Richard Stallman's Politics (was: Linux is awesome!

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Mark S. Bilk

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Jun 21, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/21/00
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In article <8iqb5m$m27$1...@slb3.atl.mindspring.net>,
Mark S. Bilk <m...@netcom.com> wrote:
>In article <8iq176$4...@pell.portland.or.us>,
>david parsons <o...@pell.portland.or.us> wrote:

>>RMS is a pretty good example of a fluff-headed stalinist

>You're claiming Stallman doesn't believe in democracy?
>That seems unlikely. Would you please give a reference?

Since there's been no proof given for this assertion, I did
a www.google.com search for `richard stallman communist', and
found two pages in which RMS states his political views.
Here are some excerpts:

An interview with Richard Stallman
http://www.linuxworld.com/linuxworldtoday/lwt-indepth7.html
...
LinuxWorld Today: I've heard you described as a socialist,
or a communist. Do politics enter into the Free Software
Foundation?

Richard Stallman: Politics do, but I'm not a socialist or
a communist.

LinuxWorld Today: How would you describe yourself?

Richard Stallman: Well, I guess I am a sort of combination
between a liberal and a leftist anarchist. I like to see
people working together, voluntarily, to solve the world's
problems. But, if we can't do that, I think we should get
the government involved to solve them.

The idea of democracy is that it enables the citizens in
general to put a check on the power of the richest, and
these days in America we are failing to use that tool,
which of course, leads to a harsh life for most people.
...

Anyway, the people who call me a communist are engaging in
Red-baiting. It's a standard thing. If anybody criticizes
something about what business is doing, at the present,
they get called a communist.

When people said, "Don't pour poison in the river," they
were called communists. But they didn't want to abolish
business. They wanted to abolish pouring poison into the
river. The free software movement is a lot like that. It's
a lot like the environmental movement because the goal is
not to abolish business, the goal is to end a certain kind
of pollution. But in this case, it's not pollution of the
air or the water, it's pollution of our social relationships.

When somebody says, here is this nice thing that you will
enjoy using but if you share it with your neighbor we'll
call you a pirate and put you in jail, they are polluting
society's most important resource, which is goodwill, the
willingness to cooperate with other people.

LinuxWorld Today: If I understand what you have said and
written previously, that was the impetus for you.

Richard Stallman: Yes, that is the reason why I decided to
dedicate my efforts to free software. To change an ugly
system. And I don't mean a computer system. I mean a
social system.
...

Free Software, Anyone? - Eat the State! (June 24, 1998)
http://www.eatthestate.org/02-41/FreeSoftwareAnyone.htm
...
From: Richard Stallman
To: e...@scn.org
Subject: Article about free software
Sent: Saturday, July 04, 1998 12:27 PM

I was happy to see your article about the free software
movement, but I'd like to correct a few details.
...

>Needless to say, RMS often is accused of being a communist
>(possibly true)

I'm used to occasional accusations of being a Communist,
but usually this is done by people who would rather argue
against Communism than against my actual views. But it's a
new experience to see someone who means me well by it.

It isn't accurate, though. I work on free software to give
software users freedom, which is nothing at all like Commun-
ism. I've been partly influenced by leftist Anarchism, by
the idea of a world in which people voluntarily arrange to
work together for the general good, but not at all by
Communism.

The best way to understand and explain my views is to com-
pare them with the environmental movement and the consumer
movement. They too aim to stop certain specific business
practices on the grounds that they hurt the public. When
proprietary software prohibits people from working together
and cooperating voluntarily, that pollutes the good will at
the root of society. I want to stop this kind of pollution.

--
Links To Reality
http://www.aliveness.com/msb.html

Phillip Lord

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Jun 22, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/22/00
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>>>>> "Mark" == Mark S Bilk <m...@netcom.com> writes:


>> Needless to say, RMS often is accused of being a communist
>> (possibly true)

Mark> I'm used to occasional accusations of being a Communist, but
Mark> usually this is done by people who would rather argue against
Mark> Communism than against my actual views. But it's a new
Mark> experience to see someone who means me well by it.

Mark> It isn't accurate, though. I work on free software to give
Mark> software users freedom, which is nothing at all like Commun-
Mark> ism. I've been partly influenced by leftist Anarchism, by the
Mark> idea of a world in which people voluntarily arrange to work
Mark> together for the general good, but not at all by Communism.

Thats actually quite interesting.

I don't think that it would make sense to call RMS a communist
for one simple reason, which is that he is part of a large "single
issue" movement. My own feeling is that whilst single issues are
important, you need to look at the whole picture. The environmental
movement, and the free software movement currently come up against the
same problems, for the same reasons. To be described as communist RMS
would need to feel that the system as a whole was wrong.

Of course to say that he has been influenced by "leftist
Anarchism" but "not at all by communism" is rather nieve. Leftist
Anarchism and Communism have been intertwinned through out their
existence. Sometimes happily so, and sometimes much less so. Still
they have influenced each other heavily, and if you are influenced by
one, then you are by the other as it were.

Phil

Mark S. Bilk

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Jun 22, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/22/00
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In article <okzoodl...@arginine.sbc.man.ac.uk>,

Phillip Lord <pl...@hgmp.mrc.ac.uk> wrote:
>>>>>> "Mark" == Mark S Bilk <m...@netcom.com> writes:

Nope -- I didn't say any of that stuff;
attributions fixed below.

http://www.eatthestate.org/02-41/FreeSoftwareAnyone.htm


"Eat the State!" magazine wrote:
}}}}Needless to say, RMS often is accused of being a communist
}}}}(possibly true)

Richard Stallman wrote (in a followup to the ETS interview,
not in this thread):


}}}I'm used to occasional accusations of being a Communist, but

}}}usually this is done by people who would rather argue against

}}}Communism than against my actual views. But it's a new

}}}experience to see someone who means me well by it.

}}}It isn't accurate, though. I work on free software to give


}}}software users freedom, which is nothing at all like Commun-

}}}ism. I've been partly influenced by leftist Anarchism, by the

}}}idea of a world in which people voluntarily arrange to work

}}}together for the general good, but not at all by Communism.

>Thats actually quite interesting.
>
>I don't think that it would make sense to call RMS a communist
>for one simple reason, which is that he is part of a large "single
>issue" movement. My own feeling is that whilst single issues are
>important, you need to look at the whole picture. The environmental
>movement, and the free software movement currently come up against the
>same problems, for the same reasons. To be described as communist RMS
>would need to feel that the system as a whole was wrong.

Richard Stallman said:
http://www.linuxworld.com/linuxworldtoday/lwt-indepth7.html


}}}Richard Stallman: Well, I guess I am a sort of combination
}}}between a liberal and a leftist anarchist. I like to see
}}}people working together, voluntarily, to solve the world's
}}}problems. But, if we can't do that, I think we should get
}}}the government involved to solve them.
}}}
}}}The idea of democracy is that it enables the citizens in
}}}general to put a check on the power of the richest, and
}}}these days in America we are failing to use that tool,
}}}which of course, leads to a harsh life for most people.

Stallman's last sentence here does say that "the system as
a whole [is] wrong" in some ways. But he's not a communist
(believer in people sharing *everything* equally), nor a
Communist (believer in Stalinism), because his general
political beliefs, as expressed in these two paragraphs,
are neither.

>Of course to say that he has been influenced by "leftist
>Anarchism" but "not at all by communism" is rather nieve. Leftist
>Anarchism and Communism have been intertwinned through out their
>existence. Sometimes happily so, and sometimes much less so. Still
>they have influenced each other heavily, and if you are influenced by
>one, then you are by the other as it were.

Presumably you are talking about small-c "communism" here,
but Stallman was referring to the big-C Russian kind, because
that's what his red-baiting critics accuse him of.

And indeed, a sort of small-c communism, or leftist anarchism,
"From each according to their (voluntarily exercised) ability;
to each according to their need (as fulfilled by copies of
software that require almost no effort by its creators to
reproduce)" does describe the workings of the Free Software
movement.

Kenneth P. Turvey

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Jun 22, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/22/00
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On 22 Jun 2000 15:27:19 +0100, Phillip Lord <pl...@hgmp.mrc.ac.uk> wrote:
[Snip]

> Of course to say that he has been influenced by "leftist
>Anarchism" but "not at all by communism" is rather naive. Leftist
>Anarchism and Communism have been intertwined through out their

>existence. Sometimes happily so, and sometimes much less so. Still
>they have influenced each other heavily, and if you are influenced by
>one, then you are by the other as it were.

I should jump in here and note that although leftist anarchism and
communism have some things in common they are not based on a similar set
of principles at all. Leftist anarchism holds independent action of the
individual in great esteem, but communism does not. Leftist anarchism
is based on the cooperative, voluntary participation of the individual,
communism has the dictatorship of the proletariat as one of its steps.

--
Kenneth P. Turvey <kt-...@SprocketShop.com>
http://www.tranquility.net/~kturvey/resume/resume.html
--------------------------------------------------------
In America, any boy may become president and I suppose that's just one
of the risks he takes.
-- Adlai Stevenson

Phillip Lord

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Jun 23, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/23/00
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>>>>> "Mark" == Mark S Bilk <m...@netcom.com> writes:

Mark> In article <okzoodl...@arginine.sbc.man.ac.uk>, Phillip


Mark> Lord <pl...@hgmp.mrc.ac.uk> wrote:
>>>>>>> "Mark" == Mark S Bilk <m...@netcom.com> writes:

Mark> Nope -- I didn't say any of that stuff; attributions fixed
Mark> below.

My apologies if I screwed up my attributions. I try to take
care to get this right, but occasionally fail.


Mark> Stallman's last sentence here does say that "the system as a
Mark> whole [is] wrong" in some ways. But he's not a communist
Mark> (believer in people sharing *everything* equally), nor a
Mark> Communist (believer in Stalinism), because his general
Mark> political beliefs, as expressed in these two paragraphs, are
Mark> neither.

Well I would not say that this is a terrible accurate
description of communism! As you say latter "to each according to his
needs" does not mean that everyone gets the same.


>> Of course to say that he has been influenced by "leftist

>> Anarchism" but "not at all by communism" is rather nieve. Leftist
>> Anarchism and Communism have been intertwinned through out their


>> existence. Sometimes happily so, and sometimes much less
>> so. Still they have influenced each other heavily, and if you are
>> influenced by one, then you are by the other as it were.

Mark> Presumably you are talking about small-c "communism" here, but
Mark> Stallman was referring to the big-C Russian kind, because
Mark> that's what his red-baiting critics accuse him of.

I'm talking about communism in the sense of Marx rather
than anything else. I'm not sure that "red-baiting" critics actually
have a refined enough knowledge to actually be able to
differentiate. As Stallman said people usually like to describe him as
communist so that they can argue against this rather than his actual
views. In otherwords a jingoistic form of the classic strawman
technique. Funnily enough the same technique is used against many on
the left. Many would rather argue against a caricature of Marxism
rather than what is actually being said.

