Another Debate on Profit

After my disappointment with the debate format of my original attempt, I’ve decided to use instead. It turned out much more interesting and I like the debate layout much more.

The debating chamber in the Senedd
Image via Wikipedia

I was quite disappointed on KatPoop’s performance in my previous debate as well as the format of the site, so I’ve decided to open a new one on a different site and leave it as an open challenge. Fortunately someone took it and we’re now on the third round of it.

I believe it’s much more interesting and well argued, giving ample opportunity for both sides to make their case. I am a bit restrained by the 8000 chars limit as my opponent has put forth 4 arguments that require extensive refutation:

I’ve countered 3 out of 4 in this site already but unfortunately I am now called to do the same thing for all of them together within 8k characters. It would have been far more useful to debate each of these arguments on it own rather than all three together but alas, this is what we have now. Still, the debate format really pushes me to articulate my defence in the most concise way and I think I’m doing pretty well for my first attempt.

So head over and take a look. You won’t be able to vote without “confirming you identity” via SMS which is a silly way to prevent multiple votes, since it basically excludes most people in the world. You can still leave a comment though and argue with the pro-capitalists residents over there.

I generally like the site. It’s giving you a very nice layout to hold a debate, the voting system is not a simple “I agree/I don’t agree) type but asks you to actually rate people both on their argument as well as their conduct, sources and argumentation. So even though you may agree with someone when the debate starts and not change your opinion, you may still vote the other side on argumentation strength and conduct. It’s an interesting twist, pushing both sides to be civil and stick to the point.

Unfortunately, the site as US middle-class oriented has way too many pro-capitalists around. I even checked the “Anarchist” tag and noticed that 90% percent of those claiming to be Anarchists are in truth pro-capitalist “Libertarians”.

Nevertheless, I think the debate style is an important part in argumentation so if I get again into an impasse with someone, I’ll probably challenge them to a debate to allow a third party consensus to decide.

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Debating the theory of profit

After a bitter flamewar on the theory of profit, I’ve decided to challenge my opponent to a formal debate to keep things civil. Go and check it out!
Image via Wikipedia

My recent spat with a proponent of Austrian Economics had started from his attempts to explain profit by ignoring the productive process. Eventually this progressed to the point where he was arguing from the superiority of capitalist intellect and further from there to plain insults. The dicussion was not going nowhere fast.

So I decided to do something new (for me at least). I challenged him to a formal debate. At least this way, by trying to convince an audience instead of each other, we can avoid personal insults and stick to arguing the arguments. The audience instead can be the one that judges.

This is actually one of the main problems of arguing on deep reddit comments or on any other semi-obscure location. The only ones who judge the arguments is the opposing side and as both sides are obviously quite strong in their opinion (or they would not be debating). As such, they end up seeing the opponent as being stupid for not seeing “the truth”. A debate might be the solution.

Unfortunately, reddit does not provide the best functionality for debates, as it may have voting buttons for each comment, but they are built mostly for hiding trolls and spammers, not for agreeing/disagreeing, not only that, but it’s difficult to see debates and separate the debaters from the commentators. It’s also difficult for people to follow the debate.

So I discovered an another site that has been built explicitly for debates and invited my opponent to argue his point there. The Debate on the Theory of Profit begins. Go over, check the arguments and leave some critical comments.

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Debate with a libertarian in denial

Stage Two

By Zeus’ golden rain! Can anyone explain to me why I recently seem to attract all the crusaders of capitalism? It seems like every other post I make I’m battling with Objectivists, libertarians, anarcho-capitalists and the like. Did someone stick a “Ask me about Communism!” sticker on my back when I wasn’t looking? Fuck, I don’t even enjoy talking about this stuff.

Stage Two
CC - Credit: NinaMyers

By Zeus’ golden rain! Can anyone explain to me why I recently seem to attract all the crusaders of capitalism? It seems like every other post I make I’m battling with Objectivists, libertarians, anarcho-capitalists and the like. Did someone stick a “Ask me about Communism!” sticker on my back when I wasn’t looking? Fuck, I don’t even enjoy talking about this stuff.

So recently I’ve been having a lively discussion with a member of the Atheist Nexus who contated me via email and initiated a discussion by innocuously asking me some basic questions on freedoms (such as if I support ban on smoking or drugs). The nature of the questions was somehow suspicious as I’ve been very clear generally on my support for personal freedoms in the fora but I decided to answer anyway.

