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The ultimate debate on democracy, liberty and freedom. (1 Viewer)

abbeyroad

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I created this thread after seeing the misconceptions on freedom as exemplified by some of the posts in the Beijing Olympics thread. I hereby invite everyone to engage in a constructive debate on the nature of democracy, liberty and freedom.
Communists are invited to post their views on democracy. Please note that this is not a thread about Communism vs Capitalism. Don't want this one closed due to the"my daddy beats your daddy" argument people always fall back to.

Keep this one rolling guys. I want to see how many replies I would garner. Yup it's all about narcissism, I mean that's why people make new threads right?
 

ari89

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You're a pretty awesome poster
 

ari89

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selablad said:
Everyone should be able to do whatever they want :)
dibs on shootin you and eating your flesh
 

Enteebee

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Is freedom always a good thing?
 

Slidey

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Fucking libertarians. An affront to the genuine and refreshing attempts at social progression of both democracy and socialism. A philosophy of control and stagnation whose strength lies in in resistance to review & accountability, and whose ability to resist adaptivity lies in its absolutist laws designed to control through negation, not construction; whose ability to resist change lies in its denial of recourse to appeal and abstraction. An enemy in every way of compromise; of the empowering, adaptive, constructive and most importantly progressive rhetoric humans so desperately need at this point in their social evolution. A need satiated by the Western world in the form of mixed markets and democratic, yet individual-centric welfare states... a need America seemingly no longer believes needs to satiated. The blind, self-referential, self-perpetuating justifications of libertarianism poison the spirit of America's democracy, as the importance of a quest to enforce the most literal interpretation of libertarianism - protection of an individual's rights no matter how asinine, pointless, or self-deprecating - dwarfs the more imperative protection the carefully considered utilitarian protection of the rights of the many. Too late is such a quest realised to be an inadvertent folly, a mass abuse of something like the more important human right of physical safety was cast aside, in the name of protecting an individual's "right" to try and force their religion upon the impressionable minds of children. All the while any connection to absolutism and libertarianism is being erased as the amazing scapegoat that is 'blame the victim' is employed to accuse the suffers of the rights abuse to be deserving of the consequences due to of 'their' actions; they are accused of lack willpower and engaging in "hedonistic debauchery"; there's is no causal link to libertarianism, merely a coincidental correlation.

Only amidst another ally of self-deprecation and stagnation - the blind adherence of anti-Apologetic Protestant fundamentalism - could such an insipid philosophy as libertarianism create, through inability to differentiate the notions triviality and importance, an entity that is such an antithetical abomination of the well-intentioned mediator that is utilitarianism rights maximisation; an HIV epidemic is created, nurtured by granting schools the "right" to decide whether to condemn contraception (yet simultaneously depriving individual students of the fundamental right of choice, of self-determination) and fed with the arrogance of fundamentalist 'abstinence-only' religious dogma.

Perhaps America's other problems, even the disgraceful structures they pass off as 'social welfare', and the immense income gap, poverty, health and human rights problems this causes, could be "explained away" with a large enough effort... but continuing to foster the growth of an entity as deadly and soul-destroying as HIV is criminal. It resembles an attempt to tear down the institutions which have, in the past, made America the envy of the world (more economically than socially, I'm guessing)... and the sad thing is the literal absolutists are probably unaware of this for the same reasons they are so horrible at the importance-priority ordering judgements required for success at such a basic concept as 'compromise' (which in turn underpins more important social problem solving structures such as utilitarianism)
 
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Enteebee

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Slidey said:
http://www.physorg.com/news119269414.html
Somewhat interesting.
BTW I think you could TL;DR your entire post into one or two sentences, are you practicing for your arts phd or something?
 

Slidey

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It was 5 in the morning, I'd been awake for 24 hours, and it just seemed like a really good idea to type a volatile pseudo-essay.

