"The ideal of the well-informed citizen is scarcely a viable aspiration anymore"
I foresee this study being complicated by the problem of "ignorance-doubling." I'll offer two examples of what I mean by ignorance-doubling.
First, take the troubling phenomenon of people on the right of politics advocating free-trade. Why do they do that? One can talk about conspiracies and false consciousness, there is much to be said and one finds oneself ignorant of much of it.
There is a problem. The previous paragraph assumes an ignorance of Ricardo's Law of Comparative Advantage. More accurately it assumes that our hero has come across it, perhaps in some garbled account in a newspaper, and has not understood it. He fails to understand this basic law of economics but does not realise that it is important and does not realise that it is important, both for what it tells us about trade, and because it explains why people on the right of politics advocate.
One piece of ignorance, about Ricardo's Law of Comparative Advantage, leads on to more ignorance. Without the true explanation of advocacy there is forests of sociological explanations. Our hero cannot keep up with them as they are patched and mended to try to make them work, he suffers from lots of secondary ignorance.
If he could only go back and study Ricardo's Law, not only
would that solve the primary ignorance, but all the
secondary ignorance would evaporate.
My second example is Simpson's paradox. It is not as well
known as Ricardo's Law of Comparative Advantage and I've
to bring out why it matters.
Think about the way that the newspapers are full of health
stories. Tomatoes cause cancer. Tomatoes protect
against cancer. Whatever. The stream of stories is endless
and we all find ourselves ignorant of the latest health
Notice though that this is all secondary ignorance, caused
by not grasping Simpson's paradox. All this non-experimental
work is worthless. If we could but rid ourselves of the
primary ignorance of not grasping Simpson's paradox all our
secondary ignorance would go away.
Well, that was my comment. It might reassure you because it suggests that there are key simplifying ideas that make being a well-informed citizen more viable than it at first appears. Much ignorance is ignorance of bogus knowledge and goes away when the quest for bogus knowledge is abandoned. On the other hand the key simplifying ideas seem to be intellectually hard, the kind of ideas that only a mathematician would love, so perhaps we really are doomed. :-(
It's really sad what's happened but I hope it leads to some changes. The new law about photographing policemen should be up for debate at least.
--------It's political correctness gone mad!
They don't seem to be making much fuss over the way the cop was wearing a balaclava though. That suggests to me that he was planning on causing trouble from the start, he didn't just lose his temper. --It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
nebbish has a good point though. It's not just an isolated incident of one copper losing it.You can't inspire people with facts- Small Gods
This comment has been deleted by xth
The trouble with these smartphones in particular is that they've got all these damn transmitters in there. GSM, 3G, Bluetooth, Wifi. Playing with these, and turning them off when not needed can have a huge effect on battery life. I personally leave wifi off at all times even though it'd mean much faster Internet at home and office.---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
"And this ... is a piece of Synergy." --Kellnerin
This mistake is partly because `orthodox' Marxist doctrine was mostly define by Stalinist era soviet scholarship. But even within Marx's lifetime he was telling the `Marxist' wing of the SPD that they had it all wrong. For that matter, the advocacy of The Communist Manifesto and Chapter 32 of Capital have large amounts of unresolved tension with the rest of the body of Marx's work, especially his economic and philosophical writings. Implementing various types of socialist reforms in a capitalist economy will actually retard the progress of capitalism if one takes dialectical materialism seriously. I first noticed this back in 2005 when I took a course on Late Modern Philosophy and covered a bit of Marx. Desai is the first author I've seen try to play the idea out.
Also, Desai points out that Marx wasn't a statist. He believed in workers owning the means of production not the state. Much of what gets labeled `state socialism' would better be labeled `state capitalism' where the state owns much of the means of production and reaps the profit from various nationalized industries. The trend towards state capitalism, Desai argues, is actually Nazism stripped of its racial doctrines rather than Marxism.
Inequality was high in Marx's own day, and he expected it to increase. We now know that progressive taxation, reform and the welfare state caused inequality to decrease instead. But not having our hindsight, Marx quite reasonably expected a crisis of capitalism in the fairly short term.
Also, Marx's Marxism wasn't just based on theory, but also on empirical evidence of that exploitation, accumulation by the rich, and suffering of the poor were increasing. Now some modern Marxists like to say "oh, Marx was basically right, it's just taking longer than he thought". But it's not just a question of delay: for long stretches of time the indicators have gone the wrong way: factory conditions improved, minimum wages rose. That gives a hard knock to the empirical leg of Marx's Marxism: maybe it's not an inevitable process, but a cyclical process where every so often the workers get fed up and successfully get some of the bourgeois wealth spread their way.--It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
As for capitalism going the wrong way to empirically validate Marx's theories, I think your conflating the goals, aims, and theories of early non-Marxist socialists with Marx. Marx's economic theory had nothing to do with exploitive factory conditions. He uses exploitation in a somewhat equivocal sense. It is the destruction of the Lockean view that property follows labor that that Marx finds exploitative in capitalism. The exploitation of the workers lies in the fact that they are alienated from the product of their labor in the same way that natural resources are exploited by removing them from where they are found in a state of nature. (Nationalized productive facilities do this no less than privatized ones.) That during Marx's day there was also a good deal of other types of exploitation is incidental to his chief complaint about capitalism.
Now, it may be true that Marx also complained about these other senses of exploitation: child labor, oppressive working conditions, etc. But those issues were really the pet issues of the non-Marxist socialist groups that were contemporary with Marx. His analysis of capitalism had little to do with those factors and more to do with whether capitalism would ever reach a point where it was no longer viable. Things like minimum wages and working conditions are more or less incidental to that.
Marx's economic theory had nothing to do with exploitive factory conditions.
Where in his actual texts does he talk about "capitalism becoming completely globalized" before the revolution can happen?--It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
Also keep in mind the discussion (I think in volume I) of the cyclical nature of capitalism. As labor increases its advantage and wages rise, capitalists invest in more machinery so that they can achieve more profit with less labor. This puts more laborers out of work and wages sink but as production rises, workers are hired back, they have new found power to negotiate, wages rise. Lather. Rinse Repeat in 10 year cycles or so.
That Marx devotes a whole chapter to the length of the labor day doesn't tell us much. What is more important is the reason that he included that chapter. What does it illustrate and what economic conclusions are drawn from it? Does he present it as an example of the sort of exploitation that he is speaking of or does he present it as the consequence of the exploitative nature of capitalism.
Another interesting bit is that Marx presents in volume II, a scheme of managing profits through reinvestment by which capitalism can continue indefinitely.
This comment has been deleted by ucblockhead
I also like my googlephone, but it really is a 1.0 product. In the next year, you can expect a whole bunch of better Android phones coming from a number of difference places. ---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman