You know, Roger, it may not be fun for you to
have to read all the stuff I send you, but I really have a lot of fun thinking
about issues, and putting down on "paper" some of what percolates through my mind when
I read your emails. Thanks for making me reexamine my thoughts in such
detail... Some thoughts on your responses are below, interspersed with
your comments, and color-coded.
<rclough@...>To: "David Bonnell"
<dwbonnell@...>Sent: Thursday, June 28, 2012
Re: Re: The
psychologies of the left and of the right
Hi David Bonnell
IMHO you are mostly presenting for the usual liberal talking
points, which are forms for
the implication of guilt.
Actually, I was trying
to show that a moderate viewpoint is needed, because both left and right are
extremist positions, and both generally produce bad results. As for the
idea that liberal talking points are guilt-driven, that is probably a really
simplistic viewpoint. If having a conscience is equivalent to
guilt, then maybe you have something. I sort of think that selfish
behavior implies an issue of conscience. (c.f.,
your aphorism below about truths of value - are they only personal,
or should such reach to everyone? (equally??)
These are all emotional, not rational, stances.
Emotion is after all part of what
makes us human. Most of life is eat-or-be-eaten, and it's only our
empathy regarding others that lifts us above that state. Whether there
is any rationality probably depends on whether the response is
reasoned or knee-jerk. My point regarding extremism is that extremist
views are mostly not reasoned, but knee-jerk responses, and often selfish as
well where conservatism is involved (sort of by definition, conservatism
means resistance to change, yet it is pretty clear that change is needed
- look at the ideas behind the Arab Spring movements - when a few have, and
many have not, there must be something wrong. In the US, when most have
some, and few have not, it is easier to sweep the few under the rug. But
is it right? Might be rational, after all, even Jesus said, "the poor
you will always have with you." But I don't think he meant it was right
(or even rational) to ignore them. Not that liberalist views are
necessarily better - it is certainly possible to go off half-cocked and do a
lot more harm than good, or only a little good for the harm caused. In
fact, that is probably one of the prime characteristics of extremist views of
They are all
opinons. not rational facts. One man's fact
is another's opinion. The search for absolute truth is not the search
for God, it is the search to BE God. Only God has it right all the
As for issues having to do
with opinion vs fact, I think you missed the point I have been trying to make
-- that both political extremes use distortion, or
one-sided arguments to bolster their points. Facts are facts, and
covering up the inconvenient ones to make a point is just another form of
lying. Fair is about looking at all sides of the question.
Politics is supposed to be the art of compromise -- "good"
politics recognizes that there is no perfect solution, and seeks to
achieve a good, working compromise for all sides.
...the communist party USA. While communism is considered leftist, labeling liberal
views as essentially communistic is the same as labeling conservatism as
Fascist. When I talk about extremes, I'm not talking these extremes, but
American political extremes - also bad, but not to this extent, by
And communism doesn't work, as Russia and Cuba
Actually, neither Russia or Cuba
are communism - they are totalitarian regimes paying lip service to an idea.
No state I know of has ever tried true communism. That said, I
will agree that Communism, even in its purest form is probably way too
idealistic to work - too little incentive to the less creative majority to
work hard enough. That said, moderate socialism is NOT communism, and to
the extent it successfully improves the lot of citizens, without
destabilizing, can be a successful adjunct to working Govt. Certainly
better than sweatshops, child labor, and industrial pollution, which unbridled
capitalism does easily.
They in fact
are essentially those of Europe
and now the USA show that socialism doesn't work. Quite a stretch. Actually, socialism, in moderation,
produces some of the most benign governmental forms in existence.
Consider Sweden, for instance. Even though the tax rate is
burdensome, they have no war, much better health care (and longevity) than the
US, a much better standard of living, stable environment, you name it.
Canada also probably qualifies as socialistic by your definitions, and
is doing better than we are at providing better living conditions to the less
fortunate than we do. Why do you think people go to Canada for
medicines? Without Obamacare, we will all need to go elsewhere for
affordable health care. It is abundantly clear that our current health
care system is spiraling out of control. The main thrust of Obamacare is
an attempt (admittedly with flaws, but there is abundant blame to go all
around for the flaws) to control the costs. It may indeed eventually be
found to be unaffordable, but those who think that what amounts to unbridled
capitalism at work as health care won't make health care unaffordable to all
but the most wealthy (or best connected) are kidding themselves. There
are 30 million people with no health care -- who do yu think pays when they go
to the emergency room, because physicians won't see them without payment up
front? Its a hidden tax those who currently pay for insurance bear, and
it is burdensome. I like to think of health care as something that ought
to be more like highways. We once decided we needed the interstate
system, and it has remade our country (maybe not in the best way - way more
long-distance goods go by trucks carrying 30 tons per vehicle than by trains,
capable of carrying thousands of tons per vehicle. But the roads are
free (sort-of) and more convenient, compared to dedicated rail right-of-way).
