Atheist Fight

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Jason Kuznicki

Jason Kuznicki is a research fellow at the Cato Institute and contributor of Cato Unbound. He's on twitter as JasonKuznicki. His interests include political theory and history.

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141 Responses

  1. Avatar The Warning says:

    For government to impose wisdom or compassion from the top, there would first have to be wisdom and compassion at the top.

    To paraphrase Milton Friedman, just where does Harris expect to find these angels that he would trust to run the human race?Report

  2. Avatar North says:

    Yeah that’s some dissapointing spongey thinking from Harris there.Report

  3. Avatar Chris says:

    For someone who’s spent so much time railing against Islamic theocrats, Harris has a remarkable ability to sound like one.Report

  4. Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

    Isn’t that essentially what the librul is after?Report

  5. Avatar James Hanley says:

    Harris has become very annoying. He began by pointing out that people critiquing evolution hadn’t taken the time to study it. Now he’s arguing economics and public policy without having taken the time to study them. He seems to have fallen into the trap of thinking, “I’m undoubtedly an intelligent man, as evidenced by my academic accomplishments, so all my thoughts and ideas must be intelligent.”Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      James, man, he’s always been annoying. This is a guy who has never had any interest in empirical facts if they contradict his narrative. As I say pretty much every time he comes up, watch his exchange with Atran from 4 or 5 years ago (at one of the Beyond Belief conferences). Atran says, “The data shows X,” and Harris says, in essence, “Oh yeah, well ~X is true!” It would make for good parody if he didn’t take himself so seriously.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Yeah, that’s the impression I’ve been getting. It seems that it’s a lot easier to be successful–i.e., being taken seriously in the public debate arena–if you spout nonsense with unbounded confidence than if you actually behave like a good scientist and identify the assumptions and error bars you’re working with.Report

        • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

          We’ve had two posts on LOOG recently discussing pundits’ spewing of arrant nonsense: Mickey Kaus’s fact-free analysis of Obama’s summer readg list, and Mark Steyn’s logic-free “proof” that the USA is doomed, doomed, I tell you, by its failure to be a place that only exists in conservative fantasies. Both were taken seriously by distressing numbers of commenters.

          In other words, you’re right.Report

    • He seems to have fallen into the trap of thinking, “I’m undoubtedly an intelligent man, as evidenced by my academic accomplishments, so all my thoughts and ideas must be intelligent.”

      I do the same thing, except without the academic accomplishments and with some doubts about my intelligence.Report

  6. Wow. Harris really has a knack for de-legitimizing anything he touches, even if only briefly or tangentially.Report

  7. Avatar Just John says:

    Harris’ positions are in no way unreasonable. He does not argue for absolutism or authoritarianism. He merely recognizes the balances that are needed for our system to continue to run, and advocates that the state must be used to adjust those balances. This is the opposite of advocating for the identification of an intrinsically perfectly wise or perfectly intelligent or perfectly virtuous or perfectly spiritual ruling elite to install into a perpetual hegemony.

    In the liberal era — the modern era — the state has become our primary instrument of collective action. Its actions favor the interests or the perceived interests of whatever segments of society have captured it at a given time.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley says:

      In the liberal era — the modern era — the state has become our primary instrument of collective action.

      I get what you’re saying, so I don’t mean this negatively, but that’s not wholly true. It is true, undeniably I think, that the state has grown exponentially in its role as an instrument of collective action, and has become the largest single such instrument (which, I think, is wholly consonant with your statement). But a close observation of the world shows that most of our day-to-day collective actions are conducted in non-state agencies, from businesses to social and religious organizations, to informal and ever-shifting groupings of people.

      I do think that government’s efforts should be directed more to providing institutions that support those non-state collective action groups than trying to displace them.Report

      • Avatar Just John says:

        Yes, there are many instruments of collective action at many levels of formality and longevity, and I agree that it’s both non-viable and repugnant to make the state the sole instrument of collective action. Freedom of association is a fundamental right in the United States, and I believe that it’s one of the most powerful factors in the success and longevity of the United States.

        Yet there is one respect in which the state is unique in comparison to all other associations: sovereignty — its monopoly on violence as a legitimate means of coercion in its territory. One reasonable measure of the success of a state is the extent to which that legitimated monopoly on violence need not be exercised, and one measure of the humanity or quality/desirability of a state is the extent to which that monopoly on violence is not needlessly or inappropriately exercised. After that, inevitable controversy. What I’d hold to be genuinely uncontroversial is whether a state must exist; with the exception of ungovernable terrain areas such as much of Afghanistan, there is nowhere in the world where non-state societies have been able to withstand surrounding states, and a place like Switzerland suggests that a state can be preferable even in a place with ungovernable terrain.

        Rambling here, and perhaps tedious. To sum up: Harris’ point is merely that the concentration of wealth in the hands of any few can’t continue indefinitely without destabilizing the state, and society as well. That tendency of laissez-faire not only should be countered, it eventually will be countered, and if a state continues too long to serve the advancing concentration of wealth it will be undone by revolution or external conquest.Report

  8. Avatar Creon Critic says:

    I haven’t read the whole back and forth between Harris and Sandefur, just skimming some of the discussion (so I’m open to correction), there seems to be a larger discussion about desert going on and the quoted sentence from Harris reads,

    Followers of Rand, in particular, believe that only a blind reliance on market forces and the narrowest conception of self interest can steer us collectively toward the best civilization possible and that any attempt to impose wisdom or compassion from the top—no matter who is at the top and no matter what the need—is necessarily corrupting of the whole enterprise.

