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Is Our Society Mentally Ill?

charleslb
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11/23/2010 3:17:20 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
Western society seems to be mass producing mentally troubled and ill people, and it has been since it became "modern". Not too long after the advent of the Industrial Revolution society itself became a factory for neurotics and what back then were called neurasthenics, people who were broken down to a state of depression and dysfunctionality by the stress of working and living conditions in 19th century industrial cities.

Indeed, judging by the number of people in therapy today, by the billions of dollars of revenue that pharmaceutical companies make from drugs like Prozac, by all the schizophrenics living on the streets, and by the masses of people who are just vaguely unhappy, modern society is not very good for one's mental health!

Sure, today materialistic medical science is promoting the idea that our mental states and psychiatric disorders are entirely organic, that they're due to brain chemistry and defects. And materialistic biologists reductively chalk the brain and its chemistry up to genetics and evolution. But be that as it may, people do have life experiences and exist in a social environment that their genetically hardwired brains process. And what our brains are made to process can and does affect the processor. Our environment matters, it's not irrelevant to our mental well-being.

Anyone who's survived growing up in an abusive household knows quite well that your environment affects your emotional condition and mental development. Abuse and what it does to its victims is just an extreme example of the fact that how the world treats us can profoundly influence our psyches. And the citizens of modern, "developed", urbanized, socially alienating, and denaturalized societies are certainly not being treated very well by the lifeworld they've been thrown into.

Our high-powered, high-pressure, dog-eat-dog socio-economic system is one big stressor, triggering and exacerbating nervous disorders and breakdowns, and all manner of psychological aberrations. Like a child who's grown up in a dysfunctional home we know nothing else and take the unnatural stress and strain of our way of life for granted, we naively take it to be normal. But this doesn't prevent the stress and strain from adversely impacting our consciousness, our personality, and our mental fitness, just as a wronged child's ignorance of what life should be doesn't protect it from the toll that abuse takes. Whether we appreciate it or not, to one degree of another we're all suffering from the mass socio-psychological abuse of modernity.

The symptoms of our suffering can manifest as anxiety, depression, fatigue, phobias, or just an underlying dissatisfaction with our lives. And frequently our response is self-medication, hence society's drug problem, which feeds into social ills such as gangs and drug-related crime. It's all interconnected, and it all goes back to the unnaturalness and unhealthiness of our modern existence.

Of course we often prefer to judge individuals who are failing to thrive in our society, judge them as dysfunctional and/or socially maladjusted losers. We do so because our egos get a nice payoff from this, evaluating others as life-failures gives our petty egos an enjoyable rush of superiority. So we let our society off the hook and cruelly sink the hook into its soul-sick victims.

As if there should be no maladjusted individuals in a maladjusted society! As if an unbalanced mode of life isn't going to produce plenty of unbalanced people. Ours is a crazy-making society but we stay in denial about this by keeping our focus on individuals and holding them totally accountable for their mental problems.

Nowhere is this tendency to wrongly and moralistically assign blame to the mentally ill more unfair and egregious than in the so-called criminal justice system, where seriously impaired people who fail to meet the law's strict definition of "insanity" routinely get punished for acting out their mental illness. Society produces weird and deranged people and then keeps them in check by locking them up. Not too brilliant, but it keeps an incompetent society from imploding.

So, the way it works is profoundly unjust, it's the body politic, body economic, and body sociologic itself that's sick, but it's we the people who bear the mental pain and anguish of living in an ailing system. And the powers that be in our society show no interest in rectifying this demented state of affairs. Of course they don't, because they enjoy their economically and politically powerful and privileged status in society, it's not in their pragmatic interest to try to socially engineer a better form of life for their fellow man.

If we're ever going to create a saner and more livable system it's going to take a from-the-bottom-up people's movement, it's not something we can realistically expect the folks at the top to do for us. What we need to do is simple, we need to create new gemeinschaft communities, in which people are really a part of each other's lives, in which the spirit is "one for all, all for one", rather than "Every man for himself"; as opposed to our current gesellschaft society in which most people have no sense of a connection with their neighbors, let alone the rest of society, in which cold, hard self-interest is the only motivation for being a productive member of one's community.

When our forbears chose to embrace the selfish ethos of capitalism they chose to take the wrong fork in the road of history, they chose the gesellschaft form of society, and the result today is a society full of unfulfilled and unwell people. We need to backtrack a bit and get back on the path to a more interdependent, solidaritous, mutually caring way of being together. We need to grow communities in which we keep each other strong, rather than competing and seeking to take advantage of each other's weaknesses.

Let me make it clear though, what I mean by "backtracking" is not returning to a more primitive existence, rather what I mean is rediscovering pre-capitalist values, such as quality as opposed to quantity, fulfillment as opposed to profit, and spirituality as opposed to greed as a philosophy of life. And I do also mean getting back to nature to some extent, to a more natural lifestyle that our brains were evolved for. For example, so-called primitive people probably just worked twenty hours a week compared to forty-six and up for the citizens of modern societies. We moderns have taken on a workload that evolution quite simply did not design us for! We need to design communities in which the individual's workload can be significantly reduced. This alone should be much easier on our brains and make us less prone to stress-related issues.

The reality of our lot is that our current system of society is set up to enormously benefit a small percentage of people at the top of its economic-political hierarchy, and to make life fairly comfortable but inwardly empty for a dwindling middle class, and of course barely tolerable for a much larger percentage of folks at the bottom of the heap. Such a reality should and would be unacceptable to most of us if we weren't indoctrinated to resign ourselves to it, and to identify, against our own interests, with those at the pinnacle of all that capitalist prosperity that doesn't exactly quite trickle down to the rest of us like manna.

