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(Original story by Mary Orndorff of The Birmingham News...)

"In Washington, the view is that the banks are to be regulated, and my view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks," he [incoming House Financial Services Committee chairman, Spencer Bachus] said."

Well, ain't that a kick?

Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
anosognosia
Sep. 11th, 2011 09:09 pm (UTC)
i_am_lane giving an Austrian-economic critique of the market = sign of apocalypse.
ccord
Sep. 12th, 2011 12:53 am (UTC)
Which of the Horsemen was the Austrian one again?
(Deleted comment)
anosognosia
Sep. 12th, 2011 06:07 am (UTC)
Well the question is- where is the work going? The US has run trade deficits constantly for thirty-six years in amounts up to 6% of GDP. So if we think of the country in strictly national terms, there is already ample demand for increased productivity (i.e. supply of work) just to meet present consumption.

Whether we call this capitalism... I don't know... the word is used in so many different senses. Capitalism as... classical liberal economy? laissez faire? dictatorship of the bourgeoisie? corporatism? the economics of capital as opposed to land and labour?
ccord
Sep. 12th, 2011 02:32 pm (UTC)
Perhaps the label of capitalism or not-capitalism is essentially unimportant. What I mean to say is that, from the point of view of a Platonic-Aristotelian political science, the label's are somewhat empty signifiers of an explicit legal structure or intent.

Now, from a post-Enlightenment vantage point, this way of classifying regimes, ranking them, and analyzing their health would seem to make sense. After all, as regimes are ranked in accordance with their ability to reflect the will, and a regime founded upon a collectivity of will (a general will, if you will) must be made explicit in some form of contract or compact. This must be done for the sake of making all of the individual wills cohere towards some given goal. It follows from this that deficiency in a regime is only a reflection of a deficiency in the explicitly established collective will. If voter turn-out is low, that's when we should all panic.

But let's pretend that we're not Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, or whathaveyou. How would a Platonist or a Peripatetic analyze a regime? I believe that they would do so by reference to the predominant soul-type, to the virtues or the vices which the regime inculcates, and only peripherally to the issue of the explicit laws, which are, at best, epiphenomenal and possibly even irrelevant. One of the virtues of this approach is that it allowed the philosophers to analyze, say, the health of Athens, as a function of the health of its citizens, and despite any apparent, outward sameness in the regime from one generation of the next. The Athens of Marathon, was not the Athens of Pericles, was not the Athens of Creon... in spite of the label "democracy".

George Grant remarked on a few occasions that what kept the Canadian and American regimes going for so long was not their explicit laws, which were liberal and therefor encouraged and harnessed the dynamism of vice as the best vehicle for collective advancement. Rather, it was the adherence of so many to strict Protestant (particularly Calvinist) mores, and the attendant virtues in moderation and self-sacrifice. Protestant virtues stabilized regimes which aimed at vice.

So, from that vantage, capitalism "works" as long as there is a substantial number of individuals who don't adhere to its logic as a moral guide. I'm sort of reminded of the fates of Cephalus and Polemarchus from The Republic.
(Deleted comment)
ccord
Sep. 13th, 2011 02:41 pm (UTC)
What I envision is a system of government that would work for the people. A government of the people, by the people, with the aim of society to be the betterment of all people.

No doubt, but that still leaves the problem of spiritual order as opposed to institutional organization. I.e. good people to make good institutions effective. Good laws can encourage the good, the same way that bad laws can encourage the bad. But, ultimately, good laws can't make saints of axe-murderers, nor bad laws make axe-murderers out of saints.

The significant problem here, it seems to me, is that a culture of vice (if you will) has become socially effective, and has been gradually been displacing whatever virtues the previous cultures possessed without replacing them to a significant degree. "Capitalism", like most if not all "-isms", is a dogma after all, and one which in current practice involves fidelity to all sorts of half-baked concepts of progressivism, rationalism, social Darwinism, and so on. Like all "-isms" which have arisen since the Enlightenment, adherence to capitalism involves the self-assertive imposition of a sort of second reality over and before reality as given. To be a capitalist, no less than to be a true Marxist or Randian, presupposes the libidinous will to deform reality rather than be formed by it.

Now, this sort of pathology seems rather difficult to deal with, especially as the long-term problem is not any particular "-ism" in itself, but rather the whole "-ism" complex, and the habituation of moderns to deforming reality in such a way.
(Deleted comment)
ccord
Sep. 14th, 2011 01:06 am (UTC)
My legal advisers tell me that I cannot run deontological reeducation camps. I say faugh! to them.

