Playing The Race Card Part II: Anarchy In The UK

What do you make of the riots happening in many British cities? I’ve read with some interest the discussion on GE’s blog, although I personally believe the emphasis on race is misplaced.

I’m just returned from a week on the road, and my inbox is overflowing, so I’ll summarize my view briefly. Anyone who thinks there is an instinctive urge to violence inherent in young males of the negro, latino, Indian or any other particular race is facing an extremely uphill battle against reality. I’m sure many young fellows of those races, confronted by such a proposition, would be likely to reply, grinning, at least I’m not a bloody Viking! So, we can forget all about race being a factor in any of this.

Culture, though—that’s a different matter altogether. I’d say what you are witnessing is a “perfect storm” of toxic cultural influences. British readers of this blog (resident and expatriate) could articulate these, I’m sure, far better than I, but a confected, cynically- and commercially-driven gangsta culture which may or may not have ever existed in this form in its supposed home of Jamaica; a welfare culture of ungrateful and irresponsible entitlement and helpless mendicancy which I discussed at length here; and above all, a lack of leadership, on every level are, in my opinion, the factors driving the current civil unrest in Britain.

Leadership. Where the devil are these boys’ fathers? Most likely, absent from the moment they were aware their mothers were pregnant. The decline of the family as the core social unit, and the explosion of pregnancies amongst unwed, teenage girls (up to 70% of all live births in some parts of the U.S. and U.K.) is central to understanding this issue. When you consider that 75% of all violent crime in the United States is committed by young men who grew up in a home without a father (a statistic which British readers on James’ blog told me is replicated there as well, and which I suspect is true also of Australia and New Zealand), you realise the magnitude of the problem. And no, this is not a slur against single mothers; rather it is a condemnation of men who evade their responsibility.

And why shouldn’t they? In the toxic culture of the welfare state, personal responsibility is evaporated away, diluted into an amorphous responsibility of “society”; by which is invariably meant government. An unwanted baby is presumed to be someone else’s problem. I don’t know about you, but I can’t look into the mirror and convince myself that had I been brought up in such circumstances, in such a moral vacuum, that I would have turned out any different to some of these boys we are watching on television today. If that makes me a dinosaur, so be it.

Then there is the failure of community. The adage that the devil makes use of idle hands was never so apt as here. Young men who are busy educating themselves or beginning careers, and who invest their leisure time in sporting and other healthy recreational pursuits, are far less likely (as they have so much more to lose) to get caught up in the kind of violence we have witnessed this past week. In Sydney, where I grew up, the police force long ago recognized this basic reality, and in 1937 formed the Police Boys’ Club, which served to channel the energy of at-risk young men into football, boxing and the like. The number of adult men the police helped keep out of jail over many decades, and the number of Australian sporting champions that were produced as a result, no-one will ever know.

There is failure of leadership, too, at the government level. When was the last UK Prime Minister who could proclaim, We are the British people, and we are proud of it! (ironically, the last pommie PM with that kind of cojones actually didn’t possess any). Such a sentiment uttered today would be met by the MSM with howling accusations of racism—accusations which, in an increasingly multi-racial nation, grow more hollow with each passing year. No, the kind of simpering, cowering “leaders” we have seen of late are more concerned with reducing themselves to mere deputies of Britain’s real leaders across La Manche. Terrified of offending anybody (an impossible task in a society, a sizeable proportion of which are determined to characterize themselves as victims, no matter how implausibly), Britain’s leaders appear incapable of taking any really decisive action to deal with these uprisings. This is shameful in itself, but it is symptomatic of a wider malaise in society.

How the mighty have fallen...

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the root of the problem is not the juxtaposition of races or ethnic backgrounds, but an all-too-eager willingness to cede individual responsibility to the state. Those who do so, rarely realise that in so doing they are also ceding the rights upon which those responsibilities are attendant. I cannot see any long-term solution until there is a general re-awakening to the fact that self-betterment begins from within. From my own vantage point at the far end of the planet, I would suggest that, in an age where even this is possible, salvation may be closer than you think.

I’ll be tied up with work all week, but will check in when I’m able.



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23 Responses to Playing The Race Card Part II: Anarchy In The UK

  1. Kitler says:

    Actually single mothers are to blame because they chose to have sex (personal responsibility) also they feel financially independent (the state pays for everything). So the first time she gets pissed off with her boyfriend she dumps him and gets a new lover. Plus she is most likely rewarded more financially by the state if she does not have a partner (self interest).
    So yes actually blame the state and the mother.
    This problem could be solved by refusing to support single mothers and rewarding them for amoral behaviour.