And, alas, the unjust socio-economic reality that we learn to resign ourselves to does hurt us on the inside, it does negatively affect everything from our sense of self to our sense of reality, to our sense of joy. If we're ever to have a mental health-enhancing, happiness-enhancing, and humanity-enhancing civilization we're going to have to undertake to give our society a pretty darn extensive makeover. Extensive from the inside out, from our values and view of life to our economic system and status quo.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
SuperRobotWars
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11/23/2010 3:29:01 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
Japan has a high rate of suicide . . . http://neuroskeptic.blogspot.com...
Minister Of Trolling
: At 12/6/2011 2:21:41 PM, badger wrote:
: ugly people should beat beautiful people ugly. simple! you'd be killing two birds with the one stone... women like violent men and you're making yourself more attractive, relatively. i met a blonde dude who was prettier than me not so long ago. he's not so pretty now! ha!
:
: ...and well, he wasn't really prettier than me. he just had nice hair.
J.Kenyon
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11/23/2010 3:34:38 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/23/2010 3:31:08 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
Society isn't an entity. It's an abstract, collectivizing label; therefore, it cannot be mentally ill. Individuals, on the other hand, can.

Indeed. For example, look no further than the OP.
Cerebral_Narcissist
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11/23/2010 3:38:58 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
Revan: "But I'm not your master."
HK-47: "Qualification: You are my master, master. Did you not purchase me legitimately? Am I stolen goods? Shall I report myself to the authorities?"
Revan: "Whoa, slow down there. Yes, I did purchase you..."
HK-47: "Explanation: Then you qualify as my master and I must refer to you as such. The legal requirements for models of my type are very specific, master."
Revan: "Models of your type? What type is that?"
HK-47: "Evasion: Oh... the illegal kind of model, master... you know..."
Revan: "There are legal requirements for illegal models?"
HK-47: "Answer: More than there are for legal models, apparently. That is meatbag logic for you."
I am voting for Innomen because of his intelligence, common sense, humility and the fact that Juggle appears to listen to him. Any other Presidential style would have a large sub-section of the site up in arms. If I was President I would destroy the site though elitism, others would let it run riot. Innomen represents a middle way that works, neither draconian nor anarchic and that is the only way things can work. Plus he does it all without ego trips.
Danielle
Posts: 21,330
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11/23/2010 3:39:56 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/23/2010 3:31:08 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
Society isn't an entity. It's an abstract, collectivizing label; therefore, it cannot be mentally ill. Individuals, on the other hand, can.

*Vom* lol
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GeoLaureate8
Posts: 12,252
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11/23/2010 3:40:39 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/23/2010 3:31:08 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
Society isn't an entity. It's an abstract, collectivizing label; therefore, it cannot be mentally ill. Individuals, on the other hand, can.

This is just being nitpicky. Obviously society isn't an entity and he never claimed it was. We all know what is meant by the word "society" and it's perfectly ok to use it in the context that he did.
"We must raise the standard of the Old, free, decentralized, and strictly limited Republic."
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Cody_Franklin
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11/23/2010 3:52:06 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/23/2010 3:17:20 PM, charleslb wrote:
Western society seems to be mass producing mentally troubled and ill people, and it has been since it became "modern". Not too long after the advent of the Industrial Revolution society itself became a factory for neurotics and what back then were called neurasthenics, people who were broken down to a state of depression and dysfunctionality by the stress of working and living conditions in 19th century industrial cities.

1. Get me statistics showing, out of the whole population, the percentage of people who have serious psychological illnesses directly caused by living in the society that they do.

2. Industrialization actually increases life spans and living conditions. Compare pre-industrial to post-industrial societies. Industrial societies modernize. They improve medicine, sanitation, education, and so on. That's why the Scandinavian countries are beating out the United States right now--not because they have some BS "share and care" culture, but because they're staying ahead of the modernization curve.

3. With which culture are you comparing the West?

Indeed, judging by the number of people in therapy today, by the billions of dollars of revenue that pharmaceutical companies make from drugs like Prozac, by all the schizophrenics living on the streets, and by the masses of people who are just vaguely unhappy, modern society is not very good for one's mental health!

1. Like I said, we've actually come across more knowledge and made more advances in physical and psychological medicine than we ever could have without industrialization and modernization. Without the society we have now, we'd be jumping for joy just to make it past the age of 45.

2. Get me some statistics showing the profits that drug companies actually reap from Prozac or other antidepressants--compare that with statistics showing the profits made off of other sorts of drugs, as well.

3. You haven't demonstrated causality, because you haven't provided any evidence other than shaky anecdotal conjecture suggesting that, as a direct result of western culture, people are unhappy.

Sure, today materialistic medical science is promoting the idea that our mental states and psychiatric disorders are entirely organic, that they're due to brain chemistry and defects. And materialistic biologists reductively chalk the brain and its chemistry up to genetics and evolution. But be that as it may, people do have life experiences and exist in a social environment that their genetically hardwired brains process. And what our brains are made to process can and does affect the processor. Our environment matters, it's not irrelevant to our mental well-being.

1. You say "materialistic" as if that's some sort of death blow. The reason that science is "materialistic" is because we don't base our theories on magic or the supernatural. We base it on observation, study, and cooperation--both intra- and interdisciplinary.

