|Progressive Calendar 04.09.10||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Fri, 9 Apr 2010 15:05:46 -0700 (PDT)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 04.09.10 1. Socialism/DeLeon 4.09 7pm 2. Ellsberg film 4.09 3. Peace walk 4.10 9am Cambridge MN 4. Mayday/SingPay 4.10 9am 5. Haiti 4.10 10am 6. Nicaragua 4.10 10am 7. CUAPB 4.10 1:30pm 8. Northtown vigil 4.10 2pm 9. James Bovard - Subverting freedom: Bush's ongoing legacy of secrecy 10. Jeff Gates - Was Israel ever legitimate? 11. Ernest Partridge - Why Libertarianism fails as a social policy --------1 of 11-------- From: jtmiller jtmiller <jtmiller [at] minn.net> Subject: Socialism/DeLeon 4.09 7pm Friday April 9, 7:00 pm, MayDay Bookstore Working Democracy Book Club: "Socialist Reconstruction of Society," by Daniel De Leon Today the word "socialism" is distorted to mean a state-controlled system without personal freedom. In this 1905 speech introducing the newly-formed Industrial Workers of the World, De Leon shows that socialism is a self-governed workers' industrial commonwealth that supplants the state and expands the freedom of the individual. --------2 of 11-------- From: Rowley Clan <rowleyclan [at] earthlink.net> Subject: Ellsberg film 4.09 One Week Only! Starts Friday, April 9 at the Lagoon Cinema Co-winner of the Freedom of Expression Award from the National Board of Review, Winner of the Special Jury Award at IDFA, and an Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary Feature, The Most Dangerous Man in America tells the story of Daniel Ellsberg, a high-level Pentagon official and Vietnam War strategist, who in 1971 concluded that the war is based on decades of lies, and leaks 7,000 pages of top secret documents to The New York Times-a daring act of conscience that leads directly to Watergate, President Nixon's resignation and the end of the Vietnam War. A riveting story of how this one man's profound change of heart created a landmark struggle involving America's newspapers, its president and Supreme Court. With Daniel Ellsberg, Patricia Ellsberg, Tony Russo, Howard Zinn, Hedrick Smith, John Dean and, from the secret White House tapes, Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, who called Ellsberg "the most dangerous man in America." Narrated by Ellsberg. Official Web Site <http://www.mostdangerousman.org/> <http://www.landmarktheatres.com/Films/films_frameset.asp?id=83610> --------3 of 11-------- From: Ken Reine <reine008 [at] umn.edu> Subject: Peace walk 4.10 9am Cambridge MN every Saturday 9AM to 9:35AM Peace walk in Cambridge - start at Hwy 95 and Fern Street --------4 of 11-------- From: Blanche Hall <blanche.hall [at] gmail.com> Subject: Mayday/SingPay 4.10 9am Lets march in the MayDay Parade for single-payer health care ! Calling all Single Payer Activists - spring has sprung, lets gather at the MayDay Parade and kick off the summer with a little fun and activism. The 2010 MayDay Parade and Festival will be held on Sunday, May 2. This year's theme: UP ROAR: The Year of the Tiger --Burdens, Breaths, Death/Life/Cyclical nature Attend a workshop and meet with the artists and determine if you can tie into the theme or march in the "Join In" section at the back of the parade. No registration required for workshops. Workshop Dates - April 3 - 29 [copy this if interested] · Saturdays, 9-11am and 1-3 pm · Tuesdays, 7-9 pm · Thursdays, 7-9 pm May 2nd, Noon: MayDay Parade participants assemble by section east of Bloomington Avenue on 25th Street, between Bloomington and Cedar Avenue in South Minneapolis. 1 pm: Parade begins at the corner of 25th Street East and Bloomington Avenue South, and travels south on Bloomington to 34th Street East, where the parade turns west towards Powderhorn Park, where the parade ends and the MayDay Ceremony and Festival begins, at approximately 3pm. All Interested individuals, groups please contact either Joel Albers at joel [at] uhcan-mn.org or Carol halonen at Blanche.Hall [at] gmail.com so we can coordinate and e-mail logistics, etc. Our plan from last nights UHCAN-MN meeting is to March in the Parade in the "join in" section toward the back, with our new big, beautiful, colorful. single-payer themed banners that folks have taken time to paint, our hospital bed dramatizing that we need a HC system that's Alive and Well and not on life support, with health care cheerleaders doing curbside cheers like "HMOs are jive talkin". So let us know if you want to do any of these. We need HC Cheerleaders. So dig out your walking sandals, tennis shoes, radical cheerleading attire, Single Payer banners, old hospital beds, and what ever else you have in storage -- Let's spend some time this summer letting everyone know that the Single Payer movement is alive and well and that Obama care will send us straight to h-e-double l :) --------5 of 11-------- From: Doris Marquit <marqu001 [at] umn.edu> Subject: Haiti 4.10 10am WILPF "Coffee With" Discussion Saturday, April 10, 10 am-noon Van Cleve Community Center 901 15th Ave. SE, Minneapolis Disaster Aid in Haiti & Elsewhere: Good Intentions vs Results Panel: Representatives of local organizations with hands-on positive and negative experience organizing and delivering disaster relief. When one part of the world is hit with catastrophe, how can (and should) the rest of the world respond? What can WE do? Ffi: Doris Marquit, 612-922-7993 marqu001 [at] umn.edu Women's International League for Peace & Freedom www.wilpfmn.org --------6 of 11-------- From: Jason Stone <jason.stone [at] yahoo.com> Subject: Nicaragua 4.10 10am Coffee Hour: Microfinance