Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Bill Van Auken — Brazilian army sent into streets of Rio amid mounting protests

The government ordered 9,000 troops to Rio Tuesday as the state teeters on the brink of insolvency and faces growing opposition to austerity and privatization.
How's that soft coup working for you?
The use of the army to carry out policing functions has become increasingly frequent as Brazil continues to face its worst economic crisis in a century, and with the Temer government’s approval ratings falling to the abysmal level reached by former Workers Party President Dilma Rousseff before her impeachment on trumped-up charges of budgetary manipulations last August.
WSWS
Brazilian army sent into streets of Rio amid mounting protests
Bill Van Auken

33 comments:

Penguin pop said...

A police state and a banana republic all in one it seems now. So much corruption in these Latin American countries. It's not just Brazil, but a bunch of these countries I hear about. Yes, the US has intervened before in some of these areas in the past.

André said...

I guess this is not just about corruption. And it's not about a military coup at all - Rio is just one of many States in brazilian federation, and not the most important one.

I think it's about federalism issues. While the brazilian federal government has sovereign power over currency issuance, the states aren't so lucky.

The individual state has to earn currency through taxes, federal grants or credit.

And because the federal government is now lead by pro-austerity right-wing politicians and economists, they are doing a good job at intensifying unemployment and economic stagnation.

The tax revenue of federal and state governments are shrinking because of low economic activity. If the president and finance minister knew MMT theory, the tax revenue drop should not be a problem for the federal government. But it would still be a problem to states, unless they could depende on federal grants (which is very problematic in political and legal terms).

Bad administration and a big and sudden drop in tax revenue have both contributed to Rio's crisis. The state is not paying paying public employees' wages because they lack the money.

Bob said...

Oh, but there' still money for soldiers' pay?

Footsoldier said...

They do know MMT theory and know it very well.

This is the part we miss time and time again. It is lazy thinking on our part we just love to call these people stupid or the huge organisations behind them stupid. They are anything but. They know very well how it all works.



It is the framing they use to meet their political goals. With enough marketing and advertising they can make the Brazillian believe white is black and black is white.

After all these years is it not about time we called them what they really are ?

Not stupid but fraudsters. If you are going to get your hands on anything you have to starve it of funds first is the bottom line here.

André said...

"They do know MMT theory and know it very well"

Well, I guess that's where I disagree with most MMTers. People don't know the theory. I am including politicians on the left, on the right, economists of all kinds, historians in all ages, social scientists, etc. Each time you stop to listen to what they say, you just can't avoid acknowledging that they are dumb.

First of all, most politicians are known for not being the most smart people in the world. In Brazil, we have some politicians that barely know how to read and write. It's not surprising at all that they don't understand anything aobut economics. MMT is no easy subject. You must be smart to understand it.

Secondly, I know personally some prominent economists that appear on tv and lead public opinion. I'm 100% sure that they are totally unware of their ignorance.

Of course politicians and people in general do frame things to achieve their political goals. That wouldn't change even if they knew MMT theory.

André said...

@Bob

"Oh, but there' still money for soldiers' pay?"

Yes, but the soldiers are employed by the federal government. The police force is employed by state government. The state can indeed run out of money without federal aid.

Footsoldier said...

I've been studying a lot of politician blogs.

I've been doing a lot of this lately around Brexit.

They know how it works.

John Redwood is just one example of many.

Magpie said...

André said...

MMT is no easy subject. You must be smart to understand it.

Trust me, I would like to believe that. I truly, genuinely would. :-)

Unfortunately, that's not true. If a grunt like yours truly can understand at least the basics of MMT, then anybody can.

Why they all speak like they don't understand it, then?

Frankly, I can't say. My guess is a bit of genuine ignorance and a bit of deliberate ignorance.

Tom Hickey said...

IN my experience, it's very simple to get agreement on government as monopoly currency issuer and everyone else in the currency zone, users. It's really an elevator speech.

After than, different people will have different questions that anyone with a good background in MMT can handle since these questions have already come up and been fielded.

The chief issue is invariably inflation. Most people can easily recognize that the issue nationally and internationally is oversupply and lack of demand. So it is pretty easy to explain inflation away in terms of effective demand optimizing use of available real resources including human resources.

Then they see that the issue is availability of real resources and not affordability, and that currency issuers that are currency sovereigns can always use fiscal policy without operational limitation to affect demand by either injecting or withdrawing currency through spending and taxation, which is functional finance.

Then the issue becomes whether this is wise to allow politicians to do this because ignorance and corruption. That's a political issue that asks whether liberal democracy is possible.

André said...

"Trust me, I would like to believe that. I truly, genuinely would. :-). Unfortunately, that's not true."

Try to talk to all friends you have. Try to talk to your best economist friends. They will simply not be able to understand what you have to say. They will believe the usual story that "government is like a household, you cannot spend more than you earn. if government spends more than what it earns, there will be inflation etc etc etc". That's what intuiton says, and that's why MMT is so hard to grasp.

If everyone says that the Earth is flat and your intuition says that it feels flat, it will be very hard to convince people that Earth is round, even if it is true. People genuinely believe that the Earth is flat and have no ideia how wrong they are. Including your family, your friends, economists, politicians, etc.

This conspiracy theory talk is a nonstarter and prevents good debates from happening...

Magpie said...

André said...

Try to talk to all friends you have. Try to talk to your best economist friends. They will simply not be able to understand what you have to say. They will believe the usual story that "government is like a household, you cannot spend more than you earn. if government spends more than what it earns, there will be inflation etc etc etc". That's what intuiton says, and that's why MMT is so hard to grasp.
...
This conspiracy theory talk is a nonstarter and prevents good debates from happening...


Actually, I did. But I have no economist friends :-)

I explained to a young friend the basics as I understand them: modern currencies are created by state fiat, governments don't need to tax to spend and can never run out of money to pay their debts. You know, the basics.

He seemed persuaded.

What was his profession? A courier (you know, those guys who collect mail from the post office and deliver it to offices), at the time, 19 years old. Maybe he had high school. Mind you, he wasn't dumb.

If I succeeded in convincing him, to what do I attribute my success?

I was his friend, he didn't come to the discussion believing he knew all the answers; he had the gift of listening (which economists and people more educated lack).

---------

Here's Kalecki entartaining similar "conspiracy theories":

"This suggests that there is a political background in the opposition to the full employment doctrine, even though the arguments advanced are economic. That is not to say that people who advance them do not believe in their economics, poor though this is. But obstinate ignorance is usually a manifestation of underlying political motives."
http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2010/kalecki220510.html

Here's Prof. Mitchell telling his experience with a local party:

Following the publication of that blog I was invited to address the National Conference of The Greens in Adelaide (the following year). It was an interesting experience and I spoke to the then leader Bob Brown (recently retired) about these matters. His view was that while I might be correct in the technical macroeconomic arguments the point was that the messages were too complicated for the public to absorb.

He said that in that context, it was better to go along with the orthodox view of budgets and macroeconomic constraints to avoid alienating the public and concentrate on the Green messages.
I indicated at the time that I thought that was an inherently dishonest position for a political party to take and demonstrated a failure of leadership.

The point is that the Australian Greens perpetuate neo-liberal views and fail to understand that to full implement is broader social-ecological agenda there needs to be a fundamental change in the macroeconomic understandings that the public are provided with by our politicians.

But the problem is not confined to Australia and it is here that our lunchtime conversation becomes relevant.


I know that's anecdotal evidence. I know it's hard to generalise. I know, too, that however trustworthy Mitchell is, one would need to ask witnesses before making one's mind up.

I know all that.

The question is: Can you advance better evidence in support of your beliefs?

-----------

I think that a nonstarter is that need for self-flattery: I understand this! God, I'm so fucking smart.

Magpie said...

The link to Mitchell's post:
http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=20176

Bob said...

The greens are in the political wilderness... what have they got to lose?

André said...

"The question is: Can you advance better evidence in support of your beliefs?"

I agree with you. This discussion will not be very productive because none of us can provide much evidence here.

My opinion is based on personal experience when relating to others people, and texts I read and discourses I watched and listened, and so on. Unfortunately, I never had the idea to record them or somehow keep them as evidence to show to people. So, yes, I am unable to advance evidence of my beliefs (and so do you).

What I can say is that most (99,99%?) of academic work related to money and currency in economics, anthropology, history and social sciences in general never even get close to anything resembling chartalist theory - people have usualy the monetarist view (money as commodity) or the valueless fiat view (money is worthless but people's expectations or delusions give value to money). The very few that somehow say something about chartalism simply ignore that theory a few sentences later. Then you have the few works form MMTers, that I hope will get more and more popular. So either 99,99% of people are conspirators, or maybe there are other explanation for that. I personally can't believe that everyone in the world is conspirational, so I believe they are actually ignorant of MMT.