2. When was the last time a psychologist claimed that the environment in which you live is wholly irrelevant? Maybe you could get me the name of a scientist, and find a quote (plus a link, for reference purposes) where such a thing is stated. You seem to have this tendency to make sweeping generalizations (or any claim, really) without providing any evidence whatsoever. That's a problem.

Anyone who's survived growing up in an abusive household knows quite well that your environment affects your emotional condition and mental development. Abuse and what it does to its victims is just an extreme example of the fact that how the world treats us can profoundly influence our psyches. And the citizens of modern, "developed", urbanized, socially alienating, and denaturalized societies are certainly not being treated very well by the lifeworld they've been thrown into.

There's not really a place on Earth where life is all lollipops and rainbows. Your point?

Our high-powered, high-pressure, dog-eat-dog socio-economic system is one big stressor, triggering and exacerbating nervous disorders and breakdowns, and all manner of psychological aberrations. Like a child who's grown up in a dysfunctional home we know nothing else and take the unnatural stress and strain of our way of life for granted, we naively take it to be normal. But this doesn't prevent the stress and strain from adversely impacting our consciousness, our personality, and our mental fitness, just as a wronged child's ignorance of what life should be doesn't protect it from the toll that abuse takes. Whether we appreciate it or not, to one degree of another we're all suffering from the mass socio-psychological abuse of modernity.

We're a culture that appreciates and encourages efficiency. Living beings are always going to compete. They do it in nature, they do it in their groups, and they do it in modern, high-pressure social frameworks. You're not going to get rid of it, and any argument to the contrary is a load of idealistic garbage. For someone arguing that we need to "return to nature"--to whatever extent--you apparently don't understand what the nature of an animal--regardless of its level of cleverness--is actually like.
Cody_Franklin
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11/23/2010 4:04:06 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/23/2010 3:17:20 PM, charleslb wrote:
The symptoms of our suffering can manifest as anxiety, depression, fatigue, phobias, or just an underlying dissatisfaction with our lives. And frequently our response is self-medication, hence society's drug problem, which feeds into social ills such as gangs and drug-related crime. It's all interconnected, and it all goes back to the unnaturalness and unhealthiness of our modern existence.

1. Something being "unnatural" doesn't make it evil or reprehensible. If you want to argue otherwise, smash your computer and go live in a cave. You might say "straw man! I didn't mean we should get rid of EVERYTHING that's unnatural!" To that, I'd say two things: first, stop cherry-picking certain "unnatural" things to stigmatize, then; second, if that is your response, you would have to concede at that point that something being unnatural isn't an indicator of its moral status.

2. Drug crime actually comes from the illegal status of drugs. Look at the Prohibition Era and the contemporary "War on Drugs". See the lack of efficacy. Then look at Portugal, a country which has basically decriminalized. If they catch you using out in public, they just hand you a referral to a rehab clinic. Cartels, crime, and abuse rates are all very, very low.

3. There's not a person in the world who will be absolutely satisfied with his life 100% of the time. You haven't any justification for picking on Western society when its oh-so-dangerous consequences are hardly unique.

Of course we often prefer to judge individuals who are failing to thrive in our society, judge them as dysfunctional and/or socially maladjusted losers. We do so because our egos get a nice payoff from this, evaluating others as life-failures gives our petty egos an enjoyable rush of superiority. So we let our society off the hook and cruelly sink the hook into its soul-sick victims.

I don't think that's categorically true. All you're doing, as usual, is making huge, unwarranted generalizations about people from atop your undeserved high horse.

As if there should be no maladjusted individuals in a maladjusted society! As if an unbalanced mode of life isn't going to produce plenty of unbalanced people. Ours is a crazy-making society but we stay in denial about this by keeping our focus on individuals and holding them totally accountable for their mental problems.

You might want to do a quick fact-check. Our society is pretty collectivistic.

Nowhere is this tendency to wrongly and moralistically assign blame to the mentally ill more unfair and egregious than in the so-called criminal justice system, where seriously impaired people who fail to meet the law's strict definition of "insanity" routinely get punished for acting out their mental illness. Society produces weird and deranged people and then keeps them in check by locking them up. Not too brilliant, but it keeps an incompetent society from imploding.

1. What definition of "insanity" are you referring to? I'm not familiar with the insanity plea.

2. People who plead insanity, you realize, are evaluated by a who's who of doctors. All you're trying to do is absolve people of culpability because you think that they're victims of society. Go to law school. Become a defense attorney. See how well that defense plays out.

So, the way it works is profoundly unjust, it's the body politic, body economic, and body sociologic itself that's sick, but it's we the people who bear the mental pain and anguish of living in an ailing system. And the powers that be in our society show no interest in rectifying this demented state of affairs. Of course they don't, because they enjoy their economically and politically powerful and privileged status in society, it's not in their pragmatic interest to try to socially engineer a better form of life for their fellow man.

Yep. All of society is sick and in need of help. Thankfully, though, you're above all that, right?
Cody_Franklin
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11/23/2010 4:19:28 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/23/2010 3:17:20 PM, charleslb wrote:
If we're ever going to create a saner and more livable system it's going to take a from-the-bottom-up people's movement, it's not something we can realistically expect the folks at the top to do for us. What we need to do is simple, we need to create new gemeinschaft communities, in which people are really a part of each other's lives, in which the spirit is "one for all, all for one", rather than "Every man for himself"; as opposed to our current gesellschaft society in which most people have no sense of a connection with their neighbors, let alone the rest of society, in which cold, hard self-interest is the only motivation for being a productive member of one's community.