in Nicaragua - Apr. 10 Saturday, April 10 10:00am-11:45am At the Resource Center of the Americas Presented in English Description: Christina and Kris both work in community development lending and recently traveled to Nicaragua as part of a group visiting with microfinance programs assisting women in Nicaragua. They will share their observations about microfinance in Nicaragua and also reflect upon their work with immigrant businesses in the Twin Cities. Speakers: Christina Jennings (Executive Director, Northcountry Cooperative Development Fund and Co-Founder of Social Impact Adventures, Minneapolis) Kris Maritz (Loan and Technical Assistance Specialist, Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers, Minneapolis) Contact Information: Christina Jennings christina [at] socialimpactadventures.com Phone: 612-751-3524 --------7 of 11-------- From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at] visi.com> Subject: CUAPB 4.10 1:30pm Meetings: Every Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Walker Church, 3104 16th Avenue South http://www.CUAPB.org Communities United Against Police Brutality 3100 16th Avenue S Minneapolis, MN 55407 Hotline 612-874-STOP (7867) --------8 of 11-------- From: Vanka485 [at] aol.com Subject: Northtown vigil 4.10 2pm Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av), every Saturday 2-3pm --------9 of 11-------- Bush's Ongoing Legacy of Secrecy Subverting Freedom By JAMES BOVARD April 8, 2010 CounterPunch Many Americans assumed that the Bush administration's peril to their freedom ended when George Bush exited the White House on January 20, 2009. Unfortunately, the precedents the administration established continue to threaten Americans' rights and liberties. This is stark on government secrecy. Shortly after the 2000 election, Vice President-elect Richard Cheney convened a task force on energy policy. After he assumed office, he refused to disclose the names of the advisors, even though the task-force report was the basis for energy legislation that would profoundly affect the nation's economy. Critics argued that the involvement of private companies in crafting legislation made the task force a federal advisory committee. Thanks to a 1972 law, such committees are required to disclose membership and other information. The Clinton administration ran aground on this reef after a federal judge ruled that the secrecy of Hillary Clinton's health-care task force violated federal law. While the Clinton task force's secrecy sparked widespread controversy, no such uproar occurred when the Bush team used the same tactic. The General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, initially requested all the energy task-force records, including transcripts of the meetings. After the administration refused to supply any information, GAO sued to get a list of "who attended the energy task force meetings, the process that determined who would be invited, and how much it all cost". Bush portrayed the GAO's action as a threat to the survival of the presidency. He declared, "I am not going to let Congress erode the power of the executive branch. I have a duty to protect the executive branch from legislative encroachment.. Can you imagine having to give up every single transcript of what is advised me or the vice president? Our advice [from others] wouldn't be good and honest and open". At the time of Bush's statement, the GAO had long since dropped its request for transcripts. He was invoking openness for his advisors as a pretext for closing government for everyone else. The GAO lawsuit was dismissed by a federal judge, John Bates Jr., whom Bush appointed in 2001. Bates ruled that because GAO had not been injured, it had no standing to sue to get the documents. In a 1980 law, Congress explicitly authorized GAO to file such lawsuits, but Bates brushed that technicality aside. The Washington Post noted that the decision "could severely weaken the GAO and leave a president largely immune from aggressive congressional oversight unless the opposition party is in the majority". Presumptive privilege The Bush administration did not escape a similar lawsuit on energy task-force documents filed by the Sierra Club and by Judicial Watch, a law firm renowned for its hounding of the Clinton administration. The White House claimed executive privilege to deny all information demands, seeking to close it to almost any outside oversight. Federal Judge Emmett Sullivan slammed the Bush team: "The implications of the bright-line rule advocated by the government are stunning". Sullivan warned that accepting this doctrine "would eviscerate the understanding of checks and balances between the three branches of government on which our constitutional order depends". The Bush administration informed the court in September 2002 that it would not turn over the documents because they "are all presumptively privileged because they all involve sensitive communications between and among the president and his closest advisers". However, in an October 2002 court hearing, Justice Department attorneys confessed that they had not reviewed the documents that they claimed all contained sensitive information. Judge Sullivan commanded the Bush administration lawyer, "You have to produce the non-privileged documents and assert the [executive] privilege for those that are. You refuse to assert the privilege and won't respond to court orders". Deputy Assistant Attorney General Shannen Coffin explained that "we're not going to ask our clients to complete that review because it's an unconstitutional burden". This