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May 23, 2005

Comments

Michael Miller

Yeah but since we didn't volunteer to be fucked and we even went so far as to scream NOOOooooo!!!! at the top of our lungs before we got fucked, I think another word might be a little more precise. Ask Dick what he thinks.

Never mind. I'm just feeling a bit testicley today.

the exile

Nothing unusual about Char's post. Sinister, but not unusually stupid. Super-rich is code for jew. Socialist is code for jew. Soros is code for jew. That jews could be super-rich yet dangerous radicals at the same time is an old, old trope that's been around for probably 700 years. It will be last for 700 more. What's fascinating is that the trope is now so ingrained that it can function independently, perhaps without the jew part of it being acknowledged in any way. Indeed, I would bet dollars to donuts that you can probably find exactly this kind of anti-Soros screed penned by a right-wing jew, totally oblivious to the meme's origins and history.

Jeff

Well I am not sure whether it is inconsistent with normal usage to call a "Marxist" a "socialist." Obviously, people can define terms as they choose, and you can certainly choose definitions under which a "Marxist" is not a "socialist." (Actually, Marx himself was an artist in the use of self-stipulated definitions.)

However, considering that Marx himself claimed that he was a "scientific" socialist as opposed to people like Louis Blanc, whom Marx called "utopian" socialists, I certainly do not think that you can validly claim that someone who calls Marxists socialists just "does not know any better." (Obviously, you may have intended to say, quite correctly, that not all socialists are Marxists, but that fully justifies the qualification of Marxist socialists as opposed to guild socialists, Ricardian socialists, Fabian socialists, etc.)

Now let's try a syllogism.

No Marxist can be wealthy.
Engels, one of the authors of Das Kapital, was wealthy.
Therefore one of the authors of Das Kapital was not a Marxist.

I suspect a flaw in that syllogism. *_*

HWL

I question the premise of your syllogism.

Engels, as far as I know, inherited his wealth. Indeed, also as far as I know, working for his father is one of the things made him into a Marxist.

Here's a better syllogism.

No Marxist can be a committed capitalist.
George Soros is a committed capitalist.
Therefore, George Soros is not a Marxist.

Indeed, a better syllogism would involve things like "A Marxist believes that..." "George Soros doesn't believe that..." etc.

But the point here is that the person who accused Soros of marxism/socialism has no idea what Soros believes or what the tenets of socialism are. My guess is that his syllogism would go something like this:

1) People that I don't like usually politically left; and socialism is the farthest leftist ideology that I know.
2) I really don't like George Soros
3) George Soros is a socialist.

Hence my appeal for someone to teach them how to think.

IMHO, the exile makes an interesting point that's worth further study.

Jeff

"I question the premise of your syllogism." Actually, I think you will see I already suggested that the syllogism was flawed. As for the major premise, I took it from your original post: "a 'marxist/socialist' by definition can't be" wealthy, and you cannot imagine how you could even talk to someone who believes that "a rich business man was a socialist."

As for a "committed capitalist" not being a socialist, you are off on the high road to tautolgy if your definition of "committed capitalist" is "not a socialist."

Engels was a wealthy capitalist, whether he inherited his wealth or not. Now perhaps you want to argue that he was not a Marxist a la K. Marx: "je ne suis pas socialiste."

I cannot make any detailed claims about the beliefs of Mr. Soros, other than he seems to be generally of the left.

Given that you had suggested in a different post that accusing all conservatives of being Nazis was perhaps just cheap invective, I did not bother to respond to the exile's subtle smear that all conservatives are (perhaps inadvertent) anti-semites. If I say that Sidney Webb was a socialist, that is not code meaning that he was a Jew. If I say that John D. Rockefeller was super-wealthy, that is not code meaning that he was a Jew. When I say that Karl Marx was a Marxist, I am talking about his thought, not his family background. Nor all anti-semites conservative, e.g. Marx himself. The exile seems to have adopted Karl Lueger's maxim with a twist: the exile determines who is an anti-semite.

HWL

Jeff,

I'm not quite sure what you're suggesting. If you're just being a gadfly, and are simply being contrarian (i.e., "here's a marxist who had a lot of money!"), so be it.

If you are trying to defend the idiotic remarks made by the fellow that I quoted, you'll have to make that clearer.

As for your strange remark:

As for a "committed capitalist" not being a socialist, you are off on the high road to tautolgy if your definition of "committed capitalist" is "not a socialist."

I didn't say that the definition of being a committed capitalist is being a socialist.

My premise, if you recall, was "No Marxist can be a committed capitalist." It's not the same as saying that "[my] definition of 'committed capitalist' is 'not a socialist.'"

I was initially confused by your statement "Engels was a wealthy capitalist, whether he inherited his wealth or not," which struck me as false on its face. Looking in Merriam-Webster, though, I find two definitions of "capitalist":

1 : a person who has capital especially invested in business; broadly : a person of wealth : PLUTOCRAT

2 : a person who favors capitalism

I certainly have been using definition #2. I suspect that you've been using definition #1, hence the confusion. Indeed, conversely, I've been using the term "socialist" to mean, in Merriam Webster's definition: "one who advocates or practices socialism."

Given that Soros has made his fortune in investments, that seems to entail a necessary acceptance of the capitalist system, so the second part of M-W's definition ("practices") doesn't fit. And though it's hard to prove precisely what he doesn't or doesn't advocate, I find it unlikely that someone whose wealth is based on a capitalist system advocates the dismantling of it. Soros is, apparently, an advocate of what he calls "Open Societies," about which his website calls:

a society based on the recognition that nobody has a monopoly on the truth, that different people have different views and interests, and that there is a need for institutions to protect the rights of all people to allow them to live together in peace. Broadly speaking, an open society is characterized by a reliance on the rule of law, the existence of a democratically elected government, a diverse and vigorous civil society, and respect for minorities and minority opinions.

