consume. So the surplus is turned into milk powder which is then shipped to some poor African state and sold there cheaply. As a consequence, small farmers in that state who made a living on selling milk from their cows are driven out of business because they can't compete with the cheap substitute product from overseas.

    That's a context we can't ignore anymore. Maybe it used to be easier to look the other way when people weren't online 24/7, but today? In the age of globalization and digital communication? I strongly believe that especially we in the Western industrialized countries have to accept and admit that our wealth and progress were erected on the back of others who we've exploited and, again, keep exploiting. I see very little reason why capitalism should be the preferable choice, at least in such an unregulated way as it has always been.

    Idealistically, capitalism is dead. It doesn't live up to its (theoretic) promises, or if it does, only few people benefit. Let's face it, constant growth is an illusion.

    And concerning your last point: Yes, if you go to someone who lacks the basic things in life, that someone would be happy to have more money. But apart from the basics, I argue that people would only measure their well-being or luck with money because they think they need a stupid € 500,-phone or stupid €300,- sneakers or a TV as big as their living room wall. In some small areas around the globe there are still some indiginous tribes who live the way they've lived for centuries, without electricity or money. In our eyes, they're poor, yet the level of contentment is high among those people.

    Posted 1 week ago #
  12. bionaut
    Member

    @suntripper: You sound like someone with whom I could enjoy having a few beers. I look at my initial comments about Chomsky and realize I was too vague. I was simply working on an answer to Norman's question, "Why Bernie?" I should have limited my thoughts about Chomsky more clearly in answer to that question. Chomsky has been around a long time and said a lot of things. I don't know all of it, and I probably wouldn't support all of it if I did. That said, I was thinking of a recent interview in which Chomsky's articulation of why Bernie would be the least evil choice for the next president of the United States made good sense to me. I should have been more clear. I cannot say I agree with everything you are suggesting, but I appreciate your manner and expect we could come to a common understanding in a friendly conversation.

    @Norman_Gold: "infantile", "totally naive", "narcissistic, egocentric childish"... To answer on such absolute negativity is impossible

    When you speak about people who are clever enough to utilize the system for themselves in an anti-social way, I agree that this is a deeply egoistic behavior that should be fought against. Correct me if I am wrong, it seems that you do not count people of excessive wealth in this class. Let's face it, nobody ever 'earned' a billion dollars.

    In response to this:

    1) Free competition in a capitalistic economic environment plus 2) a developed, extensive democracy plus 3) an independent constitutional state - that's the successful combination to lead a society into peace, wealth, happiness. You don't believe it?

    I do believe it is possible. I do not believe any of those three conditions you state exist in America today.

    At the end of the day, I think your 'logic' is self-serving and disconnected, and yes, we will have to talk about spiritual matters if this conversation is going to go anywhere interesting. That said, I am intrigued with your use of the phrase, "the human being." That articulation is rarely heard in America. I use it all the time. Let's forget Chomsky and talk about Steiner.

    @Great King Rat: Yes, I am American. I would have to Google the word 'socialism' for a definition. I'm not gonna lie. I'll take a swing though, socialism is when the state takes your money and gives it to someone else. I think you make a great point about the difference in perception between Europeans and Americans. That's why I decided to get this debate going. I am so curious to learn. I appreciate your comments in response to Norman_Gold, and I think you should join @suntripper and myself for some beers.

    Posted 1 week ago #
  13. Great King Rat
    Member

    @bionaut: Sure, give me a shout when you`ll make it to Europe, I'm always up for a beer!

    That use of the term socialism, which you describe there, has caused me some confusion in the past. To me (and most other Germans, I guess), socialism is a term that first and foremost describes the kind of authoritarian system you could find in the Sowjet Union, former East Germany, China, North Korea and others. So, I would never go as far as you calling the USA a socialist country. As Johnny_Heartfield has pointed out, Germany's social security system has come a long way and is relatively extensive. But in my understanding, that still doesn't make us a socialist country. Our economic system is usually referred to as "Soziale Marktwirtschaft", a social market economy which differs from a free market economy in that it allows the state to set the framework for the economy and intervene to prevent deformations while the latter denies the state that right and lets the market manage everything through its mechanisms. But despite that, our economic system is clearly capitalist - with all its beneficial and detrimental effects.

