Sunday, July 25, 2010

Wall Street Controls the Media Debate

I have been busy with my academic work and working on Mike Marnell's Lincoln Eagle.  The July issue came out last week.  As well, I have several ideas that I am considering with Mike and Glenda McGee, so my plate is quite full.  I am going to Pasadena for the conference of the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies, one of the few conservative academic conferences, and am going to be working to prepare a presentation until August 5.

I was just reading Richard Hofstadter's Social Darwinism in American Thought, which was written in 1944.  Hofstadter, who was one of the most influential twentieth century historians and a Progressive-liberal, calls Social Darwinism "conservative."  He discusses how the doctrine was associated with rapid change and economic progress, but considers it "conservative" nonetheless because it did not acknowledge the usefulness of planned governmental intervention to improve social conditions.

The use of the word "conservative" is ideological, and Hofstadter's book illustrates the ideological perspective of American universities then and now.  Calling a doctrine that was associated with the invention of the light bulb, AC electricity,  movies and television and radio "conservative" reflects an ideological agenda, not an attempt to accurately depict reality.  Moreover, Hofstadter's faith in government planning has been contradicted by time.  A litany of pathetic failures starting with the Great Depression, continuing through Robert Moses and on through the recent "stimulus" under which Washington spent a trillion dollars to increase unemployment disproves Hofstadter's outdated claims.

The "expertise" and "science" to which Progressive-liberalism adheres have failed.  In the 1950s March and Simon, two organizational theorists, wrote Organizations in which they argued that managers are incapable of managing firms optimally and so must "satisfice" or use "just good enough" decision criteria.  If rationality is limited in organizations, how about an entire economy?  Moreover, philosopher Alisdair MacIntyre in his argument for Aristotelian ethics, After Virtue, makes a convincing case that the "scientific" expertise that managers claim is little more than an empty, ritualistic fraud that cloaks Nietzschean nihilism.   Rationality is used as a justification for a non-existent competence that itself is a function of contempt for community.  I think that MacIntyre is mistaken that managers or the free market system depend on the ritualization of science.  MacIntyre was not a student of economics or management and so did not realize that the perspective he was attacking was that of Progressive-liberalism, not of free market capitalism that makes no, zero, claims to the rationality of economic actors in the sense that MacIntyre means it.  Hayek has discussed this question at length but MacIntyre likely was unfamiliar with Hayek so he confounds the viewpoint of Progressivism with that of laissez faire economics (he makes no claims about the latter, but it is clear that he views the entire free market system as hinging on the Progressive style claims which was not true historically).


Given the failures of Progressive-liberalism and the inability of rationality to plan the economy, or for that matter, to plan a paper bag, it is amazing that Hofstadter's use of the word "conservative" continues to flourish in the Wall Street dominated media, both the "conservative" branch as represented by Fox and the "liberal" branch as represented by the other channels and news outlets.  In fact, the nonsensical claim of a conservative-liberal debate serves the interest of the system's prime beneficiaries, the special interests whose servants of power in universities and the media stand ready to justify every grasp that Wall Street's piglets make.

The claim that the advocates of laissez faire are conservative and the claim that the advocates of state planning, an approach that was familiar to the Hapsburgs, to the Spartans, to the Persians, indeed, to every spear chucking primitive tribe in the world,are somehow "progressive" reflects the interests of Wall Street. For by cloaking their claims in the Keynesian language of efficiency, the incompetent, greedy special interests, the forces of government and unearned wealth, can manipulate public opinion.

16 comments:

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Doug Plumb said...

Nietzsche was against the nihilists. I read "Beyond Good & Evil" and I think his message has been grossly overstated by most people and I think Nietzsche was living in a time of change from an oppressive church morality. I'm no expert but Nietzsche did not want the nihilists to take over - I read that part over a few times- I'm sure of it.

I think that this system was set up purposefully and that the PTB knew it would fail and set it up to fail. The PTB wants nihilism so we destroy ourselves.

Westerners are completely dumbed down when it comes to morality - they think they can be greedy and selfish, yet somehow the PTB will always protect them. We are being conditioned -voluntarily- to get exactly what we deserve. It seems like the social Darwinists (a contradiction of terms but in the public lexicon) are getting their own case proven by our behaviour.