1. They tried that already, dunno if you heard. Soviet Russia. Has all the elements you were talking about. Hatred of the upper class, People's revolution, "one for all, all for one", censure of self-interest. It didn't work too well, by the way.

2. You're not going to get rid of self-interest. The fact is, it doesn't always have to be so "hard" and "cold". In fact, the only reason for which a person would be concerned with the welfare of his fellow man (barring religious brainwashing) is because he, as an individual, stands to gain from it, whether from increased lifespan, quality of life, etc.

When our forbears chose to embrace the selfish ethos of capitalism they chose to take the wrong fork in the road of history, they chose the gesellschaft form of society, and the result today is a society full of unfulfilled and unwell people. We need to backtrack a bit and get back on the path to a more interdependent, solidaritous, mutually caring way of being together. We need to grow communities in which we keep each other strong, rather than competing and seeking to take advantage of each other's weaknesses.

1. Actually, we haven't embraced capitalism.

2. The fact that we have unfulfilled people doesn't make capitalism bad. The end goal of society isn't to leave everyone satisfied--it's to protect their ability, as autonomous individuals, to satisfy themselves. There will probably be plenty of dissatisfied people in society founded on actual capitalism--however, that's not a burden that anyone other than that individual must bear.

3. Question: why should I care about my fellow man? In answering, you cannot appeal to my self-interest, lest you contradict your position.

Let me make it clear though, what I mean by "backtracking" is not returning to a more primitive existence, rather what I mean is rediscovering pre-capitalist values, such as quality as opposed to quantity, fulfillment as opposed to profit, and spirituality as opposed to greed as a philosophy of life.

1. Pre-capitalist values weren't that great. There wasn't a lot of fulfillment, you had neither quality nor quantity, and spirituality was enforced by fire, guillotine, or some other horrendous form of torture/execution.

And I do also mean getting back to nature to some extent, to a more natural lifestyle that our brains were evolved for.

1. Appeal to nature

2. So, you were lying when you said that we weren't going back to a more primitive lifestyle?

For example, so-called primitive people probably just worked twenty hours a week compared to forty-six and up for the citizens of modern societies.

1. Show me some evidence.

2. Working conditions were actually pretty terrible for the common laborers. Serfs, slaves, indentured servants. Capitalism not only helped to treat diseases contracted "in the field", but at the same time reduced the need for meager field labor by allowing the creation of efficiency-maximizing, labor-saving devices.

We moderns have taken on a workload that evolution quite simply did not design us for!

1. Teleological fallacy--we weren't "designed" for anything.

2. Show me some evidence.

We need to design communities in which the individual's workload can be significantly reduced. This alone should be much easier on our brains and make us less prone to stress-related issues.

Generalizing again.

The reality of our lot is that our current system of society is set up to enormously benefit a small percentage of people at the top of its economic-political hierarchy, and to make life fairly comfortable but inwardly empty for a dwindling middle class, and of course barely tolerable for a much larger percentage of folks at the bottom of the heap. Such a reality should and would be unacceptable to most of us if we weren't indoctrinated to resign ourselves to it, and to identify, against our own interests, with those at the pinnacle of all that capitalist prosperity that doesn't exactly quite trickle down to the rest of us like manna.

1. Actually, capitalism isn't responsible for the socio-economic status of the lower class. Government intervention seems to have that effect on people by granting favors to select businesses, subsidizing poverty through things like unemployment and welfare, and economically suicidal measures like the minimum wage, home-buyer tax credits, and artificially low interest rates. Also, fractional reserve banking. That sh*t is awful.

2. If it didn't "trickle down", no one would be employed, and everyone except business owners would have exactly $0.

And, alas, the unjust socio-economic reality that we learn to resign ourselves to does hurt us on the inside, it does negatively affect everything from our sense of self to our sense of reality, to our sense of joy. If we're ever to have a mental health-enhancing, happiness-enhancing, and humanity-enhancing civilization we're going to have to undertake to give our society a pretty darn extensive makeover. Extensive from the inside out, from our values and view of life to our economic system and status quo.

Actually, I'm pretty happy.
Cody_Franklin
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11/23/2010 4:21:58 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/23/2010 3:40:39 PM, GeoLaureate8 wrote:
At 11/23/2010 3:31:08 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
Society isn't an entity. It's an abstract, collectivizing label; therefore, it cannot be mentally ill. Individuals, on the other hand, can.

This is just being nitpicky. Obviously society isn't an entity and he never claimed it was. We all know what is meant by the word "society" and it's perfectly ok to use it in the context that he did.

Actually, that was me failing at being clever. Thanks for making me feel bad. Must be the fact that you're a dirty, individualistic capitalist who is trying to maintain his socio-economically oppressive hold on me, thereby causing me to enter into some state of intense mental illness or other psychological instability. Damnit... OP was right.
annhasle
Posts: 6,657
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11/23/2010 4:40:12 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
I'm going to play along for a bit and ask just one thing... What is wrong with being mentally ill?
I'm not back. This idiot just upset me which made me stop lurking.
annhasle
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11/23/2010 4:49:37 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/23/2010 4:45:30 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
Well, Ann, our society could be like this:

http://www.mindspring.com...

"If the ten hearts and "Leftie" are killed by the trolley, the ten prospective heart-transplant patients will die and their kidneys will be used to save the lives of twenty kidney-transplant patients, one of whom will grow up to cure cancer, and one of whom will grow up to be Hitler."

