Tuesday, December 20, 2016


One of the dangers of capitalism is that it teaches people that deception is a virtue. Does wealth equal virtue? What is the value of a person without money? How can we trust each other if we have been taught that deception is a virtue? People have two faces today, the one they greet you with, and the one they slander you with behind your back. I refuse to be like this; we should all refuse to be like this.

 "The 'danger' of capitalism can be best expressed in what it intends to do in its own words: a commodification of human relations.

I agree. But how does the capitalist surmount this objection? Unless of course, he would argue that the commodification of people is a good thing? [I was also thinking... we are all on the same team when it comes to being thinkers. There are lots of people in the world who do not like, nor understand, people like us. In their mind we sound funny when we speak, because of this we have to stick together. There are many violent anti-intellectuals in the world.]

"Classically speaking, the capitalist will resort to the Smithsonian that we're simply better off treating each other as objects for purposes of market efficiency--ie that's the only way the invisible hand will work. To defeat this argument (which isn't hard)..."

 "(which isn't hard)." --I think this premise is true regarding the epistemology of capitalism in general. Which brings us to a far more important point: It is an empirical fact that we can refute the claims of capitalism, and yet the ideology persists. I believe this is because 1) people adopt their belief through a structure of authority and 2) the values of capitalism are authoritarian values. Just like Christianity, it has nothing to do with the rational or empirical integrity of the belief... because it's an ideology! (It cannot even be rescued through a pragmatic scale of value). It is merely an authoritarian structure one uses to control the population. 

[pause, anticipates objection] Fine. very well, let us suppose that all structures are authoritarian structures, it matters not, because not all structures are equivalent! The false narrative, which says "capitalism is the only way to order a society," is another unchallenged, artificial premise.* As if to say, "following Jesus is what it means to be moral." When it comes to ideology, Capitalism and Christianity are the same. Both are moral confusions, nothing less and nothing more. 

We have here articulated, with great precision, the ontological status of Capitalism and Christianity. They are, in fact, moral confusions.


*What do I mean by this term, artificial premise? I am referring to a proposition or proclamation about reality that cannot be deduced from existence. A premise is artificial when it tries to make a claim to knowledge, to tell us something about the world, and yet it is an abstraction that stands above the world.   

Friday, December 16, 2016


In a capitalist society, where propaganda is used to instill desire, it is an obvious conclusion that the masses can be swayed. This is akin to the subversion of democracy. One must learn to think in terms of control, if one would understand mass psychology. Oh my reader, I wish you and I could talk as friends. I now understand why we approach each other the way we do in American culture. We have been conditioned to celebrate competition. We must learn to transcend our conditioning! The real question has to do with overcoming the ego. Until a thinker does this he or she will be restricted in thought. We want to keep our discoveries to ourselves, or use them to promote our brilliance. This is confusion. We need to connect with as many powerful minds as possible, while there is still time! This is how we make progress. I am a serious thinker, not an ego thinker.

The way knowledge progresses in capitalism, is distorted. The way human relations take place in this society, is distorted. We have been taught to be petty judges! We have been taught to attack the other as a competition-tactic. In a very real sense we have been de-humanized because we have been taught to worship the image; we have been taught to be critical of reality in a superficial way. This is devastating to intimacy! And if intimacy becomes more and more unattainable, society will tear itself apart! {thus unfolds the society of distrust} We must transcend our conditioning! The way forward is cooperation, not competition.

 Why are we so aggressive and petty in communication with each other? Because capitalism presupposes the negative value of the individual (one always has to prove their worth through an artificial moral system of value). This creates tension and insecurity, even desperation. We are taught that every man is our enemy. This is existential confusion! If we do not have each other, then we have NOTHING! There are no Gods to save us. All our lives we have been taught false morals! If you understand this then you have reached the end and the beginning of philosophy.


Saturday, December 10, 2016

Philosopher Jersey Flight Corrects Žižek on Human Nature

"We are all basically evil, egotistical, disgusting. Take torture, for instance. I am a realist. If I had a daughter and someone kidnapped her, and I found a friend of the kidnapper, I cannot say I wouldn’t torture that guy." Disparities by Slavoj Žižek

Žižek speaks like an impulsive philosopher, because he is an impulsive philosopher in a time of impulsive living. This largely summarizes the entire phenomena we call Žižek. He is the cult of personality, but this is not saying much, when all artists and figures are cults of personality. There is nothing wrong with enjoying a unique personality, but one must not substitute it for thought.

"We are all basically evil, egotistical, disgusting."  

Evil we are not, egotistical we are.

The only reason I chose to comment on what Žižek said is because I believe his view of human nature insinuates a false metaphysical pessimism (something dangerous to the formation of humanitarian revolutionaries). That is to say, what hope is there for mankind if human nature is evil? If there is no hope in the premise there can be no hope in the conclusion. Žižek proves that he is tainted by Christianity; he needs to go back and sit at the feet of Nietzsche. He declares man's metaphysical-moral-disposition to be futile. Is Žižek then waiting for a future Messiah? It would seem he has not yet surmounted the false moral projections of Christianity. 

My friends, we are fools if we think something or someone will save us. Our existential plight is precisely that we must save ourselves or go extinct! How can Žižek be relevant if he does not know this?

Take torture, for instance. If a child saw a man being tortured, he would be terrified, he would experience strong, positive feelings of morality. This is exceedingly significant because it means our nature is not evil! All of us, as children, had to be unnaturally conditioned (that is, conditioned against our moral instincts) to accept violence. Children do not naturally gravitate to violence, and this tells us something beautiful and powerful about ourselves:

Žižek is wrong. We are not basically evil, we are basically good!

What about disgust? When I hear this word I take caution, this is a moral word! Beware what you call disgusting lest you illegitimately condition yourself against yourself. I wonder... he that speaks of disgust, is it possible that he tells us about his ability to cope with reality? Everything hinges on how we define the word. Nay, this is false, everything hinges on our moral presuppositions!

In sexuality the creature has been slandered and demonized, the act of sexuality has been falsely moralized! [sexuality is amoral] Many of these false moralizers use the word disgust when they speak of human sexuality. The truth is that these people are impaired. They are ashamed of what they are and what their bodies do. Their insecurity, at being what they are, manifests itself in the form of violence and persecution toward those who do enjoy the body. 

I agree that a society infiltrated with capitalist propaganda, in order to create consumers, produces a disgusting, mindless human being. But we must be cautious when we call ourselves disgusting lest we insinuate a confused and contrary moral emphasis.   

We need a bigger vision of the potential of man because the one that has been offered is too small. I did not say we need a bigger vision of man, I said we need a bigger vision of his potential! Though man lives in a world of violence, he does not have to mimic the chaos of nature. 

There is hope for mankind insofar as there is hope for the flourishing of the natural instincts of the child. 


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

A Rebuke to Thinkers and Philosophers - Jersey Flight

We are suppose to represent the-more-carefully-thought-out-port­ion-of-mankind. And yet we cannot communicate? What hope is there for egotistical politicians? I see very well the plague of our time; once a person takes offense they pass a moral judgement, and yet, they have not even made contact with the actual issue! The only thing they note is that they were offended. I see how juvenile and petty this is. People think that the right to refrain from communication constitutes real power.... Oh deceived charlatans! You will live your life being praised for your good manners, but what will this do for you, where will it get you? You live by the status quo: thou shalt not offend. Now is the time to say what you need to say; now is the only time there is to live. We need to communicate, communicate, communicate! An adult should know how to push past the ego of a child. If we cannot make peace with those who offend us, then how can we live in a peaceful world?

Are you like everyone else in the world? What do you do when words offend you? Do you walk away? If so, congratulations, you are just like everyone else. But how can you progress if you cannot transcend what you love? Maybe offense is precisely what you need, but you will not permit it! Maybe it is the path to liberation, but maybe you want petty power instead of existential freedom? If you will be wise then you must have contemplation outside your convictions!


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Protairian Manifesto - Jersey Flight

I'm not so convinced offense is proof that one has done something wrong.

I want to be a learner, and therefore I try to listen to what offensive men say, I attempt to weigh their words in the balance.

I am not beyond rebuke. I will indeed confess my wrong when I am confronted with it... what more can I do? But I will not submit to a false charge. I encourage others to live the same.

I am interested in what people say, not what people say about people. People say I should abstain from Socrates because he was a condemned man. And why should I waste my time reading a criminal? Little people have always thought this way, and probably always will. I do not want to be a  little person.

