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Absolutes

Mapraputa Is
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"Natural rights" -- as I understood them so far, they are rights to survive and to do what humans are damn pleased to do for their own happiness [an abrupt stop here, rest to be discussed later]. In this understanding "natural rights" of humans aren't different from "natural rights" of animals in that they are simply what animals (or humans) "naturally" do. If you lift a stone and then let it go, it will fall down. This is a "natural right" of a stone to fall down being left on its own. It is a "natural right" of humans to pursuit "comfort and happiness" -- I am not going to argue with this part.
Now about what is here after an abrupt stop -- humans aren't animals and their "natural rights" end (unlike those of wild animals) where other human's rights start to interfere. But here we are in a highly questionable territory and this is a nothing but a playground for relativism.
So what are your "absolutes"?
According to my best understanding so far, your idea is that if humans were somehow exposed to all existent forms of "human rights", and if humans were somehow free to make their choice, the majority would make the same choice the USA made.
"Absolutism" is that you do not believe that the result can be different.
I would call it "relativistic absolutism", because to make this choice, humans need to be exposed to different kinds of experience which is practically difficult, and due to psychological reasons earlier exposition can override all later forms of experience. There are probably a lot of other issues that complicate the picture. There are people in Russia who truly believe that Communism was much better than Democracy and who extol Stalin etc. In this sense "absolutes" aren't "absolute", they are "relativistic", you can hardly hope for 100% agreement. But that the majority would make another choice -- here I agree with you.


Uncontrolled vocabularies
"I try my best to make *all* my posts nice, even when I feel upset" -- Philippe Maquet
Mapraputa Is
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Here is a highly Googleable example of what religion does to people.
OMG, I would prefer to be an English literature major!
"I do not believe that the expectation that we, as men, choose to submit to our wives makes us in any way inferior to them or that they have an open right to control us. I also do not believe that God's expectation for men to submit to their wives gives the women the right to dominate, neglect or otherwise abuse their husbands.
It is part of God's order that men are submissive to their wives, not because women are better, but because the voluntary submission is an example of the humility and worship She expects from us. God expects us to submit to our wives, but She expects us to willingly do this our of obedience to Her. It is clear that we are to submit freely, by our personal choice, not because our wives have somehow forced us to do so."http://www.geocities.com/womninchrist/

P.S. Bolsheviks prohibited religion on the territory of the fUSSR which is GOOD!
P.P.S. Bolsheviks prohibited this kind of BS on the territory of the fUSSR, and this is what this kind of BS truly deserved.
[ February 02, 2003: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
Mapraputa Is
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
Just to get the ground rules straight, how far back are we allowed to go?

Are there any rules in this thread?
Can I talk about the Polish partition of the 1700's when Russia gobbled up huge chunks of Poland?
Why not? As far as I know, only posts with obvious and uncalled sexual content, or those offensive to people of certain nations are being removed from this forum. Regarding the Polish partition, you certainly can talk about it. The question is why would you do it... If *I* said that the Russian Empire, fUSSR (1917-1991), The Russian Federation (1991-...) only interfere with other countries when they did the same with our neighbors, then I would construe your point as a rebut. Now I am at loss what you are trying to say. Are you trying to revenge for spoiling "angel-like" image of the USA? If so, you better surrender now, because there are just too many evidences of otherwise...
The sad part is that the Bolsheviks weren't destroyed in 1918. A lot of suffering in the world would have been avoided if the Russian people hadn't allowed Stalin to get in power.
A-ha. Perhaps. But what do you think would happen to Europe if the Bolsheviks were destroyed in 1918? Russia was an agrarian country with predominantly illiterate population in 1917 when Bolsheviks took over. Who would stop Hittler? "Great" Britain? France? Maybe the USA? C'mon, you lost out to Vietnam in 1960-s, so how would you deal with Hittler, who was backed up by a half of Europe in 1940-s?
To fight a beast, it takes another beast. All European democracies only proved that with their impotence. Now, instead of being grateful to another beast for destroying Hittler, for doing all dirty and bloody job democracies couldn't do without risking to lose popularity = elections, you invent fantastical theories that Stalin planed to conquer the world with "his buddy" Hittler and you go so far to state that the USA "Saved the World".
Yeah, right. :roll:
And by the way, "Bolsheviks" means "majority" in Russian.
[ February 02, 2003: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
Mapraputa Is
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Thomas Paul: The sad part is that the Bolsheviks weren't destroyed in 1918.
Very sad. I am crying. To their credit, the Western democracies weren't indifferent. They tried hard, I must admit. 12 or so countries invaded Russia to help its own "White" Army to fight "Bolsheviks". They all lost out. Should I comment that "white" armies were professional and trained by all tsarist instituitions?
Tom, if you need another example of a "natural" choice a country made, I do not know what can be a better example. I can provide more evidences upon request. You can argue that "Bolsheviks" fooled the population, but the fact is, the USA did not have any problem to invade the country on the only ground the USA did not like their freaking choice.
[ February 02, 2003: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
Mapraputa Is
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
Can I talk about the Polish partition of the 1700's when Russia gobbled up huge chunks of Poland?

