Gisela McKay

President and Co-Founder, pixcode


This conversation is closed.

Are there any merits to the idea that Communism is "feminine"?

Evolving out of another TED conversation where the discussion turned toward the idea that women mostly want people to "share" whereas men mostly want to watch people get defeated, in a manner where there is a clear victor. (Technically, the phrasing was that most women are secretly communists.)

Now if you know me, you probably realize I don't actually agree with the premise, but it is an interesting topic of discussion. First off, I would replace communism with socialism, followed by pointing out that there is a greater range of difference within a sex than between them.

I'm willing to be swayed, though, if you have a persuasive argument that supports the idea, please feel free to share it.

I am going to ask the mods to let this thread stand as a thought experiment rather than as a definitive description of the world around us.

So, go for it - persuade away!

EDIT: Definitely communism in theory, not in the way we have seen it implemented.

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    Feb 3 2012: Once upon a time I live in communist country that was called Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia, under rule of lifetime president Josip Broz Tito. I do not think that Communism is "feminine", rights of women today in a remain of country (Serbia) once I lived in are, in my opinion, greater, there are more women CEOs and politicians. They are equal to men in police and army too. I can see women in police uniform each day on Belgrade streets. They are truck and trolley bus drivers today. I could not see nor a single woman driving the bus when I was young. If we look at women as mothers it was much easier in communism for ordinary women (no lay offs, longer maternity leave, cheaper baby equipment). That`s why communism always takes side of average, ordinary people, so they once felt more protected by State than today, when Corporation is supreme commander of State and Government.
    In communism there were no public, explicit hardcore pornography, so many women had feeling that their dignity had been respected. Family as basic social unit was much more protected by state laws in communism, that was very important for woman as element who keeps family united and compact. Today, State is on side of Investors, not ordinary people and workers, whom it consider only pure taxpayers and human working force who is on the face of the Earth just to increase profit of Corporations and its top Management.
    However, one has to weigh advantages and disadvantages of communism for women. Frankly, Yugoslavian communism was much more liberal than Soviet or Chinese at that point.
    Bottom line is that there are no good proof that Communism is "feminine"? Somebody can do cross analysis on this issue, but result is, for sure, uncertain and relative.
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      Feb 3 2012: Thank you for that.

      I actually find the tangible stories much more interesting than the theoretical. I think we're seeing just the discrepancy between the American political usage of the term "Communist" and the reality.
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      Feb 4 2012: Thanks for using a real example to illustrate that labels rarely fit, Aleksander.
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      Feb 6 2012: I would only add to this, that, in some ways you are making a point I made earlier...

      "If we look at women as mothers it was much easier in communism for ordinary women (no lay offs, longer maternity leave, cheaper baby equipment). That`s why communism always takes side of average, ordinary people, so they once felt more protected by State than today, when Corporation is supreme commander of State and Government."

      Reminds me of something I said, akin to, "the communist idealogy appeals to women (women here, might be better replaced with "any historically oppressed class of people")... but it's actually a bit of a trick, that imposes on them a very male dominated, and militant lifestyle."

      This would tend to suggest that, any descriminated religious, sexual, or racial group, may have slightly more sympathy, statistically, not cognitively, with the ideas of socialism. These ideas, when implemented however, turn out to be just as horrible as the old government, if not worse.

      "Meet the new boss... Same as the old boss"
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      Feb 3 2012: I would actually argue that by talking about our fears and differences... We can overcome them... and change our minds. I don't think that by ignoring our gender predjudice, or our own ignorance, we protect anyone. I actually think silence breeds contempt.
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          Feb 3 2012: Interesting... Obviously, in some ways, I see this as a good thing. I think perceptions need to change, and I see an ultra competitive and intellectual woman, a natural outgrowth of a capitalist economy... and, honestly... Something very attractive, and positive for society.

          It is of course sad, that there seems to be less of a comradery and sisterhood among working women... whereas the boys club... is pretty strong. I would only argue, that the boys club tends to emerge from what I would call a "spirit of friendly competition". I think in some ways, women aren't used to that relationship yet. The idea that you can spar 10 rounds with someone, and like them more afterwards, is one that may be biological. I think it is more likely a learned behavior though.

          My only point about silence breeding contempt, was that if you feel strongly about these issues and they bother you on an emotional level, it is healthy to talk about them. I think talking with people you disagree with, is a great way to learn. I certainly understand how you could see visciously competitive women, as a negative... Personally... I think it's cool.

          Maybe that is biological programming that I need to rise above. It is certainly possible, that I'm just an idiot : p

          I'll have that conversation though, it sounds like fun.
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      Feb 3 2012: Oh dear. Is someone stealing your spotlight?

      Is there fun being had that doesn't involve you?
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          Feb 3 2012: And here I was not wanting to point out that women were perfectly capable of being competitive - just usually in petty and indirect ways. But then you felt the need to illustrate.
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          Feb 3 2012: Been dancing since before you were born, I suspect.

          It's called a "thought experiment" (Gedankenexperiment). You don't have to believe the premise (I don't), it's just an exercise. You can also look upon it as an exercise in shredding the underlying assumptions.

          Or, you can look upon it as an opportunity to be a condescending such-and-such. Whatever best suits your personality.
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          Feb 3 2012: Wow.

          It's like you're having this entire conversation with someone who only exists in your brain. Only out loud (typed) and with my name on it.

          The problem with attempting this manoeuvre is you actually have to understand the specific issues/concerns of the person you are speaking to. Substituting generic social/psychosexual vulnerabilities doesn't actually work.

          The first couple of jabs are used to find the weak spots and then you target. You'll learn one day.
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          Feb 3 2012: OK, I'll admit it. I am totally missing your point and I am moderately curious. Your phantom image of me is intriguing.

          Do you imagine I have some deep inner city vibe? That I am so tied to proving this topic that...?

          Your jabs are getting farther and farther away. I feel like I should be saying "cold", "colder", "warmer" only I don't actually get the purpose of this exercise.
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          Feb 3 2012: Chalk it up to my head cold.

          So, what is it you are hoping to achieve here other than projecting your fantasy onto me as though I am a blank slate and then claiming the higher moral ground? (Yep, I did just pull the "pot calling the kettle black" card.)

          You have my attention.

          What great lesson would you like to impart, oh wise one?
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        • Feb 3 2012: Maybe you can not categorize economic theories in terms of gender.

          But can we atleast agree that only two females could have engaged in the conversation the two of you just shared?

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          Feb 4 2012: @Anja - I don't know. I think there have been several really interesting posts, often from people who have lived under communist regimes (even though we were talking about the theory of communism as opposed to the practice). We've heard about the physically demanding nature of the implementation - something that would never have occurred to me.

          I think there is something of value in letting people attempt to change your stance.

          As for whether these "important and complex economic theories" deserve better than to be treated this way, I used the word "pantheon" in describing the array of theories quite deliberately. That's exactly what we have done -- we've set them up as gods.Not only are they not unassailable, I think they need to be assailed regularly.

          @Seth - I don't know any man who would have had that particular discussion, but I also don't know too many women who wouldn't have backed down from that early on. Had it started on a different footing - actually, thinking more about it, I can think of a couple of males who would have had that argument (maybe minus the lesson in being a bigger bitch), but the escalation, definitely.
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          Feb 4 2012: By turning them into funny sound bites and euphemisms, and talking about it on basic emotional levels... We can explain it to our friends that don't watch ted : p
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          Feb 4 2012: what just happened? I can feel a film script coming on.
      • Feb 4 2012: "But the escalation, definitely"

        I was speaking to the fact that 'derailing' is not something you are likely to find a man engaging in, and he certainly would not have mastered the art of it.

        I agree that guys can get into pissing matches - but that was bait for a specific kind of fish.

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          Feb 4 2012: Oh I get it. We should clearly leave the floor to those "qualified" to carry this weighty debate. No one else should even attempt a discussion on the topic.

          This is the second time in as many days I wished TED had rolly-eyed emoticons. Who knew?
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      Feb 3 2012: i agree with you. gender, age or how one looks does not matter much. if someone uses a fake name, false gender, and a profile picture taken from the internet, what difference does it make to the opinion of this person?
  • Feb 10 2012: Communism has a lot of burden as a word. It stirs up various conflicting images from MacArthur trials to Soviet Russia. While still useful in some context the emotional baggage of the word while not being clearly defined as this post clearly identifies makes it a burden to intelligent discourse.

    Communityism I am going to define as the attachment to a group over one's personal well being, and use in place of Communism. Lots of individuals have this trait in varying degrees, from explorers to militaries, and it can be expressed in various ways. A person sacrificing for the good of a specific group around them.

    Many cases I believe communityism is a voice of a group that has been repressed. If you take away the rights of individual to own things they tend to try to collectively take the power back. Since they are not in the groups of have's, they unify spreading of what they are taking throughout their community often in exchange for support. Since females have been viewed as repressed(accurately), they sometimes have fought hard for community driven power to equalize the status quo. As the view point of modern women has changed to a broader spectrum (I believe that a lot of women in America feel liberated despite sometimes feeling the shadows of repression.), and the reach of women in our society some of the properties that often go with repression have decreased. Communityism is one of those features.

    One other difference I notice in my niche of society is that a lot of men do not feel the need for association with others while women express more desire to know more people. I am not stating that men need less social interaction, just often we think we do not need as much social interaction. This may be biological or just social conditioning, but I believe for a strong Communityism you need to feel connected to what's around you in a very powerful way and this is more difficult if you make fewer meaningful social connections.
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    Feb 2 2012: And is anarchism “masculine”? Are these the yin and yang of revolutionary movements?