When you see the police arrest a man, do you automatically assume that he's a criminal? Do you know how often you would be wrong?

Where does demonization lead?  Does it not lead to the false justification of violence? 

The kind of people we are matters. The world is deeply confused, it cannot tell the difference between a moral man and one who merely postures. 

The Western Canon is not necessarily what I choose, but it's what we have to work with, be therefore fierce in your criticism my brothers!

Where are all the moral men and women?

Horkheimer was right, the problem with the world is that there are no good people left.

We must figure out how to make good people again! Have there ever been good people? Maybe we must be the first! The challenge is to replicate our program. Let those that are wise understand what this means.

We must implement the conscious celebration of character. 

What makes for a heroic individual? One who stands their ground. That is to say, one who defends their values! But being willing to die is not proof that one has superior values; a superior value can only be determined on the basis of existential facts. 

It is right and good to stand up for human rights, this proves that one is sane, as well as civil, it is also a hallmark of intelligence and foresight.  

How to stand your ground? Where to find the courage? One needs to see their power in context, one must not be deluded about the way such power works. Such men and women usually end up as martyrs. In order to foster courage one needs imagination; one has to be able to see themselves as though they were looking back from the future. One must realize that a clear voice and courageous body, do have power. Just because people resist does not mean one is failing to make progress. Opposition is not proof of defeat! Death is not evidence that evil has won!       

Culture is the world's great power because it shifts the power of the masses. Art is therefore a form of revolution. He that creates art creates culture, the Creator therefore, is the axiom of power.  

The shape of culture comes in many forms, even as culture is shaped in many different ways. The key is to shape culture in the direction of intelligence! Let those that are wise understand what this means.

No one is listening. We can say it a thousand times, "danger, danger, danger!" but it matters not. No one is listening. Soon the word will become the thing.

A proof that the people are educated is that they have the ability to stand together for the cause of their good.

In times of great oppression, the cure is solidarity. 

We must decide how we wish to live in our time, what kind of men and women do we want to be? The world desperately needs good people (not religious people) good people! What kind of world do we want to leave to our children?

Why should you be a good person? Because the power to alleviate suffering is greater than the power to cause suffering! O man of power, you are not yet great! 

I am a Super Humanist! This is because I love my brothers and sisters. I do not want to see them locked in steel cages or ravaged by the blasts of war. Oh my brethren, how I want to live beside you in peace and love... I am not an evil man. 

We must allow a way back, or else we segregate the criminal from society forever. This is not intelligent. This is not good for the criminal or society.

Ideology has power, insofar as it becomes the creed of powerful men. He that understands this has the formula to change the world. Let those that are wise understand what this means.

I appeal to the man of wealth; we all must live in the same world. Is it not better to make it a good world? Is peace not the desired environment for our children? Then work with us, stop evil men from burning the world. Do you have a conscience? Perhaps not. But I wager you have intelligence. What good is it to saw down the branch on which you sit? O man of wealth, think! If the world burns, we all burn; if there is civil unrest, then there can be no home rest. There is no escaping the world. 

Some would think we should be stronger, "threaten with the masses," they say. But we are not playing a game of escalation, class war is a war of life. It matters not how resolution comes, what matters is that it comes. The point is to be effective when it comes to changing the world, no place for ego, no place for pride, only what matters, time is limited. 

It is an ontological fact that the best society is the one that cares for the vulnerable and the weak. {This is the exact opposite of Nazi Germany}. "Why," you ask? Because weakness is the gift of chance, none are safe from her disruptions.

Better to die in poverty, surrounded by those who love and care (those you spent a lifetime growing intimate with) than to die wealthy and alone in some empty room. Life does not consist in riches, but in the quality of intimacy we cultivate with other people!  

Do not judge me because I'm poor, judge me if I fail to treat you kindly.

Strive to love and be loved, there is no greater objective in life. In this sense, no one is more deluded than the solitary individual, none are better at wasting life.

If one wants power, without education, then one must learn to fight with a club. But he that is educated, not only saves others, but more importantly, has the power to save himself from himself. Let those that are wise understand what this means.

The Educated Individual is the key to saving the world; she is the hope for the future of our children, why then would you not seek a revolution in education? 

One must be deschooled in ordered to be schooled. What then is an education and how to get it:

One must learn to think! 
One must learn to distrust conviction. 
One must learn to challenge authority (most specifically that of Self).
One must learn empathy and compassion.
One must outsmart pride and ego.

Can you listen?
Do you know how to be a student?

The greatest mark that one is educated, is that one knows how to be kind.   
Be therefore kind, my brethren.    

One is always wise to read those who are wise. 
But how to discern wisdom?

Forget not what thou art! 
Avoid unnecessary confusion.
Read those who know the defect of the creature.       
Sorrow is coming my brothers and sisters, but do not let your weeping yield to despair; the key is to find comfort in each other. We are never so alone as we think. Be honest and humble, accept one another, as of yet there is no such thing as a perfect human being. 

all conditioned by intelligence,
there can be no greater philosophy.  


Friday, September 9, 2016


One day the doctor tells you that you have cancer. You have three months to live. Are you sure you are living now?

My dear friend, this is a question that the wise ask themselves. Life must be lived before we die.

I am afraid for you, because I think you might be missing the life you have. Will you be sorry you did not draw closer to the people who care, to the people you love? Will you be sorry you did not allow love to blossom; will you be sorry you did not cultivate stronger relations? We must not let it be; we must have courage toward life because death stalks us in the shadows.

How we would live, after being diagnosed with a terminal illness, is how we should live every day!!!

Do not be afraid, or ashamed, of love. There is no such thing as loving too deeply. Embrace passion, thrust yourself into life with the fiery of a tundra flower, permit yourself to blossom. Death already prevents life; the universe is set against the beauty of living, the last thing we need to do is prevent ourselves from living! Be not your own enemy in the course of life, do not prevent yourself! Rise to a higher consciousness: for you are alive! You have life now! Do not wait until death is at your door before you start to live, behold the secret! This is how the wise cheat death!

What can death take from him that has truly lived?


Friday, July 29, 2016


If one has read Plantinga's "Warranted Christian Belief" then one knows what a terrible waste of life it is. Plantinga is a master of sophistry! Here is a philosophical manipulator extraordinaire!

Vital to Plantinga's program is the reality that his position is not premised by prior arguments or deduced from other beliefs. If his so-called "properly basic belief," does in fact, rely on pre-commitments then his argument [via his own admission] utterly fails (351-353).

But lucky for Plantinga, because he is such a skilled and intelligent thinker, he assures us that this is not the case: "This way does not involve arguments from other beliefs. Rather, the fundamental idea is that God provides us human beings with faculties or belief-producing processes that yield these beliefs and are successfully aimed at the truth; when they work the way they were designed to in the sort of environment for which they were designed, the result is warranted belief." pg.357 Oxford University Press 2000

Even if Plantinga has this so-called properly basic belief, how does he know how he has it? There is no prior premise here? What about the word "faculties," does this not require a prior belief? Can one have a belief based on faculties without having a belief of faculties?

Most pointedly, and as I have consistently criticized Plantinga for years, he assumes specific attributes when using the word God. Clearly this is prior.

Ultimately Plantinga's position amounts to the claim [blank assertion!] that his belief does not require any prior beliefs, but this is not the actual reality of his position. His entire position is based on the integrity of certain propositions which are given in the form of private testimony (what brighter minds call the Word of God). In all reality the inescapable premise of naturalism stands at the core of Plantinga's thesis!

How can Plantinga beg the question forever? "I've argued that Christian belief -- the full panoply of Christian belief, including trinity, incarnation, atonement, resurrection -- can, if true, have warrant..." pg.357

Indeed, green Martians on the moon can have warrant, if true! But more importantly, Plantinga tells us that he's argued for the "full panoply of Christian belief." This means there are prior beliefs and prior arguments which are vital to his epistemology. Did Plantinga get the idea of the Holy Spirit from the Holy Spirit? What about his belief in the concept of a "model"... do all prior beliefs then get explained by means of his divinely-basic-injection? "God gave me everything," means I have no prior belief!

But this is all stupid, very, very stupid. And people who play these kinds of games with Plantinga; people who think that an imposter, sophist, hack, like Plantinga, is brilliant, have merely manifested how easily they are duped by supernatural stupidity. Dear God, the man's central arguments are the Aquinas/Calvin model of assertion, and the internal witness of the Holy Spirit (IIHS)! How can this be anything other than a joke? What kind of thinker do you have to be to affirm these as viable premises? The truth about Plantinga is that his position amounts, not to properly basic belief, but to desired-belief-assumptions! 