But, it is pretty clear that capitalism, as operated by our health care
system, is not a successful paradigm if we expect everyone to be able to
afford it. People, without good health care, are only good for 40-50
years. We all want to live more than 70. Should that extra 20 or
more years be only for the wealthy (and lucky).
In contrast to your views, the truth is that
capitalism is the only way to create wealth, so it is the only way to improve the world
(to raise the standards of living). If you know of a better method, let's hear
Capitalism is NOT in contrast to my views - It is
undoubtedly a strong tool for driving innovation rewarding hard work and
development. And, is very successful. But, if you think I mean
don't agree that only capitalism creates wealth, you are right.
Wealth, historically has been created in many ways - dictatorships,
kingdoms, and many other forms of social control all create and concentrate
wealth. I do think one can say that capitalism is a highly successful
way toward wealth. But, capitalism doesn't create wealth any more than other systems of
resource management. People and
innovation create wealth. As much as
anything, capitalism is simply a another method for concentrating wealth, one
that tends to minimize privilege. Capitalism is a really good
mechanism for exploiting methods for growth because it gets people at all
levels involved in the innovation process. But one of the problems with
growth is the need for someplace to grow into, and capitalism has not been
shown to be particularly effective, without regulation, at dealing with social
issues where growth is restricted. Europe, for instance, has more
socialistic government forms than the US, as much because of the severe
restrictions on growth laid down by being fully developed. Its current
problems have come about as much because of compromise needed to create the
Common Market and a common currency without a strong Federal government system
in place to subordinate nation-state desires to a common platform. I
think we are going to see either the development of a more Federal system
there, or fragmentation into (potentially warring) nations. Neither of
which will much change the extent of socialism, or weaken
As for other successful systems,
I think there is no doubt that for a technological society, capitalism with
controls is one of the most successful ways of using larger portions of the
manpower of a country in highly productive ways. But, there are other
systems, and capitalism does require both growth and innovation.
Wherever those requirements fail, capitalism fails as well. And,
unbridled capitalism can be as people-destructive as the worst feudal
system. But, just like other absolutes, capitalism is NOT the universal
solution. There are places where it doesn't work well. Like other
things, it needs to be modified, controlled, and reviewed. No baby out
with the bathwater, but no knee-jerk presumption of panacea,
The fact is that capitalism is why America is the richest or one
of the richest nations in the world.
Well, if you also include
the fact that America was/is one of the most resource-rich regions of the
world, was essentially empty when colonized, and was colonized by people with
a real work ethic that made exploiting our resources so successful.
Also, we were lucky in that we had founding fathers who recognized the
value of a free Federalist form of government, with powerful checks and
balances mechanisms, and freedom... And, unbridled capitalism has been
responsible for the worst financial disasters of modern history -- not just
the more recent problems, but think about the robber baron era, the crash of
'29 and the subsequent need for a world war to find prosperity again
(wow - with a little more bad luck, that crash could have made it possible for
the Nazi to have been successful at establishing their "1000 year Reich."
A conservative paradise???...).
There are two types of truths, truths of fact and truths
of value. Science deals with the former, which can be
Theism deals with the latter, which can only be known
Actually, science is
not about truth, but about disprovability. Science actually asserts that
there may be no absolute truth, but to work toward reality, it is necessary
that any assertion regarding "truth" must predict observables - failure to
predict is evidence of untruth. Truths about values are essentially
always personal, as you note. But again, probably many truths of value
are not absolute truths, and many (most religious issues, for instance)
deliberately forsake the idea of disprovability - yet the simple fact of so
many disjunctive faiths indicates that most
people believe "stuff" that must be wrong -- only if there is value in truth
can there be truths of value. Opinion, of course.
Oh, by the way, I
re-read part of what you wrote that started this thread
to the right politically are the opposite. They feel that
they are in
charge and it is the world that is to be manipulated. So
those to the
right are the capitalists -- Not all those to the right
(by a very large margin) are capitalists in more than name - I agree that
those to the right want to be in charge, and believe the world is to be
manipulated. But many (if not most) want only to be on top, and to be
entitled. That includes all the dictators, kings, Nazis, many religious
figures, and a whole host of conservative thinkers who pretty much DO NOT have
other people's interests at heart. The good news is that those who ARE
capitalists, do seem to have a tendency to do good for others while doing good
for themselves. But often even that is a by-product. Think of all
the people who work for McDonald's. Most are glad to have a job, but few
think that their job is good. They actually do some good for the general
public (cheap, edible food, clean working conditions [sort-of], etc). A
good picture of capitalism at work -- both good parts and bad.
Fortunately, market forces, legal issues, and some regulation actually
make the exploitation reasonable. Not the best of capitalism, by far.
I would suspect that most conservatives would like to think of the
personal computer industry as a better model. But, as most other parts of
complex issues, there is good and bad, and the balance is most
Receiving the following content -----
Re: The psychologies of the left and of the right
Wow - you really have a pretty poor view of both sides of
the political spectrum!
try a different way:
Liberals: I'm OK - the Rich and Corporate
world seems to have more than its fair share, the poor seem to need help (or
they wouldn't be poor, sick, weak, etc). Government exists to support
ALL its citizens, and should be working to equalize what it does for each
one. Thus, (1) regulation is needed to keep capitalists, conspicuous
consumers, etc from using their already big advantages unfairly(!) to get
more at the expense of those without the resources to defend themselves.