    Just read an intesting article on this (recommended by Justen):

    Towards the end it reads:

    "There are two Socialisms.
    One is communistic, the other solidaritarian.
    One is dictatorial, the other libertarian.
    One is metaphysical, the other positive.
    One is dogmatic, the other scientific.
    One is emotional, the other reflective.
    One is destructive, the other constructive.
    Both are in pursuit of the greatest possible welfare for all.

    Benjamin R. Tucker (from Ernest Lesigne) 1888
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    Feb 2 2012: I have just seen god defined as she here, now I see the question is communism feminine. People, you know how to surprise.
    To ones communism associates with 'sharing'. To others it does with queuing up absolutely long hours in one section of a shop to buy something without a choice . Back and legs ache, you hardly can stand there longer, but you stand or you get nothing, it needs physical strength, is it really so feminine? And where is that nice sharing? (Then, you need to queue up in another shop section). Maybe quite a silly example, but it's from everyday life in my country 21 years ago.
    There is no 'sharing' in communism at all, but actually really REALLY much of taking as it was stated in a comment below, and to say it clearly - stealing. Is stealing somehow directly relates to a feminine side?
    In many cases, from the image of people gathering in crowds to get their 'dose' of food or sth else to sneaky stealing which is proposed by the job position, to all the deaths, to me communism is neither feminine, nor masculine, but brutish or bestial.
    Plus, I really see women competitive. In very wide variety of fields, mean or great, but really competitive.
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      Feb 2 2012: Very interesting... In some ways, I wonder if this is a bit of a culture bias. Mine being that women in America, tend, not to be so competitive. Also, as I asked Kris, was communism possibly designed by men who wanted to get laid, by women who enjoyed sharing? Or, even worse, to manipulate the emotions of women who enjoyed the concept of sharing?

      Would you agree that, the concept of working together and sharing, tend to be associated with the feminine lifestyle?

      I agree that the practice of communism, tends to imply force... but, does the theory of communism (peace, love, sharing, working together) appeal to the average woman, more than the average man, even in your country?

      If I'm wrong, I am happy to be. I am incredibly curious on this issue though.
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        Feb 2 2012: I understand that this idea started and was developed by a group of people on the other conversation here, and you are impatiently looking forward to having a feedback and make the idea worth the sense. TO ME it does not make any sense.
        So, you use 'share', 'sharing' as a main clue of communism, like a contracted concept of communism and relate it to a feminine compassion and natural uncompetitiveness.
        I heard maaany times that women throughout the whole history were/are treated as more materialistic and the ones who had more social interest than men, while they are more about ideas, soul, briefly - 'high matters'. I'll give you a very simple example, I hope not too simple. It was BBC documentary about ancient worlds. A letter of a trader's wife sent to her husband trader who was on trip was translated, and it sounded something like that 'our neighbors built a new big house, why can't we?' I think that is such a typical example, which needs no long explanation and which may be found in every history period and it was rooted very much. Women realized their wish to compete through men. Or you think this kind of 'competition' is not THAT real competitiveness?
        About 'sharing'. Do you think that a man which had studied hard and then worked hard and gained the same wealth as the one, for example, without higher education having an 'easy' job, would get that unfair while a woman in same case would not get that unfair?
        Maybe I get it wrong, but it seems to me that since the old ages people have divided themselves into 'we' and 'others'. 'We' is our family/tribe, which is the most important and 'sharing' is in its terms. Others are others. And I don't believe that women living like this were secret communists in their hearts century after century. The rule of 'us' and 'others' is of course not overall working 24/7, but I find it as one of the main rules and very strong ones.
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          Feb 2 2012: "Women realize their wish to compete through men", very important point.

          I ignored a very important dimension of this debate... Does capitalism encourage women to compete through, and be attracted to, intelligent men? Where as, communism, encourages greater sexual freedom among women, to do what feels good?

          Provided that a government provides everyone with its needs... Wouldn't women, in essence be granted to treat men, the way men used to treat women? Wandering from one random attractive thing to the next...

          In many ways, I have always felt that capitalism, was secretly designed to get nerds laid... By making intelligent, and creative men, more powerful, and capable of providing greater material wealth... Did we incentivize sex with critical thinkers? Does communism go the opposite way, appealing, not just to the sharing and caring nature of women, but also their more base nature? Do what feels good.

          It strangely reminds me of a Julie Delpie line in the moved Before Sunrise, about feminism, "Sometimes I think feminism was secretly created by a man... Free your body... Free your mind... Baby, sleep with me"... It makes me wonder if I would ask the same question of communism. "We can all work together, our needs will be provided for... I'm going to go drink beer on the couch... Sleep with me anyway" , lol
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        Feb 2 2012: You know, to many Lithuanians who experienced communism in practice (me not), no its theory appeals. At schools it is taught that communism is the idea which can’t work properly in real life. Many people, especially young ones, admit that regardless of it is a woman or a man.

        The theory of communism appeals not to hearts of women but to people living the poorest lives. Communism is a hope of a wealthier life for those without any perspectives where ‘masculine’ competition hardly exists. And you need to do nothing, just ‘right’ people must come to government and they will make a change, save poorest people…

        'was communism possibly designed by men who wanted to get laid' - if I understood it well with some help of the internet, that's one of the craziest things I have ever heard.
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          Feb 3 2012: Thank you for that. It's good to hear about the realities of communism - I was pretty sure that socialism would be the very strongest claim that could be made, not communism.

          Tangentially: I too have experienced competitive women, but then again, I'm a geek with gamer women friends (among others). There have been moments of thinking, "You know, maybe you should let the bf win this round... Yeah right!"

          I recall being taught that you should let men win now and again for the sake of their egos.

          (Reason # 392528 that I make a crappy girl ;-)
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        Feb 3 2012: Is Sigmund Freud your idol?
        In human world something is not just something, it has a context. In one context capitalism would encourage women to do this, in other context it would encourage EVERY person to compete, if we are really imaginative and brave enough we can try to imagine capitalism with a special context which would encourage men to compete through women...
        The answer to your first question is yes, but not to the full, and the context keeps changing.
        I suppose that less or more of sexual freedom, increased demand on intelligent men are the following results, not the reasons.
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          Feb 3 2012: Sorry to drag you off-point, I am just wanting to make sure I understand your meaning.

          Why would men have to compete through women rather than on their own?

          Is it the difference between the man seeking the "trophy wife" vs the one married to the high-powered lawyer?
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          Feb 3 2012: I don't believe in idols, but I have to admit, that I have always thought that Freud got a bad rap because he was so honest about sexuallity. The man basically invented talk therapy, diagnosed many diseases, that had never been considered before, and if you talk to the average psychiatrist now, he'll tell you the man was just an insane pervert... Kinsey, pretty much proved, that Freud wasn't as far off as people would like to believe.

          I have to admit here, that my main reason for posing the socialism capitalism debate among men and women... Is because I think a statistically significant percentage of modern American women have turned against a capitalist system that will set them free over time.

          I hate the capitalists that have come out against public education, because I think it attacks capitalisms abillity to do this... but in general, when I hear, Phillip Zimbardo talk about how men drop out of school more than women now, and women get more degrees... I see a future where lots of men start taking home economics, and trying to hook up with a pretty engineer : p

          That's the world I want to live in : )

          Some men will still kick ass and take names... but in general, I think capitalism offers women a real chance at power, where as most other economic systems have been very oppressive to them. I think it's unfortunate that mistreatment under the capitalist economy in the past, has led many women to question whether this will ever happen.

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          Feb 6 2012: Personally... I think the high powered lawyer... Is the trophy... What we would traditionally call the trophy... "certainly wasn't first place"
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      Feb 2 2012: Oops. We forgot to determine if the question was regarding political philosophies, or practices.You, Ms. Luzyte, are speaking of historical actualities. Some of us are speaking of actual political philosophies and stated ideologies. Mr. Marx (Karl not Groucho) , and Lenin proposed communal harmony and peaceful coexistence in the world. Mr. Stalin put his own personal touch on it. The historical record of actual communist experiments does not mimic feminine characteristics. But, the philosophies do.
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        Feb 2 2012: I saw Krisztián Pintér's comment and allowed myself to speak about some 'practice', too.
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    Feb 4 2012: Gisela McKay: "This completely ignores the fact that people are motivated by different factors."

    those cold medications seemingly left your composition ability unimpaired. however, you forgot to mention what "this" is.
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      Feb 5 2012: Yeah, ignore the drug-addled sleepy post until I re-read what I was answering.
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    Feb 3 2012: First problem I see with the idea? Unlike the masculine/feminine, yin/yang dichotomies, there is an entire pantheon of economic (or political) ideologies that in no way can be sorted and assigned to the categories.

    Even were we to expand the categories and tease out states and behaviours such as Two-spiritedness, male-to-female transgenderedness, etc. (and there is possibly an argument that could be made that in terms of social constructs those would differ from the standard two) where do we go with these unrelated constructs?

    Mercantilism: masculine. Trickle-down economics: ? (That one belongs to the asexual unicorns.)

    Second: At their core the Forms of 'masculine' and 'feminine' are untenable and undesirable states not something to pursue. The ultimate 'masculine' cannot exist within a society, and the ultimate 'feminine', as we have assigned it, would be passive to the point of immobile.