  2. Ozboy says:

    OT but I haven’t seen Farmerbraun in the last day or so, and here’s the probable cause:

  3. I was expecting it Ozboy. FB keeps telling me all about the wind follies that have been built there. They are obviously starting to work.

  4. Having visited islands in the Caribbean several times, and chatted to locals, the subject of Jamaica comes up, as being a ‘problem’ in the region. Because of its gun and crime culture. I’ve noticed a difference myself, when I visit Jamaica. The people are friendly enough, in a street wise fashion. But they are on the make all the time. It is difficult to relax, and sometimes quit dangerous.
    It’s that culture, that is the problem and it’s not typical of all caribbeans, let alone all ‘blacks’.

    I’ve never been there myself Fen. But it sounds sort of familiar – Oz:

  5. meltemian says:

    It’s obviously not as simple as blaming ‘single mothers’ for the riots. I was born in the ’40’s when, for a different reason, most mothers were ‘single’. We have all accepted a gradual creeping social system where all responsibility for everything is devolved to the state leading to the current sense of entitlement that seems to be prevalent now. Girls get pregnant as a form of escape, they think their lives will be different when the state (you and me) pay for them to have a home and income of their own without having to earn it. Because of that they neither need or want to be tied to the child’s father as they never really wanted that person in the first place, only used them as a sperm-donor to achieve their aim. Since the state looks after the mother and child the father doesn’t need to be responsible for them so finds it easy to opt out of it. The whole thing becomes self-perpetuating where one generation follows the previous one and nobody has to take responsibility for providing for themselves any more, but still feel that they are ‘entitled’.
    Not having to work to provide an income for a wife and child the young men have no focus for their energies, they remain, in essence, children with no constraints to their behaviour and very little sense of responsibility for themselves or others. In the past young men have had some discipline forced on them from various sources, family, school, military service, workplace etc. and in an extreme way by two world wars. The ‘Human Rights Act’ seems to have led to a situation where everyone has rights but no-one has to face the responsibilities that come with them, and a perception if not a fact that wrongdoer’s rights trump their victim’s rights.
    I really feel that as a country we need to re-introduce some sort of ‘National Service’ at least for young men to bring some much needed discipline into their lives. I know that makes me sound like one of the ‘hanging & flogging’ brigade but I can’t see another option. I remember seeing friends going off to do their National Service and how different they were when they came back, confident young men. I’m not saying that it’s the answer to everything that’s wrong, but I’m sure it would help, and if nothing else I’d love to see some of these gang-leaders dealt with by a really competent RSM!!!!
    Fairly soon we are going to find that there aren’t enough taxpayers left to subsidise all the rest of the population so something needs to be changed fast.

  6. meltemian says:

    Sorry about the long rant – making up for lost time. Haven’t been able to get to the computer much for the last week .
    Re. gang culture, I heard a quote on the BBC from someone about ‘Respect’.
    “You can command respect but you cannot demand it”
    I also think you can earn it.

  7. izen says:

    Once upon a time (a long time ago in a galaxy far far away…!) it was impossible for women to have a child and care for it themselves. Women could not earn sufficient resources to support a child and except in the very unlikely event they had an independent unearned income they would require the wages from a man to provide for the upbringing of a child.

    More recently of course the average male wage has sunk below the point where it can support a woman and children. Unless the man is on a wage significantly above the median it is difficult to support a wife and children. Which is why the state pays child support, wages from employment are not sufficient to maintain a family.

    Of course in the past the inability of a single woman to financially raise a child didn’t entirely preclude unsupported pregancies. But then the many foundling hospitals and workhouses and orphanages provided the child labour that was a key factor in the industrial revolution. It was not until the factory act of 1884 that it was finally conceded by business interests that working hours for the under 13year olds should not be m,ore than 6 hours a day.

    Nowdays instead of putting children in the workhouse or factory if the parent(s) cannot support them the government supports the mother at least to care for the child and the state supplies educational care instead of factory work or orphanage incarceration.

    The side-lining of the father as a neccesary economic source to support children is not the result of moral decay or the fecklessness of the working class.