All of which has very little to do with socialism.

As I hope should be painfully clear by now, my original point stands: the person on free republic didn't know what they were talking about. George Soros is clearly not a socialist, and calling him one makes me suspiciou that our free republic friend either doesn't know what a socialist is or doesn't know anything about George Soro. Someone should, in fact, teach them how to think.

Jeff

@HWL

You still have not defined explicitly "committed capitalist." But probably you implicitly intended to do so in your sense #2: "a person who [intellectually and/or emotionally] favors capitalism." I take it that you and I agree that "favoring" capitalism is, by definition, opposing socialism, and vice versa. And I guess that you and I are agreeing that Marxists are socialists and so disfavor capitalism (although in your first post you could be interpreted as denying that Marxists are socialists.) So your major premise is a pure tautology, meaning only that those who favor capitalism do not disfavor capitalism. While it is a tautology, it is not necessarily a vicious one, merely setting the stage definitionally. The meat of your syllogism then becomes your minor premise, which obviously can be interpreted empirically: either Mr. Soros is a "committed capitalist" in your sense, or he is not.

I frankly admit I have no empirical evidence on that subject. It may or may not be true. You, however, see as a logical entailment that anyone taking advantage of capitalism must be a "committed capitalist" in your ideological sense. I am afraid that not only is there no such logical entailment, but there are historical examples rebutting it. I have already used the example of Engels, and you and I presumably agree that he was not a "committed capitalist" despite his wealth and personal ownership of the means of production. Or take the example of Lenin's NEP. It may be tactical wisdom for a "committed socialist" to take advantage of capitalism in a world that is overwhelmingly capitalistic.

I do not see that it is "clear" that Soros must be a "committed capitalist" because he is wealthy. The exact same argument applies to Engels.

To put it bluntly, while recognizing two senses of "capitalist," you then (unintentionally, I am sure) conflate them. (Indeed, the word "capitalist" was not even used in the screed you were commenting on.) I suggest that before you presume to teach us conservatives how to think, you be more careful in your own thinking.

HWL

Jeff,

The meat of your syllogism then becomes your minor premise, which obviously can be interpreted empirically: either Mr. Soros is a "committed capitalist" in your sense, or he is not.

I frankly admit I have no empirical evidence on that subject. It may or may not be true.

Well, that's good of you to admit. I tried to give you some empirical evidence that shows pretty conclusively that Mr. Soros is not a marxist/socialist in any possible sense of the word.

It's funny though, because the burden of proof is not on me to show that Soros is not a marxist/socialist. It's on our free republic friend. He's the one who made the claim that Soros is a marxist/socialist. He shows no evidence to support his claim, and my strong suspicion, as I've mentioned many times, is that he doesn't know what a marxist/socialist is, nor that the two words aren't necessarily synonomous (hopefully that clears up that point that you've mentioned). Nor, likely, does he know anything about Mr. Soros.

Indeed, even though the burden of proof is not on me to show that Mr. Soros is not a marxist/socialist, I have endeavored to offer evidence anyway. Mr. Soros's public statements, as well as his considerable personal wealth and his means of obtaining his personal wealth (all taken together) suggest that he is not a marxist/socialist. Now, of course, all of this does not conclusively prove that Mr. Soros is not a marxist/socialist, but then, how could one conclusively prove such a thing?

It really becomes a question of the following: given Mr. Soros's biography and public statements that suggest that he's not a marxist/socialist, is it likely that our free republic friend has some sort of clairvoyance that I do not have in asserting his knowledge Mr. Soros's political philosophy? Or is it likely that our free republic friend doesn't have a fucking clue what he's talking about?

I went for the latter.

You say:

I do not see that it is "clear" that Soros must be a "committed capitalist" because he is wealthy.

And you're right. It's clear that he is a committed capitalist for other reasons which I've mentioned, and for other reasons that are apparent from even a cursory knowledge of Mr. Soros's philosophy. Indeed, the world socialist forum, criticizes Soros for not being anti-capitalist, and quotes Mr. Soros as saying the following:

"I want to make it clear that I do not want to abolish capitalism. In spite of its shortcomings, it is better than the alternatives. Instead, I want to prevent the global capitalist system from destroying itself"

To be fair, something I said was a little unclear. In retrospect, I would probably revise this sentence that I wrote originally in the post:

"How would one even go about arguing with someone that doesn't know that "marxist/socialist" by definition can't be "super-wealthy"?

To something like this:

The fact that someone is "super-wealthy" most likely means that that they're not a socialist, because socialists tend to oppose capitalism; furthermore, given that Mr. Soros made all of his money through the capitalist system, Char's suggestion that Mr. Soros is "super-wealthy" seems to count as partial evidence against his other assertion that Soros is a marxist/socialist.

At worst, perhaps I'm guilty of not being clear about my terminology. Perhaps I was assuming that a "super-wealthy" person could only be someone who's made their own money in a capitalist system. Indeed, that assumption is obviously incorrect.

At best, though, our free republic friend is guilty of ignorance and sloppiness. At worst, he's guilty of perpetuating a vicious lie by engaging in a truly reckless disregard for the truth.

And I still invite you to defend him, which you, conspicuously, have not done.

jeff

HWL

I had no intent to defend the comment, which I found offensive in tone and uninformed in content.

You used the comment, however, to imply that because one conservative was uncivil and poorly informed, all conservatives are. You went from "him" to "those." Moreover, the kind of deconstructionist criticism you applied to it is trivially easy, given the rapid and careless way people tend to write on the internet, as I showed by applying the same kind of criticism to your post.

You were a good sport about it, and I think your clarifications above have exhausted my capacity, and certainly my appetite, for deconstructionism.

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