    These social constructs are posited as opposite ends of a spectrum, when even as described, they are more likely parallel dials on a mixing board. If they weren't, you couldn't achieve "passive aggressiveness".

    "Telling someone to share (with ones' self)" is actually "asking for more" is it not? Sitting and waiting quietly would be passive. Enforcing sharing, while maybe traditionally the role of the mother in a family, not particularly passive/receptive. In taking the role of enforcer, women (mothers, specifically) are often into 'masculine' territory.

    I suspect that the resentment that builds up toward someone with the power but is unlike the male child is part of why we get this odd need to differentiate - and more so, create hierarchies - about work/tasks.

    EDIT: Head cold. Forgot to a word.
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      Feb 4 2012: Did you just say the idea for trickle down economics came from asexual unicorns?... That's awesome.

      I would only suggest that the ultimate male... is not a good thing under modern cultural constructs... But to me, Tesla was a bit of an ultimate male. Newton for his time... etc. They were visciously competitive, and trying to advance humanity the best way possible... It would have been nice if they had met a woman who could have simply been a phenomenal mother, and a great engineer to bounce ideas off of. So I agree, that at different ends of the spectrum, men and women find balance, but I think there is room, and still a bit of necessity for some of the old cultural contructs in their epitome.
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        Feb 4 2012: I reserve the right to change that when I am no longer high on cold medication. ;-)
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      Feb 4 2012: Yeah, I wanted to give her a thumbs up for that one too...
  • Feb 3 2012: Wow, there are a lot of assumptions in those analogies:
    - communism/socialism means sharing
    - socialism is the only avenue to philanthropy
    - capitalism is about defeating opponents

    First, what if we viewed capitalism as the pursuit of efficiency and quality (which of course is in the ultimate pursuit of making a buck)? Nonetheless, that puts a whole different perspective on the question.

    Second, there is a persistent false dichotomy - that if one is in support of capitalism and free markets one must be opposed to sharing, philanthropy, and charity. This is not so. Classical liberals support charity, but oppose charity administered by *government*. There is a huge difference, because the latter cannot be delivered without violating the property rights of other citizens. Like Bastiat said, a democracy is a government in which everyone is trying to live at everyone else's expense. In case it's not obvious, we can't be all things to all people. We have to prioritize, an the best place to do that is allowing the individual to direct their assets to the charities they believe in.

    So, no, communism is not feminine. Capitalism is not masculine. Liberty is the answer. Check out Young Americans for Liberty or or
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      Feb 3 2012: "the latter cannot be delivered without violating the property rights of other citizens"

      I'm going to ask you to explain that before I comment. Perhaps I am misreading your meaning.
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    Feb 3 2012: Gisela, there's an expression 'looking through pink glasses', I think we wear glasses of cliches.

    If women naturally tend to be uncompetitive, then, men naturally have a disability to cry.
  • Feb 2 2012: Gisela
    I don't think I have ever associated a political philosophy with either gender. I think I agree more with your statement on the degrees within the sex, both men and women are competitive/and sharing. I just would have never considered the pairing I think. To me then, to say capitalism, the philosophical one, is masculine, just does not compute on any level.
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      Feb 2 2012: Would you agree that men want to beat the crap out of each other? Because either I know a very weird subset of men (distinctly possible), or they've sublimated that urge into business competitiveness (also possible), or it's just off.
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        Feb 3 2012: I side with business competitiveness : p
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        Feb 3 2012: Actually Seth put up something good about that, and he has me convinced. Lets see if I can find it...

        Seth Powell: 'Over and over I hear how women like competitive, bad boy types. These are also the traits we typically associate with the less intelligent and risk averse portion of the male population. I do not think so. Rather I think a better explanation involves differing perspective.

        Whereas two males jockeying for a woman's affection they see it as competition, she sees it as attention. She is not analyzing the dynamic between the two of them, but the dynamic between her and each of them. This is why she will sometimes side with the loser of the 'fight.' Because it is not about winning and competition to her (as it is to us) but about attention and dedication.

        I think acknowledging the difference in gender perception accounts for the observation that David has made - that males are violent because females seem to reward it. If a woman reacts favorably to attention, and males instead infer she reacts favorably to competition, this will lead them to specialize in that behavior. That this is not the actual behavior that women wish to encourage is a breakdown of communication between individual partners and the genders in general.'
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          Feb 3 2012: Joanne, you must not forget that although women do like attention the more attention you do give them, the more you can push them away as well because you may come off as clingy....from what I know, women (sorry for the generalization) seems to be interested in the guy who does not give them too much attention and shows a bit of independence. If a women finds that a guy is not responding to what she does or is showing a bit of apathy, she is instantly intrigued as to why this other words, if the guy is a mystery, she'll be wondering if he is thinking about her at all or what your doing with your life....happens to me often. I'll give the attention when it is necessary but I wont spend my day chasing after them and once she realizes that, that is where the games begin
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          Feb 3 2012: Being more predator than prey I'm not sure I entirely buy into, "Whereas two males jockeying for a woman's affection they see it as competition, she sees it as attention." (I'm sure it's really very difficult to imagine that I lack subtlety.)

          But I can appreciate that there are women who perceive that as a mark of their value. ("I wanted a 20 cow woman and now I have one.") It is hard to maintain that level of interest, though and men and women both often express the "he/she doesn't do what he/she used to during courting!" sentiment. (Does anyone say 'courting' anymore?)

          It's setting the bar a little high, I suspect.

          But then, on the other end of the spectrum, my best friend's uncle didn't realize his wife had false teeth until she died, so meticulous was she about maintaining the illusion.

          Yeah, I have no idea what this has to do with communism either.
      • Feb 3 2012: Gisela
        I don't think every guy wants to do battle with every guy. Obviously there are. In spite of some comments here I do think there are some women who enjoy the same.

        The conversation is interesting, it is the metaphor that lacks substance. Unless however everything is after all is said and done ying/yang.
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    Feb 2 2012: Hi Gisela!

    It's hard for me to think about a female or a male system... The only thing that comes to mind is that militaristic states are more masculine, on the other hand how much of that aggression is culturally taught to boys?
    The part about defeating the competition sounds cultural to me as well.

    I don't think we have a clear gender difference understanding yet, is there any relevant one? (if someone knows of a decent paper I would love to read it).


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    Feb 2 2012: communism so far managed to kill literally hundreds of millions of people. caused massive starvation. caused wars. created totalitarian regimes with massive secret polices and informant networks. the cradle of communism was surrounded by all men. marx, engels, lenin, stalin, mao. it is hard to imagine anything more masculine than that.

    for communism is not about sharing. communism is about taking.
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      Feb 2 2012: Very fair... And, despite our disagreements, I would be very intrigued to hear your perspecive on this topic.

      My question would be... Did they write this philosophy to get laid?

      To you... It might be a better question to suggest... Did they create this philosophy to manipulate the emotions of women?
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      Feb 3 2012: @Krisztian....there is that grainy film footage of the gulag again.....which country? which era? Fidel has achieved sixth place on the happy planet index, not too draconian, if you ask me.America is 150th. Stop pretending Russia was communist, you cant call a fly a fruit bat and turn it into one. Marx never advocated state control. That was something dreamed up in a facist mind.

      Now we come to the crux of this talk, the origins of facism and male violence. The premise Gisela has put up, and David has dreamed up, is not so random after all. (before I get deleted for being off topic)
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        Feb 3 2012: I would only add that... Russia wasn't communist... and America... isn't capitalist...

        My point originally, was that communism, may have actually been a trick used, to convince women to embrace, what often, in practice, ends up being fascism and male violence... by disguising it as sharing, and love. Castro perpetrated a coupe... So did the "Marxist" influence in Russia.

        This position involves trying to meta cognate why Marx chose to embrace a system that is contrary to male biological programming... Maybe he was simply enlightened... but I'm not exactly convinced.

        I'd be interested to hear your take on my second response to Julija, about the sexual politics of Marxism, versus capitalism. My idea that capitalism was secretly designed to get nerds laid : p
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          Feb 3 2012: I am still trying to formulate my answer.....well at least to put it into a 2000 characters.....

          What I have for you is this: Pre Christian Tahiti. Lots and lots of sex. Egalitarianism, no private ownership, no control, no male violence or social violence.

          Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State, demonstrates where sex and politics meet, right there with the first commodities, right there when women became a commodity.

          So.....ramping up to an answer.....the point is; it is possible Marx and Engels wrote because they wanted to have more sex, but not because they thought the theory would impress the ladies, but instead, because they thought if society could be persuaded to return to a more natural state, lots and lots of sex would be one of the beautiful side benefits.
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          Feb 3 2012: I think I disagree with you that any peaceful ideology is against male biological nature. I dispute that. What men are truly, what we humans are truly, we cant say, because we are so contorted by our current cultural paradigms.
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        Feb 3 2012: first: i don't believe in such indexes. there were talks about it, and the conversations below them were very eye opening. one can not trust these numbers. happiness is not to be counted.

        second: some of the figures are released by the establishments of these dictatorships. everything a dictator says worth zero. they lie.
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          Feb 3 2012: Happiness is not to be counted? Personally, I think it is the only thing worth counting.
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        Feb 3 2012: Good point.. I would only add, that sometimes my rhetoric, makes me sound a bit out there... When in reality, I don't mean to suggest "Men are this way, women are this way"... Simply that culture, and/or biology, has lead to a statistically significant increase of one belief over the other.

