Saturday, November 24, 2018

Capitalism ⬌ Socialism: The Other Economic Stagnation

When skilled and unskilled people living in the digital age are asked about the sharpest divides behind economic belief, responses indicate that Socialism vs. Capitalism is (still) where it's at. It will come as no surprise that I am far from convinced that bifurcating economics along this especial a lane is coherent or productive in 2018. That is, once one applies exclusively forward-looking criteria for determining what we have most reason to dispense with and what we'd do well to preserve.

If this comes across as a pitch for the Mixed Economy as the only way forward, it goes to show just how attentively propagandized things are. There's a multitude of so-called Third Ways. Some of them doctrinally incorporate aspects ofor the totality of the LTV. It would be more accurate to refer to these buried models as Fourth Way, Fifth Way, etc. That won't happen, and each of those highly multifaceted mixed systems will continue to receive zero airtime and attention. So next time you hear about the drawbacks of the Mixed Economy, try to point out that "it" has as many if not more offshoots as all the unmixed doctrines do.

Hair-splitting example: Whether an economy is mixed or unmixed says nothing about whether it is ultimately grounded in steady-state precepts or in unfettered "growthism". Visual aid time:

Sunday, September 30, 2018

We Are All Deplorables Now

Joyful vs. Diffident Victories 

No matter how impressive a philosophy, ideology, system or modest set of prescriptions comes across as being, it should not be spoken of glowingly or fawned over in the privacy of its adherents' minds.

The antithesis of it should likewise not be spoken of disparagingly or demonized in the privacy of said minds. Tall orders, these two.

It's normal to ask why. Why shouldn't you feel the way you naturally do? Why pretend that our accurate or wise beliefs do something other than turn us into the protagonists, and that their inaccurate or insane beliefs do something other than turn them into the antagonists?

Since the why is so normalized and psychologically embedded, we might conclude that it is reasonable to run with it. So when a snarky meme comes along and points out that taking pride in one's beliefs is puerile, not only is it acceptable to ask why, it's downright imperative to do so. But no one asks why when called upon to acknowledge the circus that is Party Politics vis-à-vis their individual voting history.

No one with an IQ above room temperature lionizes their 2016 Clinton-Will-Do vote (anti-Trump vote), or their Trump-Will-Do/anti-Clinton vote. Only the electoral flat-earther engages in such lionization. 

It is generally understood that the options are wretched, that party loyalty is gullibility, and that the more conscientious a voter is, the readier they will be to hold their nose in the booth and select one type of evil to stave off the eviler evils. Apparent anti-idealists love to point all of this out, especially when an inveterate idealist who sat out the last election gets all up in their grill about the impurity of it all.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Economic Ideology: 30 Questions

Welcome to Installment #1 of a questionnaire sequence I have been working on that aspires to refine or cancel some of our rudimentary beliefs. Hopefully there will be more refining than abandoning.

Motive: If you know what it's like to see an influential celeb sound off on a monstrously complex matter, one they seem to think isn't all that complex, you'll mutter to yourself they're in way over their head with this. I sincerely believe that engaging the following questions would go a long way in making such celebs less green. Opinionated show-biz types are good question-fodder when you just can't stop inundating yourself with their less than stellar commentaries on the state of everything. But disclaimer: The same holds for neophytes from all walks of life who present as something other than neophytes.

Note also that this is only a Rough Draft. The final version will incorporate an actual polling metric for answers. Right now, I'm just seeking answers in the comment section, as well as any suggestions on how to improve the Q&A itself. This installment has 30 questions, and because it's a rough draft, there's no rule dictating how many questions participants must answer. If you only want to answer one and ignore the rest, leave a comment doing just that.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Nationalism And Sanctity

Prediction: The prism of the political is not going to decompress anytime soon. The remainder of the 21st Century will be as polarized as the 2015-2018 years have been, if not more so.

Reasons: It's getting harder to spot a single social media user who even faintly doubts that The Personal Is Political.

True, I still make it a point to observe social media users from a healthy distance. If the user is adept at networking, or is just traffic-friendly enough to be visible, the user will without exception believe TPIP.

TPIP tends to be an unstated conviction, and I can easily fathom it being an unwitting one as well. No one has to go around declaring "The Personal Is Political" for the astute lurker to gather that this is what the speaker has internalized.

Some speakers are in touch with their TPIP beliefs, but won't state them outright, because icky connotations. I suppose identitarian is the label that's been reserved for them, or that they've reserved for themselves...

