> -----Original Message-----
> From: email@example.com
> [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]On Behalf Of Brian D Williams
> Governments do determine the economic system. Are you really trying
> to say governments don't make decisions and act on them?
Brian, there are 3 reasons I stressed the fact that it's individual people
who make decisions. The first is that people tend too much to lose
themselves in the collective. They can then rationalize all sorts of
actions which they would have considered immoral if they'd done them
individually. Take, for example, stealing from wage earners via the income
tax in order to pay to have a federal office building designed and
constructed. Most legislators who vote in favor of a bill authorizing such
stealing would consider it immoral to go from door to door with a gun,
demanding that each family turn over a certain amount of money or suffer
severe consequences. And yet, within the safety of the collective, their
consciences bother them not at all. In fact, they're able to convince
themselves that they're doing something noble and good. I don't like to let
people get away with this kind of thinking. When a legislator votes "yes"
to send various employees out to steal from people, it's still as immoral as
though she'd stolen the money herself.
The second reason I stressed the incapacity of governments to believe,
decide, and act is that people have a tendency to build such collectives up
into omnipotent godlike entities rather than seeing them as associations of
indicidual twits. Taking this view of Government as God caused people to
feel cowed and helpless, so they tend to just ride the current and look the
other way when they see government employees doing bad things.
The third reason is that people who would prefer to act as autonomous
individuals tend to see themselves as an insinificant compared to the whole
mass of humanity and to think that any action they take to change things
will be insignificant and doomed to failure. Most people don't even realize
they're doing this until they stop and think hard about it, and so they
never experiment to see how much room there is to maneuver while still
keeping a low profile. A person can revolutionize his own life by shifting
the way he sees his position relative to the whole.
> Fascism: a system of government characterized by dictatorship,
> belligerent nationalism, and racism, militarism, etc: first
> instituted in Italy.
> Don't see a fit.
Individuals still owned businesses, homes, and so forth under this system.
The state didn't take title to everything as it does under communism, which,
in practice, is also characterized by the things you listed above. I have a
similar definition of fascism in my dictionary, but I think one of the
characteristics which distinguish it from other dictatorships, such as
communist dictatorships, is that title to at least some productive assets
remains in private hands.
But I don't want to let definitions get in the way of the point I was
trying to make, which is that while title in the U.S. remains in private
hands, ownership means far less now than it did 100 years ago. Here's an
example: if you happen to own land that has a swamp on it you're not
allowed to drain the swamp and use the land. It has to remain a swamp.
Here's another example: you hire a dozer to dig a pond (after doing the
federally required environmental impact study, which raises the cost of your
pond considerably), and when the pond fills up you stock it with catfish
which you plan to eat. A flock of cattle egrets moves into the trees around
the pond, and their copious droppings are causing your fish to die. You're
not allowed to shoot or in any other way interfere with the egrets. Here's
another example: You own a business which manufactures fasteners used in
constructing nuclear power plants. You wish to set up your building and
machinery a certain way, but instead you must follow federal guidelines.
I'm sure there's no need to go on, although I could go on for pages and
pages listing all the ways in which private ownership has deteriorated.
> The opposite of Communism is not Democracy as I often hear on T.V,
> the opposite of Communism is Capitalism. The opposite of Democracy
> is Totalitarianism.
Actually, democracy is quite a dangerous system if you happen not to always
agree with the majority. I'm not sure it's helpful to speak in terms of
opposites when you're talking about something as complex as economic and
political systems, but if I were to choose an opposite for totalitarianism,
I'd say anarchy.
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Jul 27 2000 - 14:13:23 MDT