notion of "unconstitutional burden" sounded like it might apply to a princess who did not wish to be compelled to make a ceremonial appearance. "Unwarranted intrusion" Rather than comply with Judge Sullivan's order, the Bush administration trotted off to federal appeals court. Federal appeals Judge Harry Edwards complained to a Justice Department lawyer, "You have no case . you have no authority to bring the case here". The court refused to countenance the Bush administration's demand for blanket secrecy. The Bush team took the case to the Supreme Court. After the Court took the case, Sierra Club attorney David Bookbinder declared, "The American people have already waited far too long to find out exactly how energy industries influenced our national energy policy". Justice Department spokesman Mark Corallo countered, "The administration's energy plan is available to the public for anyone to review, and the administration has provided 36,000 additional pages of documents relating to its development". But it is irrelevant how many boxes of documents are dumped on plaintiffs if the key information is withheld. Not a single page of information was disclosed from the Cheney task force. The Bush administration's arguments in the Cheney task force case were "strikingly similar" to its arguments for the president's power to unilaterally label people as enemy combatants and lock them up in perpetuity without a trial, the New York Times noted. In both cases, the administration was "projecting a vision of presidential power in both war and peace as far-reaching as any the court has seen and posing important questions of the constitutional separation of powers". The administration claimed that the Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972 is "plainly unconstitutional" in authorizing "unwarranted intrusion" and "extreme interference" with the president's "core" constitutional duties. Solicitor General Theodore Olson informed the Court, "Congress does not have the power to inhibit, confine or control the process through which the president formulates the legislative measures he proposes or the administrative actions he orders". The Bush administration warned that a broad interpretation of the Federal Advisory Committee Act turns the law "into a general warrant to search executive branch groups and committees for contacts with outsiders who might be deemed de facto members". It was ironic for the Bush administration to complain about a general warrant, since that was its preferred method of dealing with American citizens. The Bush administration's overreaching in this case was lampooned by comic Jay Leno, who characterized its view of "separation of powers": "That means that people who don't have any power shouldn't be allowed to find out what the people who do have power are doing". On April 27, 2004, when the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case, Theodore Olson declared that "the separation of powers issue in this case goes far beyond the assertion of executive privilege. Executive privilege concerns itself with particular documents or a concern over the relationship the particular documents refer to. The objection here is to the process". Olson declared that the president should not even have to bother to claim executive privilege in the case, since that "would have required the president and the vice president to spend time with documents". He also declared that even permitting a private organization to seek White House documents would create "a process that's invasive to fundamental presidential prerogatives and responsibilities". He derided private groups' efforts to learn what White House officials had said or done, declaring that "the discovery itself violates the Constitution". Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg asked, "All discovery?" Olson replied, "Yes". Olson propounded a doctrine of "constitutional immunity" that made it sound as if the White House deserves the same status that the kings of old enjoyed. Justice Scalia, in questioning a lawyer for the Sierra Club, propounded a sweeping doctrine that could satisfy even Bush absolutists: "I think executive privilege means whenever the president feels that he is threatened, he can simply refuse to comply with a court order. He has the power . to say, "No, this intrudes too much upon my powers. I will not do it...". On June 24, 2004, the Supreme Court voted 7 to 2 to remand the case to a federal appeals court for further examination of whether the Energy Task Force fell under the federal advisory law. This ruling was a victory for the Bush administration, since it was pushing Congress full-steam ahead to enact its energy bill before it had to disclose the details on the task force. In May 2005, a federal appeals court dismissed the case. A unanimous ruling by the eight judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit declared that the plaintiffs "failed to establish any duty, let alone a clear and indisputable duty, owed to them by the federal government" to disclose the information about the task force. The Obama team is mimicking some of the worst traits of its predecessor. Last July, the White House refused to disclose the names of health-care executives who had visited the White House to discuss health-care reform. The administration is also taking an expansive view of "state secrets" which could prevent the American public from learning of federal abuses across the board. Preserving freedom requires leashing government. The less people learn about government policies, the less control they will