    And although I do think that capitalism as it is causes more damage than it does good, I wouldn't wanna live (or have lived) in one of the communist countries mentioned above. I'm with Norman on this one, historically, socialism as a system for a society has too often proved itself illegitimate. But that doesn't mean we should embrace capitalism blindly as the only alternative.

    In my view, the state should intervene in the market a great deal more than it does here in Germany. I think we need A LOT more regulation in many fields. And I strongly reject the reflex from the right which claims that every ban or even regulation is an unacceptable intervention in the people's freedom.

    Posted 1 week ago #
  14. Johnny_Heartfield
    Member

    @ Norman_Gold & everyone citing this:

    1) Free competition in a capitalistic economic environment plus 2) a developed, extensive democracy plus 3) an independent constitutional state - that's the successful combination to lead a society into peace, wealth, happiness.

    Seems plausible, but it doesn't work this way any more.
    What is missing is a basic social standard guaranteed - without that and with all the disruptive effects the digital media has on people's minds even a developed democracy with independent constitutional elements can be overthrown or at least damaged. Trump is proving this right now.
    The problem is that given the extreme and increasing gap between a few extremely rich and a great number of poverished people (or people afraid to lose their social standing) - add decreasing education due to lack of finance and effects of digital media - there will always be a large number of people ready to be led astray by unscrupulous "leaders" who claim to be "on their side". Take Trump - a priviledged guy from the beginning - or Johnson, an upper class descendent whose foolish mannerisms make him appear "common guy".
    Democratic institutions and constitutions are only as strong as the people who accept them. Take Poland, take Hungary, take the first stirrings of fascism in England and the USA.

    As for capitalism and "free enterprise": without regulations it will distroy itself. The disruptive effects of unrestricted, neo-liberal economy eat up everything: education, social standards, culture, personal sanity and the already heavily damaged ecosystems.
    I'm not proposing any kind of totalitarian socialism or ecological dictatorship, but a reckoning of social and ecological effects through a regulative system. This may be the only chance to keep capitalism working - a restrained force within, not a destroyer, a killer on the loose.
    As for Chomsky: I share your mistrust of this guy. Like so many of the radical left he tends to ignore the crimes of his totalitarian brothers in faith, be it in Cambodia, China or the former Soviet Union.

    Posted 1 week ago #
  15. bionaut
    Member

    @Great King Rat: I hope to make it to Europe. I have not been on an airplane since 1999. I heard a voice. It said never get on a plane again. Two things are pushing me to take the chance. One, my wife wants the family to see Europe, and two, Motorpsycho! So, if I go, the dates WILL align with a tour

    I love your message about socialism. There is so much for me to learn. Now it is becoming more clear how different America really is.

    Americans have no fucken idea what socialism is. Some of us do, of course, but they are learned folk with some legitimate experience (I do not count myself in this group). Americans are unbelievably ignorant.

    Let me try and restate an American's understanding of socialism. Socialism is a system that robs billionaires of their gains, stealing money from the fossil fuel and defense industries in particular, and gives it to undeserving lazy people. It is helpful to understand that the American 'government' is making this work by demonizing the undeserving and obfuscating the truth, brainwashing hard-working Americans into thinking the government cares about them.

    This is how America is working under Trump. The Republicans create a tax cut for the wealthy. They increase defense spending. They wait a few months and begin to talk about the deficit again. Then, they try to cut social programs. The thing is, you cannot blame it all on the Republicans, because the Democrats really aren't any better. Virtually all of our politicians have been purchased by extreme wealth, and they work to satisfy their masters. This is not democracy. This is unfettered capitalism ridden with corruption, and it will get worse.

    @Johnny_Heartfield: I am in harmony with your thinking, and I believe I have addressed much of what you are talking about in my rant above. You are also invited to join us for beers.

    Let me just say that the contours of this debate are becoming more clear to me, and I feel enlivened.

    @Norman_Gold: Money is a tiny God for tiny minds (thanks to Stefan K).

