An accurate summary of the space-billionaire pathology


I agree with this summary.

What’s more, the global economic system is rigged so that a guy like Bezos can become a hundred-billionaire while profiting off the labor of over a million employees, some working for poverty wages, who piss in bottles to meet quotas and sometimes die at work. Meanwhile, the activities of the corporations that create these billionaires are ravaging the only habitable planet we’ve got. But because our neo-feudal lords have sold us on a science-fiction fantasy, many look up to them as heroes rather than decrying their obscene and ill-gotten wealth.

Also, this:

Assholes…in spaaaaace.

Comments

  1. dogfightwithdogma says

    “Typical Liberal Democrat”? Perhaps you could provide a few examples of these typical liberal democrats who have said something like what you are claiming a typical one has or might say. I know a great many liberal democrats and I’ve never heard one of them say this.

  2. christoph says

    @ Akira MacKenzie, #5: I thought we were left-wing commie socialist Marxists. Thanks for redefining me!

  3. Akira MacKenzie says

    Then why do American liberals seek to “reform” capitalism rather than abolish it?

  4. imback says

    “Liberal” is so overloaded a word, operating it without contextual protection is a safety risk. It could mean free or generous or ample or licentious or loose or broad-minded or free-market or progressive.

  5. unclefrogy says

    gad I hate either or thinking. some people are such purists always saying there are only two ways their way and the wrong way. any variation, any difference is judged irrelevant and is judged to be the same and equal.

  6. Akira MacKenzie says

    You know, fine. I’ll stop complaining. No one REALLY gives a shit. America’s Left is all fucking talk and protesting, nothing more. No one is willing to do anything substantial and permanent to end capitalism, religion, and the right wing except wave signs, tweet aggressively, hope the Dems stay in the White House forever, and trust in THE PROCESS.

    Besides, it’s already too late to save humanity. Just make sure the wage slavery and environmental destructions looks progressive and photogenic. At least give our species the illusion of hope as climate change and poverty kills us all.

    Enjoy, your fucking “variation” while it lasts.

  7. JustaTech says

    Akira MacKenzie @7: How do you propose to abolish capitalism without hurting workers, their families, children, and basically all vulnerable people and the systems they depend on?

    It seems to me that suddenly and totally abolishing capitalism would cause a huge amount of instability that would hurt the people who have the least control the most. Isn’t a gradual change safer?

  8. birgerjohansson says

    Guys, just install mixed economies, like all the successful countries in Europe have done (and what pre-Reagan USA used to be like).
    Quarreling about labels can be left to wossname, the guy at Fox News who looks like an alien shape-shifter trying to mimic human emotions.
    .
    -Incidentally, the German bundesrepublik (with all the good public services and long vacations Mericans envy) invested enormous amounts in rebuilding the East part, and still manages to compete the hell out of businesses based in the libertarian ‘paradise’ the Republicans and their Democrat enablers built after ca 1980.

  9. microraptor says

    JustaTech @11: Not to mention that the sudden and total abolishing of capitalism is a wildly unrealistic goal in the first place.

  10. birgerjohansson says

    För a vision of the future with disaster capitalism in charge, read William Gibson’s novels The Peripheral and Agency.
    .
    During the prolonged collapse of the biosphere and attempts to slow it with nanotech, the extant oligarchs use disaster capitalism to entrench their rule resulting in ‘The Klept’, a cleptocracy partly based on ex-Russian emigres and other quasi-legal billionaires. Democracy only survives as a cosmetic screen.

  11. Akira MacKenzie says

    @11

    Isn’t a gradual change safer?

    What ever happened to “Justice delayed is justice denied?” But please, tell me: how many decades, generation, centuries do we have we to endure wage-slavery until we can be free of it?

    @ 12

    You might as well suggest we make racism more racially tolerant. Capitalism is exploitation, pure and simple. It can not be made “better” or “reformed.” The owners will just find other ways to screw their employees slaves over.

    @ 13

    Guys, just install mixed economies…”

    The capitalist portions of such economies the will just find ways to corrupt the entire system. It is a cancer.

  12. JustaTech says

    Akira MacKenzie @16: So what system are we replacing capitalism with? And how, during that transition, will at least as many people who get to eat now, get fed?

