Sunday, May 30, 2021

Be aware of what it is that you obey - The diminishing returns of Economic Thinking

If you want to put America first, you've first got to figure out what in the hell it is that you think America is, and what it resulted from, and what it requires in order to continue to exist. If you don't want to bother with doing that, then you are condemning it to an ever deepening hell hole, and no matter what label you slap on it - be it Socialist, Democratic Socialist, 'Progressive' or Populist, Libertarian or Capitalist - it isn't going to alter the reality of what living under a govt without limits, will put into practice upon you.

And yes, you do have the power to do something, as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn advised: refuse the lie. Will you take that advice, or will you continue to participate in it, in order to 'do something!' on a grander scale? Some of you are seeing in your own minds right now exactly how to excuse yourself from having to refuse the lie - which is how we first got into the box we're still in - you have to resist the urge to turn away, because we can't climb out of the box, while at the same time reinforcing the sides that are trapping you within it! Your only power - the power which they most fear - is the power to make the Black Box vanish by no longer participating in it... but you have to exercise it.
Are you able to recognize the aliens around you?

What it is that 'they' are so desperate for you to participate in, was nailed by Douglas Murray in his book "The Madness of Crowds - Gender, Race and Identity":
"...although we are being aggravated by a tech world which is running faster than our legs are able to carry us to keep up with it, these wars are not being fought aimlessly. They are consistently being fought in a particular direction. And that direction has a purpose that is vast. The purpose - unknowing in some people, deliberate in others - is to embed a new metaphysics into our societies: a new religion, if you will."[emphasis mine]
To avoid participating in the lie, requires recognizing both the nature of the box, and the philosophy which the box was designed to hide from you, and if you can do that, you'll begin to see the need to identify what it in operation around you, and avoid participating in its spread. Again, as with the Capt. Kirk/Darth Vader meme-mashup mentioned in a previous post, it isn't necessary to have a deep knowledge of the subject, only to know that that deeper knowledge does exist, and that you can access it if the need arises. To come at this from a different direction, think of whistling the 'Duh-duh-duh-DUM!' of Beethoven's 5th Symphony - even though a concert violinist has an almost unimaginably more complex understanding of that melody and how to perform it, you both are easily able to recognize that what you whistled, was Beethoven's 5th.

So with that in mind, here's the melody of Philosophy which underlies every aspect of your life, here and now:
  • Metaphysics: What is, is - and is not. Reality truly exists, and what the lie claims, does not
  • Epistemology: How it is that you know what is, is as. How you are able to identify what you know, and to what degree of certainty
  • Ethics: What you ought to do about what is. Not a list of rules, but those principles which guide how you should act towards others, and yourself
  • Political Philosophy: How Society and its people should engage with each other. Should those essential individual rights identified in our Bill of Rights, limit how government can act towards you, or should those in power be able to disregard them and your life, as they see fit
  • Economics: Managing the use of scarce resources which have alternative uses [within your society]. Is it valuable for you to be at liberty to choose what is worthwhile in your life, or should government decide that for you?
Up until that point when our Founder's era began to pass, though these were all understood to be deep subjects, most anyone would recognize the above as being as true a summary of what volumes had been written on - they'd recognize the tune being whistled. But while that is still true, and America most definitely depends upon you both recognizing the tune and whistling it, those philosophical abominations which fill the air today - Marxism, Post-Modernism, Critical Race Theory, etc. - require those five statements to be obliterated from everyone's minds, and to that end they raise such an obnoxious clatter that no one is able to catch their tune.