Priceless.
I'm not back. This idiot just upset me which made me stop lurking.
bluesteel
Posts: 12,301
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11/23/2010 5:08:50 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/23/2010 4:49:37 PM, annhasle wrote:
At 11/23/2010 4:45:30 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
Well, Ann, our society could be like this:

http://www.mindspring.com...

"If the ten hearts and "Leftie" are killed by the trolley, the ten prospective heart-transplant patients will die and their kidneys will be used to save the lives of twenty kidney-transplant patients, one of whom will grow up to cure cancer, and one of whom will grow up to be Hitler."

Priceless.

Woaah, I never thought of that! That's a perfect answer to the murdering doctor critique of utilitarianism (should a doctor kill one healthy patient to save 4 sick ones who need transplants). If the 4 sick patients die, their organs could be used to save 16 other sick patients who need transplants. Better for society.
You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into - Jonathan Swift (paraphrase)
Cody_Franklin
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11/23/2010 5:33:37 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/23/2010 5:08:50 PM, bluesteel wrote:
At 11/23/2010 4:49:37 PM, annhasle wrote:
At 11/23/2010 4:45:30 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
Well, Ann, our society could be like this:

http://www.mindspring.com...

"If the ten hearts and "Leftie" are killed by the trolley, the ten prospective heart-transplant patients will die and their kidneys will be used to save the lives of twenty kidney-transplant patients, one of whom will grow up to cure cancer, and one of whom will grow up to be Hitler."

Priceless.

Woaah, I never thought of that! That's a perfect answer to the murdering doctor critique of utilitarianism (should a doctor kill one healthy patient to save 4 sick ones who need transplants). If the 4 sick patients die, their organs could be used to save 16 other sick patients who need transplants. Better for society.

Unless the one healthy patient is a utility monster.
FREEDO
Posts: 21,057
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11/23/2010 5:47:02 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/23/2010 4:45:30 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
Well, Ann, our society could be like this:

http://www.mindspring.com...

Thank you for destroying any bit of sanity I had left.
GRAND POOBAH OF DDO

fnord
annhasle
Posts: 6,657
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11/23/2010 5:48:28 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/23/2010 5:47:02 PM, FREEDO wrote:
At 11/23/2010 4:45:30 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
Well, Ann, our society could be like this:

http://www.mindspring.com...

Thank you for destroying any bit of sanity I had left.

I think we'd all be surprised if you had any beforehand... ^_^
I'm not back. This idiot just upset me which made me stop lurking.
charleslb
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11/23/2010 7:12:10 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/23/2010 4:19:28 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:

They tried that already, dunno if you heard. Soviet Russia. Has all the elements you were talking about. Hatred of the upper class, People's revolution, "one for all, all for one", censure of self-interest. It didn't work too well, by the way.

The USSR is every conservative's or anti-communist's favorite flawed example of a catastrophic experiment with socialism. What you neglect to mention is that Russia, before it became Soviet Russia, had a long history of repressive government. The political traditions and thought patterns that determined the way the Soviet system shaped up were such as to doom it to becoming the totalitarian nightmare it became before its revolution was even finished!

As for hatred of the upper class, recognizing the way the dominant class wrongs the rest of us and "making a preferential option for the poor", as liberation theologians say, does not amount to hating the upper class. Did Martin Luther King hate white people because he denounced the unjust racist system that white people created in the South to keep blacks down? No, King was not a hate driven man, and neither is the pro-people, anti-upper class stance of socialists driven by envy or hatred of the rich.

Next, you say that a people's revolution brought the Soviet Union into existence, you need to do a little more historical reading. The revolution that gave birth to the Soviet Union was instigated, orchestrated, and carried through by the Bolsheviks, who were an aggressive minority faction in the Russian socialist movement. It was by dint of their aggressiveness that they were able to bring off their victory and take control of Russia, theirs was hardly a people's revolution, except in their own propaganda, do you believe in Soviet propaganda?

And of course Russia never had a system that was really based on the ethos of socialism. Socialism was hijacked by Stalin and his cronies, who used socialism as an "opiate of the people" to rationalize their dictatorship and keep the masses duped and pacified about the real nature of their system. Conservative and libertarians like to defend the failings of capitalism by saying that we don't have "real capitalism", well, two can play that game, it's a fact that they never had real communism in the Soviet Union, just a socialist facade to conceal the dictatorship not of the proletariat but of the nomenklatura.

You're not going to get rid of self-interest. The fact is, it doesn't always have to be so "hard" and "cold". In fact, the only reason for which a person would be concerned with the welfare of his fellow man (barring religious brainwashing) is because he, as an individual, stands to gain from it, whether from increased lifespan, quality of life, etc.

This is the cynical rationalizing thinking of believers in capitalism. Human beings are not just one-dimensional selfish creatures. There's more to our nature than being driven by self-interest, many people are driven to be productive individuals and useful members of society by the desire to express creativity, by the compassionate desire to be of service to their fellow man and woman, by the desire to make a contribution to and be a part of something larger than their own selfish ego, etc.

People are also creatures of context, as I've said elsewhere. It seems to be our nature to conform to social expectations, to go with the flow of the mainstream, to adopt the norms of our society. A society based on socialist rather than capitalist values, upon sharing rather than selfishness, would therefore be more likely to produce people who are more willing to function in a prosocial, self-disinterested, and humanitarian fashion. In other words, there is latent nobility in our nature, and a society that recognizes and cultivates it can bring it out and to the fore.