I like Bill Mitchell's blog, but my "conspiracy critics" applies to him too.

"That is not to say that people who advance them do not believe in their economics, poor though this is. But obstinate ignorance is usually a manifestation of underlying political motives."

Agreed. People believe in what they say, they are not conspirators. But of course they beliefs may be heavy influenced by underlying political motives - and it's common for that people to don't even realize that.

"I think that a nonstarter is that need for self-flattery: I understand this! God, I'm so fucking smart."

Hahah yes. You should never ever start a conversation like that. Actually, never say something like that at all.

Magpie said...

Bob said...

The greens are in the political wilderness... what have they got to lose?

It's true that the Greens are in the political wilderness, but they fear to lose the Very Serious People image they cultivated (among others, by Mike Beggs).

In essence, that's what Brown told Mitchell.

If there were no other reasons to believe that (like I said above), one would need more than Mitchell's experience to make one's mind up about the Greens.

I, however, believe there is another episode (ongoing) demonstrating the Greens willingness to sacrifice principles in the altar of a Very Serious People image: the long fight between Lee Rhiannon and Bob Brown.

I suppose you are in Oz, in which case you might have heard the news. At any rate in a nutshell, Rhiannon is calling for a Bernie Sanders-like Greens, but Brown and Richard Di Natale fear that to be too radical (believe it or not) for their upper-middle class voters.

In Mitchell's case, his economics are not mainstream. Anathema.

In Rhiannon's case, as she once upon a time was a Commie, all hell breaks loose among the Greens. Anathema.

Same sex marriage and asylum seekers' protection is as radical as the Greens upper-middle class voters are ready to go and that's what the Greens leadership is willing to give them.

Magpie said...

Let's put things in your terms, André.

We have a dilemma: MMT individual critics are either (1) dumb or (2) members of a conspiracy. There is no way around: it's either one or the other, but not both.

Is it reasonable to assume every single MMT critic (and there is a really large number of such critics) is dumb? We are talking here about people with PhDs (sometimes, more than one), experience teaching and doing research, highly paid jobs in academe, the private sector, governments, multilateral institutions, recognised in their professions, well-known by the public.

But if (1) is false, then, there's no way around either, you must accept (2).

-------

But I don't accept the term conspiracy theory, André. To paraphrase a young pokey: you are intentionally strawmanning Mitchell's position. Yours, it seems to me, is a malicious position.

You can prove me wrong, however: (1) define the term conspiracy theory and (2) prove that Mitchell's position fulfills that definition.

Seems fair?

Tom Hickey said...

There may be a middle ground between moronism and conspiracy.

Confusion?

Tom Hickey said...

For example, even very smart people can become confused owing to cognitive dissonance.

Magpie said...

Tom Hickey said...

There may be a middle ground between moronism and conspiracy.

Absolutely. And some critics may object out of ignorace and others out of malice or out of a mix.

But it's not me proposing mono-causal explanations. Here, in reply to André's first comment:

Why they all speak like they don't understand it, then?
Frankly, I can't say. My guess is a bit of genuine ignorance and a bit of deliberate ignorance.


February 16, 2017 at 12:47 PM

André said...

What I define as "conspiracy theory" is about what I read in a lot of comments in MMT blogs, and sometimes said by some prominent MMTers - Warren Molser being the one that does that more frequently. Bill Mitchell does that, but from time to time only. In the last posts, I had the impression that he is abandoning that view.

The "conspiracy theory" is the "they know better but choose to lie" line of thought. It is that ideia that people actually do know MMT theory very well, and they know that the world works just like MMT describes it, but, even with that level of awareness, they choose to lie to everyone because they have hidden agendas.

And what I'm saying is that this is a bad way of seeing the world, because that's not true at all!

Of course a lot of people like to lie to achieve hidden interests. I have no doubt of that. Maybe most of the politicians around the world do it in regular basis. And maybe there are actually one or two economists that do understand MMT but choose to keep up with the traditional discourse because of their interests. But they are for sure the exception.

And what I say is that people are actually ignorant of MMT theory. I say "dumb" to be more didactic, but I don't mean that these people are dumb in the sense that they don't know how to sum 2+2.