    Posted 1 week ago #
  16. Norman_Gold
    Member

    @suntripper

    I would suggest that, for a section on the left, Chomsky is doing a similar deceptive disservice to that Trump is doing to a section on the right.

    Trump can not be identified as your usual enemy image on the right. His agenda is centered, specified to the working middle class and small- to medium business. He is hated by the aristocratic class of global big business, big banks and their affiliates in global politics.

    Take corporatism: (Bill) Clinton, Blair, Schröder, Obama. These social democratic leaders made a pact with the devil: To promote their left-ideological agenda of internationalism (abolishment of the nation state to get it ultimately replaced by a one world central government, plus the total ethic mix of people), they dealt hand in glove with the mightiest multinational companies and the institutions who represent the rules-based international order. Both with the same goal: A multi-ethic, borderless world as undemocratic as the EU or China. One government, one policy, one currency, total control.

    That’s the main reason why I’m such a hyped up cheerleader for The Donald. I was relieved in 2016 that there is a guy who addresses these issues, with Hillary as the rival who stated that she would drive centralization and globalism even further. I’m delighted about the results of Trumps policy so far.

    @Great King Rat

    Where's the "It has been proven..." from your last post gone?

    Implicitly check out the UN World Happiness Report! Indicators are GDP, Social support, Healthy life expectancy, Freedom to make life choices, Generosity, Perceptions of corruption. The detailed ranking is on Wikipedia.

    All of the big industrialized European countries have exploited other countries during the age of imperialism in order to provide ressources for their growing industries. They have taken natural ressources and committed genocides. After the abolishment of colonialism, the exploitation has continued (and still is!) through means of the free market.

    This description is far too simple, one-sided, negative, mostly wrong. The usual accuse of the clumsy left. I could easily write a ton of arguments and facts against your hollow statement and certainly will be happy to do so if you are interested.

    In the EU too much milk is produced for its inhabitants to consume. So the surplus is turned into milk powder which is then shipped to some poor African state and sold there cheaply. As a consequence, small farmers in that state who made a living on selling milk from their cows are driven out of business because they can't compete with the cheap substitute product from overseas.

    The failure is on the bad government of the states in Africa! No one is obligated to import milk powder from the EU. They could ban the import, put taxes on it to protect their domestic economy. It's totally mazy to accuse the local supplier for the misfeature in the recipient countries.

    I strongly believe that especially we in the Western industrialized countries have to accept and admit that our wealth and progress were erected on the back of others who we've exploited and, again, keep exploiting.

    Totally wrong. Again, the oversimplified thinking of the embittered left who is always there to criticize ourselves. They hate their own countries and culture. They hate themselves.

    I see very little reason why capitalism should be the preferable choice, at least in such an unregulated way as it has always been.

    Then please tell us about your more "preferable choice", come up with a better solution! Unregulated? Capitalism? How old are you? Sorry, but you don't have the absolutely leastest clue of our legislation! Our economic system is tied to numerous regulations. In the EU, it's totally overregulated. I'm long enough in business to know that in detail, particularly with regard to the comparison with other regions in the world.

    Idealistically, capitalism is dead. It doesn't live up to its (theoretic) promises, or if it does, only few people benefit. Let's face it, constant growth is an illusion.

    The opposite. Idealistically? What you mean with that? Again here: Have you got a better alternative to offer?

    But apart from the basics, I argue that people would only measure their well-being or luck with money because they think they need a stupid € 500,-phone or stupid €300,- sneakers or a TV as big as their living room wall.

    Ok. Then we take the, as you name it, "stupid € 500,-phone" for an example:

    Besides a telephone, you got a music player with access to all the songs in the world, a video recorder and -player, a photo camera, access to all the newspapers in the world, the largest library imaginable, you got a TV, a watch, a pocket lamp, a calculator, a road map, a notebook, an audio recorder, a computer, a navigation system, an alarm clock, detailed maps from every place in the world, internet, a compass, a language translator, a social network (if you don’t have one IRL), a dictaphone, a weather forecast, you can do an emergency call when you’re out and alone in the wild, you got apps to check your health to prevent issues, plus dozens of useful, essential and unnecessary things - most of on a quality level unimaginable before, and with the unthinkable possibilities of AI yet to come. Now think of:

    The money you save for not having to buy all of these devices separately anymore
    The resources saved for it’s not necessary to produce all of these devices anymore
    The environment saved for it’s not necessary to produce and dispose all of these devices anymore
    The easement and benefit of efficiency in your everyday life due to this innovation

    Fantastic, isn’t it? The smartphone could only have been invented and developed within the environment of free market capitalism. Basic terms: No cartel. No monopoly. The more competition, the better. The less regulation, the better (certainly not "zero-regulation"). You have to let companies and their staff constantly urge for better solutions, so that they come up with goods and services that suit the needs and demands of the (potential) consumer better than the product of the competitor. Upon that in response, that competitor will strive to make it even better...

    People are only willing to make an extraordinary effort if they get rewarded adequately. If a company acts stingy, they won’t get good personnel. Then if the government taxes, say, 50% or more of the profit or salary off, then the fire for innovation, effort, diligence extinguishes. We are not talking about Marxism yet, the wet dream of about half of the left-wing politicians here in Europe. In this model, the state owns or controls the companies in a non-competition environment, because the central government certainly knows better what’s best for all the people than themselves.

    In some small areas around the globe there are still some indiginous tribes who live the way they've lived for centuries, without electricity or money. In our eyes, they're poor, yet the level of contentment is high among those people.

    What a lovely, romantic imagination! So you have plans to emigrate? What is your favored destination?

    @bionaut

    Correct me if I am wrong, it seems that you do not count people of excessive wealth in this class. Let's face it, nobody ever 'earned' a billion dollars.

    I point to the vulgar exaggerations of the social state, funded by the taxes of the hard working middle class. I do not accuse the smart ones to utilize it as it's human nature to grab what you can (although they act deeply anti-social). The failure is on the ones that set up the system in a way that certain can benefit from it without being in need.

    I do believe it is possible. I do not believe any of those three conditions you state exist in America today.

    Relax, friend. I can herewith fully reassure to you that in today's America, these institutions do exist. I will answer later on your newest post. Get prepared!

    Two things @ most of you guys:

    We don't need reason and we don't need logic
    'Cause we've got feeling and we're dang proud of it (Daniel Johnston)

    It's inexpensive, platitudinous, cheap, lazy-thinking just to criticize, but then not coming up with a (potentially better) solution, an alternative. One of which certainly is feasible.

    Imagine all the people, living life in peace
    Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can
    No need for greed or hunger, a brotherhood of man (John Lennon)

    Stop comparing our living standards, welfare, sense of justice, economic- and governmental system etc. against an unreal, perfect utopian vision of a world as a paradisiac garden Eden, where every human being, every animal, every plant is in perfect harmony with each other. It doesn't help any on the path to make the world a better place - if you really intend to do so.

    Posted 6 days ago #
  17. Johnny_Heartfield
    Member

    A great debate indeed - boring probably for many, but enlivening the few of us.

    Just a little reply to Norman's bashing of "corporatism":
    Internationalism is not (neccesarily) a "left-ideological agenda". Firstly the extreme right today is cooperating intensively on an international level - there is a lot of international exchange of ideas, personal and international activism.

    Secondly: Probably thinking on a larger scale is just a sign of human evolution / development of the human mind/spirit? The problem being then that the much critizised "corporatists" of the so-called moderate left have too long ignored the need to integrate, fincance and educate the impoverished or threatened by deindustrializiation and economic change.
    That does not mean at the same time that the old and new tribal-orientated nationalists are right. Their politics are mostly backward-orientated and sometimes even purely antisocial. Add infantile strife for absolute power and bad school bully manners and you get Trump and Johnson.
    On the other hand there is indeed much lazy thinking and ideological narrow-mindedness on the left.
    Nevertheless I'm convinced the Utopian view is part of the human condition and cannot be entirely neglected, how infantile or unrealistic it may sometimes appear. There is no evolution without our weaknesses and shortcomings! So let's forget the equally unrealistic politics of ultra-strength and "survival of the fittest" - that is not how the world works best.
    And let us have a couple of beers

    Posted 6 days ago #
  18. suntripper
    Member

    @Norman_Gold

    Take corporatism: (Bill) Clinton, Blair, Schröder, Obama. These social democratic leaders made a pact with the devil: To promote their left-ideological agenda of internationalism (abolishment of the nation state to get it ultimately replaced by a one world central government, plus the total ethic mix of people), they dealt hand in glove with the mightiest multinational companies and the institutions who represent the rules-based international order. Both with the same goal: A multi-ethic, borderless world as undemocratic as the EU or China. One government, one policy, one currency, total control.

