A nation's government does not have to bow down beneath economic laws

OT: anything goes!

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Megabot
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A nation's government does not have to bow down beneath economic laws

Post by Megabot » 2018-06-11 06:35pm

In Deux Ex, a game peppered with philosophical discussions in between all the conspiracy theories, one interesting discussion takes place between two NPCs in Paris where the evil global conspiracy has completely taken over. It starts as a conversation over whether the leader of the resistance movement is still alive, and then segues into something else when they start talking said resistance's propaganda to the public:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oj8O4y7wsjg


ANNETTE
Political freedom is "rhetoric?"

CHARLOTTE
A necessary deception of the industrial age.

ANNETTE
A realization, rather, of the value of human life.

CHARLOTTE
Human life was valuable only in one sense. Suddenly any person was a unit of
labor in the factory system, roughly equivalent to all others, and was therefore
a transferable resource...

ANNETTE
It was the greatest age this planet has ever seen! The age of invention, of
self-reliance, of the individual artist.

CHARLOTTE
...And transferable resources must be free to move about, in response to market
forces. That's "freedom." Now that most people don't produce anything of value --

ANNETTE
We're talking about the inherent worth of an individual, not economic utility.

CHARLOTTE
Now that only a few people create wealth - the scientists, engineers, bankers,
and so on - we require an arrangement of the few over the inert mass the rest
of us have become.

ANNETTE
A nation's government does not have to bow down beneath economic laws!

CHARLOTTE
That is where we differ. I believe the evolution is always in that direction.
A classic debate between the idealist and the cynic. Which one is more right about the origins of political freedom...or are they even right at all? This is a setting where every conspiracy theory is true after all. :P

Though the exploitation of the working class during the Industrial Revolution seems to lend more credence towards Charlotte, the cynic...

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Juubi Karakuchi
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Re: A nation's government does not have to bow down beneath economic laws

Post by Juubi Karakuchi » 2018-06-12 10:10am

It really comes down to your definition of freedom.

The freedom Charlotte speaks of is the freedom to move around, to change jobs, to pursue one's own economic purpose. This does not mean you can vote, or that the state cannot kill or imprison you on a whim. In South Korea under Syngman Rhee, citizens had the freedoms Charlotte spoke of, but South Korea was still unquestionably a dictatorship; or at least highly authoritarian.

One of the major factors cited for the success of the industrial revolution in Britain is the easy availability of workers via urbanization; a process made easier by the railways from the 1830s onwards. In that respect, freedom to move around and change jobs was also a major factor. There was some concern among the aristocracy (expressed by the Duke of Wellington among others) that letting the peasants move around freely would give them ideas; but no particular effort was made to stop it. On that basis, it would seem that Charlotte was right; the old order chose the economic benefits of personal freedom over the political benefits of social control.

But once again, this did not translate into political or human rights. Working men would not be able to vote until many decades later (all men over 21 only got the vote in 1918; women would not get the same until 1928) , and they possessed little in the way of what we would today regard as human rights. So this begs the question; why did the government and the political elite give in and allow these things? Were human rights and the vote wrested from the bloodied hands of oppressors? Or were they given out as bribes?

My cynical self favours the latter. Catholic emancipation was done to reward Irish Catholic soldiers who fought in the Napoleonic Wars, as well as to help further bind Ireland to the United Kingdom (an ultimately unsuccessful endeavour). Further expansions of the franchise to the industrial regions - where Non-conformist denominations like the Quakers and Methodism were popular - was at least in part the Tories (aka the political wing of the Church of England) trying to balance the new Catholic vote. The 1867 Reform Act was an attempt by the Tories to take advantage of widespread calls for franchise expansion (influened by Northern victory in the American Civil War) by expanding the franchise to 'respectable' men who owned £7 worth of property, and were thus more likely to vote Tory. It didn't work, but the underlying motive seems plain.

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madd0ct0r
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Re: A nation's government does not have to bow down beneath economic laws

Post by madd0ct0r » 2018-06-12 12:55pm

ANNETTE
We're talking about the inherent worth of an individual, not economic utility.

CHARLOTTE
Now that only a few people create wealth - the scientists, engineers, bankers,
and so on - we require an arrangement of the few over the inert mass the rest
of us have become.

This is a recurring brain bug that really irritates me. You see it a thousand ways, from divine right to eugenics to to idiocracy to current silicon valley and fincial masters of the unvirese elite worship.

Antz was a fairly brutal take down of the idea that an elite can imagine themselves a breed apart. Brunel was a brilliant engineer, but it was the Irish navvies that actually built his designs. Pasteur was a great scientist, but his medical advances dosen't make sense without herd immunity or a population to administer to.

Find me a single banker who has created real wealth, that isn't from allowing the masses to organise and invest to leverage their work higher.
Historically modelled, subsistence farmers population increased, with each additional labourer adding less utility until you reached the point where the next person consumed as much extra as they produced. Advancing productivity is not a part of that model.

Modern advancing productivity is used to suggest that a few can support the many. It is true, barely a few % of the population are farmers now. The rest are not lumpen masses sitting on sofas and consuming food. The economic utility of an individual, including future potential is never zero. It's this weird smug setting yourself above others and assuming nothing will ever change. See divine right, and see where that went.
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Re: A nation's government does not have to bow down beneath economic laws

Post by Zixinus » 2018-06-12 02:33pm

The other thing is that human perception of what is valuable is relative and often reactionary to their current circumstances. When you have an abundance of food, being a general (as opposed to luxury-oriented, like a pastry chef or confectionery, I am thinking mess hall cook) cook and farmer is not as important. So other things become important. When you have good health, a doctor is not as respected as they would be if there was a plaque. This goes on to other stuff, even luxuries.

If you told me as a 14 year old that there are people out there that make a living playing video games and showing themselves playing video games, I would not have believed you. I could not imagine that it was a useful job that anyone would care to give money for. Even though I was already reading game review magazines. The thing is that there is genuinely work involved, lots of video-editing and so forth. So it's not like these people don't have a job, it's that the jobs are more distinct and different.
Seeing my sister struggle raising her child (even with her husband, who to be fair has rather messy factory shifts) and how reliant she is on my father to help with that suddenly gives me a new appreciation for the now-legendary (to me, anyway) stay-at-home mom. Stay-at-home-moms (maybe dads too) have expired because women are expected to be part of the workforce.

There is a point to be made about education however and how much more of it is required to create a productive member of society. There was a time when someone with the a GED or equivalent could find a job for more or less the rest of their lives. Today, you expect any job that requires such low level of qualification either to grunt-work or somehow supposed to be temporary ("nobody actually needs to live on minimum wage!" yeah, right). It seems that modern society needs to rethink how it should expect, and want, people within it to be members.

I do fear however that those with more gainful (and thus more "useful") employment, (said scientists, bankers, etc.) might create a political block however that wishes for policies that benefit them above the general population. This has happened in the past, especially with the aristocracy and look how that ended up. I also wonder whether it is such blocks that actually create the so-called "useless" or "parasite" population by taking away opportunities from them to be not so, on the prejuice that it would be "wasted".
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