So lets look at some of the less obvious ways the white noise has been cranked up to do just that to us all.
  • Metaphysics: What is, is - and is not. We're not talking about the 'woo-woo' 'New Age' nuttiness, or the mess that modernity has made of it (both of which are a fearful flight away from what is), but is something more like the connection between your hand and the flame it's being burned by, and understanding the connection between the two. A conscious understanding of the fact '...That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn', sharpens our ability to identify what is, and what is not. If you think that you do just that fine without giving any further thought to that, then I've got a question for you. If you've given little or no thought to the nature of what identity is (what IS, is as), then what will you say when told that a dollar weight of silver, or a written receipt for that silver, or a piece of paper backed with nothing more than the word 'dollar' written on it, are all essentially the same things, and that you'll have to accept all, any, or only one of them, as payment for your time & effort?

    Sorry, that's a rhetorical question, and if you look at the dollar bill in your wallet you'll see why - We The People have already said that the Fed can say that what the identity of that particular 'is', *really* is, depends only upon what they say it 'is', and you've already given your reply to that: 'Sure, why not?'.

    What's that? You have some common sense objections that you want to raise? Oh, sorry, you see those depend upon taking seriously what Aristotle called the most fundamental of metaphysical premises, his Law of Non-Contradiction, that:
    "... the same attribute cannot at the same time belong and not belong to the same subject and in the same respect..."
    , in the same manner and context. But unfortunately for the modern 'economic man', the modern world's founding philosophical voices, such as Hume, Kant, and Hegel, claimed that we cannot ever really know reality as it 'is' because our own minds keep us from ever knowing 'the thing in itself', and so no such contradictions can ever be claimed, and even if you raise them, they (and you) will be dismissed through the aid of what Hegel derided as,
    '[*sniff*]Those are just Aristotelian contradictions[*sniff*]'
    , and quicker than you can say ipse dixit ad hominum viola!: his 'refutation' of Logic with 'dialectical logic' was accepted by the many who much preferred Hegel's words, to their own lyin' eyes, such as the Americans Pearce, Dewey & James. These three sort of worked together to make their tragic contribution to world Philosophy: Pragmatism, and it's not difficult to see why it was soon embraced by the creators of modern fascism, Giovanni Gentile & Benito Musolini, as Pragmatism provided a functional philosophical confirmation bias against reality, with its claim that "...Crudely, truth is “what works.”", which is what enables 'those-who-know-best' to brush off such common sense objections as you might want to make on being told that a weight of silver, and a word backed by nothing, are one and the same thing, with a reply such as,
    "You need to be more pragmatic: what is 'true' is what works - at the moment, and if you can buy something at the store with a paper that says 'dollar' on it, then it clearly works, am I right? So what's your problem?"
    Keep that in mind next time you feel like 'being pragmatic' about something.

    None of those assertions were ever 'proven' of course (if you can't know what is real, what would you prove it with, and how?), but they did make some sooper-dee-dooper complex, convoluted, and ultimately arbitrary explanations of their claims, which "those who know best" eagerly swallowed, at least partly because being able to say "Perception is reality", makes it so much easier to peddle your favorite fantasies as reality. That sentiment, BTW, is a notion which has also been enormously helpful in Modernity's efforts to 'progress' beyond those old outmoded concerns over what is, or isn't, true.

    The metaphysics of that American contribution to philosophy, Pragmatism, is what enabled Bill Clinton to argue that 'it depends upon what the meaning of 'IS', is' without being laughed out of court for saying so (sure, people use that as a punchline now, but the judge didn't then), and we are living in the world we are today, because We The People have let generations of 'educators' teach that miserable excuse for reality to our kids - which, if you didn't notice the name 'Dewey' above, he not only helped devise Pragmatism, but is recognized as the 'Father of modern education'.

    But of course for wll over a hundred years, We The (modern) People have shrugged and turned away at the mere mention of metaphysics, because, you know, "Metaphysics doesn't matter"...right? Well... surprise!