    At the risk of alienating others here, you should know that you'll get no argument from me about anything in that paragraph, with the possible exception of the word 'left'.

    More later...

    Posted 6 days ago #
  19. Norman_Gold
    Member

    @bionaut

    @suntripper: You sound like someone with whom I could enjoy having a few beers.

    @Great King Rat: I appreciate your comments in response to Norman_Gold, and I think you should join @suntripper and myself for some beers.

    @Johnny_Heartfield: I am in harmony with your thinking, and I believe I have addressed much of what you are talking about in my rant above. You are also invited to join us for beers.

    Interesting. You only like to have company with like-minded people. An idiosyncrasy for people on the left; keen to stay insular in their bubble, unwilling to deal with any opposite view. Why should they? Most of them see themselves as intellectually and morally supreme anyway - a cozy self-righteousness without any justification required. Bashing from the left comes likely in common buzzwords, with a total lack of substance and background knowledge. Typically 1:1 the oversimplified and hollow phrases from the paternalistic, holier-than-thou class of the mass media, intellectuals and artists.

    Without the will to hold out - and learn from - oppositional views, you'll miss the chance to get the moments where you realize that the world is far too complex and manifold to beat it down in bitter, anger-driven phrases like you do it partly here.

    It is helpful to understand that the American 'government' is making this work by demonizing the undeserving and obfuscating the truth, brainwashing hard-working Americans into thinking the government cares about them.

    Thanks god there is someone like you (and maybe abandoned supernaut too?) who is enlightened, gifted with omniscient. Too sad that so many people are totally stupid, right?

    And no, it's not in the task area of a government to "care about" the people. A nanny state? Please not! Let me mention a sad consequence going on in more and more countries here in Europe. An increasing number of people feel totally lonely. In the midst of a city, a village, they have no close relative, no friends, no contact to neighbors, no loved ones, no person of trust. This distressing phenomenon is distinctive everywhere you have a fully developed social state. Keep that in mind.

    @Johnny_Heartfield

    Internationalism is not (neccesarily) a "left-ideological agenda". Firstly the extreme right today is cooperating intensively on an international level

    That does not mean at the same time that the old and new tribal-orientated nationalists are right. Their politics are mostly backward-orientated and sometimes even purely antisocial.

    I agree that internationalism is not solely a "left-ideological agenda". But when we talk of the participants on the "right" here, we talk of the multinational companies who force globalism for two reasons:

    1) To relocate production to the region where it can be done at the lowest cost; away from the company's and its personnel's original location
    2) To have unlimited access of personnel everywhere through limitless immigration; to compress the wages of the workers

    Which leads to specify the modern right, the populists, more accurately. Trump, Johnson, Bannon, Orban, Salvini, Brexit, AfD are insofar on the right as they believe in the nation state as the reliable form to a) protect the inhabitants of the country from the above two points, b) independently govern the country, and c) being rooted and associated in their homeland. Cooperation, trade, exchange on all levels with other countries - all necessary and fine. But the interference of multinational organisations or central governments like the EU (or think of the brezhnev doctrine in the late 1960's), that is wrong. The ordinary people in the countries don't want that.

    Nevertheless I'm convinced the Utopian view is part of the human condition and cannot be entirely neglected, how infantile or unrealistic it may sometimes appear. There is no evolution without our weaknesses and shortcomings!

    An utopian view is totally ok and also serves as a driving force for innovation. But it's wrong and unfair to confront it against the certainly not flawless, but nevertheless most successful system ever applied. It's cheap to play out fantasy against reality; glorify the one, bash the other.

    Progressive thinking (and acting) isn't good or 'right' per se, whereas conservatism isn't bad or 'wrong' per se (to picture the current atmosphere of the debate here in the West). So called progress is always bound to the question where we are going to, and from what we are departing from.

