Monday, October 4, 2010

If Hegel Ran Wall Street

Philosophy is a fun way to pass the time. At least, sometimes it is. Philosophy professors can be fun. They can teach us things that we never imagined, and they can stimulate us in ways that provide longstanding benefit.

A lot of them also want to be relevant.They want to use their advanced wisdom to offer practical advice, or, at least, to show us how to analyze real life.

For being philosophers they are somewhat at a disadvantage when it comes to practical concerns. Their experience does not include dealing with or even observing the workings of, say, the financial markets.

Philosopher J. M. Bernstein does not exactly want to show Wall Street the error of its ways, but he is happy to allow Hegel to shed some light on its follies. Link here.

Hegel was a great philosopher, but he was not a great capitalist philosopher. He criticized the philosophers who had created the intellectual fundaments of the free market system.

Many people consider Hegel to be among the great minds of Western civilization. And many others assume that because he was a genius, he was also right. He might have been, but there are plenty of geniuses out there who think that Hegel was anything but right.

For most people, Hegel derives his status from the fact that they cannot understand a word of what he is saying. Others are in awe of Hegel's genius because he discovered that, at night, all cows are black.

If you would like to read a clear and intelligible account of Hegel's philosophy, placed within the context of his fellow German idealists, I recommend Josiah Royce's book: Lectures on Modern Idealism.

Among many philosophers German idealism is the gold standard for sophisticated thought. Kant and Hegel lead the band; they are philosophers' philosophers.

Before taking a look at what Hegel would do if he ran Wall Street, and before looking at his thought on its own terms, let's examine its cultural consequences.

A while back I posted about a book by Joel Mokyr that made the following point: that the British Industrial Revolution grew and developed on the basis of the philosophical and cultural influence of people like liberal political and economic philosophers like David Hume and Adam Smith. I though it an important point, and still do.

When we look at German idealism, one thing that we can note is that it produced a culture that was instrumental in fostering government policies that one can only cause an unspeakable monstrosity.

And that is true even if we do not add the pernicious influence of Hegel's most famous acolyte, Karl Marx.

Say what you will about David Hume and Adam Smith, submit their work to all of the Kantian and Hegelian critiques you like, you would have been a lot better off living in the culture that their thought helped produce than you would have been in the culture that fed off of German idealism.

If you would have wished to live as a free individual, Adam Smith would have been a much better friend than Hegel.

I mention that to allow us to keep things in perspective. Philosophers contribute to cultures; they promote values and attitudes. It is entirely fair, in my view, to judge their works, not just on their own terms, but in relation to the kinds of cultures that their works have sustained.

Even if you do look at Hegel and Heidegger on their own terms, you will note that they believe that historical figures can embody their philosophies. For Hegel, it was Napoleon. For Heidegger, it was Adolph Hitler.

Where Adam Smith might have us admire George Washington, Hegel believed that Napoleon represented an important historical moment in the great dialectic between matter and spirit.

Before examining the merit of different philosophers, ask yourself who best represents your values: George Washington or Napoleon?

You should not swear adherence to a philosophy just because it is smart, even brilliant, even the work of genius.

More than being a great philosopher, Hegel was a master mythmaker. He did not think through practical problems and draw conclusions from the evidence. He invented a grand mythic construct and jammed all of reality into it. The most famous myth was the dialectic of the master and the slave.

Where Hegel posited the inevitability of the slave's rebellion against his master, because it fulfilled the terms of his narrative, more than a few politicians and activists have incited rebellion because they believed that reality had to mimic myth.

Hegel told stories; he spun narratives; he believed that these stories drove history.

Narratives have a logic all their own. Unfortunately, the logic of fictional worlds is not the same as the logic that is at work in the marketplace.

Among other reasons, because fictions are never judged by their link to reality, or their ability to render reality; they are judged by their logical coherence and consistency.

This tell us why despotic regimes, especially those that are run by self-appointed philosopher-kings, do not care about the consequences of their policies. They care only about their ability to maintain their own power.

If you want to do a Hegelian analysis of Wall Street you need to fictionalize the players, to the point of caricature, and make them into shadows of themselves.

If you read Bernstein, you will find that it makes a good story. That, in itself, does not mean that it is true or useful.

Once you extract the relevant fiction, the syntactical maze of Hegel's philosophy becomes strangely simple, even simple-minded.