  • Epistemology: How it is that you know what is, is as. Have you ever been told that the results of a study by experts (nutrition, economics, climate, etc.) have confirmed that Govt must act to change our behaviors as experts dictate, and that questioning "How could that data possibly prove that?", is brushed off with 'We know best, the 'Science is settled' and we must act now!'? Such claims as those, and the attempt to act upon them, were once understood to not only be folly, but tyrannical... which is what Adam Smith was noting way back when:
    "...The statesman, who should attempt to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals, would not only load himself with a most unnecessary attention, but assume an authority which could safely be trusted, not only to no single person, but to no council or senate whatever, and which would no-where be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it...."
    How is it that we've gotten to the point where such complexity is being used to hide inanity, and that pointing out that claiming to know what cannot be known, is less a valid cause for concern about them, than an indication that you are the one who needs to be 'educated' or else 'cancelled'? The answer lies in the fact that since Smith's time, modern philosophers have 'freed' us from being concerned about what 'is' true, and with such '(un)Real world theories' comes the perverse sense that the less that can be known, the more that can be claimed to be known about what is unknowable.

    To understand why, you need to understand the other problem that modernity has with you who dare to question the experts, being that as Kant said, and that our universities use your money to teach you and your children that no one can know what is really true, because we cannot know reality:
    • 'We do not have access to the world as it exists in-itself (what Kant refers to as Noumenon)'
    , sure, it's a problem that Reality is beyond the reach of human reason and understanding - but - Kant also claimed that we can 'somehow' get an intuitive feeling about what's behind that noumenal wall, and when enough of the 'right' people 'feel something's true', then there just might be 'reason' to think that there's some 'truth' to it... which... is one of many reasons for the popularity of polling every opinion the public has, on every little thing.

    Before daring to examine the modern mess of metaphysics and epistemology, you'd better be sure that you have a pretty solid grasp on reality, to begin with. Since their own day, both Kant and Hegel's thoughts have been superseded multiple times over by the latest and greatest egg-headism, and many of those innovations revised still further - not towards reality, of course, only moving ever further from it - to the effect that these objections of mine here, are made quaint by comparison to what is accepted in their stead today. For instance, respected bearers of the modernist standard, such as Richard Rorty, who is still considered to be
    " important American philosopher of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century who blended expertise in philosophy and comparative literature into a perspective called "The New Pragmatism"..."
    , had himself repeatedly said that:
    "Truth is what your contemporaries let you get away with saying."
    , which is itself made quaint by the far more awful things that are said today.

    The upshot of this is that if a reality based Metaphysics has been discarded (and it has), and an Epistemology clarifying your ability to know that what you know is true, has been rejected (and it has), then Logic (Epistemology's key tool) is left without a leg to stand on, reducing it to a tool for rhetorical wordplay and brushing off those inconvenient truths which you - not having the expertise of 'those who know best' - aren't in a position to 'intuitively know'. IOW: Shut up and believe what everyone else believes, or be cancelled for the ideas in your head.

    But... you know, we don't need to worry about silly stuff like Epistemology, I mean, how important can 'How do we know what we know', and 'is or isn't it true', be? Right...?

  • Ethics: What you ought to do about what is. Some of you might be thinking: 'Now wait just a darn minute!', after all,
    'that 'intellectual stuff' about what IS, and how you know it, that's for pointy headed professors! We live in the 'real world' [that is so cute!], and all we need to do to right what's wrong is pass some laws to fix them!'
    Well... how very 'pragmatic' of you, 'good' for you! But tell me, if the Fed decides it needs to adjust factors that affect the value of your wealth by engaging in quantitative easing to keep important 'economic realities' under control (IOW: reducing the value of the dollars you'd earned and saved; AKA: Legalized theft, embezzlement, etc.) - would you tell them that's wrong for them to do? And if so... Why?, and then without ethics, how do you know the why of that 'why'?