Overall though, ordinary TPIP-ers are nowhere close to recognizing how everything from their informal rhetoric up to their formal emphasis on first-personal methods of gaining knowledge lends itself to such an orientation.

So while all identitarians are TPIP-ers they reflexively believe The Personal Is Political not all TPIP-ers are identitarians. Self-unaware TPIP-ers recoil at identitarianism, even though they'll use phrases like "Political Identity" 100%  uncritically. A huge part of their selves will be poured into their societal projects, molding their political wish-lists. If you're on social media like a meth-head on pipes, I'm probably talking about you.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Yellow Button And Anti-Natalist Agendas

We've heard about the Red Button and the Green Button. All well and good. Now suppose there's this newly installed Yellow Button: Pressing it means you instantaneously remove all human beings from the earthly equation. Poof they go.

If you'd prefer for things to be a bit more restrained and even-handed, amend the hypothetical so that pressing the Yellow Button means you incapacitate each human's reproductive function. This way, all unsuspecting individuals still get to live out the rest of their lives despite their newfound inability to procreate.

I'll just stick with the harsher version, for brevity's sake.

Either way, the result is the same in a generation or four: A planet devoid of humanity, with all else remaining the same.

The kicker: You don't have days/weeks/months to decide whether or not to press the Yellow Button. You must decide right now, as the button is here for a limited time only. With ample time to make the call, loose ends might not end up being so loose, and the lesson being imparted loses some of its punch.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Eternity And Mediocrity

Nick Bostrom's Infinite Ethics is a worthwhile read, but if you don't have the time, I'll just point you to this bit from the abstract:

  • Modern cosmology teaches that the world might well contain an infinite number of happy and sad people and other candidate value-bearing locations. Aggregative ethics implies that such a world contains an infinite amount of positive value and an infinite amount of negative value. You can affect only a finite amount of good or bad. In standard cardinal arithmetic, an infinite quantity is unchanged by the addition or subtraction of any finite quantity. So it appears you cannot change the value of the world.

Maybe you gawk at the quoted passage and conclude that contemporary cosmologists are out to lunch. Or maybe you figure Bostrom misrepresents or misconstrues what the majority of them actually believe. I don't know, and it doesn't really matter anyway, because you don't have to believe that sentient life sticking around forever is a foregone conclusion. You just have to acknowledge that the finitude of sentience isn't exactly a foregone conclusion either. The best available evidence for infinitude isn't conclusive, but it's not dismissible either.

And even if you are unfazed by the expertise of cosmologists, to the point of remaining 100% confident that sentient life is destined to go extinct for good sometime in the future, I would say the Arithmetic Paralysis quandary outlined in the paper is fascinating enough in its own right to warrant theoretical pivots. Not everything needs to implicate Applied Ethics to be worthy of our mentation.

If you have a bona fide appetite for philosophy, toying with ideas that educe incredulous stares elsewhere should be a picnic.    

"Nothing stifles intellectual curiosity like the craving for familiarity."

Me. Just now.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

12 Rules For Life But Actually Insightful

The original title was going to be "Twelve Rules For Analytical Life" and I'm sure it would've garnered some eye-rolls from those who gush over the Intellectual Dark Pleb. Alas, that title was chucked in the bin because I've been trying to make good on my yearly New Year's Resolution to present things less snobbishly.

Except, by drawing attention to the scrapped derisive title in the first paragraph of the post, I'm falling short of the ideal anyway. At least I tried, a bit.

Here are the Actually Insightful twelve-rules-for-life:

Rule #1: Get a handle on epistemology.

Rule #2: Get a handle on decision theory and game theory

Rule #3: Familial loyalism draws from every other meritless loyalism. Refuse to play.

Rule #4: Wrap your mind around skepticism about moral responsibility.

Rule #5: Come to see that central problems in Population Ethics remain unsolved.

Rule #6: Think slow, unless you're just here to have fun.

Rule #7: Understand that beliefs aren't dispositional or representative of one's essence. Strangers with whacky beliefs need not have personal demons.

Rule #8: Feel free to be as selfish as possible in the company of ethical egoists. They'd paradoxically want you to.

Rule #9: Make up for some of that selfishness by being altruistic towards the worst off. Take your time sorting out who is and isn't at/near/above the worst-off mark.

Rule #10: The 20th Century was the bloodiest for reasons that have little to do with the usual reasons you've been fed. Combat the false narratives whenever you see them.

Rule #11: The fallacy of relative privation is only partly fallacious.

Rule #12: Don't utter "logic" without qualifiers. There are numerous forms of it, and they bump heads.

From the top: