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Social and Political Philosophy - Science topic

Politics, liberty, justice, property, rights, law, and the enforcement of a legal code by authority, or not.
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  • Does normative legal philosophy also have a potential critical function vis-à-vis existing, empirically provable injustice where the injustice is not so much promoted or brought about by discriminatory laws, incorrect court rulings or actions contrary to human rights in the sense of an ideology, but rather by legislative and political laissez-faire or even omission (cf. e.g. mediterranean migrant crisis, anthropogenic climate change or pandemics)? From my point of view, this should be the case (but where is it explicitly stated and conceptually discussed?).
  • Which concepts from the field of normative legal philosophy/ legal ethics could be used to transparently and rationally criticise such state and supranational omissions from a normative perspective? Should new concepts of legal ethics be developed, can existing concepts be adapted? Who are the primary addressees? From my point of view, the minimum connection between law, serving as the basis of state action, and justice, which can be assessed against Radbruch's formula, enables a normative evaluation of state and supranational omissions, but also provides the contours for corresponding (political) duties to act.
What is your opinion regarding these issues?
Some legal philosophical approaches to these questions can be found in my paper "Extreme Wrong Committed by National and Supranational Inactivity: Analyzing the Mediterranean Migrant Crisis and Climate Change from a Legal Philosophical Perspective", Göttingen 2021.
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I believe legal theory is a tremendous force in the identification of those gaps in legislation. I see legislators all over the planet engaged in the erosion of democratic processes because they are trapped into their own epistemological limitations. Fundamental rights are more than ever under siege, and to move forward into producing a legal theory that identifies the limitations of what has been done so far is badly needed. The functional disconnect between the mandates of international law and national realities is blastering.
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Watching this webinar on Leo Strauss by the International Association for Political Science Students (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZqeefnTqsM&t=23s), has led me to wonder about what requires a text to be a great text in the Straussian sense. Do Straussians keep an agreed-upon list of works or authors that meet the criteria?
Which works do you think qualify as Straussian great texts? Are there particular prominent philosophical texts that would not make it? Why or why not?
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Although there may not be a consensus among Straussian scholars, we can put forward a group of thinkers inspired by him and congenial to his thought.
I would put French philosopher Michel Foucault at the top of the list and add Foucault's best reader, Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben as well.
Foucault himelf was a close reader of Strauss and recommended Strauss' Persecution and the Art of Writing to his last research assistant at Berkeley, Thomas Zummer, who passed it on to me when I was Zummer's student at the European Graduate School.
Regards,
Vincenzo Di Nicola
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Who can give me up-to-date source references on non-European legal philosophical discussions, dealing with anthropogenic climate change (e.g. references to conference proceedings or similar)?
Thank you!
Eckardt
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This is a good starting point Eckardt. It provides brief summaries of views on climate change by global region. You can identify the ones you wish to get more detail on and then search for specific philosophical material for that region.
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How popular are Hegel's ideas in the USA? Can we say that his influence on Communism indicates his being marginalized in American philosophical circles?
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Leading thinkers as Hegel, Marx, Weber, Durkheim, Freud, Braudel, or some (few) others are classic authors. Their books and theories have a lasting intrinsic value regardless of ideologies, politics, manipulations, and "popularity". It doesn't simply matter if they are or not "popular" since their ideas, theories, and erudite interpretations will last.
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Most of the societies across the world are going through doldrums and pathetic situations especially when it comes the homogeneity of these societies.  Even we try to understand the global phenomenon is not much more different case we are also divided at global level. The major point of clash is ideological clash. Even sometimes ideological clashes change into war type of situations. Hence, it is paramount to understand what kind of vision the global leadership have to develop in order to come out from this sort of morass of ideological compartmentalization. On the other side if we try to understand the phenomenon of diversity is crucial for understanding one another. However, we cannot build in the entire world one ideological system that is true. But then how we can can achieve peace in the atmosphere of ideological clashes. What sort of policies and ideas we have to develop in the present globalized world thereby we could reach some sort of consensus. Civilisational dialogue may be the one method but there may be some other methods about which I need holistic picture from your side. Need good feedback from anyone. 
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Should we write a new book?
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The concept of corruption
(Opening for a draft paper)
Corruption is a matter of “dishonest or illegal behavior especially by powerful people,” including, for instance, government officials or the police; and primary examples of corrupt behavior are bribery and any other inducement by improper or unlawful means.1 The varying forms and expressions of corruption may, in fact, form an unending list, since new, more sophisticated, subtle or covert forms are pretty sure to arise. The more corruption is exposed at any given time and place, the more subtle and covert it tends to become. Partly in consequence, attempts at definition and demarcation of corruption vary and are often problematic or incomplete; “the class of corrupt actions comprise an extremely diverse array of types of moral and legal offences undertaken in a wide variety of institutional contexts including, but by no means restricted to, political and economic institutions.”2
As Lincoln Steffens put a similar point, directly concerned with Gilded Age corruption in St. Louis, Missouri, one had to fear that, “… the exposures by Mr. Folk will result only in the perfection of the corrupt system.”
For the corrupt can learn a lesson when the good citizens cannot. The Tweed regime in New York taught Tammany to organize its boodle business; the police exposure taught it to improve its method of collecting blackmail. And both now are almost perfect and safe. The rascals of St. Louis will learn in like manner; they will concentrate the control of their bribery system, excluding from the profit-sharing the great mass of weak rascals, and carrying on the business as a business in the interest of a trustworthy few.3
In the wake of exposures of corruption in the press, indictments and convictions due to the work of St. Louis public prosecutor Joseph W. Folk, if the good citizens of the city would not or could not take things in hand, then corruption could simply mutate into some as yet unexposed or covert forms. As a general matter, though, in spite of the tendency toward subtler and more sophisticated forms, the old familiar patterns are always being rediscovered and deployed somewhere or other; they never completely die away.
The etymological source of the English word “corruption” is theological Latin,4 which followed traditions of translating ancient Greek moral and political thought. This background is reflected both in the call on moral standards involved in the condemnation and prosecution of corruption and in the broader usages of the word. Corruption, in a secondary sense, is a matter of departure or deviation from an original, or from what is pure, ideal or correct, as in “corruption of a text,” and “corruption of computer files”—where no moral evaluation need be involved. In their original Greek setting, Aristotle’s three “degenerate,” “digressive” or “perverted” (παρεκβάσείς, parekbasis) forms of government, viz., tyranny, oligarchy and (extreme) democracy, are regarded as degenerate precisely because they deviate or “swerve” from proper concern with the common good. They might therefore equally be said to be corrupt forms. As political scientist Samuel Huntington makes a narrower point, “Corruption is behavior of public officials which deviates from accepted norms in order to serve private ends.”5 But not all corruption is political.
1. Cf. “Corruption” in Merriam-Webster.
2. Seumas Miller 2018, “Corruption” in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. p. 6.
3. Lincoln Steffens 1904, The Shame of the Cities, H.G. Callaway ed. 2020, p. 39.
4. Theological Latin is mentioned in the great Oxford English Dictionary. In consequence of the Latin source, one finds cognate forms in many European languages: English, corruption, French, corruption, German, Korruption, Italian, corruzione, and Russian, korruptsiya. The English “corrupt” derives from Latin, corrumpere = co- + rumpere, “to break.”
5. Cf. Samuel P. Huntington 1968, “Modernization and Corruption” in Huntington 2006, Political Order in Changing Societies, p. 59.
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In spite of our understandable and frequent focus on monetary exchanges involving government officials and favors, corruption need not involve exchange of money and may be either public or private. Public officials accepting envelopes stuffed with cash to favor bribe-givers in the exercise of official powers is perhaps the central, paradigm case of political corruption. Yet, surely, corruption may still exist where no money changes hands. Favoritism toward particular persons, groups or interests might be exchanged for other sorts of “inducements,” for instance, reciprocating preferences in hiring, employment advantages or promotions; and favoritism may involve exchange of useful “insider” information.6 “In some corrupt exchanges, such as patronage and nepotism” argues political scientist Michael Johnston, “considerable time may elapse between receiving the quid and repaying the quo, and the exchange may be conditioned by many factors other than immediate gain.”7
When illicit favoritism is practiced within a particular insider group involving partiality in dispensing jobs, opportunities and other advantages to friends, supporters or trusted associates, this favoritism is called cronyism. Favoritism and partiality toward one’s own family and kinship, nepotism, is illegal in American Civil Service employment practices, and restricted by the requirement to report possible conflicts of interest to stockholders in publicly traded firms. The charge of nepotism fails of legal application in privately owned firms. It is worth remarking, however, that the distinction between “public” and “private” agents and resources is not always entirely clear and straightforward.
The point is reflected in the history of corporate charters. For example, the British East India Company and the Hudson’s Bay Company long effectively ruled large areas of India and Canada respectively. Were these private trading corporations or colonial sub-polities of the British crown and government? Being both, of course, they could legally govern their respective geographic domains with priority and preference given to their own economic and trading interests and profits. The East India Company even had its own army which was effectively deployed in the Seven Years’ war (1756-1763).8 Chartered trading companies acting as sub-polities was a compromising configuration, though it long persisted. Again, while colonial Americans saw their chartered colonial governments as their own, requiring their representation and subject to “the consent of the governed,” the view from London was that they could be modified or abolished by parliament like any corporate or municipal charter in the kingdom.
Lincoln Steffens distinguished several classifications of municipal corruption. This is partly a matter of where to look for corruption. His typology includes police corruption which was especially prominent in the scandals of Minneapolis, and also found elsewhere, for instance, as reported in the Lexow Committee’s exposures of police corruption in New York City. Police corruption involves “protection” of and extortion from illegal but tolerated gambling and vices. Steffens sometimes found municipal corruption, centered in the mayor’s office, the executive and administrative departments and sometimes centered in the municipal legislatures. With corruption centered in City Council, the political bosses could often afford to tolerate a “clean hands” mayor. Steffens also describes financial corruption, for example in St. Louis, which involved “not thieves, gamblers, and common women, but influential citizens, capitalists, and great corporations.”9 Political bosses of the Gilded Age often enjoyed quite cozy relations to large financial and industrial firms or even owned banks themselves. Generalized civic corruption, exemplified by Philadelphia, “corrupt and contented,” involved direct ...
6. Cf. Sung Hui Kim 2014, “Insider Trading as Private Corruption,” UCLA Law Review, Vol. 61, pp. 928-1008: “Private corruption” is defined as “the use of an entrusted position for self-regarding gain.”
7. Michael Johnston 2005, Syndromes of Corruption, p. 21.
8. Relevant in comparison is the literature of Edmund Burke’s later speeches and documentation in the long impeachment process against Warren Hastings (1732-1818), the East India Company’s Governor of Bengal. See, e.g., Isaac Kramnick ed. 1999, The Portable Edmund Burke, Section V. “India and Colonialism,” pp. 363-406; Frederick G. Whelan 2012, “Burke on India.”
9. Steffens 1904, Shame of the Cities, H.G. Callaway ed. 2020, p. 71.
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partisan manipulation of the electoral system and vote counts, integration of political patronage, federal, state and local, with favored business interests plus institutional and popular acquiescence in boss led, machine politics. Even people not directly involved in corruption, still prevalently “went along,” and adopted protective affiliation and coloring of the dominant party in order not to fall into
direct opposition to the party bosses and the machinations of the corrupt system. Even “heads of great educational and charity institutions ‘go along,’ as they say in Pennsylvania, in order to get appropriations for their institutions from the State and land from the city.”10
Though acceptance of bribes among political office holders is the paradigm, corruption also exists in other institutional contexts. For example, embezzlement by a business partner or favoritism in the allocation of funds by a corporate treasurer show the possibility of corruption in private spheres; and “insider trading” of stocks and bonds on the basis of privileged information is criminal in many or most important jurisdictions. Bribery may exist even in “non-profit” sports organizations, influencing the outcome of games or the award of sports events to particular localities. “Corruption involves the abuse of a trust,” writes Michael Johnston, “generally one involving public power, for private benefit.”11 But the involvement of public power and public financing may be more or less remote, unobvious or even absent. The fundamental objection to corruption is moral, whether or not particular forms of corruption are also legally prohibited—though not every moral failure counts as corruption. Corrupt actions are those that disrupt or strongly tend to disrupt moral habits of good character and/or the practices constitutive of the normative and governing purposes of institutions.