As Bernstein explains, Wall Street got into trouble because bankers were letting their lust for profit lead them to the worst extremes of human financial irresponsibility.

Given that the profit motive must lead to such excesses,  the world now needs more regulation. Bernstein explains that if Wall Street's bankers had studied their Hegel they would welcome regulation because regulation would lead it back onto the pathway to virtue.

Bankers are motivated by their unbridled lust for profit, and without regulation they will not perform any social useful functions, like allocating capital efficiently.

As I say, this is easy to understand. It comes straight from the Obama playbook. You have heard it many times before. So many times, that it is useful for us to allow Bernstein to show us how it derives from German philosophy.

But, is it real? Of course, it isn't. When you make Wall Street bankers into a perfect embodiment of Adam Smith's philosophy you ignore the fact that Adam Smith did not see people as the incarnation of his ideas.

And, it is far from being self-evident that the financial crisis was caused by under-regulation. Nor is it self-evident that the mortgage and housing markets were an exemplary instance of unfettered free markets.

One might argue, and many have, that the invisible hand of the markets was overwhelmed by the heavy hand of government in the housing and mortgage markets.

Ignoring the role of government facilitates Hegelian myth-making, but we should not ignore the role of federal agencies in the mortgage market meltdown. Whether the Federal Reserve or Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac or the Congress or the administration... the market was anything but out-of-control. It was overly regulated.

Had they been left to their own devices, bankers would have exercised prudence and caution in making mortgage loans. Once a government agency tells them that they must make loans to people who cannot afford to buy houses, or that they are allowed make loans to people who cannot make down payments or provide proof of sufficient income, you are not dealing with a free market.

Think about this: left to his own devices, your everyday banker would tend to exercise caution in making loans. Government regulators are under no such constraints. They are not dealing with the bank's money. They are following their own, or Hegel's ideas.

Thus, when they do not like the looks of the world produced by the free market, they are more than happy to suspend it or nudge it in the direction that would satisfying their ideas and theories.

When Hegel insists that bankers are driven by their venal impulses, while the government, naturally, would tend to represent the public interest, perhaps he has simply gotten it backwards.

One could even argue that the more strict the regulatory atmosphere, the more people will be pushed and prodded to cheat, to game the system, to take whatever they can get.

By my lights, people are not naturally venal monsters. Excessive attempts to twist them into a form that satisfies idealistic thought will bring out the worst in them. 

21 comments:

David said...

"Progressives," and even old-line liberals, tend to view government as a sort of idealized parent-figure. They really don't seem to understand that government people, whether elected officials or Civil Service employees, are not outside the system but are themselves economic actors, driven by such desires as money, status, security, and adulation. Of course, many also have idealistic motivations--for example, FAA employees tend to be deeply committed to aviation safety. But so are most of the people at Boeing and at GE Aircraft Engine. Calling oneself a "public servant" is not an automatic claim to virtue.

bikinipiano said...

Stuart, your post opposes European idealism to Anglo-American pragmatism in very simplistic way.
It is also full of genralisations and innacuracies.

The international financial markets do not primarily operate pragmatically, whether or not governments are involved or whether or not they are left to their own devices. During the recent finacial boom (and before the crash) property loans, debts and investment instruments were traded and re-traded without being properly capitalised. For a while, the market players made a lot of money out of this. What is striking, though, is that they didn't think their non-capitalised assets (essentially bets) would ever exceed their real value and become worthless. Surely this was a fantasy, an avoidance or reality. The crash was the return of this reality (or real, if you want to allow a Lacanian term back in your lexicon).

As for German philosophy - you stereotype it. Hegelian philosophy is rationalistic as well as mythic. You imply that German idealism (and - in a rather contradictory way - Marxism)somehow led to Fascism. What kind of historical argument is this? Idealism came before Nazism and therefore caused it? So what did modern English philosophy cause? The welfare state? Thatcherism? Your leap of logic is too big.

Fianlly, I find it incredible that you seem to think that the financial crash was somehow caused by governments and too much regulation. International financial markets have been de-regulated in all sorts of ways since the 1970s and this has obviously given governments less power to effect international investment. How can they now be the ones who have caused the crash? What about countries who have no equivalent of Fannie Mae (the crash was global, you know)? How can their govenments be to blame.

