The Great Destructor: the Internet

People move in herds. No secret there. What if in the midst of this meltdown everyone in one massive herd has come to the simple truth, even if subconsciously, that the internet and technology have reduced many long standing businesses to a state of “not needed”? Not only are businesses not needed, but many “busy” jobs are not needed either. To me people have a choice: read something like Atlas Shrugged (“The Fountainhead” too) and get inspired or hang tight hoping a daddy comes along who puts Humpty Dumpty back together again circa October 2007:

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

No matter how much the pundits whine and no matter how much the politicians promise the world, the market is saying f*** you. People want socialism? Well, guess what, the market doesn’t. It’s one big game of chicken. I wonder when people will listen to the market.

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13 thoughts on “The Great Destructor: the Internet

  1. Folks react as memes and internet is speeding memetic process hundred folds faster, for example newspaper companies that are dieing these days like hogs on minefield. Blogs are creating such a mesh of interrelated sources that it becomes hard for media houses to control the spin because it can easily backfire counter them for simple reason that news are not vertically layered out any more but single news gets clusterfucked by different opinion makers that could be but predominantly aren’t spin makers and that sources stay on the net for the long long time.

  2. Why does everybody keep talking about Ayn Rand? Her theories are not even fully accepted but do not take my word for it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayn_Rand

    Criticism

    Rand has remained controversial. On the left, linguist and analytic philosopher Noam Chomsky considers Rand “[o]ne of the most evil figures of modern intellectual history.”[86] [87] On the right, conservative commentator and founder of the National Review William F. Buckley declared: “Ayn Rand is dead. So, incidentally, is the philosophy she sought to launch dead; it was in fact stillborn.”[88]

    In a 1984 article called “The Benefits and Hazards of the Philosophy of Ayn Rand”, Nathaniel Branden criticized Rand for her “scientific conservatism” and indifference to “anything more recent than the work of Sir Isaac Newton”, reporting his astonishment at hearing her describe the theory of evolution as “only a hypothesis”. Her insistence that Objectivism was an integrated whole, the departure from which necessarily lead one into logical error, led him to conclude that her philosophy was “for all practical purposes” a “dogmatic religion”.[89]

    Rand scholars cite Rand’s perceived hostility to academic philosophy in part for her cool reception. However, the motives of many of her detractors have been called into question, as many of the criticisms directed towards Rand are not directed with the same hostility towards other philosophers.[dubious – discuss][90] For example, Chris Matthew Sciabarra discusses criticism of Rand, saying, “The left was infuriated by her anti-communist, procapitalist politics, whereas the right was disgusted with her atheism and civil libertarianism.”[91] Hostility may also be a result of Rand’s dismissals of professional academics in general. Ronald E. Merrill writes: “Objectivism did not grow out of the academic mainstream, even as a revolt against it; if it had, it might have been better received.” “Above all, academia finds Objectivism totally indigestible because of the philosophy’s inherent and aggressive anti-relativism.” [92] Rand scholars such as Sciabarra, Tara Smith, and Allan Gotthelf have made attempts to introduce her into formal academia, while others, such as Ronald E. Merrill, have claimed that academic rejection of Rand stems from fear of it as a “living” philosophy as opposed to an academic “game.” Merrill writes in The Ideas of Ayn Rand: “Will the day ever come when Objectivism gets a place in the philosophy curriculum?” and answers, “That will be the day when professors no longer fear Objectivism-because it will be dead.”[92]

    Philosophical criticism
    Main article: Criticism of Objectivism (Ayn Rand)

    Online U.S. News and World Report columnist Sara Dabney Tisdale says academic philosophers have generally dismissed Atlas Shrugged as “sophomoric, preachy, and unoriginal.”[93] In addition, Greg Nyquist has written that Rand’s philosophy fundamentally misunderstands the very core of human nature.[94]

    On his blog, Kant scholar William Vallicella has been scathing in describing what he calls her lack of rigour and limited understanding of philosophical subject-matter.[95]

    One significant exception to the general lack of attention paid to Rand in academic philosophy is the essay “On the Randian Argument” by Harvard University philosopher Robert Nozick, which appears in his collection, Socratic Puzzles.[96][97][98] Nozick is sympathetic to Rand’s political conclusions, but does not think her arguments justify them. In particular, his essay criticizes her foundational argument in ethics—laid out most explicitly in her book The Virtue of Selfishness—which claims that one’s own life is, for each individual, the ultimate value because it makes all other values possible. Nozick says that to make this argument sound one needs to explain why someone could not rationally prefer dying and thus having no values. Therefore, he argues, her attempt to defend the morality of selfishness is essentially an instance of begging the question. Nozick also argues that Rand’s solution to David Hume’s famous is-ought problem is unsatisfactory.[context needed] Tara Smith responds to this criticism in her book Viable Values.[page number needed] Philosophers Douglas Rasmussen and Douglas Den Uyl have also responded to Nozick’s article, arguing that there are basic misstatements of Rand’s case on Nozick’s part.[99]