    Yep, rhetorical questions again, because that is exactly what we already do, and rather than being concerned about what is ethically right and wrong, they're only concerned about how efficient and effective it appears to be - whether the economy behaves as if 'it works' - and gets things done; their concern is not for ethics, but for serving their purposes with the most effective use of Power. Right and Wrong are concepts that depend upon Truth being knowable (and the Reality it is truthful of), and poor little ol' 'economic man', having conceded that 'philosophy' is stuff that doesn't really matter, has enabled matters of 'Right' and 'Wrong' to become elastic labels for what seems useful, so that 'pragmatically' speaking, if something seems as if 'it works' for the moment, that makes it 'right' - for the moment - which has allowed evil philosophies to prevail (and yes, IMHO, deliberately opposing and undermining our ability to know reality and truth, is evil).

    IOW: What do you mean it's unethical to vandalize a child's sexual organs for propaganda value?! Shut up and do as you're told, or else.

    But don't worry, Ethics is just, you know, philosophy, and that stuff doesn't really matter. What a relief, right?
  • And now we arrive to stand upon that shaky ground whose foundations have been removed, everyone's favorite subset of Ethics, the wonderful world of:
      Political Philosophy: How Society should engage with its people. And no, I don't mean 'political science', or any other such means of evading the discussion of philosophy. Did you want to claim to have an 'inalienable right' to think, speak, act, believe, defend yourself, associate with who you want, and responsibly act as you see fit? Did you want to demand to be presumed innocent until proven (!) guilty in a court of law that operates under objective rules of evidence? Oh, sorry...yeah, mucho humongous rhetorical question once again. You see, these expectations depend upon your having a sound Political Philosophy, which in turn is developed through a sound system of Ethics, which is in turn dependent upon the reasonable reinforcements of Epistemology, which is in turn derived from (and limited by) a Metaphysics that respects reality and reveres what is True.

      We today, have chosen instead to strike away the foundations that our Founders had built into America's bedrock, in favor of building the Administrative State upon the easier shifting sands of that which we've been reviewing above. Without that bedrock, whatever claim you make to 'Rights!' today, depends not upon your grasp of reality and your concern for truth, but upon your being a member of a large enough group to sway the momentary mood of popular opinion, a farcical publicity stunt which trades philosophic roots for what politicians crave most and makes their policies 'work' (or at least 'works' to get those who propose them elected and re-elected). Such 'Rights!' are but the privileged table scraps of those in power, and they alone will determine what power will be used to say what are 'Rights!' and what's 'true'... for the moment, or at least until that popular opinion of the moment changes, as just another means to be manipulated in making the economy 'work' again, and nothing more.

      Lucky for you, rather than wasting time on useless philosophical questions of inalienable rights, the modern practitioners of 'Political Science' apply formulas (which boil down to: restricting this + permitting that = Political Power over you) which their economic policies fit in with just fine. Right?

  • And now, finally, we've worked our way down through the big three of Metaphysics, Epistemology and Ethics, and through that lil' ol' subset of Ethics, Political Philosophy, to reach that snug little nook of thought which is Political Economy, but which we only today know as:
      Economics: Managing the use of scarce resources which have alternative uses [within your society]. This at least is 'scientific', right? I won't even bother calling that a 'rhetorical question', it's just 'No'. While economics, when it was still known as 'Political Economy', was concerned with discovering the sources of, and the political impediments to, generating and retaining wealth, and then how best to manage those scarce resources which have alternative uses. That form of 'Political Economy' had an inherent concern for the philosophical requirements of liberty, Burke's 'Ordered Liberty', or the 'Natural Liberty' which Adam Smith was describing the economic operations of, and its greatest discoveries, such as Say's Law, division of labor, and the pricing mechanism, led to the understanding of how best to 'manage scarce resources that have alternate uses in society' at a distance, and together with the understanding of the widespread harm that political interference in markets produced, by interfering with individual judgments, that led to the knowledge that that political system which was best suited to a healthy economy, was one whose laws upheld and defended the individual rights and property of its people. That is the very thing that led to the realization of the need for a new field of study - there was no field called 'Economics' when Adam Smith wrote 'The Wealth of Nations', it was simply moral philosophy, which, Jean Baptiste Say built into 'Political Economy'.