Your claims are very big and their not supported by much argument or evidence. This does rather make them look idelogical.

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Dr. Schneiderman
RE: Or....

When Hegel insists that bankers are driven by their venal impulses, while the government, naturally, would tend to represent the public interest, perhaps he has simply gotten it backwards. -- Stuart Schneiderman

....maybe BOTH bankers AND governments are "driven by their venal impulses".

Looking at the pork-barreling in DC and at the actions of my state and local government, I don't see much to substantiate they work for the "public interest".

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[Government has come to be a trade, and is managed solely on commercial principles. A man plunges into politics to make his fortune, and only cares that the world should last his days. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson]

bikinipiano said...

I feel I also ought to point out that Heidegger did not think that his philosophy was embodied by Hitler. If you disagree, perhaps you can tell us where he said this. Heidegger was surely implicated in Nazism - probably for self interested professional reasons - but he was also manifestly ambivalent about it's philosophy. What you say here is just inaccurate.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thanks for your comments, bikinipiano-- I hope it's OK to call you that.

You make a number of salient points and observations. I'll try to address them.

First, the reason that bankers were writing these undercapitalized mortgages was that the government was allowing them to do it and was even telling them to do it. So, on that point, I think it was government that underwrit these bad practices.

I think that one of the reasons the bankers engaged in this level of recklessness is that they believed that the government had their backs... which in fact they did.

As Jim Grant has suggested, it would be a good thing for the bankers to have their own assets at stake.

As for the larger philosophical issues, I could not really address them in detail in a blog post. I have discussed some of them in other posts, so I will attempt to summarize.

Clearly, the fault lines in European culture and thought began before Kant and Hume. The go back to the distinct comparison between Locke and Descartes.

Locke the empiricist and pragmatist versus Descartes, the idealist, the one who separated mind from body and therefore helped generate a culture where ideas were supposed to be able to dominate culture and where reality was supposed to be the handmaiden to ideas.

As I mentioned Joel Mokyr has written a great new book about how liberal British philosophical values sustained the Industrial Revolution. So I am not too queasy about doing some broadbrush intellectual history here.

I do not think that the connection between Hegel and Marx really needs much commentary.

As for the influence of idealism on the development of Naziism, I would recommend Modris Eksteins: The Rite of Spring, for a good study of how modernist aesthetics-- which is a Neoplatonic and idealistic practice-- was transformed into Naziism.

About Martin Heidegger, I recommend Richard Wolin's book: Being and Politics.

As is fairly well known, Heidegger said in 1935, in his Introduction to Metaphysics, that the Third Reich was the best modern embodiment of his philosophy. He republished the book in 1948 and left the offending sentence in.

As I recall he also wanted to be Hitler's philosopher king.

Admittedly, he was more attracted by the street theater of Ernst Rohm's Stormtroopers than the depravities of Himmler's SS-- which he thought was too high tech-- but still he never recanted his Nazi party adherence.

To me this all seems very clear. I'd be happy to hear your opinions.

To be truthful, I am a bit puzzled by your moniker: bikinipiano??

David said...

Another useful work on the intellectual roots of Naziism is Jeffrey Herf's "Reactionary Modernism."

bikinipiano said...

Stuart, my name is Martin. Bikinipiano is just a moniker I sometimes use to comment on things online. You answered my challenges very soundly but I'm afraid I still disagree. I'm a bit busy with other things right now but will reply again in a day or so. Thanks for your reply in any case.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I'm happy to have the discussion with you, Martin. I'll look forward to your response.

Proud Hindu said...

Governments are not regulating Big Corporations but Big Corp wants the small business owner or even garden grower to be regulated.

India had laws against GMO foods and Monsanto went in there anway, completely ignoring all that. An Indian citizen took Monsanto to court over neglecting Indian environmental laws and the Government had to support her case. But low and behold, not too long after this Monsanto was back with the support of the Government and GMO foods are about to flood the Indian market just like they already have here.

Of course, that same Indian citizen will continue to fight it.

Monsanto also tried to patent a particular strain of wheat that has been growing in India for eons.

That same Indian citizen AGAIN took Monsanto to court and won, along with 2 other cases: one in which the Texas Corporation RiceTec tried to patent India's ancient and indigenous basmati rice and another American corporation who wanted to patent the neem leaf, an indigenous Indian leaf that has been used for millions of years in South Asia as a natural pesticide amongst other things.