Actually, we haven't embraced capitalism.

Actually we have, and the reality of our system is what you get with capitalism, it just doesn't conform to the ivory-tower theory of true believers in the "free market". You free-market fundamentalist are like the Christian fundamentalists who let Christianity off the hook for the Inquisition, Crusades, and its other crimes by saying "The people who did such things weren't real Christians". You both facilely defend your ideologies by claiming that those who have put them into effect have failed to live up to the perfectness of their core principles. Essentially you claim that your principles are perfect therefore we can trust that if their adherents practiced them perfectly the outcome would be a perfect system, which boils down to "If I practiced perfection perfectly everything would be just perfect", which boils down to circular reasoning! Come on, accept that the theory of capitalism has to take some responsibility for the way it turns out so ugly in practice.

The fact that we have unfulfilled people doesn't make capitalism bad. The end goal of society isn't to leave everyone satisfied--it's to protect their ability, as autonomous individuals, to satisfy themselves. There will probably be plenty of dissatisfied people in society founded on actual capitalism--however, that's not a burden that anyone other than that individual must bear.

The fact that we have so many extremely empty-on-the-inside people whose lives do not reflect the growth process that human life should be, is in fact an indictment of our form of society and its consumerist-capitalism system of anti-values. As for your individualistic view of society's role in our lives, no, I disagree, society is not there just to "protect our ability as autonomous individuals to satisfy ourselves", it's also the function of a society, of its culture and traditions to help guide people to wisdom about life and how to obtain satisfaction from it. It's society's function to help maximize the general welfare, materially and spiritually speaking.

Question: why should I care about my fellow man? In answering, you cannot appeal to my self-interest, lest you contradict your position.

You can dismiss this as a cheap shot, but if you have to ask such a question, well, rather sad commentary.

So, you were lying when you said that we weren't going back to a more primitive lifestyle?

You're equating "getting back to nature" with some kind of neo-Luddite primitivism. Quite simplistic.

Next you ask that I show you some evidence that "primitive" people only worked around 20 hours a week, how about the McCarthy and McArthur study, and the Richard Lee study?

Working conditions were actually pretty terrible for the common laborers.

Working and living conditions during the Industrial Revolution were horrendous, and continue to be for many in the Third World, which is dominate by the global corporate establishment.

Actually, capitalism isn't responsible for the socio-economic status of the lower class. Government intervention seems to have that effect on people by granting favors to select businesses, subsidizing poverty through things like unemployment and welfare, and economically suicidal measures like the minimum wage, home-buyer tax credits, and artificially low interest rates.

Yeah, blame everything bad on big government and nothing on big business, even though big government is often just the bitc* of big business.

Capitalism is a system in which a fortunate few set themselves up to be favored by the system, that's "real capitalism".

And you're anti-minimum wage and unemployment insurance, wow, you're hardcore!

You close by saying that you're pretty happy, well, I'm glad for you, I just wish that we lived in a society that helped more of us to be able to say the same.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
Atheism
Posts: 2,033
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11/23/2010 7:55:06 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
I really, REALLY tried to figure out what the brain ought to do, and I chose that the brain should choose to take the left path.
The consequences will be less severe.
By the time the brain contemplated all of this, however, I am afraid the reality of the situation would probably be that the brain would be so much mush because it did not choose to make a decision in time that it would have smashed against the obstacle in front of it.
I miss the old members.
charleslb
Posts: 4,740
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11/23/2010 7:59:18 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/23/2010 7:55:06 PM, Atheism wrote:
I really, REALLY tried to figure out what the brain ought to do, and I chose that the brain should choose to take the left path.
The consequences will be less severe.
By the time the brain contemplated all of this, however, I am afraid the reality of the situation would probably be that the brain would be so much mush because it did not choose to make a decision in time that it would have smashed against the obstacle in front of it.

Ah, the sublime wit of libertarians! Now why don't you try to compose a constructive response to my original post, or to my last reply located just above your absurdist reply. Or maybe mockery is just your thing.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
annhasle
Posts: 6,657
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11/23/2010 8:01:18 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/23/2010 7:59:18 PM, charleslb wrote:
At 11/23/2010 7:55:06 PM, Atheism wrote:
I really, REALLY tried to figure out what the brain ought to do, and I chose that the brain should choose to take the left path.
The consequences will be less severe.
By the time the brain contemplated all of this, however, I am afraid the reality of the situation would probably be that the brain would be so much mush because it did not choose to make a decision in time that it would have smashed against the obstacle in front of it.

Ah, the sublime wit of libertarians! Now why don't you try to compose a constructive response to my original post, or to my last reply located just above your absurdist reply. Or maybe mockery is just your thing.

How about YOU reply to my question, huh? Now, that'd be appreciated.
I'm not back. This idiot just upset me which made me stop lurking.
Atheism
Posts: 2,033
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11/23/2010 8:27:09 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/23/2010 7:59:18 PM, charleslb wrote:
At 11/23/2010 7:55:06 PM, Atheism wrote:
I really, REALLY tried to figure out what the brain ought to do, and I chose that the brain should choose to take the left path.
The consequences will be less severe.
By the time the brain contemplated all of this, however, I am afraid the reality of the situation would probably be that the brain would be so much mush because it did not choose to make a decision in time that it would have smashed against the obstacle in front of it.