        In my country maybe 60 percent of men are more capitalist than socialist... and maybe 60% of women have more sympathy for socialism than capitalism. It's not that 90% of men are violent competitors or anything like that... just significantly more men, seem to be violent competitors, than women, under current circumstances... Though Anje fairly called even that into question.
        • Feb 3 2012: David,

          Sixty percent of the women in our country do not think of either Socialism or Communism or Capitalism. Actually, 90%. Maybe 60% of the 10% prefer socialism to capitalism.

          The same is probably true for men as well.

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        Feb 3 2012: Also, my only question about Tahiti... would be... are there any pretty engineers for me to hook up with? Do they have lots of female doctors? Or are they pretty much just sexy people having a bunch of fun chilling by the beach? lol

        The latter sounds fun... but, in reality, I'd prefer the former.
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          Feb 3 2012: Perhaps just a holiday then. You are also going to need a time machine. The christians have taken quite a bit of the fun out of the place after they turned up in the 1800s.
      • Feb 3 2012: Haha, Joanne, don't intentionally twist his words. I don't think English is his first language.

        'Happiness is not to be QUANTIFIED.'

        Fixed it for him.

        The reason that happiness can not be quantified is because quantification requires objective standards, as well as an operating definition. It's a messy ordeal to quantify subjective feelings based on a largely arbitrary and subjective labelling process we call language. People in pre-Christian Tahiti were 'happy' when chilling on the beach and banging apparently, but as David says, his idea of finding happiness is different. David could very well register a '0' on the 'happiness test' while relaxing in Paradise, longing for his college educated Eve with which to discuss gender theory and Chinese wage labor. It's a messy ordeal.

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          Feb 3 2012: Ok you get that one, Seth. In the interests of fairness then, 'happiness cannot be quantified' ok. It still does not mean we do not measure everything by it, though does it. You might have guessed by now, I do think 'objective standards' are also a bit overrated. I am not much of a Descartian.

          I agree David might not be happy in pre Christian Tahiti, without his super hot female engineer, and that we will never know. Standards like the Happy Planet Index are a bit like gender generalisations; pointless, meaningless, and yet we all know true, some of the time.
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          Feb 4 2012: Not 0... Just not pure bliss... I'd get bored. Also my numbers were meant to sound pulled out of my ass on the communism thing. More women I meet, like the idea of community... would be a much better way of saying it.
      • Feb 3 2012: "It's not right to call a Nazi survivor a fascist, no matter his politics."


        'Fascist' is not an insult. It is a description of a person pertaining to a particular philosophy. There are a lot of fascist opinions on this thread, but it is not from Krisztian or Mises.

        Like I have said, your understanding of the terms we use is sloppy. 'Fascist' is not synonymous with 'asshole' or 'homophobe' - though I believe Mises was probably neither.

        Or maybe (more likely) it is not your understanding of these terms that is sloppy, but your use of them seems so because you don't qualify what you mean exactly. If you had said, 'Mises was unegalitarian, as were the Italian Fascists.' that would make sense. But to say someone is 'fascist' because they are unegalitarian and then retract the charge solely because he was a Nazi survivor? As if it is some kind of insult? I can assure you Fascists are proud of the fact.

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          Feb 3 2012: Von Mises seems to subscribe to a form of social Darwinism, he definately believes in un-egalitarianism, this definately fits into the wider definition of 'facist' which has become very broad in its modern usage. However I withdrew it because if it is true that he resisted the Nazis (the German Facists) and had to flee from them. I would not apply this term to him, on the grounds that whatever his political views, it would be a vulgar and inappropriate comparison to make. I prefer to use other terms to describe his politics.

          Someone who had resisted the Nazis and suffered because of it, WOULD take that term as the gravests of insults, whether it had been applied correctly or not.
      • Feb 5 2012: Joanne,

        "...a person's conscious adjustments to the state of the universe that determine his life."

        "Do you think a Kalahari bushman would agree with that world view?"

        Hmmm. Do I think a kalahari bushman feels his life is determined by his conscious evaluation and adjustments of his surroundings?

        Yes I do. Probably why his community or family went to lengths to teach him how to make those evaluations and adjustments. I think that is an exact description of life in the bush, jungle, city and marketplace.

        There are experiences common to all humans - Mises eloquently describes a characteristic of human existence.


        *is the basis of your egalitarianism an observation or a feeling?
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          Feb 8 2012: Hi Seth, I have read nothing of Von Mises to date which impresses me, that he 1. understands human nature particularily well, or 2. has a useful economic model. I see a lot of hero worship though, totally unjustified if you ask me. My attachment to egalitarianism springs from a distaste for witnessing others in poverty, ill and unable to get treatment, or dead for the same reason, especially in places where it is totally unnecessary because there is plenty to go around. What feeling does your enjoyment of Von Mises spring from?
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          Feb 8 2012: joanne, you overcomplicated that sentence. it can be simplified as this:

          " I have read nothing of Von Mises to date"
      • Feb 8 2012: Joanne,

        When you say 'egalitarian' so you mean 'political egalitarianism'?

        Egalitarian is the idea that people are inherently equal.

        Political egalitarianism is the idea that people should have equal political rights.

        I am a political egalitarian (for the most part) but not an egalitarian. It seems illogical to state 'I feel people are inherently equal because I have seen people ill and in poverty' but it does make sense if you mean 'I believe all humans should have equal political rights because I have seen x, y and z.'

        Am I correct in assuming you meant 'political egalitarianism'? Or perhaps you are both and therefore conflate the two of them.

        To be honest, I have only read excerpts on Mises and do not enjoy reading his writing. That is not to say I do not appreciate his ideas, just that his writing is dull and redundant. As is Hayek's.

        Can we agree that economic systems (real, not theoretical) spring from human nature?

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          Feb 9 2012: From Wiki: (though clearly Seth, you already knew this, but just so we are clear) Egalitarian doctrines tend to maintain that all humans are equal in fundamental worth or social status.[1] The term has two distinct definitions in modern English.[2] It is defined either as a political doctrine that all people should be treated as equals and have the same political, economic, social, and civil rights[3] or as a social philosophy advocating the removal of economic inequalities among people or the decentralization of power. An egalitarian believes that equality reflects the natural state of humanity.[4][

          I am a political egalitarian, and somewhat a social egalitarian too. I accept, that since the advent of neolithic farming we have had to live with the heirarchies capitalism produces and the negative (and positive) consequences of those, but I believe it is important to diminish the level of hierarchy to as narrow a band as economic stability will allow. I believe societies are healthier, happier and more stable this way. I do not advocate state controlled oppression, the marxist model as its been interpreted, or even outlined in the manifesto. I think if Marx were alive today, he would change, it, and I would be interested to see what his new model would look like. The problems he pointed to when he wrote it are still the same today.

          Can we agree ' economic systems... spring from human nature', yes I think so, but we might disagree on what determines 'human nature'.

          From some of your posts, the ones I have read, you seem to subscribe to Laissez Faire (correct me if I am wrong) so if this is true, how do you reconcile this with political egalitarianism?
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      Feb 3 2012: OUCH Krisztian, please do no put Marx and Engels on a list with Stalin. Even Lenin and Mao do not deserve that. But Marx? That is like calling Mandela and Eddie Amin brothers.
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        Feb 3 2012: you mentioned women being used as a commodity for sex...

        have you ever considered how the control of sex was used as a way for political, religious and intellectual power?

        This occurs in the Victorian Era and was one of the main reasons as to why Freud was successful earlier in his life.

        If you interested in learning more about this I think you'd be interested in Micheal Foucault "History of Sexuality". I think there are between 4-6 volumes.
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          Feb 3 2012: Hi Orlando, I have heard of 'The History of Sexuality" referred to a few times, have you read it? Something good to add to the reading list. Actually I think sexuality and politics are closely tied. So while this thread is sweet and a bit of fun, I am watching with interest to see what comes out.
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        Feb 3 2012: it was a list about the men around the cradle. they belong.

        granted, marx and lenin are not in the same league. lenin is an active mass murderer. marx is only a cheap propagandist, but in fact, i can imagine that he actually believed what he said. not sure though. communism as an idea was kinda nuts from the very beginning, and the advocates restrained themselves from reasonable, fact and logic based debates.

        for those who are interested in criticism of communism in detail, i recommend two pieces by ludwig von mises: "theory and history" and "economic calculation in the socialist commonwealth".
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          Feb 3 2012: Krisztian, the same Ludwig won Mises who hates egalitarianism and denounces the Feminist movement as socialist? Even Milton Friedman thought him too inflexible. Von Mises thought the traditonal nuclear family was essential to and fostered by free market capitalism. That rules gay marriage out doesn't it. Never mind, we are happy to forgo that aren't we Krisztian, for the sake of all the glorious money a few people will make?
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        Feb 3 2012: Joanne,

        it is getting amusing actually. i wonder what your sources might be. mises as a fasist. mises, who was in the top ten on the list of enemies of nazis, and had to fled austria, and later europe to survive. was a jew btw, but this is minor point. maybe you should take a look yourself, and not believing everything some people tell you about him? mises was probably the biggest mind of the century. worth checking out.

        i denounce egalitarianism too. am i a fascist? that is your way of arguing? namecalling? where would you place yourself on the following chart?:
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          Feb 3 2012: I note there is not a category for 'runs away' which I have seen you do more than a few times. Whatever he might be religiously, nevertheless he still advocates the nuclear family to the exclusion of all others, and extreme un-egalitarianism is a characteristic of facist thought.