Structures favorable to “economic elite domination”12 may be public, semi-public or private. But in any case of corrupt, domination over public or private interests, there will likely and typically be some “ring,” “combine,” “boodle gang,” syndicate or circle (however tightly organized or tacit and diffuse) of self-serving insiders who ignore or discount the common, public interest or the overt, declared and approved purposes of semi-public or private organizations. More generally, “The pattern of corruption … exists whenever a power-holder who is charged with doing certain things, … is by monetary or other rewards, such as the expectation of a job in the future, induced to take actions which favor whoever provides the reward and thereby damages the group or organization to which the functionary belongs, … .”13
Although legal definitions enter into our concept of corruption, the concept is basically moral and normative. “No man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause,” wrote James Madison in Federalist Papers, No. 10, “because his interest would certainly bias his judgment, and, not improbably, corrupt his integrity.”14 The law, a judge and jury are there to see to it that no one is the judge in his own legal case; and we need to be morally concerned with anyone being the judge in a moral conflict of interests to which the same person is also a party. This has a corrupting effect on personal integrity.15 Some degree of cognitive or emotional bias seems to come with the limits of human intelligence and moral sympathy, but persistent, conscious habits and policies based on acceptance or acquiescence in insider bias and favoritism contribute to corruption of every sort.
10. Steffens 1904, Shame of the Cities, H.G. Callaway ed. 2020, p. 141; 141n. The contemporary colloquial phrase in Philadelphia, often critical, is “to go along in order to get along”: a matter of acquiescence.
11. Michael Johnston 2005, Syndromes of Corruption, p. 11.
12. See Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page 2014, “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens,” on usage of this term.
13. Cf. Carl J. Friedrich 1972, “Corruption Concepts in Historical Perspective,” in Friedrich 1972, The Pathologies of Politics, pp. 127ff:
14. James Madison 1787/1937, in The Federalist Papers, No. 10, p. 56.
15. Cf. Zephyr Teachout 2014, Corruption in America, p. 9, Giving a sufficient condition: “a person is corrupt when they use public power for their own ends, disregarding others.”
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“You could never convince a monkey to give you a banana by promising him limitless bananas after death in monkey heaven.”
Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
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Does interaction/communication among scientists improve with distance? Do you think scientists communicate the same with next-door colleagues than with those in other countries and continents? for some (increasing amount?), it seems harder to engage in productive discussions with people from their own departments than with colleagues from other institutions and distant countries, affecting the way working groups and future projects are planned and created. Often, international intergubernamental relationships start there and the future of international collaboration is therefore designed there too.
Do you agree? if so, why you think that happens? how would you solve it?
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Certainly yes
Best Regards Alejandro Bortolus
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From the Gilded Age to the Progressive Era.
What were the chief problems, and what new federal legislation was passed to meet those problems? What did these problems have to do with the rapid post-Civil War industrialization of the country? What roles did the American Civil War play in the emergence of the Gilded Age (1870-1890)? Why did the Gilded Age give rise to populism and wide-spread protests? And why did populism ultimately pass over into (1890-1920) progressivism? Does the sequence of reform legislation hold any possible lessons for contemporary politics? Who were the chief American populists and the leaders of the progressive movement? What did they accomplish and how did they do it?
Please document your contributions and answers so far as possible.
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One person's reform is another person's repression.
In the late 1950s the top tax rate in America was 90%, President Kennedy dropped this significantly, and what followed in the 1960s the American economy boomed. Is cutting the top tax rate a reform? Or does it just aid the richest Americans?
In 1919 the government made the sale of alcohol illegal. It was considered at the time to be part of the great reform and progressive movement. It led to the undying establishment of nation-wide organized crime that is still with us.
Why is no one discussing the great reform of putting an end to endless money-printing? Is that a reform that is needed? Or would that slow down the economy?
So what these reforms that people are hinting at? Can anyone spell them out?
Or is "reform" just a slogan .... and the less said about it, the more we can all imagine it is a good thing?
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From the (2002) review by Roger Egbert:
At a time when movies think they have to choose between action and ideas, Steven Spielberg's "Minority Report" is a triumph--a film that works on our minds and our emotions. It is a thriller and a human story, a movie of ideas that's also a whodunit. Here is a master filmmaker at the top of his form, working with a star, Tom Cruise, who generates complex human feelings even while playing an action hero.
See:
The opening scene, demonstrating the effectiveness of crime prevention, based on mysterious predictions of the “pre-cogs,” contrasts with the account of the predictions involving the search for a “minority report.” Though the precogs, it is said, “are never wrong,” sometime they disagree among themselves. The hunt for the dissenting view leads on into political intrigue—which may explain our skepticism of the prediction of crimes –on the part of “the usual suspects.”
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Philadelphia, PA
Dear Malik & readers,
You might want to go back over the discussion already at hand in the thread.
I think the answers are all there.
H.G. Callaway
---you wrote---
An interesting question waiting for the discussion to continue.
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The end of WW II signalled an era in which capitalism and communism as political ideologies polarized the world. When the USSR disintegrated, communism as a political idea also collapsed, leaving capitalism also in the lurch because there was nothing left to disagree about! Two decades further, we are talking of Neoliberalism - a heady mix of economic liberalisation with Human Rights and Democracy. Have capitalism and communism really lost their relevance or they have come together in the cauldron of Druid Getafix to be transformed into the 'magic potion' called Neoliberalism?
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Back to the initial question: the ideological confrontation between the USA and Soviet Union and their respective allies dominated much the global political confrontations after World War II and the end of the 1980s (actually it started earlier: the conference at Bretton Woods e.g. has been in 1944). We call this Cold War. Since then ideological confrontations of the sort capitalism vs socialism have become less important, but they did not disappear. Other ideological confrontations became more important, e.g. around Islamism . These confrontations did exist already earlier. If they are clashed of civilizations depends on details and perspectives. To a very great deal they are around power, which is reflected in resources (oil) rather than religion, but things are indeed very complex. What seems to be very important to me is that the bipolar world has disappeared with the collapse of the Soviet Union. The confrontations lost its clear structural dimension, but not their relevance.
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I am interested in the following questions:
What are extreme democratic outcomes(EDO)? When should they be expected to take place? Do they work under sustainability theory or chaos theory?. Are they the extreme opposite of the normal democratic outcomes that are supposed to come out from democratic models based on majority rule one person one vote? Do they follow normal independent voting/preferences and ranking assumptions?.
And the reasons are:
Without having answers to the questions above, it is difficult a) to predict EDOs and therefore to avoid them; b) it is not possible to see how you can deal with them once they take place; c) it is difficult to see the link between chaos in the creation and the sustaining of the conditions behind the extreme democratic outcome; and d) it is difficult to see what needs to be done to create the conditions for extreme democratic outcomes to revert towards normal democratic outcomes.
The need for a theory of extreme democratic outcomes and democracy
The fact that polling and the media missed the coming the BREXIT and the USEXIT, the subsequent lost of BREXIT and the fact that extreme democratic outcomes did not materialize in France and the Netherlands indicate that a theory of extreme democratic outcomes and democracy is needed urgently.
I am working on a series of papers on the topic right now as it is clear that at least in the short and medium term some extreme democratic outcomes and their consequences are here to stay, and stay longer if we keep treating them as if we are dealing with normal democratic outcomes.
Is anybody here working in the lines of extreme democratic outcomes, a line where normal ideas of voting theories and preference ranking may no longer work?.  Any comments?
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"an extreme democratic outcome, decision or office holder, can only take place when there is full true majority complacency or protest behaviour especially under targeted chaos aimed at tricking a true majority into voting in ways that will work later against them".
In large part I agree with this statement but it needs further analysis. There is no doubt that the Brexit vote and the election of Trump included significant 'protest behaviour', we saw it during the campaigns. We must of course ask who the protests were aimed at.
The incumbents at the time were a centrist liberal Conservative party in the UK and a similar centrist president but increasingly right wing congress in the US. It was their form of liberalism that the populations of both states voted against.
It is rather difficult to maintain the argument that they were tricked into protesting. Serious and deep seated disaffection with liberalism existed within both the UK and US. That liberalism saw the real value of wages reduced and the standard of living for very many continually decline.
I tend to agree that the end result of Brexit and Trumpism will work against those who supported both politics but the alternative was never a bed of roses either.
Most serious political commentators consider that this episode of Alt Right 'extremism' will be short lived. When it fails to deliver the outlandish promises disillusionment will step in much quicker than before. Lets ee what happens in November.
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I quote from the Encyclopedia Britannica,
Aristotle used the term oligarchia to designate the rule of the few when it was exercised not by the best but by bad men unjustly. In this sense, oligarchy is a debased form of aristocracy, which denotes government by the few in which power is vested in the best individuals. Most classic oligarchies have resulted when governing elites were recruited exclusively from a ruling caste a hereditary social grouping that is set apart from the rest of society by religion, kinship, economic status, prestige, or even language. Such elites tend to exercise power in the interests of their own class.
--pause quotation
The authors are correct here to emphasize “rule by the few,” rule “not by the best men” and the claim that oligarchy is a “debased” or corrupt form of aristocracy, in Aristotle's Politics. As we will see, the usage of the term “oligarchy” has in recent times been often replaced by talk of “elites” --which essentially leaves open the question of whether these elites are good or bad, whether their rule is corrupt, or –importantly—whether they rule in the interest of the common good. For Aristotle, the aristocratic decline into oligarchy consists in "the few" ruling in their own narrow self interest.
Britannica continues:
It is a recurrent idea that all forms of government are in the final analysis reducible to the rule of a few. Oligarchs will secure effective control whether the formal authority is vested in the people, a monarch, the proletariat, or a dictator. Thus, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels insisted that, throughout capitalism, the key capitalists had controlled the government; they coined the dictum, the state is the executive committee of the exploiting class. The Italian political scientist Gaetano Mosca likewise insisted that a ruling class always constituted the effective oligarchic control. Vilfredo Pareto elaborated the idea in his doctrine of the “elite.” The modern tendency to analyze social patterns in terms of an “elite,” although greatly reinforced by Pareto's theory, goes further back than Marx and Engels, who employed the term “elite” to describe the class-conscious communists, the leading group within the proletariat.
---pause quotation
Here we begin to come to the idea of the “Iron law of oligarchy,” or the “inevitability of oligarchy,” though this becomes more explicit in the passage below. The Marxist description of the elite communists as an oligarchy is interesting and ironic partly because oligarchy became the charge raised against the Communist system by Djilas, the Yugoslav dissident and critic in his classic book, The New Class. If oligarchy could survive even the socialist abolition of private ownership of the means of production, then, of course, this makes the claims for the “iron law” all the stronger.
Britannica continues:
One of the most famous modern uses of the term occurs in “iron law of oligarchy,” a concept devised by the German sociologist Robert Michels to refer to the alleged inevitable tendency of political parties and trade unions to become bureaucratized, centralized, and conservative. His reasoning was that, no matter how egalitarian or even radical the original ideology and goals of a party or union may be, there must emerge a limited group of leaders at the centre who can direct power efficiently, get things done through an administrative staff, and evolve some kind of rigorous order and ideology to ensure the survival of the organization when faced by internal division and external opposition. Subsequent writers of various persuasions have attempted either to expand on Michels' thesis, extending it to legislatures, religious orders, and other organizations, or to restrict or criticize the thesis, charging that the iron law of oligarchy is not universal and that some unions and parties do maintain a viable system of democratic expression and governance.
---pause quotation
If the “iron law” fails, then it must be the case that oligarchy is not inevitable under just any conditions, or in all situations. What then are the facilitating conditions and what kinds of conditions tend to defeat the rule or control of oligarchy?
Britannica continues:
Political science and sociology are beginning to differentiate more carefully between various types of control and power. The type of power held by a democratic party boss, while overwhelming in relation to any single member of the party, is very different from that wielded by the boss of the single party in a totalitarian and authoritarian pattern. Likewise, the control group within an organization does not occupy the same position under democratic conditions (which provide for the group's being effectively challenged by outsiders at any time) as it does under an authoritarian plan. If effective control changes hands as rapidly as it does in a city of the United States or a British trade union, it is doubtful that those exercising it should be spoken of as a “class” or an “elite.” The expression “the few” is too abstract to convey much information. Like the other purely numerical concepts of government inherited from Greek philosophy, oligarchy is an outmoded term, because it fails to direct attention to the substantive features of a government.
---End quotation
Well, if the term “oligarchy” is outmoded, it is somewhat surprising that the political scientists have begun to use near synonyms, such as “biased pluralism” --with the bias typically favoring the upper incomes. Again, there is “economic elite domination,” also quite current, which suggests in turn the theme of “policy capture,” and the domination of economic and tax policy by large-scale institutions and great wealth. No doubt, we want to distinguish between political control, kinds and conditions of political control --and with special attention to the reasonable prospect of a given ruling-set being turned out. The term, ”rule by the few” is indeed too abstract to capture even the concept of oligarchy. It is more a matter of “rule by the few”-- in their own self-interest, and ignoring the common good. Oligarchy is not merely numerical, it is also a moral and political concept –which can't be reduced to numbers alone.
See: the Britannica article, here: https://www.britannica.com/topic/oligarchy
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this question reflects the political situation in Nigeria today and in many African countries across the African continent . the dominance of the very few in a society via the possession, control and management of economic political social and religious resources of the state, use questionable means such as corruption, fear , terror, education and intimidation as a major weapon of control. this is particularly noted in Sudan, Egypt, Eritrea and Nigeria, particularly northern Nigeria.
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It has been said that our contemporary experience is that of the "lived dystopia" of Modernity. This social imaginary directly confronts the narrative of the "imminent threshold", the point of no return set in the near future, beyond which environmental degradation and other social problems are portrayed as definitely intractable. This question bears directly on our understanding of political hope in the present World: Should we hope to avoid the imminent catastrophe, or should the domain of hope rather be focused on coping with a dystopia that is already here?
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If you listen to the music of Nordic Giants, they hold the view that we already live in a dystopia. Indeed, they hold that humankind has lived in a dystopia for thousands of years (it is the typical human condtion), but that society has become more dystopic: with more powerful wars (given the weaponry we have had for the last 100 years), greater environmental damage, and increasing divisions (racism, sexism etc) in society. Their track 'Dystopia' sums it all up.
On the other hand, I would want to argue that Rosa Luxemburg, Robert Kurz and others are correct in arguing that capitalist barbarism, with the breakdown of capitalism, has not matured yet, but we are getting close to its realisation, especially when allied to environmental catastrophe (Kurz).
My own view is that communism exists within capitalist society: it sustains and supports capitalism, and is a suppressed form of life in capitalist society. But it is our hope: this hope is real, as opposed to pinning our hope on something turning up in the future (e.g. the invention of some new technology, or our politicians coming to their senses, the 2nd coming of Christ, or whatever).
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At the foundation of principled nonviolence is the moral obligation of noncooperation with and/or resistance to injustice, oppression, tyranny, etc. I am interested in the various schools of thought, literature, that addresses the rational basis of this obligation. What are the reasons that ground this obligation? Why should we resist or not cooperate with injustice?
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Showing disapproval through non-violence is not silence, but an act. Certainly the employment of violence provides an added template of violence.
Let me give an example. When the curiously-positioned clerics (murderous religious leaders-oh dear) issued a fatwa on Salmon Rushdie they created the template for external marketing of religious belief. Not far from that to the terrorists that now operate throughout the world, often but not always foreign to the country they go killing in.
Whereas peaceful acts can be separated, violent acts tend to be locked together.
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Is there any theological relationship between the values of US citizenship and US imperialism and military expansionism?
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There was never a time when the United States was not imperialist. The conquest of North America was the primary imperial venture, which included wars with Mexico, Spain, and the indigenous peoples. Theologically, the entire venture was rooted in various forms of Calvinism. There are probably hundreds (thousand?) of books by historians on the role of Puritanism (a form of Calvinism) in the development of North American culture and politics. The primary Puritan rationale for dispossessing other people of their land was the belief that others "wasted" their land by not using it as productively as possible. In the Puritan mind, "lazy" cultures deserved to be conquered so that their people could be inculcated with Puritan values. Although most Americans are unfamiliar with the theological roots of their beliefs, the same dynamic is still at work today. Imperialism is still rooted in the belief that Americans are uniquely able to "save" people from their backward cultures. The economic theory that is taught in universities today could also be categorized as Puritan in its fundamental assumptions. The economic idea that efficiency is the ultimate good is very Puritan. Thus, the neoliberal crusade to impose a particular vision of economics on the world is part of the same Puritan imperialism that has existed since 1620. With respect to Puerto Rico, are you familiar with Ramirez, Colonialism, Catholicism, and Contraception? If you are interested in that book and cannot find it, write to me at ajeseditor@gmail.com.
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I borrow part of a blog text on Niebuhr, which strikes me as very accurate:
Niebuhr, Reinhold - Moral Man and Immoral Society: A Study in Ethics and Politics
 
Introduction
In the introduction to this work Niebuhr states his thesis clearly and succinctly. His overarching thesis is that a sharp distinction must be drawn between the moral and social behavior of individuals and groups, including nations and economic classes. Individuals are able to overcome their egotism and transcend themselves and their interests and consider others. Groups, however, lack this capacity. This is a result of collective egoism in which individuals sublimate their individual egos into the group, but the group re-expresses this egoism at a higher level causing intergroup conflict.
Niebuhr, thus, aims to engage in a polemic against moralists, those thinkers who think that the same resources that allow individuals to transcend their egos in their personal relationships, rationality or religion, can also be used in order to establish harmony between groups. Niebuhr argues that the moralists do not realize the limitations of rationality and religion to check the overwhelming egoism and self-interestedness of groups. They also do not realize the way in which rationality is bent in order to serve group interests and how human being lack the moral imagination to sympathize with others outside of their personal interactions. In contrast, he argues that the relationships between groups, both classes and nations, will always be governed by a clash of forces. Ethics may govern relations between individuals, but politics and, thus, the power of coercion must always govern the relations between groups.
Chapter One: Man and Society: The Art of Living Together
Niebuhr's overarching point in this chapter is that social relations are governed by a dialect in which "power sacrifices justice to peace within the community and destroys peace between communities."
See:
The conclusion I am inclined to draw from Niebuhr is that collective egoism, since it generates collective conflicts and exaggeration of collective conflicts, is much more dangerous that the fleeting egoism of individuals --who may, in fact, effectively oppose collective egoism. 
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Dear H.G. Callaway,
To understand the essence of things, let's take the extreme case: let the selfish groups consist of only moralists. It is not clear to me why egoistic groups arise, even if they consist of moralists alone. In fact, Reinhold Neibuhr argues that absolute moralists inevitably degenerate into egoists if they are grouped together. The question arises: "Why is this happening?" The answer of Reinhold Niebuhr is essentially the following: "Only the egoist can guide the mob of moralists". But this egoist can be nominated from his environment only by moralists who only exist in the group. Hence it follows that in reality there are no groups that are composed of some moralists only. In fact, groups are made up of egoists. These egoists and put forward from their midst the most powerful egoist for successful struggle against other groups. Hence it follows that there is no supernatural law of the degeneration of individual moralists into egoistic groups, invented by Reinhold Niebuhr. In my opinion, the apologetics of the fatal use of force between selfish groups that consist in the extreme case according to Reinhold Niebuhr from moralists is nothing more than the conscious justification of any behavior of any authority, which, incidentally, is always represented by individual individuals, usually bright, and as a rule bright egoists. Such strong egoists can only be found in a crowd of egoists, but not in a crowd of altruists.
Best regards,
Vladimir Egorov
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I quote from the Encyclopedia Britannica on the concept of "state capture."
State capture, the domination of policy making by private, often corporate, power.
In the second half of the 20th century, the concept of state capture was used in the early critique of the pluralist theoretical framework in political science. According to pluralism, a multiplicity of interest groups prevents any particular group from being dominant. However, the counterargument was that interest groups are not equally endowed with resources. Many commentators argued that business represents a very strong power system—far stronger than any other social group or institution—that challenges and threatens to dominate public power. The term capture describes how public bureaucracies had become dominated by strong and powerful interest groups. In a context characterized by a complex multitude of interest groups, the bureaucrats tend to deal with the best-organized groups as a way of reducing complexity.
--pause quotation
The concept of pluralism employed here is what is called "interest-group pluralism," and which contrasts with alternative conception of social or cultural pluralism. It seems that continued emphasis on understanding society in terms of competing interest groups has tended to convert particular societies into configurations of contending interest groups.
The article on "state capture" continues:
State capture has been used in the critique of corporatism as well. Corporatism refers to the permanent representation of well-organized hierarchical interest groups in the state apparatus, a phenomenon that may be seen as a way of the state giving in to specific interests. Both the critics of pluralism and the critics of corporatism argue that private corporate power must be controlled by democratic institutions.
---Pause quotation
The concept of "corporatism" is somewhat wider than may be suggested in this passage. "Corporate" elements, surely, may be public or private, and still capable of exerting undue influence on policy. For example, one may think of the "military-industrial complex" as a "corporate" element, partly public, partly private, partly popular, but capable of maintaining itself against democratic criticism by its institutional momentum and political connections. Much the same may be said of the national security state. But once we observe the role of such public agencies in terms of their political influence over policy, then a larger range of public and public-private institutions may also come to be considered, insofar as such agencies are capable of capturing policy in such a way as to ignore broader public interests.
The Britannica article also comments on "state capture" in post-colonial and post-communist societies:
In the literature on postcolonial societies, the concept of state capture refers to rulers favouring their own ethnic or regional groups rather than the nation as such; the state is thereby captured by a specific group. A weak state may be the most prone to be captured by interest groups or even by strong individuals. A relatively strong, institutionalized state may therefore be necessary in order to avoid state capture. An institutionalized party system also may be important, for where parties are weak, traditional forms of elite interaction tend to prevail, enabling elites to capture the state apparatus.
State capture has also been related to the post-communist region where it described a policy process dominated by powerful oligarchs that belonged to the old nomenklatura elite. Experts studying this phenomenon have defined state capture as a situation in which decisions are made to appease specific interests, maybe even through illicit and nontransparent private payments to public officials, rather than to suit the national interest aggregated and mediated through a democratic process. State capture takes place when the basic rules of the game are shaped by particularistic interests rather than by the aggregated national interest.
---End quotation
I take it that undue emphasis on the phenomenon of interest group pluralism and interest-group competitions within any society may convert the purely descriptive approach in political science into an implicit approval of the excesses of political competitions for private and institutional gain --thus submerging the public good and broader conceptions of the public interest. But the dangers of policy capture focus critical attention on the idea of a society based on interest-group pluralism.
For the Britannica article, see:
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State capture is an ancient phenomenon and can be traced back from the current form employed by corporate interests and oligarchs through modern ideologues, medieval kings and Roman emperors to name but a few. 
Kings and dictators have been notorious throughout history for attempting to shape the state not only in their own interest but occasionally in their own image.  The concept of a legacy displays this well.  The most famous (or infamous) example being that of Louis XIV who said not only  L'Etat, c'est moi. but also Je m'en vais, mais l'État demeurera toujours.
Even in the modern state with the separation of powers concept the executive is constantly attempting to ‘capture’ control.   In the UK our Supreme Court has just ruled yet another alteration of the law ultra vires where our previous Lord Chancellor had introduced arbitrary fees, without recourse to Parliament to bring cases to tribunal.
Governments of the UK over the last several decades have made repeated attempts to push the boundaries of secondary legislation which ultimately undermines democracy in order to place political control over the legislature and the judiciary .
State capture is also very much a favourite of conspiracy theorists, who make regular assertions that the world is run by a sinister cabal of corporate interests such as The Bilderberg Group, freemasons and a whole range of imagined ‘brotherhoods’  While there is little doubt that huge corporations exert influence over government little evidence has ever emerged of these conspiracies.
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Are they good reasons behind the pessimism?
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Human beings have a hard time co-operating within the boundaries of  the nation state[ that national boundaries are  softening does not change the situation. Getting to know people other different from oneself does not necessarily mean love or even respect, as we learn from Ulster, the Balkans, Rwanda-Burundi, etc. etc.  I now a woman who became less gay-friendly living near the Castro.  Sometimes the better we understand someone, the more we dislike him.
So I, We, and Them are the categories of social life, like Space, Time, and Causality in the natural order.  This does not mean that we should give up on promoting peace and justice, only that a certain sobriety is in order.
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Sixty percent of rain water that falls on land surface of the Earth reaches directly the oceans as surface run off due to human failure to use it efficiently to meet the genuine needs of living resources of the world. Is linkage or networking of all world water bodies, useful to drive out deserts and desertification process?