Ah, the sublime wit of libertarians! Now why don't you try to compose a constructive response to my original post, or to my last reply located just above your absurdist reply. Or maybe mockery is just your thing.
I was responding to Cody's link, not your long critical, very annoyingly hard to read argument that Cody already debased. I don't feel the need to trawl through that ungodly text to do the same thing, but with less eloquence.

If you want anyone to really read your posts, you ought to make it more readable. I feel we've told you this a numerous amount of times, but you apparently not taking our advice, and then criticizing us when we simply respond with tl;dr, even when we tell you why we do that.

Learn to make posts that summarize the general gist of your message, not essays.
I miss the old members.
OrionsGambit
Posts: 258
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11/23/2010 11:46:06 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
By western society do you mean Europe or the United States? Is in my opinion while historically connected, I believe they are different enough to not be generalized into the same category together.

(Seriously, I'm getting tired of getting lumped in with the euro-trash.)
Noblesse Oblige
OrionsGambit
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11/24/2010 12:00:30 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/23/2010 4:19:28 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
1. Pre-capitalist values weren't that great. There wasn't a lot of fulfillment, you had neither quality nor quantity, and spirituality was enforced by fire, guillotine, or some other horrendous form of torture/execution.

Question! What exactly is "pre-capitalist?"?
Noblesse Oblige
Cody_Franklin
Posts: 9,483
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11/24/2010 1:35:53 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/23/2010 7:12:10 PM, charleslb wrote:
At 11/23/2010 4:19:28 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:

They tried that already, dunno if you heard. Soviet Russia. Has all the elements you were talking about. Hatred of the upper class, People's revolution, "one for all, all for one", censure of self-interest. It didn't work too well, by the way.

The USSR is every conservative's or anti-communist's favorite flawed example of a catastrophic experiment with socialism. What you neglect to mention is that Russia, before it became Soviet Russia, had a long history of repressive government. The political traditions and thought patterns that determined the way the Soviet system shaped up were such as to doom it to becoming the totalitarian nightmare it became before its revolution was even finished!

1. So autocratic Feudalism wasn't a good idea. That doesn't detract from the fact that the very ideals you were espousing were already embodied by a previous regime.

2. If what you say is true, then transitioning from this society to your "ideal" society would be analogous to the transition from Pre-Soviet to Soviet Russia. That doesn't help your case any.

As for hatred of the upper class, recognizing the way the dominant class wrongs the rest of us and "making a preferential option for the poor", as liberation theologians say, does not amount to hating the upper class. Did Martin Luther King hate white people because he denounced the unjust racist system that white people created in the South to keep blacks down? No, King was not a hate driven man, and neither is the pro-people, anti-upper class stance of socialists driven by envy or hatred of the rich.

So, your anti-upper class stance doesn't equate hatred of the upper class? Yeah, okay. Plus, with the frequency at which you hurl insults at libertarians/capitalists ("childish", "selfish", "greedy", etc.), it's hard to believe that you don't hate the rich. Maybe if your arguments consisted less of personal attacks and more of substance, we wouldn't have this communication issue.

Next, you say that a people's revolution brought the Soviet Union into existence, you need to do a little more historical reading. The revolution that gave birth to the Soviet Union was instigated, orchestrated, and carried through by the Bolsheviks, who were an aggressive minority faction in the Russian socialist movement. It was by dint of their aggressiveness that they were able to bring off their victory and take control of Russia, theirs was hardly a people's revolution, except in their own propaganda, do you believe in Soviet propaganda?

You say that like you (and a handful of like-minded individuals) aren't a minority which spouts idealistic, convoluted propaganda to bring people to your side. All you're missing is the aggression, which, given your tendency to hurl personal insults at capitalists and libertarians, is probably not too far behind.

And of course Russia never had a system that was really based on the ethos of socialism. Socialism was hijacked by Stalin and his cronies, who used socialism as an "opiate of the people" to rationalize their dictatorship and keep the masses duped and pacified about the real nature of their system. Conservative and libertarians like to defend the failings of capitalism by saying that we don't have "real capitalism", well, two can play that game, it's a fact that they never had real communism in the Soviet Union, just a socialist facade to conceal the dictatorship not of the proletariat but of the nomenklatura.

How do you plan to establish your special paradise?

You're not going to get rid of self-interest. The fact is, it doesn't always have to be so "hard" and "cold". In fact, the only reason for which a person would be concerned with the welfare of his fellow man (barring religious brainwashing) is because he, as an individual, stands to gain from it, whether from increased lifespan, quality of life, etc.

This is the cynical rationalizing thinking of believers in capitalism. Human beings are not just one-dimensional selfish creatures. There's more to our nature than being driven by self-interest

Prepare to be shut down.

many people are driven to be productive individuals and useful members of society by the desire to express creativity

Personal desires are selfish. You fail.

by the compassionate desire to be of service to their fellow man and woman

The desire for the warm, fuzzy feeling achieved by helping others (or for a feeling of moral superiority/relief from completing an obligation/etc.) is selfish. You fail.

by the desire to make a contribution to and be a part of something larger than their own selfish ego, etc.

And why would they want that?

1. They stand to reap an ultimate gain--selfish. You fail.

2. A feeling of self-importance--selfish. You fail.

3. A feeling of superiority, probably moral, over people who haven't contributed to the "greater good". Christians, for example, are notorious for their "holier than thou" attitudes. In other words--selfish. You fail.