Mark> And indeed, a sort of small-c communism, or leftist anarchism,
Mark> "From each according to their (voluntarily exercised) ability;
Mark> to each according to their need (as fulfilled by copies of
Mark> software that require almost no effort by its creators to
Mark> reproduce)" does describe the workings of the Free Software
Mark> movement.

Well I think that this is the point the original web page
was attempting to make. There is a linkage between the ideology that
informs the FSF and many of the ideologies expressed by the left.

Phil

Phillip Lord

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Jun 23, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/23/00
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>>>>> "Kenneth" == Kenneth P Turvey <kt-...@SprocketShop.com> writes:

Kenneth> On 22 Jun 2000 15:27:19 +0100, Phillip Lord
Kenneth> <pl...@hgmp.mrc.ac.uk> wrote: [Snip]


>> Of course to say that he has been influenced by "leftist

>> Anarchism" but "not at all by communism" is rather naive. Leftist
>> Anarchism and Communism have been intertwined through out their


>> existence. Sometimes happily so, and sometimes much less
>> so. Still they have influenced each other heavily, and if you are
>> influenced by one, then you are by the other as it were.

Kenneth> I should jump in here and note that although leftist
Kenneth> anarchism and communism have some things in common they are
Kenneth> not based on a similar set of principles at all. Leftist
Kenneth> anarchism holds independent action of the individual in
Kenneth> great esteem, but communism does not.

Really?

Kenneth> Leftist anarchism is based on the cooperative, voluntary
Kenneth> participation of the individual, communism has the
Kenneth> dictatorship of the proletariat as one of its steps.

"dictatorship of the proletariat" means that the working
class should rule themselves rather than being ruled over by small
powerful class.

The difference between leftist anarchism and communism is
not one of democracy. Both forms are democratic. The difference is
that anarchism sees no role for the machinery of the state, whilst
communism sees the state as a mechanism for democracy.

I'm still not sure which side of the fence I sit on. To me
it appears that the aims are fairly similar in that they both aim to
end the class system, but that the means are very different.

Phil

Kenneth P. Turvey

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Jun 23, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/23/00
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On 23 Jun 2000 11:16:25 +0100, Phillip Lord <pl...@hgmp.mrc.ac.uk> wrote:

> "dictatorship of the proletariat" means that the working
>class should rule themselves rather than being ruled over by small
>powerful class.
>
> The difference between leftist anarchism and communism is
>not one of democracy. Both forms are democratic. The difference is
>that anarchism sees no role for the machinery of the state, whilst
>communism sees the state as a mechanism for democracy.

I think it also implied some use of force during the transition. The
workers rise up, the workers force their will on the former system,
eventually everyone is happy and voluntarily cooperates.

There is a middle step in which consent is not required.

> I'm still not sure which side of the fence I sit on. To me
>it appears that the aims are fairly similar in that they both aim to
>end the class system, but that the means are very different.

Any extreme system results in failure. Pure socialism is a failure. Pure
capitalism is a failure. Some blend is necessary. I personally think
that consent is the most important aspect of any system. Where force is
used we should have a very good justification. Although I believe there
are many cases where things such as theft by government (taxation) are
justified we really don't bother to even consider it anymore. Taxes and
regulations on behavior seem to be passed without the consideration that
they should entail. This doesn't just apply to the United States.

--
Kenneth P. Turvey <kt-...@SprocketShop.com>
http://www.tranquility.net/~kturvey/resume/resume.html
--------------------------------------------------------

The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and for
government to gain ground. -- Thomas Jefferson

Phillip Lord

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Jun 24, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/24/00
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>>>>> "Kenneth" == Kenneth P Turvey <kt-...@SprocketShop.com> writes:

Kenneth> On 23 Jun 2000 11:16:25 +0100, Phillip Lord
Kenneth> <pl...@hgmp.mrc.ac.uk> wrote:

>> "dictatorship of the proletariat" means that the working class
>> should rule themselves rather than being ruled over by small
>> powerful class.
>>
>> The difference between leftist anarchism and communism is not one
>> of democracy. Both forms are democratic. The difference is that
>> anarchism sees no role for the machinery of the state, whilst
>> communism sees the state as a mechanism for democracy.

Kenneth> I think it also implied some use of force during the
Kenneth> transition. The workers rise up, the workers force their
Kenneth> will on the former system, eventually everyone is happy and
Kenneth> voluntarily cooperates.

Communism is a revolutionary form of politics rather than
a reformist one, it is certainly true. The idea is that the current
system can not be changed gradually. Its in the nature of things that
those who benefit from the current system will use force, both
economic and military to maintain it. As recent events at Seattle show
even that bastion of freedom, the US is quite prepared to use fairly
extreme military force against relatively mild demonstrations.

Kenneth> There is a middle step in which consent is not required.

>> I'm still not sure which side of the fence I sit on. To me it
>> appears that the aims are fairly similar in that they both aim to
>> end the class system, but that the means are very different.

Kenneth> Any extreme system results in failure. Pure socialism is a
Kenneth> failure. Pure capitalism is a failure. Some blend is
Kenneth> necessary.

This is a simple argument for the status quo.

"Extremism" is defined by reference to what the current
situation is. But that changes over time. So during my life, starting
with Thatcherism and moving onto the vacuousness of the "third way",
politics have moved inexorably to the right. My own views which would
have been considered to be a blend 20 years ago, are now considered to
be hard line left. My views are as right (or as wrong) now as they
have ever been, and whether others consider them to be extreme or
moderate does not change that.


Kenneth> Taxes and regulations on behavior seem to be passed without
Kenneth> the consideration that they should entail. This doesn't
Kenneth> just apply to the United States.

Im not sure what you are saying here. That in the US taxes
and regulations are not passed without proper consideration? Where as
no one else thinks about them enough.

My own feeling is that most of the restrictions on my life
do not come from government, but from capitalism, in so far as they
are different. To spend time talking about how the government is
wrong, and what we should do to improve it is to miss the point
entirely. At least in our current society.

Phil

Florian Weimer

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Jun 24, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/24/00
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Phillip Lord <pl...@hgmp.mrc.ac.uk> writes:

> Kenneth> Leftist anarchism is based on the cooperative, voluntary
> Kenneth> participation of the individual, communism has the
> Kenneth> dictatorship of the proletariat as one of its steps.
>

> "dictatorship of the proletariat" means that the working
> class should rule themselves rather than being ruled over by small
> powerful class.

"Dictatorship of the proletariat" means, among other things, that the
proletariat oppresses its former oppressors. Certainly, this is not
a democracy, and I guess even Marx didn't assume this period wouldn't
see what we call human right violations. Of course this is considered
a bad thing, but history is supposed to proceed and ...

> The difference between leftist anarchism and communism is
> not one of democracy. Both forms are democratic. The difference is
> that anarchism sees no role for the machinery of the state, whilst
> communism sees the state as a mechanism for democracy.

... the communist theory proclaims that once the revolution has taken
place, the state will slowly die. (IIRC, according to the theory,
the state is an artificial construct created in order to be able to
exploiting the masses in a more efficient manner, anyway.) Finally,
if the state has vanished (and most social structures with it), man
has returned to the paradise (called communism).

The past attempts at a communist revolution were able to establish the
dictatorship of the proletariat, at least for a short time, but the
state simply didn't die, it was very well alive and tried to tightly
control its people. All of a sudden, even a new class appeared. :-(

Donovan Rebbechi

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Jun 24, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/24/00
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On 24 Jun 2000 11:27:20 +0100, Phillip Lord wrote:

> Communism is a revolutionary form of politics rather than
>a reformist one, it is certainly true. The idea is that the current
>system can not be changed gradually.

This is my biggest gripe with Marx. With all due respect for him, I
think this is precisely where he gets it wrong, and now, years after
his death, he has an enormous stack of historical examples of succesful
reformers and failed revolutions against him.

I wonder what he would say were he alive today.

Certainly, the personal tragedy that befell him would not have occurred
in a modern social democratic country like Canada or Australia. Even in
the US, he would have at least enjoyed the political freedom to pursue
his work at a University ( in fact he might have even chose to live in the
US, because it's one of the better places for academics ).

> Its in the nature of things that
>those who benefit from the current system will use force, both
>economic and military to maintain it. As recent events at Seattle show
>even that bastion of freedom, the US is quite prepared to use fairly
>extreme military force against relatively mild demonstrations.

At the very least, there are still elections in the US. The government
and the law enforcement agencies are accountable. When they behave
excessively, they can, and invariably will be criticised and possibly
prosecuted.

> Kenneth> Any extreme system results in failure. Pure socialism is a
> Kenneth> failure. Pure capitalism is a failure. Some blend is
> Kenneth> necessary.
>
> This is a simple argument for the status quo.

I'd put it differently. I'd say that violent revolution is a failure.
Marx would have us believe that the means justify the end, but i would
suggest that once you corrupt the means, you also poison the end. And
I have a few hundred years of history up my sleave that Marx never saw.

>politics have moved inexorably to the right. My own views which would
>have been considered to be a blend 20 years ago, are now considered to
>be hard line left.

But here's one thing we can agree on -- a revolutionary is *always*
extreme, regardless of the circumstances. Those who advocate violent
revolution can never be called "moderates".

> Kenneth> Taxes and regulations on behavior seem to be passed without
> Kenneth> the consideration that they should entail. This doesn't
> Kenneth> just apply to the United States.
>
> Im not sure what you are saying here. That in the US taxes
>and regulations are not passed without proper consideration? Where as
>no one else thinks about them enough.

I'd agree with you here. People in the US are whining about taxes being
"too high", but actually they are quite low, and American small business
owners / employees and unemployed are still left without health care.

--
Donovan

Phillip Lord

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Jun 24, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/24/00
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>>>>> "Florian" == Florian Weimer <f...@deneb.enyo.de> writes:

Kenneth> Leftist anarchism is based on the cooperative, voluntary
Kenneth> participation of the individual, communism has the
Kenneth> dictatorship of the proletariat as one of its steps.
>> "dictatorship of the proletariat" means that the working class
>> should rule themselves rather than being ruled over by small
>> powerful class.

Florian> "Dictatorship of the proletariat" means, among other
Florian> things, that the proletariat oppresses its former
Florian> oppressors.

I disagree with this. The former oppressors would be removed
from power. There is a nice story about a time when Trotsky found a
large mob of people discussing how they were going to kill a general
that they had found. Trotsky (being the sort of person he was) stood
in front of the general and said that they should not kill him. He was
just a worm after all, and killing him would achieve nothing, for they
had already taken from him what was important which was his power.

This leaves the nice image of the general, going "yeah, you
listen to him, I'm a worm, I'm a worm".

Florian> Certainly, this is not a democracy, and I guess even Marx
Florian> didn't assume this period wouldn't see what we call human
Florian> right violations. Of course this is considered a bad
Florian> thing, but history is supposed to proceed and ...