          My grandfather-in-law, also fought the Nazis, and spent years in Auswhitz. He was not a facist, he believed in equality and was tortured for it. However, I retract my accusation of facism, against Von Mises, and apologise for it, as it is not correct to call a Nazi survivor a facist, whatever his politics.

          I will take a look at his work, an unbiased look, too. If you manage to change my mind, even one iota I will tell you so.

          The problem with some econmic thinkers, and this is sometimes true of Marx too, they only look at one aspect of society, the exchange action, and the drivers that move it. There are many other things that influence people and make them creative and happy as we are discussing along this thread (sort of). Such a narrow band of thought as laissez faire can only end in suffering, in my view, not only that, I have witnessed such a society at work. Its horrible. I challenge you to try to live in such a place.
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        Feb 3 2012: " If you manage to change my mind, even one iota I will tell you so"

        give me a break.

        "The problem with some econmic thinkers, and this is sometimes true of Marx too, they only look at one aspect of society, the exchange action,"

        or at least this what you were told, and never questioned it. mises describes the focus of his studies this way:

        "HUMAN action is purposeful behavior. Or we may say: Action is will put into operation and transformed into an agency, is aiming at ends and goals, is the ego's meaningful response to stimuli and to the conditions of its environment, is a person's conscious adjustment to the state of the universe that determines his life. Such paraphrases may clarify the definition given and prevent possible misinterpretations. But the definition itself is adequate and does not need
        complement or commentary."

        and later

        "It is usual to call an action irrational if it aims, at the expense of "material" and tangible advantages, at the attainment of "ideal" or "higher" satisfactions. In this sense people say, for instance-sometimes with approval, sometimes with disapproval-that a man who sacrifices life, health, or wealth to the attainment of "higher" goods- like fidelity to his religious, philosophical, and political convictions or the freedom and flowering of his nation-is motivated by irrational considerations. However, the striving after these higher ends is neither more nor less rational or irrational than that after other human ends. "
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          Feb 3 2012: Yeah I have read this. It does not impress me, not at all. To base a whole economic/social system around this one idea 'HUMAN action is purposeful behavior... is a person's conscious adjustment to the state of the universe that determines his life' is utterly ludicrous in my view. You dont think his thesis MIGHT POSSIBLY be a CULTURAL construct? Do you think a Kalahari bushman for example, would agree with that world view? BTW his idea of human action sounds like a recipe for a triple bypass operation.

          And the premis of the second statement; "It is usual to call an action irrational if it aims, at the expense of "material" and tangible advantages, at the attainment of "ideal" or "higher" satisfactions" Usual for whom? Males born in Austria in the twenties?

          His conclusion; 'However, the striving after these higher ends is neither more nor less rational or irrational than that after other human ends' Who says STRIVING is the natural state of humankind? We only STRIVE if we are starving or threatened or in some kind of social slavery. What we do naturally and normally when we can, is lie under the trees, eat drink, sleep, play and have sex like all the other primates.
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          Feb 4 2012: This completely ignores the fact that people are motivated by different factors.

          Once the basics are covered, what prompts people to "strive" varies. Let's take the work setting as an example, from personalities I encountered in the corporate world.

          Some people are motivated by titles - these suckers are awesome, because you can effectively keep coming up with newer and more impressive titles and a teeny pay raise to keep them. As long as they can tell their friends and family something that sounds impressive, they're yours.

          Some people are motivated by money - they're considerably less awesome because they're expensive. Often they also don't care about their title or their role in the hierarchy as long as they're being paid what they think they're worth. Which usually boils down to "more than you are paying anyone else".

          Some people like authority. These people like to micromanage and hover over your shoulder while you are working. They are best dealt with by scaring the crap out of them - coming to a tacit agreement that allows them maintain the illusion of authority in front of other people, but leaving you alone.

          There are others, but I am hopped up on cold meds that I suspect are full of alcohol, so I am going to take a nap now.
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        Feb 3 2012: economists do not base systems on anything. statists does. economists describe existing systems.

        trying to refute that humans act is an action. so that was a quick self defeat. what bushmans would say about it is rather irrelevant, really, if we are talking about the truth. we don't ask them about whether the earth moves or not either. but if you take enough time to explain to a bushman what we already know, he will finally accept. that is how reason changes beliefs. in some cases, at least.

        your ability to find totally irrelevant details, but still get it wrong, is marvelous. should there be "some calls" or "one could call", which does not change the statement one bit, and your arguments fall apart. not very smart. but it takes not much effort to just look around on these forums to see the widespread opinion, yours included, namely that economists only focus on the material. it seems that 70 years ago, mises had to argue that higher values are equally important. but you forgot your own position in the heat of opposing something you don't want to know about.

        i'm a bit sorry for you if the people around you strive only when hungry or threatened. but i can assure you, many of us strive to do good things even when food and shelter is more or less secured. for example, i'm trying to explain some ideas to you, instead of lying under trees.
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          Feb 4 2012: Ah how quickly this has descended to a philisophical debate. Soon you will start to pick on semantics. If this happens, I am going back to what I should be doing.

          'economists describe existing systems'. No they don't. Its philosohical talk. Often utopian. You yourself often cry out, that the laissez-faire model has so far not been tried. (except in Somalia?)

          I did not try to refute 'humans act is an action' which would be silly, I did refute that each human act is 'the ego's meaningful response to stimuli', that all 'human action is purposeful'. I questioned the basic premis behind that statement, quite clearly.

          I am actually genuinely interested in your ideas Krisztian, but we may not have enough common ground to arrive at a discussion, since I do not think a Kalahari bushman requires teaching about anything, in fact, I feel many kalahari bushmen could deliver you and I many important lessons. I think you dismissed without considering it seriously the point I was trying to make, which is the premis behind Von Mises idea is quite 19th century, male and European.

          You are jumping to a conclusion here when you assume I subscribe to this 'economists only focus on the material. it seems that 70 years ago, mises had to argue that higher values are equally important.' I was making the point that his world view is culture specific and heavily influenced by the time and place in which he wrote. From this position, one cannot extrapolate a healthy economic/social model that can be applied to everyone.

          'many of us strive to do good things even when food and shelter is more or less secured.' If you are striving, you are still in a state of suffering. If you are in a state of joy, when you do something, it is called play. Do you see, we are poles apart. Our minds work differently.
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        Feb 4 2012: this conversation goes from mildly amusing to brain dead in a swift fashion.

        how can a description of the world "utopian"? utopia is an imaginary future. you can't describe the current system as a utopia.

        you refused a statement then, that is a tautology. mises explains elsewhere that "meaningful" is subjective. i didn't quote that, since it is not our topic now. now you tried to sell that economists try to describe the world through profit and money. so i showed you the very basics of the misesian thought. so you quickly forgot your own point, and started to talk about the words in the quotes, without even considering what those words can mean in different contexts. it seems that i should quote the entire book so you can not pick on any terms not explained. is that a deliberate action on your part? you try to derail the conversation? or you really don't remember your own position?

        i tell you then: you occupy the doublethink position that economists only deal with the material and economists live in utopia. it might be true for krugman, i give you that. but certainly not true for mises. in fact, that is the key factor that distinguishes austrian economics from the mainstream or the monetary school. we believe that at the root of everything in society, there is the human action, and there is nothing else. we deal with humans, and not equations.
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          Feb 4 2012: This is a tactic I have watched you perform over and over again; if someone touches on an idea that you have no answer for. I remind you, I pointed out the premis behind your hero Mises theory is cultural specific, the product of an male Austrian's 19thc skewed world view.

          Of course you know this is true, and you have no answer for it, so instead of reconsidering your position, or actually engaging maturely in a discussion about it, you go on the attack. I have watched you do this several times in other talks.

          When this wont work (which it clearly hasn't) your next trick, will be one of the following; try to throw the person off, and save some face, by attacking semantics (you began to do that already) but when you know that won't get you anywhere, the hysterical trantrum will follow, then you will blow. Try hanging around, try talking a bit more for once, you might gain something.
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        Feb 5 2012: i wouldn't say i have the faintest idea what are you talking about here. so let me summarize.

        your claim is that economics deal with either only profits/etc, or deal with utopia, or too theoretical, or whatever.

        so i explained you that austrian economics deal with human action. whatever that action is, whatever goals it might aim at, whatever motivation it stems from. i also explained how mises tries to refute the notion of spiritual goals would be less rational. i did that to illustrate that mises did not mean formal logic by rational. or profitable. or wealth maximizing. he exactly meant rational in the sense that human action happens if the actor anticipates it will bring some good results according to his own personal valuations. if one decides to listen to a song instead of visiting a web page, it is an economic decision. he allocated his time, a scarce resource, to some use.

        which refutes your central point about economics. but instead of admitting that, you are trying to make it look like mises based his theories on something obsolete. while actually you only argued that something it denies is obsolete.
      • Feb 9 2012: Joanne,

        "I believe it is important to diminish the level of hierarchy to as narrow a band as economically stable."

        Two thoughts:

        1. A free market achieves just that. As I noted previously, competition keeps prices down. Prices are a result of costs. Compensation is a cost. The more competitive a market is, the less management can allow to pay itself and remain competitive. Competition also rises the wages of skilled labor, as more firms competing in the market leads to more demand for their services. Unfortunately, unskilled labor does see its wage fall under the system, which is why I advocate for a public education system (more on that in a minute).

