Democracy


#820

I don’t know if we’ll actually get rid of 45 before 2020, but there’s a good chance he’s not going to have a fun next couple of years.


#821

That didn’t take long https://www.axios.com/attorney-general-jeff-sessions-submits-resignation-70ee7f2e-bfb7-4a2c-bdf3-46f277a83e6b.html

Things are about to get real interesting


#822

didn’t waste any time with that one! he’s clearly scared of being investigated now that the house flipped, so he’s building his depth chart.


#823

there are no sighs of relief here but i’m breathing more fully.


#824

As much as I want to be hopeful, I don’t think the Democrats are able to provide an adequate counter-response to the GOP. To quote paraphrase someone online “they will a game of checkers to a gun fight” because they are so on invested in civility and decorum instead of actually being an effective counter measure or getting things done. The GOP has proven time and time again they have no interest in operating in good faith.


#825

So somehow I have ended up following Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Instagram, and watching her story on a whim I learned that on her welcome tour around DC she happened upon climate change activists protesting in front of Nancy Pelosi’s office—and joined them! She really brightens my day.


#826

From a friend:

As a games scholar, I can’t help but think about this in terms of my scholarly expertise. A game only exists so long as all of the players are bound by the same rules. When one player, or group of players, decides to break, change, or subvert the rules in order to gain advantage, the game either ends, or transforms. Without a shared consensus on the rules, any outcomes of continued play are invalidated, obsolete, and without meaning. If you’re a member of the group of players who has cheated to win, there is little incentive to return to the previous set of rules, and a strong incentive to further corrupt the game in order to preserve your advantage. If you’re a member of the group of players who continue to abide by the rules you have several choices. You can keep playing the game by the rules, even though you no longer have a path to victory, and hope that the cheating players will eventually decide to start playing by the rules again. You can attempt to enforce the rules, often through an appeal to a higher external system of authority. You can start to cheat and subvert the rules as well (essentially agreeing to play this new and different game), and hope the the resulting “arms race” doesn’t completely destroy the things that you liked about the original game. You can take your game pieces and start a new game without the cheaters and spoilsports who have gone on to play their own different game.

To complicate this metaphor, in the game of America, we have never had equal footing for all groups of players, and the two largest historical factions have always had to pick which player group they want to represent, at the expense of others. For all of our history, we have struggled to balance the playing field for the majority of people, to recognize when the rules of the game have produced unfair advantages and disadvantages, and to attempt to collectively negotiate updates to the rules of the game that allow more people the opportunity to experience victory. In competitive games, this would be the equivalent of a balance patch: we “buff” some characters, classes, and abilities, and we “nerf” others, in order to preserve the game’s fun for everyone. In our current political moment, we’re experiencing a rash of players who have found ways to exploit the game, who are angry about how we’ve re-balanced things, and are willing to use the civic equivalent of cheat codes to create and preserve their advantage, at the expense of the rest of us.

Right now, as the midterm elections draw near, we’re going to see if it’s possible to keep playing the same old game by the same old rules, and hope that our faith in those rules is not misplaced. Perhaps we will reclaim enough authority to start meaningfully enforcing those rules again. But I worry that enough people have gotten a taste for playing with cheat codes activated that the old rules of the game can no longer adjudicate meaningful outcomes for all players. The remaining options are frightening, because they require everyone to rethink the basic assumptions that have allowed our imperfect democracy to deliver prosperity and security for many of us.

So: vote, but be aware that following the rules hasn’t been sufficient to keep the game balanced for a very long time.


#827

Funny, I was just saying something similar in a conversation yesterday.

I used to work for an online RPG development studio, and for quite a while had to interact directly with players.

Most players are there for the game, or to socialize together in the context of the game. A few are there to ruin the fun for other people, for their own amusement. under the cover of online anonymity. While the actual game rules of an online RPG can’t be circumvented unless there’s a bug, the social contract of the game depends on people playing it in good faith. It can be difficult to deter someone who doesn’t care what happens to their character or their account.

What we see with the alt-right, “owning the libs” and “triggering the SJWs” is the same sort of behavior without as much – or sometimes, any – cover of anonymity.


#828

There was some interesting research done in a game I used to play. This Loyola researcher basically created a near-silent character who played only PVP games and who played strictly by the rules of the game (get points and only points) while everyone else had little social subgames with player-made rules. Players hated him and tried really hard to police his behavior.

A lot of it rings true of norm breaking in our current political system. Basically… Someone comes by and surrenders all forbearance (Trump, McConnell, Reid) and we then get stuck in a finite zero-sum game rather than a dynamic game built on player norms built on top of an open system where stress used to be managed by norm-bending behavior rather than through straight up norm-breaking behavior.