As I expected, soon enough the questions turned to accusations of me not allowing the same freedom for economy that I allow to persons and that somehow makes me a hypocrite and a “moral facist” [1. The later description is just my way to describe the classic accusation all libertarians seem to make, with annoying frequency, of “pushing our morality upon them”] and things only started getting downhill from there…

The main gist of Oolon’s “I’m not a libertarian” Colluphid was that absolutely unregulated freedom is the best thing that can ev4r happen. All my arguments were either equivocated or handwaved away as irrelevant or inconsequential.

  • Positive Freedom? There’s no such thing. It’s “entitlement” and you’re stealing money to achieve it
  • Wage Slavery? It’s not that. You always have a choice to switch jobs and just because you’re unhappy with your work it does not mean that you’re entitled to something better.
  • Tragedy of the commons? It’s not really a problem and besides, Capitalism can deal with it…somehow.
  • Hard working people being impoverished? Impossible! They’re just lazy. Prove it to me otherwise!
  • Inequality? This will never change so we might as well look to ourselves.(why is this such a favorite response from capitalists?)

Generally the classic libertarian lollipop where the pertaining notion is that Free Market knows best and all concerns to the contrary are trivialized. I even had my example of one getting a work that exploits them because of desperation, compared to…taking out the garbage!

This is precisely the reason why I don’t enjoy these debates. Whenever I state my arguments, people seem to enjoy jumping on their high horse and calling me an authoritarian. I am accused of not understanding the “human nature” (which will of course, never-ever change) without them ever recognising that, without this “human nature” changing, their system is even worse.

For my part, I generally agree with Ebonmuse’s “Why I’m not a libertarian” series from which I often take many of the arguments whenever I’m faced with these discussions. I also have a few other arguments that Ebonmuse did not tackle, such as the possibility for monopolies to form in a libertarian environment (which another A|N member believes are only formed because of goverment intervention, as silly as that sounds).

In general this email debate covered all the bases: Poor people are lazy, I misunderstand economics, I am a moral fascist, capitalism is a natural as evolution etc.
It also touched on two issues I would like to tackle:

At some point in our discussion Oolon revealed his favorable future

There’s no two ways about it. Either we follow the majority’s economic “ideals” or we follow the minority’s. I don’t see why it should be the later.

False dichotomy. We can let the government set back, enforce basic laws and let society for itself. Nothing it stopping you from forming a commune and living a socialist lifestyle in my capitalist country however in a socialist country I can’t own and operate a private business

Why is forming a commune perfectly fine but if that commune becomes large enough to include the whole nation that is not fine? If a capitalist does not want to live in a commune he does not have to get in it, but if the majority of people in a country want to form a commune, they somehow can’t? What if that commune I form grows so much as to include all other citizens of the country? Wouldn’t that be the same thing?
Oolon, is not about allowing freedom, he is all about getting his own way. If somehow all other humans on the planet wanted to live in a grand planet-wide commune, then Oolon would feel that he is being oppressed.

That is, unfortunately, a classic sentiment I’ve seen libertarian express (which I’m just certain, Oolon isn’t). It should be either their way or nothing at all – and this is why I am always left with the impression that they’re just spoiled brats…

However Oolon has another conflict that he may have perhaps not noticed. He is supporting enironmental protections (and government checks on corporations to that end) and he’s also for Government protection. However I could very well use the same arguments he does, in order to argue against these concepts too:
Why should I pay for you protection Oolon? Why can’t I use my hard earned money to buy my own protection that would better serve me? Why should you be entitled to protection? Why do you want to curtail my freedom to build and use whatever I want? A coal plant will save me more money than a wind pylon.

Of course the obvious conflicts of supporting some socialistic policies (environmental and protection) because of the good consequences they will have, while on the other hand opposing others (like universal heathcare) is the classic schizophrenic nature of the right-libertarian beast. They subconsciously realize that common goals have a net benefit for everyone but are utterly incapable of seeing that it’s the same exact concept for the rest.

Unfortunately, once again, I find out that there is little point in having a conversation like these. Sooner or later we reach some fundamental difference in concepts and it then becomes a shouting match. And I have neither the time nor the inclination to participate.