Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Saturday, July 18, 2015


I'm finding it very hard to get back into the blogging swing. I've got quite a few futurological pieces in the queue to respond to... but I've been binge-reading Roman historical novels and binge-streaming seasons of sfnal tee vee shows instead.

1 comment:

jimf said...

> . . .binge-streaming seasons of sfnal tee vee shows. . .

Binge away, with my blessing! ;->
(Have you seen the initial episode of Black Mirror?
The one with the pig? :-0 ).

I'm always bingeing YouTube these days. It's a great
venue for folks like Noam Chomsky:

2014 "Noam Chomsky": Why you can not have a Capitalist Democracy!
[O]ne of the relations between capitalism and
democracy is contradiction. You can't a have capitalist democracy.
And the people who really. . . believe in markets, or
at least pretend to understand them -- . . . Milton Friedman
and other apostles of so-called libertarianism -- . . . don't
call for democracy. [What they call "freedom" is] not
the freedom of a working person to control their work, their
lives. . . it's their freedom to submit themselves to
control by a higher authority. . . [Libertarians] don't like democracy. And
they're right -- . . . capitalism and democracy really are inconsistent.

[Libertarians are] in favor of private tyranny -- . . .which is
what corporations are. It's worth bearing in mind how radically opposed
this is to classical liberalism. They like to invoke, say, Adam Smith.
But if you read Adam Smith, he said the opposite. . . [T]he claim is that he
was opposed to regulation, government regulation, interference
in the markets. It's not true. He was in favor of regulation. . .
when it benefits the working man. He was against
interference when it benefitted the masters. That's traditional
classical liberalism. [W]hat's called "libertarian" in
the United States, which likes to invoke the history that they've
concocted, is radically opposed to basic, classic libertarian
principles. And it's kind of astonishing to me that a lot of
young people. . . are attracted by this kind
of thing.

[Y]ou can, after all, read the classical texts.
[Take]. . . Adam Smith. Adam Smith at the time. . . was
considered to be a dangerous radical. . . Because he was
pretty anti-capitalist. . . He condemned what he called "the vile
maxim of the masters of mankind: all for ourselves, and nothing for
anyone else". That's an abomination. Take the phrase
"invisible hand" -- everybody's learned that in high school or college.
Adam Smith actually did use the term -- rarely. But take a look at how
he used it. In _Wealth of Nations_, his major work, it's used once. And
if you look at the context, it's an argument **against** what
is now called neoliberal globalization. . . [H]e said suppose,
in England, that the merchants and manufacturers invested abroad
and imported from abroad. He said, well, that would be profitable
for **them**, but would be harmful to the people of England.
However, they will have enough of a commitment to their own country,
to England -- which was called a "home bias" in the literature --
they'll have enough of a home bias so that, as if by an invisible
hand, they'll keep to the less-profitable actions and England will
be saved from the ravages of what we call neoliberal globalization.
That's the one use of the term in _Wealth of Nations_.

In his other major work, _Moral Sentiments_, the term's also used once. . .
He says, suppose some landlord accumulates an enormous
amount of land and everybody else has to work for him. . .
[T]hat won't turn out too badly, [because] the
landlord will be motivated by his natural sympathy for other people,
so he will make sure that the necessities of life and the goods
available will be distributed equitably to the people on his lands
and it'll end up with a relatively equal and just distribution of
wealth, "as if by an invisible hand." [T]hat's his other use of
the term. [C]ompare that with what you're taught in school, or
what you read in the newspapers. And it goes across the board. . ."

That Adam Smith. What a Commie! ;->