Archive for January, 2007

Is Capitalism Justified?

Dispelling the Myths of Socialism Part II:

This is the second installment in the series of dispelling the myths of socialism which I started here by debunking the myth of the necessity of violence in socialist theory. In this installment, I’m going to point to two arguments that are frequently used against socialism (or, in the case of the first example, in favour of capitalism).

#1) One of the most popular justifications offered forth by capitalists to justify their system is that, to use the Reaganite/Thatcherite/Friedman parlance, “a rising tide raises all ships”. This can be described as the argument from utility. In other words, capitalism is useful, it has generally increasing standards of living, therefore capitalism, even if it’s grossly unequal and/or exploitative, can be justified on the grounds of utility.

#2) A second popular argument used either to attack socialism or to prop up capitalism, in fact, was best summarized by Olaf who used this argument to attack me on this blog in my post “To those who say socialism doesn’t work“. Olaf wrote, “Well Paul, I suppose one would have to ask, Why? Why hasn’t it been tried, as Marx predicted? If it is so just, so ultimately rational and equal and fair, why hasn’t it been tried?”

I didn’t take due diligence to respond fully to Olaf at the time, and instead merely issued a short response. Now, I’m extremely glad I didn’t respond, since, having come across this response by Noam Chomsky, I couldn’t have possibly responded as completely and totally as Chomsky does.

So, instead of having me debunk the two myths of socialism/capitalism I outlined above, I’m going to let the master do it for me. I absolutely love how Chomsky just undresses this poor young stupid capitalist.

Enjoy!

Is socialism violent or is liberalism hypocritical?

Dispelling the Myths of Socialism Part I:

Liberals never cease in presenting, without a shred of evidence, that their ideology is somehow non-violent while socialism and communism are inherently violent.  I wanted to take a moment to dispel this fallacy once and for all on both fronts.

First of all, if we’re going to accept that liberalism is non-violent, then we would have to ignore the bloody history of the transition from feudalism to liberal, democratic capitalism.  The Glorious Revolution, the French Revolution, the American Revolution: all of these were liberal revolutions against monarchies (although the French Revolution, granted, started out as a proletarian/capitalist alliance, it ended up as a purely capitalist overthrow of the monarchy).  Given this bloody history, how can liberals turn their noses up at us socialists as subhuman and accuse us of the very same evils they themselves engaged in? 

Secondly, and more importantly, who ever said that socialists ever wanted violence?  This may come as a shock to the know-nothing liberals who gallivant around believing they know Marx just because they’ve skimmed the Communist Manifesto, but Marx never actually said that the socialist revolution had to be violent.  In fact quite the contrary.  In a speech Marx delivered in Amsterdam on September 8th, 1872 entitled “On the Possibility of Non-Violent Revolution” (which, given the title you should know where I’m going with this), he said:

“But we have not asserted that the ways to achieve that goal are everywhere the same.  You know that the institutions, morals, and traditions of various countries must be taken into consideration, and we do not deny that there are countries… where workers can attain their goal by peaceful means.”

Liberals everywhere deserve to have this thrown right back in their face not necessarily because of their arrogance, but because this argument is indicative of a political system which bears no resemblance to the philosophical tradition on which it claims to be based.  In fact, I would go so far as to state that it is indicative of the absolute poverty of thought of most people who today call themselves liberals.

New Poll Released: Greens hit new high, Liberals down

A new poll released by Leger Marketing (available here) has the pushed the Greens to a new all-time high in both the rolling five poll avereage and the weighted five poll average.

The party standings in the rolling and weighted trend lines are now:

2007-01-26-results.JPG

 (Click here for the Paulitics Polling Resource and long-term trend graph.)

With this poll, the Greens have now broken the 9% barrier in both trend lines, a barrier which they have never broken with even one of their trend lines in the past.

Conversely, the Liberals continue their downward turn and are now, for the first time since late November, below the Conservatives in both trend lines.  Although, to be fair, the margin of error for a series of polls like the ones we are using, is usually roughly between +/- 1.5% and +/- 1.9% depending on the total sample size of all the polls.  So, given the MOE, the Liberals and the Conservatives are still tied.  But the symbolism of the red lines dipping below the blue lines on this chart for the first time in a while, will surely not be missed.

The individual results for this poll were:  Cons: 35, Lib: 32, NDP: 13, Bloc: (not stated), Greens: 9.

Does somebody smell irony (or is that Astroglide)?

My girlfriend and I recently took a trip to Montreal to get away from our regular routine and to do some shopping.  If you’ve never been, the first thing you’ll notice, depending on where you go, is the unusually large number of sex stores and strip clubs.  After a while you become desensitized to it, but this was just too ironic not to take a picture of:

sex-store-maternity-store.JPG

That’s right, you’re seeing that right.  That’s a strip club above a maternity store. 

Now that’s how I like my irony served.

But here’s the second level of the irony:  this, as well as 90% of the other strip clubs and sex stores in Montreal are on a street named after a saint (Rue Ste. Catherine)!

You gotta love the French.

The Australian Rick Mercer

From what I can tell, this was a one-time skit done for Australian television (the ABC?).  It’s a wonderful complement to Rick Mercer’s special on the CBC: Talking to Americans.

I especially loved the map that the guy shows to the Americans as well as the very last segment near the end (which also parodies one of Mercer’s lines of question).

 

A great blog which is both intelligent and progressive

I just stumbled across a blog post on one of my favourite thinkers, Gramsci.  You’ll never guess this, but the post used Sesame Street and Thomas the Engine of all things to illustrate Gramsci’s neo-Marxian account of how the ideology of the dominant class is passed down to the rest of us through, to use Gransci’s terminology, hegemony.  It’s amazingly easy to read even for somebody who hasn’t read Gramsci’s The Prison Notebooks, so I strongly encourage everyone to check it out.

You can find it here: “Gramsci, Sesame Street, and Thomas”

I haven’t read too much else of Scott’s blog, but anybody who’s aware of Gramsci and can relate it to Thomas the Engine has my vote.  I’ll be putting up a permalink to his blog on my sidebar shortly.

Idiocy doesn’t cease being idiocy because it’s published

I love it when people who have never spent significant time in a given country or who know very little about a given country, take the opportunity to speak authoritatively as to what is right and what is wrong with said country.

Enter James Travers’ recent column on Cuba (available here). 

This is a great case study in what I’m talking about. While I’m ultimately in agreement with Travers that the US needs to butt-out of Cuba’s business and needs to stop its lusting after the small island as an untapped capitalist paradise, Travers takes this simple (and reasonable) conclusion and sullies it with his patronizing judgements which, in North American punditry, are all-too-common.

Now, Travers is a fairly influential man, so I think it’s important to document what is at best uninformed or at worst disingenuous in some of his comments lest his critical assessment of Cuba be allowed to stand as somehow valid despite its perversity.

Continue reading ‘Idiocy doesn’t cease being idiocy because it’s published’


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