At the time Marx was writing we did not have a democracy.
Nowadays in some parts of the world, we have some parts of a
democracy. Revolutionary change usually comes about as a result of
massive human rights violations, and is not the cause of it. This was
certainly the case in Russia, and in France, and is also true of those
periods in British history when revolution was close.


>> The difference between leftist anarchism and communism is not one
>> of democracy. Both forms are democratic. The difference is that
>> anarchism sees no role for the machinery of the state, whilst
>> communism sees the state as a mechanism for democracy.

Florian> ... the communist theory proclaims that once the revolution
Florian> has taken place, the state will slowly die. (IIRC,
Florian> according to the theory, the state is an artificial
Florian> construct created in order to be able to exploiting the
Florian> masses in a more efficient manner, anyway.) Finally, if
Florian> the state has vanished (and most social structures with
Florian> it), man has returned to the paradise (called communism).

I'm not sure that I agree with this. There is certainly a
concept of a revolutionary state. As I said these days this is one of
the main differences between anarchism and communism. The anarchists
would say that the forms of state should always be attacked, where as
the communists would tend to think along the lines of workers
councils (or soviets as they were in Russia).


Florian> The past attempts at a communist revolution were able to
Florian> establish the dictatorship of the proletariat, at least for
Florian> a short time, but the state simply didn't die, it was very
Florian> well alive and tried to tightly control its people. All of
Florian> a sudden, even a new class appeared. :-(


Well this is not true. The Paris commune was massacred from
outside. In Russia the revolution was precipitous. The country was
already in a very bad way as a result of the war. Immediately
following this about half of the proletariat died as a result of
famine and the war caused by the white army. They may have lost but it
appears that the white army fatally wounded the dictatorship of the
proletariat. Even then its worth bearing in mind that even in the
revolution failed, the regime that it helped to replace was a truly
terrible one. The revolution may have failed. That does not mean that
it was not right to try.

Phil


Phillip Lord

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Jun 24, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/24/00
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>>>>> "Donovan" == Donovan Rebbechi <elf...@panix.com> writes:

Donovan> On 24 Jun 2000 11:27:20 +0100, Phillip Lord wrote:

>> Communism is a revolutionary form of politics rather than a
>> reformist one, it is certainly true. The idea is that the current
>> system can not be changed gradually.

Donovan> This is my biggest gripe with Marx. With all due respect
Donovan> for him, I think this is precisely where he gets it wrong,
Donovan> and now, years after his death, he has an enormous stack of
Donovan> historical examples of succesful reformers and failed
Donovan> revolutions against him.

Indeed this true. But there again there is also an enormous
stack of successful revolutions. Do you condemn the US or the French
because of their revolutionary origins? In the UK we cut the head off
our King. And many of the rights that we have today come from people
like the Levellers, the Luddites, the Chartists, the Tolpuddle
martyrs, the miners at Tonypandy.

Many of the reformist successes that see came about because
of the threat of revolution beneath the surface. Would we have the
National Health Service and the Welfare state, without the post WWII
mutinies that happened throughout the British army? Martin Luther King
was a great man, but how far would have got if Malcolm X was not
standing behind struggling "by any means necessary".

Donovan> I wonder what he would say were he alive today.

Donovan> Certainly, the personal tragedy that befell him would not
Donovan> have occurred in a modern social democratic country like
Donovan> Canada or Australia. Even in the US, he would have at least
Donovan> enjoyed the political freedom to pursue his work at a
Donovan> University ( in fact he might have even chose to live in
Donovan> the US, because it's one of the better places for academics
Donovan> ).

Yes this is true.

>> Its in the nature of things that those who benefit from the
>> current system will use force, both economic and military to
>> maintain it. As recent events at Seattle show even that bastion
>> of freedom, the US is quite prepared to use fairly extreme
>> military force against relatively mild demonstrations.

Donovan> At the very least, there are still elections in the US. The
Donovan> government and the law enforcement agencies are
Donovan> accountable. When they behave excessively, they can, and
Donovan> invariably will be criticised and possibly prosecuted.

Well that may be true. But there again I wonder what the
people in Somalia would say about that? Or the Eastern Timorese?
Why is this relevant? As we can see from the howls that go up the East
Coast every time petrol prices go up the US is built on oil. Sadly for
both the Timorese, and Somalis their lands sit on top of large
amounts.

It is true that there is a democracy of sorts in the US, and
I would never seek to claim that this is not a good thing. However
there was a strong democracy in Rome as well (at least for those
periods when it was a republic). There was slavery and imperialism as
well.

Kenneth> Any extreme system results in failure. Pure socialism is a
Kenneth> failure. Pure capitalism is a failure. Some blend is
Kenneth> necessary.
>> This is a simple argument for the status quo.

Donovan> I'd put it differently. I'd say that violent revolution is
Donovan> a failure.

Now you see you have mentioned violence revolution, and not
me. If you take a revolution such as over-threw the Ceaucesau (sp?)
regime in Rumania, there was actually remarkably little bloodshed. And
probably a lot less than would have happened if the revolution had
failed (as the pre-revolutionary movement in Tiananmen square
failed).

Look at other uses of the word revolution. For instance
I would say that "the Copernican revolution" is an accurate usage of
the word. He overturned the old system, rather than tinkering with it
(whether or not this was his intention).

In a sense I would even say that some parts of the free
software movement are revolutionary. Linus' made a statement that he
wrote his kernal because he needed an operating system for his
computers and the ones available at the time were just not good enough
is an example. Rather than saying "how can we get the free market to
give us what we want" which would have been the reformist approach he
decided to just go ahead and do it. [Note:- the analogy here is not
terribly good, and I am aware that I am stretching it a bit. But hell
I've got to put something, anything in this post on topic!]


Donovan> Marx would have us believe that the means justify the end,
Donovan> but i would suggest that once you corrupt the means, you
Donovan> also poison the end.

I would not argue that the ends justifies the means. Unlike
Malcolm X, I would not try to proceed by any means necessary.

Donovan> And I have a few hundred years of history up my sleave that
Donovan> Marx never saw.

"Marxism" is a blanket term, somewhat like "Darwinism". It
does not consist of just "Capital" and the Communist manifesto, but
150 years of writings that have gone on since. The 150 years since
Marx are there to be learnt from. They show the successes of reform,
but also its failures.


>> politics have moved inexorably to the right. My own views which
>> would have been considered to be a blend 20 years ago, are now
>> considered to be hard line left.

Donovan> But here's one thing we can agree on -- a revolutionary is
Donovan> *always* extreme, regardless of the circumstances. Those
Donovan> who advocate violent revolution can never be called
Donovan> "moderates".

Well yes more or less by definition. With the caveat that I
would not necessarily say that revolution entails violence on the half
of the revolutionaries. Of course that does not mean that extremism is
unreasonable!

Kenneth> Taxes and regulations on behavior seem to be passed without
Kenneth> the consideration that they should entail. This doesn't
Kenneth> just apply to the United States.
>> Im not sure what you are saying here. That in the US taxes and
>> regulations are not passed without proper consideration? Where as
>> no one else thinks about them enough.

Donovan> I'd agree with you here. People in the US are whining about
Donovan> taxes being "too high", but actually they are quite low,
Donovan> and American small business owners / employees and
Donovan> unemployed are still left without health care.

Depressing isn't it.

Phil

Stefaan A Eeckels

unread,
Jun 24, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/24/00
to
In article <okr99n8...@arginine.sbc.man.ac.uk>,

Phillip Lord <pl...@hgmp.mrc.ac.uk> writes:
>>>>>> "Florian" == Florian Weimer <f...@deneb.enyo.de> writes:
>
> Florian> ... the communist theory proclaims that once the revolution
> Florian> has taken place, the state will slowly die. (IIRC,
> Florian> according to the theory, the state is an artificial
> Florian> construct created in order to be able to exploiting the
> Florian> masses in a more efficient manner, anyway.) Finally, if
> Florian> the state has vanished (and most social structures with
> Florian> it), man has returned to the paradise (called communism).
>
> I'm not sure that I agree with this. There is certainly a
> concept of a revolutionary state. As I said these days this is one of
> the main differences between anarchism and communism. The anarchists
> would say that the forms of state should always be attacked, where as
> the communists would tend to think along the lines of workers
> councils (or soviets as they were in Russia).
The problem with participatory democracy is that a a group of
people always pawns "leaders", and that these leaders then try
to perpetuate their prime position in their offspring. Nobility
wasn't handed down from heaven, it evolved. One only has to look
at the current nobility (our "democratically elected representatives")
to notice how often sprogs follows daddy or mummy into politics.

>
> Florian> The past attempts at a communist revolution were able to
> Florian> establish the dictatorship of the proletariat, at least for
> Florian> a short time, but the state simply didn't die, it was very
> Florian> well alive and tried to tightly control its people. All of
> Florian> a sudden, even a new class appeared. :-(
>
>
> Well this is not true. The Paris commune was massacred from
> outside. In Russia the revolution was precipitous. The country was
> already in a very bad way as a result of the war. Immediately
> following this about half of the proletariat died as a result of
> famine and the war caused by the white army. They may have lost but it
> appears that the white army fatally wounded the dictatorship of the
> proletariat. Even then its worth bearing in mind that even in the
> revolution failed, the regime that it helped to replace was a truly
> terrible one. The revolution may have failed. That does not mean that
> it was not right to try.

Lenin benefitted from a lot of support from Germany. He wouldn't
have been able to reach Russia were it not for their active support
(the more troublemakers in Russia the merrier).
In any case, Lenin's contribution to communism was that because
the proletariat was to stupid to rule itself, it should be ruled
by the intelligentsia. Obviously, this was a huge improvement over
being ruled by inbred nepotist aristocrats ;-). The new regime was
in any case a lot more efficient when it came to eliminating its
opponents. Oh well, tsarism, communism, or capitalism, it's Russia's
fate to always get the worst implementation of a political system.
And always a despot. Poor Russia.

--
Stefaan
--
--PGP key available from PGP key servers (http://www.pgp.net/pgpnet/)--
Ninety-Ninety Rule of Project Schedules:
The first ninety percent of the task takes ninety percent of
the time, and the last ten percent takes the other ninety percent.

Joseph C Fineman

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Jun 24, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/24/00
to
elf...@panix.com (Donovan Rebbechi) writes:

>This is my biggest gripe with Marx. With all due respect for him, I
>think this is precisely where he gets it wrong, and now, years after
>his death, he has an enormous stack of historical examples of
>succesful reformers and failed revolutions against him.

He also believed that the industrial working class would be the engine
of social change in the industrial age, whereas, as everyone knows, it
has continued to be the bourgeoisie.

