Re: capitalist religion (was: NANO: _Forbes_ cover story)

From: Technotranscendence (
Date: Sat Jul 21 2001 - 00:23:18 MDT

On Friday, July 20, 2001 12:47 AM Miriam English
> >I actually think "religion" in this debate is being used to smear
> >argues in favor of a free market.
> No. This is completely wrong. :-( [sigh]

Well, then what can it mean but that? The insinuation here is that,
I've refuted your examples and arguments, that somehow I'm religiously
clinging to the free market, while you are above such attachments.

> This is why I keep repeating over and over that I am not against
> capitalism; to avoid exactly this kind of misreading of my intentions.

I'm not saying you are against capitalism. I'm only saying that your
calling people who actually believe it's a better system than all others
tried and proposed to do are somehow fervent religious believers. I
those who think QED is a good theory, better than all its past and
rivals, are equally religious about physics!?!

> I used the description of capitalism as religion to describe the way
> people use the concept as a faith that doesn't allow contrary points
to be
> heard. When used that way capitalism becomes as dangerous as any
> because it blinds you to any errors in your assumptions. (I kept
> this too.)

Who here has prevented you or anyone from being heard? Who here has
you from bringing up your -- flawed, in my humble opinion:) -- arguments
horror stories? Has anyone threatened you here?

> I hoped such a reference would be useful in defusing that religious
> standpoint. I figured, wrongly it turns out, that because the people
> this list are generally opposed to religious acceptance of dogma that
> might give them pause. Unfortunately it often produced a kneejerk
> of "to arms! she is attacking our dogma!" :-(

I did not counter your arguments with such. Who has? Name names! I've
presented not only arguments and examples, but citations of where to
out more data -- as I attempt to do in a lot of these discussions.

> >Now, I've actually presented arguments and evidence of why a free
> >works in various cases Mariam English and others have given us as
> >of free market failure. Instead of actually answering me on this,
> >has just piled up more examples. In other words, she can't reply to
> >specific arguments, so she moves on to other ones.
> The reason I kept showing problems that can arise from capitalism is
> because I hate it or want to destroy it. It is because all I needed to
> was that problems can arise -- it is not The Answer. In telling me
that it
> mostly does work you are preaching to the converted. I already know
> mostly works. Your BIG mistake was in continually thinking that I was
> opposed to capitalism. I am not. How many ways can I say this??

This is not the point either. Did you read the paragraph you are
to? Since you like to repeat yourself, let me repeat myself:

"Now, I've actually presented arguments and evidence of why a free
works in various cases Mariam English and others have given us as
of free market failure. Instead of actually answering me on this,
has just piled up more examples. In other words, she can't reply to my
specific arguments, so she moves on to other ones."

Where is the part you say is in there about me claiming you "hate" "or
to destroy" capitalism?

You brought up many cases, for example healthcare, where it seems pretty
obvious that the biggest problem is not the market but government
into it. You've disregarded this. I've never argued free markets are
perfect. They are not. However, saying that does mean the alternatives

government interference a la the welfare state or complete socialism --
far worse, as history and economic theory show.

In fact, the _verifiable_ examples you've brought to date have been examples not of free markets screwing up, but of governments screwing up.

> The reason I stopped replying in detail to many responses is: > - they completely missed my point: that I am not against capitalism or > trying to smear free market ideas, but am worried by fanatical adoption of > those as articles of faith

But you brought up specific examples, to bolster your case. If you bring up examples and these are wrong, is everyone supposed to agree with you? Also, if people are able to refute your arguments and show where your examples are flawed, does this mean they are "adopt[ing]" "free market ideas" "as articles of faith"?

Is anyone who argues for anything promulgating dogma? What is it that you would want here? For everyone to clap and say, "Well done, Miriam! We are released from our false beliefs by your faulty arguments and misrepresented examples!"

> - I want to get back to my VR project -- I don't have limitless time to > devote to ineffective debate

No problem. We all have lives outside this list.:)

> - it is not really a major point worth pursuing over days and days of > email -- how hard can it be to understand that elevating capitalism to > religion status is dangerous?

This is beside the point. I agree with the point that religion is wrong and faith is wrong. They're bad epistemology. I'm sure many people on this list agree with that too.

That said, NOT everyone who think free markets are better than the alternatives -- whether they support them or not -- is religious about it. One can, after all, look at the logic and the facts and come to that conclusion. Or is that forbidden?

To automatically assume anyone who is for laissez faire capitalism or who takes any other principled stance is religious is faulty in the extreme. It disregards why someone would hold a position and just says any such position must be religious.

Also, it's not an escape to remain agnostic here. That does not mean your thinking is not religious. One can have just as much faith in that position as any other.

> I did respond where: > - I felt people were honestly trying to make logical arguments

I was and these were cavelierly avoided by you. I would present my counterargument and instead of answering it, you moved on to arguing about another case. I would then present my counterargument for that case and you would do the same. Is it strange how you started with healthcare and finally arrived at some conspiracy view of baby formula distribution in Africa? (I'm not dismissing your claim. I just very little way of verifying it, which is why I've stuck to areas where I have done a little studying.)

> - the misrepresentation of what I said made me take the bait :-(

Misrepresentation? I thought the misrepresentation was to base your position about free markets failing on cases where they had not actually been free. If someone took one aspirin and then jumped off a cliff and died, would you use this as evidence that the aspirin did him in?

> >To me this sounds a lot like when I debate with Creationists. They will > >tell me evolution is disproven by some case A. When I show them that they > >are wrong about A, they ignore this and bring up case B. When I show them > >that they are wrong about B, they ignore this and bring up case C. And so > >on. I think you get where I'm going. > > This is just plain wrong, and a little insulting.

It's insulting to be dismissed and ignored and also to be labeled religious from the start. The whole presumption of the subject header in this thread has been that anyone who argues free markets work better than anything else can't possibly be rational. To start out by calling your opponents religious, to me, is to begin with an insult. It's no different than calling someone a racist in this context.

It's hardly appropriate to cry that you are now insulted. (And my point was not so much to insult you as to get your attention.:)

> I have tried to sound a note of caution -- that free market capitalism, > efficient though it is, and probably the best economic model to date, is a > flawed model. Being blinded to those flaws by faith is just asking for trouble.

Where do I do that? Please do show me! I want to be enlightened.:)

> You are defending something which is only under attack if it dogma. > If it is a reasoned point of view then there is nothing to defend from what > I have said.

Then why have you not answered my reasoned position on these various issues? You've only ignored my counterarguments and repeated that you are not against capitalism. In fact, the thing about your not being against capitalism reminds of Marc Antony's funeral oration in Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar." "And Brutus is an honorable man."


Daniel Ust See me utterly refute pancritical rationalism at:

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