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Author Topic: Zeitgeist, free will, and the Left-Right 'box'  (Read 672 times)
blablahblah
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November 04, 2013, 05:36:22 PM
 #1

This is partly a continuation of the Resource Based Economy thread, but I thought it would be better to start a new topic, focusing on the recent debate with Peter Joseph VS Stefan Molyneux, and some underlying issues of free will. Without sorting out the philosophical issues, it seems like progress in the RBE stuff will remain deadlocked.

http://youtu.be/jaP2GJvZlWY
http://youtu.be/vUtv5E6CkLE

I've only watched the top one (TZM sourced) and I'm not sure why SM's one is 3 minutes longer. Maybe an intro or some edits. Take your pick. They're both long.

If people want to discuss any follow-up video monologues, go ahead, but I'm probably going to ignore that stuff. From what I've seen neither side seemed to contribute any new material, or at least: I couldn't hear it above the sound of a beautiful string quintet Grin. My bias is slightly pro-Zeitgeist, but I'm going to try and critically discuss some issues that surfaced above the noise:

The left-right paradigm
It seems that neither side is particularly succeeding in thinking outside that box, and I think I've been able to figure out why.
The Left, and Zeitgeisters, fundamentally seem to believe in determinism and a lack of free will. PJ illustrates this with examples from his workplace that went bankrupt. Unavoidable situation A (market correction) led to B, which caused C, which caused D, and so on, and at every step people had what looked like unpleasant free market choices: "lie and steal from your employees, or starve your children?"
The Right, and Anarcho-Capitalists and Libertarians, fundamentally seem to believe in free will, freedom of choice, and some universal morals that naturally restrict that freedom and justify their Golden Rule.

I mostly disagree with the An-Cap side on this, but not 100%. They seem to ignore that even in an idealised market that is perfectly free from government interference or other restrictions, the very existence of the market is involuntary. The bigger the "mutual benefit for both sides to peacefully trade" the bigger the built-in pressure that both sides have to trade in order to obtain that benefit. ZM-ers seem to be standing on the sidelines and asking:
-why are the scarce resources located on the wrong side in the first place?
-And why are they scarce?
-Resources are needed at 'X'. Why isn't trade happening? Is the situation invisible?

Experience suggests that resource 'Y' is readily available for 5 units, yet a multi-tiered network of suppliers, advertisers and affiliates results in the consumer paying 50 units: 5 to the producer, and 45 units to the non-productive network. Market forces cause flows that eventually result in resources arriving where they are needed. The middlemen seem to play a dual role by enabling trade, but they also oppose this flow by adding their own costs to the transaction. Eventually, some of the opposing costs are eliminated and the flow of resources can be maintained even when there is much lower pressure.

There does seem to be a fundamental unfairness in that the middlemen try to sap as much energy from the flow as they can, despite their own costs obviously being much lower than they care to acknowledge. It's easy to imagine that when a market dries up, there's pressure for these middlemen to do something about it. Hence systemic corruption like: destruction of resources to make them more scarce, and reducing their design life. And didn't the US government recommend that everyone should buy lots of consumer items in order to boost their economy? This seems to align well with PJ's contention that the government is an extension of the market.

However, where my view seems to deviate from the ZM narrative, is the "free will" element that I briefly mentioned earlier. If the market-makers' own actions are dictated by some market force -- a need to survive, a natural tendency towards complacency or risk-aversion or something similar -- then that would imply a lack of free will, and its complement: determinism. However, based on a hunch that pure determinism and lack of free will doesn't seem right, I tried to resolve this dilemma.

Without wanting to sound overly conciliatory or regurgitating a lot of metaphysical waffle, to me it seems that free will and non-free will are both logically possible. It's just that opportunities to create new actions don't always present themselves, and people might acquire a belief that "since I can't change anything anyway, I might as well roll with the market". The important point here is that free will only comes into existence if people choose to create it. And I have another hunch: that if people had more faith in their own ability to change things, they would do so.

"But some experts believe that my actions were predetermined by the prior arrangement of particles constituting my brain and body, and therefore all my 'choices' are illusions that are somehow less real than the real reality that I was deciding on in the first place!"
-- Therefore existential crisis and complacency. Therefore, market-driven behaviour becomes the default behaviour.
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November 04, 2013, 06:41:26 PM
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Oops, I just realised the original thread that I'm splitting this from was located in the Economics section, but "Politics and Society" seems like an equally good choice.
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November 04, 2013, 07:25:28 PM
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Indeed, they don't believe in free will. Marxists call it Dialectical Materialism.

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November 05, 2013, 05:45:49 PM
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Indeed, they don't believe in free will. Marxists call it Dialectical Materialism.


Fascinating! I couldn't make much sense out of the Hegelian Dialectics. Maybe they were oversimplifying, or it was a classic case of Rube Goldberg philosophy with a bit of astrology thrown into the mix. The way I understand it, Marx found it convenient to borrow from others' philosophy to promote his own intuition -- an a posteriori justification.
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