Mmm... You do not want me to start from here, do you?
Jason Menard
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MI: Hm... But how do you know it? Did your founding fathers write something on "crap in Mapraputa"? :roll:
Nah, it's self-evident.
MI: Regarding your quotes, I wont say anything about religious part of argument. There are a lot of reasons, but here is one. As a female...
In the context of our discussion, man refers to mankind, both males and females.
Jason Menard
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MI: "Natural rights" -- as I understood them so far, they are rights to survive and to do what humans are damn pleased to do for their own happiness [an abrupt stop here, rest to be discussed later]. In this understanding "natural rights" of humans aren't different from "natural rights" of animals in that they are simply what animals (or humans) "naturally" do.
Well maybe that's part of it. But if you go back and look atthe quotes I presented previously, much of what are "natural" rights aer intellectual rights. And since animals do not possess what we would generally refer to as intellect, this would make these rights uniquely human.
MI: If you lift a stone and then let it go, it will fall down. This is a "natural right" of a stone to fall down being left on its own.
I think I would call that a natural consequence of gravity. :roll:
MI: Now about what is here after an abrupt stop -- humans aren't animals and their "natural rights" end (unlike those of wild animals) where other human's rights start to interfere. But here we are in a highly questionable territory and this is a nothing but a playground for relativism.
While the interpretation of at what point natural rights are "injurious to the natural rights of others" may be subject interpretation, that man has or doesn't have unalienable rights is an absolute.
MI: So what are your "absolutes"?
That all man is created equal. You have not yet addressed this. The converse is that all man is not created equal. The key word in either case is created. Again this gets back to the natural condition of man and his inherent equality, a state which stems from creation and is independent of societal and environmental factors.
MI: According to my best understanding so far, your idea is that if humans were somehow exposed to all existent forms of "human rights", and if humans were somehow free to make their choice, the majority would make the same choice the USA made.
No I'm not saying this at all. I am merely supporting the assertion that all man is created equal and is endowed by virtue of creation with certain unalienable rights. The social choices each person would make given a set of circumstances don't seem relevant to that argument. In fact, I maintain that this idea is absolute independent of society and environment
[ February 02, 2003: Message edited by: Jason Menard ]
Mapraputa Is
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MI: Hm... But how do you know it? Did your founding fathers write something on "crap in Mapraputa"? :roll:
JM: Nah, it's self-evident.

"self-evident" because you read it in some of your founding fathers.
In the context of our discussion, man refers to mankind, both males and females.
Well, my confusion was why is it so...
Mapraputa Is
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JM: Well maybe that's part of it. But if you go back and look atthe quotes I presented previously, much of what are "natural" rights aer intellectual rights. And since animals do not possess what we would generally refer to as intellect, this would make these rights uniquely human.
I excluded "intellectual right" because earlier you said this:
Taking away all societal factors, and even what we might call genetic advantages and disadvantages, at the moment of creation, is there anything which makes one person inherently have more or less value than another person?
I understood your "at the moment of creation" as the moment somebody is born. Human intellect is a social phenomenon, children that were raised without any contact with humans do not develop intellect. So if we take away "all societal factors" than it doesn't make a lot of sense to talk about "intellectual rights". What did you mean by "at the moment of creation"?
While the interpretation of at what point natural rights are "injurious to the natural rights of others" may be subject interpretation, that man has or doesn't have unalienable rights is an absolute.
What do you mean "is an absolute"? Could you explain it with some other words?
That all man is created equal. You have not yet addressed this.
Because I do not understand what "is created" means and I do not understand what "equal" means. Well, I just remembered that the quote you gave understands "creation" in religious sense, but you seem understand it differently, based on these words of you: "Okay since we are talking about creation there is a certain religious/spiritual implication I think, but if there is I see it as secular."
In fact, I maintain that this idea is absolute independent of society and environment
Ah, so for you this is "objectively true", like laws of physics, for example? "Absolute" in this sense?
I was reading "Metaphors We Live By" book, and the auhors idea is that metaphor is not a poetical figure, or a device of the language, but it is an inherent feature of human intellect, this is how we understand complex phenomena. At the end of the book they attack the notion of "objective truth" in social matters (please, note that they talk only about "social truth", like "all man is created equal", not about 2+2=4)
"We do not believe that there is such a thing as objective (absolute and unconditional) truth, though it has been a long standing theme in Western culture that there is. We do believe that there are truths but think that the idea of truth need not be tied to the objectivist view. We believe that the idea that there is absolute objective truth is not only mistaken but socially and politically dangerous. As we have seen, truth is always relative to a conceptual system that is defined in large part by metaphor. Most of our metaphors have evolved in our culture over a long period, but many are imposed upon us by people in power - political leaders, religious leaders, business leaders, advertisers, the media, etc. In a culture where the myth ob objectivism is very much alive and truth is always absolute truth, the people who get to impose their metaphors on the culture get to define what we consider to be true - absolutely and objectively true."
George Lakoff, Mark Johnson. Metaphors We Live By.
frank davis
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
I was reading "Metaphors We Live By" book... At the end of the book they attack the notion of "objective truth" in social matters (please, note that they talk only about "social truth", like "all man is created equal", not about 2+2=4)
[/QB]

Why would objective truth exist in some areas but not in a social context? We don't dispute mathematical truths (but aren't they sort of tautological?) or the truths of physics such as Force=mass*acceleration (unless we want to argue that mass is social contruct, another issue). But aren't humans physical creatures subject to physical laws? Isn't it possible that humans have a distinct nature like all other animals and that due to that distinct nature certain statements about humans can be objectively proven? Is there or is there not such a thing a pyschological health (ignoring for the time being issues on measuring it)? If man has a distinct nature (he is after all distinct from other animals) then it is possible certain social environments are more, or possibly less, conducive to his pychological health. From that last sentence we can construct objective social truths in respect to those social environments that promote or destroy pychological health.
I believe most Marxists hold that man is entirely malleable by environmental forces. If I remember correctly, the Soviet Union tried to create what they called a new Soviet Man whose nature would be ideally suited to communism. They failed, but why? Was it from incorrect methods or a flawed premise?
Another issue would be morals, and I think that is what the debate about the phrase "all men being created equal" centers on. Morals cannot be proven objectively in a vacum. But, if the morals have a purpose, then they possibly can be objectively measured in respect to that purpose.
If we start with the reasonable axiom that morals should promote human life, then we can measure the effect of implementing such morals. Does the morality lead towards greater health (including pychologically) and happiness when followed or not? Again, at the present there are technical difficulties in measuring pyschological factors but this does not invalidate the main principle that moral and societal objective truths can be found.

