[T]here is reason to think that something more is at work in the opposition of intellectuals to capitalism than merely their realizing the truth about capitalism. Let me describe to you an experience I have often had. A particular complaint is made about laissez-faire capitalism, perhaps that it leads to monopoly, or pollution, or too much inequality, or involves exploitation of workers, or despoils the environment, or leads to imperialism, or causes wars, or thwarts meaningful work, or panders to peoples' [sic] desires, or encourages dishonesty in the marketplace, or produces for profit and not for use, or holds back progress to increase profits, or disrupts traditional patterns to increase profits, or leads to overproduction, or leads to underproduction, or whatever. Someone makes the particular complaint, and I discuss it in detail, probing it, showing its unexamined assumptions—mistakes of fact or logic or history or economics. In any case, the person concedes my particular point or at least becomes unsure about the validity of his or her particular complaint against capitalism. Does the individual then change his or her mind? No, the individual drops the point, and quickly leaps to another. "But what about child labor, or the racism built into it, or the oppression of women, or urban slums, or in simpler days we could do without planning but now things are so complex that . . . , or advertising seducing people into buying things or. . . ." And so it goes. We painstakingly discuss this next complaint and once again it cannot be sustained. The person leaps to yet another point, "But what about . . . ?"
Point after point after point is given up. One complaint after another is dropped. What is not given up, though, what is not dropped, is the opposition to capitalism. For the opposition is not based on those points and complaints, it does not depend on them and so it does not disappear when they do. There is an underlying animus against capitalism. This animus gives rise to the complaints, it generates them. The complaints rationalize the animus. After some resistance, the particular complaint will be dropped and, without a backward glance, tenfold others will surge forward to perform the same function, to rationalize and justify the intellectual's animus to capitalism.
(Robert Nozick, "Why Do Intellectuals Oppose Capitalism?," chap. 12 in The Future of Private Enterprise, vol. 3, Ideas for a Changing World, ed. Craig E. Aronoff, Randall B. Goodwin, and John L. Ward [Atlanta: Georgia State University, 1986], 133-43, at 134 [italics and ellipses in original])
According to the Associated Press article “U.S. war ends; Taliban vow to fight on” (Dec. 29), the war in Afghanistan came to an end Sunday. On the face of it, that might seem to be excellent news. Puzzlingly, however, the article then states that the war is still raging.
The article further proceeds to tell us that 11,000 U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan as advisers to the Afghan military in a new mission, Resolute Support.
We all know what “advisers” means.
Either the U.S. war in Afghanistan is over or it isn’t. George Orwell would have felt validation for his novel “1984” upon reading this article. I quote his description of the government tool, doublethink: “It becomes possible for that individual to believe anything that the Party tells them, even while possessing information that runs counter to what they are being told.”
Let us now outline the main points of Kant's view. He begins his best-known work on ethics (Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten, first published in 1785), by saying that there is only one thing that can be called worthwhile without any qualifications or conditions: a good character. He then asks himself: What is it that makes character good? His answer is that character is made good by just one thing, by being conscientious, which is being ready to do one's duty as one sees it, and for no other reason than just that it is one's duty. On his view, generosity and sympathy have nothing to do with goodness of character. Kant thought that if we want to know whether a particular action was fine or praiseworthy, there is exactly one thing we have to know: whether the person performed the deed because he saw that it was required by duty. Otherwise, it was morally worthless and did not show forth a good character.
(Richard B. Brandt, Ethical Theory: The Problems of Normative and Critical Ethics, Prentice-Hall Philosophy Series, ed. Arthur E. Murphy [Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1959], 27-8 [footnote omitted])
Today's ride was my last of 2014. I rode yesterday and today, though it was cold on both occasions. Today, for example, the wind chill was 31º Fahrenheit when I left the house and 38º when I returned (two hours later). My goal was to ride 14 times this month, and I accomplished it. Here are my monthly mileages and daily averages for 2014:
January: 275.8 (8.89)
February: 183.6 (6.55)
March: 317.3 (10.23)
April: 405.5 (13.51)
May: 442.1 (14.26)
June: 382.0 (12.73)
July: 397.2 (12.81)
August: 336.6 (10.85)
September: 397.8 (13.26)
October: 402.5 (12.98)
November: 397.8 (13.26)
December: 428.4 (13.81)
As you can see, this month (December) was my second-best of the year, both in terms of miles ridden and in terms of daily average. I love setting (and achieving) goals, especially when they are goals that conduce to my health. I'm 57½ years old and hope to be riding at a high level 10 and even 20 years from now. I have done everything I can to take care of myself, physically, from not drinking alcohol to not eating red meat to not using tobacco products to exercising vigorously on a regular basis.
In terms of annual mileage, 2014 was my third-best year of the 34 in which I have ridden. I began cycling in 1981, when I was 24. My best year, mileage-wise, was 1990, when I rode 6,205.9 miles. My second-best year was 1991, when I rode 4,706.9 miles. I rode 4,366.6 miles in 2014, which is an average of 11.96 miles per day and 83.74 miles per week. My resting heart rate was 48 this past Sunday (in church). The lowest I've ever seen, in the 29 years I've been recording it, is 42 (on multiple occasions).
All told, I have pedaled 79,557.5 miles, which is 3.19 times around the Earth at the equator. The best part of this year's riding is that, for the first time since 2011, I didn't break a bone! (I have hardware all over my body. Okay, in my left collarbone [a titanium plate and several screws] and in my left elbow.) My goal for 2015 is to break (bad choice of words!) my 1991 mark of 4,706.9 miles, which will make 2015 my second-best mileage year ever (in the 35 years in which I will have ridden). The quest begins Thursday, 1 January 2015. Wish me luck.
Your article describes the path that guns take before winding up in the hands of people who should not possess them and how that path may lead to horrific murders like that of two New York City police officers, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu. It is time for a dramatic change of the requirements to purchase and possess guns.
A nationwide state registration program, similar to motor vehicle registration, would address this problem. Every two years the owner of a gun would be required to bring his or her weapon in for inspection and re-registration. If the owner no longer possesses the weapon, he or she should be required to explain what happened to the gun.
Perhaps under such a program we, as a nation, can realistically ameliorate the problem of guns winding up in the hands of lawbreakers and/or the mentally ill.
NORMAN SIEGEL New York, Dec. 26, 2014
The writer is a civil rights lawyer and former director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.
The trajectory of scientific advancement, combined with the predisposition of capitalism to make efficient, unemotional decisions about its bottom line, does not bode well for the human element. While machines can get smarter, people cannot.
If computers are eventually able to “understand” and have the potential for unlimited intelligence, where does that leave most people with their same-old, same-old average or below-average I.Q.?
Only those few possessed at birth with a higher I.Q. that can translate into the needs of a more complicated technical society will thrive. The majority will be left competing for the few categories still dependent upon the human touch.