    Also, can you give me an example of previous radical changes in the structure of society, and how long they took? The one that comes to mind for me is the change away from feudalism, but that took a catastrophe and a couple of centuries.

    How is the elimination of capitalism justice? How will it punish the guilty and compensate the wronged?

  13. indianajones says

    Hell, I’m with ya Akira. No need to provide an alternative either in an extreme case like this either. Sometimes it IS just enough to say ‘Something must be done. This is a thing so we must do it.’ Not often, but for billionaires? Burn ’em down, deal with the ashes afterwards, they couldn’t be worse.

  14. Rob Grigjanis says

    Akira and indianajones: OK, quit yer fucking moaning and start a terrorist group. Just stop bothering people with your apocalyptic bullshit. You’re the mirror image of the Trumpist troglodytes.

  15. ORigel says

    I read Robinson’s Aurora, the deconstruction of the generation-starship subgenre. Even though some of the Tau Ceti colonists get back to Earth, he makes it clear that without a bunch of contrived coincidences, they all would have perished. Thanks for telling me about the book.

  16. unclefrogy says

    @17
    the great leap forward and the cultural revolution come to mind as well
    all fun times. Oh lets remember that climate change is not paying any attention to our paltry political economic conflicts nor is it waiting for us to make up our minds.
    Sure i would like to see my own utopian dream society come into existence but I live now in a real world with many conflicting factions. I will support ideas and people who help move forward with even partial improvements but I will keep pushing forward

  17. mailliw says

    @11 JustaTech

    How do you propose to abolish capitalism without hurting workers, their families, children, and basically all vulnerable people and the systems they depend on?

    Perhaps you can explain how capitalism is protecting the vulnerable from being hurt?

    As an example, in real terms a bar of chocolate cost 10 times more in the 1960s than it does today. Was this change achieved by improvements in productivity? No, it was achieved by the cocao cartels driving down wages in West Africa.

  18. felixmagister says

    So Bezos is now only seventy years behind monkeys in terms of space flight. Not bad.

  19. JustaTech says

    mailliw @23: Oh, I’m not arguing that the current system is good or that it doesn’t hurt tons of people.
    I’m just asking how Akira would wipe out this system overnight (and what they would replace it with) without millions of people all over the world starving as the system breaks down.
    If someone could eliminate capitalism and then just leave a vacuum, that would cause chaos, and during periods of chaos and instability people don’t buy chocolate, so those abused cocoa farmers would be even more screwed than they are now.

    Yes, please, let’s change the system. But let’s change the system in a way that doesn’t hurt the people at the bottom of the current system more.

  20. nomuse says

    The first Ark of Golgafrincham was way too small.
    Also they messed up their navigation.

  21. weylguy says

    Branson went up 52 miles, Bezos 66 miles. This is not space, but just one layer of an onion skin by comparison with the Earth. Yet all are enthralled with the idea that we’re now reaching for the stars.

    What a frigging waste of resources. There ain’t gonna be no anti-gravity spaceships, and no warp drives – basic physics prevents all that. Our “spaceships” are still propelled with polluting chemicals, and that’s all we’re gonna have in the future. Meanwhile, the Earth lays dying underneath, ignored by the planet’s ooh-aah ignoramuses.

  22. says

    birgerjohansson@13:

    Quarreling about labels can be left to wossname, the guy at Fox News who looks like an alien shape-shifter trying to mimic human emotions.

    Could you be a bit more specific about this? All of the “guys” (not gender specific) at Fox News look like alien shape-shifters trying to mimic human emotions.

    Anybody who tries to criticize anything “American” and “liberal” hasn’t paid attention as the far right has corrupted the term “liberal” to mean “anyone not a hardcore social conservative,” and more specifically “centrist” or “moderate.” That’s why “American liberals” appear to mindlessly support capitalism — because the majority of those labelled “liberals” aren’t.