Sunday, July 17, 2016


The society in which we live: 

"Desire Projects were public housing facilities located in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, Louisiana. These projects consisted of about 262 two-story brick buildings containing about 1,860 units across 98.5 acres of land. The overall conditions of the projects were deplorable from the moment they were put into place in the later part of the 1950s. The projects were meant to serve for large amount of the underprivileged African American residents in the New Orleans area. Soon becoming a place of despair, Desire eventually becoming a dark no-man’s land leaving many residents infested with problems with little or no help from the government. Located in a cypress swamp and dumping ground, Desire was known as the poorest housing development in New Orleans bordered by railroad tracks, the Mississippi River, the Industrial Canal and a corridor of industrial plants."

Once upon a time the Native Americans were forced onto small segments of land (after they had already been genocided by the righteous pilgrims). MORE GENOCIDE IS COMING!

You say I am a mad man... indeed I am mad, but not as mad as the world in which I live!

Who is responsible for the suffering contained in these narratives? Ans: Malignant individuals who have erected a system that gives them altogether too much power.

Housing projects are a way for politicians to link hands with wealthy investors and contractors. It is a way to increase and secure their power base. The construction of housing projects has nothing to do with the well-being of the people who will occupy them, instead, they exist (and come into existence) for the sake of profit. The project is a way to extract collective money and redistribute it into private hands. Shame on those who pretend it is something else; for there is no virtue here. After these projects fail (which they were literally designed to do) they are used as straw-men against all forms of social sanity, which strive to increase social stability. (In humanitarian terms we call this sharing the resources of the earth).

This way of dividing space (of confining children), (some people call it segregation), is a statement of power. It is also a form of cruelty. I suspect there are many in power who would rather dispose of people they consider to be "degenerate, inferior, good for nothing." More genocide is coming! But what form or shape will this monstrosity take? Will state militia beat down the citizen's doors? Nay, this is unnecessary, for wise politicians simply start wars! 

Does this bother you? WHY NOT?

Deplorable conditions of life wreak havoc on civilization. Mass poverty, who is to blame? (Some would claim that it doesn't even exist)... what kind of world is this? Politicians monopolize the power of the state-machine for themselves, when it should belong to the freedom and well-being of the people. If we must make a central body of power to protect civilization, then let it protect civilization! And this means protecting the rights of the citizens, it means regulation against exploitation, which only serves to corrode the fabric of society. It means the body of power is used against the tyranny of power; it means the force of violence is used against violence itself. 

I thank God I was never born in a housing project... but this begs the question, why would God allow anyone to be born in a housing project? (I can see this question annoys certain readers)... indeed, what kind of conversation do these bright minds propose we have? What good then is your philosophy if it does not pertain to life?



Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Humanitarian Reply to a Capitalist - Jersey Flight

CAPITALIST: But I have taken the liberty to bring you back on this special occasion to defend your purist stance on liberal economics, and to defend what your philosophy has wrought in oil-rich Venezuela.  They say only left-sympathizers are receiving food with any sort of regularity.  Would you starve me, Jersey Flight?

FLIGHT: I would most certainly not starve anyone (contrary to the tyranny of all formal Gods). I am a very easy thinker to understand: I care about the well being of people. Neither from the left or the right do I want to see violence. I am not like you my friend, I am not an ideologue, I resist all dogmas which lead to the increase of human suffering. If capitalism, was in fact, the best and only way to minimize violence in the world, then I would advocate capitalism (this is how much I care). But this is not what capitalism does, though it is an advance on feudalism, it is still a system of suffering, it is not the way of intelligent beings. One merely needs to calculate the long term effects of such a system in order to see, that it must eventually, lead to a kind of apocalyptic Armageddon. Slow and foolish creatures calculate the value of something based on the effects which can be immediately perceived, this is because slow and foolish creatures do not have the capacity to calculate beyond impulse. This is exactly the case with capitalism and those who advocate it.

CAPITALIST: There are them that makes and them that takes and that's just the way it will always be.  And we can always tell which of the two is in the ascendency at any particular time by whether or not we are hungry and cold.  That is probably all we can hope for.

Now in the immortal words of General Douglas MacArthur: These proceedings are closed.

FLIGHT: "There are them that makes and them that takes and that's just the way it will always be."

Well my friend, I think we can work with this premise. I agree that there are those who make and those who take, but what comes before all this is the right to the earth (and all take from the earth). He that does not have land must rely on those who do. I'm afraid the issue you are traversing is very much a question of who has a right to the earth and why?

But even beyond this, I wonder why a "maker" would not want to use his ability to help his fellow man as opposed to exploit his fellow man? Does not the ability to "make" presuppose a network of vital nourishment? Last time I checked man is not the kind of creature that can survive (let alone thrive) on his own. Hopefully we all had the benefit of a kind and loving mother... should we not have compassion and understanding for those who were robbed of this vital network of nourishment? All men who stand, create, accomplish anything of value, have and always will be linked to a vital network of nourishment. A wise man seeks to expand this network (not exploit those who lack it) so as to bring about a better world.

If you will think carefully through the reality of your position, you will see that it is not only socially immoral and socially cruel, but it is above all, socially ignorant, existentially ignorant and economically unintelligent. If you have the ability to do better then you ought to have some gratitude, and if you are a moral and caring person, then you must have compassion for your fellow man. He that uses his privilege to exploit his fellow man deludes himself, when he convinces himself, that he has done better because he is better. The idealism of the individual is a delusion! The truth is that his circumstances were more favorable, thereby allowing him to get an edge over those who lacked a fuller experience of the vital network of nourishment. This truth makes us responsible (indebted) to society, not superior to it.

When a lack of compassion... when the value of selfishness rules, when men believe in resolution by violence, the result is hunger, and many other unpleasant human miseries. Suppose the lords of capital saw fit to use their capital to decrease human suffering... this would be a very different world, but alas, this is not the way capitalism works.


Saturday, June 11, 2016

Ad Hominems and the Duty of Thinkers - Jersey Flight

Ad Hominem: what does it mean?

In some cases it means we feel threatened by the force and power of a person's ideas, while in other cases it means we have penetrate to the very core of a person's philosophy. Attaching a negative conclusion to the man is the most devastating critique we can ever make against another human being. But this action must not be premature: first we refute the ideas, and then we have the right to scour the man! All philosophy comes back to the vital premise of character. I contend that Ad Hominem proclamations must be true in order to be valid.

People have often called me an extremist or fanatic, but these labels carry little weight if they do not represent legitimate, negative attributes. I am against violence! I am against the exploitation of my fellow human beings! To this end does all my thinking flow. I am an easy thinker to understand: I care about the well-being of my fellow man: woe to those who seek to oppress and exploit the children of the earth! I take issue with all lines of thought which kick against freedom and peace, all subtle philosophies which seek to control man as a kind of commodity, all ideologies which impede the stability of the good society. The time has come to stop playing games (as almost all philosophy has hitherto been a game). The time has come to realize the desperate nature of our circumstances on the earth. We have to do better; we have to rise above our pettiness and arrogance. 

The issue of violence trumps all other issues; it is the supreme topic of interest for any truly conscious human being. And sadly, and in great terror, the world is FULL of ideologies of violence; it is FULL of men who advocate and perform violence. Violence poisons life. How can life, which is aware of itself, not seek the absolute eradication of violence? For by doing thus it adheres to the cultivation of its own well-being!

I know what the clever philosopher wants to say to me, he wants to contest that violence is necessary to rid the world of violence. Though he is correct, he is not correct as he thinks. The only proper use of violence can be that which is necessary to minimize the existence of violence. The dunce philosopher is playing a game when he raises this question; he is not thinking seriously about the danger of violence. Instead, he will take his logical objection and proceed hastily and recklessly toward the justification of violence. This is backwards (but backwardness is what one should expect from those who are not serious); just because the world is so decrepit that we must use violence to minimize the existence of violence, does not mean that violence is the way of peace. Instead, one must come to see a way that soars above; repaying violence with violence only begets more violence (this is the metaphysical rule). If we must eradicate the world of violent men then we must do so humanely! I contest that the philosopher who would raise the objection, of the paradox of violence, does not understand the delicate wisdom of violence. We only use violence if we must; violence should always be a kind of last resort, and it should only be used in order to bring about the maximization of peace. If violence does not do this then it cannot be legitimate. 