        2. Social hierarchies will persist even in economic equality. Man is a social animal, and I feel all social structures are inherently hierarchical. I would even argue (as Marx does, I believe) that economic hierarchies form to insulate the social elites (atleast initially; once the system is in place its inertia becomes detached from individual motive and is subconscious). The only way to prevent the social hierarchy from forming economic strata is a. fierce competition and b. political egalitarianism, or equal legal rights.

        I agree with what you said, but feel *diminish* is the wrong perspective, as it denotes an economically active government, which makes matters worse.
        I believe in the free Exchange of goods. I believe it is the most efficient and beneficial economic transaction. I also believe it is natural, which is why the size of a black market correlates with the scope of economic regulation.
        The free Exchange of goods can not take place in anarchy or in a socialist state. Individual property rights are at the heart of free Exchange. If any person's *right* becomes a *privilege* over others, through his physical prowess or bureaucratic dictate, then the free Exchange of goods and the economy as a whole suffers. Therefore I believe in both the free market and political egalitarianism.
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          Feb 10 2012: I see a few problems already, I hope you will answer them;

          1.'A free market achieves just that. As I noted previously, competition keeps prices down. Prices are a result of costs' but this stage is surely transitory, and reliant on the players being relatively equal, in size and power. I think, as soon as one player pulls ahead, a monopoly begins to develop, that grows until it crushes all competition, then whatever egalitarianism that might have been, vanishes. Its what we see over and over again, and not just in governed economies, I have witnessed this perfectly in smalll microbial unfettered economies too. Can you explain how monopolies can be avoided in your model?

          The second problem I see is this: 'unskilled labor does see its wage fall under the system, which is why I advocate for a public education system' A source of unskilled labour or 'cheap' labour is highly desirable to many industries. This creates an intense driver in a society to produce exactly that, a glut of uneducated labour, either a stream of cheap immigrant workers, or by creating a permanent underclass in some way. (lets not bother with examples, I think you can probaly think of a few, as can I)

          3.the third problem I see, is in your climate of 'fierce competition' bad unintended consequences will be the inevitable result. Horrific plunder of resources, without thought of the consequences, disregard for the business climage, environment of the future. What is your answer to this?

          I accept that hierarchies are a consequence of property, ownership, and the other factors of competive capitalism. I advocate moderating to alleviate the worst side affects. I always get to this point in these talks; I can point to a few existing successful models, and if laissez faire is so perfect, why has it not been tried, or why does it not occur naturally somewhere on the planet? Can you answer that questions?

          The 'its natural' argument does not wash at all, and is better left to another thread,
      • Feb 9 2012: CONTINUATION

        I wholeheartedly support the creation of a public education system, civil court system, law enforcment, as well as a few other public services (including a fully public monetary system, but that's another day's debate).

        Unlike anarcho-capitalists, republican capitalist (as well as other laissez faire systems) acknowledges man's need of the rule of law.

        To answer more succinctly, I reconcile my political egalitarianism and my laissez faire economic preference by constructing a government (republic) which respects both.

        I am going to answer the 'human nature' topic in a separate thread at the top, as the conversation is getting disjointed. Feel free to respond to this from the upcoming comment.

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          Feb 11 2012: politics aside for a sec, have you read 'The Turning Point' by Fritzjop Capra Seth? Its relevant to where this is heading; the nature of people, the nature of society.
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      Feb 4 2012: Regarding this 'communism so far managed to kill literally hundreds of millions of people. caused massive starvation. caused wars. created totalitarian regimes with massive secret polices and informant networks'

      UNEGALITARIAN regimes, including those labelled communist, facist, apartheid, and others, have killed millions, caused massive starvation, wars and totalitarian regimes.

      UNEGALITARIAN power structures caused these things. Laisses Faire is a template, a fools errand, for another such unegalitarian society, and which would result in equivalent or worse savagery.

      More EQUALITY, more individual autonomy and representation in the power structure, established through refined highly representative democracy (not the un-democratic model currently in use in the U.S) is the only antidote.
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        Feb 5 2012: so we can say that those who ever attempted to implement communism, turned out the be man's greatest enemy. maybe egalitarianism is only a nice coverup for aggression and oppression.

        on the other hand, the industrial revolution with free market capitalism brought about the greatest increase in human wellbeing in the entire history.

        you can decide which way you want to go.
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          Feb 7 2012: As usual you ignored what I actually said, and created instead what you wish to hear.

          Well at least there is finally some meat in the sandwhich: ''austrian economics deal(s) with human action. Whatever that action is, whatever goals it might aim at, whatever motivation it stems from' Would you care to finish it? Its going nowhere so far.Next: 'the industrial revolution ... wellbeing in the entire history.' You know I fundamentally disagree with this, both the premis behind the idea, and the 'factual' nature of it. I recommend we steer clear of rehashing old themes and work on the new stuff. Lets hear about this great theory. Tell me, how enormous disparity will create prosperity and peace. Please enlighten me.
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          Feb 11 2012: Krisztian; things are never as simple as you would like them to be. Marx is not the source of all evil, and neither is capitalism. In fact, the manifesto was instrumental in creating the kinds of regulatory structures (the miniumum wage, fairer working conditions, healthy and safety, the limited working week,) that tempered the worst ravages of capitalism thereby creating the wealthy middle class we take for granted today in the developed world. Instead of declining into abject misery as Marx predicted, conditions for the working classes improved because of his radical ideas. He caused positive change, and a partnership between the worker and capitalist. We continue to refine that model, in our experiment called civilisation.

          If Marx were here today, I am sure I would squabble with him just as much as I squabble with you, because as a democratic socialist, I am for refining and improving the current model, not doing away with it. I want round smooth tires, not big square lumpy ones on the earth bus.

          Acutally Marxism and your brand of laissez faire have one thing in common, neither were tried, neither occurred naturally, what does that tell you?
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        Feb 7 2012: "Would you care to finish it?"

        no i would not, because 1, it is not an austrian economics lesson, but a conversation about communism, and 2, it would require pages after pages of material. if you are interested, you can find readings.

        " I fundamentally disagree with this"

        fundamentally disagree with a factual statement? i don't know such a thing. but facts are hard to disagree with. living standards, life expectancy, child survival raised in a rapid rate for a good hundred years mostly in the 19th century. good such as shoes and medicine became widely available to masses. and there was nothing else than private enterprise back then to bring it about.
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          Feb 8 2012: You talk pure nonsense, then refuse to back it up. Are you ready to leave again?
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        Feb 8 2012: this is not an argument. let me just reply that these are pure nonsense, not what i say:

        "Mises thought the traditonal nuclear family was essential to and fostered by free market capitalism. "

        "they only look at one aspect of society, the exchange action"

        "We only STRIVE if we are starving or threatened or in some kind of social slavery."
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          Feb 11 2012: You need to think a bit more before you talk Krisztian.
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        Feb 12 2012: "Acutally Marxism and your brand of laissez faire have one thing in common, neither were tried, neither occurred naturally, what does that tell you?"

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          Feb 13 2012: Yes I am not surprised it tells you nothing, so I will have to spell it out for you; the chances of it actually working are nil.
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        Feb 13 2012: so if something was never tried, it means it is unworkable? then what is innovation? the same argument would be usable to defend slavery, oppose equal rights to women, etc. the same arguments actually were used.
      • Feb 13 2012: Joanne,

        Politics aside, have I read the work of a devout ecofeminist? No, I have not.

        "..this stage is surely soon as a player pulls ahead, a monopoly develops."

        You are mistaking socialist market dynamics for free market dynamics.

        Free market dynamic: Idea -- new industry -- monopoly -- competition enters -- prices/ROI lowered -- 'equality of firm' stage -- ROI minimized -- resources diverted to new industry with less competition.

        Socialist market dynamic: Idea -- new industry, regulation permitting -- monopoly -- competition (possibly) enters -- ROI lowered -- approximates 'equality of firm' stage -- socially privileged use connections to influence government regulation -- competition decreases -- prices/ROI rise -- monopoly re-emerges, fully entrenched.

        In a free market, the monopoly stage occurs prior to the equality of firms stage, and there us no way to acquire the capital necessary to re-emerge as a monopoly when your ROI is shrinking by the day. In a socialist market, a monopoly re-emerges, in the nature you outlined. Once again, it is government intervention (which you advocate) which causes the imbalance (which you decry). That you think a monopoly can 'crush' its competition or would vanish egalitarianism indicates you presume a particular company would have undue influence on government policy. This is not a given in a free market system.
        A stream of cheap immigrant labor is not a bad thing. It gives them the opportunity to earn more than they would in their home country and allows them to send capital back home. Though we often look down on these jobs and occupations, they provide work for otherwise unemployable people. Fortunately, the need for such jobs is declining.

        Will continue later.

      • Feb 14 2012: Joanne,

        In response to '3.' -

        "Bad unintended consequences will be the inevitable result.."

        Of any human endeavour. Correct. This is true no matter what economic system we utilize. Failure and competition are facts of life. Socialism does not alleviate competing, it simply puts the weight of the state behind a competitor.

        I do not see the use of resources as 'plunder', nor do I think that most businesses act 'without thought of the consequences.' Most catastrophic instances were actually planned for, but the prevention mechanism failed. Once again, failure happens; it is not an indictment on any particular economic system.