    Harris is critiquing a Randian outlook, saying self-interest is insufficient to the task ascribed to it. And the sentence itself includes self-limiting features on government’s role, “no matter who is at the top and no matter what the need”, that’re elided in the extract taken in the post here’s quote. Also, there are further limitations in Harris’ post, like recognizing some of the drawbacks of government. In all, the characterization of Harris’ argument here, Government should “steer us collectively toward the best civilization possible [and] impose wisdom or compassion from the top.”, does not seem fair to me.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley says:

      Perhaps it’s not entirely a fair interpretation of Harris, but he does seem to be saying that it’s possible to “impose” on others without that being corrupting. He’s simply wrong there. The power to impose is, above all, a power, and no human is given power to exercise without suffering some degree of corruption from it. (We could also talk about the corruption of hubris…)Report

      • Avatar E.C. Gach says:

        Impose in so much as some people will see taxation itself as an unnatural imposition.Report

        • Avatar James Hanley says:

          E.C., not “unnatural,” just corrupting. Both taxation and corruption are–I’m sad to say–as natural as anything else in the world.Report

          • Avatar E.C. Gach says:

            Than you’ll have to define corrupting. Usually things that are “corrupted” are changed from their original nature, making the corrupting act akin to an unaturalizing one.Report

            • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

              Corruption is when transitive trust is extended beyond its intended boundary.Report

            • Avatar James Hanley says:

              E.C., Are you being snide about politicians already being lousy, so that power doesn’t change them from their original nature? Or are you really missing my point? You’ve surely heard Acton’s aphorism about power and corruption?

              But if you want, yes, pols who are honest and decent by nature will be changed by their power to impose and become less honest and less decent; hence corrupted by your definition.

              (Honestly, you sound sincere, but the only generous way I can read your post is as deadpan sarcasm.)Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                There’s a pushme-pullyou thing going on there.

                Corruption isn’t inevitable as an end of itself.

                It is, however, difficult to avoid as humans are rationalizing and loss-averse.

                I’m a nice guy with good intentions. I get elected to enact those good intentions. Then I hit the mess of political infighting. To enact my good intentions, I have to make tradeoffs. Since many tradeoffs involve leveraging future trust, I either become indebted to or dependent on other members of the political community.

                If I’m not careful, it’s easy to rationalize away violating my intentions in order to exercise that debt or remove that dependency.

                To be fair, this is what happens whenever you jump a layer of abstraction and go from being an individual to being a member of any type of organization.Report

              • Avatar Just John says:

                Viva Zapata! Brando rules — and then gets fat.Report

      • Avatar Creon Critic says:

        You put the emphasis on the fact of the exercise of power itself. I put the emphasis on the degree and context of the exercise of power. What gradation of power, where is the power directed, to what end is the power exercised, what are the background conditions and historical context of the use of the power, what human rights are implicated… To me, answering those questions can allay my concerns about the potential for corruption. The libertarian argument seems to stridently say, “No, continue to be wary of the fact of power’s exercise. ‘Do no harm,’ is in the forefront.” I think that’s excluding a lot of the positive good that government can do – and from an econ-soc rights perspective, that government is obligated to help realize. All of which is to say, an infrastructure bank, not the worst thing in the world. I can see that we’d disagree about Harris’ wealth tax and broader endorsement of redistribution.Report

  9. Avatar E.C. Gach says:

    Jason, you obscure the point Harris makes by distorting the quote, which actually goes as follows:

    “Followers of Rand, in particular, believe that only a blind reliance on market forces and the narrowest conception of self interest can steer us collectively toward the best civilization possible and that any attempt to impose wisdom or compassion from the top—no matter who is at the top and no matter what the need—is necessarily corrupting of the whole enterprise.”

    His point, as I take it, isn’t that government’s only role is to impose these things from the top, but that at times, the collective will of a democracy has a legitimate reason for doing so.

    His post reacts against what were apparently very fullthroated endorsemetns of unfettered free markets and attacks against any form of taxation. The point he makes is that there are times when government’s role is to steer development, not that government should always, arbitrarily and capriciously make these decisions.

    He cites infrastructure investment and investment in energy research and more efficient and sustainable technologies as a priority, and one that the government, within its powers to tax and spend, should not turn away from out of some fear that taking more of the top quintile’s wealth will somehow lead to economic ruin or be unjust.Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

      I take his point to be that some schemes to “steer us collectively toward the best civilization possible” are not corrupting, and that some schemes “to impose wisdom or compassion from the top” are okay — provided we find the right people to run them.

      The Randian critique says that this is false. Harris disagrees. He wants wiser than ordinary folk (presumably, like himself) running things for the good of everyone.Report

      • Avatar E.C. Gach says:

        His post isn’t about getting “wiser than ordinary folk” to lead the masses blindly, though certainly, no one would disagree, that in a democracy we often seek to elect people we consider to be, well, wiser than ourselves.

        It doesn’t sound like you read the post, or else are more intersted in wrongly interpreting it.

        His examples of schemes include laws against murder, etc. Those are impositions from the top down. Do they corrupt us? If not, I’m not sure what you’re getting at. If they do corrupt us, is there a better alternative waiting in the wings?Report

        • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

          Yes, laws against murder. But also redistribution of wealth. It seems a gross misrepresentation to leave out the controversial part.

          Doesn’t it?Report

          • Avatar E.C. Gach says:

            Right, and redistributing wealth has long been as accepted an institution as laws against murder.

            Do you find redistribution to be a controversial proposal? You’re post didn’t seem to be about exploring the right level of redistribution, so much as declaring that,

            “But from all I’ve seen, I’m forced to conclude that virtually all practical schemes for the betterment of human nature, when undertaken by gods or governments, amount in the final analysis to placing one wholly unreformed individual in power over another, in one way or another.”

            You take the view Harris offers, which mainstream supporters of Medicare, Social Security, public education, and criminal rehibiliation would all find uncontroversial and paint it as some misguided attempt at deifying the government.Report

            • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

              Have you read that post? A good deal of it concerns how controversial Harris’s readers found his views on redistribution. In this context, that’s what the controversy is about.Report

              • Avatar E.C. Gach says:

                His post is about bettering society and civilization. No where does it mention human nature. You’ve taken his views on redistribution and construed them as a project of directly changing human nature.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Oh, he just wants to change society and civilization without changing human nature?

                That’s okay then.

                Everybody needs a hobby.Report

              • Avatar E.C. Gach says:

                The difference is whether it’s part of some direct form of coercion and indoctrination or via certain institutional rules and incentives.