If you are a serious, concerned thinker, then there can be no choice: you have to take heed to the existence of violence! What then do philosophers tell us about themselves when they shun their responsibility toward violence? If you have a powerful mind then you are obligated (by a multitude of existential precepts) to fight for the eradication of violence. To do anything less is merely to manifest that one is severely impaired in their ontological understanding of reality.



Wednesday, May 4, 2016

In Defense of the Convoluted Philosopher- Jersey Flight

My thought is just this... in reading Derrida or Deleuze I may perhaps be tempted to blame my inability to understand what they say on a failure of procedural logic: a failure to account for every step, every syllable, every symbol. Do I then go on to claim that they have nothing to say? Do I go on to declare, that this particular use of words, is "inferior" to another kind?

What I am getting at is just this:

I suspect, in many cases, that we are better off if we can avoid the distracting act of grammatical narrowing. Now certainly there are times when this is necessary, but what if my criticism of Derrida and Deleuze turns out to be an Ad Hominem that has negative consequences for my own intelligence? Just because we don't understand something does not gives us the right to categorize it as a "negative ontology." How often do we present a negative summary of a given position, only to base our rejection and refutation on this caricature? To engage with a position dialectically takes far more skill than offering up a bare summary [in this sense one might actually try reading Marx]. But as it goes, I see the world's vast hoards of intellectuals [vast hoards is grossly overstating the existence of intellectuals] both giving summaries as refutations and taking summaries for refutations.

Are we sure our summary of a given thinker is accurate enough to warrant a poisoning of the well? Is this a good way to learn? And more importantly, how could a dedicated thinker be content dismissing any philosopher without having had some experience of that philosopher's dialectic?

As I feel the presence of another thinker, I try not to let myself be distracted by Ad Hominem injections... as a thinker I have a duty to probe the subject; I have a duty not to distract the conversation from the subject myself by complaining of poor treatment. Let it come! It may be in poor taste, but it matters not. I will gladly endure the insults of a good thinker over the polite courtesy of a poor thinker, which is to say, I find the latter to be more insulting. One who is losing ground is often pleased to complain of poor treatment, as this allows him to evade the arguments pertaining to the subject. It is a fallacy to assume that a man of poor conversational etiquette must equally be a poor philosopher. But more importantly, if we are allowing such a fallacy to determine the limits of our dialectical engagement, then we are weak in dialectic. One might walk away from unnecessarily crude articulation, but we go too far when we pretend that such an offense constitutes a refutation!

The only time pointing out an Ad Hominem constitutes a refutation is 1) when the argument is based on it and 2) we have actually refuted it. 


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

ONE CANNOT BE MORAL... Jersey Flight

For an ethical man or woman philosophy is a means to an end, for a vain dabbler, philosophy is a kind of conceptual game... and for the lowest among us, it is a tool for tyranny (it is how some exact their revenge).

"Mr. Flight I do say, your response raises more questions than it does answers. What exactly is the "end" for which philosophy is the means?"

Man's contingency is social, the "end" adheres to that which is most necessary. Any dumb ape can feed himself at the expense of others, but it takes an altogether larger philosophy to sustain a society. Primitive men have not evolved beyond the impulse of violence (this equally includes their philosophy). One who thinks only of himself as the sole problem needing a solution, is ignorant to the fact of his social contingency. The social mind is of an altogether higher order than the primitive mind. For the primitive mind can only think of resolution in terms of violence (even its use of cooperation is violent). Such a mind manifests frustration and inability toward the power of abstraction (it cannot liberate itself from nature). Impulse is usually the opposite of intelligence, and when elevated to the status of social theory, is bound to produce tyranny, which stands as the negation of society. The value of cooperation, as a tool for liberation, has no place in the primitive mind [here cooperation is herded to serve the individual]. One cannot be moral without a social end!


Sunday, May 1, 2016


I can easily say, if one is a philosopher, and one has no concern for the nature of the social world, then one is severely limited as a philosopher. If Plato would have been forced to eat noodles and salted broth, I very much doubt we would know Plato at all. 

What I am getting at is just this, I believe there are some things we must agree on, and one of those things is that we either want to be free, or we affirm our place as slaves. It is easier to talk with a man who recognizes his slavery and embraces it, but how can one speak with one who does not recognize he's enslaved? Sadly, I find the latter position to be the consciousness of mankind.

The only way it is possible to embrace the present system, which rules the world like a parasite devouring its host, is either to be ignorant of it, or to be in favor of it.

"John Steel wielded a powerful metal rod, he was fond of striking men in the back, crippling them, as he would then laugh and walk away."  But this is the morality of the system in which we exist! (And the philosopher will claim that philosophy must be indifferent to this reality)? This is nonsense. Philosophy is contingent, even as it has always been contingent! I marvel and shudder at the ignorance of my fellow men. So haughty are we, so full of pride and arrogance and complacency, we have not seen enough death, America is lacking in tragedy (and this is because the American way of life is sustained by tragedy). We eliminate tragedy in our own sphere by creating it in other spheres.

I will tell you what a wise philosopher thinks: in the first place he knows he's stupid, and in the second place, he knows he's deceived and constantly being deceived (most of all by himself). But we do not live in an age of wise men, we live in an age of happy pretenders. 


Friday, April 29, 2016


So far as I can tell Mises is either super naive or super cunning. "...economic activity has no other basis than the value scales thus constructed by individuals."* While there is truth to this, Mises seems to think of individuals as being isolated from institutions and cultures. Ignoring this is the only way he can avoid the starting point of value being rigged from the beginning (and more importantly) that it can be manipulated to sway mass culture! Individuals can be influenced and herded! How in God's name could he be blind to this? Naive or calculated?

*The Theory of Money and Credit pg.52, Liberty Fund 1981

MISES DISCIPLE: You are reading too much into Misean psychology...

FLIGHT: Precisely! then it must be naivety in the case of Mises. As the Austrian says, "If you want my theory to be rational then pay no attention to the relevant information behind the curtain." I think I see the problem here. I do in fact consider what you say, I even read Austrian literature, but this fairness is not returned. Try and consider my objection. Desire is the kind of thing that can be controlled and manipulated, turned in many directions. Mises is right about individuals and value, but he is not right that their power remains isolated, he is not right that their choices take place in a neutral vacuum. The theory here is very trite, in fact, it relies on ignorance and simplicity in order to propagate itself. Men who can only ask so many questions, this is what's required to make Austrian disciples! I am not interested in being indoctrinated, but I am interested in discussing certain claims made by the Austrians. Mises's quote that I cited above fits into the category of selective evidence, it is exceedingly narrow, there is more to the picture. 

MISES DISCIPLE: I get that Mises takes individual preferences as given for the purpose of economic analysis, although he does not exclude things like marketing which update those with new information. you could maybe improve your argument by explaining why that is a wrong starting point. Is there a branch of economics which does not accept preferences more or less as a given?

FLIGHT: "Why that is a wrong starting point," you ask? By "that" I assume you mean this: "...economic activity has no other basis than the value scales thus constructed by individuals." This is a false premise, economic activity also has the basis of manipulation and coercion (which comes in many subtle forms). Further it is not simply "value scales constructed by individuals" (if by "individuals" you mean autonomous, uninfluenced, born yesterday, unaffected by history, individuals). Economic activity is a social phenomena, not an independent phenomena! Activity itself is not isolated from a larger chain of causality. But Mises needs it to be this way so he can leverage his moralism of responsibility and reward, crime and punishment... ultimately so he can pseudo-justify his theory of inequality.  

MISES DISCIPLE: Please consider all the assumptions that read into Mises's notion of individual: " if by "individuals" you mean autonomous, uninfluenced, born yesterday, unaffected by history, individuals".

Do you seriously think that is what he means by individual? He does not realize that someone born in the US received different influences and culture than someone born in Germany? In other words, you're setting up a strawman. While all those influences obviously exist, the question is what determines an individual's choices today. The answer is that individual's value scale or preferences at that moment (regardless of how they were established). 

Of course economics is about more than one individual, a social phenomenon. That is the topic of much economic analysis (division of labor, specialization, spread of information, public choice theory). But this emergent social structure is the result of individual choices at points in time (very many of them). Each of which can be studied... 