have over government action. By preventing people from knowing what government is doing, secrecy unleashes government. James Bovard serves as a policy advisor for The Future of Freedom Foundation and is the author of Attention Deficit Democracy, The Bush Betrayal, Terrorism and Tyranny, and other books. --------10 of 11-------- Was Israel Ever Legitimate? by Jeff Gates April 8th, 2010 Dissident Voice The history of Israel as a geopolitical fraud will fill entire libraries as those defrauded marvel at how so few deceived so many for so long. Those duped include many naive Jews who - even now - identify their interests with this extremist enclave. Israeli leaders are wrong to worry about "de-legitimization". They are right to fear that a long-deceived public is fast realizing that Israel's founding was key to an ongoing deception. The Invention of the Jewish People did not begin with Shlomo Sand's 2009 bestseller by that title. There was no Exile says this Jewish scholar. Nor was there an Exodus. So how could there be a Return, the core premise of Israeli statehood? If this patch of Palestinian land never rightly belonged to a mythical Jewish People, what then for the legitimacy of the "Jewish homeland". And for that depiction by British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour in his November 1917 letter to Lord Rothschild? Were Christians likewise seduced by Sunday school teachings reliant on the phony findings of Biblical archeologist William Albright? Shlomo Sand chronicles how in the 1920s Albright interpreted every excavation in Palestine to "reaffirm the Old Testament and thereby the New". In 1948, President Harry Truman, a Christian Zionist, was advised by Secretary of State George Marshall not to recognize this enclave as a state. This WWII general assured Truman that he would vote against him - and did. That military tradition resurfaced in January 2010 when General David Petraeus dispatched a team to brief Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on the perils that Israel still poses to U.S. national security. Mullen was reportedly shocked.1 He should not have been surprised. Such insights are hardly new. More than six decades ago the Joint Chiefs of Staff cautioned Truman about the "fanatical concepts of the Jewish leaders" and their plans for "Jewish military and economic hegemony over the entire Middle East". In December 1948, Albert Einstein and 27 prominent Jews urged us "not to support this latest manifestation of fascism". They warned that a "Leader State" was the goal of the "terrorist party" that has governed Israel over all but a handful of the past 62 years. The Joint Chiefs foresaw the "Zionist strategy will seek to involve [the U.S.] in a continuously widening and deepening series of operations intended to secure maximum Jewish objectives". Soon after Truman recognized Israel, his presidential campaign train was "refueled" by Zionist Jews with $400,000 in contributions ($3.6 million in 2010 dollars). Soon thereafter, Israel betrayed the U.S. by allying with the British and the French to invade Egypt. Though London and Paris soon abandoned the operation, months more were required to dissuade Tel Aviv from pursuing their expansionist agenda then - as now - for Greater Israel. Outraged by Israeli duplicity, Eisenhower sought help to rein them in. He soon found that even then (as now) the Israel lobby dominated Congress. Thus the former Supreme Allied Commander appeared on television with an appeal directly to the American people. Then - unlike now - a U.S. Commander in Chief threatened to reduce assistance to Israel. To revamp Israel's tattered image, New York public relations expert Edward Gottlieb retained novelist Leon Uris to write Exodus. Jewish Zionists have routinely proven themselves skilled storytellers and masterful mythmakers. This 1958 bestseller was translated into dozens of languages and quickly made into a movie for the 1960 Christmas season starring Paul Newman and featuring Peter Lawford, brother-in-law of the just-elected President John F. Kennedy.2 The Myth of a Loyal Ally Phil Tourney survived the June 8, 1967 Israeli attack on the USS Liberty that left 34 Americans dead and 175 wounded. The region-wide dynamics accompanying that provocative Six-Day land grab guaranteed the conflicts that remain so perilous to U.S. national security. It was during this Israeli operation that Tourney gave a one-fingered salute to armed Israeli troops as they hovered in helicopters over the USS Liberty while preparing to rappel to the deck and, he surmises, kill the survivors and sink the ship. Just then the captain aboard a nearby U.S. carrier scrambled jets to assist a vessel under attack by an "ally". When Israeli intelligence intercepted the transmission, the helicopters fled only to have President Lyndon Johnson and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara recall our fighters. Soon thereafter, Israeli torpedo boats pulled alongside the USS Liberty to inquire if those aboard needed assistance. Those same boats had just blown a hole in the hull, killing 25 Americans. Israeli machine-gunners had then strafed stretcher-bearers, firemen, life rafts and even the fire hoses - all clear war crimes. Only then did this ally display the chutzpah to ask if our servicemen required assistance. Had that notorious land grab failed to advance the narrative of Israel as the victim, what might be the condition of U.S. national security today? Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently conceded the duplicity that continues to typify this "special relationship". As he confessed: "Our policy on Jerusalem is the same policy followed by all Israeli governments for 42 years, and it has not changed. As far as we are concerned, building in Jerusalem is the same as building in Tel Aviv". In other words, the 1967 war was neither defensive nor preemptive but an outright taking of land that, one year later, Tel Aviv acknowledged as precisely what concerned the Pentagon 62 years ago. In effect, Netanyahu confirmed that this relationship reflects multi-decade premeditation. The U.S. has since discredited itself by protecting this "ally" from the rule of law for its taking and brutal occupation of land that rightly belongs to others. Even now, few know that Mathilde Krim, a former Irgun operative, was "servicing" our Commander-in-Chief in the White House the night the 1967 war began. Her husband, Arthur, then chaired the finance committee for the Democratic National Committee. Even now, few Americans know the role in that cover-up played by Admiral John McCain, Jr. Or the role still played in this sordid history by his son, Republican Senator John McCain III.3 Are those who champion this "state" the same belief-makers responsible for the myth of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction? Iraqi meetings in Prague? Iraqi mobile biological weapons laboratories? High-level Iraqi contacts with Al Qaeda? Iraqi yellowcake uranium from Niger? Was any of that intelligence legitimate? Whose interests were served by deceiving the U.S. to wage war in the Middle East? By the Suez Crisis? By the Six-Day War? By covering up the attack on the USS Liberty? Adhering to an Enemy? How are U.S. interests served by treating Israel as a legitimate state? When was Israeli behavior anything other than duplicitous? At what point do we concede the common source of the storylines foisted on an imperiled global public? Who created the narrative that saw us segue seamlessly from a global Cold War to a global War on Terrorism? Remember the promise of a post-Cold War "peace dividend"? Who induced the U.S. to wage a war whose costs could total $3 trillion, including $700 billion in interest? Why is debt always the prize? At the end of WWII, the U.S. was home to 50% of the world's productive power. Were we induced to hollow out our economy by the same consensus-shapers that induced us to wage war in the Middle East? Do these devastating dynamics trace to a common source? Who benefits from the "Islamo" fascist narrative? Whose storyline - really - is The Clash of Civilizations? Who has long spied on the U.S. and routinely transferred to other nations our most sensitive defense technologies? Who had the means, motive, opportunity and, importantly, the stable nation state intelligence required to perpetrate such a debilitating fraud from inside the U.S. government? And from inside other governments that joined the "coalition of the willing"? If not Israel and its supporters - who? In effect, are those now advocating an "unbreakable bond" with Israel giving aid and comfort to an enemy within? Israel is right to worry. It was never legitimate. As both an enabler and a target of this fraud, the U.S. has an obligation to concede its source - and to secure the weapons of mass destruction now under the control of this enclave. 1. See: "The Petraeus Briefing" [.] 2. See: "Time for an American Intifada?" [.] 3. See: "McCain Family Secret: The Cover-up" [.] Jeff Gates is author of Guilt By Association, Democracy at Risk, and The Ownership Solution. Read other articles by Jeff, or visit Jeff's website. --------11 of 11-------- Morality as a Plus-Sum Game Why Libertarianism Fails as a Social Policy by Ernest Partridge April 8th, 2010 Dissident Voice The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done but can not do at all or can not do well for themselves in their separate or individual capacities. - Abraham Lincoln It is written that when Rabbi Hillel (a contemporary of Jesus of Nazareth) was asked to recite the essence of The Law of Moses while standing on one foot, he replied: "What is hateful to thyself do not do to another. That is the whole Law, the rest is Commentary". After several decades of studying, publishing and teaching moral philosophy, I believe that I can identify the foundation of morality in a single breath: "Morality is a plus-sum game". These precepts are not contrary, for they are of differing logical orders. Hillel's precept is a moral commandment - an ethical rule of conduct. On the other hand, "morality is a plus-sum game" is an account of the foundation of morality; what philosophers call "meta-ethics". So just what is the meaning of "morality is a plus-sum game?" While it is easy enough to articulate this question, spelling out an answer might require volumes of elaboration, as indeed it has. But here, at least, are a few initial steps.