[ February 03, 2003: Message edited by: herb slocomb ]
[ February 03, 2003: Message edited by: herb slocomb ]
Mapraputa Is
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Why would objective truth exist in some areas but not in a social context?
I think, because "social context" is often product of people's consensus. I remember reading this book, and it was quite a revelation, that there are, in fact, two cultures, male and female, each with its own built-in interpretation system. Often the same behavior *means* different things for different sexes. That's what Lakoff and Johnson mean by saying that there is no objective truth, only truths, and they always exist inside some interpretative system.
Or another interesting question, person X tells person Y "I love you". How can we prove it objectively? He/she can lie. Or just honestly fool him/herself. Or by "love" understand something different from what "love" is for person Y...
We don't dispute mathematical truths (but aren't they sort of tautological?)
If I am not mistaken, tautology would be A = A.
When instead we have A and B and we proved that A = B we added some knowledge we did not have before. This kind of truth is exactly what in logic is called "universal truth". But please note that this kind of "universal truth" has nothing to do with "reality", it's just symbolic games.
Where did I get all this profound knowledge, by the way... Ah, in this thread
But aren't humans physical creatures subject to physical laws? Isn't it possible that humans have a distinct nature like all other animals and that due to that distinct nature certain statements about humans can be objectively proven?
But then they would probably belong to "natural" sciences rather than "social".
[ February 04, 2003: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
Mapraputa Is
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I believe most Marxists hold that man is entirely malleable by environmental forces.
I am not sure about "entirely", but in the USSR they believed in this to the great degree. Are you going to deny it? Most of population in the USSR believed that communism is generally not so bad; of course, we also had something to complain about, but overall only a few people protested. It's the same here. Many people see the USA as a source of all goodness in the world, while a few dissidents like Noam Chomsky paint very different picture. For propaganda to be effective, it's sometimes only needs to omit certain facts, and to apply this tactics in constant manner.
If I remember correctly, the Soviet Union tried to create what they called a new Soviet Man whose nature would be ideally suited to communism. They failed, but why?
Why do you think they failed? They proclaimed that they did.. well, not that "we created", that such a "Soviet Man" was naturally developed. To be precise, as far as I remember, "Soviet Person" was used simply like a "citizen", or like "American" here. When I see "American Ingenuity" magazine in local grocery store, I cannot quit to be amazed how your propaganda is similar to Soviet. Actually, I do not remember anything like "Soviet Ingenuity"; "Soviet science" or "Soviet literature" - yes, but "Soviet Ingenuity"... Or when now it is being discussed whether to stop space expeditions, somebody said about "American spirit". You think, this is different from "Soviet Man"? Not at all. It may look weird to you, but only because it is alien. Not to mention about "great generation" who "saved the world"...
There is even more similarities between "Soviet" and "American", that I did not realize for a while. All these "American..." signs irritated me because I read them as nationalistic. Then I got an insight that in a multi-national country "American" symbolizes "super-nation unity", just like "Soviet" did, so this is not nationalistic, but "good".
More "loaded" term was "Soviet people" or "Soviet folk", this was designed to symbolized a society without classes.
Another detail, in the USSR (and I think it did not change since then) "we" was never used to refer to the country as a whole. I do not know why. It was always either "the USSR" or "Communistic party and Soviet People" or whatever, but not "we". I was puzzled when hear it in the US.
Was it from incorrect methods or a flawed premise?
I think, it worked beautifully.
Mapraputa Is
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Is there or is there not such a thing a pyschological health (ignoring for the time being issues on measuring it)? If man has a distinct nature (he is after all distinct from other animals) then it is possible certain social environments are more, or possibly less, conducive to his pychological health. From that last sentence we can construct objective social truths in respect to those social environments that promote or destroy pychological health.
If we start with the reasonable axiom that morals should promote human life, then we can measure the effect of implementing such morals. Does the morality lead towards greater health (including pychologically) and happiness when followed or not? Again, at the present there are technical difficulties in measuring pyschological factors but this does not invalidate the main principle that moral and societal objective truths can be found.


Well, I recently read an interesting article "Demography of terror", if I am not mistaken. I will be very vague, that's what I remember. The author claims that Western societies are individual-oriented, they basically value individual freedoms and happiness most. Accidentally or not, but these are countries with relatively low birth rate. Those opposed them do not appreciate individual as much, they survive on different level, a family or the whole society. These are often countries with high birth rate. From here we have suicidal bombers and other nice things. Talk about "greater health (including pychologically) and happiness"...
This is applicable to the USSR, by the way. In 1920-s birth rate was high, and the idea that the highest point of morale one can reach was precisely this -- to die for his/her country. In 1970-80 birth rate was already low, perhaps this among other factors contributed to the fall of Communism, I do not know. Not that it was the main factor, but perhaps when families start to have less children it's easier to appreciate individual rights.
frank davis
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
Why would objective truth exist in some areas but not in a social context?
I think, because "social context" is often product of people's consensus. That's what Lakoff and Johnson mean by saying that there is no objective truth, only truths, and they always exist inside some interpretative system.
Or another interesting question, person X tells person Y "I love you". How can we prove it objectively? He/she can lie. Or just honestly fool him/herself. Or by "love" understand something different from what "love" is for person Y...

Statements can be made about social institutions, social relationships, or social organizational structures that can be evaluated in terms of objective truth in relation to certain standards. This is important and I hope Lakoff and Johnson's thesis does not obscure it.
For example, take the statement that feudal and communistic societies are less economically productive economically than capitalistic societies with similar resources. This is a broad statement but we can make it more specific in an infinite number of ways by adding an infinite number of statements that are subsumed within that original statement. For example, capitalistic countries produce more cars per capita, such cars are more likely to start when the key is in the ignitiion, etc, etc. Issues of what to measure and technical difficulties in measurement are another issue.
Using that similar logic, we could also say that more people are happier under capitalism than communism. Accurately measuring happiness is another issue (pyschologists/sociologists often resort to surveys). Measuring is a technical difficulty in such a case, but not an absolute and impossible barrier to truth. Brainwave analysis, hormone analysis, etc, may yield much more accurate results that will improve over time.
The point is that important things can be proven with a significant, though broad degree of accuracy.
Now, making a statement that some societies are better than others does require a subjective choice of standards on which to evaluate. For instance, I could say that happiness and prosperity of the greatest number are the standards to determine which society is better.
I agree that such a statement is not totally objective. If this is what Lakoff and Johnson meant, then it is important to remember, but should never obscure the fact that many social truths can be objectively evaluated.
Regarding love, perhaps it is also a matter of measurement and definition. It could be defined more clearly (chemicals have been identified linked to those in love, brainwave states, etc) facilitating measurment.