--- Joe Fineman j...@world.std.com

||: Lady Luck's maiden name was Miss Fortune. :||

Kenneth P. Turvey

unread,
Jun 24, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/24/00
to
On 24 Jun 2000 11:27:20 +0100, Phillip Lord <pl...@hgmp.mrc.ac.uk> wrote:
>
> Kenneth> Any extreme system results in failure. Pure socialism is a
> Kenneth> failure. Pure capitalism is a failure. Some blend is
> Kenneth> necessary.
>
> This is a simple argument for the status quo.

Excuse me? I wasn't arguing for anything. I was stating a fact. Any
system that distributes all goods based on need will not survive. Any
system that distributes all goods based on market value will not
survive. These two represent the extremes of capitalism and socialism
respectively.

> "Extremism" is defined by reference to what the current
>situation is.

I never used the word "Extremism". In this paragraph I was discussing
the systems not the ideas. I'm sorry if I wasn't clear.

[Snip]


>
> Kenneth> Taxes and regulations on behavior seem to be passed without
> Kenneth> the consideration that they should entail. This doesn't
> Kenneth> just apply to the United States.
>
> Im not sure what you are saying here. That in the US taxes
>and regulations are not passed without proper consideration? Where as
>no one else thinks about them enough.

I was simply pointing out that the consideration that most states give
to the use of force is minimal. Often the ability to use force is seen
as adequate justification for its use. I see this all the time in the
U.S. but I know that this is true of other representative democracies as
well.

> My own feeling is that most of the restrictions on my life
>do not come from government, but from capitalism, in so far as they
>are different. To spend time talking about how the government is
>wrong, and what we should do to improve it is to miss the point
>entirely. At least in our current society.

I see the argument and I agree to a point, but corporations do not lock
people up; they do not beat them; they do not kill them (at least when
they do you have recourse); and they do not take a third or more of
their earnings without compensation or justification.

The influence that industry has on government has gone completely out of
control, but that to me is still a problem with government.

--
Kenneth P. Turvey <kt-...@SprocketShop.com>
http://www.tranquility.net/~kturvey/resume/resume.html
--------------------------------------------------------

The United States is a nation of laws: badly written and randomly
enforced.
-- Frank Zappa

Kenneth P. Turvey

unread,
Jun 24, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/24/00
to
On 24 Jun 2000 15:52:10 GMT, Donovan Rebbechi <elf...@panix.com> wrote:
>
>> Kenneth> Taxes and regulations on behavior seem to be passed without
>> Kenneth> the consideration that they should entail. This doesn't
>> Kenneth> just apply to the United States.
>>
>> Im not sure what you are saying here. That in the US taxes
>>and regulations are not passed without proper consideration? Where as
>>no one else thinks about them enough.

I have already mentioned that I wasn't noting a contrast between the US and
other countries but a similarity.

>I'd agree with you here. People in the US are whining about taxes being
>"too high", but actually they are quite low, and American small business
>owners / employees and unemployed are still left without health care.

I don't have any problem with high taxes if they are justified. I
simply believe that we should look at taxes for what they are. They are
theft. You should only impose taxes in those cases where you would be
willing to steal from your neighbor to achieve the same goal.

Am I willing to steal from my neighbors to make sure the poor kid eats?
Yes. Am I willing to steal from my neighbors to make sure that we have
an educated populous? Yes.

There are more examples where the answer would be no.

--
Kenneth P. Turvey <kt-...@SprocketShop.com>
http://www.tranquility.net/~kturvey/resume/resume.html
--------------------------------------------------------

As we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should
be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours.
-- Benjamin Franklin

Phillip Lord

unread,
Jun 26, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/26/00
to

>>>>> "Kenneth" == Kenneth P Turvey <kt-...@SprocketShop.com> writes:

Kenneth> Any extreme system results in failure. Pure socialism is a
Kenneth> failure. Pure capitalism is a failure. Some blend is
Kenneth> necessary.
>> This is a simple argument for the status quo.

Kenneth> Excuse me? I wasn't arguing for anything. I was stating a
Kenneth> fact.

You may be stating what you feel is a fact, but that is
a different thing altogether.


>> "Extremism" is defined by reference to what the current situation
>> is.

Kenneth> I never used the word "Extremism". In this paragraph I was
Kenneth> discussing the systems not the ideas. I'm sorry if I
Kenneth> wasn't clear.

You used the word "extreme". My point remains, that what we
define to be extreme is defined only with respect to the middle point
which most would take to me the current system. So systems which
differ from the status quo are held to be extreme.

Of course there are other definitions of "extreme". Our
respective societies are both good examples of extremist societies and
getting worse in my own belief.


Kenneth> Taxes and regulations on behavior seem to be passed without
Kenneth> the consideration that they should entail. This doesn't
Kenneth> just apply to the United States.
>> Im not sure what you are saying here. That in the US taxes and
>> regulations are not passed without proper consideration? Where as
>> no one else thinks about them enough.

Kenneth> I was simply pointing out that the consideration that most
Kenneth> states give to the use of force is minimal. Often the
Kenneth> ability to use force is seen as adequate justification for
Kenneth> its use. I see this all the time in the U.S. but I know
Kenneth> that this is true of other representative democracies as
Kenneth> well.

Okay no I see this more clearly. As I said I was not at all
sure what you meant previously.

>> My own feeling is that most of the restrictions on my life do not
>> come from government, but from capitalism, in so far as they are
>> different. To spend time talking about how the government is
>> wrong, and what we should do to improve it is to miss the point
>> entirely. At least in our current society.

Kenneth> I see the argument and I agree to a point, but corporations
Kenneth> do not lock people up; they do not beat them; they do not
Kenneth> kill them (at least when they do you have recourse); and
Kenneth> they do not take a third or more of their earnings without
Kenneth> compensation or justification.

Well I'm afraid that they do. Often it is true with the
collusion of the government. There are many examples. Shell Oil was
for instance complicit in the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa whose crime
was speaking out against forcible relocation of the Ongone(sp?)
people. Similarly were it not for the oil industry its unlikely that
the US and UK would have supported Suharto's invasion of East Timor
(1/3 of the population massacred). Closer to (your) home there are
examples of for instance large chemical companies deliberately
concealing knowledge about the toxicity of products. You do not have
to shoot someone to kill them.

As for taking their earnings "You dig sixteen tons and what do
you get, another day older and deeper in debt". This may not be true
in the US any more (though I doubt that), but it is all over the
world.

Kenneth> The influence that industry has on government has gone
Kenneth> completely out of control, but that to me is still a
Kenneth> problem with government.

Fair enough. For me I would say that both are problems of our
society.

Phil

Phillip Lord

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Jun 26, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/26/00
to
>>>>> "Stefaan" == Stefaan A Eeckels <Stefaan...@ecc.lu> writes:

Stefaan> The problem with participatory democracy is that a a group
Stefaan> of people always pawns "leaders", and that these leaders
Stefaan> then try to perpetuate their prime position in their
Stefaan> offspring. Nobility wasn't handed down from heaven, it
Stefaan> evolved. One only has to look at the current nobility (our
Stefaan> "democratically elected representatives") to notice how
Stefaan> often sprogs follows daddy or mummy into politics.

I think that this is some truth in this, but I don't
think that it is necessary that it happens. For me the main problem
with democracy at the moment is that our democratically elected
leaders are pawns to the large capital interests (as were are previous
unelected leaders!). Democracy is very limited in its scope
therefore. I think that a fully participatory democracy could work. It
has been tried before successfully but failed usually due to outside
influence.

Stefaan> Lenin benefitted from a lot of support from Germany.

True enough.

Stefaan> He wouldn't have been able to reach Russia were it not for
Stefaan> their active support (the more troublemakers in Russia the
Stefaan> merrier). In any case, Lenin's contribution to communism
Stefaan> was that because the proletariat was to stupid to rule
Stefaan> itself, it should be ruled by the
Stefaan> intelligentsia. Obviously, this was a huge improvement over
Stefaan> being ruled by inbred nepotist aristocrats ;-).

Not a statement that I would support. Although it should be
noted that it is possible to be both "intelligensia" and "proletariat"
particularly in this day and age, where "mind workers" often suffer
from the same abuses that labourers did in the past.

Stefaan> The new regime was in any case a lot more efficient when it
Stefaan> came to eliminating its opponents. Oh well, tsarism,
Stefaan> communism, or capitalism, it's Russia's fate to always get
Stefaan> the worst implementation of a political system. And always
Stefaan> a despot. Poor Russia.

Russian history has a lot of very low points. I don't know
why. For me though the revolution was one of the points where it
things look promisingly good, even if that promise failed to
materialise...

Phil

Phillip Lord

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Jun 26, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/26/00
to

>>>>> "Kenneth" == Kenneth P Turvey <kt-...@SprocketShop.com> writes:

Kenneth> I don't have any problem with high taxes if they are
Kenneth> justified. I simply believe that we should look at taxes
Kenneth> for what they are. They are theft. You should only impose
Kenneth> taxes in those cases where you would be willing to steal
Kenneth> from your neighbor to achieve the same goal.

Kenneth> Am I willing to steal from my neighbors to make sure the
Kenneth> poor kid eats? Yes. Am I willing to steal from my
Kenneth> neighbors to make sure that we have an educated populous?
Kenneth> Yes.

Then I find your terminology unusual but do not disagree
with the sentiment.

Phil

Volker Hetzer

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Jun 26, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/26/00
to
"Kenneth P. Turvey" wrote:
> I think it also implied some use of force during the transition. The
> workers rise up, the workers force their will on the former system,
> eventually everyone is happy and voluntarily cooperates.

>
> There is a middle step in which consent is not required.
Yes, however this is based on the assumption that the workers form the
majority of the population and therefore simply enforce a majority decision.

> Any extreme system results in failure. Pure socialism is a failure. Pure
> capitalism is a failure. Some blend is necessary.
I don't think it has to be a certain "blend". This was wished by many when
the two germanies merged, but it simply didn't work out that way. (Try
to blend easy work, a hard currency and perfect social security.)
I'd rather think one always needs a diversity of opinions. Without them there
is no change and therefore no progress.
The problem of today is that you can basically demonize any opinion if you
tag it with either "fascist/capitalist" or "communist".
Then you don't have to think about its contents anymore and the purpose of
freedom of speech (diversity of opinion and ideas, IMHO) is defeated.
This is bad.

> I personally think
> that consent is the most important aspect of any system.

I disagree.
Conflicts (slaver/slave, peasant/landowner, worker/factory owner) and their
eventual and ongoing resolution are the driving force of progress.
They create problems and therefore the will to change something.
IMHO that's why western european culture evolved faster (if more bloody)
than the consent based societies in the far east.
What's needed is a civilised means of solving those conflicts. I think
a mixture of marx and gandhi philosophy would be a good place to start this.

Greetings!
Volker
--
The early bird gets the worm. If you want something else for
breakfast, get up later.