                People might have a problem with saying that all citizens have to work out every day and spend doing art. They seem to be fine with important leaders and other citizens saying and encouraging people to be do a little exercise every day as well as set aside some money for public art.Report

  10. Avatar Jaybird says:

    “Reform human nature”.

    Ugh. Haven’t we tried that?

    It seems to me that attitudes that say “maybe we can limit the amount of active harm folks do to each other” are far, far more likely to result in success than ones that pick a virtue at random from whatever virtues those in authority are fans of this century and shoving that virtue down everyone’s throat for a decade or seven.

    Hey, I’m not even saying that preventing negatives is even likely to work, mind… just that it tends to do better than promoting positives.Report

    • Avatar E.C. Gach says:

      Public education is an attempt to reform human nature. So too, are welfare reform programs, which seek to spur people to work by “cutting the cycle of dependence.”

      Do you find both of those to be illigitimate projects?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Some more than others.Report

        • Avatar E.C. Gach says:

          Which ones?Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            The wacky thing is that one of these programs in a particular culture is a very good project to have… and in another particular culture, will result in huge problems.

            Let’s look at public education.

            If parents/the community saw public education as a community effort to take a small bit of money from everyone in order to provide teachers with skills to educate children (skills that the parents do not have) to the community and thus ensure that the children learn the three ‘Rs and become stronger members of the community… then a public education system can (and usually does) work.

            If parents/the community see public education as the job of the government to provide educational daycare to children until they are 18, then a public education system might last a generation or two before becoming corrupt to the point where starting a charter school might be seen as a good use of time on the part of the most engaged parents in the community.

            I support the former and oppose the latter.

            We could discuss exactly how inevitable it is that one transform into the other, if you’d like.Report

            • Avatar E.C. Gach says:

              “If parents/the community see public education as the job of the government to provide educational daycare to children until they are 18, then a public education system might last a generation or two before becoming corrupt…”

              How and why does this inevitably occure? What elements of the initial set of conditions initiate that corruption?Report

      • Avatar North says:

        Actually wouldn’t welfare reform actually be bowing to human nature rather than attempting to change human nature? Reformers assert that people’s nature is to not work if they are comfortable not working so they advocate changing the program so that not working is not comfortable anymore.

        Education seems closer though again I don’t know if it involves reforming human nature.Report

        • Avatar E.C. Gach says:

          “Human Nature” is problematic in that it broadly generalizes across different environments and biologies.

          Individual humans, to whatever extent they can be said to have an individual nature, certainly don’t arrive with prearranged tendencies that are than changed through socialization. Socialization shapes “human nature” just as much as anything else. So to the extent that one’s human nature is affected by social forces, changing those social forces is an attempt to change that human’s nature, whether it be to make them less lazy, more thoughtful, or non-dangerous.Report

          • Avatar Rufus F. says:

            It seems to me that “human nature” is a lot more malleable than we like to admit and probably in flux through much of our lives. For sure we change throughout our childhood, adolescence and, if we’re lucky, adulthood. So, yes, education will play a part in that. But it’s not a matter of leading the some student along a particular path so much as clearing as much shit out of their way so they can head in the direction they choose. In that sense, the senior scholar is not a guide to the junior scholar, but a fellow traveler.Report

            • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

              I would say that “malleable” is a very different thing from “subject to change.”

              The former suggests being subject to change at will, as a goldsmith pounds metal into sheets. The latter suggests unpredictability, which I think is often closer to the truth.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                a simple question: Do Incentives Work? I believe that they do, if often in unexpected ways. Someone who blathers on about “human nature” will often say that incentives don’t work — the lazy will still be lazy.

                A Further Question: Must all Incentives be Monetary in nature? A much more tricky thing to answer, but one that I believe most religions have conclusively established through their long history of influencing behavior.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                Shortest possible:

                > Do Incentives Work?

                Provided their aligned with the proper behavior, yes. They usually aren’t.

                > Must all Incentives be Monetary in nature?

                Depends upon the behavior you’re trying to encourage. Generally speaking, the less skilled the behavior, the better it responds to monetary incentive. The greater skilled the behavior, the worse it responds.

                Semantically defining “skilled” makes this tricky for evaluation purpose, but we can go there if you want to get longer.Report

              • Avatar Just John says:

                I’ve heard it said that incentives for “greater skilled behavior” can be summarized as Competence, Relatedness and Autonomy. Ironically, the accumulation of money can become the chief verification of one’s competence, the primary vehicle of one’s relations to others, and the proof and guarantor of one’s autonomy. But only for people with a knack for making money. And then you die muttering, “Rosebud.”Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                > And then you die muttering, “Rosebud.”

                That was awesome. I tip my hat to you, sir.Report

          • Avatar North says:

            Yes but we’re not talking about individual humans, we’re talking about humans in general which is where the term human nature comes from; I’ll agree it’s plenty problematic.

            Still we know people have tendencies generally and attempting to change those general tendencies has been a barren Afghanistan that ideologies have shattered themselves upon for centuries. I don’t see education or welfare reform as meeting those criteria as both are attempts to navigate those general tendencies or address people as individuals rather than attempting to impose some sort of broad transformation on humans as a whole.Report

            • Avatar Kim says:

              does human nature include a sense of humor? because there is a substantial disagreement between “bullies” (it’s a personality thing) and the rest of us!Report

            • Avatar E.C. Gach says:

              Whatever tendencies they navigate, they also seek to change/alter them.

              Education of kids pressumes that the kids will have a short attention span and be easily distracted. Part of educating them is to change that very tendency.

              A certain style of welfare assumes that implementing welfare will lead people to become more dependent, and the reform part is to try and reverse that.

              Unless you don’t believe all the arguments about a “culture” of welfare.

              Most people who talk disdainfully of government programs usually indicate that they have fundamentally changed people in some way, rather than just put up obstacles to try and direct or inform their behavior.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                > Education of kids pressumes that the
                > kids will have a short attention span
                > and be easily distracted. Part of
                > educating them is to change that
                > very tendency.

                Note:

                I follow a lot of really smart people. Very close to universally, they all regard this as one of the most pervasively bad functions of our current educational system.

