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January 16, 2007



Mm, that'll be the More who liked to have Protestants tortured in his own house before he had them executed, will it? Sometimes ad hominem arguments have merit.

Kevin Carson

I don't rule out the idea of significant changes in average character, if the long-term pattern of incentives changes. For example, I would expect individual behavior to be considerably different without the cumulative subliminal effects of either state's version of history education, or the propaganda for mass consumption in the media.

I think the state and the corporate economy themselves have significantly altered character in the past couple of generations, atomizing intermediate institutions and dismantling many of the civil societal institutions involved in traditional character formation. The inner directed type is considerably less prevalent nowadays, and the tendency is increasingly toward the public being driven like cattle because it has so poorly internalized all the old rules of self-control. One small example: as recently as fifteen years ago, people in a shopping mall still followed the rule of keeping to the right in corridors. Now there's almost no pattern to traffic at all. Seemingly a small thing, but typical of many other changes.

And it's in the interest of state bureaucrats and employers to have a society in which people are incapable of self-government in the archaic sense, in which bureaucrats have to supervise them constantly to keep them from bouncing off each other like ping-pong balls, and employers don't have to worry about their autonomously chosen goals or internalized value systems conflicting with their willingness to pursue boss-given ones.

Kevin Carson

P.S. I meant to conclude, I still don't favor utopian schemes to new-model society through revolutionary transformations in character (e.g., the World Socialist Movement's idea of a New Man whose consumption and work patterns make possible a non-market society without hoarding or shirking). It's better to alter the pattern of incentives, given people as they are today, and allow the equilibrium to shift automatically.

julian gizzard

'Do we need utopias?'

What does that mean? IFIIK

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