I'm saying that most economists, PhD or not, do genuinely believe that today's orthodox economic theories are an excellent way to describe the word we live in. They are blind to the real world evidence and cannot see how bad the theories are. This is a kind of ignorance. And that's the problem.

And there are also people that don't understand economics. I mean, I'm not a doctor so I am totally "dumb" abound medical procedures, and you will have a hard time talking to me about that. I don't find this sort of thing easy because it's not part of my life. A lot of people don't understand economics because that's not part of their lifes. For them, the government shouldn't spend more what it earns and it is very counterintuitive to think otherwise.

I do believe that all politicians should know a lot about economics, but the turth is that a lot of them don't. The ones that do are already hijacked by mainstream theories - even the left-wing ones.

I am indeed proposing a mono-causal explanation, in the sense that is no one (or almost no one) that perfectly understands MMT and chooses to lie about how the government works.

There are also another kind of ignorance - the "I think these guys are nuts so I won't even listen to what they say" ignorance. Again, that's not malice. It's just human being human.

Actually, there is a troll in this blog, called EGC or something like that, that says these kind of things but in the other direction. He says things like "you MMT people know that what you say is false. You know better that your theory is bad but you choose to lie. You are liers". I cannot avoid to think that he is nuts. That may be what others people think about MMTers that say the same sort of things.

Magpie said...

Thanks for clarifying your position, André, regarding the mono-causal explanation and what I call the dilemma.

Of course a lot of people like to lie to achieve hidden interests. I have no doubt of that. Maybe most of the politicians around the world do it in regular basis. And maybe there are actually one or two economists that do understand MMT but choose to keep up with the traditional discourse because of their interests. But they are for sure the exception.

That may be a good or a bad guess. But it's a guess, just the same. Why should politicians be any different from economists?

The Mitchell/Greens thing offers a good example how the boundaries are less than clear. Mike Beggs is a political economist (not a mainstreamer). He also seems to be a Greenie, although I don't believe he is a holder of any public elected office.

In 2009, Mitchell wrote this post, heavily critical of the Greens economic policies:

Neo-liberals invade The Greens!
Monday, May 25, 2009
http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=2516

Several Greenies or at least their sympathisers wrote in reply (Beggs one of them):

I have a problem with Bill’s views on money and government financing and pointed to a link from his own blog.
(To avoid too many links, I won't include links here, unless strictly needed, but you can find it in Mitchell's post)

After two introductory paragraphs, Beggs starts his critique of "Mitchellnomics":

He [Mitchell] says the federal government is a ‘monopolist’ in the issue of currency. This is not true, because the national currency is one among many. Everyone has the option of converting their money into a foreign currency.

I don't think I need to explain why this is egregiously wrong. What MMTers actually say is that the federal goverment is the monopoly issuer of its own currency.

The point here is that Beggs may have quickly read something some MMTer wrote, misunderstood it, and seized on this misunderstanding as part of his critique. This, one could say, supports the "ignorance" explanation, yes?

That wasn't Beggs' only criticism, to be sure, there was more in his post. I'm picking on this for a good reason, so bear with me.

A few days later Mitchell replied to Beggs:

A response to (green) critics … Part 1
Sunday, May 31, 2009
http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=2584

It's a long post and Mitchell replies to many of Beggs' criticisms (but I wouldn't bet he replied to each and every single one of them). Among the criticisms dismissed was precisely that most prominent "issuer" thingy.

As in the previous post, Beggs left his own reply in the comments thread (go there and you'll find it).

Magpie said...

This is how Beggs begins his reply to Mitchell's reply (sorry for the long quote):

Bill Mitchell has responded to my criticism at great length. I’ll try and boil down the points of disagreement, but this is still going to be pretty long in response!
1. Speculators
First, Mitchell skips right over my central criticism: that the expectations and opinions of wealth-holders matter even when they are wrong. Even if money works the way Mitchell thinks it does, if money managers expect a fall in the value of the currency, they’re going to speculate against it.


Note that he doesn't dispute he might be wrong in some things, but you won't see there any "Ooops, sorry. My bad". Beggs never acknowledges the points where he was shown to be wrong.

The "issuer" thing, which I find so instructive, doesn't make Beggs suspect his understanding of the basics of MMT is flawed and if he doesn't understand the basics, then he should be cautious about the more advanced. Instead, it is Mitchell who skips right over my central criticism.