Morality makes us more free, not less. People think that capitalism is synonymous with greed and immorality, but they have never experienced true capitalism. They have only experienced socialism, corruption, waste and protectionism (economic nihilism) and have been told its capitalism by the media and public education- which exist for the singular purpose of turning people into retards.

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Mitchell Langbert said...

With regard to ethics, Nietzsche believed that it is "nauseous moral chatter". He believed that the Ubermensche needs to create his own ethics. See especially paragraph 335 in "The Gay Science" and the excellent discussion in Alisdair MacIntyre's "After Virtue".

Doug Plumb said...

Mitch, Which of Nietzsche's books is most clear in your opinion ? BGE just seemed to read like a set of aphorisms in most places. He sounded like a lunatic in others.

Doug Plumb said...

A thought just occured to me, "creating your own ethic" sounds a bit like "drying your own water" to me. This would apply to any superman as well as a mere mortal like myself who doesn't believe the superman even exists.

Mitchell Langbert said...

I've read four or five of Nietzsche's books but get the Gay Science and read section 335. That's the most important section. It's only a couple of pages, but he boils his point down clearly. The rest of the Gay Science is ok, but that is the section to read.

Mitchell Langbert said...

About the creating your own ethic, that is what MacIntyre's After Virtue is about. He attacks the Nietzschean perspective. If you read the management book "Functions of the Executive" by Chester Barnard, one of the most important books on management ever written (Barnard was CEO of New Jersey telephone in the 1930s) chapter 17 is largely an adaptation of Nietzsche applied to management theory. The outcome is Jeffrey Skilling, the Nietzschean villain of 21st century business.

Doug Plumb said...

I did read this section, it can be found online here http://nietzsche.holtof.com/Nietzsche_the_gay_science/the_gay_science.htm

When I read Nietzsche I feel like I am standing in a pool of rabid red-herrings who swim to deep for me to see them, but I can feel them biting the legs I stand on.

I think that he twists the Kantian imperative with this sentence:

"You admire the categorical imperative in you? This "persistency" of your so-called moral judgment? This absoluteness of the feeling that "as I think on this matter, so must everyone think"?"

Kant's idea isn't quite as he states in the last sentence, IMO. In all fairness, I haven't yet read Kant but I have read about him and people do accept the moral imperative to only a degree not as a law. There are clear cases for which it shouldn't apply.

Doug Plumb said...

It just seems to me that someone who is a Nietzschean and at a firing range, may decide that it would be more challenging to fire at moving targets than at the stationary ones.

The Kantian moral imperative applies here. We can safely assume that people do not go to the firing range to be shot - even if they have suicidal aspirations.

Doug Plumb said...

I'm really just trying to understand the historicist, positivist and philosophic viewpoints. My idea is that something has gone horribly wrong and it may be an abandonment of moral philosophy in favour of positivism (Strauss). I picked up Rothbard & The Philosophers but I'm still on the Greeks- finishing Aristotle and about to read Plato's Laws because Strauss keeps referring to them. Also trying to read Webers "Basic Concepts in Sociology" but this is very difficult.

It will be a long while before I get to Heidegger & Nietzsche(again).

Mitchell Langbert said...

Doug--moral philosophy is the problem, not the solution. The separation of science from ethics that the Enlightenment claimed forced ethics into the position of claiming to be "universal". That is Kant's error. Because there is no such thing as a universal ethic, ethics is discarded, contributing to a moral breakdown. The breakdown is also encouraged by a lack of understanding of how the economy works and how a free society can survive.

Good books to read on the breakdown are Friedrich von Hayek's "Road to Serfdom" and Bertrand de Jouvenal's "On Power". Also, go back to basics and read "The Federalist Papers" and everything else on the American Revolution and the ideas behind it.

I don't think the solution lies in 20th century philosophy. The answer lies in the history of the 19th century and the breakdown of the understanding of spontaneous order.

I agree with Nietzsche about Kant, but Nietzsche's solution of establishing morality from scratch, is ridiculous as well. MacIntyre, who is not a good social theorist, shows why the Enlightenment failed with respect to ethics.

But it succeeded with respect to politics. Montesquieu is also a must read.

Doug Plumb said...

Thanks.

Doug Plumb said...

What about John Locke ?

Doug Plumb said...

You may like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRS-Ft3uEz8

(Hayek explained in a 5 min cartoon)

Mitchell Langbert said...

John Locke, "Second Treatise on Government" is a must read.