Well, Sophists have ever been known to carry the status quo...

I have considered this question before. At some level I'm sympathetic with the Marxist argument... with a bit of a Nietzschean flourish that out current values were a direct response to communalistic values that flourished post-war.

Sympathetic to both Marx and Nietzsche? Either they make people with big hearts down there, or you guys actually lost the War to the Germans and didn't notice it. :-)

some degree of institutional force is necessary to ensure moral behavior.

No doubt. But I recall it being remarked that the among the chief signs of a disordered regime are a proliferation of doctors and lawyers. And to that bureaucrats and peace officers, and one could get the impression that organizing force is increasingly substituted for actual spiritual order.

The modern state can likely get away with this sort of thing for a much longer period of time than an ancient polis, in which the miracle of bureaucracy never quite unfolded. However, the caveat would be that bureaucracies are only efficient at organizing societies which are already disordered and thus susceptible to organization -- they require a certain amount of social deracination and atomization to do their work well. Essentially, they thrive in a sea of adults who are childlike in their lack of prudence and moderation, to say nothing of other virtues.

I would suggest a rigorous education in virtue ethics, but that reminds me too much of Huxley's "Brave New World."

Well, a nice compromise might be to simply resuscitate the good ole' fashion liberal arts education.
anosognosia
Sep. 15th, 2011 07:52 am (UTC)
"Well, a nice compromise might be to simply resuscitate the good ole' fashion liberal arts education."

Is this the practical upshot here? Do find with this line of thought the place of religion and art for politics?
ccord
Sep. 15th, 2011 02:59 pm (UTC)
At best, I'd think that liberal arts education would be "a" practical upshot, rather than "the". Religion certainly still has a place in North American societies, but it's easier to say that they are cohering in spite of issues of religion, rather than because of them.

What I mean by that of course, is that neither the U.S.A. nor Canada has been completely torn apart by the slap-fights between Biblical literalists, fundamentalists, and Scriptual fideists on the one side, and of last men, new atheists, and positivists on the other. Since these slap-fights have become inseparable from the issue of "religion" in the minds of North Americans, it hasn't been acting as much of an ordering force for countries as a whole. Which is not to say that it couldn't, but conditions would have to change quite a bit.

As for art... Well, it would depend on the art, wouldn't it? Maybe more to the point, it would depend on whether you mean art as an object of passive experience, or art as a practice. The former lends itself very easily to the logic of consumption for the sake of diversion (though not necessarily so, obviously). I'd hold out more hope for the later, I think. More exposure to doing arts would contribute something to kids becoming adults with some substance.
anosognosia
Sep. 17th, 2011 03:58 am (UTC)
"Religion certainly still has a place in North American societies, but it's easier to say that they are cohering in spite of issues of religion, rather than because of them."

As a philosopher, I regret the implication that my remark had any significant connections to what actually goes on in history.

"Since these slap-fights have become inseparable from the issue of 'religion' in the minds of North Americans, it hasn't been acting as much of an ordering force for countries as a whole."

I'm not sure that these groups are so different after all, or that their slap-fights are all that divisive--rather enacting collusion over deeper points of agreement.

"As for art... Well, it would depend on the art, wouldn't it? Maybe more to the point, it would depend on whether you mean art as an object of passive experience, or art as a practice. The former lends itself very easily to the logic of consumption for the sake of diversion (though not necessarily so, obviously). I'd hold out more hope for the later, I think. More exposure to doing arts would contribute something to kids becoming adults with some substance."

Yes, this is just what I mean. Even experiencing art, artfully done, is doing art I'd like to demand; passive experiencing I'd say is more leisure than poetics, in Aristotle's senses.
ccord
Sep. 12th, 2011 02:03 pm (UTC)
That would mean that we would need to heavily subsidize health care, education and housing, but with a price tag: healthy adults would be required to work. If they cannot find private employment, they should be used for public works like infrastructure improvement, resource harvesting, farming, etc. In short, this unmanaged use of resources works (after a fashion) for industrial societies, but in a post-industrial, resource-scarce world, we need central economic planning and a democratically-managed economy that provides all essential services for its citizens. We simply cannot tolerate high income inequality any more. The privilege of "wealth" in private hands and a "rich" class simply cannot continue to exist in a world rapidly being depleted of resources and space by overpopulation.

Ah, skipping past soft fascism straight to totalitarianism. I like the cut of your jib, son!
(Deleted comment)
ccord
Sep. 13th, 2011 02:47 pm (UTC)
By "our society", I shall assume that you mean Texas.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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