To address a specific comment: "Desire is the kind of thing that can be controlled and manipulated, turned in many directions." First, this seems to overstate the case. I don't think I can manipulate you into liking mud pies or agreeing with Mises (apparently). Advertising is not mind control. Second, this does not affect or invalidate Mises's analysis of the moment where choice happens.

FLIGHT: "While all those influences obviously exist, the question is what determines an individual's choices today. The answer is that individual's value scale or preferences at that moment (regardless of how they were established)."

The "answer" for Mises (who it seems you have not read) is "desire," which I agree with, but my point is that desire does not come rushing forth from a vacuum, it is always the conclusion of a social process, causal chain. Do you deny this?

"But this emergent social structure is the result of individual choices at points in time (very many of them). " I think you mean, "emerging social structure." By "individual choices" do you mean socially unaffected, individual choices? Do you mean that all individuals have the same equality of choice? Surely you don't mean to say that all individuals have equal power in their choices?

Back to my original claim: "...economic activity has NO OTHER basis than the value scales thus constructed by individuals." This is false. If I am not the sole cause of my value scales (and sole cause is exactly how I take Mises to mean it) then I am not the sole constructor of my values. Does Mises then mean to say, "economic activity has no other basis than the value scales thus constructed by individuals [even as some individuals are subverted in their value constructions by the value constructions of other individuals]?" Does the fact that I can make a choice mean that my choice is equal to every other choice? Does the fact that I have values prove that my values are individual, that they are the product of blank freedom? What about economic coercion? As for manipulation, your reply simply seems to be the assertion that it doesn't exist.

Also, do provide a defense of Mises having a dialectical understanding of the individual. Am I in fact creating a straw-man? I think you may fail to comprehend Mises's position here. If you begin with a causally connected, and socially conditioned premise, when it comes to your definition of choice, then you cannot rightly end with autonomous responsibility. Social conditions will then have to be factored into the premise of human action! Mises does not want this because it strips him of his much needed moralization, demonization, of those who do not conform to the assumptions of bourgeois morality.

If I were to drink Mises uncritically I would end by not only fallaciously devaluing individuals on the basis of their monetary status (as well as over-valuing individuals), but I would also end up enshrining naive economic principles. That there is such a thing as a free market is entirely indefensible and empirically unfounded, it is pure imagination, it is the capitalist God-of-the-Gaps. Deregulating the market merely allows people to be exploited. All markets are regulated, the difference is between democratic regulation or autocratic regulation.

Mises in his book, The Anti-Capitalist Mentality, tries to put forth the mistaken idea that the "consumer" is the ruler of the market. This is backwards. Clearly Mises has NO understanding of the power of propaganda (the science of public relations) when it comes to shaping the "desires" of the consumer. [Please see Manufacturing Consent by Noam Chomsky and Propaganda by Edward Bernays.]

As I said, 'Desire is the kind of thing that can be controlled and manipulated, turned in many directions.'

As you replied: "First, this seems to overstate the case. I don't think I can manipulate you into liking mud pies or agreeing with Mises (apparently)."

"I don't think" is not an argument, it is a personal statement about your feelings, and perhaps, your abilities. I wonder if we could manipulate people into hating Jews? Did the Nazi's perhaps know something you don't?

"Advertising is not mind control." Every theory of public relations, since the time of Bernays, contradicts this assertion. How do you back it up? If advertising is not a form of control then what is it? Surely you would not call it a rational and innocent form of communication?

After the second world war the behaviorists mastered the art of molding public opinion. Since that time corporations have fined-tuned this science to the point where it is no longer detectable, we are in fact, a product of the cultural industry. Very few people ever step outside the matrix of this world; mass culture moves to the tune of social engineering. Sadly, someone like Mises (instead of challenging the status quo) merely reinforces it. In this sense he is not a true liberal thinker, but like so many that walk his line, he is a tool in someone else's war. 

MISES DISCIPLE: I will start by repeating the questions you skipped, which I will refer to as [the] "central question": Do you seriously think that is what [Mises] means by individual ("autonomous, uninfluenced, born yesterday, unaffected by history, individuals")? He does not realize that someone born in the US received different influences and culture than someone born in Germany?

And here is the answer to the central question, by Mises: 

"Inheritance and environment direct a man's actions. They suggest to him both the ends and the means. He lives not simply as man in abstracto; he lives as a son of his family, his race, his people, and his age; as a citizen of his country; as a member of a definite social group; as a practitioner of a certain vocation; as a follower of definite religious, metaphysical, philosophical, and political ideas; as a partisan in many feuds and controversies. He does not himself create his ideas and standards of value; he borrows them from other people. His ideology is what his environment enjoins upon him. Only very few men have the gift of thinking new and original ideas and of changing the traditional body of creeds and doctrines." Human Action, Chapter II, Section 6, pg.46, Contemporary Books, third revised edition 1966

Does this alleviate your misconceptions and fears that Mises discounts the influence of culture, ideology and other social influences? If yes, it would have been faster for you to read Mises or asked about what he wrote, rather than spinning up theories and slaying strawmen.

"(who it seems you have not read)"
Unsubstantiated trolling which will make my reading of your arguments less generous and will decrease my patience and any credit you may have in this discussion. First and last warning. If anything, I must conclude from the exchange so far that you have not read the works you wish to criticize.

"desire does not come rushing forth from a vacuum"
See central question. How are you disagreeing with Mises? Humans don't act? Action doesn't involve ends or means? Ends don't imply subjective valuation/preferences?  All those are necessarily true, whatever the source of preferences is. Does his economic analysis become wrong because he delegates the understanding of those desires to other disciplines (psychology, sociology, aesthetics, ...)?

For a parallel, consider geometry: "if a triangle has a right angle, then such and such conclusions necessarily follow".  The study of how to measure angles or fabricate angles does nothing to invalidate such statement. When the condition is met, the conclusion holds (If A, then B). If you can establish that the angle is not a right angle, then fine, the conclusion is not established.

"By "individual choices" do you mean socially unaffected, individual choices?" Asked and answered previously. See central question. In short, no, and it doesn't matter.

"(and sole cause is exactly how I take Mises to mean it)"
See central question. Technically, the sole cause for everything is probably the Big Bang, yet most disciplines can proceed fruitfully by breaking the causality problem into steps.

You are criticizing Mises's stopping his analysis at individual preferences, but that cannot possibly invalidate said analysis. If I say logically establish that "when the individual prefers this, then he will choose that", it will be true regardless of *why* the individual prefers this.

All of praxeology is simply saying "if we have all the individuals' preferences, then this follows". Basically, purposeful action necessarily implies A, B and C.

You want to explore the psychology and sociology of those preferences, Mises would say party on. It's just a different area of inquiry than praxeology, which does nothing to invalidate or diminish it. Such study of values and ideologies can only add to it.

If you want to establish that my buying mud pies is unconscious and automatic, then the conclusions of the study of action won't apply.

Regarding manipulation, please stop making assumptions about what I believe or not. Ask a clarifying question if need be. Either way, mind control is irrelevant as it concerns the formation of preferences. If I could control you into increasing your subjective valuation of mud pies, you will buy more mud pies.

As for your rant, it has no point for me until you address the central question and save us both time. You introduce concepts that are either undefined or do nothing to show Mises's analysis to be incorrect ("equality of choice", a choice being equal to another, "blank freedom", "economic coercion" and so on). Your rant about the implications or evil motivations of such analysis is also completely besides the question.

""I don't think" is not an argument, it is a personal statement about your feelings, and perhaps, your abilities." Fair enough. You can convince me that you are not overstating your case by making a fortune selling mud pies (you just need a good marketing strategy I suppose), or alternatively simply changing my mind without having to convince me. 


At the outset I should like to say that I believe your reply is reasonable given a surface reading of Mises, which is precisely the reception Mises counts on in order to propagate his ideas.

In our time it is vital to deconstruct, precisely because language has morphed into a caricature of itself; to say that Mr. P is "irrational" has come to mean that Mr. P is "rational."

Let us proceed to the "central question."