    So let's forget the equally unrealistic politics of ultra-strength and "survival of the fittest" - that is not how the world works best.

    Don't understand what you mean with that. I don't live in a world with "politics of ultra-strength and "survival of the fittest""

    Posted 5 days ago #
  20. bionaut
    Member

    @suntripper: I want to thank you for calling out @Norman_Gold’s comments about corporatism. Parsing the valuable nuggets from his insults is time-consuming, and I have to do a bit of skimming when reading his posts. Your comment helped me focus on one of the nuggets I failed to appreciate the first time through.

    I had to Google ‘corporatism’, and I had to educate myself on ‘social democratic corporatism’ in order to understand what it means. That process led me to understand that everyone else on this thread seems to have a better grasp of political theory and history than I do! It also has helped me, I think, begin to understand a little better the forces that have shaped the thinking of someone like @Norman_Gold and others.

    Perhaps the one thing I bring to this discussion is the experience of being American, though not a typical one. I was born in 1962. I have voted in every US election since 1980. I have never once voted for a Republican or a Democratic candidate. I have voted for an alternative every single time, because I believe America needs a third party. I have long understood that Republicans and Democrats are basically the same thing. Two flavors of politician owned by extreme wealth.

    Allow me to add another facet to the historical record. Consider Eisenhower’s warning of the rise of the Military Industrial Complex. Check it out if you are not familiar:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8y06NSBBRtY

    @Norman_Gold: I was wondering if you would attack me for the lack of an invitation to join me for beers! Rest assured, my friend, I haven’t given up hope that you too will prove to be someone with whom I would enjoy having a few beers. As for your insinuation that I am unwilling to deal with an opposite view, let us both remember that it was I who started this thread for the sole purpose of dealing with you, someone who is clearly not of like mind.

    As for the rest of your diatribe, it is simply a lot of something I call “baloney farming”. You are conjuring an argument from some knowledge, some ignorance, and some assumptions without making an attempt to understand the individual with whom you are attempting to communicate. The content of your attacks, for let us be clear about your efforts, enables me to be certain that you do not understand me at all.

    It is you who forces this conversation into conflict, and that is why I am not yet interested in having beers with you.

    I do not lack will, I can tell you that, and I am learning a great deal from this discussion. I thank everyone who has joined in, and I look forward to learning more.

    Posted 5 days ago #
  21. suntripper
    Member

    @bionaut First, let me say I'd be very happy to have a beer with you. However, you might be disappointed with what I am going to say next. Unfortunately, I perhaps didn't use very precise language before, but I was trying to say that, with that paragraph of Norman_Gold's at least, i.e.

    Take corporatism: (Bill) Clinton, Blair, Schröder, Obama. These social democratic leaders made a pact with the devil: To promote their left-ideological agenda of internationalism (abolishment of the nation state to get it ultimately replaced by a one world central government, plus the total ethic mix of people), they dealt hand in glove with the mightiest multinational companies and the institutions who represent the rules-based international order. Both with the same goal: A multi-ethic, borderless world as undemocratic as the EU or China. One government, one policy, one currency, total control.

    I was largely in agreement. I would only remove the word 'left', because I don't believe that Clinton, Obama and Blair represent the left. I would also add that you can't really put the EU in the same category as China. Not yet, anyway!

    As for the rest of what Norman says, I would go along with some of it up to a point. I do see where he is coming from. At the same time, I am sympathetic to many of the views held on the other side.

    There are now so many areas of debate opened up by all contributors that I feel a bit daunted! There is so much to address, and just not enough time. You can't do justice to any of the issues here with just a few words.

    I am interested in building common ground, because I believe we - that is, you, me, Norman_Gold and everyone else here trying to work out what the hell is going on, because that's what we're all doing - have a common enemy, and in that paragraph, Norman starts to bring it into view. He, it seems, will be looking for an enemy that wears the colours of the left. Others here will be looking for an enemy that wears the colours of the right. I believe we are under attack by this enemy via the left, the right and the centre.

    Divide and conquer.

    This doesn't take away some of the age-old bones of contention, of course. They are real, although there is something to be gained by seeing that there is wisdom on both sides.