We don't dispute mathematical truths (but aren't they sort of tautological?)
If I am not mistaken, tautology would be A = A.
When instead we have A and B and we proved that A = B we added some knowledge we did not have before. This kind of truth is exactly what in logic is called "universal truth". But please note that this kind of "universal truth" has nothing to do with "reality", it's just symbolic games.
Where did I get all this profound knowledge, by the way... Ah, in this thread

Yes, math is all symbolical games, tautological in the sense that A = A, and B is defined in terms of A, or both are defined in refernce to C, etc, e.g. The number 15 is defined in terms 1, 15 is 15 ones...

[qb]

But aren't humans physical creatures subject to physical laws? Isn't it possible that humans have a distinct nature like all other animals and that due to that distinct nature certain statements about humans can be objectively proven?
But then they would probably belong to "natural" sciences rather than "social".
[ February 04, 2003: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]

[/QB]

But brainwaves, hormones, brain chemicals, etc, can allow many pychological factors to be measured and therefore truths to be discovered. Pychological truths yield social truths.
[ February 04, 2003: Message edited by: herb slocomb ]
frank davis
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:

[b]Was it from incorrect methods or a flawed premise?

I think, it worked beautifully.

Where I live, in South Florida, dead bodies wash up on shore of the beach of people who were trying to flee communist Cuba. Funny how such migrations and attempted migrations are usually one way, i.e. people going from communistic to captialitic nations... Funny also how such people risk their life for such things.
If communism worked so beautifully why haven't more nations reverted back to communism after trying capitalism?
frank davis
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
[QBThat all man is created equal. You have not yet addressed this.
Because I do not understand what "is created" means and I do not understand what "equal" means. [QB]


My interpretation of "equal" as a US citizen is that that this meant an equality of rights and equality under the law in regards to all men. This is more clearly illustrated in contrast to other civilizations of the past and present where status, such as nobility, exempted some people entirely from any legal restraint, duties and obligations, and others, such as slaves, had nearly no rights. This idea of equality before the law had roots in England's historic and unique Magna Carta whereby the king himself became subject to law.
The idea of equality as implemented in US history clearly had some flaws and inconsistencies. Never the less, it was an important continuation of a trend that has grown ever more in scope through the years to its present flowering. The Magna Carta possibly had a signifcant, pervasive, long lasting yet very subtle impact on the English speaking peoples. The associated concept of objective laws, combined with the protection of all men by such laws, led to a widespread respect and love of the abstract idea of The Law. This has diminished in recent history, yet faint echos may still exist.
For example, compare the former colonies of the two formerly great colonial empires of Spain and England. In one case we find the colonies have matured into stable, relativley properous societies. In another we find more corruption at the governmental levels, more poverty, and less stability. Many factors are involved of course, but both empires had a large number of colonies geographically dispersed and the broad outlines of the differences between the two are fairly obvious. I merely postulate this one factor as somehow being involved as a debateable hypothesis.

In another related vein, we can simply regard this equality as an agreement that seems to work very well for those societies that seriously try to implement it. There is no need to prove that equality exists in an objective sense, but more importantly we could objectively determine that where such an agreement is made such societies tend to be more prosperous, its citizens nore happy, or any other of a number things that can or could possibly be measured...
[ February 04, 2003: Message edited by: herb slocomb ]
Mapraputa Is
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Statements can be made about social institutions, social relationships, or social organizational structures that can be evaluated in terms of objective truth in relation to certain standards. This is important and I hope Lakoff and Johnson's thesis does not obscure it.
As I understood, they do not disagree with you. They do not say that there is no truth at all, only that it's always relative to some interpretative system (you can call them "standards", of course).
For example, take the statement that feudal and communistic societies are less economically productive economically than capitalistic societies with similar resources. This is a broad statement but we can make it more specific in an infinite number of ways by adding an infinite number of statements that are subsumed within that original statement.
Subsumed... Me feeling is that when we make it more specific, it starts to fall apart. That communism is the next stage after capitalism is communistic BS, of course. The best account of what communism is in practice, was that it's an attempt of countries that started industrialization late to catch up with more advanced countries. But how can they do it? If they open their market, there are very good chances that their infant industry will not be able to compete. Most likely they will follow well-known path of Third World countries. There is a simple answer: close the market. Of course, this will work well only for big enough country, with significant amounts of natural resources, which countries could form their own "world" (Russia, China...).
It is said that in Russia communists were building capitalism but by more severe means and, therefore, faster, than capitalism itself could do. They forces peasant population to move to cities to work on factories, they put women to work, they artificially kept low standards of life so they could invest more money into industry development. To compare the USSR or China to other capitalistic countries is not fair. They did not start from the same level. It makes more sense to compare them to themselves decade or so ago. I know that in the USSR life standards improved significantly from generation to generation. My mother told me that when she was a child, they did not have electricity and used chunks of wood for lighting. Her father had 2 or 3 classes of education, and she got a college degree.
Then, if to look at the picture at global level...
"According to US intelligence, the Soviet Union poured about 80 billion dollars into Eastern Europe in the 1970-s. The situation has been quite different in Latin America. Between 1982 and 1987, about150 billion dollars were transferred from Latin America to the West. <...> The effect in Central America have been particularly awful, but the same is true throughout Latin America - there's rampant poverty, malnutrition, infant mortality, environmental destruction, state terror, and a collapse of living standards to the level of decades ago."
Noam Chomsky. "What uncle Sam really wants".
[ February 05, 2003: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
Mapraputa Is
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Using that similar logic, we could also say that more people are happier under capitalism than communism. Accurately measuring happiness is another issue (pyschologists/sociologists often resort to surveys). Measuring is a technical difficulty in such a case, but not an absolute and impossible barrier to truth.