        Yes, the 'it is natural' argument does wash. People naturally wish to perform the economic action that is most beneficial to them, regardless of government policy. Similarly, it is natural for people to want to influence other people's economic actions for their own benefit. It is two sides of the same coin - 'Ambition/Greed'. I want to do what I want to with my money (capitalism) and I want to do what I want with your money (socialism).

        These natural impulses, and the tension arising between them do occur naturally and can be observed the world over.

        Which one of the two seem more likely to cause problems that i want control of my resources, or that I want control of your resources? And which impulse should our government reinforce?
        'Self preservation arises from subliminated fear'

        Self-preservation arises from the physiological needs of the organisms that we are.

        But either way-

        We agree that economic systems arise from human nature.
        We agree that human nature is self-preservation and self-expression.

        Can we make the next step and say

        The self a. understands its physiological needs more so than any other organism (the metabolism is soveriegn) and b. understands its emotional needs more so than any other organism (the heart and mind are also sovereign)?

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          Feb 14 2012: Hells teeth. Call me an 'eco feminist' but what a hideous world view. Thats my whole problem with your 'theory', nay, your way of life.

          ' People naturally wish to perform the economic action that is most beneficial to them, regardless of government policy. Similarly, it is natural for people to want to influence other people's economic actions for their own benefit. It is two sides of the same coin - 'Ambition/Greed'".

          Ever heard of recipricocity Seth? Your world view is so diametrically opposed to mine, the premise from which you speak is so abhorrent to me. The things you try to 'prove' are, for millions of humans alive today, for millions of humans who have lived through history a total anathema. You cannot see that, because you live in a culture where ambition and greed feel so innate you think it actually human nature, genetically programmed in us.

          It does not surprise me that an Austrian dreamed up this sick facistic greed cullt. What kind of economic theory would a Kalahari bushman think up, or a Tongan or a Ladhaki? Would you even spare such a notion a thought? I doubt it. Yet if you were even able to perform such an act, even something as small as picturing such a thing, you might be able to begin to lead your life in a more fulfilled way, less consumed by materialism and pointless ambition and greed. Ahh, what silly eco feminist nonsense I seem to talk. Good night TED its been nice knowing you.
      • Feb 14 2012: Joanne,

        Too much wine before TED again?

        'Ecofeminist' referred to Capra, not you.

        I thought it was funny you would preface a reading suggestion with 'putting politics aside', when the author is a staunch ecofeminist, a political stance.

        Scarcity is a fact of existence on Earth. Competition arises from that.

        I don't think we have two diametrically poised worldviews. I think one of is has a worldview and the other has an amalgamation of emotion, ignorance, and an aversion to analyzing their own opinion.

        'Consumed by materialism'

        Like my conversation with Thomas, the charge only highlights your own misgivings about yourself. YOU are so consumed by materialism that YOU think it ought to be the primary role of governmet to redistribute wealth (MATERIAL). I think the government's role ought to be to protect an individual's rights. And I am the materialist? Do you even know what that word means or when it is aplicable? I will correct your sloppy English once again - 'materialist' is not synonymus with 'capitalist'. There are such things as 'socialist materialists', 'anarchical materialists' and so forth. That I advocate free markets does not make me 'consumed by materialism' or even a materialist. (Hint: 'materialism' describes a value system, not an economic one) Aside from my free market position, what indicates to you that I excessively pursue material goods?

        Haha fascist, capitalist, materialist, hideous, abhorrent, my 'way of life' (which is what, exactly?), bigotted -- so we can sum up your argument as 'you are wrong and I hate capitalism'? Or are you even trying to put together an argument anymore?

        ' could begin living your life in a more meaningful way.'


        '..pointless ambition.'

        Unsurprisingly, for all of your talk about 'empathy', you show no inclinaton to practice it. Perhaps in your economic situation ambition can be described as 'pointless,' but for many people (including the unskilled immigrants of the world) it is a virtue.
      • Feb 14 2012: Maybe after a little sleep you could tackle this:

        Which of these two sentences do you disagree with?

        1. People naturally want to perform whatever economic action is most beneficial to them, regardless of government policy.


        2. People also naturally want to influence other's economic actions to their own benefit.

        In order to disagree with 1, you have to believe either a. economic thought itself is not natural, b. individuals place communal concerns over their own or c. individuals have no interest in economically benefiting themselves.

        In order to disagree with 2, you have to believe individuals naturally respect property rights.


        *no worries, the bushman probably could not answer these questions and as it seems to be your wont to defer to the bushman, I will understand if a reply isn't forthcoming.
        **Also, you ask 'what kind of economic system would a kalahari bushman think up?" I do not know. Do you presume to speak for the bushman? And if so, can you please state explicitly what his preference actually is, rather than using his existence solely as a vague cop out. 'The bushman may disagree with you' does not disprove my argument - it highlights your lack of one.
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    Feb 2 2012: QUOTE: "The especial genius of women I believe to be electrical in movement, intuitive in function, spiritual in tendency." (Margaret Fuller). If you wish to allegorize gender traits by assigning political identities I suggest:
    Masculine = Kingdom. King makes the rules; is majestic and aloof; gets what he wants.
    Feminine = Communism. Wants equal division of unequal earnings (Ebenezer Elliott); wants none to be lacking; inspires the emotions of a religion (Albert Einstein); is like the cow of many, well-milked and badly fed (Spanish proverb).
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    Feb 28 2012: Communism - sharing - maybe in theory.
    Is sharing a trait stronger in females. I don't know. If it is and communism is about sharing then perhaps yes.
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    Feb 9 2012: Communism originates in the XIXth century, a century where societies were still patriarchal and elitist therefore, personally, I don't see any feminine influence to it.

    Communism started as the struggle of lower classes...Communism called upon those people to rise and overthrow the status quo, the nobles, the aristocracy and so on. Communism did not mean "let's share what we, the adepts, have" but instead meant "let's overthrow the upper classes, share their wealth and make everyone equal".

    I'm not talking the about the way it was implemented here, I'm talking about the way it was thought. The idea itself was radical...I don't think it gets manlier than that.

    Oh and by the way, in communism YOU don't own anything, the STATE does, so there's really nothing to share...

    Also communism starts from the false presumption that we are all equal. We are born anatomically different therefore we have different needs, different needs require different treatments, different treatments generate different outcomes and so on...
  • Feb 9 2012: Joanne,

    "We might disagree what 'human nature' is."


    Let's give it a shot, anyway -

    Human nature (that is across all geo-political and ethnic divides) can be summarized as two actions: art and economy. Self-expression and self-preservation.

    Would you agree?

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      Feb 10 2012: self preservation stems from (inner sublimated) fear, 'art' stems from absence of fear and/or joy. O.K.
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        Feb 15 2012: You're not an eco feminist... You're a woman, and he's a man. In many ways this conversation has demonstrated what I was getting at a bit. It's not that all women believe in working together to build a community, or that even ones who do are necessarily communist, or socialist... Nor, is it that all men, are visciously competitive, or capitalist... but on the two ends of the spectrum, at least in the sample size so far... You do see, a bit of a visceral reaction, to what should be relatively benign ideas.

        It's funny now, to me, that this actually stemmed from the comment, "mascullinity, wouldn't tolerate marxism"... because, more and more, I think that this leading to the concept that socialism was more likely to appeal to women, was a mistake. It was actually more about men really liking capitalism, and disliking socialism. Relatively, the results, would appear the same.

        I stand by my whole capitalism is a sport analogy... I think men in general have difficulty with concepts like "sharing", and "fair". I also stand by my whole, "capitalism was secretly designed to get nerds laid" which no one has responded to yet, and also explains why many men on ted are capitalists.

        I also think, in the future, capitalism will get female nerds laid, and men will learn how to cook... but I'm a bit crazy. The final thing I will throw in, is this... If a young boy cries long enough, eventually, someone will hit him and tell him "well, if reallity is that awful, you best get to fixin it then haven't ya?"... If a young girl cries for long enough, reallity slowly changes around her... until she stops... Usually, in most cities at least".

        Women are taught that their emotions are beautiful, and worth embracing. Men are taught that emotions are a distraction, logic, and problem solving, are key. As a society, we are getting better at this, and finding more balanced human beings...
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          Feb 15 2012: This all started as an absurd extrapolation, now its resembling some sort of truism. I kind of have to bow out for a while (as tempting as it is to remain) I have taken on a new role in the tertiary sector and need to devote some time to research, and other stuff.

          Go well all of you, what a pleasure its been to meet you David, Orlando, Thomas and others.For the record David, I think you are far from crazy. Or its a kind of crazy the world needs, in my opinion.

          Kind regards,Joanne
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        Feb 15 2012: It is important to remember that we are both right. Logic tells us, no human government, even popularly elected, has every properly invested the resources of its people. No human government has ever really cared about the people they governed. Power corrupts. Emotion tells us... but, what if it didn't. Both are important.

        NASA was born out of emotion... and logic.
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    Feb 6 2012: "men mostly want to watch people get defeated, in a manner where there is a clear victor." = sexist.

    I think an argument like that shows that the arguer has no understanding of economics.

    Entrepreneurs (even men entrepreneurs) understand that the economy is not a zero sum game, if we play by the rules of free trade then everyone is better off. Win-Win's are the norm.

    So, no the argument is fallacious, most men want to win, but they want others to win too.
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      Feb 6 2012: I think the entire industry of sporting events, would disagree with you on the whole "men mostly want to watch people get defeated, in a manner where there is a clear victor", being sexist. Women haven't been as quick to get on board the boxing, or ufc, or football, or futbol bandwagon.