#830


'a nation of immigrants


#832

A man who chooses between drinking a glass of milk
and a glass of a solution of potassium cyanide does not
choose between two beverages; he chooses between life
and death. A society that chooses between capitalism and
socialism does not choose between two social systems; it
chooses between social cooperation and the disintegration
of society. Socialism is not an alternative to capitalism; it
is an alternative to any system under which men can live
as human beings. To stress this point is the task of economics
as it is the task of biology and chemistry to teach
that potassium cyanide is not a nutriment but a deadly
poison.
– Ludwig von Mises, Human Action p. 676

(unfortunately, this quote does not fully define every word used, so the meaning could be confused depending upon how the reader understands those words)


#833

“We have already been led to our slaughter — it is all around us. The world in which we exist is a protracted death, a sort of economically-sustained limbo in which hearts are permitted to beat only to the extent that they can facilitate the upward stream of capital. The plague of domestication has reached into every wild space, and the lines of colonization have crossed us more times than we can count. Every unproductive aspect of the biosphere has been flagged for eradication, from the “beam-trawled ocean floors” to the “dynamited reefs” to the “hollowed-out mountains,”’ the highest calibers of technology are locked into a perpetual killing spree chugging along in a “monotonous rhythm of death.” We who still have air in our lungs are the living dead, and struggle daily to remember what it feels like to be alive, holding tightly to the “desire for wildness that the misery of a paycheck cannot allay.” We roam the desolate architecture of our slaughter houses (“the prison of civilization we live in”) like ghosts who feel but cannot quite understand the vapidity of our existence”

  • serafinsky, blessed is the flame

#834

seems like … quite … a … well, a thinker, I guess


#835

Mises was an ardent supporter of capitalism and his work deeply influential to the modern libertarian movement. Personally, I disagree with the above quote and think that socialism is the solution and capitalism is unsuitable for human life (and all life).


#836

I should have used the more common phrase, “initiation of force.”

You are correct that force happens: If person A steals property from person B, and a court of peers determines that person A is not the rightful owner of said property, then the group will exert force such that person A returns the property to person B. But this is considered justice. It is not an initiation of force, but a reaction that sets things right again.

People, corporations, governments, and other groups have initiated brutal force, and that is wrong. But none of that is part of the definition of capitalism. Often, groups argue to make excuses for such brutal force, and they might try to use the word “capitalism” in their argument, but they’re abusing the definition of the word.

The fact that capitalism is defined in terms of personal property means that it also depends upon the freedom of individuals to choose how they spend their time to produce new property, and ultimately their freedom depends upon their right to their own life and how to direct their own life. I’m not trying to say that capitalism justifies the right to life, it’s actually the reverse.

The fundamental human right is the right to one’s own life. Although we can’t expect the laws of physics to honor our right to life, we can at least expect society to say that no human or group of humans can claim the right over another human’s life. From the fundamental right to life extends the right to freedom, because if you have your life but someone else initiates force to control what you do, then you don’t have access to the full right to your own person. Then, from the right to freedom, you have the right to the property that you create as a result of the exercise of your freedom. If you continue the extension of these rights, then capitalism is compatible because it honors individual right to life, liberty, and property.

As mentioned above, property rights are a logical extension of the individual rights to life and liberty.

Of course, there is a debate about where property rights should be limited. Anything that is 100% human-made should definitely be a form of property that is inviolable. However, there is a great deal of philosophical and even economic debate about whether 100% natural resources should be property that can be owned by an individual, e.g., real estate. Of course, usually we have property that is some mix of human-created and natural. Real estate is the trickiest, because land cannot really be moved around like ounces of gold.

Thus, I suggest that we should all accept and embrace capitalism, because it’s the only way for division of labor and human rights to coexist, but we should endeavor to define the boundaries between private property can can be 100% personal property versus some sort of limitations on property that isn’t created by humans. There are a few great names to quote on this latter topic, but I don’t have my notes handy…


#837

I think this touches on one of the most salient reasons this whole business of “rights” has always been very confusing to me, from Rousseau or whomever on… what are they? greed? logic? Why are they so convincing a fallacy?


#838

Man, I dunno where to start… maybe I’ll try later, but like… no? For like… solopsistic actors devoid of society, sure?


#839

Perhaps not part of the definition, but capitalism as practiced has always depended on force and coercion.

Capitalism is defined in terms of private property, not personal property. The shirt I’m wearing is my personal property, the factory that created it is private property.

What maximizes personal freedom? Is the right to free and unfettered marketplace or good education, medical care, food, clothing, and shelter for all citizens. I personally believe it is the later.

“Bourgeois society stands at the crossroads, either transition to socialism or regression into barbarism.”
Friedrich Engels


#841

Alright a less pithy but hopefully brief-enough response now that I’ve had food and coffee.

We all make up systems to understand the world around us. Sometimes the way we model things is harmful to others. I used to think like you; I understood that we lived in a more egalitarian society. Academic reason and rigor make for vigorous discussion. My now more learned ears, eyes, and heart know better.

Meeting more people with very different experiences and growing as a person taught me that experience was fundamentally incorrect. It’s easy to spin the prism to make sense of things, but it’s critically important to understand that some perspectives are harmful to marginalized people. The world is not level. The playing field isn’t fair. Empathy is critical.

Capitalism and Socialism are easily made into dog whistle polemics that don’t mean much. We’re not about to escape capitalism, but we are in need of a radical course correction: one that takes better care of people and our environment while restricting the accumulation of personal wealth and power in order to repair democracy.


#842

I agree that we need to take care of the environment, and that is going to be a challenge that will require more than simply a free market and protection of life, liberty and property.

However, you should study history and economics more carefully: Literally all progress that has ever been made in the course of human history has been the result of personal wealth accumulation. Without the accumulation of personal wealth, we would all still be spending 100% of our energy just producing the food and shelter that we need to meet the basic necessities of life. Jealousy is not a justification for limiting the accumulation of personal wealth, so long as that accumulation is not the direct result of murder, slavery, theft, or fraud. If any person or corporation uses wealth to cause harm, then they should be held accountable by the same rules that all civilized humans must follow, but the wealth itself is not a problem - it is a solution.