  23. says

    Complaining about Bezos exploiting his workers is like complaining that a rabid dog bit someone. I mean, it’s in his nature so…
    But more importantly, PZ, the thing that stops the oligarchs from exploitation is the government. So maybe you should be more mad at them than at a pitifully ego-stretching dick of a man who on camera admitted his critics (of spaceflight) were mostly correct. Oh, did you not see that? His dodge was that he thinks spaceflight will ultimately help solve problems on Earth, instead of making them worse. Personally, I think that would require building space elevators, so as a space fan myself, the fact that nobody’s really working on them seriously leaves me miffed. (I would love to hear your refutation of the viability of space elevators, PZ. Come on, you know you wanna!)

  24. brightmoon says

    I was 5 when Yuri Gagarin went up into space and I’ll admit that I never quite lost that gosh wow attitude about stuff like this . Even though I know it’s mostly akin to showing off

  25. nomuse says

    #29
    Besides them being unbuildable with current materials and an engineering nightmare and much, much worse — dinosaur killer worse — of a disaster waiting to happen?
    Still, I would love to see Moravecs. I’m the only person who calls them that; he called them Skyhooks. Basically a very long free tether spinning end to end as it orbits. Rotate at the right speed, and to observers on the ground each end comes almost vertically down from the sky, stays long enough for you to hook something to it, then off it goes again, likely to fling the cargo out at the top at a pretty appreciable velocity.
    I mean, sure, the engineering is nearly as bad. I just like the sheer insanity of having those things flapping around, and trying to use them without the goddess of all transit-related accidents happening.

  26. unclefrogy says

    @28
    it irritates me that the terms of any debate seem to be taken from the conservatives reactionaries point of view regardless or because of the misleading elements of their arguments which have now progressed to outright lies without any pretense of honesty

  27. mailliw says

    @25 JustaTech

    If someone could eliminate capitalism and then just leave a vacuum, that would cause chaos, and during periods of chaos and instability people don’t buy chocolate, so those abused cocoa farmers would be even more screwed than they are now.

    The difficulty is how you make changes. If everyone paid 5 cents more for a bar of chocolate, and this price increase went directly to the farmers, this would make a big difference to their conditions. But how do you effect this change? At present it appears to be impossible – but why?

    Automation could result in the majority of people working shorter hours (or no hours at all) for the same pay. How can we make that happen?

    How could we persuade people that human rights and humane working conditions are more important than getting exactly what you want, immediately and at a low price?

    Continuing with capitalism strikes me as being a recipe for chaos and disorder: if more and more wealth is accumulated in fewer and fewer hands, then eventually the majority won’t have money to buy products and capitalism will collapse in itself – with catastrophic consequences. How do we avoid this and instead make an orderly transition to a just and equal society?

  28. mailliw says

    Perhaps we shouldn’t forget that military interests played an important part in the space program (both in the USA and USSR).

    There’s that joke about Werner von Braun giving his autobiography the title “I Aim for the Stars (but sometimes I hit London)”

  29. John Morales says

    They made spaceflight uncool.

    What a silly sentiment! Also, it smacks of ‘sour grapes’.

    Silly on multiple levels:

    First, it’s only technically ‘spaceflight’ — it’s equivalent to claiming paddling on a dinghy near the beach is sailing the ocean.

    Second, deciding whether or not an activity is ‘cool’ purely on who performs it rather than what it is kinda misses the point.

    Third, only a suggestive sap takes their directions on what is ‘cool’ from some pundit.

    Fourth, and most relevant, they’re not doing it to be seen as heroic, they’re doing it to make more $$$. Duh.

    (But yes, one imagines billionaires can afford the best PR)

  30. says

    @Akira #16: The US left is still right of center. At least when seen from a European perspective.

    However, saying that capitalism can’t be made better is wrong, that would also mean it can’t be made worse. In the last 40-50 years it has definitively gotten worse.

    You could argue that even at it’s best it’s still bad and wrong, but what’s the alternative?

  31. KG says

    Others have pointed out the problems with Akira’s “Abolish capitalism, stat!” approach. Unfortunately, there are comparable problems with the “Make capitalism fluffier” approach. For the past several decades, capitalism has (despite some advances for some oppressed groups in some countries) been getting steadily less fluffy – more exploitative, more unequal, more environmentally destructive – and no group of gradualists, whether liberals, left social democrats (e.g. Corbyn, Syriza, DSA), greens or whatever, has managed to reverse or even noticeably slow this trend. There are going to be radical changes in the structure of society in the current century, because if rapid moves in the direction of ecosocialism are not made deliberately, environmental catastrophe is inevitable. How to bring them about? If I knew, I’d tell you. But admitting that a gradual amelioration of capitalism simply won’t cut it is the first step.

  32. F.O. says

    @JustaTech #11
    @indianajones #18

    How do you propose to abolish capitalism without hurting workers, their families, children, and basically all vulnerable people and the systems they depend on?

    Convert companies into worker-owned cooperatives.

    Remove legal hurdles for worker unions.

    Encourage local mutual aid networks.

    Tax the shit out of billionaries and inheritance, effectively capping how much power a single individual can have and how much generational wealth can be accumulated.

    But the problem is we can’t do it, because the media control (simply by volume and availability heuristcs) what kind of ideas are taken seriously by most of the population.

    Look at what other societies are trying to tackle the problem (for example, Chiapas and Rojava, but they’re not white so we don’t really take them seriously..)

    The people who are in power are those most invested in the status quo.

    BTW, I’d like to remind you that if we keep trashing the planet, violent bloody conflict is inevitable, so the burden of proposing an alternative is not on Akira, is on YOU.

    @birgerjohansson #13

    Guys, just install mixed economies

    Sweden is (slowly) going down the drain.

    The wealth divide is already larger than most people assume, healthcare is being privatized and resulted in a lot of eralier excess Covid deaths, the local Nazis are climbing their way to power and no one gives a fuck.

    I second Akira: no amount of good laws will withstand the power of capital in the longer term.

  33. KG says

    John Morales@38,
    A fair point, insofar as the data can be trusted – and note that until a decade ago, almost all the reduction was in one country: China. It also seems only too likely that the pandemic will reverse the trend, at least temporarily. And increasing climate disruption and other environmental issues (depletion of aquifers, soil loss) will certainly do so more radically if current trends continue.

  34. unclefrogy says

    @39
    what you propose is all very good but I do not see it happening in one fell swoop any time soon. Do you know any different? We are where we are wishing and hopping wont make it happen. Until the day it all falls in place I will take what I can get. I do not have the luxury of all or nothing.

    BTW, I’d like to remind you that if we keep trashing the planet, violent bloody conflict is inevitable, so the burden of proposing an alternative is not on Akira, is on YOU.

    not only “climate change” and environmental degradation but economic imbalance is also known to precipitate violent uprisings. It is up to all off us to try and avoid that calamity if possible. can anyone name such an uprising in the last 200 yrs or so that did not lead a blood bath and despotism? or a long period of instability

  35. KG says

    unclefrogy@41,
    Capitalism is one long period of instability, interspersed with blood baths and despotism.

  36. Ishikiri says

    @Erlend Meyer, #36: The US left is plenty left, but it’s atomized and doesn’t have any power.

    To the thread broadly, I give the Europeans full marks for accepting the welfare state as a matter of course and for the most part taking care of their own citizens. Vienna, for example, with their €365/year transport passes and ample amount of social housing (about 3/5 of all housing units) seems like a wonderful city that I would love to visit someday. But they still carry around smartphones assembled in Shenzen containing minerals extracted from the Congo and don’t seem to have much of a problem accepting US money. So they don’t get off the hook when it comes to capitalist exploitation either.

  37. unclefrogy says

    I am not an historian but when was there a “long period” of peace and prosperity in all of human history?
    ancient egypt or maybe before agriculture.
    as i understand it the proposal is to get rid of the evils of capitalism, the instability interspersed with blood baths and despotism with a violent uprising (death and destruction?) without any guarantee of the desired outcome of peace and prosperity and if history is any guide a pretty good chance of an authoritarian outcome with the associated blood bath and despotism, after a long and bloody civil war.
    I am no apologist for capitalism but there must be a different way to go about change that does not involve more fucking war, death and destruction. If not then I will be watching from the sidelines hoping not to be collateral damage.

  38. JustaTech says

    FO @39: Thank you for the specific actions. That is much more useful, as it gives specific directions for actions to take, laws to pass, etc.