    Rand has also been accused of misinterpreting the works of many of the philosophers that she criticized in her writing. According to Fred Seddon, author of Ayn Rand, Objectivists, and the History of Philosophy (2003), Nathaniel Branden stated that Rand never read any of Immanuel Kant’s works.[100]

    Finally, Murray Rothbard (who helped define modern libertarianism and anarcho-capitalism),[101] Jeff Walker,[102] and Michael Shermer (libertarian and founder of the The Skeptics Society),[103] have accused Objectivism of being a cult, claiming that it exhibited typical cult traits, including slavish adherence to unprovable doctrine and extreme adulation of the founder.

    Literary criticism

    Rand’s novels, when they were first published, “received almost unanimously terrible reviews”[21] and were derided by some critics as long and melodramatic.[104] However, they became bestsellers due largely to word of mouth.[21] Scholars of English and American literature have largely ignored her work, although Rand has received occasional positive reviews from the literary establishment.[105][106][107]

    The most famous review of Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged was written by the conservative author Whittaker Chambers and appeared in National Review in 1957. It was unrelentingly scathing. Chambers called the book “sophomoric”; and “remarkably silly,” and said it “can be called a novel only by devaluing the term.” He described the tone of the book as “shrillness without reprieve.” Chambers accused Rand of supporting the same godless system as the Soviets, claiming “From almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding: ‘To the gas chambers—go!'”[108] Five decades later, Capitalism Magazine published a reply, arguing that Chambers had not actually read the book, as he misspelled the names of two major characters and used no quotations from the novel in his critique.[109]

    Another critic, Mimi Gladstein (author of The New Ayn Rand Companion), called Rand’s characters flat and uninteresting, and her heroes implausibly wealthy, intelligent, physically attractive and free of doubt while arrayed against antagonists who are weak, pathetic, full of uncertainty, and lacking in imagination and talent.[110]

    Rand stated in a 1963 essay, titled “The Goal of My Writing”, that her fiction was intentionally different in that its goal was to project a vision of an ideal man: not man as he is, but man as he might be and ought to be. Rand, who described herself as a “romantic realist”, presented her theory of aesthetics more fully in her 1969 book, The Romantic Manifesto: A Philosophy of Literature.

  3. I could care less what your critics write George, I read the books. Why don’t YOU form an opinion and get back to me with a serious challenge. I might be going out on a limb here, but I would think that anyone who retorts with such a silly response as you have has not read her books.

  4. “Her theories are not even fully accepted but do not take my word for it.”

    I had to read that statement again. What does that mean?

  5. It means that many others agree or have agreed with me both now and in the past. Anyway, why is it silly to cite the work of others to justify my point. Finally, I have read one of her books and was not impressed.

  6. What did you read George? Why did you not like it? Not like her writing style? Fair enough, I think Atlas Shrugged was overly long. But that is not the debate here. Let’s get down to brass tacks: what do you disagree with?

    It is silly to mention others when it appears you are not familiar with her writings. And if you are familiar than stand up and say what you disagree with.

  7. I disagree with the philosophy of objectivism that she proposed. Like many philosophical concepts, I do not think that it is complete nor can it be adequately applied to today’s situation. In addition, I do not think that humans have the ability to be fully rational as part of a larger whole or individually. For the most part, I think that humanity often being inhumane is sadly, for the most part, beyond redemption or hope. Perhaps, I am a pessimistic but that is how I see it.

    Also, I do not support laissez-faire capitalism. I think that it is dangerous. In my opinion, some government intervention is needed. Should there be as much as today? No, but there has to be some.

    Finally, I disagree with her views concerning opposition to religious belief. Do not get me wrong, I am not religious as I hardly ever go to church but it has saved many people’s lives. True enough, it has cost many as well but the only reason that has happened is due to either misinterpretation or using religion for purposes that it was not designed for. I still think, despite the many scandals, that religious belief still has a place in our society. People have always believed in something. It give them hope.

    You are right, Atlas Shrugged could have gotten to its points a lot sooner! Overall, I think that it was written well but it just did not sway me to her side of the fence.

    Oh, although off topic, thank you for your ideas concerning shorter-term trading systems. It has greatly assisted me. I might buy that book that you advertised on the bulk e-mail you sent.

  8. The frustrating thing about your response George is your lack of specifics. Ok. Human beings are not rational. So that means we let people in DC who have no track record of market success decide for them? Seriously, people are not rational – so what! Meaning you actually think the government has a solution to this lack of rationality?

    Laissez-faire capitalism is dangerous? Why?

    “…some government intervention is needed…” What does tat mean? You keep it all as vague as the politicians in DC! It should not surprise you that on this blog not well defended views will get skewered.