    One of the most notable aspects of the recent looting/riots I have observed is the response on twitter, facebook, blackberry etc by rioters. The expressions of excitement and delight…. I gather the word du jour is ‘woop woop’.
    Its the sound of the profoundly disenfranchised execising their autonomy – few things give an individual as much pleasure as that!

    Depressingly the rioters seem to agree with the Heritage institute that the measure of ‘wealth’ or personal worth IS designer clothes and electronic gadgets.

    And I’m still waiting for someone to explain to me exactly how these looters are, as you phrase it, “profoundly disenfranchised”. All of them who are British subjects of legal age are entitled to vote so, technically at the very least, you are mistaken.

    All right, you didn’t mean the word in that sense. What then, exactly, are the blocks in place to their acquisition of decent food, clothing, shelter, education, medical treatment, a foot on the career ladder: in other words, how is the state preventing their self-betterment? The mere assertion, unsupported by evidence, of their subjugation has me perplexed. How are they disenfranchised, say, compared to the subjects of other constitutional monarchies I see as I spin the globe: Thailand, Lesotho, Jordan, Tonga, Morocco? If they’re so “disenfranchised”, why then aren’t they crowding into whatever boats they can find and heading for Morocco? Why is it always the other way around? Or isn’t it the case that we all really know the answer?

    Methinks your thesis is unsupportable – Oz

  8. Dr. Dave says:


    I LOVE that song by 10cc. I had it recorded on a cassette when I honeymooned in Jamaica 27 years ago. We stayed just a little west of Ocho Rios so it was pretty tame. I was struck by how friendly the people were. I wouldn’t want to spend too much time in Montego Bay and white people generally do not travel to Kingston on the other end of the island.

    Heh heh, I’ll claim credit for sticking that YouTube clip in. But I’m sure it was bouncing around somewhere in Fen’s head when he posted, maaan – Oz :mrgreen:

  9. Dr. Dave says:


    More socialist drivel from you. If these rioters wanted to experience the joy of autonomy they should get off the dole and get a job. I don’t know about the UK, but in the US a man earning at (or even below) the median income can support a wife and child quite easily. Before 1965 it was the norm in this country. The welfare/entitlement state breeds dependence on government. Further, when people are given that for free which other productive people have to work for and earn, they have little or no appreciation for it.

    I doubt very much that “personal worth” can be objectively measured. But I ask you, what better proxy for measuring actual wealth would you use that would be superior to Heritage’s metrics of family income, living space and the various and sundry amenities? How many UK rioters looting TVs didn’t have a TV at home?

  10. rogercuul says:

    I think that a lot of the problems were down to police tactics.
    Black crime has been getting out of hand for years and the politically correct, hands off police methods along with insufficient sentencing policies have allowed youngsters to almost feel untouchable.
    A more robust response to the initial looting may well have stopped copycat attacks. Having said that I feel sorry for the bobbies on the front line as they are damned if they do or don’t respond.

  11. izen says:

    @- Dr. Dave says:
    “If these rioters wanted to experience the joy of autonomy they should get off the dole and get a job.”

    What is becoming clear from some of the news reportsof the court appearances is that a proportion of them HAVE (had?) jobs. But jumped at the chance of a bit of excitement and free stuff…..

    ” I don’t know about the UK, but in the US a man earning at (or even below) the median income can support a wife and child quite easily.”

    The figures I can find come from surveys and census data between 2008 and now, but the median income would seem to be around the $31k mark (subtract ~8k for black and hispanics). The cost of raising a child is reported to be between $10k-$13k average per year.
    Doable I guess especially if you can get low cost housing (subsidized?).
    But I see from the census figures that the majority of those raising children are families with two working parents.
    I suspect “quite easily” is a bit optimistic given the avoidance of that scenario evidenced in the figures.

    “Before 1965 it was the norm in this country.”

    That is rather tha point I was making. In most countries until recently women did not earn enough to finance the care of a child. But a single male average wage could. The movement of women into the workforce and the rise in female wages that accompanied that, pushed up the average HOUSEHOLD income. Because household income is higher, the single earner household is below average. For a variety of reasons the cost of raising children is linked to the average household income in a nation, so as household incomes have risen from dual earners the single wage falls below the average household income and becomes marginal for supporting child care.

    How you regard the emancipation of women into the workplace depend perhaps on whether the gains in female autonomy from being able to get a job and have some financial independence are outweighed by the changes in child-rearing practices that it has brought.
    Although the dissolution of local extended family structures hasn’t helped either…..