It is precisely here where the "ignorance" explanation crashes and burns. Ignorance explains the "issuer" mistake, as I myself noted above. It doesn't explain pretending that mistake is unimportant and one should, instead, look somewhere else (i.e. speculators), because it is there where the central criticism is (even though there is no reason to believe that). This looks like a red herring, to me.

That's not proof Beggs is part of a Satanic cabal intent on denying MMT even though they know for sure it's true (I've never seen Prof. Mitchell writing anything remotely like that, btw, and if André can point to an example I'll appreciate it; likewise with Mr. Mosler), but there is something else there, something beyond mere ignorance. That's no proof Beggs have a sinister hidden agenda. So, call what he did saving face, call it hubris. Call it whatever you like: ignorance it ain't.

But I can't see why a similar dialogue couldn't happen between Mitchell and a IMF economist. In that case, unlike Beggs, a hidden agenda may sound a whole lot more plausible.

----------

I've seen this precise pattern before: a critic fails to understand the basics of what he criticises and faced with that points frantically somewhere else, a "broader criticism".

André said...

"That may be a good or a bad guess. But it's a guess, just the same. Why should politicians be any different from economists?"

What I'm saying is that people are dishonest about a lot of things, I'm aware of that. But with MMT is different. It's not dishonesty, it's ignorance. People really don't know how money works.

The example you gave ("Neo-liberals invade The Greens!") is good, but it's also very complex. I will read it tomorrow, it's a lot of text. But it seems to me that people are really counfused about MMT. It seems that they couldn't understand very well. So, again, it doesn't seem to be anything about dishonesty, but ignorance. Maybe that Beggs guy you say is a proud person and he doesn't want to acknowledge his ignorance, I don't know. He even says that strange thing about sovereign currency that doesn't make any sense at all, so he doesn't seem to be grasping anything Bill says. But I will read before saying anything else.

Warren Mosler gave a name to what I'm calling "conspiracy theory". He calls it "intellectual dishonesty" - when someone knows how the finance world works (ie like MMTers describe it) and they choose to lie. But all I wish to tell him is that there is no "intellectual dishonesty" in that case. There is just "no intellect at all".

Look here:
1) http://neweconomicperspectives.org/2013/04/reply-to-reinhart-and-rogoffs-nyt-response-to-critics.html
"The intellectual dishonesty continues. As before, it’s the lie of omission."
"Carmen’s husband Vince was the head of monetary affairs at the Fed for many years, serving both Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke. He knows implicitly how the accounts clear and how the accounting works, to the penny. He knows the currency itself is a case of monopoly. He knows the Fed, not ‘the market’ necessarily sets rates. He knows that, operationally, US Treasury securities function as interest rate, and not to fund expenditures. He knows it all!"

Warren is mad here. Well, that Vince guy could be the first man to get to Mars, he would still be unable to understand how money works, because he is a traditional economist. So, no "intellectual dishonesty" here.

2) http://moslereconomics.com/2011/08/06/sp-downgrades-us-on-ability-to-pay/
"David Beers of S&P knows this and has discussed this in the past."
"Sure looks like a case of intellectual dishonesty."

S&P equals ignorance. It also equals dishonesty and crimes. But they really don't know how money works nonetheless. They should be the first guys to know how money works, but they simply aren't.

3) http://moslereconomics.com/2010/11/30/trichet-statement-2/
"As if he doesn’t know the actual analogy is with the US states.
This is shameless, bold faced intellectual dishonesty."

This are Warren's way to say what Footsoldier said (and I don't agree):
"They do know MMT theory and know it very well. This is the part we miss time and time again. It is lazy thinking on our part we just love to call these people stupid or the huge organisations behind them stupid. They are anything but. They know very well how it all works." "Not stupid but fraudsters."

(unfortunately it's harder to find specific things in Bill's blog because his material is very extensive, but I will try to find the posts)

jrbarch said...

Ignorance is a vacuum so something has to get drawn in – hopefully knowledge.

But I think what gets drawn in most of the time is arrogance – hubris as Magpie mentioned.

So, at the center of it all is this little thing called ‘I’ that people think is real and defend – no matter what. Teenagers do it all the time – ‘save face’ as though face was important to anything.