** The late American philosopher, John Rawls, explained this principle with admirable clarity when he wrote: "[A] society is a cooperative venture for mutual advantage. [S]ocial cooperation makes possible a better life for all than any would have if each were to live solely by his own efforts".1 This insight is by no means original with Rawls. It resounds throughout the history of philosophy and political theory. Moreover, it is proven time and again in the experience of successful civilizations and, conversely, in the decline and fall of other civilizations. Accordingly, this proven insight clearly explains why a radically individualistic political dogma such as libertarianism is not only immoral, it is empirically unworkable. Any society based upon such a dogma is bound to fail to satisfy the legitimate needs of its citizens. About Game Theory: Game theory, which was developed by John von Neuman and Oskar Morgenstern in the forties, "attempts to mathematically capture behavior in strategic situations, in which an individual's success in making choices depends upon the choices of others". (John Nash, portrayed in the movie, A Beautiful Mind, won his Nobel Prize in economics for his work in game theory). While game theory can involve some highly advanced mathematical elaborations, the essentials can be readily understood by the ordinary citizen.2 In its most general sense, a "game" is a cooperative, rule-governed and goal-directed activity. With the rare exception of solitaire, games involve multiple "players:" two individuals (e.g., tennis and chess), two teams (e.g. football), several individuals or teams (e.g. lotteries, tournaments), and entire societies (e.g., governments, morality). If there are two players or teams and the game is designed to result in one winner and one loser, it is called a "zero sum game". Tennis and chess are zero sum games. If there are multiple players and only one winner, the game is designated as "minus sum". Lotteries and tennis tournaments are minus sum games. Competitive games are either zero-sum or minus-sum. Such games are also "cooperative" in the sense that the players agree to obey the rules. However, there are other "cooperative, rule-governed, goal oriented" activities in which the players cooperate to produce positive results, i.e. "wins", for all players. While such activities are generally not called games, they nonetheless fit the definition: "cooperative, rule-governed and goal oriented". For example, from the point of view of the teams and the spectators, football is a zero sum game: one team wins and the other loses. But from the point of view of the participating players, it is a plus-sum game: each player interacts with the other team members in a well-coordinated activity which, when well-executed, results in a gain for all the team players that none can accomplish alone; namely, a win. A freely consummated barter or purchase is a plus-sum game - cooperative, rule governed and goal oriented - in that each participant gains through the transaction. If I have more vehicles than I want and my house is in need of repair, and if my neighbor, a skilled carpenter, needs a car, then a trade of my car for his labor leaves us both better off. For a sale to take place, both the buyer and the seller must perceive a personal advantage in the transaction. Not surprisingly, game theory has attracted the intense interest of economists. Science is a plus-sum game. It is cooperative: an accumulated accomplishment of millions of working scientists through the centuries. It is rule-governed: following strict rules of inference and evidence, and requirements of publicity, replicability and falsifiability. And it is oriented toward the goal of establishing verifiable truth. A well-ordered society is also a plus-sum game, whereby capital, labor, education and government function cooperatively according to mutually acknowledged and enforceable rules (i.e., laws and regulations) in pursuit of common goals. These common goals are clearly articulated in the Preamble to the United States Constitution: justice, domestic tranquility, common defense, general welfare, and "the blessings of liberty". Each institutional "player" in a successful "plus-sum game" of a just economic/political order needs the cooperative efforts of the other players if that society is to accomplish, in John Rawls's words, "a better life for all than any would have if each were to live solely by his own efforts". In contrast, a libertarian (unregulated "free market") economy is minus-sum game in the extreme: few winners, a great many losers. As we are discovering in the United States today. Many non-competitive sporting activities are also plus-sum games, including mountain climbing, sailing, and tandem (two person) canoeing, all of which require well coordinated "team play" to achieve a well-defined goal. A personal example: I am a life-long aficionado of white-water boating (in kayaks and canoes). Well before I acquired much experience and skill in this sport, I persuaded my brother to run a swift Utah river with me in his new canoe. Each of us had independent ideas as to how to maneuver the thing. In short, two captains and no crew. Rock straight ahead? Bow wants to go right, and stern wants to go left. It was a near disaster. As any tandem canoeist will tell you, a successful river run (a plus sum) can only be accomplished with an ability to "read the water" and to execute coordinated paddle strokes according to unambiguous decisions by the designated "captain". Similarly with successful team climbs and sailing cruises. The Virtues as Plus-Sum: Time now to assess my contention that a moral order in society is a plus sum game. Consider the usual roster of moral virtues: honesty, trustworthiness, courage, compassion, charity, loyalty and, perhaps most fundamentally, empathy - the capacity to share another's joy and to feel another's pain. Is it not abundantly obvious that the more virtuous the members of a society, the greater the plus-sum "payoffs" of social life? Economic transactions would be conducted with full knowledge and confidence, with no "inefficient" losses due to default, deceptive advertising, or fraudulent contracts. Marriages would be secure and enduring. Government officials could be expected to serve their