                Because this assumption, while true for any sufficiently large population of pre-teens, requires a structural approach to education that damns the kids with longer attention spans into 12 years of hell.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                I believe that our educational system should teach a good knowledge of game theory, and stop trying to make us all into good factory workers who can follow directions.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                Statistics and logic ought to be taught rather than Calculus or Trig at the high school level.

                Freshman year: Algebra
                Sophomore year: Logic
                Junior year: Geometry
                Senior year: Probability and Statistics

                If you can grok those four, you can learn trig or calc a lot easier. And most jobs that require either require more than a high school education anyway.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                Yes well I don’t give much weight to those, left or right, who talk about the fundamental moral or natural or societal rot that any given program or policy has inflicted on the population as a whole. My agnosticism makes me somewhat of an empiricist.

                Neither of your examples strikes me as good ones of human nature. Kids have short attention spans or that people can become dependent on welfare seems too specific to me. Human nature would be general I would think by definition. I suppose it’s incumbent on my to suggest some alternatives. My humble suggestion.
                -It is human nature to be disinclined to put forth more effort than is necessary to achieve a comfortable state and maintain that state.
                -It is human nature to value something one owns much more than something that someone else owns and to value something someone else owns more than something everyone (or no one) owns.
                -It is human nature to be wish to improve the lot and prospects of one’s offspring.Report

    • Avatar dexter says:

      Jaybird, doesn’t whether something is a negative or positive really come down to how one words the proposition? What is a person to do if he sees it as a negative that more and more of the money is going to a smaller and smaller proportion of the population?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        No, no, Dex. Not what I meant.

        I meant that it’s the difference between “don’t be mean” (a negative) with “be nice” (a positive).

        The negative says “don’t be vicious”. The positive says “be virtuous”.

        It seems to me that it’s a lot easier to get people to not be vicious than to get them to be virtuous… and by “easier”, I don’t mean “easy”.Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

          You and I are both least pessimum guys.Report

        • Avatar dexter says:

          That may be what sets the leftys apart because I think when you do everything in your power to get more than enough while many are suffering, and you are very, very good at getting more than enough, then you are mean. I think when you have thousands of workers who wages are so low that they are eligible for government assistance then you are vicious.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            Let me rephrase.

            I think that if we are issuing top-down directives from The People In Authority, it is better to have “THOU SHALT NOT X!” types of directives rather than “THOU SHALT Y!” kinds of directives.

            The rules that say “don’t do a particular thing” (whatever the thing is) are more likely to work in a society than one that says “do a particular thing”.

            And the definition that I’m using is that “don’t do X” rules are “negative” rules and the rules that say “do X” are positive rules.

            I’m not using negative/positive judgmentally. Just if they’re saying “don’t” or “do”.Report

  11. Avatar Kim says:

    I’ma throw a stone:
    How does someone get rich these days?
    By redistributing wealth from those less advantaged than themselves, to their own pockets (brin and gates excepted, they actually created new wealth)

    Redistribution of wealth, often unfairly, is not merely something created by government.Report

    • Avatar North says:

      I’ma politely disagree.
      There’s Jobs for instance, everyone who works in manufacturing, primary industry, the service industry… heck really the only people your indictment hits are public servants, public contractors and arguably large portions of the Finance industry (tho they claim to be creating value).Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        manufacturers create money by moving corporations overseas, thus artificially lowering the cost of business by stealing from their employees. The service industry creates wealth these days by building stores they don’t need…
        FIRE is FIRE for a reason — many public servants create Something Of Value, even if it’s only a fairer marketplace, or seeing that old people are cheated out of their wealth.
        [public contractors otoh, seem to be mostly “people with money to bribe the pols”]Report

        • Avatar North says:

          Manufacturers create wealth, not money though that often follows, by moving overseas which improves the lives of workers overseas by providing employment at paying jobs(marginally) and improves the lot of those here by providing manufactured goods at lower prices and wider availability. I suspect that the millions of workers in the Far East who have been lifted from bone crushing poverty to conditions rapidly approaching modern comfort would not agree with your characterization.

          The service industry creates wealth by offering experiences to people who enjoy them: meals, entertainment or adventure for instance. Store building is more commonly the province of retail which partners with manufacturing to deliver value through distribution of goods and even there how precisely are you defining stores that are not needed? If the store is unneeded then no one visits it and it closes. If it is patronized sufficiently to stay in business then it is, by definition, at least wanted and likely needed as well.

          Some public servants do indeed maintain the orderly foundation of society that the other industries require to operate. Plenty of others, however, sustain cartels, monopolies and barriers to entry that allow private companies and individuals to gouge and exploit their fellows. Other public servants involve themselves in nannying and regulating that, even when it isn’t harmfully suppressing people or harming efficiency still gives good government a bad name and poisons its reputation in the minds of the public.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            North,
            conceding your point: meant wealth.

            Workers in the Far East, specifically China, are predominantly female (I’ve got photos!) because they are easier to intimidate into doing what the Man wants. They are being systematically robbed of income that they deserve.

            Retail artificially bloats their wealth (as determined by the stock market), via opening stores in stupid places that have no long term viability. The man in charge walks away with fat bonuses, and goes on to wreck other companies (you do recall Circuit City, I trust?)Report

            • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

              This is not glaringly different from the U.S. at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

              Give it some time.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                The difference is that the corporations this time think they’ve fixed that problem, with propaganda and the demise of a non-corporate gov’tReport

              • Avatar North says:

                Corporations always think they’ve fixed a given problem. They’re by nature near sighted lumbering beasts. Which is why historically they typically end up on their asses as younger nimbler companies steal their lunches. Then those company’s get complacent and the cycle repeats itself.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                The trick is, each iteration comes with an upheaval, which nobody likes.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                I like upheaval! Can we kill Creative now? Plz!Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                The recently biggest company in the world is about to explode.