Stefaan A Eeckels

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Jun 26, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/26/00
to
In article <okr99ks...@arginine.sbc.man.ac.uk>,

Phillip Lord <pl...@hgmp.mrc.ac.uk> writes:
>>>>>> "Stefaan" == Stefaan A Eeckels <Stefaan...@ecc.lu> writes:
>
> Stefaan> The problem with participatory democracy is that a a group
> Stefaan> of people always pawns "leaders", and that these leaders
Oops, should be "spawns"...

> Stefaan> then try to perpetuate their prime position in their
> Stefaan> offspring. Nobility wasn't handed down from heaven, it
> Stefaan> evolved. One only has to look at the current nobility (our
> Stefaan> "democratically elected representatives") to notice how
> Stefaan> often sprogs follows daddy or mummy into politics.
>
> I think that this is some truth in this, but I don't
> think that it is necessary that it happens. For me the main problem
> with democracy at the moment is that our democratically elected
> leaders are pawns to the large capital interests (as were are previous
> unelected leaders!). Democracy is very limited in its scope
> therefore. I think that a fully participatory democracy could work. It
> has been tried before successfully but failed usually due to outside
> influence.
The problem is that we can't start from a level playing field, and
that the field doesn't seem to stay level very long. Our current
system effectively limits the powers of our "leaders", and as such
it's a huge improvement over less accountable systems.
Real participatory democracy is quickly eroded by
a) the lack of interest of 60-80% of the population when
things go well.
b) the very real desire of 10-20% of the population
to be "leaders"
c) the natural tendency of people to favour their offspring

So-called intelligence doesn't help either, as the hallowed
halls of the academia are rife with politicking, nepotism,
and power brokering.

> Stefaan> Lenin benefitted from a lot of support from Germany.
>
> True enough.
>
> Stefaan> He wouldn't have been able to reach Russia were it not for
> Stefaan> their active support (the more troublemakers in Russia the
> Stefaan> merrier). In any case, Lenin's contribution to communism
> Stefaan> was that because the proletariat was to stupid to rule
> Stefaan> itself, it should be ruled by the
> Stefaan> intelligentsia. Obviously, this was a huge improvement over
> Stefaan> being ruled by inbred nepotist aristocrats ;-).
>
> Not a statement that I would support.

I'd have no hesitation to say that stalinism was a lot worse than
the tsarism of the early 20th century. Russia was industrializing,
and without the war it would probably have moved to a more western
style particracy.

> Although it should be
> noted that it is possible to be both "intelligensia" and "proletariat"
> particularly in this day and age, where "mind workers" often suffer
> from the same abuses that labourers did in the past.

But they get paid a lot better, and quite often want to work for
the large corporations that exploit them. It's not amazing either,
as "working for a large company" is the mantra the schools use.

> Stefaan> The new regime was in any case a lot more efficient when it
> Stefaan> came to eliminating its opponents. Oh well, tsarism,
> Stefaan> communism, or capitalism, it's Russia's fate to always get
> Stefaan> the worst implementation of a political system. And always
> Stefaan> a despot. Poor Russia.
>
> Russian history has a lot of very low points. I don't know
> why. For me though the revolution was one of the points where it
> things look promisingly good, even if that promise failed to
> materialise...

The French revolution gave us Napoleon, the Russian revolution
gave us Stalin, etc. Revolutions serve the purpose of power-hungry
individuals, not of the general populace.
The American revolution was an exception because it was a small
bunch of wealthy land-owners who dumped an inept king. We forget
that when they wrote "we believe all men to be created equal", they
really meant "all white Anglo-Saxon Protestant males".

Phillip Lord

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Jun 26, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/26/00
to
>>>>> "Volker" == Volker Hetzer <volker...@ieee.org> writes:

Volker> The problem of today is that you can basically demonize any
Volker> opinion if you tag it with either "fascist/capitalist" or
Volker> "communist". Then you don't have to think about its
Volker> contents anymore and the purpose of freedom of speech
Volker> (diversity of opinion and ideas, IMHO) is defeated. This is
Volker> bad.

I have to say that I had not thought of it in this way
but I think that it is a very astute point. Perhaps it is arrogant of
me, and I am guilty of projecting my own feelings onto society at
large, but at the moment it seems that politics is largely in
flux. The massive upsurge of demonstration that we see in the US and
many European countries, and also the global nature of this, is new,
but undirected. I can certainly explain this in Marxist terms, and I
think this provides a good explanation/description. But I also think
that it lacks something. I think we need new ideologies for the new
millennium. I just don't know what they are yet.

>> I personally think that consent is the most important aspect of
>> any system.

Volker> I disagree. Conflicts (slaver/slave, peasant/landowner,
Volker> worker/factory owner) and their eventual and ongoing
Volker> resolution are the driving force of progress.

I would be quite happy if we could rid society of the class
divides that make the sort of conflict that you mention. I don't think
this advances us very far at all! You seem to be arguing that problems
are good, because then we can solve them, rather than not just having
them in the first place.

Volker> What's needed is a civilised means of solving those
Volker> conflicts. I think a mixture of marx and gandhi philosophy
Volker> would be a good place to start this.

Maybe so, maybe so.

Phil

Phillip Lord

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Jun 26, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/26/00
to
>>>>> "Kenneth" == Kenneth P Turvey <kt-...@SprocketShop.com> writes:

Kenneth> On Mon, 26 Jun 2000 13:22:39 +0000, Volker Hetzer


Kenneth> <volker...@ieee.org> wrote:
>> "Kenneth P. Turvey" wrote:
>>> I think it also implied some use of force during the transition.
>>> The workers rise up, the workers force their will on the former
>>> system, eventually everyone is happy and voluntarily cooperates.
>>>
>>> There is a middle step in which consent is not required.

>> Yes, however this is based on the assumption that the workers
>> form the majority of the population and therefore simply enforce
>> a majority decision.

Kenneth> Even majority decisions may be unjust. Mob rule is not
Kenneth> identical to just government.

This might be true, but I do not think that this is reason
for not having majority decisions. Also I think that there is a
difference between "mob rule" and government. It is possible that we
could form a government involving the majority of the population and
that it would not be a mob. Actually this is nice because it gives me
a chance to make an on topic point. The free software movement shows
that a cooperative society can exist without degrading into mob rule.

Phil

Phillip Lord

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Jun 26, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/26/00
to
>>>>> "Stefaan" == Stefaan A Eeckels <Stefaan...@ecc.lu> writes:

Stefaan> The problem is that we can't start from a level playing
Stefaan> field, and that the field doesn't seem to stay level very
Stefaan> long.

Thats why you need a revolution rather than gradual reform.

Stefaan> Our current system effectively limits the powers of our
Stefaan> "leaders", and as such it's a huge improvement over less
Stefaan> accountable systems. Real participatory democracy is
Stefaan> quickly eroded by a) the lack of interest of 60-80% of the
Stefaan> population when things go well.

I'm not sure that I agree with this. Currently in most of the
western democracies many people of my age (below 30. Just) show very
little interest in politics. We don't vote, we certainly don't join
political parties. But this does not reflect apathy. The most commonly
stated reason is "It does not make any difference". I tend to
agree. That is not apathy is shown clearly by the increase in single
issue groups, and direct action campaigns. Of course single issue
groups have a problem. They are single issue. Still many people are
active in more than one single issue group, so I think that there is
hope.

Stefaan> b) the very real desire of 10-20% of the population to be
Stefaan> "leaders"

I think this desire is taught though. If you live in a sharply
hierarchical society where would you rather be, top or bottom? I
myself feel a desire to earn more money to rise up the greasy
pole. Not because I want to but because I feel I need to.

Stefaan> c) the natural tendency of people to favour their offspring

I think that the world is complex enough to cope with this.
People might favour their offspring. But their offspring often want to
make their own way in the world.

Stefaan> So-called intelligence doesn't help either, as the hallowed
Stefaan> halls of the academia are rife with politicking, nepotism,
Stefaan> and power brokering.

Yeah. Tell me about it why don't you?

Stefaan> I'd have no hesitation to say that stalinism was a lot
Stefaan> worse than the tsarism of the early 20th century. Russia
Stefaan> was industrializing, and without the war it would probably
Stefaan> have moved to a more western style particracy.

I really do not know about this. Its notable that most of the
european countries got rid of their hereditary leaders. In most cases
this happened violently, either internally (eg England and France) or
externally (eg Germany). Russia was really very agrarian before the
revolution, and also very despotic. The problem is that after the
revolution Russia changed in some many ways, including
industrialisation, that its hard to know what caused what.


Stefaan> The French revolution gave us Napoleon, the Russian
Stefaan> revolution gave us Stalin, etc.

The Russian revolution gave us the Soviets. Perhaps without
the white army they would have never slid into Stalinism.


Stefaan> We forget that when they wrote "we believe all men to be
Stefaan> created equal", they really meant "all white Anglo-Saxon
Stefaan> Protestant males".

True enough!

Phil

Volker Hetzer

unread,
Jun 26, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/26/00
to
Phillip Lord wrote:
>
> >>>>> "Volker" == Volker Hetzer <volker...@ieee.org> writes:
>
> Volker> The problem of today is that you can basically demonize any
> Volker> opinion if you tag it with either "fascist/capitalist" or
> Volker> "communist". Then you don't have to think about its
> Volker> contents anymore and the purpose of freedom of speech
> Volker> (diversity of opinion and ideas, IMHO) is defeated. This is
> Volker> bad.
>
> I have to say that I had not thought of it in this way
> but I think that it is a very astute point.
The tactics of demonizing, or categorizing in general instead of finding
a counter argument, or its consequences?
But anyway, thanx for the flowers! :-)

For me this (both) is what makes the western-style "freedom of speech"
such a farce. You are legally permitted to talk, but your power to
change anything is about as limited as with a stalinist-type gag.
First you have to rise out of the general signal-to-noise ratio
and after that, if you want to change the status quo you are much to busy
defending against demonisation to actually get your point across.

OTOH in the eastern bloc countries it was hard to talk but people
did a lot of listening. To western broadcasts, to undertones in their
own broadcasts, to other people. You can't afford this now because
the media are full of people talking your ears off.

> Perhaps it is arrogant of
> me, and I am guilty of projecting my own feelings onto society at
> large, but at the moment it seems that politics is largely in
> flux. The massive upsurge of demonstration that we see in the US and
> many European countries, and also the global nature of this, is new,
> but undirected. I can certainly explain this in Marxist terms, and I
> think this provides a good explanation/description. But I also think
> that it lacks something. I think we need new ideologies for the new
> millennium. I just don't know what they are yet.

Well, Marx formulated a few social laws that are supposed to work like
natural laws, in the sense that they work out largely independent of
conscious will. Like equalisation of living standards across the world.
I see this happening everywhere where countries move into the "developed"
sphere. Like south korea or south africa. Once this has happened to most
countries and they all have things like unions, labour standards or
comparable laws, things will start to get interesting again.
Same goes for socialisation of ownership that dilutes the clear cut
border between worker and company owner. According to marx it's supposed
to happen. And - everybody is getting stock and the managers are just paid
employees.
I'd really have to read up on this a bit more but this is what I remember
from school. I don't remember how this was supposed to be good, but it was.