You should see the one I did on another board about the incontestable superiority of the typical Western welfare state compared to America's 'welfare' system, even to the point where I qualitatively demonstrated the mathematical (and logical) conclusion that a full welfare state like Australia's in fact pays for itself (through upskilling, more uniform socio-economic status & opportunities, better nation-wide health and thus less future medical spending, and the increased economic productivity all these things provide) compared to the 'hidden' welfare state of America which actually costs another hidden 50% of welfare expenditure in incentive and encouragement schemes aimed at increasing adoption of government-funded pseudo-welfare structures, with the end result of increased welfare for the middle and especially high-income earners, but no real gain for those in the lowest bracket. So in the end America is actually spending something like twice as much for an inferior product and no apparent improvements in the quality of life of the group welfare systems are designed to ameliorate!

I also touched on the fact that claims of not wanting one's taxes to pay for other people's welfare are both short-sighted, selfish (w.r.t. to the utilitarianism which is the foundation of Western democracies), and misleading. Consider that countries like Iceland and Australia are strong welfare states which pay both less corporate and personal tax as a percent of income than Americans do. Successful social welfare isn't about how much money you spend in the long run; it's about your policies, your management and marketing, and sound infrastructure planning - essentially how you use the money you have.

Not to mention that many of the criticisms of social welfare are aimed at the Scandinavian model, whilst Australia places more emphasis on workfare; the concept that you need to earn your welfare, in-so-far as you are able (through charity/social work, employment or further education). It's about upskilling, not keeping the poor where they are. Of course, America might claim to be a workfare state, but the truth of this is as much as the truth that it is a welfare state; it has fundamental flaws in its system which it won't be able to overcome until Americans ditch the uncompromising ideologies of religious fundamentalism and libertarianism.
 
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Iron

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I guess we're pretty lucky that someone else foots the bill for national defence and medical research too
 

Slidey

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Iron said:
I guess we're pretty lucky that someone else foots the bill for national defence and medical research too
They do? I thought taxpayers did. Which is fair enough, as they are integral to helping maintain the existence and continued prosperity of Australia.

But I'm not getting into an argument about the benefits of a mixed market instead of Laissez-faire.
 

KFunk

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I agree with much of the anti-libertarian ranting.


Malfoy said:
Always. I basically don't ever support government intervention in any area/facet of life (though I accept I'm probably a lot more hardline on this than 99% of people.)
Take a single issue - healthcare. As far as I know, the USA has the healthcare which is most in line with libertarian ideology in terms of how uncontrolled and market driven it is (they have medicare and other forms of coverage for a select few of course --> the elderly, the disabled and war veterans etc...). When you look at the figures, however, you'll find that the USA has a terribly inneficient system. They have the highest level of healthcare expenditure in the world (this has been the case for many years), both per capita and as a percentage of GDP (16% currently, and rising), and yet they perform poorly compared to OECD countries on a number of health measures such as life expectancy and infant mortality. They also rank very poorly on overall WHO health measures, but they can't really be introduced here without begging the question because they include a measure of 'fairness of distribution'. For a collection of USA relevant data, see here.

When you look at other countries which perform better than the USA, e.g. Australia, the UK, Canada, Japan and Sweden, you'll find that they all use some kind of government control. Some, like Australia, will use a (more or less) compulsory national health insurance fund, others will have competing funds which are privatised but are not-for-profit (except for extras packages, like in Germany). In others cases you have massive government control of doctor's salaries or of drug prices (in particular, see Japan for an example of the former, and Switzerland for the latter).

This is where an absolutist libertarian position starts to become worrying. Even if the best available evidence indicates that a truly libertarian healthcare system yields inferior health outcomes, would you still implement it in order to push a libertarian moral agenda? Doesn't this kind of thinking set off alarm bells for you? (i.e. "we can see adverse consequences on the horizon, but that doesn't matter because we have the moral high ground") Or is libertarianism so individualistic that such outcomes aren't really a problem?
 

Iron

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Slidey said:
They do? I thought taxpayers did. Which is fair enough, as they are integral to helping maintain the existence and continued prosperity of Australia.

But I'm not getting into an argument about the benefits of a mixed market instead of Laissez-faire.
I was talking about the land of the free, home of the brave etc
 

incentivation

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The sphere of political philosophy is such a complex and ambiguous area of thought.