Without regulation or without individuals who have the knowledge and influence to stand up to Corporate Mafia - what do you suggest - that they just be allowed free reign to do all sorts of evil all over the world?

bikinipiano said...

Stuart, I think my disagreements with you are philosophical on the one hand and political on the other.

About both the former and the latter of these,I first of all ought to say in passing that I don't defend Heidegger's Nazism and concomitant anti-semitism. It was real, of couse and should be repudiated. Yet I also think you dismiss his ideas too easily by referring to them too generally. My understanding is that the passage you mention in 'What is Metaphysics' doesn't refer directly to either the Third Reich or Hitler (very little of Heidegger's writings do) but to a 'movement' which he later decribes as one of 'technology and humanity' that might or might be Nazism.

Still, this is not my main concern. You're right about there being a line in the history of philosophy and it being traceable back to Descartes (it is even traceable back before Plato, as Heidegger - as it happens - points out). Yes, the line does divide the empirical from the ideal (among other things) but it is not always a visible line (isn't this what a fault line is?). My feeling is that you are advocating a kind of empiricism (in this case liberal pragmatism) over a kind of idealism (in this case German) and proposing that the former is what makes sense of the market. I just don't think it's as simple as that.

In saying this, by the way, I am not myself advocating idealism. Yet I am saying that a pragmatic or liberal view doesn't get to the bottom of what went wrong in the markets. Surely we can see that a kind of delusion was operating in the financial world during the boom and surely we can't just blame this on governments. Do you really think that the only explanation for the various players' recklessness was that governments encouraged them? Do you really suppose that their desire for enrichment (how could this not have been involved?) was caused by government action or for that matter inaction - you say the government was 'allowing' them to do it? Yet if you're right about this your analysis is contradictory. If governments allow or cause recklessness then they are the ones who can stop it. Yet you are against regulation.

It's not that I don't think governments are involved, it's that I don't think you can see them as the primary cause. Surely human desire is important here (and I'm not just suggesting this comes down to 'greed'). As a current or ex-Lacanian (which incidentally, I'm not) you will understand the idea that ideas can be (or even essentially are) phantasmatic representations of desire. Wasn't the idea that the investment market would just keep expanding such an idea? You may even have been implying this in your anti-idealism. Yet don't you also agree (once again from a possibly Lacanian point of view) that phantasies such as this are not easily addressed by the simple invocation of 'reality' or 'pragmatism' or even 'caution'? Why should bankers be better at recognising these things than anyone else?

I should clarify once again that I am not advocating a kind of idealism here. I am not a Hegelian or any sort of anti-empiricist. Yet I do think your philosphical bearings are off whack. You have rather elided idealism and Hegelianism (the latter isn't quite the former other wise Kojeve wouldn't have been possible) and German philosophy to idealism (Heidegger and Marx are demonstrably not idealist philosophers).

At bottom, I don't trust the idea of a totally 'free' market. I think the idea of total freedom, or the idea that responsibility emerges inevitably out of this is wrong. Freedom has limits, but these are not always recognised or encountered naturally. Isn't this, by the way, what the notion of the Oedipus Complex suggests?

bikinipiano said...

Stuart, I think my disagreements with you are philosophical on the one hand and political on the other.

About both the former and the latter of these,I first of all ought to say in passing that I don't defend Heidegger's Nazism and concomitant anti-semitism. It was real, of couse and should be repudiated. Yet I also think you dismiss his ideas too easily by referring to them too generally. My understanding is that the passage you mention in 'What is Metaphysics' doesn't refer directly to either the Third Reich or Hitler (very little of Heidegger's writings do) but to a 'movement' which he later decribes as one of 'technology and humanity' that might or might be Nazism.

Still, this is not my main concern. You're right about there being a line in the history of philosophy and it being traceable back to Descartes (it is even traceable back before Plato, as Heidegger - as it happens - points out). Yes, the line does divide the empirical from the ideal (among other things) but it is not always a visible line (isn't this what a fault line is?). My feeling is that you are advocating a kind of empiricism (in this case liberal pragmatism) over a kind of idealism (in this case German) and proposing that the former is what makes sense of the market. I just don't think it's as simple as that.