> I would be quite happy if we could rid society of the class
> divides that make the sort of conflict that you mention. I don't think
> this advances us very far at all! You seem to be arguing that problems
> are good, because then we can solve them, rather than not just having
> them in the first place.

To be honest, that's the biggest problem I see in the paradisic vision
of communism. Marx says a lot about how a specific set of problems have
driven society forward and then he wants to solve those problems and
takes the drive out.
As far as I fear, the result will be stagnation.
Or, communism is something that can be reached only asymptotically, which
rules out a big bang (world revolution).

Kenneth P. Turvey

unread,
Jun 26, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/26/00
to
On Mon, 26 Jun 2000 13:22:39 +0000, Volker Hetzer <volker...@ieee.org> wrote:
>"Kenneth P. Turvey" wrote:
>> I think it also implied some use of force during the transition. The
>> workers rise up, the workers force their will on the former system,
>> eventually everyone is happy and voluntarily cooperates.
>>
>> There is a middle step in which consent is not required.

>Yes, however this is based on the assumption that the workers form the
>majority of the population and therefore simply enforce a majority decision.

Even majority decisions may be unjust. Mob rule is not identical to
just government.

[Snip]


--
Kenneth P. Turvey <kt-...@SprocketShop.com>
http://www.tranquility.net/~kturvey/resume/resume.html
--------------------------------------------------------

I took the initiative in creating the Internet.
-- Al Gore

Michael Powe

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Jun 26, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/26/00
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-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
Hash: SHA1

>>>>> "Stefaan" == Stefaan A Eeckels <Stefaan...@ecc.lu> writes:

Stefaan> In article <okr99ks...@arginine.sbc.man.ac.uk>,


Stefaan> Phillip Lord <pl...@hgmp.mrc.ac.uk> writes:

>> Russian history has a lot of very low points. I don't know
>> why. For me though the revolution was one of the points where
>> it things look promisingly good, even if that promise failed to
>> materialise...

Stefaan> The French revolution gave us Napoleon, the Russian
Stefaan> revolution gave us Stalin, etc. Revolutions serve the
Stefaan> purpose of power-hungry individuals, not of the general
Stefaan> populace. The American revolution was an exception
Stefaan> because it was a small bunch of wealthy land-owners who
Stefaan> dumped an inept king. We forget that when they wrote "we
Stefaan> believe all men to be created equal", they really meant
Stefaan> "all white Anglo-Saxon Protestant males".

Actually, they really meant "all white males above a certain age who
own a certain amount of property." As one of the "Founding Fathers"
put it at the opening of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, "we
suffer from an excess of democracy."

mp

- --
Michael Powe Portland, Oregon USA
"Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning"
-- George W. Bush, Jr.
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Kenneth P. Turvey

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Jun 26, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/26/00
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On 26 Jun 2000 17:19:04 +0100, Phillip Lord <pl...@hgmp.mrc.ac.uk> wrote:
>
> Kenneth> Even majority decisions may be unjust. Mob rule is not
> Kenneth> identical to just government.
>
> This might be true, but I do not think that this is reason
>for not having majority decisions. Also I think that there is a
>difference between "mob rule" and government. It is possible that we
>could form a government involving the majority of the population and
>that it would not be a mob. Actually this is nice because it gives me
>a chance to make an on topic point. The free software movement shows
>that a cooperative society can exist without degrading into mob rule.

I think is a very good reason for not allowing majority decisions in
the most important aspects of our life. The whole point of the Bill of
Rights (the first ten amendments to the US Constitution) is to take away
the power of the majority to infringe some select rights of the minority.

I'm not sure that enough time has passed to pass any judgment on the
free software movement.

--
Kenneth P. Turvey <kt-...@SprocketShop.com>
http://www.tranquility.net/~kturvey/resume/resume.html
--------------------------------------------------------

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free
State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be
infringed. -- The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution

Kenneth P. Turvey

unread,
Jun 27, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/27/00
to
On 26 Jun 2000 17:19:04 +0100, Phillip Lord <pl...@hgmp.mrc.ac.uk> wrote:
>
> Kenneth> Even majority decisions may be unjust. Mob rule is not
> Kenneth> identical to just government.
>
> This might be true, but I do not think that this is reason
>for not having majority decisions. Also I think that there is a
>difference between "mob rule" and government. It is possible that we
>could form a government involving the majority of the population and
>that it would not be a mob. Actually this is nice because it gives me
>a chance to make an on topic point. The free software movement shows
>that a cooperative society can exist without degrading into mob rule.

I think this is a very good reason for not allowing majority decisions in


the most important aspects of our life. The whole point of the Bill of
Rights (the first ten amendments to the US Constitution) is to take away
the power of the majority to infringe some select rights of the minority.

I'm not sure that enough time has gone by to pass any judgment on the
free software movement. I hope you are correct.

Kenneth P. Turvey

unread,
Jun 27, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/27/00
to
On 26 Jun 2000 20:44:52 -0700, Michael Powe <michae...@trollope.org> wrote:
>>>>>> "Stefaan" == Stefaan A Eeckels <Stefaan...@ecc.lu> writes:
>
> Stefaan> In article <okr99ks...@arginine.sbc.man.ac.uk>,
>
> Stefaan> The French revolution gave us Napoleon, the Russian
> Stefaan> revolution gave us Stalin, etc. Revolutions serve the
> Stefaan> purpose of power-hungry individuals, not of the general
> Stefaan> populace. The American revolution was an exception
> Stefaan> because it was a small bunch of wealthy land-owners who
> Stefaan> dumped an inept king. We forget that when they wrote "we
> Stefaan> believe all men to be created equal", they really meant
> Stefaan> "all white Anglo-Saxon Protestant males".
>
>Actually, they really meant "all white males above a certain age who
>own a certain amount of property." As one of the "Founding Fathers"
>put it at the opening of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, "we
>suffer from an excess of democracy."

For the most part you are correct, but I think that the meaning of that
passage was much debated probably differed depending on which delegate
you asked.

--
Kenneth P. Turvey <kt-...@SprocketShop.com>
http://www.tranquility.net/~kturvey/resume/resume.html
--------------------------------------------------------

We must all hang together, or most assuredly, we will all hang
separately.
-- Benjamin Franklin

Volker Hetzer

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Jun 27, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/27/00
to
"Kenneth P. Turvey" wrote:
> >Yes, however this is based on the assumption that the workers form the
> >majority of the population and therefore simply enforce a majority decision.
>
> Even majority decisions may be unjust. Mob rule is not identical to
> just government.
Wo said democracy is just? Democracy IMHO means that the population
cannot blame someone else for bad decisions. It certainly doesn't
prevent a population from making them.

Phillip Lord

unread,
Jun 27, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/27/00
to

>>>>> "Kenneth" == Kenneth P Turvey <kt-...@SprocketShop.com> writes:

Kenneth> On 26 Jun 2000 17:19:04 +0100, Phillip Lord


Kenneth> <pl...@hgmp.mrc.ac.uk> wrote:
>>
Kenneth> Even majority decisions may be unjust. Mob rule is not
Kenneth> identical to just government.
>> This might be true, but I do not think that this is reason for
>> not having majority decisions. Also I think that there is a
>> difference between "mob rule" and government. It is possible that

>> we could form a government involving the majority of the
>> population and that it would not be a mob. Actually this is nice


>> because it gives me a chance to make an on topic point. The free
>> software movement shows that a cooperative society can exist
>> without degrading into mob rule.

Kenneth> I think this is a very good reason for not allowing
Kenneth> majority decisions in the most important aspects of our
Kenneth> life. The whole point of the Bill of Rights (the first ten
Kenneth> amendments to the US Constitution) is to take away the
Kenneth> power of the majority to infringe some select rights of the
Kenneth> minority.

I'm not entirely convinced that I agree with this. The
US government is based around a federal division of power. Surely the
purpose of the bill of rights (like the rest of the constitution) is
to give some coherency to the laws passed in the different states.

Nowadays the bill of rights is more important than that of
course. Although it was not originally written for this purpose it
forms the basis of the universal declaration of human rights, which is
as close as we get to international law.

I can not see how you work out that this is to protect the
minority against the majority. The US has a strongly class orientated
society, which means that the power to abuse the bill of rights on a
large scale is predominately vested in a small minority, not the
majority.

Kenneth> I'm not sure that enough time has gone by to pass any
Kenneth> judgment on the free software movement. I hope you are
Kenneth> correct.

As you say. I think it will be interesting to look back in
forty years time and see what has become of the free software
movement. I hope that it will have a lasting heritage. But who knows?

Phil

Hyman Rosen

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Jun 27, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/27/00
to
Phillip Lord <pl...@hgmp.mrc.ac.uk> writes:
> The massive upsurge of demonstration that we see in the US and many
> European countries, and also the global nature of this, is new, but
> undirected.

The "upsurge", at least in the US, is tiny. It was simply organized
well enough to garner media attention in Seattle, where the
authorities were stupid enough to try violent means of suppression.

It's helped along by organized labor, which is grasping at straws
trying to get protectionism back.

Hyman Rosen

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Jun 27, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/27/00
to
Volker Hetzer <volker...@ieee.org> writes:
> For me this (both) is what makes the western-style "freedom of speech"
> such a farce. You are legally permitted to talk, but your power to
> change anything is about as limited as with a stalinist-type gag.
> First you have to rise out of the general signal-to-noise ratio
> and after that, if you want to change the status quo you are much to busy
> defending against demonisation to actually get your point across.

But how else could it be? Should every talker get to change the status
quo every time he wants to? The requirement of rising above the noise
and surviving demonization is exactly what filters out the weak and
loony ideas and lets most people live out their lives in peace, safe
from the revolutionaries who would wreak havoc on society.

Phillip Lord

unread,
Jun 27, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/27/00
to

>>>>> "Hyman" == Hyman Rosen <hy...@prolifics.com> writes:

Hyman> Phillip Lord <pl...@hgmp.mrc.ac.uk> writes:
>> The massive upsurge of demonstration that we see in the US and
>> many European countries, and also the global nature of this, is
>> new, but undirected.

Hyman> The "upsurge", at least in the US, is tiny. It was simply
Hyman> organized well enough to garner media attention in Seattle,
Hyman> where the authorities were stupid enough to try violent means
Hyman> of suppression.

There were something like 100,000 people at Seattle. If you
have ever tried to get 10 people together for a darts march in the
local pub, then you would realise that 100,000 people is a lot of
people.

Hyman> It's helped along by organized labor, which is grasping at
Hyman> straws trying to get protectionism back.

Funny. There has been an organised boycott among the
longshoremen, in support of the Liverpool dockers in recent
years. Protectionism or solidarity?