      What is a sporting event, if not clear victory, and clear defeat... pure competition. Of course some women love sports, and some men hate them, no generallization can be applied to the individual... but, statistically... Men like to watch victory and defeat, seems like common sense to me. I would happily be persuaded otherwise by evidence...
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        Feb 7 2012: Communism is not a sport. We are discussing economics, business. He who thinks the only way to win in economics is to make someone else loose is not someone I want to do business with.

        You say men are more competitive than women and you site sports as evidence. Sports are one realm of life. I'm sure we could find another realm where women are just as competitive. Perhaps I'm wrong but I have a hunch we are both generally equal in attributes but different in expression.

        But my main point was not about men vs women, that was just a side note. I mean to bring to light the fact that the argument is fallacious because that statement shows a lack of understanding about the economy.
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          Feb 7 2012: Fair point... I would only suggest, that Communism is not a sport. Capitalism is. In capitalism, there are winners, and losers... decided by objective reallity. In Communism... Everyone's a winner : p

          You don't have to be visciously competitive in a Capitalist market... but it certainly doesn't hurt.
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        Feb 7 2012: Oh please. Capitalism is a profit and loss system, you are right about that but the losses are feedback. If you are losing money in capitalism change what you are doing.

        Communism is not a system in which everyone wins its a system in which everyone loses. Competition is what gives us efficiency and a continually increasing standard of living making everyone a winner.
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          Feb 7 2012: I was joking about everybody wins... That's the theory they try to convince us of with in communism though. In practice, it's a dystopian nightmare... The theory is "everyone will get a trophy". The practice is "we can't afford pizza again this week kids".
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    Feb 4 2012: I read this book awhile back, and someone on slashdot quoted it today... I thought it was relavent to the conversation. Basically, in my view... Women are 55% of the population, and yall need to start kicking ass and taking names in capitalism, rather than relying on community... but that is the current movement. I think we also need to see some men who can't compete learn how to raise their children in my humble opinion, but that's a bit off topic. Douglas Adams, in "So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish"

    “It comes from a very ancient democracy, you see..."
    "You mean, it comes from a world of lizards?"
    "No," said Ford, who by this time was a little more rational and coherent than he had been, having finally had the coffee forced down him, "nothing so simple. Nothing anything like so straightforward. On its world, the people are people. The leaders are lizards. The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people."
    "Odd," said Arthur, "I thought you said it was a democracy."
    "I did," said Ford. "It is."
    "So," said Arthur, hoping he wasn't sounding ridiculously obtuse, "why don't people get rid of the lizards?"
    "It honestly doesn't occur to them," said Ford. "They've all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they've voted in more or less approximates to the government they want."
    "You mean they actually vote for the lizards?"
    "Oh yes," said Ford with a shrug, "of course."
    "But," said Arthur, going for the big one again, "why?"
    "Because if they didn't vote for a lizard," said Ford, "the wrong lizard might get in. Got any gin?"
    "I said," said Ford, with an increasing air of urgency creeping into his voice, "have you got any gin?"
    "I'll look. Tell me about the lizards."
    Ford shrugged again.
    "Some people say that the lizards are the best thing that ever happenned to them," he said. "They're completely wrong of course, completely and utterly wrong, but someone's got to say it."
    "But that's terrible," said Arthur.
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    Feb 3 2012: Gisela,

    do you mean communism in the sense of community?
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      Feb 3 2012: Oh, I'd like to point out that it wasn't actually my theory. It was simply suggested that if a man started the thread it would likely get shut down, so we played politics and I started it.

      I think he meant enforcing the idea of sharing. Mostly the enforcing.
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    Feb 2 2012: I think a very interesting take on this comes from the comedian Louis CK... about fairness. Communism emphasizes fairness, right?
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      Feb 3 2012: Oh dear.
      I think we may be getting a demonstration of this right now. *cough*cough*Anje*cough*
      • Comment deleted

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          Feb 3 2012: Oh dear. Feigned ennui. The height of imperviousness.
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        Feb 3 2012: Just so you know... The stuff about men and women is just meant to be funny, I don't necessarily think you can apply it intellectually... but, the idea of fairness is important here.

        There are two kinds of fair. Happiness loves company... and, misery loves company.

        I would suggest that there is a capitalist equivalent... Race to the top, vs race to the bottom. Some capitalists seem to think that whatever country abuses its labor most efficiently wins... That's a race to the bottom.

        Some communists want to break other peoples toys, so that its fair.
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        Feb 3 2012: It might even be more fair to say that...

        There is happiness loves company socialism... And,
        Misery loves company communism.

        There is the viscious, cut throat, and destructive policy of anarcho-capitalism... And,
        The "spirit of friendly competition" Adam Smith Wealth of Nations inspired capitalism, put in check by a democratic government.
  • Feb 2 2012: Gisela,

    Are we talking in practice or on theory?

    There is nothing particularly feminine (or humane) about Communism in practice, so I shall assume we are speaking of Communism in theory.

    I don't think we can actually have a worthwhile discussion on the issue unless we try to see other dichotomies between the two systems and see if they seem to fall within a male-female comparison.

    Most are focusing on the private property v. public property dynamic, so I will focus on some others.

    "Not to be a socialist at twenty is proof of want of heart; to be one at thirty is proof of want of head."
    -French Premier George Clemenceau

    This is a quotation that has many renditions, but a single point: Communism (socialism) have emotional appeal, but not fundamentally sustainable or logically explainable.

    Also, Marxism is a holistic philosophy. Atleast it is much more holistic than the economic theory of Capitalism. It utilizes economic, social, and moral persuasion to bring another to it's point of view. It does need to manipulate econometrics, it manipulates the human heart.

    Granted, there is no universally recognized conception of 'Feminine' and no general label can apply to each particular instance, but I would say that a holistic philosophy which has mostly emotional appeal is 'Feminine' more so than 'Masculine.' But this is because I categorize holistic thinking and emotional appeal as inherently feminine (which is not to say that no men possess these characteristics or susceptibilities).

    Your thoughts?

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      Feb 2 2012: Definitely theory - as attested to by those who have endured it and who responded so far.

      I am hesitant to point to the original thread lest it cause certain power-mad moderators to go on a rampage of deletion. It's almost as though there needs to be a space where grown-ups can discuss ideas without the "assistance" of mods who delete based on their personal whims/sensibilities.

      In it, two very different sub-threads converged at a point where women encourage sharing while men don't (or as David put it, they'd rather beat the shit out of each other). Other arguments I have seen say that women are just as competitive, just that they are covertly mean to each other rather than just out and out fighting.

      I have to go into a meeting, and I am still mulling over my replies, so will have to come back to this later this afternoon.
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    Feb 2 2012: I personally chose to phrase it as "Women like the idea of working together. Men like the idea of beating each other... over women". That is meant to be a bit funny... but also true.

    I also suggest the idea that if men knew that women were "secret socialists", wouldn't men have changed already?.... Because, whether it is an accurate perception or not, don't we all (men), think... We're competing to impress women?

    So... To start... Gisela, as a female I respect in the ted community.... Any of that ring true? When taking communism out of the equation, do you, in general, wish that men and women worked together? If men knew that... Would you agree that we (men), would start trying to impress women by working together?

    As far as why I belive it.... Mostly anecdotal, and personal evidence, but... Mostly, in two ways. In my experience, when a woman is attracted to an incompetent, or otherwise undesirable man, they tend to wish that he earned more money, without necessarily being more skilled. The sypathy she has for him, is often part of the attraction. This is very similar to the way that men used to be attracted to women, the whole "damsel in distress", or "knight in shining armor" complex.

    The second, being that, in all societies where women have been given the right to vote... There has also been a system of free market capitalism. The Athenians had this down pat thousands of years ago. The problem with this, is a bias of time perspective, that being... "Capitalism screwed over women". This has been true historically, but my argument would be that... Time screwed over women. It had very little to do with capitalism... but time has given women an unfortunate bias.

    Are any of these assumptions fair? Because, I would truly like to be proven wrong, if in fact, I am wrong. This tends to feel, even in my own sense of cognitive dissonance, as anti women.
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      Feb 2 2012: Unfortunately, I am not a good representative female in this regard. I am a bit too Machiavellian (though, I do side with 'loved' in the "is it better to be loved or feared?" debate - but only because I think people underestimate how much fear there is inherent in loving).

      I have many working theories on the topic of the sexes, chief among them being that men are born with little pockets of a crack cocaine-like substance in the folds of their brains and every now and then one floats loose and gets into their blood streams. I find this explains much about male behaviour.

      On women, I think that it`s more that we don't have an impulse to put activities in hierarchies that hinders us. I have theories around that too, but I don't want to send anyone into apoplectic shock. Suffice it to say that I suspect that if there was a virus that laid everyone with a Y-chromosome in bed for a month, everything that is currently being done would continue to be done, but if it affected everyone with a second X-chromosome, there'd be a lot of arguing about who would do the women's work.

      I am sure that one day, my poor long-suffering friend Ira is going to record my evil giggle and share it with the world even though he says I should never ever do it in public.
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        Feb 3 2012: Personally, I enjoy being shocked...
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        Feb 3 2012: PS... Once again I would never suggest that lots of women aren't Machiavellian... Merely that there is likely a statistically significant tendancy for women to choose love over fear, when they can't get both. Statistics, and actual cognition of the individual, often vary dramatically.