"Inheritance and environment direct a man's actions. They suggest to him both the ends and the means. He lives not simply as man in abstracto; he lives as a son of his family, his race, his people, and his age; as a citizen of his country; as a member of a definite social group; as a practitioner of a certain vocation; as a follower of definite religious, metaphysical, philosophical, and political ideas; as a partisan in many feuds and controversies. He does not himself create his ideas and standards of value; he borrows them from other people. His ideology is what his environment enjoins upon him. Only very few men have the gift of thinking new and original ideas and of changing the traditional body of creeds and doctrines." Human Action, Chapter II, Section 6, pg.46, Contemporary Books, third revised edition 1966

In another place Mises says the same thing:

"This does not mean that every individual draws his valuations from his own mind. The immense majority of people take their valuations from the social environment into which they were born, in which they grew up, that moulded their personality and educated them. Few men have the power to deviate from the traditional set of values and to establish their own scale of what appears to be better and what appears to be worse." Mises, Theory and History pg.22, Arlington House 1969

Leaving aside the fact that Mises, at the end of each quote, actually negates the very thing he said, proving it to be mere lip service... we could ask, how does this magic individual escape a causal chain? But instead, let us pretend that Mises did not negate what he just said.

As I see it this complicates Mises entire program, [as a praxeologist] why would he talk about individual choices, when in fact, these choices are determined by the society and environment in which men live? Do you see the problem? Mises's formal confession, wherein he bows the knee to the supremacy of environmental and social causes, as the supreme agents of value formation, usurps his desired axiom of individual choice. In other words, if it is true that "man does not create his ideas and standards of value," but that he "borrows them from other people," then why is the cult of praxeology not concerned with the formation of social values (most specially when it is admitted that individual choices are determined by social values)?

[If you understand me then you understand that Mises appears to be emphasizing the wrong axiom when it comes to value.]

In contrast to what Mises says above, the following is bound to provoke confusion from any thoughtful reader:

"Most of a man’s daily behavior is simple routine. He performs certain acts without paying special attention to them. He does many things because he was trained in his childhood to do them, because other people behave in the same way, and because it is customary in his environment. He acquires habits, he develops automatic reactions. But he indulges in these habits only because he welcomes their effects." Human Action, Chapter II, Section 6, pg.47, Contemporary Books, third revised edition 1966

"The characteristic mark of ultimate ends is that they depend entirely on each individual’s personal and subjective judgment, which cannot be examined, measured, still less corrected by any other person. Each individual is the only and final arbiter in matters concerning his own satisfaction and happiness." Mises, Theory and History pg.13, Arlington House 1969

"The characteristics of individual men, their ideas and judgments of value as well as the actions guided by those ideas and judgments, cannot be traced back to something of which they would be the derivatives." Ibid. pg.183

"In their eagerness to eliminate from history any reference to individuals and individual events, collectivist authors resorted to a chimerical construction, the group mind or social mind." Ibid. pg.188

"What produces change is new ideas and actions guided by them. What distinguishes one group from another is the effect of such innovations. These innovations are not accomplished by a group mind; they are always the achievements of individuals." Ibid. pg.192

"While the group-mind school tried to eliminate the individual by ascribing activity to the mythical Volksgeist,* the Marxians were intent on the one hand upon depreciating the individual’s contribution and on the other hand upon crediting innovations to common men. Thus Marx observed that a critical history of technology would demonstrate that none of the eighteenth century’s inventions was the achievement of a single individual." Ibid. pg.192

"Every doctrine denying to the “single paltry individual” any role in history must finally ascribe changes and improvements to the operation of instincts. ...It is needless to enter into a critical examination of this fable invented by impotent people for slighting the achievements of better men and appealing to the resentment of the dull." Ibid. pg.194

"On the other hand, human society is an intellectual and spiritual phenomenon. In cooperating with their fellows, individuals do not divest themselves of their individuality. They retain the power to act antisocially, and often make use of it. Its place in the structure of the body is invariably assigned to each cell. But individuals spontaneously choose the way in which they integrate themselves into social cooperation." Ibid. pg.253

"The collectivist philosophy denies that there are such things as individuals and actions of individuals. The individual is merely a phantom without reality, an illusory image invented by the pseudo philosophy of the apologists of capitalism. Consequently collectivism rejects the concept of a science of human action."
Ibid. pg.256

The question is not whether Mises ever confessed to the fact of social conditioning, but whether he holds this view when it comes to his capitalism? The fact that Mises made a direction confession, regarding the legitimacy of social conditioning, merely serves to undermine the claims of his morally-individualistic-philosophy.

Just because Mises has formally confessed the reality of social conditioning, by means of lip service, does not mean his philosophy is consistent with his confession. One can make a formal confession of the principles of reason only to turn around and contradict themselves in practice. One can pass a law titled, The People's Emancipation Act, but this will not mean the law has anything to do with the people's emancipation (hence our need for deconstruction). The question is whether or not Mises's idea of individual choice, does in fact, actually comport with his confession of social conditioning; the question is whether or not his economics are consistent with his formal confession?

If individual choices shape economies, and individual choices are determined within the context of society, then it would seem logical that the key to creating quality, individual choices, would be the formation and stability of equal societies. I contend that this has serious ramifications for any capitalist theory.

It would seem, that when Mises speaks of individual choice, he is really playing a game of semantics, a kind of literal equivocation; for if we are to believe his quotes above, then what he really means by individual choice, is choice determined by social conditions and environment. Who then has supremacy in determining value (and hence choices) the individual or society? And even more so, is it still appropriate to call such choices free? What does this mean for the capitalist idea of responsibility?

Now all of this must be considered in light of my original claim, that Mises is either naive or cunning when it comes to ignoring (glossing over in silence) the forces of manipulation and coercion within the system of capital. In other words, the claim that one chooses, in light of what makes one happy [pg.12-13], seems to lack an awareness of the power of social forces, which seek to manipulate value in order to gain profit. What most interests me is why one would think this doesn't matter when it comes to evaluating the value of capitalism?

If the consumer is driven to make choices on the basis of value, and his values are determined [can be manipulated by social forces and propaganda] then not only is he not free, but a system which promotes this is both irresponsible and immoral. (We can also add the fact that capitalism is irrational because it empowers malevolent exploiters with an agenda to control the formation of value. In this sense capitalism stands against any true libertarian tradition).

[Isn't the true conclusion, drawn from Mises's confession regarding social conditioning, that society is more valuable than the individual?]

I think the fact that capitalist action is about profit, ends up being a scathing moral indictment against capitalism itself. Indeed the capitalist has gone to great lengths to show that this motive is both moral and rational. One would of course, wish for transparency from the capitalist, but this is not what we get... it is false to claim that capitalists do not make moral claims: but is capitalism really moral? At the end of the day the capitalist cannot be transparent precisely because the system he propagates is malevolent, exploitative and violent: ignorantly and deceptively interventionist and protectionist. It exalts individuals to the detriment of society, and yet, if Mises is to be believed, society is the mother of values. By what logic then should we exalt the individual at the expense of society?

Perhaps the strongest rational argument that can be offered against capitalism, is the interest of society against the interest of the individual. [Here then is an argument that uses capitalist logic against itself.] What this means is that society is taken to be its own kind of individual, and as such, pits itself against the claims of other individuals. Why then should society act against itself in competition with other individuals? Should society not reward itself by giving back to itself? Should it not seek to increase itself and promote itself by equally distributing to itself? Why should it permit the unlimited accumulation of other individuals when this accumulation is not in society's interest? Why should it take from itself in order to booster the interest of rogue individuals, when it stands as the supreme Individual that has the power to shape all individuals? In other words, for society to act in favor of itself it must promote its well-being as society, and this means it should not allow any one individual to gain an advantage at the detriment of its own interest. This is entirely consistent with capitalist logic.

Mises's response to such an argument is not to attack the logic, but to deny the existence of society. However, given his concession regarding the action of the group upon the individual, which assumes the existence of a social entity, it would seem this claim leaves him in something of a contradictory bind.

There are many other crippling objections to the cult of praxeology, such as its claims to being a science while rejecting the criteria of science (it is also relevant to note that praxeology, that is to say, Mises's infallible assertion of the a priori nature of his position, was sanely rejected by Hayek).

The question to ask is what the premise of social conditioning means when it comes to economics?

* "Again in Germany, in the years following the Napoleonic wars, the problem of comprehensive legislative codification was brought up for discussion. In this controversy the historical school of jurisprudence, led by Savigny, denied the competence of any age and any persons to write legislation. Like the Volksepen and the Volkslieder, a nation’s laws, they declared, are a spontaneous emanation of the Volksgeist, the nation’s spirit and peculiar character. Genuine laws are not arbitrarily written by legislators; they spring up and thrive organically from the Volksgeist." Ibid. pg.189-190

----------MISES DISCIPLE----------  

1) I asked: Do you seriously think that is what [Mises] means by individual ("autonomous, uninfluenced, born yesterday, unaffected by history, individuals")?