constituents, free of bribery and corruption. In a community of optimally trustworthy, compassionate, tolerant and generous individuals, there would be no need to invest community resources in police, criminal courts and prisons. Such a consideration led James Madison to conclude that "if men were angels, no government would be necessary".3 Regarding the codification and enforcement of criminal law, Madison was no doubt correct. Even so, his pronouncement is an overstatement, for even in a society of angels, some government would be necessary. For example, there would have to be traffic laws, no matter how virtuous the drivers, if traffic were to move safely and efficiently. Once the traffic lights fail, the freedom to move is obliterated in the resulting chaos. In general, if a game is to be played successfully - including the "game" of economic/political activity - the players must know the rules, even if there is total assurance that no one will cheat and thus there is no need whatever to enforce the rules with the threat of penalties. There are, to be sure, some traditional "virtues" that contribute little to the mutual advantages of community life. David Hume called these "the monkish virtues," and they include celibacy, fasting, penance, mortification, self-denial, silence and solitude. Of these, Hume observed: "they serve to no manner of purpose; neither advance a man's fortune in the world, nor render him a more valuable member of society".4 With Hume, I conclude that these traits scarcely qualify as "virtues" at all, but rather are the consequences of "superstition and false religion". The Vices as Minus-Sum: In contrast, moral vices subvert and stifle the mutual advantages of social life, which, I contend, is precisely why they are vices. Foremost among these are pride, cruelty, ruthlessness, hatred, prejudice, dishonesty, selfishness, greed. Add to these "an absence of empathy" which, as I have argued elsewhere, may be the most fundamental of the vices. Each of these vices shred the fabric of an orderly society, as they make cooperation impossible or even counter-productive, as they undermine rules, and as they subvert the pursuit of common goals. In a society of liars, contracts can not be made. When prejudice and hatred prevail, all citizens can not be equal before the law. A representative republic can not endure if public officials can not be trusted. And an ideology that prizes selfishness and greed cannot be the foundation of a flourishing economic/political system. The Inevitable Failure of Libertarianism as a Social Theory: I most emphatically do not wish to suggest that libertarians are wicked people. Many libertarians that I know personally, and others that I know by reputation, are as tolerant, unbiased, generous and charitable as any liberal, and even more so than some liberals of my acquaintance. Some libertarians are so tolerant that they invite me and other liberals to publish in their journals and participate in their conferences. However, as libertarians, they believe that the promotion of these virtues is no business of the government. Charity and tolerance, they insist, are, and must remain, private virtues. To the libertarian, a voluntary contribution to the poor or to a school, museum or park is morally commendable. But taxation in support of welfare, education, museums and parks is theft. As for cruelty, ruthlessness and dishonesty, these vices are regarded by the libertarians as self-defeating and, when exposed in practice, these vices fail in a free market and in the unregulated association of free individuals. Any vices that constrain the fundamental "negative" rights life, liberty and property, can legitimately be sanctioned and punished by the "minimalist" libertarian government. Even so, despite any private virtues of individual libertarians, as a public political philosophy libertarianism is morally inadequate. In practice, it will produce minus-sum consequences. Consider once again, our criteria of a plus-sum game: a cooperative, rule-governed, goal directed activity aimed toward accomplishing mutual advantage. Libertarian doctrine drops the cooperation criterion of gamesmanship in favor of "YOYO" - "you're on your own". The libertarian dogma of "the invisible hand" decrees that a collection of self-serving individuals seeking only to maximize their own personal freedom and wealth, will somehow, by "spontaneous generation," evolve into an optimum social arrangement. No explicit rules and regulations are required apart from those laws designed to achieve the goal of the protection of the lives, liberties and property of each individual. It is a neat and simple belief system which, unfortunately, neither history nor practical experience will validate. Instead, history has taught us that when a society officially embraces what Ayn Rand calls "the virtue of selfishness" and greed becomes the controlling force in community life, wealth and power do not "trickle down" to the masses, they "percolate up" to those in control, leaving those masses impoverished and disenfranchised. Government, having been "drowned in a bathtub," offers no relief to the oppressed. "The free market" and "competitive enterprise," extolled by the libertarians in theory, are set aside in practice. The prevailing capitalists regard competition as inefficient and inconvenient, and still worse, the constant competitive pressure to improve and innovate erodes profits. Hence mergers and acquisitions. Say goodbye to Mom and Pop stores and Downtown, USA. Say hello to Wall-Mart, Costco and Home Depot. Say goodbye to