  9. Mike, I do not know what you want me to say. I cannot write an essay on your blog. I mean I could if you wanted but it would be too long and nobody would read it. I have to make my points shorter. Think about it, each of the three points I raised could be used to write a book!

    In answer to your question, I do not think that people in government are anymore rational or qualified either. In fact, in many ways, I am anti-government. However, due to the fact that we as a population cannot lead ourselves, government no matter how corrupt of inefficient is a necessary evil. Notice how I say “necessary evil.” Please do not ask me to write an essay explaining what that means.

    Finally, why do I think that Laissez-faire capitalism is dangerous? It is due to the fact that we are not fully rational. In my opinion, we would treat each other worse than today. For example, today, we have minimum wage legislation but if the market were fully free owners of the means of production could simply just pay us in food and not bother to give us any money at all. We could all be slaves. For any system to work, we must be fully rational or else all will be lost. Sure, in the beginning everything works, but later as people discover ways around the system and they always do, it is usually at the expense of someone’s welfare.

    The book Animal Farm has a great phrase that first went as “All animals are equal.” Later, it became “All animals are equal but some are more equal than others.” I think this clearly illustrates my point. It started well but ended badly. Someone always has to abuse someone else. However, sadly, order is still needed or there will be chaos.

    Like I said, that is pretty much it. You are an educated man and brighter than most. That is why I respect you. Please do not ask me to write essays or use the dictionary to define terms.

  10. George, how come land properties in quality areas arround the world kept going up all this decades? For example i scan prices of one beautiful island in Europe and prices are 300,000 Euro for 500 square meters of land and the property is nowhere near the center of the island but it has rather nice but not stunning view, those land properties with stunning views cost 2 times more and place is not packed full with millionaires but with average folks that like having good quality of life. For example why i like big conglomerate federals like USA or even more Europe that is so beautiful and different yet more or less unified is that you can move wherever you want to, work whatever you want to and get paid to the tune of how capable you are. It’s the “deserve what you produce” mentality that we need, everyone can be clerk in Walmart but not everyone can invent a new business when monstrosity like Walmart comes into small town. Even Walmart is not capable to lower the wage down close to 0$ because it has tremendous attrition but people are still keen to work there because they are not willing to be industrious engineers and technicians but they count to have minimum wage, eat junkfood and buy a new flatscreen just because that is all they had learned in their lifetime.. to be a below-average productive person.

    If you will you can and there is no doubt about it!!! That is why the Ayn book has mythical Atlas as the main theme because he is a celestial holder.. the holder of dreams, strength & willingness.

  11. BTW what i wanted to say about land prices is why buyers don’t “play” the system and constantly lower the prices of land property?? They actually play by the rules of offer-demand, the same barter that is in the wage process and there is no way you can defeat market as a whole.

  12. Patrick,

    Your point does have merit. There are people that work for minimum wage who are exactly where they belong due to lack of ambition, lack of insight, innovation, capability etc. However, no everyone! There are many people who have been marginalized without much say in the matter.

    In fact, there was a documentary about Wall Mart. I forgot the name of it, but it did a good job at demonstrating how this mega retail store chain has successfully destroyed many higher paid positions and replaced them with positions that pay much less. The results were the creation of trashy areas and more poverty. Basically, the documentary went on to state that this type of business configuration does far more damage than good in many communities.

    In addition, not everyone has the same abilities. Some have great mathematical gifts and can become engineers and some can barely add even after going to university! Some can communicate well and can become public relations specialists or journalists while others can barely string a few words together and sign there own names even after university! How do you explain this? True some are lazy do not want to diversify their skills sets but in other cases some just do not have the natural ability. More tragically, some have both mathematical and linguistic abilities and many more but sadly cannot develop them fully or at all because they cannot gain access to the proper environments or higher education due to prohibitive costs. Therefore, not all are lazy or unambitious.

    In addition, land value like the cost of labor is socially constructed much like gender and many other aspects of reality as we know it. This would explain why you have men who want to be women or think they are and why there are financial bubbles that burst leaving terrible consequences behind. Something is only worth as much as someone else either wise or foolish is willing to pay for it.

    Finally, you stated that Wall Mart in a free capitalistic economy could not lower their wages to $0. However, you forget that if there is no regulation, who is to stop them? All it takes is for one company to test the waters and if successful most if not all will follow. That is how all this outsourcing of American manufacturing jobs to second and third world countries started in the first place. One company started it and was successful and later others joined in. Patrick never think that the unthinkable is not possible. If Hitler killed 6 million Jews simply because he did not like them then anything is possible! All we have to do as individuals and society is to reconstruct our realities to suit or particular purposes.

    However, as stated earlier, most reconstructions of reality usually fail either immediately as in the case of the NAZI party or over a longer time frame like socialism in Russia but all eventually fail. Why? because human beings are not fully rational and in the case of the NAZIS not rational at all! Therefore, all madness is possible, all it takes is a little push.

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