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Shenzhen Philosophers Café

Anyone interested in having a real intellectual conversation for a change, join this group and lets set something up! Politics, Economics, or anything that promotes critical thinking or deep thought welcome for discussion!

Location: LuoHu
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Latest Activity: Dec 19, 2015

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Question- new member

Started by Jacob Schulte. Last reply by Jacob Schulte Apr 14, 2015. 2 Replies

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Comment by Steven Grunthal on December 22, 2013 at 10:15pm

Correction:  I did not copy the article to my last message.  If you cannot follow the link,  please send me a message and I will e-mail the article to you.

Comment by Steven Grunthal on December 22, 2013 at 10:14pm

Anybody interested in joining a discussion group? It will be kind of like a book club, but we'll read long-form articles instead of books. 

We will meet each Monday at Old Heaven Bookstore (at OCT Loft in Nanshan district) at 8:00 pm.

 For December 23, please read this article:

 The French Connection

How the Revolution, and two thinkers, bequeathed us ‘right’ and ‘left.’


 I've copied it for you below.

After you read it, please write a 1-2 page response paper.  Just put down your thoughts after you've read the article.  If you're not sure where to start, just write down the words, "I thought the most interesting thing she mentioned was..." and just keep writing whatever comes into your head.  After about 5 minutes you'll have already written a page or two!

Comment by tso on August 1, 2013 at 5:34pm

I don't know what you are talking about with referencing Picasso paintings, there is no magical dimension where a bunch of power-hungry sociopaths with guns bullying and ordering other people around are a charity organization.

The government works well, exactly as it is supposed to - for people in control and on the payroll of government. I sure hope they fail to take any opportunities to "improve", because they are already stealing and terrorizing enough as it is.

I don't know which fantasy you are referencing, but here on planet Earth the collaboration of entities called government in the past 100 years didn't produce technological progress, but a pile of some 250 million human corpses. Stealing money from productive people and giving it to your friends can not produce any technological progress, in best case it can shift research from what consumers actually want to what the government thugs want (which is usually stuff designed to kill, spy and make people's life miserable).

Government can be viewed as a business? Are you on crack? Has Starbucks lately sent an armed thug to your door to check if you have the right piece of paper which Starbucks must absolutely insist you to have? Has any business ever sent you an invoice for services which you never ordered and threaten to put you in a cage if you don't send them the money? Have you ever tried saying "No thanks, I don't want to pay for and use your shitty imaginary services" to a government employee? You can do it at every business.

Business is a voluntary transaction, government is coercion at gunpoint - they are the exact anti-poles, not something you can compare. 

Government is a group of people who don't produce anything, everything they "provide" they have stolen from someone else or paid for with stolen money. Trying to romanticize organized violence is just a result of long term exposure to propaganda, it has nothing to do with reality.

Comment by Sammy on July 15, 2013 at 12:36am

Interesting, I understand what both of you are discussing @Smee and tso, though I might not fully agree.

Now tso I do agree that the deficit spending has gone way out of hand, and the world will surely face some major correctional phases.
That being said, I wonder if anyone has told you that you see what you are looking for?
Its like painting a picture, but you only have the color red, no matter how beautiful the picture is, it will still be red. To view the government from only one perspective, is much like painting a Picasso with only red, it simply cannot catch the different shades.

When there is something wrong, or not properly functioning, there is also the flip side, for then there exists an opportunity to improve, doesn't it?
The world has o so many that can point out errors, what it needs is people that can find solutions.

The collaboration of entities, which we often refer to as states and governments, has enabled a prosperous forth going technological evolution.
You mentioned some of them in your own quote: "From being brutes and barbarians the humans got to fly to space, transplant new organs, make miniature robots and create a worldwide network for instant information sharing.."

From one instance, states can be viewed as major businesses, and they do say "In order for a business to prosper, the environment in which it operates must prosper"

Comment by smee on September 11, 2012 at 6:51pm

Out of touch

Comment by Steven on September 11, 2012 at 11:58am

TSO ... I support your comments ... I think your eyes are open and see clear, and more should remove the layer that prevents them from seeing the true world we live in.

top of the iceberg is just here...

Comment by tso on September 11, 2012 at 11:41am

For me it's very interesting to make this mental exercise (this is how most people think):

Problem: People are often greedy and evil, they care only about themselves, they can't be trusted to act responsibly and logically

Solution: We make an organization with infinite uncontested power to extort violence on anyone it pleases, the power to come up with arbitrary rules and destroy anyone who opposes those rule. We also give them the power to take as much money as they please from anyone they select, and the power to cage those who don't want to be stolen from and execute them if they defend themselves. We also let them counterfeit money at will and let them call it monetary policy, and borrow money from foreign bankers with the future generations as collateral and call it deficit spending. 

Then let's call this solution "practical"... The only "practical" thing I see about it that it's "practically" insane. If your problem is that people are evil etc. then giving these people uncontested monopoly power to coerce, steal, counterfeit, bully, borrow and spend other people's money, make arbitrary laws and wars then not only are you not solving your problem, but making is worse. It is exactly the opposite what you want - you want to make sure nobody ever gets the power to coerce other people, nobody gets the power to steal and counterfeit, nobody gets the control over your life. Government is exactly the thing you never want to allow to exist. 