    As an aside, one of the things I admire about Germany is that the workers sit on the boards of the manufacturing companies. They help make the big decisions. Their view is valued, and they feel a sense of ownership. No wonder the Germans are so good in that area! If this German approach to manufacturing is capitalism, then it is capitalism of a better kind. Yet, if you tried to develop the same model in the UK, it would be regarded with suspicion as being somehow left-wing.

    Back to my main point. Norman uses the phrase 'one-world central government'. This is not conspiracy theory. It is conspiracy fact. It is, I believe, something greatly to be feared by all of us.

    Ostensibly, Trump has put the brakes on the movement towards it. However, I don't trust him, and some of his recent actions on the world stage ought to give great cause for concern even to Norman.

    The one-world government that is going to come into existence unless we stop it - and we have to be able to see it coming in order to stop it - will not be good for the vast majority.

    At this point, I'll just say what I think is meant by corporatism. I know the word can have a number of applications. In our current context - and I assume this is what Norman meant - it is, for me, essentially, big business making the rules.

    The thing is, doesn't unregulated capitalism, together with cronyism, lobbyists throwing money at politicians, and the revolving door between the boardroom, the regulatory agency and the political sphere take us down this path?

    The rules suit the corporations at the expense of smaller businesses. The little fish get eaten by the bigger fish.

    Maybe one day there will just be one big fish. Would that be so different from a Soviet-style situation?

    Increasingly, in our day, the rules made in this corrupt and undemocratic manner are coming to govern every aspect of our lives, and being applied on an international scale. What is this if not global governance in embryo?

    Incidentally, so-called 'free-trade' agreements, to which Trump is not, after all, averse, are one of the major means by which this plot advances.

    Fair play to Norman for talking about 'corporatism' and 'the mightiest multinational companies' along with 'one-world central government' in the paragraph I cite. However, he should include in that list of names - Obama, the Clintons and Blair (for him, the left) - the likes of Father and Son Bush, Cheney and Kissinger. I'll give Trump a pass just now if I have to.

    Politicians of every hue have helped move the agenda along, usually in deceitful ways. For their voters, they are wolves in sheep's clothing. These politicians are little more than salesman - richly rewarded salesmen - although some are more deeply involved than others. However, there is a more permanent power behind the throne.

    What is taking shape, guided by the power behind the throne, in the form of a nascent global government, will turn out to look rather different from the rosy view of 'global solutions for global problems' (global problems which are often contrived - Chomsky's 'manufactured consent' is apposite here). In fact, it will be an awful amalgamation of capitalism/corporatism and communism (and not the ideal kind!). That is the long game, however Trump is or is not frustrating it.

    With the mind-boggling rise of technology - 5G, all those satellites going up, AI and the 'internet-of-things' (and, by the way, the smart-phone, far from being the wonderful object so many seem to be in thrall to, is the precursor to an implant, tied into the grid under construction - even then there will be those who welcome it) - comes the possibility of total surveillance - maybe more than just surveillance - and control of the many by a very small number. The term is technocracy.

    Take a look at China's deployment of some of this technology right now (including the treatment of the Uighurs) for a vision of the global future. Note that China is no longer a communist state in the sense that it used to be, having adopted a form of capitalism or corporatism.

    And there is a very real American exceptionalism. The US has a special role alright. Its whole architecture of military might is at the disposal of the globalists. They play the American people (enough of them anyway) like a piano, exploiting their patriotism for the most unpatriotic of ends. The link to Eisenhower's speech is most relevant here.

    Anybody who is not familiar with that speech needs to watch it, read it, digest it and take in its full meaning. Remember who it is making this speech, where he had come from, what he would have known. He is talking to us.

    (Fun fact! Donald Rumsfeld announced, just before 9/11, that $2.3 trillion was unaccounted for in just one fiscal year by the Department of Defense! Have a look down the back of your sofa, guys! It must be there somewhere!)

    In case there is any doubt about the reality of the drive towards a global government, the deceitful exploitation of the US as part of this drive and the likely nature of such a global government, I will leave you with three quotes from David Rockefeller. A lot of people would have taken him as what they understood to be a capitalist - someone those on the right might admire. What has become apparent is that he was one of the arch-globalists - still very active until recently.