You did not provide a direct answer, but if I interpret your replies, it sometimes seemed you agree (calling it Mises's confession), while in others it seems you disagree.

Here is my interpretation:

1. You initially thought that Mises presents an individual disconnected from society (which is not what he wrote, and I think is false). 

2. I presented a quote from Mises acknowledging the exchange of ideas.

3. Then you jumped to saying that is a confession of "social conditioning" (which is also not what he wrote, and I also think is false).

4. Then you implied that Mises presented inconsistent or schizophrenic views (atomistic-individuals in some quotes, socially-conditioned-individuals in others). So this "confession" would mean Mises should accept the notions of "group mind", "Volksgeist", or that values/judgements are derivatives (ie causally determined) of society, instead of criticizing them.

There is a third option you seem to ignore: Individuals have are actors with free-will (that is "not causally determined by something else"), yet can exchange ideas and thus be influenced by others in society.

If you are stuck in a binary world (individuals are atoms, or, individuals are determined by society) and ignore the straightforward third model, then I understand that Mises's claims would seem puzzling since they don't fit in either option of this false dichotomy.

2) "Mises, at the end of each quote, actually negates the very thing he said"

How so?
I am an individual who has apples, some I grew myself and some I obtained from exchange with others. Am I contradicting myself? Am I equivocating?
Similarly, I am an individual with values and ideas, I can also exchange or get ideas and values from others. No contradiction.

3) "The fact that Mises made a direct confession, regarding the legitimacy of social conditioning"

How so?
I have preferences that stem from my personality and were influenced by interactions with others. Am I confessing to "social conditioning"? Am I confessing that "my choice [are] determined by social conditions and environment"?

Let me ask another way: Do you have preferences?
I'm going to assume the answer is yes.

This necessarily means there is a distinct "you". Your action is not a deterministic result of your environment. You have free-will and personal preferences. And yet, I don't have to claim that you are disconnected from society. I do recognize that you exchange ideas with others (as we are now) or they influence you.

If you instead think your actions are determined, please let me know so I can cut the conversation short and economize my time.

4) "I think the fact that capitalist action is about profit, ends up being a scathing moral indictment against capitalism itself."

This is a very interesting claim.  I'm not sure what is "capitalist action" (as opposed to "non-capitalist" actions), but I will attempt to show (using a Misesian line of analysis) why all actions are necessarily about profit.

Let's start with the concept of "action". A human act with a purpose. This means he is pursuing some end/goal, which he perceives/expects to be superior to the current situation (which he feels some un-ease with). Otherwise, he would not act. Hopefully, this is uncontroversial and tautological.

Assuming we agree to this point, the concept of profit emerges.
This expected superiority is the profit. It is also called benefit. Mises sometimes calls it psychic profit (to differentiate from a specific sub-set of profits that involve the exchange of resources).
All action necessarily pursues a profit/benefit, otherwise it would not be undertaken.

Note that the root cause of my preference is irrelevant to this analysis. I have a preference, I pursue it because it gives me a benefit, regardless of the preference itself (I like meat or I hate meat) or its origins (you convinced me that eating meat is immoral).

As for the morality of capitalism, it never hurts to make terms clear (please let me know if the definition is incorrect). Capitalism is the system of property rights and voluntary exchange.

As I established a few lines earlier, all action pursues profit.
That said, it is true that not all action pursues monetary or material profit. For instance, teaching your kid, or reading poetry, or curing cancer.

Does capitalism mandates that actions should focus on monetary profits? As defined, it does not. Property rights simply enable one to pursue the person's own goals with his/her property. It's still fine to teach your kind, read poetry or cure cancer. I'm curious what (if anything) makes you think otherwise. To my knowledge there is nothing in Mises's writings suggesting that monetary profits are specifically desirable.

5) You claim "the consumer is driven to make choices on the basis of value, and his values are determined [can be manipulated by social forces and propaganda]"

Let's assume arguendo that people are determined the way you claim. Then capitalism (system of property rights and voluntary exchange) would still be a superior to any other social organization, because I can become a hermit farmer or form shielded communities if I want to escape the "manipulation".  Also, competitive forces would tend to counter-balance the manipulation. If I manipulated you ("my mud pies are great, you must buy them!"), then anyone with an interest to sell you anything also has an interest to counteract/undo my manipulation and explain to you that mud pies are just mud.


"I asked: Do you seriously think that is what [Mises] means by individual ("autonomous, uninfluenced, born yesterday, unaffected by history, individuals")? You did not provide a direct answer..."

This is not true. I answered this question before you even asked it, 'sole cause is exactly how I take Mises to mean it.' Yes, I "seriously think" this is what Mises means by individual. So when he said, "...economic activity has no other basis than the value scales thus constructed by individuals," and I said, 'this is false' -- what I said was true. The question you asked had already been answered, which is why your question is a re-emphasis.

My position is articulated thus: I hold that Mises does in fact assume the existence of autonomous individuals who make autonomous choices. I hold that Mises contradicts himself on this point as a matter of posture, as a matter of lip service (in an attempt to evade the charge of having to explain the existence of autonomous values and autonomous individuals). Mises (though he believed this) knew he could not defend it, which is why he offered lip service.

What I think is irrelevant; what matters is what Mises actually said, and the fact here is that his statements come into contradiction with each other.

The gravity of the situation is that you failed to realize the ramifications of your citation. My position was not contingent on Mises formally denying social conditioning, my point was that he has to deny it, because it not only undermines his moral position (when it comes to individualism), but it also undermines his criticism. When you cite a quote claiming he is embracing the supremacy of social conditioning, in relation to individual values, what you are actually doing is undermining his case against Marxism. Do you understand this? If Mises affirms the relevance of social conditioning, when it comes to the formation of values; when it comes to the existence of individuals, then by what logic does he seek to criticize Marxism?

As Mises says: "According to the Marxist conception, one's social condition determines one's way of thought." Socialism, Introduction pg.18 Liberty Classics 1981

If the quote you provided from Mises affirms the same thing then Mises has a serious problem. As I have already said, you must now argue that Mises did not actually mean what he said. However, when you originally cited this quote you cited it exactly in the context of Mises affirming the supremacy of social conditioning in relation to the individual. If you deny this quote then you affirm my original premise.

Do you understand the dilemma here? My point has always been that Mises cannot deal with the ramifications of social conditioning. When you come along, arguing that he affirmed social conditioning, you merely manifest a fatal contradiction in his position. So then, what is the opposite of the "Marxist conception"? If Mises rejects social conditioning, then how does he explain the formation of individual values? (And more importantly) if his entire apologetic is set against historical determinism and social conditioning, then what does it mean if we find an affirmation of these things in his writings? Am I creating the confusion by misreading Mises, or is Mises creating the confusion by contradicting himself?

If Mises rejects social conditioning, then my point stands; if he affirms social conditioning, then he is catastrophically impaired in his criticism of Marxism. Indeed, he is brought into tragic contradiction with himself.


I said, 'Mises, at the end of each quote, actually negates the very thing he said.'

You asked: "How so?"

Given this: "Inheritance and environment direct a man's actions. They suggest to him both the ends and the means. He lives not simply as man in abstracto; he lives as a son of his family, his race, his people, and his age; as a citizen of his country; as a member of a definite social group; as a practitioner of a certain vocation; as a follower of definite religious, metaphysical, philosophical, and political ideas; as a partisan in many feuds and controversies. He does not himself create his ideas and standards of value; he borrows them from other people. His ideology is what his environment enjoins upon him." Ibid.

How do you then explain this: "Only very few men have the gift of thinking new and original ideas and of changing the traditional body of creeds and doctrines." Ibid.

From whence does this "gift" proceed?

"Few men have the power to deviate from the traditional set of values and to establish their own scale of what appears to be better and what appears to be worse." Ibid.

Explain this "power." What does Mises mean by "establish their own scale?"

To play your own game, do you "seriously think" that Mises is referring to socially contingent power, do you "seriously think" he is referring to a socially established scale?

We will here draw out the fatal contradiction between what you quoted, and what Mises says about free-will in other places:

"The choices a man makes are determined by the ideas that he adopts." Theory and History Chapter 5, The Free-Will Controversy

But Mises has already admitted "that [man] does not himself create his ideas and standards of value."