In saying this, by the way, I am not myself advocating idealism. Yet I am saying that a pragmatic or liberal view doesn't get to the bottom of what went wrong in the markets. Surely we can see that a kind of delusion was operating in the financial world during the boom and surely we can't just blame this on governments. Do you really think that the only explanation for the various players' recklessness was that governments encouraged them? Do you really suppose that their desire for enrichment (how could this not have been involved?) was caused by government action or for that matter inaction - you say the government was 'allowing' them to do it? Yet if you're right about this your analysis is contradictory. If governments allow or cause recklessness then they are the ones who can stop it. Yet you are against regulation.

It's not that I don't think governments are involved, it's that I don't think you can see them as the primary cause. Surely human desire is important here (and I'm not just suggesting this comes down to 'greed'). As a current or ex-Lacanian (which incidentally, I'm not) you will understand the idea that ideas can be (or even essentially are) phantasmatic representations of desire. Wasn't the idea that the investment market would just keep expanding such an idea? You may even have been implying this in your anti-idealism. Yet don't you also agree (once again from a possibly Lacanian point of view) that phantasies such as this are not easily addressed by the simple invocation of 'reality' or 'pragmatism' or even 'caution'? Why should bankers be better at recognising these things than anyone else?

I should clarify once again that I am not advocating a kind of idealism here. I am not a Hegelian or any sort of anti-empiricist. Yet I do think your philosphical bearings are off whack. You have rather elided idealism and Hegelianism (the latter isn't quite the former other wise Kojeve wouldn't have been possible) and German philosophy to idealism (Heidegger and Marx are demonstrably not idealist philosophers).

At bottom, I don't trust the idea of a totally 'free' market. I think the idea of total freedom, or the idea that responsibility emerges inevitably out of this is wrong. Freedom has limits, but these are not always recognised or encountered naturally. Isn't this, by the way, what the notion of the Oedipus Complex suggests?

Cane Caldo said...

"Before examining the merit of different philosophers, ask yourself who best represents your values: George Washington or Napoleon?"

A strong argument. It's the light that leads me out of religious dark nights, or when others ask me why I'm a Christian instead of some other creed. What other religion can boast half as much good work? Even when considering the evils done by professed Christians, I'll take that over the other because Christianity corrected itself. That's nearly unique among religions.

Which brings us to where bikinipiano misses the whole point of your post: that the proof of the pudding is in the eating. "Oh, yeah, sure Heidegger was a Nazi--and sure some of what the Nazis did was bad--but you're missing the sophistication of his arguments, you see..."

As to the real estate market collapse: it was inevitable given the perverse incentives that created a bubble. Of course people on Wall Street are greedy--everyone is, to varying degrees. But when you put the carrot of federally-mitigated risk in front of them, and beat them from behind with the stick of social justice--that is: driving them--it's the driver at fault.

I want to point out a few particular missteps in thought.

"My feeling is that you are advocating a kind of empiricism...over a kind of idealism...and proposing that the former is what makes sense of the market."

Like all human interactions, no-one can make sense of the market. (Cents aren't worth much these days anways. Rimshot!) Luckily, it's not necessary. If you want to drive a car, it's much more useful to start with opening the door than the hood. Further: human interactions are so much more complex than an engine that we may never be able to fix this pile of junk. We can still establish patterns that make the car useful; rather than just an enigma to be pondered.

"I just don't think it's as simple as that."

No one said it was. Actually, you're the one who's put forward the notion that the complex processes of markets and politics can be understood. That's why trying to govern them in any but the most broad, general, ways perverts them: No one will ever be omniscient; which is what would be required.

"Surely we can see that a kind of delusion was operating in the financial world during the boom..."

There was no delusion on Wall Street! Financiers rightly thought that our congressmen would never let their constituents suffer the consequences of buying homes they couldn't afford. Turns out Wall Street was right. The delusion was in Congress; materialized as the (grossly wrong) notion that real estate was a one-way market. Now many of them are being disabused of another delusion: that the constituents will re-elect them if they print junk money and call it stimulus. Money doesn't save economies; goods do, and governments stink at production. Money is just a commonly shared way to track relative values.

"At bottom, I don't trust the idea of a totally 'free' market."

Don't fret: we haven't seen one in decades.

"I think the idea of total freedom, or the idea that responsibility emerges inevitably out of this is wrong."