Anyway, it's kind of funny to see all the scientific progress in every scientific field you can think of. From being brutes and barbarians the humans got to fly to space, transplant new organs, make miniature robots and create a worldwide network for instant information sharing. The only thing that remains from the primitive and brutal age of barbarians is the state. The idea that our relationships have to be dominated by this primitive force and intimidation in every aspect of our lives. It's just ridiculous, self contradictory to the max and also has catastrophic results and track record.

One more thing about mainstream: If all children would have to attend an education camp ran by McDonalds, starting at age 6 every single kid in the world would have to spend 8 hours a day in this camp until they reach 18. Not attending this camp results prison for parents and coercion on the kid. McDonalds pays salary to all people who work there and sets the standard for what they are allowed to tell the kids. If you want to set your own education camp you have to beg McDonalds for permission and they will again dictate everything that will be taught there.

Now 12 years day after day in these camps, do you think the children will be told every day that McDonalds food is junk that will kill them if they eat it every day, or do you think they would listen to nonstop praise of how great, nutritious and indispensable the hamburgers are.

Now just substitute McDonalds with government to get the world we live in and say with a straight face the mainstream has anything relevant to say on the topic of government. 


Comment by smee on September 11, 2012 at 10:41am

wow ....   interesting

You say much that I simply cannot agree with.  I have not studied economics in depth, but I have worked in government, and followed government policies many years out of interest.  Of course governments are often self-serving, but many of your viewpoints just don't jive with what I believe.  Pointless to argue of course, though fascinating to read what you say.  I shy away from mainstream pop culture, entertainment, and other vices of the common people, but in the realm of academia and science (and economics), I find that the mainstream is usually mainstream for legitimate reasons.  Fringe or counter beliefs just don't measure up.  Nevertheless, I have been reading a bit online from a few sources about AE and find it not as crackpot as I would think just by reading your statements.  Also, I tend to have a fairly positive respect for humanity, not thinking we are all about greed and violence, but.... we cannot assume that the individual will behave responsibly or logically, so governments are a necessary evil.  If human nature were totally benevolent, then your views would be more acceptable, but it is not.  So let's just be practical.  Our system is not perfect.  We are not perfect.  But we muddle through.  Enjoy your pursuit of a better world.  And good luck.

Comment by tso on September 10, 2012 at 1:29pm

Btw here is a great series presenting results of scientific studies about the effects of violence on human brain:

Comment by tso on September 10, 2012 at 1:01pm

Well, if you think my views are wrong it would be a good approach to address some specific claims I made and provide logical or empirical evidence they are wrong.

I still didn't see a single one, but every time a round of new questions that take focus away from the previous answers. 

So for example here is a claim: Every scientific discipline has to be necessarily studied by a suitable methodology. For physics and chemistry it's hypothesis testing, for mathematics and economy it's logic. Every time you use the wrong methodology you come up with anti-understanding. Thus studying biology by mathematics will not only give you answers to questions, but provide you false answers that damage your understanding. That's why nobody would define "liver" as "sum off all liver cells with special mathematical properties..." and try to understand it like that.

Universities in my country - yes, the biggest university of economics in the country had a department of macroeconomics that started teaching AE and they got shut down by government accreditation commission. Of course the university it self didn't stop working, just sacked / threatened the teachers involved into changing the courses back to mainstream. 

Do I really think governments are destructive and  central bank evil? I really think there are 2 ways of solving problems: voluntary and violent. I also think that violence can temporarily "solve" the problem as much as a heroin addict can solve his problem by taking another shot. For a short period of time he will feel good but in the long run he is moving to total destruction. Government and central banking is the idea that since people are not able to come up with voluntary solutions to problem, they have to be coerced.

The story goes like this: There are poor people. How do we solve it? We take a gun, write a law, threaten bunch of people into doing what we want and bang, there are no poor people any more. - Well I don't think so, this is such a primitive approach as trying to change the gravity constant by "passing a law against it".

Logic tells me this: If people are greedy, evil and destructive than making an organization with monopoly on violence, force and rule making is simply insane. Where do you think all the greediest, most psychopathic and destructive people will go? The government will attract them like a black hole. If people are so greedy and evil as you say, then that's exactly a reason why you must never allow a government to exist in the first place.

And about the "real" answers to problems. Half of the problems are not there at all, you are just asking the wrong question. Such as: Oh no! The steam engine technology will eliminate all the horse carriage factories, where will all the poor stupid people from those factories go? They are stupid and useless, and can only make horse carriages, do you just want to let them starve to death on the street? It's obvious we have to ban steam engines. 

But in fact people are not so useless as you say, they simply re-focus on a different profession. The horse carriage factory workers go to steam engine factories, and new factories that spring up because of all the saved capital provided by steam engines). 

Human needs are endless, which means unemployment can not exist voluntarily. The only reason people are unemployed is because the governments introduce rules that prevent the markets from clearing (minimum wage, employment laws, regulations, etc.)

I see many problems but the one that is most pressing is the idea that problems can be solved by compulsion, coercion and violence. A good solution to the problem is starting to study the real effects of violence and removing it from your relationships as a way of getting what you want.



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