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Disastrous thinking. Everything in nature as it is created and existing is important to one or the other living being. Thinking only from the angle of wants / demands of human beings is hazardous. Let there be balance in nature. LIVE & LET LIVE. 
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Otherwise known as the European Economic Recovery Plan, what came to be known as: The Marshall Plan was a package loan of 12 billion (120 billion in Dec. 2016 fiat) to World War II torn nations across Western Europe. Its secondary goal – which was equally successful – was a “policy of containment” for the spread of communism into collapsed capitalist economies. Prior to, but in relation with the Marshall Plan was The Truman Doctrine – which was ultimately military (not economic) aid to Turkey and Greece as a state deterrent to the revolutionary idiosyncrasies of communism.   As a result, European economies grew at a rapid rate; the consequential steel and coal industries and regulations gave rise to the rudimentary framework for today’s European Union.
The Marshall Plan establishes an objective precedence for a global economic recovery plan; 'humanitarian equity' to (counter-) balance today’s credit-driven hypercapitalist & militant attitudes with Marxist & social justice ideologies; in more reductive terms – a practical alliance between progressive and conservative, liberal and republican, left and right. This proposed “global economic recovery plan”, I sum up under the moniker – Concept Zero henceforth to elucidate the necessary absent cause effects that would be critical in the achievement of the objectives entailed. These objectives may also be summed up in a slogan:
 “Always working toward the larger picture – having all that we want and none of what others need.”
This may have a particularly Marxist tone to it in reflection of the slogan:
“From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”
However, the Concept Zero slogan leaves more open the distribution factor – which is usually implemented by a socialized state apparatus. To that effect - the notion that: self-sustainment is an ultimate virtue; but it may only be taught & not enforced, replicated but not simulated - is a particularly useful analysis for autonomous societies and peoples seeking independence.
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Precedents established by Marshall Plan (derived from aspects of your descriptions above):
1. Intentional, significant, long-term strategy by a global hegemon (USA + NATO) with many counterproductive variables & actors (Communist nations, led by USSR).
2. High levels of coordination & synchronization between key actors from USG "interagency" communities with counterpart agencies of partner states: financial/commercial, economic, military, diplomatic & intelligence communities were unified under strong Executive Powers and supported (not without debate) by the Legislative branch.
3. This worked in part because the cultural gaps were relatively small (European descendants in USA interfacing with culturally ancestral European states). The failed/failing NATO and US experiences in Afghanistan & Iraq would/could be indicated by much broader cultural gaps between expeditionary actors and subject/target states & their dominant cultures.
4.  Another dominant (in my opinion) factor was that in WW2 there was a dramatic and lasting 'social balancing' factor ('enemy of my enemy') that united European populations with their US+UK liberators. There was a long and very socially destructive Nazi occupation that required pre-invasion intelligence activities by US+UK that accomplished two major requirements for post-combat acceptance and success:
      1. The ability of intelligence services (MI6, Brit SOE & US OSS) to assess popular sentiment toward the Allies (and Axis powers) and offer recommendations to their governments as to necessary precursor activities, key players at the national and local levels, and provide a manner of liberation appropriate to each sub-group.
     2.  A solid intelligence footing to assess and eliminate/mitigate enemy actor plans & capabilities to reduce the Soviet/communist party effectiveness in each state and across the region.
This worked in Italy, Greece, Turkey, Austria & the Scandinavian states; resulted in mixed results in Germany, France & Italy; and failed in the Soviet Bloc/occupied states & Yugoslavia. Even achieved some mixed results in Soviet bloc states (Poland, Hungary & Czechoslovakia, until Soviet re-invasions and crack-downs). Note that the New Left/Communist terrorist organizations (Red Brigades, Red Army Faction, Baader-Meinhof Group,etc. took until the 1980s to burn out). Eventually everything worked out, more or less, by the 1990s, peacefully in some areas (Germany) and violently (Yugoslavia) in others.
Also, please note that the contested areas required major military, economic, diplomatic and intelligence agency commitments, with a lot of collateral damage over the decades of commitments. Some level of resistance is inevitable, even if the cultures are somewhat similar and goals generally align. While no society is monolithic, NATO sought to become a monolithic protector against a common threat.
I picked the aspects from your description since those are mostly likely relevant to the scope of your project.  I'll check out your Concept Zero page!  Good luck!
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I am imagining my project within the context of Body and Political Economy among African nations which experimented with socialism. Thanks!
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That make a good sense to me! Thanks, Sharmila!
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Digital transformation is mere dream and infinite miles away from reality in India! What do you think?
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Dear all....agreed that Aadhar which is the digital identification (biometric system) is under progress and still hurdles are there, but need to be overcome, especially for those who are disabled (without fingers/hands/eyes). Hence still challenging, but India will move towards the goal !!!.
Thank you all for this discussion
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[UPDATED FROM: Is “Western” liberal democracy essentially unique, or have other systems with similar values flourished in other places and times? 
For example, might some small city-states such as the Vatican perhaps, at some points in their history, developed similar values?
If so, what led to the failure of their values to spread and survive?
If not, does it require a hegemonic civilisation to establish, guarantee and maintain the values [link 1] of:
- fair, free, and competitive elections between multiple distinct political parties,
- a separation of powers into different branches of government,
- the rule of law in everyday life as part of an open society,
- the equal protection of: 
  1.    human rights, 
  2.    civil rights, 
  3.    civil liberties,
  4.    political freedoms for all people
-       ? 
(Aiming to broaden HGC’s ILDiD question [link 2])
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I think that, at least in part, the answer to your last question has also an internal, sociological dimension.
For sets of values (say, in this case, also the liberal democratic ones) to flourish, and to continue to thrive, population must be willing to support them from within. Values, and the specific culture consistently built on them, are maybe the most important glue keeping a society together.
Now, the liberal values, since the impartiality/neutrality struggle in the 80ies and even more the multicultural turn in the 90ies, are interpreted as preaching equal respect also for the other cultures/sets of values. And putting themselves on an equal standing.
That is, equality and liberty have been pushed from the realm of substantial values to the level of meta-values. And this move, from the point of view of the society's identity, is currently proving to have been a self-defeating one. Society has become weak from an internal, ideantitarian point of view.
"Civilisations die from suicide" (Toynbee, but also, centuries and centuries before, Ibn Khaldun)
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I’m looking for any work done on the concept of freedom (interchangeable with liberty) which analyzes it in terms of form and content. My meaning is that the concept of freedom is construed as consisting of two different and opposing elements. The form of freedom is understood as an independent choice between alternatives. It is a formal notion of freedom because it concentrates on the mere existence of alternatives open for the independent subject to choose from, and disregards the actual and concrete choice that has been made. From a formal point of view, as long as the subject has a wide enough range of alternatives to choose from, and is not forced or coerced in any way to choose (or not to choose) any of the given alternatives, the subject is free, and there is no substantial difference between the different alternatives. I.e. different alternatives such as growing red roses, studying philosophy or joining ISIS, will all be regarded as essentially equivalent. By contrast, the content element of freedom emphasizes the concrete choice that has actually been made. It regards the content of the choice and evaluates it according to some criterion or principle (e.g. moral, political, utilitarian, etc.). From a content point of view it is a necessary condition of the freedom of the subject that she’ll not only choose independently, but also that she’ll choose the right choice (by some standard or criterion). The simplest way to describe the opposition between the two elements is by noting that any constraint we put on the content will necessarily reduce the range of alternatives open for choice. It is also noteworthy that the two elements may be construed as prerequisites for a comprehensive notion freedom, thus making the opposition between them necessary. The formal element is necessary for the obvious reason that there’s no freedom without free choice. And the content element is necessary because without it free choice becomes completely arbitrary.   
Any work related in any way to the issues I described will be helpful. The famous negative vs. positive concepts of freedom does not, to the best of my knowledge, invoke explicitly the form-content distinction. And the only work I know of which is somehow close to this distinction is Charles Taylor's 'What's wrong with negative liberty'.
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I do not have access to recordings of or notes taken about lectures or conference discussions on these topics by Dr. Donald Davidson. I took courses from him around 1960. In one course on Mind (if I remember correctly) he argued that if anyone acted without reference to preceding events, personal preferences, or anticipated results, then nobody would say that said person was "free." They would say that the person was demented, not that he was free.
Rather unexpectedly, I found a similar understanding of the matter given in terms of the philosophy of Mencius, and provided with remarkable lucidity in one of a semester of lectures given by Professor Tang Jun-yi during the year that he was the honored guest of the Philosophy Department of National Taiwan University. After the key lecture, I asked him whether he had published on the subject. He said that he indeed had published, but it was during the early years of China's war with Japan, printed somewhere in the western part of China where most scholars had fled, and he had no idea of where any extant copies of that article might be found.
The discussion in its Chinese context was not given in terms of "liberty" or "freedom" or "free choice." The discussion can, however, be illustrated in terms of there being a range of choices that matter in many or most social interactions (and in other contexts as welll), and while there might be some limitations on the probability of success of the several possible choices for action that one might make, none of the limitations would prevent an individual from trying to make them work. (To modify an example from the Mencius, if your father rustled a cow, you could choose to be a good citizen and turn him in to the police, you could be a good son and choose to help him escape capture, or you could pretend to know nothing at all about the theft. Mencius wouldn't even bother with the hypothetical if he didn't believe that any individual who landed in that situation could make a voluntary choice for one of at least those three alternatives.)
I am not sympathetic to your second mode, the definition of freedom in terms of "content." 
"From a content point of view it is a necessary condition of the freedom of the subject that she’ll not only choose independently, but also that she’ll choose the right choice (by some standard or criterion)." I don't think "the right choice" has anything to do with freedom, and neither would Mencius or Tang Jun-yi. 
The complement to the "formal possibility" in the Mencian system is the understanding that people can and generally do have competing motivations (or drive states) that influence them, for purely internal reasons, to have competing impulses to take each of the competing paths. The alternative to suffering something like buyer's remorse lies in learning by experience and introspection to balance the various motivations, or drive conditions so that in retrospect one will not have reason to regret a hasty action.
According to their way of looking at things, in many cases many paths of action might be about equally productive of a desirable outcome, while other courses of action might be rejected without there being much cause for indecision. Whether a chosen course of action turned out to be better or worse would only emerge as the result of a retrospective look at one's life or one's recent path. At that point one might say, "If I'd known I couldn't make it as a physics major, I might have chosen Stanford over Rensselaer Polytech." 
These issues, from the standpoint of a 17th centurey Confucian are discussed in The Preservation of Human Nature by Yan Yuan, available in draft form at http://www.china-learn.info/Philosophy/Philosophy.html
 Sorry to post this hasty response. There appears to be no way to edit an earlier posting on ResearchGate. Too bad. 
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Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), the influential English political philosopher, claimed that the human condition without a government capable of enforcing peace and stability, and able to protect citizens from both internal and external threats to their well-being would be a perpetual "war of all against all". In such a condition, life would be "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short".
It can be inferred from his political thought, that any functioning government would be preferable to the conditions which would prevail without a government.  Hobbes has civil war in mind, specifically, when he thinks of the worst situations possible without intact government.  He would point to the break-up of the former Yugoslavia or to the chaos in Iraq currently, as examples of the conditions which would prevail without government.
On the other hand, many observers would point to the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century., such as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union to make the case that some governments are worse than no government at all. 
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I just want to share these quotes from two great leaders:
"I prefer a government run like hell by Filipinos to a government run like heaven by Americans." - Manuel L. Quezon of the Philippines
“I beg you to accept that there is no people on earth who wouldn’t prefer their own bad government to the good government of an alien power.” - Mahatma Gandhi of India
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I want to find out if someone in Pakistan working on Meritocracy? I  also want to find researchers in other parts of the world to please interact with me who are working on meritocracy. Anyone?
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Be careful! The word "meritocracy" has been distorted by some.
I always thought it meant you had earned your rewards or position based on your achievements. For example, in the US space programs, you were rewarded or promoted based on your having successfully difficult problems.
However, I recently read a book concerning the "elite" colleges and universities in the USA. In this bubble, "meritocracy" is distorted to mean that the wealthy are entitled or "merit" privileged treatment.  