Hm... How do you know that "more people are happier under capitalism than communism"? If you think about Cuba - then maybe, I do not know too much about Cuba really. But to say people were particularly unhappy in the USSR... For one thing, they felt more socially protected. There wasn't such thing as unemployment, medical assistance and education were free etc. It's hard to compare two different countries, but if to compare communistic Russia to where it is now... Excuse me. When "perestroyka" only started, we also thought like you that capitalism is our bright future. Turned out, capitalism is bright future only for "First World". Other march to the Third World, and it isn't bright at all there.
"Decisive reforms in Russia started in 1992 and were accompanied by a fall in officially estimated output that continued uninterrupted till 1997, resulting in a cumulative decline of Russia’s GDP of 40 percent since 1991."
Irina Dolinskaya. "Explaining Russia’s Output Collapse"
Mapraputa Is
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If communism worked so beautifully why haven't more nations reverted back to communism after trying capitalism?
It worked for its time, (I am only talking about the USSR) it fulfilled its mission, and basically it worked out its potential. Why the country cannot transit to something more meaningful, frankly I do not know.
Regarding why "haven't more nations reverted back to communism", I was surprised to hear from Latino people that when the USSR existed, they actually look at I as an example of an alternative way of development. Wasn't it the USA who tried to shoot down communism?
"The assertions of Communist dominance in the Guatemalan government before the coup still seem to serve to many as a justification for what occurred. Pres. Eisenhower claimed at the Illinois State Fair that, "(i)n Guatemala, the people of the region rose up and rejected the Communist doctrine..." (Immerman, pg.178) Yet the evidence shows otherwise. Even after the coup resulted in the capture of extensive collections of documents, which were reviewed by the CIA, precious little evidence of Communist participation in the government was revealed that wasn’t already public knowledge.(Immerman, pg. 183-185) To put it simply, the Communists were operating as a legal participant in a democratic system. It was the CIA that transgressed the rule of law.
Immediately after the coup, both houses of Congress passed resolutions (unanimously, except for a single vote) stating that the US would not tolerate Communism in the hemisphere. It was a thinly veiled threat to anyone else contemplating progressive changes in their countries that might displease the US.(Immerman, pg. 174)"
http://www.newspoetry.com/1999/991226.html
frank davis
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
Statements can be made about social institutions, social relationships, or social organizational structures that can be evaluated in terms of objective truth in relation to certain standards. This is important and I hope Lakoff and Johnson's thesis does not obscure it.
As I understood, they do not disagree with you. They do not say that there is no truth at all, only that it's always relative to some interpretative system (you can call them "standards", of course).
For example, take the statement that feudal and communistic societies are less economically productive economically than capitalistic societies with similar resources. This is a broad statement but we can make it more specific in an infinite number of ways by adding an infinite number of statements that are subsumed within that original statement.
Subsumed... Me feeling is that when we make it more specific, it starts to fall apart.

Exactly the opposite, and I gave several examples as samples of "specifics" that could be objectivley measured to support my point. No doubt there are some specifics that are contrary to the general assertion, but the overwhelming number of specifics show that capitalistic countries outperform communistic countries by nearly every standard of productivity imaginable.

Then, if to look at the picture at global level...
"According to US intelligence, the Soviet Union poured about 80 billion dollars into Eastern Europe in the 1970-s. The situation has been quite different in Latin America. Between 1982 and 1987, about150 billion dollars were transferred from Latin America to the West. <...> The effect in Central America have been particularly awful, but the same is true throughout Latin America - there's rampant poverty, malnutrition, infant mortality, environmental destruction, state terror, and a collapse of living standards to the level of decades ago."
Noam Chomsky. "What uncle Sam really wants".
[ February 05, 2003: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]

What are we trying to assert here, that the USSR was a great benefactor and the US had/has a systematic campaign to destroy Latin America?. The original topic I thought was objective social truths. I gave what I thought was a non-controversial point regarding economic productivity of capitalistic nations (Marx was even in awe of this ability). This is a statement on social organization which I thought might be regarded as a social truth. The point you and Noam assert is not clear enough to me from a cause/effect relation, or one of motivation, or in regards to numerous other factors, that I could begin to answer it.
Regarding the money transfers: Yes, no doubt the USSR supported the secret police and military of Eastern European Communistic countries to help them suppress, imprison, and kill their own people. There is no real dispute on that. Neither do I see the problem with exporting needed goods to Latin America from the US. Also, investors in Latin America (and around the world) invested heavily in US stocks and real estate during that same time period. I see nothing wrong with that. Additionally, many Latin American's simply moved their saving to American banks during political instability in the region.
Note also that Latin American countries have always had drastic flucuations in their economies since they often are unusually dependent on agricultural commodities whose markets flucuate.
[ February 05, 2003: Message edited by: herb slocomb ]
frank davis
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
The best account of what communism is in practice, was that it's an attempt of countries that started industrialization late to catch up with more advanced countries. ]

Ah, yes, communism in practice. Millions murdered, the rest living in dictatorships where to voice dissent would risk death, and a standard of living, even 60+ years after a revolution far below Western countries.
"Communism did kill, Courtois and his fellow historians demonstrate, with ruthless efficiency: 25 million in Russia during the Bolshevik and Stalinist eras, perhaps 65 million in China under the eyes of Mao Zedong, 2 million in Cambodia, millions more Africa, Eastern Europe, and Latin America--an astonishingly high toll of victims. This freely expressed penchant for homicide, Courtois maintains, was no accident, but an integral trait of a philosophy, and a practical politics, that promised to erase class distinctions by erasing classes and the living humans that populated them.
--Gregory McNamee on Black Book of Communism
If you want to justify such widespread murder of MILLIONS by giving the excuse of "industrialization", then some of the blood should stain your hands as well.


But how can they do it? If they open their market, there are very good chances that their infant industry will not be able to compete. Most likely they will follow well-known path of Third World countries. [ February 05, 2003: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]


South Korea has risen quite far and very fast without murdering large segments of citizens, and so have other countries who have rejected communism in favor of capitalism. In fact the contrast between North Korea (millions starving now as we speak) and South Korea is a classic example. The contrast East and West Germany was another classic example. Communism sucks and it can be objectively proven.
frank davis
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
Using that similar logic, we could also say that more people are happier under capitalism than communism. Accurately measuring happiness is another issue (pyschologists/sociologists often resort to surveys). Measuring is a technical difficulty in such a case, but not an absolute and impossible barrier to truth.

Hm... How do you know that "more people are happier under capitalism than communism"?

The issue I was addressing was whether social truths could be objectively proven, not that I had proven them. I'm saying it is possible or least theorectically possible to prove such a things.
frank davis
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
If communism worked so beautifully why haven't more nations reverted back to communism after trying capitalism?
It worked for its time, (I am only talking about the USSR) it fulfilled its mission, and basically it worked out its potential.