Huh? It would have if the feds hadn't stepped in to save their banker friends and stupid constituents. The bankers would have been out of a job--and huge sums of money (It's not like they stuff it in their mattresses)--and those who bought houses they couldn't afford would be renting.

I recently read about a house that burned down in TN or KY because the owner hadn't paid a yearly $75 fire-fighting fee. I was choked up to learn there was at least one institution--in at least one county--that lets a man live with his decisions.

Proud Hindu said...

Cane, regarding Christianity - it has been in India for 2,000, YET foreigners keep sending missionaries over.

There is no need for Southern Baptists Hicks in India when one of the oldest churches on the planet - The Syrian Orthodox Church as been thriving there since the beginning of Christianity itself.

The folklore has it that the Apostle Thomas came to the Southern tip of India and the Malabarite Christian community was created.

We have no beef with them, pun intended.

What we DO have a beef with is foreign missionaries placed in the Northeast of the country where separtist Maoist terrorist groups are thriving due to funding by foreign Christian missions.

These are called the Naxalites.

The government of India needs to ban all foreign missions going to the Northeast region, if not the entire country.

India is known as "God's own country". It could even be said that the very concept of God was created in South Asia.

It's religious and philosophical history is ancient, rich, deep and varied.

Rather than going to regions of the world where people already believe in God, why don't the "missionaries" go to the areas of the world where Atheism has a stronghold - such as Europe.

Yet whoever hears of missionaries going to Sweden to convert the ignorant Atheists?

I wonder why this is.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thanks, everyone, for a great discussion.

I want to address some of Martin's points, that is bikinipiano's points, and to add a bit to the fine response that Cane Caldo has already offered.

First, I recall clearly that Heidegger did say in his Introduction to Metaphysics that the Third Reich represented the best modern embodiment of his philosophy.

I agree with Heidegger and with Richard Wolin that his philosophy cannot be separated from his commitment to Naziism. That would mean that he did not understand his philosophy... something I would not accept.

Josiah Royce was happy to include Hegel among the German idealists, and he is clearly doing philosophy based on his ideas and on myths that he has constructed.

I don't see where you get the idea that Heidegger was not part of the idealist tradition. After all, didn't he attempt to recreate human beings as a function of a single verb (being) and its tenses (time).

Of course, I am distinguishing two fundamentally different philosophical traditions, which you correctly call liberal pragmatism and idealism... deriving from Aristotle and Plato.

Dialectical materialism notwithstanding, I would take Marx for an idealist. Marxists systems of government have no real use for the reality of markets. They cannot effectively remain Marxist and believe that the philosophy that is generating their policies is wrong.

Marxist and other forms of socialist governments tend to blame counterrevolutionaries first and next they blame the human species. They used to want to create a new socialist man, a man whose behavior would be in agreement with their ideas.

I do not think it an accident that the Industrial Revolution developed in the nation that had a strong pragmatic, empirical philosophical tradition, and that added basic concepts of freedom to the mix.

Clearly, there are many people today who do not believe in markets, and who believe that the crisis means that we need to take over the markets, to make them fairer.

The people who believe this tend to be those who operate out of the tradition of philosophical idealism, because they say that they want market outcomes to coincide with their ideas.

I would distinguish with the desire to be rich and greed. We might say that government as a role as refereeing what takes place in the market, but I would still contend that if gets too involved in the markets and gives people the sense that it has their back, they will feel empowered to take whatever they can get. And they will also assume that they have less at risk.

I appreciate your point about whether or not government can offer smarter forms of regulation, the better to ensure the functioning of the markets.

If government becomes more rational about allowing more freedom in the marketplace, that would certainly be a good thing. I would not, however, call this an increase in government control of the markets.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thanks, Proud Hindu, for keeping us informed about the Monsanto situation.

I would only disagree when you say that corporations are in the business of doing evil in the world.

Clearly, some corporations commit despicable actions, actions for which they deserve to be punished.

Some people do too. But that does not mean that people or corporations were put her to do evil.

After all, if a corporation poisons the food supply they might make some kind of short term profit but they will be killing off their customer base. No serious corporation can last very long by eliminating its customers.

Cane Caldo said...