I tend to sympathise with the libertarian principles of the maximisation of individual liberty, however believe that in many instances this objective can be complemented by various basic tenets of the strands liberal thought (natural justice, rule of law, freedom though/speech, inviolability of certain rights etc)

Government intervention in itself limits freedom, however ultimately is required to remedy the situations where the interactions of liberty fail to adequately account for discrepancies in opportunity and resource availability.

Inadvertently any such form of intervention should in turn reflect an attitude that promotes liberty, initiative and incentive and fosters a movement away from reliance upon the state. Too often, an interventionist approch does little to provide incentive for the individual to seek self betterment or social mobility, and a pattern of reliance develops.

Although personal and economic liberty is important, the idea of government interfering to some extent in our affairs is inescapable. We relinquish elements of this liberty, and rightfully so, to ensure that in an overall sense we are able to generally enjoy the lifestyle we so desire.

On the US however, I see the racial divide has playing a far more pivotal role in the affairs of governemnt than in the more efficient OECD countries. In Australia for instance, we do not have to bear the cost of extensive social problems relating to illegal immigration and racial tension. The cultural issues of countries such as the US often work to distort the ideological approach adopted by government. Idealists would contend that point, however I do not even see the most liberal of economic approaches working to improve the situation in many parts of the US.
 
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Enteebee

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Also, I'm happy to pay for what I use (see: over $500 a week I spend on healthcare, for one) so I don't mind the American model to be honest.
The question is though, are you getting the BEST deal? I mean for one, in america your healthcare costs would probably be more expensive. Also, I imagine people in more strained financial circumstances would care a lot more about how much they have to pay to get their basic healthcare needs catered for.

Slidey, don't like utilitarianism, catering to the majority is awful e.g. issues such as gay marriage or whatnot where most people say it shouldn't happen yet it restricts freedom and it's homophobic not to allow it to happen.
I could quite easily have a utilitarian stance that there is greater happiness to be had in a society allowing gay people the freedom to marry than not.

Also, as for the welfare argument, that's negated by the fact that under libertarian systems people donate much more to private charity -- I know I do, because I believe in it.
What if they don't want to? What if charity doesn't cover enough to look after everyone?
 

Enteebee

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If they don't want to/can't afford to give, then don't give. It's individual choice.
Personally I'm not willing to stomach a society that allows the havenots to suffer so greatly just so the have's can preserve a little bit of freedom. By not giving people basic healthcare/education you are making their lives so much less free that I actually believe I am a stauncher defender of freedom than you are.

Also, my financial circumstances are pretty bad (as in $3,000 in debt and don't make enough to cover my medical costs per week despite having two jobs kind of bad), but I still pay my own medical costs because I don't see why anyone else should have to - they're my medical costs. Same principle applies to just about anything with me - I'm not about to go out and preach user-pays if I'm not going to do my absolute utmost to follow it, because that'd be hypocrisy.
If it were shown to you that a socialised system of healthcare produces more 'healthcare' for less money, would you support it?


My stance on gay marriage is that marriage - whoever is marrying, whether gay or straight - should be covered under common law (contract) and shouldn't be regulated by the state, and that private institutions such as churches can marry whoever they want. But that's beside the point - I don't see why the "moral majority" can regulate marriage/drugs/abortion/any other of these sorts of issues as they see fit.
You don't seem to get that utilitarianism is not necessarily at odds with libertarianism.

Also, while on the topic of healthcare, are you guys aware that because of the government trying to restrict the PBS, many better/newer psychiatric medications are unavailable to those of us who need them? For example, I can't get a particular type of anti-depressant, or mood stabiliser, or a few other things because they're not approved for that purpose and you need authority under Medicare to get them, despite the fact all the conventional treatments have severe side effects or don't work on me. So under your utilitarian paradise, should people have to suffer because the government restricts/regulates prescription drugs?
You really don't seem to understand what 'utilitarianism' is, it basically means that we try to do that which will lead to the greatest happiness. I would argue that while in that specific case perhaps there is greater utility to be had in allowing you to take those medications, as a general approach there is greater happiness in having a system of regulation for medicines than none.
 
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