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According to Dr. M.L. King, "The arch of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." This very famous quotation is inscribed on the King Memorial in Washington, D.C., and President Obama had it woven into the new rug in the Oval Office in the White House. Is this true or false, and what exactly does it mean? It can be easily thought of as a doctrine of "Divine Providence" or "historical inevitability." But many are skeptical of these ideas. Does "Divine Providence" or "historical inevitability" exist? Can we be sure that the future will eventuate in desired, moral outcomes--that the universe "bends" toward justice? 
The quotation from king's speeches to widely though to derive from a sermon of the 19th-century Unitarian Minister, Theodore Parker. See the following expert account of the matter:
But in the end, the question is whether this is true or false. Does the universe bend toward justice? Can we be sure of the moral outcomes of history? Readers may wish to consider a further quotation in relation to this question, from the Persian poet, Hafiz:
'Tis written on the gates of paradise, "Wo upon him who suffers himself to be betrayed by Fate."
The suggestion here is clearly that it is possible to refuse. This appears to be a rejection of historical inevitability.
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This is the case, dear All, when I do not want to be on the side of skeptics and want to believe that “the universe bend toward justice” and to “be sure of the moral outcomes of history”.
Thinking, that it is better to be naive and trust that History will not disappoint, I understand the following position, too:
“The centuries will roll by, and schoolboys will yawn over the history of our upheavals; everything will pass, but my happiness, dear, my happiness will remain, in the moist reflection of a streetlamp, in the cautious bend of stone steps that descend into the canal's blackwaters, in the smiles of a dancing couple, in everything with which God so generously surrounds human loneliness”.
Vladimir Nabokov. A letter that never reached Russia (1976)
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As a sociologist, I'm looking for historical, economic, and political literature that provides background information on the proliferating call center industry in the Balkans, and in particular Serbia. Preferably scholarly sources that analyzes this phenomenon.
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Thank you for your question. The following sites can be of help:www.bloomberg.org,www.ocs.rs/about-ocs,serbiaembassy.gov
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Are there any resources focusing exclusively or primarily on this topic? Doing a research that (among other things) concerns the inculcation of Confucian values by non-elite social strata in Joseon Korea, as well as the various responses to these processes by the so-called commoner and lowborn people; so far found a few interesting texts but I am wondering what others can recommend me. Could be on Ming/Qing society as well (since I am considering to add comparative elements to my research); detailed elite (ie. by scholars, aristocracy, etc) opinions on lifestyles/beliefs of lower social strata are fine as well.
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There has been much attention to the political thought of Edmund Burke of late, and this arises, in part, out of the long felt tension between Burke on the American crisis of the late 18th-century, Burke on Irish emancipation and Burke on India, vs. Burke as the most famous opponent of  the French Revolution. One key to this is to understand Burke on rights. He makes many appeals to rights, and clearly gives them a high moral status, yet he opposes doctrines of "abstract" rights, and this comes out in his criticisms of the French Revolution.
As an opening to discussion, I recommend the following short (45 Min.) video from Trinity College, Dublin, given by the British philosopher Onora O'Neill:
This talk is an excellent probing of Burke on this issue, and some considerable sympathy with Burke is expressed at the end of the talk.
The chief text will surely be Burke's Reflections of the Revolution in France which is widely available on line, e.g.:
However, it is doubtful that anyone can understand Burke on rights and his relationship to contemporary doctrines of human rights, without broader readings. I expect we will need to add some further texts later on, if this question evokes some interest.
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Philadelphia, PA
Dear Ramos-Callado,
Thanks for your short lecture on the relevance of history, its elusiveness and its possible misuses. Allow me to register my brief dissent.
It seems to me clearly an overstatement to suggest that "the narrative we call history is faulty at best." To judge of some historical narrative that it is faulty would seem to presuppose another which is not--or which is less faulty in some particular way. If one supposes that all historical narratives are faulty, then there is nowhere to stand to make the judgment.
The alternative is to see historical narratives as better or worse. At that point, to make a criticism of any given narrative one requires some alternative and a positive evaluation of it. The overstatement, in contrast appears as a resignation from judgment; and if we resign from judgment, then that amounts to merely going along with the reigning judgments: an excessively conservative attitude or effect. It generalizes and neglects all the details, and so it would appear to be a version of rationalism, of the sort Burke criticized in politics.
You wrote:
Interpretation of anything is always a wager. Even deciding what would we choose as our "documents" on which to write a historical narrative are partial, out of context, or just a plain wrong choice.
---End quotation
Interpretations, like any intellectual product are, again, better and worse; I hesitate to repeat the argument above, merely replacing term for term. If every selection of documents, because it is a selection, is therefore "out of context," "or just plain wrong," then the distinction between appropriate and less appropriate context has no standing or purchase. What can justly be said of any interpretation cuts no ice against any one interpretation in particular. So, again, I see an overstatement which neglects the details. You make no argument touching on any particular interpretation. Similar attitudes, in my impression, leave interpretation as arbitrary and often overtly motivated by extrinsic factors and bias and preferences. 
I have no relevant opinion about history being "closed." History becomes prominent, I believe, when other avenues of discourse have been blocked up with controversy and divisiveness. The historians have, in the mean time, been trying to understand the past in its own terms. From that perspective, they may give some judgment --otherwise so captured and entwined in intellectual and moral divisions as to be practically unavailable. But the usefulness of history is to see continuities and discontinuities. Knowing where we have been we may get a better idea of where to go from here; but chiefly it serves to highlight contemporary excesses.
It has frequently been held that the only good sample of Burke is the whole of Burke. (As I recall, the claim originates from Hazlitt.) In consequence, a good discussion of Burke requires a good background in his writings. That not all his writings have been featured in the present thread, though, tells us little about the background of the participants. So, it provides little ground for criticism. It seems clear to me, at least, that the relevance of Burke for many contemporaries has much to do with the resemblance between his times and our own. We want to avoid the prospect and effects of anything resembling world-wide military-commercial competitions and subservience to them. What I take from Burke is the idea that "English liberty" was found incompatible with the imperatives of empire. That also casts further doubts on 19th-century liberal imperialism.
H.G. Callaway
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To maintain balance, the system must feature surplus recycling mechanisms that maintain the flow of surpluses from the future to the present, from the urban centres to the rural areas, from the developed regions to the less developed ones, etc.
Criteria for recycling surplus - the difference principle - all inequalities in the world - in favor of the worst-off members of world society
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I think that interpreting the GRS as an application of Rawls' difference principle is prima facie plausible. However, for Rawls, the different principle comes third after two other principles in a weighted hierarchy: equal claim to equal rights and liberties established from the original position, and equality of opportunity to positions and offices.
His is a theory, it would seem, directed toward the political organization of individuals in one society. The GRS involves not just the organization of individuals but also the organization and relations of nations. A serious theoretical problem would seem to be construing nations as themselves somehow ever satisfying the first two, more heavily weighted, principles. 
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I am a researcher investigating the relationship between Marx and Fichte's bodies of work.
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Sorry I have no idea about your topic of research
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Alan Kirby states that postmodernism is over. The media is full of post post modern theory become reality. What will form the philosophical backbone of the new epoch? 
The turn of century always seems to yield initial confusion, an instinctive need to change possibly, that takes 20/30 years to resolve itself. The 21st century opened with the most extreme seismic change in methodology and possibility since the industrial revolution, possibly of all time. This massive digital shift has redefined our lives completely. Is it possible that philosophical thought is now so splintered and personal that there will never again be single thought schools?
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Hi Pete and H.G.,
What is happening today, with the change towards Hypercommunication is the definite burying of Modernism - if it is seen as the expression of a single dominant view. In its wake, it leads to the disappearance of Post-modernism, as a consequence to the disappearance of Modernism.  Post-Modernism, as a reaction to Modernism, develops the notion of deconstruction of shapes in art and storytelling-structure in writing and film.
But philosophically, Post-modernism, or rather Post-structuralism, has always been present and will always be - as long as one can exert critical thinking.
Post-modernism and post-structuralism have been used interchangeably, leading to a very confused view on whether they are the same thing or not.
Today, with the advent of the exploded nature of Hypercommunication, we may accept the disappearance of Modernism/Post-Modernism, as  single-track cultural expressions. But I do believe - and hope others would agree - that Post-structuralism proudly stands in the ruins of Post-modernism. Deconstruction of the structure of a message, as critical analysis and unmasking of the purpose and the intent behind a message is more needed than ever in our era of Hypercommunication that makes a message expand sometimes beyond our immediate ability to grasp the full scope of a subject.
Because Hypercommunication is not lacking or exploding (destroying) structure, but has a structure of its own - but because it is multilayered and multidirectional it requires even more attention and acute questioning.
I see many people rushing with the news of the death or disappearance of Post-modernism. Post-modernism is that kind of word resembling an empty box that can be filled at will by the person using it. The notions piled up within the box may appear vintage today, But somewhere in there also lies the sharp intellectual defensive weapon that Deconstruction is. It makes me wonder : do the persons hoping for the death of Post-Modernism somehow hope for the end of relentless critical thinking too ?
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After Rawls British political theory is not in its best mode.  Although we have got theorists like John Gray, Michael Oakeshott and Roger Scruton, surely, one should take into account other authors and oeuvres as well.. How would you sketch a meta-narrative of contemporary British political philosophy?
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Philadelphia, PA
Dear all, 
I am still wondering about Professor Horcher's proposals on recent developments in political theory in GB and in Europe generally, and I hope we will see some further contributions along those lines. 
I came across the following short "cartoon" analysis of the European debt crisis, which I hope may be of interest to readers of this thread:
I thought this worth a look, if only as providing some talking points. I'm sure that elements of the account may be disputed. In spite of that, the piece may be useful in getting at some features of the economic problems in Europe and their relation to political questions and problems. I want to see Europe growing again. 
This "cartoon" analysis places considerable emphasis on the idea of the need for a unified fiscal policy among the members of the Euro zone. The idea seems to be that the ECB provides a single monetary policy, but that low interest rates and political pressure brought on excessive borrowing leading to very significant economic problems for countries needing to service very high levels of debt. The connected austerity policies have proved very burdensome in several European countries. In the past, Euro zone constraints upon national fiscal policies have prove ineffective, but these have been insisted upon as a condition of debt bailouts. 
An alternative to unification of fiscal policies across the Euro zone might be very significant banking regulation at the level of the Euro zone. In any case, it seems that all the proposed solutions have various political difficulties. (There are very significant political pressures to keep interest rates very low.) So, one might say, that there is a problem of "governability" in the Euro zone. As is emphasized by various Euro-skeptics, and which I take to be true, there has never been a successful monetary union which did not involve very significant political union. Still Europe wants to have its monetary union (and I don't think that "the Euro has failed") without sufficient political union. Certainly, the theme of European federalism has been widely resisted in recent years.  We may recall the time when "ever closer union" was a unifying goal of the E.U. 
My own sympathizes rest with the gigantic efforts and achievements of the E.U., and emphasis on problems here do not put this in doubt for me at least. 
H.G. Callaway
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De Tocqueville's theory of the social-political establishment follows his analysis of the Old Regime and the French Revolution; and he argued that violent revolution came to France because the nobility degenerated into a caste and refused to absorb new people of power, affluence and influence--the rising middle class. The British upper class, led by the Whig establishment, in contrast, absorbed the new middle class, avoided revolution and remained a ruling establishment. (The Whigs were later displaced by the British Liberal party.) The French nobility retained their privileges at the expense of power and authority, while the British Whig establishment shared their privileges precisely in order to rule. The argument is, then, that one better maintains a free and stable society by maintaining a balance between the liberal democratic and the authoritative, established aspects of society. Extending De Tocqueville's ideas a bit, it seems clear that the danger of caste is especially prominent whenever the boundaries of the establishment are drawn on ethnic lines in a multi-ethnic society. 
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Philadelphia, PA
Dear Matar,
You wrote:
But the "real" rulers of Great Britain are the aristocratic families (such as the Windsor) & their favorites are the Tories. I forgot the name of the English politician who said that the Tories will form the next government whether they win the elections or lose them.
---end quote
I wonder how many readers would agree with your analysis of contemporary British society and government. It is certainly not what I would have said. But in an important sense, it is not to my point to give an alternative analysis of contemporary British society and government--and not to the point of the question above. Likewise, it is not to the point here, as I see it, to dispute your analysis.  
You are right of course that the Whigs were replaced by the Liberal Party, and the Liberal party later substantially displaced by the Labour party. (Still the present British government is a coalition between the Conservatives and the Liberals, with Labour in opposition.) But none of this history seems to me inevitable.  