Stop identifying with the ‘I’, broaden it, or give it a new identity and the world view changes with it. Or hypnotise it so it believes it’s a chook. The world hypnotises it. To give it a male twist, world domination is like a huge penis extension – the almighty ‘I’.

It will attract to itself everything that strengthens it, and will radiate to everything around it in order to change things to suit its particular world view. Make the world in a likeness of itself. Until the ‘image’ is shattered by another ‘I’ and another world view. This is how the world renews itself and grinds itself into dust. The march of the ‘I’s. Don’t get me wrong: - I think it’s a part of human evolution. Trying to preserve some measure of dignity, we call it history.

This is why hope, gratitude, love, and knowledge of the self, are fundamental to human need (not wants). Because they lead away from mind and the ‘I’ to where human reality resides, in the heart.

Magpie said...

I will be honest with you André. I don't frequently read Mr. Mosler. Those quotes are news to me.

I will give you more. I think his accusations are serious and they are no pleasant reading, and they may even make a "good debate" impossible (they are a nonstarter, like you put it).

But, if I am honest with you, as I am trying to be, I don't think they amount to a conspiracy theory by any possible sense of the term conspiracy theory. Neither I find them unfair. In fact, the situation (particularly the "Reply to Reinhart and Rogoff’s NYT Response to Critics") is quite similar to the Mike Beggs case. One side (R-R and Beggs) was caught with their pants down and instead of admitting to that, they try to spin things to defend the indefencible.

If that makes Mosler a believer in conspiracy theories, then he is not alone. Any parent has heard them. Bobby broke the neighbours' window with a ball and cries: I didn't do it. It was all Joey's fault.

Any primary school teacher has heard their pupils' conspiracy theories: I did my homework, but the dog ate it.

If the price one must pay for a "good debate" is to laissez faire, then perhaps the "good debate" comes at too high a price.

At any event, I don't expect you'll agree with me on this and that's fine. But this makes the continuation of this exchange futile, so we better leave things at that.

André said...

"So, at the center of it all is this little thing called ‘I’ that people think is real and defend – no matter what. Teenagers do it all the time – ‘save face’ as though face was important to anything."

Of I could understand, you are relating what I'm callin lg "ignorance" to arrogance and immaturity. I agree 100%. Maybe these things are the real problem, I don't know.

André said...

Agreed. But it was a productive exchange anyway, thank you

Bob said...

There is a conspiracy between me, myself and I.

Bob said...

There are electrical engineers who harbor misconceptions about electricity. It doesn't prevent them from being good engineers. Hence, it is possible that misconceptions about money and economics can persist amongst professional economists.

MMT is not rocket science. If someone is willing to learn, they can gain a sufficient understanding.

André said...

"MMT is not rocket science. If someone is willing to learn, they can gain a sufficient understanding."

Agreed. MMT should not be rocket science to economists. But it is rocket science to non economists - as an appendicitis surgery is trivial for most doctors but it is not for me.

But there are not only the technical kind of ignorance.

The human being has also another kinds of ignorance:
- "These MMT guys don't share the same political view that I have, so they must be wrong. I will not waste my time listening to what they have to say"
- "These MMT guys are challenging everything I learned in undergraduation / graduation / post graduation, so they must be wrong. I won't listen to what they have to say"
- "These MMT guys are challenging Nobel prize winners, so they must be wrong. I won't listen"
- "These MMT guys are challenging the common sense, so they must be wrong. I won't listen"
- "These MMT guys sometimes exaggerate or say some wrong things, so every single thing they say must be wrong. I won't listen"
- "These MMT guys are sometimes criticised by the media, so they must be wrong"
- "I am a ex FED chairman so I'm like a semigod. What I say is always true. These MMT guys are challenging me, so they are for sure wrong and I won't listen."
- "These MMT guys don't have much math in their theory so they are wrong. I won't listen."
- so on...

It's all wrong in so many levels, but people do behave like this, even when they have PhDs and etc. That's real life...

jrbarch said...

Andre: “Of I could understand, you are relating what I'm callin lg "ignorance" to arrogance and immaturity.”

Yes, but I think it goes deeper than compensation Andre. Using symbols (‘working with words to illuminate what is beyond words’):

Let us imagine that we are the light in a lantern, and we look out at the world ‘through a glass darkly’.

If our lantern were clear we would see the world exactly as it is, to us. But the lantern is not clear.