      But that very understanding of Political Economy was rejected, discarded, and transformed through the later 19th century discipline of 'Economics', with its 'scientistic' calculations of theoretical incantations and 'animal spirits', not to forecast the financial weather, but to surreptitiously create an alternate climate of economic outputs, which are particularly pleasing to 'those who know best' - Cha-Ching! If that seems surprising, you might want to take another look over the preceding bullet points.

      That process was aided immensely by a modern philosophy that had already been greatly corrupted (see above), and its original discoveries were brushed off as belonging to an 'outmoded' past. The Libertarian and 'classical liberal' hero, Utilitarian, turned Positivist, turned Socialist, J.S. Mill, deftly undermined ethics with measures of utility, the meaning of Liberty, and the philosophy behind it. Karl Marx thrived in that climate, and its murkiness enabled him to easily denounce a system of equal justice under the rule of law, and outright reject its cornerstone of Private Property, and by redefining the 'Free Market', into the pejorative of 'Capitalism', he succeeded in replacing a concern for the philosophical requirements of liberty, with the 'scientific' calculations which anyone might theorize would result in useful Economic outputs. Say's 'Law of Markets', which requires a respect for reality in order to benefit from it, was repeatedly attacked, twisted and mocked, which Keynes later finished off (in public opinion) with a public rejection of it. Keynes didn't prove his rejection of course (in fact his theories were easily and thoroughly refuted), but aware of how little people had come to care about knowing what they knew, he was able to use a few artful equivocations, and a complex & convoluted smattering of vague terms like 'animal spirits', to assert it, and since it aided in distancing Economics ever further from the annoyances of Reality, Keynesian Economics was welcomed by modern economists and philosophers alike.

      It's said that 'Politics makes strange bedfellows', but that's downright puritanical, compared to who economics throws together under the sheets, and despite outward appearances, you shouldn't be too quick to assume that Marxism and Libertarianism are all that far apart, philosophically. Both use Economics as their place to begin thinking about the world from - that is their means of dispensing with Philosophy in general, and Metaphysics & Ethics in particular - so as to make matters of efficiency (or 'fairness', 'utility', 'equity', etc.) as being their only standard - a standard which actually means that Power is both their standard and their purpose. Where that 'standard' comes from, or what it means, is a floater of a concept, equally pliable in the hands of both 'isms, as neither is driven by anything more Real than their own personal preferences, aka Desire.

      Libertarianism (particularly the Murray Rothbard branches) selects their preferred standards of satisfaction, from concepts such as 'Liberty!' - which they've already made utterly meaningless by ignoring their philosophical roots in Political Philosophy, and Ethics, Epistemology and Metaphysics - and all that follows from them, follows from that. Worse, Libertarians, after having entirely amputated Ethics, (most often) then say "Hey, do whatcha want, your choice is king, pleasure yourself to your heart's(!) content!", and the Rothbardians even go so far as to dispense with Law, Govt and Intellectual Property (which all Property depends upon, and which all Individual Rights are anchored through), for the idiocy of 'Anarcho-Capitalism' and 'Minarchism' (which plays a part much as Socialism does to Communism), while prattling on about their libertine notions of "Liberty!!!", which in the long run can end in nothing other than a despotism as complete as that of Communism.
  • All of these 'isms cut the philosophic rose bush of Natural and Ordered Liberty off at the ground, and then loudly demand, indeed promise, that it will 'somehow' produce the most amazingly fragrant blossoms that anyone has ever smelled. It is thoroughly pathetic, but it gets them what they are actually after: Power, now.

    If Conservatism doesn't dedicate itself to conserving what is true, which means being willing to identify and cut out its own mistakes and falsehoods, then it is only one more ism dedicated to grasping for the power to impose its preferred mistakes and falsehoods upon us all.

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