People are also creatures of context, as I've said elsewhere. It seems to be our nature to conform to social expectations, to go with the flow of the mainstream, to adopt the norms of our society. A society based on socialist rather than capitalist values, upon sharing rather than selfishness, would therefore be more likely to produce people who are more willing to function in a prosocial, self-disinterested, and humanitarian fashion.

1. Why would anyone want a society where one's goal is to kill himself to save his neighbor? In fact, the only reason--and I mean the only reason--that a person would want to live in a society built upon "humanitarian" ideals is that he expects to be rewarded in the afterlife by his respective cosmic dictator. Ironically, this is a selfish motivation.

2. In a society based on unselfishness--on sacrifice--there is always someone to collect the offerings. In Soviet Russia, it was the Party. In your special society, I assume that, by some self-defeating case of retardation, everyone is both a parasite and a host. Establish that society, and then come have dinner with me in 6 months when your morally perfect world implodes upon itself.

In other words, there is latent nobility in our nature, and a society that recognizes and cultivates it can bring it out and to the fore.

1. By what standard could you call such disgusting ideals "noble"?

2. What's the point of being noble if--by definition--you have to act against your evil self-interest to be that way? I mean, a creature that doesn't pursue its self interest dies--a society that prohibits pursuit of self-interest collapses.

Also, you've failed to respond to my other posts. You're always chastising us for not responding to all of your arguments. Well, I have. Now: nut up or shut up.
Cody_Franklin
Posts: 9,483
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11/24/2010 1:49:14 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/23/2010 7:12:10 PM, charleslb wrote:
At 11/23/2010 4:19:28 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:

Actually, we haven't embraced capitalism.

Actually we have, and the reality of our system is what you get with capitalism, it just doesn't conform to the ivory-tower theory of true believers in the "free market". You free-market fundamentalist are like the Christian fundamentalists who let Christianity off the hook for the Inquisition, Crusades, and its other crimes by saying "The people who did such things weren't real Christians". You both facilely defend your ideologies by claiming that those who have put them into effect have failed to live up to the perfectness of their core principles. Essentially you claim that your principles are perfect therefore we can trust that if their adherents practiced them perfectly the outcome would be a perfect system, which boils down to "If I practiced perfection perfectly everything would be just perfect", which boils down to circular reasoning! Come on, accept that the theory of capitalism has to take some responsibility for the way it turns out so ugly in practice.

Capitalism, by definition, is an economic theory emphasizing two primary principles:

1. Private ownership of the means of production

2. An entirely unregulated free market

The closest we've ever been to capitalism in America was the Industrial Revolution, when we actually started to modernize, industrialize, and improve our standards of living. You have no base upon which to claim that capitalism is at fault here. Every regulation that goes into place is a step away from capitalism. Every piece of property that the government owns or takes is a step away from capitalism. With every bit of government intervention, our economy gets worse. Every bit of intervention only postpones the inevitable collapse that our bad economic habits have gotten us into.

Capitalism is evil, you say? Look at Hong Kong: a thriving hub for international trade, a pioneer in development, and the freest economy in the world. Sorry if the reality of a free economy doesn't fit into the picture of poverty, filth, and urban decay that your imagination has pieced together for you.


The fact that we have unfulfilled people doesn't make capitalism bad. The end goal of society isn't to leave everyone satisfied--it's to protect their ability, as autonomous individuals, to satisfy themselves. There will probably be plenty of dissatisfied people in society founded on actual capitalism--however, that's not a burden that anyone other than that individual must bear.

The fact that we have so many extremely empty-on-the-inside people whose lives do not reflect the growth process that human life should be, is in fact an indictment of our form of society and its consumerist-capitalism system of anti-values.

"Should be"?

As for your individualistic view of society's role in our lives, no, I disagree, society is not there just to "protect our ability as autonomous individuals to satisfy ourselves", it's also the function of a society, of its culture and traditions to help guide people to wisdom about life and how to obtain satisfaction from it. It's society's function to help maximize the general welfare, materially and spiritually speaking.

Why? Because you say so? I need a better argument from you from that.


Question: why should I care about my fellow man? In answering, you cannot appeal to my self-interest, lest you contradict your position.

You can dismiss this as a cheap shot, but if you have to ask such a question, well, rather sad commentary.

Your answer doesn't even deserve to be dignified as a "cheap shot". It's not even an answer.

Speaking of which: answer my question. If you missed it, I'll ask it again so that you can't glaze over it.

Without appealing to my self-interest, why should I care about my fellow man?

So, you were lying when you said that we weren't going back to a more primitive lifestyle?

You're equating "getting back to nature" with some kind of neo-Luddite primitivism. Quite simplistic.

Well, you did a terrible job of explaining it. It's the assumption I'm forced to make after your massive number of complaints about free markets, modernity, and industrialization.

Next you ask that I show you some evidence that "primitive" people only worked around 20 hours a week, how about the McCarthy and McArthur study, and the Richard Lee study?

Naming names doesn't do much for me. I don't know who those people are, nor have I read those studies. That's why I asked you to show me evidence. Quotes, references, credentials, links. I want the whole thing.

Working conditions were actually pretty terrible for the common laborers.

Working and living conditions during the Industrial Revolution were horrendous, and continue to be for many in the Third World, which is dominate by the global corporate establishment.

1. Question: what were living conditions like in pre-industrial society? What was the life expectancy? Quality of life? What was the economy like? Answer those, if you'd be so kind.

2. Corporatism =/= capitalism

If you've got a beef with corporations, remember for a moment that corporate charters are granted by governments--not by free markets.