                It’s going to explode a hell of a lot bigger than its erstwhile rival did.Report

            • Avatar North says:

              Your examples are fine, but they’re only snap shots. One rotten egg does not suppose that all eggs are rotten.
              Women workers or otherwise in China are, in some ways nay many, exploited. Yet their lot has still improved from their prior state: starvation and war. I concur that their situation has a long way to go before they would approach conditions that either of us would consider acceptable, but their trajectory is a positive one.
              To your china example I would counter with South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan. Previously their lot was misery, poverty and starvation; now they are living in conditions that are enormously improved. Any one of those nations represents millions of people lifted out of the most abject of poverty and blows out of the water any comparable aid project or direct government intervention in the history of our species. This isn’t to say that this improvement is cost free, that government aid programs are bad or that corporations are angels but surely it must give pause to anyone who wishes to issue blanket denunciations on even the majority of the manufacturing industry.

              Circuit city, Borders etc… are all examples of companies being badly run and poorly adapting to the changing marketplace. I don’t see how they’re an example of retail in general or of malfeasance on the retail industry. Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Trader Joes all are retailers. As for long term viability, well people are mercurial and when it comes to retail I’m skeptical that there’s even such a thing as a long term viable retail store to be frank.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                The incentives for Retail CEOs have been twisted to the point that many care not a whit for the long term viability of their companies.

                China’s well countered by South Korea (et alia), but it’s important to note that they got there internally first (through investment in science/science education), not via external action (corporations coming in).

                Starbucks is the example you want, if you want to counter the “Corporations Are Bad to The South” argument.

                I’d give woot and Costco the nod, if we want long term viability for retail.

                I’m not trying to give proof for general malfeasance in the retail industry… I’m trying to give proof for the incentives of the stock market creating conditions that guarantee “bad actors” — everything from Monsanto declaring war on heirloom varietals, to “death by spreadsheet” to that Circuit City fiasco to blatant stealing of private investor’s money by Wall Street Brokers.

                It’s not the stock market’s fault. It’s the hedge funds. It is far easier to destroy than create — they just figured out how to make destruction profitable for them.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                Okay, that’s all well and good. But at this point we’ve rolled your original assertion;
                That people today only get rich by redistributing wealth from those less advantaged than themselves, to their own pockets; back to an assertion that some people in Finance only get rich by redistributing wealth from those less advantaged than themselves into their own pockets which seems like a more modest and defensible position.

                Oh and also I’m happy to have an enthusiastic lefty commenting regularly around the League.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                I’m not forgetting her rank dishonesties on the other thread. Perhaps you hadn’t seen them?Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Ah, I haven’t been here in a while. Based on her arguments here, I’m not surprised Kim’s already racked up a record of dishonesty.

                That’s pretty much why I don’t hang out here that often. You have lots of good commenters here, people I really respect, but I always find myself engaged in pointless arguments with the handful of liars and idiots who pollute this fine blog.

                I’m all for a firm and vigorous banning policy–it’s the only way to keep the debate at an intelligent level, since anyone who can manage to learn to send an email suddenly thinks they actually know something other than the inside of their own rectum.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                I hadn’t been following that thread closely I’ll admit. The League’s kindof been on fire for a while now, it’s really great but I have to work during the days too.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                Jason and James, from my brief reading it isn’t looking great but I’m short on time and this is a limited data set so I’d reccomend a conscious choice to charitably assume errors and overexuberance rather than outright malice or intent to deceive. Future commentary and conversations should allow us to determine more firmly one way or the other and everyone does deserve a chance to learn and grow in their commenting habits. The League is a demanding debate environment but people can rise to the challenge.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                @ James

                > That’s pretty much why I don’t
                > hang out here that often. You
                > have lots of good commenters
                > here, people I really respect,
                > but I always find myself
                > engaged in pointless arguments
                > with the handful of liars
                > and idiots who pollute this
                > fine blog.

                Hey, whose fault is that? Just ignore them. Or, if you can’t help yourself, set yourself a limit on engagement and call it a day.

                I feed trolls occasionally. I hunt them occasionally, too. But there’s plenty of other good stuff going on that you can ignore the drivebys.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                On two different issues, those of apple scabs causing cancer and Sony using tanks on people, she very clearly did not read the sources that she smugly waved in my face. In both of those cases, the sources said nothing like what she claimed.

                Now, it was wildly improbable that the only readily available source for Sony’s alleged aggression was in its own shareholders’ report. But I read the whole thing anyway, and it wasn’t there.

                I don’t take kindly to my trust being abused in that way.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Jason, I wouldn’t have thrown you the investor report if you weren’t having so much trouble finding it yourself. 😉 and, having read it, i was not claiming that they were producing heavy machinery…Report

              • Avatar North says:

                Perhaps in the interest of not going meta we consider a yellow card to have been waved and carry on?Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                Jason, I wouldn’t have thrown you the investor report if you weren’t having so much trouble finding it yourself. 😉 and, having read it, i was not claiming that they were producing heavy machinery…

                What?!? You said, and I quote:

                The fact that sony builds tanks shouldn’t be under discussion. but the source for that should be sony’s prospectus, which should detail their military engagements.

                And you said:

                a CEO must make the decision that creates the most profitable outcome for their shareholders.
                If that means attacking your enemies with tanks, they’ll authorize it (assuming they have the tanks, which Sony does. and uses).

                I asked you for a source demonstrating that Sony had or used tanks. You gave me this. It contains not a single word about tanks.

                So, I repeat: Give me a source for your claim, or accept my counter claim, namely that you’re lying.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Pat,

                Oh, I accept responsibility. That’s why I do disengage. Setting a limit on myself doesn’t work well–I don’t obey my own rule. Not coming here works much better.