25 million citizens of the USSR/Russia were killed as a result of communism, is that an example of, as you say, "fullfilled its mission" ???
I find it hard to believe that someone would attempot to justify such a huge amount death and murder for the purpose of hypothetically accelerated industrialization. Other countries have advanced very far and industrialized very quickly without such an ocean of blood being spilled. As an example would be many Asian countries.
frank davis
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:

Regarding why "haven't more nations reverted back to communism", I was surprised to hear from Latino people that when the USSR existed, they actually look at I as an example of an alternative way of development.

Well depends on which Latinos you ask. Many thousands in Miami have had relatives murdered or imprisoned by Castro in Cuba. Having your relatives shot in front of you gives you a different perspective on things. The Latinos who have actually really lived under communism, like most people everywhere, have found that the fantasy is quite different than the reality.
Ashok Mash
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Excuse me for joining this thread at such a later stage, but please let me contribute my thoughts as someone who was brought up in a country where we have national parties that preach both communism and capitalism, and campaign against each other to win a democratic election!!
In India, we always had two major divisions in political groups. One is pro-Russia communist (Marxist, at times) parties and relatively capitalistic rightwing parties. The period when British ruled India is when political movements picked up momentum in India, for the immediate requirement, that is to put and end to British oppression and to win equal rights for everyone.
Then the most important political body was Indian National Congress, obviously attracted the elite (rich, land owners, businessmen etc) of the country into the mainstream political arena. Even though it had support of simplest men of the time, Gandhiji himself, this political body was later perceived as a party for the rich and the ruling. The poor and the hardworking class were then immediately attracted to the communist groups that were lead by a number of people who was attracted to the communist principles.
Needless to say communist parties immediately became as an eyesore, initially to British and later to Congress, and both did enough to stop them gaining roots in the common, working class Indians, but which eventually happened. And then, some of the communist groups turned to extremism, declared themselves 'naxalites' and took to killing the rich, whom they call 'capitalistic dogs'.
Long story short, moderate communist leaders, who chose to contest democratically, really believed (still believe) that communism is that magic system for peace and prosperity in India. And their examples where USSR, until it disintegrated into many countries. Now they look up to China as an example.
As far as I understand, 'Communism' is an excellent system, if implemented properly. But there is a certain degree of impracticality in implementing communism as it is defined. Corruption is the most devastating problem with communism, supported by the lack of transparency of the system. I guess Communism would work great if the country was full of model citizens who never cheat, never lie or were totally incorruptible. Map was right saying that there would be no family of two students with peptic ulcer and $60K debt if it were a communist system. But if it was a communist system as in history, a system lead by corrupt leaders abusing their position and power, the same two would be wasting their life waiting in front of a govt. office to buy get their annual ration of a pair of Nikes or a loaf of bread.
As we all know, capitalism basically shares the power that a communist leader enjoys to every citizen. But that comes at the cost of the protection that the other communism has to offer, that is like "you are free to decide about what to do with yourself, but then, you are own your own, your problems are your problems ? I cant do much but the very basic services".
IMHO, a "democratic communism", can improve a country like India a lot better. I am not sure about rest of the world, but I have a feeling that this wont hurt.
Sorry if this is a bit out of context to this thread, but just some random thoughts. Please do correct me if I am wrong.


[ flickr ]
frank davis
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Originally posted by Ashok Krishnan:
I guess Communism would work great if the country was full of model citizens who never cheat, never lie or were totally incorruptible.

You admit that communism will never "work great" since it requires an unrealistic fanatasy
concerning human nature. The history of many countries over the past 80+ years has proven you are correct in this statement. So, why propose any form or degree communism?
India still has a long way to go before it reaches full capitalism, why not go further towards a system that works rather than towards a system that has never, ever worked?
You mention China, but why has China been developing recently? Because of communism??? Ha!, because they are practical enough to begin overturning the stupidity of Marxist dogma. Private property is now allowed in China, they have a stock market also I believe, and they encourage foreign investors to build factories to exploit their workers who work for extremely low wages. Does this sound like communism? China is becoming more capitalistic, yet is still ruled by leaders very anti-democratic. Remember Tianemen Square massacre where they murdered thousands of unarmed citizens? You want India to be more like China? Not politically I hope, since they are anti-democratic, but perhaps economically? But economically China is becoming more captialistic every day...
Anonymous
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Map, I've noticed Jason and Thomas slowly giving up on you by page2 of this discussion... All men are created equal, dammit! :roll:
Shura
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Well, Thomas has a valid excuse - he is on vacations. Jason could leave this thread from solidarity, I suppose...
Frankly, I am terrified to think what I'll get for all I said here from Tom when he will be back
Shura, you did not outline your position on Communism What, I should defend our comrades alone?
frank davis
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Originally posted by <Shura Balaganov>:
Map, I've noticed Jason and Thomas slowly giving up on you by page2 of this discussion... All men are created equal, dammit! :roll:
Shura


Equality : The implementation of this concept in US society means an equal standing before the law as I mentioned earlier. At the time they are born, all US citizens are all equal to each other in respect to all the laws. Even Jeb Bush's daughter was punished under State law even though her daddy is the Governor. In world history such an event as that would be considered astounding.
The real question is why treat everyone equally?
We could say that its a matter of convenience - that societies that do that tend to be more peaceful, stable, and prosperous because of the reduced disputes and strife regarding legal inequality.
Or more importantly we could say that all men are equal in an almost metaphyscial way because they all belong to the same species. All men are men, none is a god, therefore by virtue of belonging to the same class they inherit identical rights.
I believe this is the strongest argument. Since all men belong to the same class, in what way would you justify treating them unequally at the moment of birth? Jason also pointed out the difficulties of adopting a postion opposite to equality.
I believe Ayn Rand (born in USSR by the way) makes the strongest case for the existence of moral absolutes and rights. The way I remember her argument is that the right to life is the fundamental right. There is equality in the right to life, and from that right all other rights proceed, such as the right to liberty and to act, and from that to own property (since to negate this right would infringe on the other rights previously mentioned).
Jason Menard
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While our Constitution does provide equal protection under the law, as Herb states, the fact that the founding fathers said that all man was created equal and endowed by the creator with certain unalienable rights indicates that the Constitution is only in accordance with that which was pre-existing.
While there are several good religious arguments for the equality of man, I think a secular view that equality of man is demonstrated in the achievements of mankind (cultural, technological, etc...), regardless of society or environment (although some environments and societies are more condusive to these forms of expression), is in itself convincing of man's equality. I would refer you back to the previous Siegel quote though since he said it better than I can.
frank davis
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:

...
In the sharpest form these tendencies demonstrate themselves in a belief that the USA has right and some morale "advantage" to decide what kind of government will suit other countries better, and that the USA has a right to invade some countries and to replace their governments when it feels a need for it.