    However, I would ask why it is my responsibility, and mine alone, to fix all of climate change, something that has been happening since before I was born? I am one cancer researcher, there is no way for me to fix climate change. That is a collective activity. I can, and do, support laws and law makers that take action against climate change, and try to make changes in my own life. But I’m not the CEO of ExxonMobil. I’m not the chairman of OPEC. I can’t change those things.

  39. springa73 says

    I’m with unclefrogy – violent revolution historically usually kills lots of people without producing much improvement in the society that it’s supposed to benefit. I simply don’t trust people who say “tear it all down” without having any practical idea of how to do that without killing millions of people, or what to replace it with.

    It’s easy to look at the current system and show all the ways that it fails. It’s a lot harder to come up with an alternative that’s better.

  40. mailliw says

    @46 springa73

    violent revolution historically usually kills lots of people without producing much improvement in the society that it’s supposed to benefit

    An “elite revolutionary vanguard” historically has been able to overthrow existing regimes – however the end result is certainly not socialism.

    There are lots of suggestions as to how matters could be improved socially but the question is how you set about implementing these ideas. Individuals can decide to change their behaviour to be more environmentally friendly, or to avoid companies that exploit their workers, but how can this extend beyond a small minority?

    I don’t know the answer to this question.

  41. KG says

    I am not an historian but when was there a “long period” of peace and prosperity in all of human history? – unclefrogy@44

    I didn’t say there had been, just pointed out that your warning about the results of an uprising rather ignored the nature of capitalism itself, which is fundamentally unstable, and produces bloodbaths and tyrannies aplenty. There have certainly been periods of greater stability than capitalism, but to the best of my knowledge, all of those within the historical era (i.e., times and places with written records) have also involved considerable inequality and exploitation. For the record, I’m not in favour of a violent revolution, but the end of capitalism within a century or so appears to me inevitable, because of the speed at which it is destroying the natural systems necessary to its continuation. I don’t believe a fluffier capitalism will suffice (although I work for and welcome ameliorative measures to delay environmental destruction), because of the way the capitalist search for profit rewards short-termism. If the search for profit ceases to be central to the system, it’s not capitalism any longer – but that won’t happen without a huge shift in the distribution of decision-making power, and the capitalist elites are extremely likely to resist such a shift violently.

  42. snarkrates says

    Indianajones: “Burn ’em down, deal with the ashes afterwards, they couldn’t be worse.”

    Congratulations. This is tied for the stupidest thing ever written on the Internet. Ashes are never better than what came before if for not other reason that making ashes out of anything creates a lot of entropy and toxins.

    Revolutions are never born out of desperate situations. Oh, you may get uprisings from desperate prople, but they’ll just get swatted down, and eventually the already hungry people will get hungrier and go back to trying to eke out a living if they haven’t starved or bled out already.

    Historically, revolutions–the ones that actually change or threaten the ruling class–begin with the middle class, who have both something to gain and something to lose. They are usually not consumed 24 hours a day with the task of simply surviving, so they have the luxury of planning.

    Revolutions are actually a fairly modern phenomenon. Oh, sure, you had one aristocratic family deposing another. You had anti-popes toppling popes and becoming the legitimate pope, but that wasn’t really a revolution. It left the power structure largely unchanged and the aristocrats still at the top.

    The first true revolution–the one that really changed things at least for a while–was the English Civil War. It fundamentally changed the balance of power between the monarch (who lost his head in the process) and parliament and between the aristocracy and the newly formed middle class. It ultimately failed, though, because the strong man who led the revolution, Oliver Cromwell, could not provide legitimacy to this desired successor, his son, Robert (who would have been a disaster in any case).

    The question of legitimacy was resolved over the subsequent century and a half, allowing the American colonies to depose the rule of the British monarch–albeit only by enlisting the aid of the French monarchy. The reformulation of the source of power as deriving from the consent of the governed–rather than by divine mandate–allowed the new American government to at least have a pretense of legitimacy. Still, the role of Washington in conferring this legitimacy was critical. Even then, the survival of the new country was hardly a given–there were lots of plots to restore British rule (including one involving Aaron Burr) and endless infighting among the elite.
    The French Revolution starts a new trend–a revolution that succeeds initially, but ultimately founders when a strong man takes power or when counter-revolutionary forces take advantage of divisions between the revolutionary forces to reassert control. This was essentially the pattern for future revolutions throughout the 19th century–particularly those that occurred in 1832 and 1848 and the revolutions of former Spanish colonies.