I think it important to understand that every society has its more conservative elements. I think it a mistake to try to eliminate such influences in any society. The point about the contrast between "establishment" and "caste," is more directly concerned with the possibility of reform, and a more Whig-like understanding of society and government is, in fact, an element of conservative self-understanding throughout the English-speaking world.  There are always other elements of conservative self-understanding. (I use "conservative" here, broadly, to suggest all those elements which favor continuity with existing intellectual, moral and cultural elements--in any give society.) In a sense the question here concerns what kind of conservatives one would prefer to have. In that context, it seems that you want to reject the question --by suggesting that there is no alternative. But you don't do more than make a suggestion.I see no argument.   
H.G. Callaway
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This persistent question is often known as the problem of "dirty hands" (from Sartre). First, this question excludes actions by political leaders which are merely aimed at benefiting the politician him/herself at the expense of the governed or the common good. This sort of self-serving corruption and is both morally and legally wrong.  
Although Socrates alludes to the dirty handed feature of politics in the Apology, its first clear presentation is by Machiavelli (1513), who advises that the Prince "must learn how not to be good" in order to protect the state and keep it intact. Doing what is best for the people often requires doing that which violates principles of private or conventional morality, such as truth-telling or promise-keeping.  
Two examples: In 483 BC, Themistocles, the Athenian politician and general saw the need for a stronger navy to protect Athens against the Persian empire. Unable to convince the democratic assembly, he lied and told the assembly that there was a threat to merchant ships from the small nearby island of Aegina. Political opinion then swung in favor of a stronger navy which did later show itself to be decisive in protecting Athens from the Persians.  After election for a second term in 1864, US President Lincoln believed, with good reason, that unless the 13th Amendment to the Constitution (abolishing slavery) was proposed by the lame duck Congress during what was left of his first term, it would be unlikely to be proposed at all.  With Lincoln's support, his political operatives bribed certain outgoing members of Congress with public positions, such as postmasterships, in exchange for their votes to propose the13th A.  It was proposed by Congress and then ratified by the states.
The claim is that what is the right action for a political leader to take in pursuing the common good may often conflict with conventional or private morality.  My question above is intended to allow reasoned arguments to be presented about the correctness or incorrectness of that claim.  There are two related questions. First, if the claim is correct, what sort of moral responsibility, if any, does a dirty handed politician taking actions that are right politically, but at the same time, violate conventional morality bear for those actions?  Second, if there is moral responsibility to be borne by political actors, then to what degree, if any, do the people in a direct or representative democracy, share in that moral responsibility?
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Philadelphia, PA, November 11, 2014
Dear Risser, 
This strikes me as an interesting question, and you certainly show some facility in elaborating it. I would say, in the first place that there is an important difference between whether political actors will, as a matter of fact, engage in "dirty hands" activities, and whether they ought to do so. In all likelihood, there will always be some amount or degree of this sort of thing--at least from time to time-- and the only very interesting question is how much and how often? Regarding the moral question of the responsibility of political actors, it seems clear that "dirty hands" activities are morally culpable. This implies, along with much else, that such activities should not be accepted as moral and/or legal precedent. The question resembles the old puzzles about the ethics of life-boats. But I do not believe for a moment that any reasonable ethics can be formulated for every variation of emergency situations. The best answer regarding the ethics of life-boats is simply to keep out of life-boats. I think one must be blinded by the ideal of universalism to fail to see the appeal of that answer. 
The chief question, then, as I view the matter, is how far the "dirty hands" activities permeate a given society.  Many and varied persons, in many and varied positions, may come to think of themselves as primarily or partly political actors, and in the extreme the prevalence of underhanded activities will likely culminate in a generalized lack of trust and pervasive corruption--on the theory that what's good for the goose in good for the gander. The corruption would plausibly spread by association with centers of political power --as more narrowly understood. That is the chief reason that "dirty hands" activities cannot be allowed to set a precedent for more of the same. 
You mention the American Civil War in passing, and I think it worth adding a point of history. The founders of the American republic tended to be very skeptical of the idea of maintaining a standing army, and though millions were under arms during the Civil War, after the war, the U.S. Army was cut back to 30,000 men and kept at that level for about 30 years --until the time of the Spanish American War. This fact belonged to the meaning of "Reconstruction," and the belief was that the country needed to be reconstructed for civil purposes, after the war. As with the founders, the prevalent belief in the middle to late 19th-century was that if the army was there, on a large scale, then it would be used in one situation or another. The point belongs to the heights of the politics of those times. I see an echo here of the idea of keeping the country "out of life-boats," and not allowing war and the preparation for war to enter into the social and political constitution of the country.  I think we might learn much from the historical example.
It is not that I think we only need 30,000 soldiers, but some greater movement in this direction, after the long ordeal of the Cold War, would likely be beneficial. 
H.G. Callaway
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In addition, the office holders are usually portrayed as the political leaders even in a democratic setting. Is there any scholars who has questioned this?
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Your question seems to question the compatibility, in theory, between democracy and leadership.  Even in a small scale direct democracy, individual citizens must define issues and initiate action for the body of citizens.  It is expected that this leadership function will be shared among different citizens as different issues arise.
In a large-scale representative democracy, leadership from members of both the legislative and the executive branches is even more necessary.  In such a democracy, most citizens are apathetic and uninformed on most issues.  Leadership is necessary to mobilize citizens around a set of realistic policy alternatives on issues deemed important to the common good
In every democracy, issues compete with other issues for a place on the public agenda.  Democratic leaders play a critical role in determining which issues find a place on the agenda, and which are at least temporarily suppressed.
Citizens in modern mass democracies have been shown to seek leadership qualities, especially in candidates for president, prime minister, or chancellor.
There are, and have been, political scientists who study leadership and its components.  Their focus is often on leadership within giant govermental bureaucracies, eg., departments, agencies, and regulatory organizations.  The sheer size of modern government requires individuals who are capable bringing about change, innovation, and reform within the bureaucracies they lead.  Most of the scholarly work on democratic leadership has been pursued by specialists in public administaration and also by scholars in presidential studies.
I hope this is of some help.
                                         DTR
See: E.E. Schattschneider's The Semi-Sovereign Peopleand Robt. Dahl's Preface to Democratic Theory
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I still don't see any other viable and meaningful alternative to economic liberalism (democracy) except socialist democratic alternative that emerged in parts of Latin America in recent years. Without it, we are permanently damned to discuss the non-politics of the apolitical politicians. Those who disagree will do me a favor.
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Considering the world-wide impact of the book 'Capital in the 21st Century', by French economist Thomas Piketty, and its meaning for social priorities and goals, I am pleased to send you my attached evaluation of this book. I hope this will inspire your reflections about the moments we are going through. Kind regards,
Ronaldo Campos Carneiro – June 2014
Brasília - DF - Brasil
About Piketty’s Book on Capital -
The Answer of a convinced Liberal
After fifteen years of research (1998-2013) aimed at understanding the historical dynamics of income and wealth in around 20 countries, mainly in the last 200 years, analysing remarkable facts about humanity such as the industrial revolution, world conflicts and economic crises, using and harmonizing data broadly accepted by credible institutions like the World Bank, the UN and the IMF, this French Professor at the Paris School of Economics, Thomas Piketty, aged 43, came to the conclusion that:
Capitalism, or what is left of it, just as it is now put in practice or crony capitalism is heavily concentrating income and wealth, in a process where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Estimates for the XXI century are alarming and define human coexistence as unfeasible under the rules prevailing nowadays.
The current market competition is like an athletic race in which some are well fed and have access to health assistance and education, whereas crowds of excluded are left far behind: the minimally decent atitude is to place them on the same starting line or to equal their opportunities at the beginning of the race.
“The 85 richest people in the world, who could fit into a single London double-decker, control as much wealth as the poorest half of the global population– that is 3.5 billion people”.
“Strong inequality is corrosive of growth; it is corrosive for society. I believe that economists and politicians ignored inequality for too long.” (Christine Lagarde, Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund)
I personally think that these conclusions are irrefutable. No scholar will, after Piketty’s research, ignore the enormous social exclusion generated by capitalism, or the urgent need of actions to revert this dramatic situation. Inequality is complicating the market economy. One must never forget that the economy depends on supply and demand – it is useless to have supply facing a reduction in demand, or vice-versa. No one, but a liberal dreamer, can imagine that the economy will operate with supply only! Economics is a science where agents are regulated by the inexorable law of supply and demand. Politics is an art where the human will prevails. This is the reason why they cannot blend: economics and politics have diferent natures.
My complete agreement with Piketty’s conclusions also take me to a complete disagreement with his recommendations of a progressive tax and a global tax on wealth. This would be a shortcut to hell: it would mean more government, bureaucracy, war, corruption or, in the economic view, it would transfer assets from the domain of supply and demand to the changing human will of bureaucrats and politicians – an antechamber to hell. Nothing is more predatory than the action of governments in the economy – indebtedness is what governments know how to do, and they do it unreservedly.
“Deficits mean future tax increases, nothing less. The increase of deficits must be seen as a tax on future generations, and the politicians who create deficits should be judged as tax generators”. (Ron Paul, former US Senator – Republican).
Our generation has been the victim of decisions from past generations, that increased indebtedness, just like future generations will have to pay for the inconsequence of our own generation, that expanded those debts even further. The European discussion about austerity or Keynesian stimuli mean to penalize our generation or our descendants. The problem is that policy makers search immediate applause, transfering the solution of structural problems to the future. These are inconsequent acts, showing no concern with future generations.
“Do not forget that I have found out that more than ninety percent of all the national deficits, from 1921 to 1939, were caused by the payment of past, present and future wars” (Franklin D. Roosevelt)
“People do not make war. It is the governments that make it” (Ronald Reagan)
I would go back to the time of the American Revolution – “You will never strengthen the weak by weakening the strong” – and to the moments when the French Revolution was promising “liberty, fraternity and equality”.
Inequality of opportunities in human coexistence has been generating the most terrible process of domination and human bondage: the dictatorship of bureaucracy. The enormous amount of financial resources under the power of the State, to be allocated by acts of human will, stimulates an unbridled race of unscrupulous politicians in search of power at any cost; “They do not disdain, in certain cases, to associate with cheating, fraud and corruption”, to use the words of Vilfredo Pareto.
It would be very efficient and useful if economic policymakers became convinced that applying more measures under the same keynesian references they would come to the same results. We must migrate to another reference frame if we wish to improve our development process.
Economic rulers must be aware of the fact that: “If they do only what they have always done, they will end up having what they always had”. Piketty’s proposition, however, is for more of the same, and it would certainly lead to poor results.
The relation between income and wealth is like a river flowing to a dam, where income is the variable of flow or the fluidity of the river, and wealth is the variable of stock or the accumulation in the dam. They both have the same nature, because wealth is no more than accumulated labour, and only labour can generate wealth. Piketty proved that there are some who harvest without planting, or who generate wealth with the labour of others; when the rate of return on capital is higher than the rate of economic progress, it results in predatory accumulation. This is the patrimonialist economy, that produces income from inherited family properties or from political connections: to be a friend of the king produces more than merit or competence. It would be risible, were it not tragic, to imagine that the control of financial flows (currency, exchange and credit) can generate development, as suggested by Keynes. Only productive labour can generate capital.
“Labor exists before, and is independent from capital. Capital is just the fruit of labor and it would never exist without the previous existence of labor. Labor is superior to capital, and deserves much more consideration.”
This truth expressed by Abraham Lincoln must be recognized by all the zombies who are wandering, lost and disconnected from the basic concepts of economics.
One must not criticize without a corresponding proposition. The solution is not among the tools of economic theory, but in the scope of politics, by means of a broad, full and true agreement around a new Social Pact, in which nutrition, health and education will become a responsibility of the private productive process, after the corresponding reduction of taxes by the government, who will also reduce its interference in the economy. Instead of transferring resources from the rich to the poor, this pact will equal opportunities concerning nutrition, health care and education. I do not mean philanthropy, but a new concept of human labor as a process of transformation of human energy in physical or intelectual energy. This would replace the changing logic of ideas –ideology- by the invariable logic of life – biology. Of course, entrepreneurs will not act out of philanthropy: full productive labor will be the broker of this agreement of wills.
This idea is perfectly simple: Piketty proved that after centuries of distributive measures in all countries, in which resources were transferred from the rich to the poor, the result was more social exclusion.