In the same way that a microscopic piece of dust may be the kernel of an ice crystal; the ‘I’ is the kernel of a world-view, which grows just as an ice crystal grows; etched over the lantern. Pull apart any world-view and you will find an ‘I’; naked, kicking, fighting for survival and ‘substance - water’, so that it might transform itself into a crystal and grow. Our ‘I’dentity expands and transforms, changes each day, all the way through adulthood. And yet, there is something that remains the same.

This scales up and down because it is a human thing, extant in both the individual and the group: - ‘Americans’ looking out of the vessel of the same human eyes see the world differently to ‘Russians’, or ‘Australian Aboriginals’. Simarly, ‘I’ see the world differently to ‘you’ and ‘others’.

In the same way that our two eyes see everything in front, there is one thing they cannot see and that is themselves. Same with the light in the lantern – it needs a mirror (a deeper sense of self-consciousness). But this light is barely conscious of itself at this stage of its unfoldment, let alone where to find a mirror. It looks at the ‘I – worldview’ etched on the lantern, and is not that interested; it prefers its own realm. It knows the ‘I’ is unaware of the light, except through feeling, now and again. The ‘I’ to it, is that little mote of dust, aspect of itself, that it has put down into the world again and again and again, integrated with the lantern and glass, as an ‘eye’ into the lower world. The ‘I’ is then the ice crystals suffused over this ‘eye’; basically illusion (something that illude us).

Eventually the play on the lantern glass becomes so intense, the ‘I’, weary of the world outside begins to take an interest in the inner world, and feeling the interest, the light begins to awaken; it figures out what needs to be done, finding the help it needs. The two selves build a bridge towards one another, first of all almost unconsciously; then as experience deepens, very consciously. The work quickens. The inner senses awaken.

We defend the ‘I’ at all costs. We want to advance its interests. The light to us is just a theory; a story, an ancient memory or fable told around the campfires; paths to the left (the ‘I’) and paths to the right (light). Evolution provides both paths; all is well when no harm is done – but there is a cross over point. Defending a world-view is a front line action. Just watch two Professors of Economics in a debate: - the ego on display, and fear, is almost shovel-able. ‘Americans’ want dominance over ‘Russians’ and ‘Chinese’. The ‘Brits’ can only wish the wheel stood still. British elitism, with all of their ‘nobility, class, castles, wealth, inbreeding and power’ are the ‘I’ at its most highly deluded state, usurped now by the crass $bankers & deadly m.i.c. So why do the rest of us bow in the streets? All of this to the light, is illusion, playing, flickering on the glass cage, resulting in real events in the outside world.

The best solution to this is the oldest one. Find a mirror. Then you will see ultimately it is the same light lighting each lantern; and more.

Whether there is conspiracy out there or ignorance doesn’t really matter to existence. The heart is always completely focused. It knows what it wants. If Heidegger, Hegel and Kant knew this light, I am sure they would have rolled around the floor, laughing their symbolic philosophical buns off!

“Don’t be affected by what others think of you”.

André said...

@jrbarch

Wow, that was very philosophical hehe. I don’t know if I could understand everything, but I guess I agree with you. Except with that: “Whether there is conspiracy out there or ignorance doesn’t really matter to existence.”

It does matter whether there is “conspiracy” (“intellectual dishonesty”) out there or ignorance. Each problem has its own solution. Ignorance is fought with knowledge. And most MMT blogs, including Mike Norman’s, usually are helping a lot when they bring knowledge in an accessible way.

“Intellectual dishonesty”, on the other hand, is fought through other channels – knowledge is not enough, because, by definition, the dishonest people already know better. But they choose to hide they knowledge and lie to achieve hidden interests. That’s a much more complex problem. Maybe the best solution is to expose them, but that’s not easy…

jrbarch said...

Yes, I agree Andre – on the outside.

Looking at the world from the inside is a different kettle of fish. The world is full of problems and we spend our lives trying to fix them. We are experts at solving problems. But then we create new problems faster than we can solve the old ones. When we were born the world was full of problems; and when we leave there will be even more problems. We really didn’t come here to just problem solve all day long. So I try to help draw attention to the ‘problem-maker’. The ‘doubt-maker’; the 'fear-maker'. Stop that churning out problems like sausages.

Our existence always has and always will, be interested in something beyond our problems.