The people of Germany elected Hitler who then proceeded to roast people alive by the millions. Now, would you condemn the US if the US had proposed a regime change prior to actual declarations of war by Germany against the US?
Because Americans believe there are absolute rights, and that these are natural rights not dependent of governments, we could have justified our intervention to stop the violation of the rights of the Jews on humanitarian reasons to defend their rights. What reason can you give for intervention and regime change, or would you have been satisfied to sit back and to watch 6 million people roasted alive???
Similarily, the Soviets were responsible for more deaths than Nazi Germany (25 million deaths attributable to Soviets as mentioned in prior post) and it was also legitimate and humanitarian to propose regime change in that situation.
Similarily with Iraq there is moral justification for regime change...
Shura Balaganov
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Mapraputa Is: Shura, you did not outline your position on Communism What, I should defend our comrades alone?
Here comes the cavalry...
According to communism.org:
Communism - a classless society with no exploitation. No state machine used by one section of the population to oppress another section. No need for professional armies or police forces. No use of production for profit or exchange. Society runs in accord with the principle: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.
Communism sounds as good absolute as anything else. Pre-revolutionary Russia was a perfect ground for communistic ideas. Abundance of landlords and self-sustained villages I believe generated a sort of "communes". Even untill now most russians own "dachas" (i.e. summer houses) where they grow their own food.
The fact that it never worked doesn't mean communism is a throw-away idea. I think that, unfortunately, Lenin and his boys just didn't have enough experience to run a country. Once they killed economy, there was no turning away from totalitarism. Stalin was an inevitability, and then after that the system was set up to fail, because there was no way for smart charismatic leader to get to power.
Said all that...Eventhough I think Soviet Union was a tragedy for russian people, it came a thousand years too early. I am eager to see US's attempt to create a muslim democracy in Iraq :roll: It seems to be on the same level as building communism. Do you think you can take a monkey, put it into palace, and that monkey will civilize? Dream on.
Shura
[ February 05, 2003: Message edited by: Shura Balaganov ]

Any posted remarks that may or may not seem offensive, intrusive or politically incorrect are not truly so.
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Shura Balaganov
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herb slocomb, you are confusing 2 completely different things. In my previous post I quoted a definition of communism as political system, an ideal, an absolute. What you referring to as "comminism" in your posts about The USSR is, in fact, a completely different political system, which I would call "socialistic totalitarism".
Not as bad, but similar confusion is about calling US political system a "democracy", when in fact it is a democratic republic. Democracy in this case is another theoretical absolute.
Shura
Shura Balaganov
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And one more, on natural human rights and capitalism. It is a translation of an anecdote, so bare with me.
"Beautiful pacific island, perfect weather, palm trees, beach, etc. A native (N) rests under a banana tree. A businessman (B) comes to him, they talk:
B - what are you doing here?
N - I am waiting for that banana to drop so I can eat it.
B - Why don't you go up the tree and get it?
N - Why?
B - You can get more than one, and sell them on the market
N - ?
B - Then you buy a cart, get a lot more bananas and sell them too
N - ??
B - Well, then with all that money you can hire other natives to get bananas for you, and you can relax and do nothing
N - BUT I AM DOING NOTHING RIGHT NOW!"
Anyway, my point is that there are alternative ways to achieve happiness. It is quite funny to hear that a combination of capitalism+catholicims has produced the best society there is. In this pair capitalism has reformed considerably under the influence of other systems, including communism. An unless it continues to evolve, and catholicism changes as well, we will see a demise of just another empire, if 6 thousand years of history taught us anything.
Shura
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What are we trying to assert here, that the USSR was a great benefactor and the US had/has a systematic campaign to destroy Latin America?. The original topic I thought was objective social truths.
Actually Noam's point is exactly that "the US had/has a systematic campaign to destroy Latin America", but I wont support it, because I (unlike Noam) do not have enough facts to neither support not disprove it. My point is that you, (not you personally, rather the prevailing frame of mind in the USA), as it seems to me, tend to demonize communism and indulge capitalism. Let's grant each best what they deserved :roll:
The original topic was "absolutes", "objective social truths" - maybe.. As a subclass of "absolutes".
Regarding the money transfers: Yes, no doubt the USSR supported the secret police and military of Eastern European Communistic countries to help them suppress, imprison, and kill their own people. There is no real dispute on that.
Eh, it wasn't only this, right? And what about the USA collaborating with former Nazi's?
"The CIA, the State Department, and U.S. Army intelligence each created special programs for the specific purpose of bringing selected former Nazis and collaborators to the United States.... The government employed these men and women for their expertise in propaganda and psychological warfare, for work in American laboratories, and even as special guerrilla troops for deployment inside the USSR in the midst of a nuclear war.... Hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of such recruits were SS veterans; some had been officers of the bloody Sicherheitsdienst (SD), the Nazi party's security service."
"For over two years, John Loftus was a prosecutor in the Justice Department's Office of Special Investigations, where he investigated the war crimes and subsequent activities of the Belorussian Nazis. In this capacity he coordinated a highly-classified inquiry called the "Belarus Project." This book describes what Loftus uncovered from the files of several U.S. government agencies.
In 1948 a secret section of the State Department began recruiting Belorussian war criminals for guerrilla warfare inside the Soviet bloc. When the operations failed, these Nazi collaborators were allowed to settle in the U.S. As recently as 1978, government departments were lying to Congress in an effort to cover up this history. Loftus blew the whistle on CBS's "60 Minutes" in May 1982, drawing headlines across the nation"
http://www.namebase.org/books43.html
But you distracted me with your "secret police". We were talking about "outperforming", so I merely suggested to consider more broad (economical) picture. If we look at historical picture, than please do not forget that the USSR went trough 4 years of Civil war in 1920-s, and through 4 years of WWII in 1940-s that destroyed significant part of economy. From what I read, the WWII was, in fact, profitable to the USA. If I am mistaken, correct me.
Also, investors in Latin America (and around the world) invested heavily in US stocks and real estate during that same time period. I see nothing wrong with that. Additionally, many Latin American's simply moved their saving to American banks during political instability in the region.
Note also that Latin American countries have always had drastic flucuations in their economies since they often are unusually dependent on agricultural commodities whose markets flucuate.