To prohibit wealth with a ceiling on income, as Piketty proposes, means to weaken the strong to strengthen the weak. Better would be, instead of a ceiling on income, to establish a groundfloor, so as to permit wealth and prohibit poverty, in an open system that would open the pressure cooker after the progressive dissipation of pressure.
Let us equal, for all, the access to nutrition, health care and education, and liberate all the tools and values of the market economy.
It was these values that made the West prosperous since the XIX Century and their efficiency has been confirmed.
Instead of terming this my proposition utopic, theoretical or unfeasible, one must keep in mind that the complete liberation of prices and wages will lead us to full productive labour, that is: salaries will be ascending – there will be no need to establish a minimum wage – imagine the Industrial Revolution, at the beginning of the XIX Century.
“Governamental institutions:
a) protect the powerful and interest groups;
b) generate hostility, corruption and hopelessness;
c) hinder prosperity; and
d) repress free expression and the opportunities of individuals”. (IMB - Mises Institute).
I offer, below, some challenges in the scope of this proposition, for the reader to ponder:
1) the agricultural sector and the reversion of migration to the cities;
2) health care, education and the power in the hands of the private sector; profit linked to people health.
3) the financial sector and its incapability in the purchase and sale of papers having monetary expression.; Christine Lagarde: “crisis has prompted a major course correction—with the understanding that the true role of the financial sector is to serve, not to rule, the economy.
As Winston Churchill once remarked, “I would rather see finance less proud and industry more content”.
4) the political area and the prevention of speculation when resources are reduced.
Finally: In a Soccer World Cup or in the Olympic Games, just imagine how the competition would happen if political or bureaucratic influences were present in the choice of teams or in the rules of the games!
“In Hell, the hottest places are reserved for those who chose neutrality in times of crisis’. (Dante Alighieri (1265-1321)
Lets learn with the best lessons of Von Mises:
• If history could teach us anything, it would be that private property is inextricably linked with civilization.
• Those who are asking for more government interference are asking ultimately for more compulsion and less freedom.
• Governments become liberal only when forced to by the citizens.
• Both force and money are impotent against ideas.
THE GREAT DIVIDE 2014, JUN 27 6:16 PM 793
Inequality Is Not Inevitable
By JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ
“We need not just a new war on poverty but a war to protect the middle class. Solutions to these problems do not have to be newfangled. Far from it. Making markets act like markets would be a good place to start. We must end the rent-seeking society we have gravitated toward, in which the wealthy obtain profits by manipulating the system.
The problem of inequality is not so much a matter of technical economics. It’s really a problem of practical politics. Ensuring that those at the top pay their fair share of taxes — ending the special privileges of speculators, corporations and the rich — is both pragmatic and fair. We are not embracing a politics of envy if we reverse a politics of greed. Inequality is not just about the top marginal tax rate but also about our children’s access to food and the right to justice for all. If we spent more on education, health and infrastructure, we would strengthen our economy, now and in the future. Just because you’ve heard it before doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try it again.
Widening and deepening inequality is not driven by immutable economic laws, but by laws we have written ourselves”.
Conference on Inclusive Capitalism
By Christine Lagarde
Managing Director, International Monetary Fund
London, May 27, 2014
“A greater concentration of wealth could—if unchecked—even undermine the principles of meritocracy and democracy. It could undermine the principle of equal rights proclaimed in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Pope Francis recently put this in stark terms when he called increasing inequality “the root of social evil”.
It is therefore not surprising that IMF research—which looked at 173 countries over the last 50 years—found that more unequal countries tend to have lower and less durable economic growth”.
Best wishes,
Ronaldo Campos Carneiro – June 2014
To understand Piketty’s book:
http://piketty.pse.ens.fr/en/capital21c2 - Paris School of Economics
Skidelsky’s blog –
“Too Much”: Special Thomas Piketty issue (26 May – Sam Pizzigati
John Weeks – “Why is ‘Capital in the 21st Century’ (C21C) Such a Success”? 30 May 2014
Debate Piketty and Senator Elizabeth Warren
I also suggest reading the texts on this subject by:
David Harvey (“Afterthoughts on Piketty’s Capital”), plus Paul Krugman, Dani Rodrick, Joseph Stiglitz, Lawrence Summers, Robert Solow, James Galbraith.
---------------------------------------
From: Thomas Piketty <thomas.piketty@psemail.eu>
Date: 2014-06-13 3:37 GMT-03:00
Subject: RE : Piketty’s Capital - The Answer of a convinced Liberal
To: Ronaldo campos carneiro <rcarneiro4@gmail.com>
Thanks Ronaldo, I appreciate it. Best, Thomas
__________________
Thomas Piketty
Ecole d'Economie de Paris/Paris School of Economics
Page personnelle : http://piketty.pse.ens.fr/
From: Thomas Piketty <thomas.piketty@psemail.eu>
Date: 2014-07-02 7:38 GMT-03:00
Subject: RE: Piketty’s "Capital" - The answer of a convinced liberal
To: Ronaldo Carneiro <rcarneiro@salutecafe.com.br>
Thanks Ronaldo, this is a very interesting reaction! Best, Thomas
_______________
Thomas Piketty
Ecole d'Economie de Paris/Paris School of Economics
Page personnelle : http://piketty.pse.ens.fr/
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From: Hector Julio Melchiori - june,13,2014
Creo que la diferencias comienzan en los tres primeros años de vida al no tener nivelado el alimento, ya que el intelecto se relaciona con la primera capacidad de ingesta, luego ya es tarde.
CREO QUE LA IGUALDAD DE OPORTUNIDADES DEBE NACER ALLÍ, DESPUÉS MISMA EDUCACION Y MISMA INSTRUCCIÓN, LA EDUCACION SE DA EN EL HOGAR, PERO SI TENEMOS PADRES NO EDUCADOS, QUE A SU VEZ SON HIJOS DE OTROS PADRES NO EDUCADOS , VAMOS PEOR.
POR ULTIMO LA INSTRUCCIÓN SE DA EN LOS COLEGIOS QUE DEBERÍAN DAR LAS MISMAS POSIBILIDADAES PARA TODOS, CON ESAS TRES COSAS ARRANCAMOS A UN FUTURO MEJOR,
ES MI PERSONAL OPINIÓN QUE NO TIENE PORQUE SER NADA MAS QUE MI VERDAD, QUE ES ABSOLUTA SOLO PARA MÍ, PERO TODOS TIENEN EL DERECHO A TENER SUS VERDADES PROPIAS Y PARA ELLOS SERÁN VERDADES ABSOLUTAS TAMBIÉN,
LO QUE HACE FALTA ES CONCORDAR PARTE DE LAS OPINIONES DE UN GRAN NÚMERO DE PERSONAS DISPUESTAS A TRABAJAR PERO QUE SABEN QUE ELLOS NO VERÁN LOS FRUTOS,
ESO ES PARA LAS GENERACIONES VENIDERAS
"SI TODOS CUMPLIERAMOS CON NUESTROS DEBERES HABRIA MENOS PERSONAS RECLAMANDO POR SUS DERECHOS" GHANDI DIXIT.
ATTE. MELCHIORI.
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From: Pedro Schwartz <pedro@pedroschwartz.com> june,13,2014
Dear Mr. Carneiro:
I find what you say complicated and will think on it. However, I think Piketty is wrong in his forecast of the future of capitalism.
Sincerely
---------------------------------------------
Dhian Chand <mdhianchand@hotmail.com> june.14,2014
2006-7 DG - 3080 District
Shimla Him. Pr. India
Dear PDG Ronaldo Carneiro,
Thank you for sending me your evaluation of Piketty's Capital - the answer of a convinced liberal. You have motivate me to buy and read his book "Capital in the 21st Century". You have rightly concluded in the last four points, the people responsible to create balance in the social economic status in the society. However, the question remained unanswered that politicians and bureaucrats have no limit for their greed for money and power which ultimately encourage corruption in the country and war between neighbouring countries. If we are able to influence these two category of our society the balance in distribution of economic growth will be maintained and there will be no poor in the modern world which due to technology evolution has become one a global village.
Regards
Dhian Chand
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From: Anthony de Jasay <jasay@wanadoo.fr> 14/6/14
Dear Mr. Carneiro,
I have had your letter of 13 June read to me (as you may know I have lost my eyesight long ago). I agree with most of it , but as you must know very well it is not by condemning politics and politicians for being toxic and nasty that thay will become any less harmful. They are a probably inevitable product of one man, one vote.
Yous sincerely,
Anthony de Jasay
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From: Stephen Raudenbush - 13/6/14
Dear Ronald
Thanks for sending this. I have admired your work and made very good use of your book with James Heckman on inequality.
I do have a few questions
* Why are key elements of Sen's "human development index" so much better in the European social democracies than in the US?
* Why have the countries that employed a Keynesian stimulus done so much better during the recession than countries that used the recession to reduce government spending?
I believe you have offered a false choice between heavy government involvement and light government involvement. All sides are competing to use the government to support their own special interest. If the government does not intervene to insure child care, education, health, housing, minimum wage, unemployment insurance, and social security for the elderly, and protect the environment, the result will not be a utopian laissez faire society. Instead, government resources will be directed entirely to prop up agri-business, build roads to support real estate developers, save failing banks, generate unneeded contracts for lobbyists, etc. In sum, we will have neither social democracy nor laissez faire but rather socialism for the rich, which is pretty much what the US has now.
Why did you not comment on our extraordinarily corrupt political system in which running for low level offices now requires millions of dollars? Where huge firms literally dictate legislation to the office holders they have bankrolled?
I would propose a government role that does the good things I mentioned above while aggressively intervening against oligopoly and favoritism to insure competition in the market place. The government can be a friend of the free market and a friend of meritocracy while insuring basic necessities, particularly for the children and the elderly, and supporting human capital development.
Sincerely
Steve Raudenbush
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From: William Anderson - 13/6/14
If these points are true, then are you saying that the vast amount of people are materially poorer than they were, say, in 1980? That they have fewer goods and services available to them now than they had then?
It seems to me that the theories depend upon (1) homogeneous capital (capital as a lump of stuff that is useful primarily for how much is spent in creating and accumulating it), and (2) underconsumption. We have been getting underconsumption theories at least since “Fable of the Bees.”
Now, we do have a lot of what is called crony capitalism today, in which owners of capital, through political alliances, are able to force resources into a direction that would not be profitable (or would be less profitable) without the government intervention. However, from what I can tell, Piketty is not so worried about this development. Piketty would prefer lots of people to be poor to make Bill Gates and a few other people pay more taxes.
If Piketty’s thesis is true, then the vast majority of people today are poorer than were the people of the early 1800s, when the development of large-scale capital really took off in Great Britain and in Europe. Are you prepared to say that? Think of the logic of his thesis; are you prepared to claim that a larger percentage of people are poor today (and living in worse conditions) than were people of the early 1800s?
Then, to follow Piketty’s logic, the bifurcated returns to capital (versus ordinary income growth) would have to be consistent from the very start. Thus, you are having to claim that the poor today are poorer than the vast majority of people in the early 19th Century. Can you empirically justify that statement?
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From: g.reisman@capitalism.net - 13/6/14
Dear Mr. Carneiro:
Thank you for your review of Piketty.
Attached, please find a copy of my review of him, which I’ve just posted to my blog.
Sincerely,
George Reisman
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june, 16, 2014
Dear fellow Rotarian Ronaldo Carneiro,
thank you very much. your thoughts on the book of Piketty are very interesting, especially in this period we are going through.
I will continue to reflect on this, and I will send it to my daughter who is studying Economics.
Many greetings.
Salvatore Sarpietro
2007-08 DG – 2110 District
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Benegas-Lynch, Jr., Alberto
National Academy of Sciences, Argentina
abenegaslynch@yahoo.com – june,20,2014
Dear Ronaldo Carneiro, thak you for sending your papers that I will read with great interest. In the meanwhile, I copy one of my weakly columns on the subject. Cordially, Alberto Benegas Lynch, Jr
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From: Jeff Deist
jeffdeist@mises.org - june,20,2014
Excellent, thank you. Jeff
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From: Floy Lilley <floylilley@mises.com>
Date: 2014-06-20 17:29 GMT-03:00
Subject: Re: About Pikettys Book on Capital - The answer of a convinced liberal
To: Ronaldo Carneiro <rcarneiro@salutecafe.com.br>
Hello Mr. Carneiro,
Your enthusiasm for this project is palpable. That's a fine way to feel about whatever you do.