Phil

Phillip Lord

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Jun 27, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/27/00
to

>>>>> "Hyman" == Hyman Rosen <hy...@prolifics.com> writes:

Hyman> The requirement of rising above the noise and surviving
Hyman> demonization is exactly what filters out the weak and loony
Hyman> ideas and lets most people live out their lives in peace,
Hyman> safe from the revolutionaries who would wreak havoc on
Hyman> society.

Which is an argument for the status quo. Without the
revolutionaries "wreaking havoc" you would still be paying tax to the
British Monarch, and I would probably have been executed for sedition
a long long time ago.

Phil

je...@pyromania.mishnet

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Jun 27, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/27/00
to
On 27 Jun 2000 11:25:56 +0100, Phillip Lord <pl...@hgmp.mrc.ac.uk> wrote:
>
>
>>>>>> "Kenneth" == Kenneth P Turvey <kt-...@SprocketShop.com> writes:
>
> Kenneth> On 26 Jun 2000 17:19:04 +0100, Phillip Lord
> Kenneth> <pl...@hgmp.mrc.ac.uk> wrote:
[deletia]

> I'm not entirely convinced that I agree with this. The
>US government is based around a federal division of power. Surely the
>purpose of the bill of rights (like the rest of the constitution) is
>to give some coherency to the laws passed in the different states.

Nope. Actually in the beginning the states had certain powers
and the federal government had certain powers thate were spelled
out and mutually exclusive.

That too has mutated over time.

>
> Nowadays the bill of rights is more important than that of
>course. Although it was not originally written for this purpose it
>forms the basis of the universal declaration of human rights, which is
>as close as we get to international law.
>
> I can not see how you work out that this is to protect the
>minority against the majority. The US has a strongly class orientated
>society, which means that the power to abuse the bill of rights on a
>large scale is predominately vested in a small minority, not the
>majority.

Your rhetoric points out the problem of the "tyranny of the majority"
which can be found in the writings of the founding fathers. This is
why the US is a constitutional republic rather than a democrcy.

"abuse the bill of rights" is typically a sure sign of those who would
be the first to repress someone else's liberties merely because it
offends your sensibilities. The Bill of Rights is meant to prevent
the federal government from doing just that.

And who is the federal government ultimately?

[deletia]
--

|||
/ | \

Volker Hetzer

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Jun 27, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/27/00
to
Hyman Rosen wrote:

> But how else could it be?

Good question. A good answer is IMHO worth a nobel prize for social science.
Any creative ideas?
IMHO written discussions in the style of the usenet are at the moment
the best we have when it comes to give every idea an about equal chance.

> Should every talker get to change the status quo every time he wants to?

But getting an audience does not mean changing the status quo. It means
getting more people to want to change it.
(About a minority changing the status quo: I agree with you.)

> The requirement of rising above the noise

> and surviving demonization is exactly what filters out the weak and
> loony ideas and lets most people live out their lives in peace, safe
> from the revolutionaries who would wreak havoc on society.
The point is that it's very easy to use this to shut up people with good
ideas. I don't know about you but the average person can just about always
be shouted down by a well prepared, well paid agressive speaker(s) who's
employed by the opposing side. Plus PR of course.
Free speech is *not* about letting money decide who wins a discussion.
So, the current (oral) system doesn't filter out the weak ideas, but the
rhetorically unsophisticated people.

Volker Hetzer

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Jun 27, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/27/00
to
Hyman Rosen wrote:

> It's helped along by organized labor, which is grasping at straws


> trying to get protectionism back.

Protectionism is done by companies to protect their profits from the
competition.
The hard kind goes to the government for import dues, the soft kind
starts a "buy american/british/german/whatever" campaign.

Jay Maynard

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Jun 27, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/27/00
to
On Tue, 27 Jun 2000 16:04:16 +0000, Volker Hetzer <volker...@ieee.org>
wrote:

>Protectionism is done by companies to protect their profits from the
>competition.
>The hard kind goes to the government for import dues, the soft kind
>starts a "buy american/british/german/whatever" campaign.

Nice try. How come Big Labor is universally on the side of protectioninsm,
while business isn't? (Yes, I know some businesses are, but others aren't.)

Volker Hetzer

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Jun 27, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/27/00
to
Which business isn't? No company I ever worked with liked their competitors.
But all said otherwise in public.

Counter example to "big labour". The german green card. Instead of lobbying
against the import of foreign labour they made sure that they don't get paid
less than their german counterparts. I call this "social conscience", not
"protectionism".

Hyman Rosen

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Jun 27, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/27/00
to

But the American Revolutionaries *were* able to rise above the noise
and convince enough people that revolution was worthwhile. But it
cannot be the case that anyone who gets up to shout "revolution" must
succeed. Instead, they must be convincing enough to draw support away
from the status quo.

Hyman Rosen

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Jun 27, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/27/00
to
Volker Hetzer <volker...@ieee.org> writes:
> The point is that it's very easy to use this to shut up people with
> good ideas. I don't know about you but the average person can just
> about always be shouted down by a well prepared, well paid agressive
> speaker(s) who's employed by the opposing side. Plus PR of course.
> Free speech is *not* about letting money decide who wins a
> discussion. So, the current (oral) system doesn't filter out the
> weak ideas, but the rhetorically unsophisticated people.

Free speech is all about communicating ideas. If you cannot
communicate your idea clearly and convincingly, it's unlikely
to get a hearing. The mechanism of swaying undecided people
to support an idea involves presenting it an attractive light.

It is frequently the case that when supporters of an idea fail
to get it widely accepted, they seek to attribute blame to
something other than people actually considering their idea and
rejecting it.

Stefaan A Eeckels

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Jun 27, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/27/00
to
In article <3958DDCA...@ieee.org>,

Volker Hetzer <volker...@ieee.org> writes:
> Jay Maynard wrote:
>>
>> On Tue, 27 Jun 2000 16:04:16 +0000, Volker Hetzer <volker...@ieee.org>
>> wrote:
>> >Protectionism is done by companies to protect their profits from the
>> >competition.
>> >The hard kind goes to the government for import dues, the soft kind
>> >starts a "buy american/british/german/whatever" campaign.
>>
>> Nice try. How come Big Labor is universally on the side of protectioninsm,
>> while business isn't? (Yes, I know some businesses are, but others aren't.)
> Which business isn't? No company I ever worked with liked their competitors.
> But all said otherwise in public.
They don't have to like them to favour "free trade".

Consider that there are several aspects to free trade.
- it gives businesses in less developed countries (read "lower salaries")
access to markets in rich countries
- it allows rich, large companies to squash emerging competition in
developing countries, a
- it allows multinationals to produce cheaply and make big profits
that don't benefit the producing country as much as a locally
owned business would.



> Counter example to "big labour". The german green card. Instead of lobbying
> against the import of foreign labour they made sure that they don't get paid
> less than their german counterparts. I call this "social conscience", not
> "protectionism".

Nonetheless, when confronted with cheap imports, unions react
with demands for protectionist measures. You see, foreigners
working for less than a German are a threat to their members, so
they can proceed in two ways:
- make the foreigner non-competitive (someone who speaks poor German
and is paid the same as a native German speaker is at a disadvantage),
whilst holding the upper moral ground.
- refusing entry and looking like racists.

Which alternative would _you_ prefer, knowing that in both cases the
result is the same?

You have to understand that the reactions of companies and unions is
wholly self-serving. Mealy-mouthing about free trade, or solidarity
is just selfrighteous bluster designed to hoodwink the public or
allow people to feel good when choosing sides.

Take care,

Michael Powe

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Jun 27, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/27/00
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-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
Hash: SHA1

>>>>> "Kenneth" == Kenneth P Turvey <kt-...@SprocketShop.com> writes:

Kenneth> On 26 Jun 2000 20:44:52 -0700, Michael Powe


Kenneth> <michae...@trollope.org> wrote:
>>>>>>> "Stefaan" == Stefaan A Eeckels <Stefaan...@ecc.lu>
>>>>>>> writes:

Stefaan> In article <okr99ks...@arginine.sbc.man.ac.uk>,

Stefaan> The French revolution gave us Napoleon, the Russian
Stefaan> revolution gave us Stalin, etc. Revolutions serve the
Stefaan> purpose of power-hungry individuals, not of the general
Stefaan> populace. The American revolution was an exception
Stefaan> because it was a small bunch of wealthy land-owners who
Stefaan> dumped an inept king. We forget that when they wrote "we
Stefaan> believe all men to be created equal", they really meant
Stefaan> "all white Anglo-Saxon Protestant males".

>> Actually, they really meant "all white males above a certain
>> age who own a certain amount of property." As one of the
>> "Founding Fathers" put it at the opening of the Constitutional
>> Convention in 1787, "we suffer from an excess of democracy."

Kenneth> For the most part you are correct, but I think that the
Kenneth> meaning of that passage was much debated probably
Kenneth> differed depending on which delegate you asked.

If you're referring to Randolph's comments about the "excess of
democracy," I don't think there was much disagreement. Most of the
people who disagreed (like Patrick Henry) stayed away from the
Convention.

mp

- --
Michael Powe Portland, Oregon USA
"Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning"
-- George W. Bush, Jr.
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Michael Powe

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Jun 27, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/27/00
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-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
Hash: SHA1

>>>>> "Kenneth" == Kenneth P Turvey <kt-...@SprocketShop.com> writes:

Kenneth> On 26 Jun 2000 17:19:04 +0100, Phillip Lord
Kenneth> <pl...@hgmp.mrc.ac.uk> wrote:

Kenneth> Even majority decisions may be unjust. Mob rule is not
Kenneth> identical to just government.

>> This might be true, but I do not think that this is reason for
>> not having majority decisions. Also I think that there is a
>> difference between "mob rule" and government. It is possible
>> that we could form a government involving the majority of the
>> population and that it would not be a mob. Actually this is
>> nice because it gives me a chance to make an on topic
>> point. The free software movement shows that a cooperative
>> society can exist without degrading into mob rule.

Kenneth> I think is a very good reason for not allowing majority
Kenneth> decisions in the most important aspects of our life. The
Kenneth> whole point of the Bill of Rights (the first ten


Kenneth> amendments to the US Constitution) is to take away the
Kenneth> power of the majority to infringe some select rights of

Kenneth> the minority.

This is not correct. The purpose of the BoR was to prevent the
government from infringing on the rights of "the people." There are
no protections for minorities of any type in the Constitution itself
nor in the BoR. Also, remember that in the late 18th C, only about
15% of the population could vote. It was primarily their rights that
were being protected.

Most of the history of the United States, up until mid-20th Century,
is the history of political, social and economic mistreatment of
minorities by the majority.

"In the final analysis, minorities have only those rights which the
majority chooses to give them." -- William Rehnquist

mp

- --
Michael Powe Portland, Oregon USA
"Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning"
-- George W. Bush, Jr.
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Steve Mading

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Jun 28, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/28/00
to
In comp.os.linux.advocacy Volker Hetzer <volker...@ieee.org> wrote:
: Hyman Rosen wrote:

:> Should every talker get to change the status quo every time he wants to?