Extra regulation is probably needed as ways are found to circumvent
regulation. (2) Govt also needs to preserve the natural beauty of its
people's environment - that means that those who think that its OK to
pollute public (or other's private) land really should be doing that
for their own profit. Finally, (3) Govt exists to
provide/develop/maintain the infrastructure of its jurisdiction, to the
advantage of everyone - generally as fairly as possible, but needs not to be
overly considerate of those who make personal assumptions about what they
are entitled to, and shouldn't be making special cases to the benefit of the
few. These three general principles (which sort of ignore
Law/Jurisprudence, National defense, foreign policy, and a lot of other
things that are not quite so polar), sort of outline a lot of the issues
where liberal and conservative thinking get really at cross
Conservatives: I'm OK, and I want what I want,
the way I want, and I really get hot when anyone tries to tell me that I
shouldn't be doing what I want to do. That especially goes for the
Govt. It should give me what I want, when I want it, and otherwise get
out of my way and don't bother me. Regulations should be minor,
reviewed and discarded quickly, and should not cost anyone anything.
Especially, for me to be really OK, I need special privileges,
and I really don't want to share, since that would interfere with me getting
more of what I'm entitled to. If I get my way, maybe I'll think
about passing some along, but, only the way I want it to be. I can
take responsibility for myself, my family, and whatever else I want to, but
I know good lawyers if I don't get my way.
Actually, both these pictures are
just about as biased as yours, but perhaps tilted a bit in the other way.
The main issue I see falls in what you call "taking responsibility."
Both liberals and conservatives tend to think they take
responsibility, but the more outspoken ones tend to believe that if they are
going to be responsible, they need to have control. That is why both
sides really create problems, and why the moderate viewpoint recognizes that
there is some good in both extremes, but knows mostly
that extremism in any form tends to be bad for almost anyone but
the extremists. It gets especially worrisome when distortion of facts
and information become the main tools, often used by extremists.
Sadly, once such an environment develops, as it has here in the US, it
is very difficult to combat except with more distortion. Simple facts
get lost, and it gets harder and harder, since many of the mainstream are
looking for "sound-bites" as the easy way to decide what is best. Deep
thinking is exactly that -- difficult, fraught with uncertainty, and
requiring delicate balance. That's why politics is a dirty word,
and diplomacy is so troublesome - war is easier, and arguing from trenched
positions is simpler.
those to the right are the
capitalists. They don't have a very high opinion of human nature. It is up to us individually to improve
the world, the responsibility lies
Capitalism is a powerful force, but it is NOT
about, or out to, "improve the world." It is a very selfish idea, and
it has taken a long time to tame it, sort-of. The main difference is
that capitalists don't have any real notion that their "class" entitles them
to any free ride, and anyone with enough steel can succeed. When done
reasonably, it tends to be one of the better ways to let quality be a
quantity of its own. And, because large capitalistic organizations
tend to be plutocratic, the blame and responsibility get shared, diluted,
and controlled. This leveling tends to be better for everyone than
situations where unscrupulous, but successful
single capitalists get control (examples out of history include early
railroad magnates, oil barons, etc).
I don't have a problem with capitalism, per se,
but it is really, really clear that unregulated capitalism does not tend to
play well with others, and can turn pretty ugly. Just because it is
not as bad as feudal or dictator-based ideologies, doesn't make it all good.
Just think of all the damage to the environment has been done by big
chemical companies, operations like the massive chicken farming industry,
and many others. It is only the fact that technology (with some help
from Govt regulation) tends to rein in capitalistic excesses and the fact
that new capitalistic enterprises often blind-side older, less flexible
enterprise, that the whole process, stumbling forward, seems to do OK.
But, the so-called liberal, or leftest viewpoint tends to try to
balance the overbearing right viewpoint, and often has to do that by taking
the side of the less fortunate. Thus, Balance.
Saturday, June 23, 2012 7:31:37 AMSubject:
The psychologies of the left and of the
The psychologies of the left and of the
believe that there are two basic ways to relate to the world, those of
and of the right.
analysis probably needs more work, but right now it looks like this
hope I'm being fair:
Liberals. I'm OK, the poor are OK, but the rich and the rest
world are not OK.
the left politically (the liberals) seem to view the world as
so that they feel that they are being manipulated from outside,
hostle forces, hence their basic emotions are fear and
of the world. So the world needs changing through
it better for all.
2) Conservatives. I'm OK, you're not OK, the world is OK, so you
just leave it alone legislatively. If it is to be dealt with, I'll
responsibility individually for that.
the right politically are the opposite. They feel that they
charge and it is the world that is to be manipulated. So
right are the capitalists. They don't have a very high opinion of
nature. It is up to us individually to improve the world,
responsibility lies wuith us.
the justice of the universe.