You embrace Piketty's work in ways that I do not. I do not find that he proves his thesis.
Thank you for having thought of me.
Best,
Floy Lilley
---------------------------------------------
From: Rev. Robert A. Sirico <rsirico@acton.org>
Date: 2014-06-21 13:30 GMT-03:00
Subject: RE: About Piketty’s Book on Capital - The Answer of a convinced Liberal
To: Ronaldo campos carneiro <rcarneiro4@gmail.com>
Dear Ronaldo:
Your email arrive just as I had begun reading Pikettey’s book Capital, so I shall now do so with your critique in mind.
Many thanks,
Fr. Robert A. Sirico,
President
The Acton Institute
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From: Gary North <gnorth@poetworld.net>
Date: 2014-06-23 9:02 GMT-03:00
Subject: RE: About Piketty’s Book on Capital - The Answer of a convinced Liberal
To: Ronaldo campos carneiro <rcarneiro4@gmail.com>
Don't start with Pikkety. Start woth Pareto: 1897
From: Jaana Woiceshyn <jwoiceshyn@gmail.com>
Date: 2014-07-11 1:29 GMT-03:00
Subject: RE: Why competition is good and regulation bad
To: Ronaldo campos carneiro <rcarneiro4@gmail.com>
Thank you, Ronaldo.—My silence does not imply anything but me being swamped and not being able to find the time to correspond—sorry. I hope my life will get less busy soon. But in general, I disagree with Piketty’s thesis. Inequality is a non-issue! Regards, Jaana
From: Noam Chomsky <chomsky@mit.edu>
Date: 2014-07-11 1:56 GMT-03:00
Subject: Piketty’s "Capital" - The answer of a convinced liberal
To: Ronaldo Carneiro <rcarneiro@salutecafe.com.br>
Thanks for sending. Hope to get to it soon.
Date: 2014-07-18 5:41 GMT-03:00
Subject: RE: Inequalities
To: Ronaldo campos carneiro <rcarneiro4@gmail.com>
Hello,
Thank you so much for your email below.
Unfortunately, Profile books do not accept unsolicited material. However, we do recommend the following websites as industry standard for gaining a reputable agent as well as other tips for publishing. Please do not pay an agent either – this is usually not a good sign.
• Writers and Artists yearbook
• Preditors and editors
• Absolute write
We most certainly wish you the best with getting published.
Kind regards,
Olu
*****************************************
Olu Ubadike
Office Manager
Profile Books
3A Exmouth House
Pine Street
Exmouth Market
London
From: Ieva NAVICKAITĖ <Ieva@llri.lt>
Date: 2014-08-01 4:07 GMT-03:00
Subject: RE: Inequalities
To: Ronaldo campos carneiro <rcarneiro4@gmail.com>
Thank you for sharing, Ronaldo. It will be very interesing to read your remarks on Piketty‘s book. Let‘s keep in touch.
Best wishes. Ieva
Christopher Spackman comentou sua publicação.
Christopher escreveu: "Thanx for the article. Thoughts. 1. Agree that capitalism is well on the way to eating itself 2. Agree that war is a major problem. Nation states have abrogated the right to billions of unprofitable dollars. 3. Agree that answer is probably not a 'ceiling' but a 'floor' - in other words, the tax system. If the 'haves' agree to pay generously, then the problems you point out with health, education, etc. will disappear. The problem occurs when the 'haves' think they own their money and try to hold it all. Conclusion: a neat summary of the problem ;-) Christopher"
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There are arguments that the solution to contemporary problems, such as global terrorism, violent conflicts, global environmental degradation and poverty, have made global cooperation or a world government inevitable. what do you think?
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Who is to say a world government would be benign to its people, that we would enjoy social justice, human rights and the freedom to critique. Pathways into terrorism, although complex and contested, often indicate that people who feel or experience disenfranchisement or marginalisation in socio-political terms may move towards radical and violent dissent.
Terrorism, social conflict and the abuse of our world has gone on since humans evolved and whilst I believe greater cooperation across the globe is important, the key need is to address the roots of these issues by providing cooperative governance that respects and values human rights and social justice for all - including dissenters.
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Mathematics justifies that greed and extreme selfishness cause economic collapse of societies.
Any system that is established from relations from different groups and the forces created thereof, continues to exist if the relations remain fair and the forces that are created from the relations to keep the system alive remain on balance and valid to all parts. When one of the forces dominates to the extent of diminishing the strength or eliminating the powers of others, then only a force of pulling towards the dominant entity remains and that leads to the collapse of the system - this is what I call it the black hole syndrome.
What do you think, is greed and extreme selfishness the cause of economic system collapse?
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Dear Dejenie, I love your question. (I've been working on the topic for a while). Just for the sake of the discussion let me please take up your words literally - even though I know what you mean.
The economic collapse is tto serious, just to be compared with a black hole. Contrary to what normally we would think, black holes are the simplest bodies in the universe. (This is one of the reasons why studying them is so passionating!).
The economic situation is just thta: a collapse. The question is whether it is a collapse of the on-going society or culture, or from a historical perspective, it's a collapse of our civilization.
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Liberalism is a political philosophy or worldview founded on ideas of liberty and equality. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally they support ideas such as free and fair elections, civil rights, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, free trade, and private property.
This freedom of ideas, thoughts and attitudes can, on many occasions, to oppose the rights of others. An example is in the school liberalism, where, often, parents and students do not take school guidelines with respect to student behavior in classroom, becoming a negative liberalism. How can this be improved?
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I respectfully disagree, except you need to establish a community of mutual respect. I have two examples:
1. I initiated a change in our high school (1400 students from 13 yo to 17 yo) where we deleted all but the legal rules, ie stealing, smoking etc. The purpose was to reduce aggression in the school. Surprisingly it worked. We do have expectations between staff and students of mutual respect and we do respond to issues of disruption etc from a 'lets solve this problem' perspective. As I said it works.
2. A university in New Zealand recently set up an experiment in a primary school to allow more freedom in the playground. The school responded by removing ALL rules in the playground except for basic saftey. After a while they noticed a significant drop in bullying. An intersting outcome of removal of rules. Rules are not always useful, but you do need to replace them with shared beliefs of respect.
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Outlining four key issues in our globalizing economy (unprecedented wealth, unprecedented poverty, ecological challenges and political and economic volatility), Professor Guptara goes on to provide a historical survey from prehistoric times (demonstrating that the roots of the current crisis lie in the Darwinians and Nietscheans defeating the moral and ethical values of the Protestants), and concludes by presenting seven essential steps to creating the right kind of globalization.
These seven essential steps in Professor Guptara (2010) opinion are:
Our culture needs to be focused again on a realistic optimism not a fatalistic pessimism.
We need to restore education to its function of nurturing citizenship and genuine personal fulfillment – and move away from the present function of training people for employment by the elite.
The media needs to be restored to the function of truth-telling, by removing the obsession with entertainment.
Political parties and representative democracy should now be abolished, and direct democracy installed instead.
Fundamental and even applied research needs to be liberated from the trammels of private sponsorship.
A global minimum wage and/or guarantees need to be introduced for food, clothes and shelter.
Fundamental reforms are needed if the global economy is to avoid becoming an enslaving economy.
Source: Guptara, P. (2010). Towards creating the right kind of globalization: an analysis - with proposals. Journal of Organizational Transformation and Social Change, 7(1), 89-103.
I really liked these seven essential steps - well, in your opinion, can we implement these - and how easy would that be --- further, do you have any other points that can be added?
Thank you for your contributions.
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Dear Theodora Issa,
Regarding the implementation of these seven steps, the most important step seems to be the Seventh one (Fundamental reforms needed in the global economy). This can be implemented only with strong political will power and support from the public and other major stakeholders. Having implemented the seventh, implementing the Sixth step (global minimum wages / guarantees) might be relatively easy. So also is the case of the Fifth step (liberation of research from private ownership). The first three steps can be implemented only over a period of time and that too on a phased manner, as these are all rather "idealistic" in nature than practical; but these are all excellent propositions if they could be practically attained. The Fourth step (direct democracy instead of political parties..) seems to be the most difficult step as far as its implementation is concerned.
With regards,
Dr. MANOJ P K
CUSAT, KERALA, INDIA
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I'm particularly interested in it from an actual/virtual Deluezean sense, or in terms of Baudrillard's simulacrum, where the (in this instance surveillance data) is not a copy or data-double in the sense used in surveillance studies, but is truth in itself. Haven't seen anything useful, but may be looking in the wrong places...
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Have you seen the film "The Conversation" with Gene Hackman.
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How much does culture influence heuristic thinking? Are there parallels between the types of visual illusions to which different cultures are susceptible?
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Thanks for the help.
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Understanding the notion of Spaces in Indian Context (taking a case of Kumbh Mela) through the paradoxes these spaces hold within itself. Taking the case of Kumbh Mela, one was able to portray out the experiential journey of 2001, 2007 & 2013 Kumbh Melas. Moreover, they gave a variety of understanding through extreme cases of these paradoxes, which are appearing in greater amplitude, due to the small time frame this event comes out on the calender, but leaves a strong impact on the minds & history of mankind altogether.
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Ideal space, depending on the exact location and purpose of the space, is hard to come by because not everyone has the same experience in each area. Because the end result is that of a personal experience (mental and emotional interpretation) it would be hard to get the end result perfect or near perfect for that very reason.
Ideal locations can be a reality if, and only if, it has a single purpose and it is to be used for that very purpose. The more general the purpose is, the better the experience someone will take away from it. If, though, the purpose is very specific, then there is a higher chance that not everyone will be able to achieve that exact purpose and may leave feeling let down by the event or location. One case would be that of a public park. The purpose of a park is very general. It holds many purposes and meanings for individuals and the chances of that space having a negative impact on a person is very low.
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supra state was the agreement that India government and Nagalim is trying to sort out after decades of insurgent conflict. this is in the context of Naga ethnic group fight for separate government to maintain their identity and culture and historicity.
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You are welcome. You know there are places in India where restorative justice flourishes - decisions made by the community concerning domestic issues. Unfortunately, the bulk of the decisions have been detrimental to the female partner, and the absues have drawn the ire of the Indian Courts. However, it is also my understanding that the Indian courts are so badly backlogged that it may be years before they can correct the problems.
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What do you think Hobbes's idea of Human Nature?
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Maybe a humanosophic view on the matter of human nature could be help.
When we look at the evolutionary development of humans, human nature can be seen as a three-stage rocket.
The first stage origins from our common history of all life forms: the me-myself-and-I-bias. It was already present in primitive life forms such as bacteria, that try to get as much energy as possible out of their environment to stay in life and to procreate – without regard to other life forms or kin group. This basic element of our nature may still pop up in situations of acute threat or panic.
The second stage is the group orientation: a relic of our ape origin that we have in common with other group animals such as chimpanzees. A group animal is more able to get energy out of its environment to stay in life and to procreate as a member of a kin group, than alone. The stronger the group, the better the chances for its members. Mutual quarrel and rivalry need to be avoided, especially when the group is threatened by rival other groups. So each group member has to give up some of his me-myself-and-I-bias for the benefit of group harmony.
How can group animals handle this two discordant leanings? With ‘norms and values’: social behavior that is learned by example and social coercion. Chimpanzees are ‘good natured’, like primatologist Frans de Waal explained in his Good natured (1996). Harmonious groups are flourishing better then groups with permanent mutual trouble.
The third stage in human nature is a relic of our four million years of prehistory. For our ancestors, Australopithic and Early Human small foraging groups who lived in precarious and dangerous environments, intern harmony was of great importance for survival. The bonobo-like mechanisms of defusing tensions together (by playing, sex, etc.) were further developed and refined. It is this long period of human group harmony that has made our species extremely social.
In situations of overpopulation and therefore increased competition between different groups, aggression can play a role again. Among chimpanzees this happened already two million years ago; but for our ancestors this did not happen until about 10.000 years ago (and the last 5.000 years to an increased degree). This recent development pushed mankind 's behavior back towards the more primitive stages of human nature, leading to wars etc. But this development is too recent to fundamentally change the effects of the millions of years of harmony that preceded it. The craving for harmony, the feeling that our individual happiness depends on group harmony, remains a basic part of human nature and will be dominant
whenever the circumstances allow it.
For more information about a humanosophic view, see www.humanosophy.org