Proud Hindu:

I don't know what to make of your concoction of a story. Southern Baptist Hicks? If there was one group on the whole face of the planet more likely to combat commies than Southern Baptist hicks, the S.B.H.s would kill that group just to maintain their historical superiority. If you're an American, you must live in Yankee-land; no one in the South could believe such a connection. It was only a few years ago that the Southern Baptist Convention held a vote to publicly re-affirmed their commitment to Biblical households: Husbands are the heads, and wives should submit. The nerve of those pinkos! You can believe their crazy hicks; but you can't believe they're communist-sympathizing crazy hicks without risking your own sanity. Followers of "Liberation Theology", on the the hand...

For the record: all my Bing results for "Naxalite + Christian" that mention this "connection" are from one source: Christianaggression.org; a Hindu anti-Christian site whose author's logic goes something like this: Maoists are apostatizing Hindus; Christians are apostatizing Hindus= they're in cahoots. Huh? I'd be happy to follow any links you can offer.

Look, I'll agree that progressives ninnies in America and Islamic-fascism work together (inadvertently on the progressive side) to weaken America, but I won't say that Nancy Pelosi is directly funding Al Qaeda. Even ideological wars can have multiple--unrelated--fronts.

Proud Hindu said...

Cane, I've lived in both Orissa and Nagaland. I've seen it first hand. The reasons the foreign missions support the Naxalites is not because they favor Communisim but because they would also like to see the Northeast region separate from the rest of Hindu majority India.

Well, that and the fact that a large number of Naxalites are themselves Christian.

Stuart, you say in regards to "evil corporations" that...

"that does not mean that people or corporations were put here to do evil."

Corporations were not "put here" by anyone. They are formed by human beings. If those human beings have the best interest of the world at heart then sure, they are not evil.

But we know that corporations like Monsanto have only one insterest and that is profit. I'm sure the CEO of Monsanto is not losing sleep at night knowing that millions, if not billions of people around the world are eating GMOs.

I'm sure that the CEO of Coca Cola is not losing sleep over the fact that water that was once used to hydrate people and their cattle in dry, rural areas of India is not being diverted to make Coke and thus causing dehydration and even death.

Their goal is profit and as long as they make it they don't care.


Swami Rama on his Yoga, Health and Meditation TV show told us that we should only use Coca Cola for one thing - cleaning our toilets.

I've done it a few times here but won't even buy a bottle in India to do it there because it's depleting that country of good, clean drinking water.

Regarding "freedom" (on your other blog), in a truly free country the citizens would be fully aware of their consumption choices. Products that are genetically modified are not required by law to state so and Monsanto has fought in court the right to remain anonymous.

Many Americans "buy only organic" but few know that if they are buying wheat, corn, rice, soy that even if it's certified organic, it may still be genetically modified.

Cane Caldo said...

"But we know that corporations like Monsanto have only one insterest and that is profit. I'm sure the CEO of Monsanto is not losing sleep at night knowing that millions, if not billions of people around the world are eating GMOs."

This is why I can stand--and sometimes even enjoy--reading leftist commentary. You accuse Monsanto of evil by making food available to BILLIONS of people. Let us not rest until we have crushed the tyranny of full bellies.

Let us leave that sad, sated country and make our way to the accursed land of profit. Who the hell do these people think they are; making money for 401Ks; employing legions of janitors and tailors and carpenters and printers and... Worse: the knaves are feeding those sames' families with their low-cost grains. Are there no ends to the abominations?

Your take on freedom is so 1984. It's essentially: "Look, your freedom isn't really freedom. If it was you'd get whatever you want. If you really want to be free, let someone like me make the decisions about how everyone can do business, and what you should eat. Freedom is slavery, and slavery is freedom, you see."

Proud Hindu said...

Never read 1984.

I doubt you've heard of the ongoing problem of farmer suicides in India since the introduction of Monsanto and mono-crops.

No, of course not.

You seem to be in favor of globalization as well.

Cane Caldo said...

I'm sure there are many bad things in India; trouble adapting out of third-world status, the gradual rejection of castes, per-capita under-production by Western standards, etc. It's a shame that the culture there promotes suicide as a solution. I've often reflected that if I believed in reincarnation suicide might be a decent escape hatch from my problems.

Proud Hindu said...

Our culture does not "promote suicide" - Monsanto and mono crops do.

Yes, India is heading down a shameful road - aping the unhappy West.

If we don't wake up, we will end up just like Americans:

Obese, divorced, addicted to Xanex.