                But, seriously, someone who claims without a smidgeon of evidence that Sony uses tanks? What possible value could such a person have to a conversation except as a warning about how hopeless the idea of deliberative democracy is?Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                past ten years, the only people getting rich were in the FIRE economy. [erm. my version of rich, to be clear, does not mean “is a millionaire.” I tend to think of folks like the waltons, the kochs, the gates, buffet as being rich. ]Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Bullshit, Kim. Give some data to back it up. Check out Inc.’s top 10 entrepreneurs of the past decade.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Apple is a brand, not someone actively creating new sources of productivity, but I’ll grant you some of those. Thx.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                Kim might not be exactly true, but the truth is that the FIRE sector of the economy went from approximately ~20% of the economy in the 80’s to about ~35% to ~40% of the economy pre-crash. So, the truth is, the much of the wealth created in the past ten to twenty years went to the FIRE sector.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                the truth is that the FIRE sector of the economy went from approximately ~20% of the economy in the 80?s to about ~35% to ~40% of the economy pre-crash. So, the truth is, the much of the wealth created in the past ten to twenty years went to the FIRE sector.

                Sorry, but that is a very misleading analysis. Just because the FIRE sector grew more rapidly than, say, the manufacturing sector does not mean all the activity was happening in the FIRE sector.

                It’s simple math. Let’s say a country’s economy was worth $100 at time 1. $99 of that was in manufacturing, the other $1 in FIRE. At time 2, the economy is worth $200, with $50 of that being FIRE. FIRE increased by 50 times, a 5,000% increase! Holy cow, look at all that activity over there! Meanwhile, manufacturing only increased 50%, a real sluggard by comparison. And yet manufacturing created just as much new wealth as FIRE.

                To take your words quite literally, sure FIRE created “much” of the wealth in the past decade, but “much” of it was not Kim’s argument–she said “only.”Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                And like I thought I said, I disagree with Kim. I haven’t said all the growth happened in the FIRE sector. I’m saying the fact that large chunks of the growth happened in the FIRE sector is a bad thing for the larger economy for a variety of reasons.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Eh, whatever. Easy claims to make, easy to “support” by pointing to the current economic meltdown, not so easy to demonstrate persuasively through a more rigorous analysis.

                People have been blaming the bankers and the “people who only move money around” for a long long time. The tendency is, while not entirely absent, distinctly less prevalent among people who actually study the workings of economies.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                Hey, if I’m not a lefty, then what am I? 😛Report

              • Avatar Jeff says:

                I realize that I don’t comment regularly (curses for having a job and a home life!), but hey!

                I’ve thought about starting a blog commenting on posts and comments here — all you all would be enthusiastically invited to comment. Would that be welcome or not?Report

        • Avatar James Hanley says:

          artificially lowering the cost of business by stealing from their employees

          “Stealing” from their employees? Your assumptions don’t allow for a sincere and honest debate.

          If my employer fires me and hires you, has he stolen from me?

          If he fires me and hires a recent immigrant from Vietnam to do the job, has he stolen from me?

          If he fires me and hires a Vietnamese guy in Vietnam to do the job, has he stolen from me?

          If the latter, and not either of the former, what really is different?Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            take a more extreme example: if your employer artificially pushes you into poverty, so that you’ll be forced to accept his job for a lower price, is he stealing from you?

            I’d argue yes, without qualifications.

            An employer has the right to hire the most desperate person with qualifications. But they do not have the right to manufacture desperate people… And, as a group, that is what they have done over the course of the last few years.

            “Productivity” is at an all time high (538 has the stats), because they are forcing salaried people to work longer hours, for less money. [n.b. when gates/PC improves productivity, it’s not stealing.]Report

            • Avatar James Hanley says:

              Kim,

              I noticed that you avoided my examples and my question and just returned to using a buzzword designed to invoke an emotional response–that’s why I say your assumptions do not allow for an open honest debate.

              What exactly is “artificial” here? What does “artificial “mean in this context, and why is any poverty I experience “artificial”?

              I don’t own the capital of the company I work for. Since I don’t have ownership of it, the only way I receive income from it is by trading my labor for that income. If the company no longer wants my labor, the exchange ends, and they have not stolen from me because I have no rights to the income unless I am exchanging something of value for it.

              And why does that necessarily impoverish me? If I have valuable skills others will pay me to give them my labor. Yes, I might have to take a pay cut, but nobody has an inherent right to continue at some given salary–I’m not being robbed if GloboCorp no longer values my services at the rate they formerly did.

              Let’s go back to my first question above: If GloboCorp fires me and hires you to do my job, because they think you can give them more value for the money, have they stolen from me?Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                a company who buys your land and then charges you an usurious amount of rent (extreme example), or who otherwise creates a monopoly in the area AND prevents you from moving to other areas.

                If American corporations in general have decided to collude, in order to pay their CEOs more and their workers less, would you consider that a problem?

                Returning to your first question: no, under the assumption that “the money” equals an “equivalent amount of money.”Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                > If American corporations in general
                > have decided to collude, in order to
                > pay their CEOs more and their
                > workers less, would you consider
                > that a problem?

                Collude?

                Yes.

                I don’t think they’re colluding, though. I think the way things work, it is systemic. But systemic anything isn’t proof of agency.

                But then I don’t believe in a Designer, either.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                would evidence of a systematic attempt to remove regulations regarding fair hiring provide enough evidence to convince you of collusion?

                [fwiw, i believe systematic devaluation of workers benefit to society, for no other reason than to increase profit margins, is a big freakin problem (if perhaps a very different problem…). Ford wanted to sell cars to his workers. Nowadays, few people can afford the products where they work].Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                > Would evidence of a systematic
                > attempt to remove regulations
                > regarding fair hiring provide
                > enough evidence to convince
                > you of collusion?

                Er, there are regulations regarding fair hiring of CEOs? That would surprise me.

                Attempting to remove “regulations regarding fair hiring” for their entire employee base seems to be a perfectly understandable approach from a corporate side.

                Note: I’m not arguing against such a regulation, myself. I’d have to know, specifically, which regulation you’re talking about before I would pass judgment either way on whether or not I thought it was a good idea.

                But attempting to get rid of regulations that provide unprofitable constraints on corporate behavior is pretty much what I expect corporations to do. If a bunch of them do it, that’s still not necessarily “collusion”.

                Now, you can argue that this is bad for overall society, but that’s something else to tackle.

                We have deliberately, and with great consideration, constructed a legal entity in the form of limited liability corporations with a specific purpose: to make profit.

                This in and of itself isn’t necessarily bad.