    With David Rockefeller, you are seeing more the power behind the throne to which I referred earlier.

    Here is what he wrote in his own memoirs

    Some even believe we [Rockefeller family] are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as 'internationalists' and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure - One World, if you will. If that's the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.

    This is Rockefeller addressing the Trilateral Commission in 1991:

    We are grateful to The Washington Post, The New York Times, Time Magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost forty years. It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subject to the bright lights of publicity during those years. But, the work is now much more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a World Government. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto-determination practiced in past centuries.

    Finally, see how you feel reading David Rockefeller's verdict on Mao's China:

    Whatever the price of the Chinese Revolution, it has obviously succeeded not only in producing more efficient and dedicated administration, but also in fostering high morale and community of purpose. The social experiment in China under Chairman Mao's leadership is one of the most important and successful in human history.

    Posted 5 days ago #
  22. Norman_Gold
    Member

    I’m writing these lines here with the one single motivation to say THANK YOU! to suntripper for his time, effort and passion writing his recent post. Yes, this is also due to the fact that I’m glad there’s someone here sharing some of my views.

    Posted 5 days ago #
  23. Johnny_Heartfield
    Member

    "Without the will to hold out - and learn from - oppositional views, you'll miss the chance to get the moments where you realize that the world is far too complex and manifold to beat it down in bitter, anger-driven phrases like you do it partly here."

    Right you are, Norman_Gold! Learn from yourself
    Besides - I share your view that conservatism is not necessarily a negative force - as "progressive thinking" is not necessarlily good.

    Besides - this to everybody: I don't think catch-word like "corporatism" etc. are helpful in this discussion. Neither is general elite-bashing or state-bashing - these do only show the preoccupations of those who do and kill any sensible discussion. I'd like to think freely - not within fixed "belief patterns".
    I already have enough people around me who start barking like Pavlov's dog when they hear the names Clinton, Obama or Trump, Blair or Johnson. As for that: there's an excellent analysis of that kind of political poisoning in Doris Lessing's great SF novel "The sentimental agents in the Volyen empire". Worth a read anytime!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sentimental_Agents_in_the_Volyen_Empire

    And I'll have a beer with everyone who doesn't constantly spit out his ideological brand of hatred - whatever opinion he or she may be.

    Posted 4 days ago #
  24. bionaut
    Member

    @suntripper: Bravo! I am very impressed with your post. First of all, I am not sure why you think I would be disappointed by what you have to say. You have a very good way of speaking your mind and heart, I believe, and I really cannot take a side against anything you have to say.

    I especially appreciate your interest in building common ground. I think your post succeeds in meeting that interest. I think we are all working together now to understand that we do have something in common, and it is something more than an appreciation of beer

    Posted 4 days ago #
  25. Punj Lizard
    Member

    A few books I've read in the past few years that some of you might find worth tracking down in relation to some of the topics coming up in this thread:

    Dino Knudsen, "The Trilateral Commission and Global Governance" (Routledge, 2016)

    Cliff DuRand, "Moving Beyond Capitalism" (Routledge, 2016)

    Graham Dunkley, "One World Mania: A Critical Guide to Free Trade, Financialization and Over-Globalization" (Zed Books / University of Chicago Press, 2016)

    Antonio Pinto, "Corporatism and Fascism: The Corporatist Wave in Europe" (Routledge, 2017)

    Matthew L. Bergbower, "A Profile of the American Electorate: Partisan Behavior and the Need for Reform" (Routledge, 2018)

    Mareile Pfannebecker and James A. Smith, "Work Want Work: Labour and Desire at the End of Capitalism" (Zed Books / University of Chicago Press, 2019)

    Teppo Eskilinen (ed.), "The Revival of Political Imagination: Utopias as Methodology" (Zed Books, 2020) (Due out later this year).

    Posted 3 days ago #
  26. bionaut
    Member

    @Punj Lizard: Thank you for the references!

    To all: I am working to educate myself further, and I realize that my initial reference to Chomsky was unhelpful for this debate.

    Posted 6 hours ago #

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