Hm... so how about "prosperity" and "outperform"? Or does your "capitalism" includes only the USA and West European countries?
Mapraputa Is
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25 million citizens of the USSR/Russia were killed as a result of communism, is that an example of, as you say, "fullfilled its mission" ???
Herb, what if I said that the only mission of the US capitalism was to exterminate the native people of America? :roll:
"The first secretary of defense, General Henry Knox, said that what we're doing to the native population is worse than what the conquistadors did in Peru and Mexico. He said future historians will look at the "destruction" of these people - what would nowadays be called genocide - and paint the acts with "sable colors" (in other words, darkly).
This was known all the way through. Long after John Quincy Adams, the intellectual father of Manifest Destiny, left power, he became an opponent of both slavery and the policy toward the Indians. He said he'd been involved - along with the rest of them - in a crime of "extermination" of such enormity that surely God would punish them for these "heinous sins".
Noam Chomsky. The prosperous few and the restless many.
I find it hard to believe that someone would attempot to justify such a huge amount death and murder for the purpose of hypothetically accelerated industrialization.
I would too, but people do it all the time. It's only other guy's atrocities that look atrocious.
Other countries have advanced very far and industrialized very quickly without such an ocean of blood being spilled. As an example would be many Asian countries.
Who started both World Wars? Communists? Actually, Thomas Paul had a theory that Stalin is to blame for WWII. Fortunately, there was no communistic Russia when WWI started, otherwise I have no doubt who would be hold guilty.
Other countries have advanced very far and industrialized very quickly without such an ocean of blood being spilled. As an example would be many Asian countries.
Another example is Germany. It was both "capitalistic" and even kinda "democratic", when Hitler came to power, right?
I am not trying to say that communism was the nicest social regime people ever had, but do not try to cast it as the only "murderer" on the earth. Capitalism is pretty good at murdering also. Maybe not as good as communism, at least capitalism prefer to kill outside the home country, and communism for some reasons prefer to kill its own citizens.
[ February 06, 2003: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
Mapraputa Is
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Ah, yes, communism in practice. Millions murdered, the rest living in dictatorships where to voice dissent would risk death, and a standard of living, even 60+ years after a revolution far below Western countries.
I already explained about difference in starting point and about different history. "far below" - not as far as you imagine.
"Millions murdered" - when? In 1930-s? Have you ever heard that the Communist themselves condemned it in 1956? I do not recall "millions murdered" since then. And how it all ended?
"What was remarkable about the events in Eastern Europe in the 1980-s was that the imperial power simply backed off. Not only did the USSR permit popular movements to function, it actually encouraged them. There are few historical precedents for that.
The USSR even apologized for its past use of violence, and this too was unprecedented. US newspapers concluded that, because of the Russians admitted that the invasion of Afghanistan was a crime that violated international law, they were finally joining the civilised world. That's an interesting reaction. Imagine someone in the US media suggesting that maybe the United States ought to try to rise to the moral level of the Kremlin and admit that the attacks against Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia violated international law."
Noam Chomsky. "What uncle Sam really wants".
I justify murdering of millions no more than you justify genocide against Indians or Hitler's genocide. It's just when we talk about "communism" -- then it always "murdering". Not free education and not spaceships. But when we talk about "capitalism" - then it's not robbing colonies, not two World Wars and not supporting dictators in Chile and Guatemala, no, it's "prosperity" and all that.
Mapraputa Is
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Shura, thanks!
I was here alone against them all... :roll:
Mapraputa Is
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The real question is why treat everyone equally?
Well, for me the real question was what is so absolute about it, not that I was going to suggest the opposite. We know that people break these "absolutes" all the time. You brought up an example with Bush's daughter, there are many other that shows that no system of justice is perfect.
I believe Ayn Rand (born in USSR by the way) makes the strongest case for the existence of moral absolutes and rights. The way I remember her argument is that the right to life is the fundamental right. There is equality in the right to life, and from that right all other rights proceed, such as the right to liberty and to act, and from that to own property (since to negate this right would infringe on the other rights previously mentioned).
This sounds great in theory. However, when the USA bombed Afghanistan to fight terrorism, "rights to life" of certain unlucky Afghans were sacrificed. I do not criticize America for this, and you can bring up as many examples of Soviet or whoever else "atrocities" as you would like, if it will make you feel better. Or let's take another example: your own Marines now ready for God knows what... My point is that even "right to life" is not absolute in this less than perfect world. In a perfect world, this right would be absolute. But where is this world? So why to say that these rights are "absolute"? I just do not get it.
While there are several good religious arguments for the equality of man, I think a secular view that equality of man is demonstrated in the achievements of mankind (cultural, technological, etc...), regardless of society or environment (although some environments and societies are more condusive to these forms of expression), is in itself convincing of man's equality. I would refer you back to the previous Siegel quote though since he said it better than I can.
I like this quote from Jim better:
"For your other questions though, I'm with you - I don't see any "self-evident" absolute truths at all. The ones listed in the declaration, I espouse as "really good ideas" or "ideals we should strive for". E.g. all not created equal - but we should do our damnedest to give them equality of opportunity. I don't hold this to be "self-evident", but it's something I agree with, and I wouldn't want to be part of a society that isn't at least trying to achieve this goal. (Flawed though the implementation may be at times.)"
I guess, we will have to agree to disagree...
Mohanlal Karamchand
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