                But then expecting the thing that we created specifically for a purpose to start doing something else, orthogonal to that original purpose, seems downright silly.

                If you want to argue that we should get rid of corporations as legal entities, I’m on board with that discussion. There’s lots to be said for and against.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Patrick,
                one can rather conclusively prove collusion in terms of hiring of CEOs, via looking at boards of directors, and how many CEOs gain new companies shortly after having ruined their last ones. Furthermore, since boards of directors tend to be CEOs for other countries, I can amass some amount of evidence that American CEOs are being overpaid (versus German CEOs or Japanese ones).

                Patrick, I believe that the stock market actually defeats the initial objective of corporations (maximize profit), by incentivizing short term profit over long term investment.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                > One can rather conclusively
                > prove collusion in terms of
                > hiring of CEOs, via looking
                > at boards of directors, and
                > how many CEOs gain new
                > companies shortly after
                > having ruined their last ones.

                I think this is a very broad claim that probably isn’t supported by the evidence.

                I think it’s pretty obvious that people in the positions of “above middle management” have many ties… fiscal, personal, business, hobbies, you name it… with other people who are in the realm of “above middle management”.

                This can lead to lots of confirmation bias and lots and lots and lots of observer effect bias. Agreed, bad.

                From the outside, that looks like collusion. But for “collusion” to work, as verbiage, you have to assume pervasive, malicious, directed intent.

                I don’t see that. I see people routinely hiring people that they know from their golf club, or from conferences they attend, or because they know the guy or gal from their drinking club at Princeton or whatever.

                Now, admittedly, this isn’t a great way to hire a corporate leader. But this is *also* how most people get most other types of jobs, too.

                So I see this less as an engineered, systemic failure of corporate governance and more as a case of humans are bad at hiring people (or most precisely, they’re good at hiring people using proxies for value, and they’re bad at assessing the accuracy of those proxies).

                What’s the alternative? Elections? I’m not so sure that works better.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                Again, Kim has a point, but she’s not entirely right. The interlocking Boards of Directors mean that it’s often other CEO’s approving other CEO’s pay and as a result, it’s a partial reason why CEO pay has shot up so far.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            he’s stealing from you if he’s blackmailing the vietnamese guy into working 60 hours a week in America, and refuses to hire anyone who isn’t vietnamese because it would decrease his profit margins.Report

            • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

              Seems to me he’s committing felony blackmail and if he’s stealing from anybody, he’s stealing from the Vietnamese guy.Report

            • Avatar James Hanley says:

              blackmailing the vietnamese guy into working 60 hours

              Whoa, Kim, more buzzwords–you are actively resisting an honest debate through your use of emotion-laden buzzwords.

              First, there was no assumption in my argument that the Vietnamese guy would be working 60 hours a week (or if he does, perhaps I was working 60 hours a week, too—as a matter of fact this particular week in the real world really is a 60+ hour week for me!). If the Vietnamese guy just does my job more productively than I do, is it stealing from me to hire him?

              Second, what if I’m a typical American slacker who doesn’t want to work very hard, and the Vietnamese guy is willing to work a lot harder than I am? When my sister was a hotel housekeeping manager in Yellowstone National Park, the American college-age workers always wanted to get off work early, while the Eastern European college-age workers kept coming to her asking if they could work overtime. So on what basis do you assume it’s blackmail?

              You do know that actual blackmail is illegal, right? So if an employer is truly, as a legal matter, blackmailing our hypothetical Vietnamese person into working 60 hour weeks, then the employer gets no defense from me.

              But what do you mean by “blackmail?” Labor for a paycheck is just another economic exchange, so if you’re saying that an employer who says, “this is a 60 hour a week job, and if you don’t like that we won’t buy your labor” is no more blackmailing someone than the car buyer who says, “I’ll pay $X for this car and no more, and by the way I want the heated leather seats thrown in for the same price, or I won’t buy your car.”

              Throwing in those normative, value-laden, words may feel good, but it doesn’t actually get us closer to a true understanding of what’s going on–it just allows us to avoid getting really serious about analyzing and finding the truth while filling us with a warm sense of moral righteousness.

              Life sucks when you’re out of a job–I know this from personal experience, and I remember times when I knew my temporary job was ending and I had no other job lined up and I was laying awake at night having panic attacks over how I was going to feed my children if something else didn’t come through soon. The shittiness of that position ain’t hypothetical to me! But nobody–no person, no corporation, no government, owed me a job, or a certain salary. Maybe we can argue that the government owed me support in that situation, but nobody owed me an actual job.

              If you want to talk about “theft,” think about what you’re proposing. You’re proposing that as an employee I have a right to continue receiving money from a company that can get more value for their dollar from someone other than me. Remember, the employer is purchasing our labor, so let’s consider another example of purchasing. Let’s say I sell cars, and you’re looking for a car. I have the ability to force you to pay more for a car than you think it’s worth, and to prevent you from buying that car from someone who will give you a better deal. Is that not a way of stealing from you?Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                … actual blackmail is supposed to be illegal, yes. Have you heard about the legal cases surrounding H1B visas?
                You might make a case that a company that hires someone with the understanding that he will work tons of overtime — or he will be sent back home (costing him money in moving costs, if nothing else), is in fact stealing from other workers who by virtue of their more secure status are less intimidatable.

                gonna throw out a more fringe case: What of finance workers, who will not get hired by wall street, unless they are in over their heads (living above their means?) This is a common device to encourage a stable workforce.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Kim,

                Where exactly is the blackmail in the Vietnamese case? For god’s sake, I said if it’s legal blackmail then of course I don’t defend it! I’m talking about cases that are not legal blackmail! Is there something you had in mind that you would call blackmail that the courts wouldn’t?

                As to finance workers, fuck them! Who gives a crap about them? Someone is so desperate to go work on Wall St. that they’ll live above their means (assuming there’s some reality to the claim that they’re forced to, and not just some fantastical interpretation going on here), that’s their own damn problem!