: But getting an audience does not mean changing the status quo. It means
: getting more people to want to change it.
: (About a minority changing the status quo: I agree with you.)

I don't want to have to listen to the 270 million US citizens out there
each telling me their plans for how to fix the country. There's only
24 hours in a day. The reason for the difficulty in getting heard
isn't that speech is being stifled, it's that there's so damn much of
it that nobody has the time to give each speechmaker an ear.

--
-- ------------------------------------------------------------------
Steven L. Mading at BioMagResBank (BMRB). UW-Madison
Programmer/Analyst/(acting SysAdmin) mailto:mad...@bmrb.wisc.edu
B1108C, Biochem Addition / 433 Babcock Dr / Madison, WI 53706-1544

Phillip Lord

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Jun 28, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/28/00
to
>>>>> "Hyman" == Hyman Rosen <hy...@prolifics.com> writes:

Hyman> Volker Hetzer <volker...@ieee.org> writes:
>> The point is that it's very easy to use this to shut up people
>> with good ideas. I don't know about you but the average person
>> can just about always be shouted down by a well prepared, well
>> paid agressive speaker(s) who's employed by the opposing
>> side. Plus PR of course. Free speech is *not* about letting
>> money decide who wins a discussion. So, the current (oral)
>> system doesn't filter out the weak ideas, but the rhetorically
>> unsophisticated people.

Hyman> Free speech is all about communicating ideas. If you cannot
Hyman> communicate your idea clearly and convincingly, it's unlikely
Hyman> to get a hearing. The mechanism of swaying undecided people
Hyman> to support an idea involves presenting it an attractive
Hyman> light.

The point is that it would be nice to have a society where
we can openly discuss ideas, which our political systems do not really
seem to do. It all seems to be about spin and PR, and who can pay for
the most air time.

Hyman> It is frequently the case that when supporters of an idea
Hyman> fail to get it widely accepted, they seek to attribute blame
Hyman> to something other than people actually considering their
Hyman> idea and rejecting it.

Indeed. This does not mean that power blocks backed up with
large amounts of capital do not get greater considerations of their
ideas than others.

Phil

Phillip Lord

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Jun 28, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/28/00
to

>>>>> "Volker" == Volker Hetzer <volker...@ieee.org> writes:

Volker> Hyman Rosen wrote:

>> It's helped along by organized labor, which is grasping at straws
>> trying to get protectionism back.

Volker> Protectionism is done by companies to protect their profits
Volker> from the competition.

And also governments. Supposedly we live in a free market. So
why is it that if large capital interests want to move their factories
to Eastern Europe because the labour is cheaper they are free to do
so. But if labour wants to move to western europe because they will
get paid more there's a hoard of immigration officers waiting for
them. Does not seem very free to me.

Phil


Phillip Lord

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Jun 28, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/28/00
to
>>>>> "Jay" == Jay Maynard <jmay...@thebrain.conmicro.cx> writes:

Jay> On Tue, 27 Jun 2000 16:04:16 +0000, Volker Hetzer


Jay> <volker...@ieee.org> wrote:
>> Protectionism is done by companies to protect their profits from
>> the competition. The hard kind goes to the government for import
>> dues, the soft kind starts a "buy
>> american/british/german/whatever" campaign.

Jay> Nice try. How come Big Labor is universally on the side of
Jay> protectioninsm, while business isn't? (Yes, I know some
Jay> businesses are, but others aren't.)

You are wrong on both counts. Business is universally of the
side of protectionism that benefits them. For someone who is so
cognisant of the problems with the use of the word "free" as espoused
by the FSF, I am surprised that you have not realised that the "free"
market is a total sham.

Phil

Phillip Lord

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Jun 28, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/28/00
to

>>>>> "Stefaan" == Stefaan A Eeckels <Stefaan...@ecc.lu> writes:

>> Counter example to "big labour". The german green card. Instead
>> of lobbying against the import of foreign labour they made sure
>> that they don't get paid less than their german counterparts. I
>> call this "social conscience", not "protectionism".

Stefaan> Nonetheless, when confronted with cheap imports, unions
Stefaan> react with demands for protectionist measures. You see,
Stefaan> foreigners working for less than a German are a threat to
Stefaan> their members, so they can proceed in two ways: - make the
Stefaan> foreigner non-competitive (someone who speaks poor German
Stefaan> and is paid the same as a native German speaker is at a
Stefaan> disadvantage), whilst holding the upper moral ground. -
Stefaan> refusing entry and looking like racists.

Stefaan> Which alternative would _you_ prefer, knowing that in both
Stefaan> cases the result is the same?

Neither. The other alternative is to help the workers
producing cheap imports campaign for better wages and conditions,
because it most case this is why the imports are much cheaper.

Stefaan> You have to understand that the reactions of companies and
Stefaan> unions is wholly self-serving. Mealy-mouthing about free
Stefaan> trade, or solidarity is just selfrighteous bluster designed
Stefaan> to hoodwink the public or allow people to feel good when
Stefaan> choosing sides.

Thats one way of putting I suppose. It is possible I think
to express an opinion on the "free" market, or trading relationships,
or society in general without necessarily being self-righteous, or
desiring to hoodwink people.

Phil

Kenneth P. Turvey

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Jun 28, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/28/00
to
On 27 Jun 2000 23:50:52 -0700, Michael Powe <michae...@trollope.org> wrote:
>>>>>> "Kenneth" == Kenneth P Turvey <kt-...@SprocketShop.com> writes:
>
> Kenneth> I think is a very good reason for not allowing majority
> Kenneth> decisions in the most important aspects of our life. The
> Kenneth> whole point of the Bill of Rights (the first ten
> Kenneth> amendments to the US Constitution) is to take away the
> Kenneth> power of the majority to infringe some select rights of
> Kenneth> the minority.
>
>This is not correct. The purpose of the BoR was to prevent the
>government from infringing on the rights of "the people." There are
>no protections for minorities of any type in the Constitution itself
>nor in the BoR. Also, remember that in the late 18th C, only about
>15% of the population could vote. It was primarily their rights that
>were being protected.

The only people protected by the Bill of Rights were those that the
majority would punish through the normal processes outlined in the
Constitution. This group of people was a minority of the population at
large. The Bill of Rights protected a large portion of the 85% of the
population that could not vote as well. It specifically did not protect
enslaved blacks, but many of its protections were afforded women and the
landless even though they did not have the power to vote.

>Most of the history of the United States, up until mid-20th Century,
>is the history of political, social and economic mistreatment of
>minorities by the majority.

The terms `majority' and `minority' are not only used to denote race. I
was not using them that way in the previous post. The Bill of Rights
protected those with minority points of view from persecution. It still
does. The majority does not require protection.


--
Kenneth P. Turvey <kt-...@SprocketShop.com>
http://www.tranquility.net/~kturvey/resume/resume.html
--------------------------------------------------------

IDIOT, n - A member of a large and powerful tribe whose influence in
human affairs has always been dominant and controlling.
-- Ambrose Bierce

Jay Maynard

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Jun 28, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/28/00
to
On 28 Jun 2000 14:00:04 +0100, Phillip Lord <pl...@hgmp.mrc.ac.uk> wrote:
> You are wrong on both counts. Business is universally of the
>side of protectionism that benefits them.

It is that qualifiction that shoots the hole in the argument. The original
argument was that business is universally on the side of protectionism. Your
statement is true, and unremarkable: aren't businesses allowed to act in
accordance with their own interests, just as people are?

> For someone who is so
>cognisant of the problems with the use of the word "free" as espoused
>by the FSF, I am surprised that you have not realised that the "free"
>market is a total sham.

No, I simply recognize that the free market must, like all other freedoms,
necessarily include the freedom to do things that piss you off.

Phillip Lord

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Jun 28, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/28/00
to
>>>>> "Jay" == Jay Maynard <jmay...@thebrain.conmicro.cx> writes:

Jay> On 28 Jun 2000 14:00:04 +0100, Phillip Lord


Jay> <pl...@hgmp.mrc.ac.uk> wrote:
>> You are wrong on both counts. Business is universally of the side
>> of protectionism that benefits them.

Jay> It is that qualifiction that shoots the hole in the
Jay> argument. The original argument was that business is
Jay> universally on the side of protectionism. Your statement is
Jay> true, and unremarkable: aren't businesses allowed to act in
Jay> accordance with their own interests, just as people are?

Your original statement was that "big labour" was
universally on the side of protectionism, which is not true. My second
point is that big business is happy to be madly protectionist when it
will benefit from it.

>> For someone who is so cognisant of the problems with the use of
>> the word "free" as espoused by the FSF, I am surprised that you
>> have not realised that the "free" market is a total sham.

Jay> No, I simply recognize that the free market must, like all
Jay> other freedoms, necessarily include the freedom to do things
Jay> that piss you off.

The free market provides freedom to almost no one.

Phil

Stefaan A Eeckels

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Jun 28, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/28/00
to
In article <okk8fa2...@arginine.sbc.man.ac.uk>,

Phillip Lord <pl...@hgmp.mrc.ac.uk> writes:
>
>
>> "Stefaan" == Stefaan A Eeckels <Stefaan...@ecc.lu> writes:
> Stefaan> You have to understand that the reactions of companies and
> Stefaan> unions is wholly self-serving. Mealy-mouthing about free
Oops! are ^^

> Stefaan> trade, or solidarity is just selfrighteous bluster designed
> Stefaan> to hoodwink the public or allow people to feel good when
> Stefaan> choosing sides.
>
> Thats one way of putting I suppose. It is possible I think
> to express an opinion on the "free" market, or trading relationships,
> or society in general without necessarily being self-righteous, or
> desiring to hoodwink people.
That's true, but I'm very cynical when it comes to the opinions
of people getting their income from organizing and leading others,
as there are: churches, trades unions, political parties, etc.

There's a huge difference between workers organizing themselves
to obtain better conditions in the early 1900's, and the sclerosed,
bureaucratic empires, run by people who've never worked for a wage,
that the unions are in 2000.
There's a huge difference between the Christians of the Roman
Empire, and the monstrous, self-service aristocracy headquartered
in the Vatican.
There's a huge difference between the socialists who fought for
elementary worker's rights, and the fat-cat Socialist party bosses
of today.
There's a huge difference between a multitude of smallish companies
competing in a free market, and towering multinationals that fleece
workers to pay lobbyists to get "free trade laws" that favour them.

Hyman Rosen

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Jun 28, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/28/00
to
Phillip Lord <pl...@hgmp.mrc.ac.uk> writes:
> The point is that it would be nice to have a society where
> we can openly discuss ideas, which our political systems do not really
> seem to do. It all seems to be about spin and PR, and who can pay for
> the most air time.

We have such a society. "Spin and PR" are pejorative terms that one
side applies to the efforts of the other to presen