a free and diverse media. Say hello to the new "Ministry of Truth:" six media mega-corporations in control of 80% of the nation's media, spewing out the official doctrines of "the free market" and "government is the problem". How, then, are diversity, free markets and competition to be preserved? How else than through the intervention of anti-trust laws, which means an activist government, which, of course, is anathema to the libertarian. The eventual result? "Life, liberty and property" for the privileged few, with poverty and servitude for all the rest. A minus-sum game. "You are on your own" does not work with tandem canoeing, nor with a social order. Without cooperative effort, without commonly acknowledged rules sanctioned and enforced by law, and without shared goals, a society cannot succeed. Liberty and Autonomy in a Plus-Sum Society. "What you are describing," replies the libertarian, "is the 'order' of bee hive or of an ant colony. Pure communism. Not a place where I would want to live. How can personal liberty and autonomy thrive in your 'cooperative venture for mutual advantage'?" A wise answer was told to me by a Russian friend, a professor at Moscow University, during the "cowboy capitalism" days following the collapse of Soviet communism. "Under communism," she observed, "we had order without freedom. Then we had freedom without order, only to discover that without order, there is no freedom". The libertarian and the liberal concur in their desire to maximize personal liberty. However, the libertarian advocates freedom without order - without, that is, an institutional structure that will ensure freedom for all. Absent such a structure, liberty, like wealth, will "percolate up" to those in charge, "with liberty for some," leaving the masses with nothing but their squalor and oppression. The liberal, on the other hand, strives to establish and maintain the social, economic and political order without which there is no freedom. The liberal understands that the economic output and the civil liberties of a society are the products of the joint contributions of all members of society - of the plus-sum cooperative, rule governed and goal oriented efforts of all. Because no social order operates without some "friction," there are inevitably victims of social and economic misfortune: the unemployed, the bankrupt, the abandoned. Add to these, the victims of natural misfortunes - accidents, disease, birth defects, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados, etc. Voluntary charity to these unfortunates, as advocated by the libertarians, is commendable. But it is insufficient. Good for the souls of the charitable, but not very helpful to those in need. There are just too many of them. Moreover, voluntary charity is a "tax on virtue," as are private donations to education, museums, libraries, concerts and parks. Most citizens correctly reflect, "I might contribute, but even if I do, my one contribution will not abolish poverty and ignorance, nor will it add significantly to civic excellence". To accomplish these common benefits, all must contribute through taxes. And with this understanding, most enlightened citizens will pay their taxes willingly, as they likewise support legislation designed to relieve suffering and to promote the common good. "Taxes," wrote Judge Oliver Wendell Holmes, "are the price we pay for civilization", the very civilization that is prerequisite to any and all personal wealth. Accordingly, it is not unjust to require the beneficiaries of civilization to share in the burden of its maintenance. However, there may be justifiable reasons to complain about the distribution of this burden. "Necessitous men are not free men," FDR observed in 1936. The liberal realizes, as the libertarian does not, that if personal liberty is to be maximized in society, it is not enough merely to guarantee the life, liberty and property of each individual. The social contract of a just community also requires that if the citizens are to enjoy "the blessings of liberty," the pre-conditions of liberty must be attended to: namely, public education, economic opportunity, equal opportunity, the protection of common resources, and the promotion of civic institutions. As the English conservative, Edmund Burke observed "[Society is] a partnership in every virtue and in all perfection. As the ends of such a partnership cannot be obtained in many generations, it becomes a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead and those who are to be born. 1. A Theory of Justice, p. 4. [.] 2. For more about game theory and the "plus-sum" nature of a just society, see Chapter 5 ("Good for Each, Bad for All" ) and Chapter 6 ("The Moral Point of View:) of my book in progress, Conscience of a Progressive. [.] 3. The Federalist, 51. [.] 4. Enquiry Concerning Morals, IX:1. [.] Ernest Partridge is the co-editor of The Crisis Papers. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- - David Shove shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu rhymes with clove Progressive Calendar over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments vote third party for president for congress now and forever Socialism YES Capitalism NO To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg --------8 of x-------- do a find on --8 Research almost any topic raised here at: CounterPunch http://counterpunch.org Dissident Voice http://dissidentvoice.org Common Dreams http://commondreams.org Once you're there, do a search on your topic, eg obama drones
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