                And in your hypothetical about the guy hired “with the understanding that he will work tons of overtime” or be sent back to his country, you just admitted there’s an understanding between them in the hiring agreement! How is he being blackmailed in that case? If he willingly accepts a job he knows will require tons of overtime and is willing to undertake the effort to move to the U.S. for it, just where is the blackmail? Yeah, if the employer promises he’ll only have to work 40 hours a week, then when the guy gets here he’s asked to work 60 hours a week, we have a bait-and-switch, a case of fraud, and then I’m on your side. But that’s not what we’re talking about.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                “Where exactly is the blackmail in the Vietnamese case? For god’s sake, I said if it’s legal blackmail then of course I don’t defend it! I’m talking about cases that are not legal blackmail!”

                Because no true Scotsman would let himself be blackmailed like that, right?Report

          • Avatar MFarmer says:

            Kim, I mean Peggy, or is it Kim, anyway, Kim is a veritiable Leftist cliche machine.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck says:

      “How does someone get rich these days?
      By redistributing wealth from those less advantaged than themselves, to their own pockets (brin and gates excepted, they actually created new wealth)”

      aka “all rich people are bastards except these two guys I like”.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        … Carnegie was a bastard. But he didn’t get rich by wealth redistribution. The “landed rich” get rich by wealth redistribution, by greenbacking on their parents wealth. The self-made men created wealth… but there are very few really rich who got that way these days, because the landed rich tend to react rather badly to new people trying to join their club.Report

        • Avatar Just John says:

          Carnegie was a bastard, but not nearly the bastard that Frick was, who called in the Pinkertons where Carnegie would (some would argue) have been more accommodating of the needs/demands of his laborers. Fortunately it was the United States and neither Carnegie nor Frick nor any of the other robber barons were the state, even though they were able for a long time to capture the state, and Teddy Roosevelt and the early Progressives were able to come to power and even things out a bit.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck says:

          “Carnegie was a bastard. But he didn’t get rich by wealth redistribution.”

          uh, Carnegie was exactly the kind of robber-baron capitalist that Marx was bitching about, and if you had any consistency in your thought beyond “I wanna fight” you’d be lumping him in with the exploiters.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            exploiter? yah. but he damn well built his corporation from the ground up, himself. Man was SMART. I wouldn’t be HALF so angry at da rich if they were as smart as he was — for one thing, they wouldn’t be so overreaching. Carnegie knew when to stop. These kids? Dey got so much, dey panicked and now want it ALL.Report

            • Avatar DensityDuck says:

              He built it from the ground up…on the backs of poor laborers. The man practically invented union-busting. Again, I really don’t understand why you’re holding Carnegie up as some kind of capitalist exemplar (although given that you’re using him to knock down strawmen, so I guess this is an argument double fail.)Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                … because I want to draw the difference between the rich of the great depression, who paid for the hoovervilles themselves, and made sure they got the sanitation right, to the current rich, who couldn’t give two shits about anything other than stealing from veterans (via wealth redistribution) and “buying back” places like Acadia?Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                … it’s also a good excuse to tweak your tail. Sometimes people forget that others can have views that do not dovetail with a convenient political orientation.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                I’m pretty sure that people who lived in Johnstown around 1889 had some choice words to describe exactly how much Carnegie got “right”.Report

          • Avatar Jeff says:

            I see Carnegie in much the same light as Jefferson and his slaves — a right bastard during his life who made up for some of it by his bequests. Can I hate Carnegie and still appreciate the libraries and museums he left us?Report

  12. Avatar Steve S. says:

    “Now, I’ll be the first to admit that human nature needs reforming.”

    How would such a thing even be possible?Report

  13. Avatar Steve S. says:

    “virtually all practical schemes for the betterment of human nature, when undertaken by gods or governments, amount in the final analysis to placing one wholly unreformed individual in power over another, in one way or another. Sam Harris disappoints;”

    Sorry, this looks like a pretty gross overreaction to me. I read social democracy in the two Harris pieces, not the crypto-fascism you imply. Perhaps this is why libertarianism never gets anywhere; if you conflate an unremarkable appeal for social democracy with history’s worst totalitarian regimes, to quote John Lennon, “you ain’t gonna make it with anyone anyhow.”Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

      It’s interesting that you read a charge of crypto-fascism in the passage you quote, because it’s not what I intended. And by interesting, I mean puzzling.

      I meant to express skepticism about social democracy qua social democracy, not as a stalking horse for anything else. How might I have done this more clearly, by your lights?Report

      • Avatar Just John says:

        Is social democracy a scheme for the betterment of human nature? Not at all persuaded that’s the case.

        Regardless, crypto-fascism is clearly not what your words implied that Harris unintentionally advocates. I read your words to suggest that Harris is (unwittingly) advocating absolutism or totalitarianism.Report

        • Avatar MFarmer says:

          Do you agree with Harris?Report

        • Avatar Steve S. says:

          “I read your words to suggest that Harris is (unwittingly) advocating absolutism or totalitarianism.”

          The three terms are virtually interchangeable in common discourse but if you prefer one over the others that’s fine with me. Either way it’s a rather gross overreaction to Harris’s commonplace social views.Report

      • Avatar Steve S. says:

        “amount in the final analysis to placing one wholly unreformed individual in power over another”

        What does that mean?Report

        • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

          What I mean is that when someone intends to reform human nature, what they usually achieve is just a rearrangement of power, or worse, an expansion of it.Report

          • Avatar Steve S. says:

            “What I mean is that when someone intends to reform human nature”

            I tried to get at this with my first comment. Why do you think Harris is advocating for such a thing? How is it even possible in principle? Isn’t Harris saying something more like, “human nature being what it is, modern societies have to have some coercive mechanisms to control its worst tendencies”? Again, this is just fairly bland social democratic thinking to me, but maybe you find it more sinister?

            “they usually achieve is just a rearrangement of power, or worse, an expansion of it.”

            To me that statement is nothing like “one wholly unreformed individual in power over another.”Report

          • Avatar Michael Drew says:

            But (and this isn’t really central to your point about Harris’ adopting a worldly deity), if someone intends to reform the arrangement of power, does he have to agree that he is by virtue of that also attempting to reform human nature?Report