    The record in the 20th century has also been spotty. Plenty of Asian and African countries managed to throw off colonial regimes, but movements that benefitted the poor, rather than an elite, have been hard to come by. Often the destruction of the revolution plays a part in its ultimate demise by increasing the suffering of average citizens.

    The track record of the Arab Spring has been no better. Except for Tunisia, where reform is hanging on by the thinnest of threads, the democratic movements either failed (Syria and the Gulf states), collapsed into chaos (Libya and arguably, Syria) or fallen back under military rule when the people became disillusioned with the results of democratic elections (Egypt).

    The proportion of revolutionary movements that result in improvement for the poor is infinitesimal.

  43. Jemolk says

    Coming up with an alternative to capitalism that’s better really isn’t as hard as people are making it out to be. What’s hard is getting there, and yeah, it’s not going to be easy. It still needs to be done, though. Or do the liberals (as distinct from leftists) here find it acceptable, climate catastrophe aside, that some people hoard resources far beyond their capacity to use while others die from a lack of them? You can say that we have always had that, but even if it were true, that would not justify sitting back and allowing it to continue. And, incidentally, it has not always been true. All human societies have been imperfect, but not all of them have had the particular flaw of a horrific top-down power structure which devastates the lives of those at the bottom so those at the top can get a slightly bigger high score. Easy example: the Iroquois Federation. We can learn from them and others.

  44. KG says

    snarkrates@49,

    Revolutions are never born out of desperate situations.

    Obvious counterexample: the Russian Revolution. The desperate situation in that case was World War 1, and the increasing disintegration of the Russian economy. And while middle class leades – such as Lenin – managed to seize control of it, the revolution was powered by the soldiers, the industrial workers, and the peasants. Second example: the Haitian Revolution. Situations don’t get much more desperate than slavery.

    Revolutions are actually a fairly modern phenomenon.

    There were multiple revolutions (and counter-revolutions) in ancient Greece, and in the medieval Italian city states.

    You had anti-popes toppling popes and becoming the legitimate pope, but that wasn’t really a revolution. It left the power structure largely unchanged

    Actually, the 11th-century establishment of a powerful Papacy could well be considered a revolution, and part of the rise of a literate elite replacing the largely illiterate warlords of the so-called “Dark Ages”.

    Oliver Cromwell, could not provide legitimacy to this desired successor, his son, Robert

    Richard (“Tumbledown Dick”). Who (irrelevant fact) was until Elizabeth Windsor the longest-lived British head of state.

    Plenty of Asian and African countries managed to throw off colonial regimes, but movements that benefitted the poor, rather than an elite, have been hard to come by.

    Compare the lot of the average Chinese or Vietnamese person now with – say – 1945. Or that of people in most east European countries with that before 1989.

  45. Jemolk says

    snarkrates@49 KG already addressed the…lacking historicity of the comment, but I’d like to address the logic on its own terms. What I’m getting from your post is, frequently things end up right back where they started. I have two points to make here: number one, do you think this is news to anyone? A lot of attempts to change things for the better fail, yes. This is not some deep insight into the inherent tragedy of the human condition or some shit. It’s just typical trial and error. Past attempts failed, yes. What do we do about that? Learn from them, of course, to make future attempts work better. What’s the alternative you’re proposing? “Oh, we failed the first time, so obviously every attempt is forever doomed and we should stop trying”? Because that’s what this ideological obsession with not rocking the boat too hard means in practice.

    Second — things ending up back where they started is a risk I’m willing to take. You imply that these things never go anywhere (of course by cherrypicking the ones that fell all the way back to square one rather than merely not reaching their full revolutionary goals), but if the failure state is equivalent or nearly so to the status quo, why wouldn’t we try? Is it just that you personally are decently comfortable right now and don’t want to jeopardize that, regardless of how destructive the status quo is for everyone else? Because that’s how it comes across.