"The determinists are right in asserting that everything that happens is the necessary sequel of the preceding state of things. What a man does at any instant of his life is entirely dependent on his past, that is, on his physiological inheritance as well as on all he went through in his previous days." Ibid.

Pay attention: "What a man does at any instant of his life is entirely dependent..."

How does Mises seek to surmount this admission? The answer is with nothing more than bare assertion, equivocation, and an appeal to ignorance, all and all, a contradiction of the very thing he just said:

"Yet the significance of this thesis [that which is cited above] is considerably weakened by the fact that nothing is known about the way in which ideas arise." Ibid.

Here Mises contradicts himself, as he already gave us a formula for the formation of ideas: "Inheritance and environment direct a man's actions... His ideology is what his environment enjoins upon him."

"The free-will doctrine is correct in pointing out the fundamental difference between human action and animal behavior. While the animal cannot help yielding to the physiological impulse which prevails at the moment, man chooses between alternative modes of conduct. Man has the power to choose even between yielding to the most imperative instinct, that of self-preservation, and the aiming at other ends. All the sarcasms and sneers of the positivists cannot annul the fact that ideas have a real existence and are genuine factors in shaping the course of events. The offshoots of human mental efforts, the ideas and the judgments of value that direct the individuals’ actions, cannot be traced back to their causes, and are in this sense ultimate data. In dealing with them we refer to the concept of individuality." Ibid. 

Not only is this false, but it is in direct contradiction with the quote you provided. It is also a direct contradiction of what Mises just said about determinism. Mises has already admitted that ideas are social constructs, they are not formed independently. If Mises was here pressed to explain himself he would immediately crack under the weigh of his own contradictions (not to mention the enormous burden he has taken on himself in deferring to the blank individual). Mises cannot have it both ways, he cannot claim the supremacy of ignorance, only to turn around and cite the individual as an explanation (most specifically after he has already admitted that what a man does is "entirely dependent").

In speaking of "human action" versus "animal behavior" he has literally said nothing to negate the fact that these both take place [provided there is a legitimate difference?] within a larger social picture (they are not the cause of themselves). A man chooses in accord with his values, and his values are determined by his social relations (to use Marx's term).

The contradiction here exists precisely because Mises is trying to have it both ways; he desperately needs to be able to affirm the sovereignty of the individual, but he knows he cannot deny the reality of social conditioning. Hence, he once again tries to recover himself with a form of lip service:

"But in resorting to this notion we by no means imply that ideas and judgments of value spring out of nothing by a sort of spontaneous generation and are in no way connected and related to what was already in the universe before their appearance. We merely establish the fact that we do not know anything about the mental process which produces within a human being the thoughts that respond to the state of his physical and ideological environment." {to appeal to ignorance regarding the micro details of the "mental process" is to change the subject, this is a red herring; appeal to ignorance does not negate the fact of social conditioning; it is merely to state that one does not know exactly how it works}

Here Mises admits that "human action" (which he distinguishes from "animal behavior") is not the result of "spontaneous generation." This nullifies what he just said about "human action" in contrast to "animal behavior." In other words, even if there is a difference between "human action" and "animal behavior" this difference wouldn't matter when it comes to freedom precisely because "ideas and judgments of value [do not] spring out of spontaneous generation [but] are connected and related to what was already in the universe before their appearance." {it is significant that he cited this precisely to qualify what he said about human action and man's choice}

In other words, the view that they are "spontaneous" is itself a mere "appearance" given the fact of causality.

Mises knows he cannot defend his idea of libertarian freedom, which is why he constantly contradicts himself by affirming the supremacy of determinism.

"You initially thought that Mises presents an individual disconnected from society (which is not what he wrote, and I think is false)."

I still hold this view insofar as I have demonstrated this view.

You cited one quote. I gave multiple readings from Mises which demonstrate a contradiction in his view. Having to spell-out these contradictions makes an exchange with you exceedingly time consuming, with little reward for my effort.

***But what is this! You want to argue against the very thing you think is false:

"There is a third option you seem to ignore: Individuals are actors with free-will (that is "not causally determined by something else"), yet can exchange ideas and thus be influenced by others in society. If you are stuck in a binary world (individuals are atoms, or, individuals are determined by society) and ignore the straightforward third model..."

You say I "ignore" a "third option," where does Mises provide this *imaginary* option? [This is your *asserted* explanation not his.]

This is a "model"? These are indeed "straightforward" assertions. But on what are these magical-assertions-of-freedom based? Do you deny that "inheritance and environment direct a man's actions?"

Do you deny, that man "does not himself create his ideas and standards of value; he borrows them from other people. His ideology is what his environment enjoins upon him?"

Do you admit with Mises that "determinists are right in asserting that everything that happens is the necessary sequel of the preceding state of things. What a man does at any instant of his life is entirely dependent on his past, that is, on his physiological inheritance as well as on all he went through in his previous days." (?)

Unless you are prepared to argue that "preferences" come before "values" (which is not Mises's position), then how you answer the above questions will determine the contingency of your idea of preference... and if you side with Mises, then social factors (social "inheritance" and "environment") ultimately determine your values and ideas.

So far as I can tell, what Mises said about ideas and values is "straightforward," and yet, because of the line you take it seems you must argue that this is not the case.

I believe in determinism exactly the way Mises said it, though I would expand the field to include history. (Events now are not isolated from events that came before).

I can engage the rest of your discourse, but I don't want to. I feel like I am having to educate you as we go. You might think this is unfair, but I have done a great deal of work in bringing propositions together from both sides of the debate. I have consistently shouldered many separate objections (from several different people) which have been raised in an attempt to posture toward the impression of some kind rationality. I have tried to engage honestly and fairly.

I am content to let the readers decide from Mises's own words.

Just because you do not perceive your own contradiction in this exchange, does not mean it will not be perceived by others.

My original thesis stands: Economic activity is a social phenomena, not an independent phenomena. Activity itself is not isolated from a larger chain of causality. But Mises needs it to be this way so he can leverage his moralism of responsibility and reward, crime and punishment... ultimately so he can pseudo-justify his theory of inequality.

Confidently yours,
Jersey Flight


Monday, April 25, 2016

What I Think About Philosophy- Jersey Flight

Marx has this famous quote...

"Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it." Theses On Feuerbach, paragraph 11

Philosophy has a direction. I posit that philosophy leads us back to life, which in turn, leads us back to the world. If philosophy is good for anything then it must be good for awareness. But what does this mean? It means we awaken to the reality in which we exist (some might call this a system); it means we realize our oppression... after all, what good is philosophy if it cannot make us aware of oppression? What if it can only oppress? If this was the nature of philosophy then it would have no distinction from that of religion. (Given) there are many different directions that one might go in philosophy, but my claim is that there is a hierarchy, in this sense philosophy must make contact with life, precisely because life is what we are, precisely because philosophy is life (without life there would be no philosophy).

It is a strange game to gamble on the semantics of words like truth, only to be the subject of a system which denies the power of this game. This makes us stupid, and I contend that philosophers are supposed to be wise.

What I will call "systems of power," these literally dominate our lives. A vision of reality is injected into us, and very few understand at the level of this injection. We mistake our impressions of the world (our injections) for the world itself... but how foolish and naive are we... what about the controllers? What about those who figured out how to inject us with what they want us to believe? Does the direction of our philosophy make us aware of control or does it make us the subjects of control? [Indeed, who can perceive this?]

Philosophers are largely stupid because they pit mind against mind, they do not know how to work together (this limits the ground they can cover, it restricts their ability to accomplish).

I contend that philosophy is premised on life and life is premised on the world. A philosopher then, is one who is concerned with the nature and quality of life, and thus, the nature and quality of the world. I am the subject of a social system of power, but if I am a good philosopher I will strive to deconstruct this system, not only for myself but for the good of my fellow creatures, even as my good is bound up in the good of the whole, I will seek to free myself from that which restricts my life. However, it seems that philosophy (what it has become, or perhaps has always been) is the kind of game one plays in order to forget that one is the subject of power. Philosophy (in its present bourgeois form) is the kind of game one plays in order to restrict what one sees. Instead of feeling the authenticity of a lament at the clattering of one's chains, one has learned how to be complacent; one has learned blindness, one can now utter that one does not have chains! No, my friends, this is not philosophy, philosophy learns to see the terror and ugliness of the world, it teaches us to resent our chains; it teaches us where and when to apply resistance; it offers a more calculated and targeted response to the systems and agents of power; from it and though it, we learn that resistance is moral because it acts in favor of life!