  46. snarkrates says

    Jemolk: “A lot of attempts to change things for the better fail, yes. This is not some deep insight into the inherent tragedy of the human condition or some shit. It’s just typical trial and error. Past attempts failed, yes. What do we do about that? Learn from them, of course, to make future attempts work better.”

    Except we don’t. The track record of revolution in making things better has gotten no better in over 300 years! True, in many situations, the revolutionaries themselves have learned how to avoid the fate of Robespierre, but they have not appreciably made things better for the poorest. Yes, China has improved standards of living, but that only started once they essentially abandoned the precepts upon which their revolution was based and embraced globalism. Viet Nam, too has only benefitted to the extent that it has attracted foreign investment. And far too much of the benefit has gone to the well connected rather than the peasant. The revolutions in these countries left their economies in a shambles. The Great Leap Forward didn’t. Ultimately, radical revolutionary ideologies have failed to benefit people because they are either nihilisitic (burn it all down) or contrary to human nature (Marxism). As entomologist Ed Wilson said, “Marx was exactly right. He just had the wrong species.”

  47. Michael Minnig says

    ‘“Liberal” is so overloaded a word, operating it without contextual protection is a safety risk. It could mean free or generous or ample or licentious or loose or broad-minded or free-market or progressive.’

    And then there’s the Phil Ochs definition:

    “In every American community there are varying shades of political opinion. One of the shadiest of these is the liberals. An outspoken group on many subjects, ten degrees to the left of center in good times, ten degrees to the right of center if it affects them personally.”

  48. indianajones says

    ‘Ashes are never better than what came before’

    I reckon I could think of an example or 2.

  49. thrymskvida says

    @53, snarkrates:

    So what, precisely, is this singular human nature?

    And to everyone championing incrementalism, as someone in the so-called “third world” (or “global south”): I’m fucking sick of it. I’m tired of people in rich countries dragging their feet, kicking the can down the road while continuing to extract everything they possibly can from us. Climate change is gonna hit us hardest, because we don’t have the infrastructure or the capital to shield ourselves from it and its effects (ha, I talk as if it isn’t already happening).

    We don’t have time for incrementalism. I don’t want a violent, bloody revolution, but trying to polish the toxic turd of capitalism isn’t going to cut it.

    I agree with @indianajones that yes, actually, sometimes ashes are better than what came before.

    Sitting back on your haunches while we poor people (you remember, the ones you’re so concerned about?) are dying and living in misery because you’re too afraid of losing your comforts to do anything is unacceptable.

    Sorry, I know this comment is angry, but I am angry.

  50. KG says

    snarkrates@53,
    What an astoundingly simplistic viewpoint, combined with some adroit goalpost shifting. Learn some history.

  51. irene says

    in real terms a bar of chocolate cost 10 times more in the 1960s than it does today

    No it didn’t. Lots of food was more expensive in the 1960s, but something like a Hershey bar was only ten cents, which was 75 to 85 cents or so in today’s money, depending which end of the 1960s you’re talking about. (Actually early in the 1960s they might have been five cents. Not sure when they went from five to ten.)

  52. logicalcat says

    Yall acting as if capitalism is the sole cause of climate change. As if communist nations didnt polute like a motherfucker as well. The problem is industrialization. And you are not getting rid of that unless theres some kind of green industrial revolution. But people would rather bicker over decade old arguments about capitalism versus socialism even tho abolishing one and promoting the other wont end the induatrial needs of a nation. The reason why I support capitalism is not just incrementialism and making it better. Its because the alternatives have sucked. Socialist nations at their height were still great poluters and they still funnel their money to the top 1% except in that case the top 1% is a goverent employee instead of a private citizen like it was in USSR and Cuba. They didnt change anything. Except add bread lines.

    Maybe theres a better alternative to liberal capitalism but no one here has a clue what that is. Right now the phrase “abolish capitalism” is meaningless virtue signaling.

  53. logicalcat says

    @56

    Make no mistake. The ones asking for revolution instead of incrementialism dont care about the poor either. If they did they wouldnt be spouting empty slogans like “end capitalism”. There would be substance. The way to get countries like yours the ones my parents came from to improve is to industrialize those nations heavily. Which they would be against anyways since it would accelerate climate change. No one has any real solutions.

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