  12. Dr. Dave says:

    No social due to entitlements here….

    G’day Dave,

    I notice most conservative commentators have added their voices lamenting the decline of the family structure. Is this social unit fundamentally anti-Libertarian? I don’t know but, if it is, mark me down as a conservative on this issue.

    There are statistics out there (can’t be bothered finding them at the moment) demonstrating the rise in developed countries since 1970 in the number of grandmothers still in their twenties, and even great-grandmothers still in their forties. In a society as affluent and technologized as ours, in which education is fundamental to a better life, you can’t get a much better indicator of multi-generational social decay than this – Oz 😦

  13. izen says:

    @- Ozboy
    You are right that I was using disenfranchised as metaphor, not that those involved in rioting had been specifically removed from the electoral roll.

    That they are disenfranchised in the sense of excluded from much of conventional social processes is self-evident in their status and behavior. I am using disenfranchised as a adjectival metaphor, not a verb!
    I know there is a temptation to attribute the position of people at the margins of society like the black and caucasian youth involved in the recent events to the individual behavior and beliefs. I am NOT denying the role of individual culpability, but trying to indicate the role of sytemic problems in the social structure in these type of events.

    There is a false dichotomy that often arises with subjects like this. Most often seen in discussions about unemployment, the two extremes are attribution unemployment entierly to the fecklessness and lack of work ethic of the individual; and the blame put totaly on the ‘system’ for failing to employ all possible working members of the population.
    Both positions are inchoate and fail to acknowledge the interactions of BOTH factors in unemployment in society. It IS the feckless and workshy that are least likely to have a job and most likely to be made redundant first, but when an economic downturn or crisis puts a quarter-million out of work it doesn’t mean 250,000 people have suddenly gone from eager, productive workers to skiving layabouts.

    I would argue that the very fact that many of the (predominatelymale) youth involved in the riots and gang culture regard themselves as excluded from mainstream society and they act on a need to belong to a society – even if it is a local gang shows the lack of involvement they have in mainstream society. Blaming only the participants for that seperation or asserting that it is a false perception is denying a key aspect moulding the behavior of the underclass of youth involved in such events.

    For a variety of reasons unskilled workers are not in high demand, but consumers are. I think it revealing that much of the material goods that was targeted by looters are the very consumer products that industry is so keen to sell the population. Its no accident either that those consumer itmes carry an inbuilt need to continue consuming. Ipods and mobile phones require itunes and connection contracts, laptops need software, TVs are purveying adverts for around a third of viewing time and designer fashion is always a moving target requiring constant consumption to keep up with the latest in what is considered most desirable.

    One of the most fundimental drives in human existance is the search for meaningfull narrative to ‘make sense’ of life. For many people religion provides much of that. But sport, TV soap drama and consumption of consumer goods is also coopted by business interests to provide that desired narrative structure to life. People in dead-end jobs, shop assitants in a bakery or plasterer on abuilding site, have no chance of a meaningfull narrative from their work. Those unable to enter the workforce have even less chance of narrative satisfaction from their daily lives. Looting and riots provide an excitement from direct involvement in a significant event, with the opportunity to gain consumer products that society uses as a marker for personal ‘worth’ that is unreachable in any other way.

    Just to re-iterate; in higlighting the structural and general problems that lead groups to behave in certain ways I am NOT denying or even trying to minimise personal responsability. Just trying to restore the balance from analysis that seems to ignore ANY systemic or collective failure of socxiety that contributed to these events.

    I’m afraid you’ve left me even more confused than your last post; now you appear to be saying, no they’re not disenfranchised in the electoral sense, nor are they materially deprived, nor are they prevented from striving for a better life. But they’re still disenfranchised, because…

    Because their life lacks meaning? For a materialist like you Izen, you’re skating on some really thin ice here. Man is an economic being, you’ve told us, and pretty much all the problems of the world are attributable to inequitable resource distribution – a problem that can be put right by a bigger, more powerful government, a ruling class of “elites”. Structures like family and church are relics of a decadent, tyrannical past. And so on, and so forth.

    I don’t dispute with you for a moment that these young people are leading dissolute and irresponsible lives; their lack of moral compass gives them license to behave the way we have seen on TV, on the flimsiest of pretexts. But whose fault is that? In a proximate sense, you might well say that their parents, raised in the same toxic culture, had no moral compass themselves to impart. And to the extent that the Welfare State has not prevented this from occurring, and indeed has positively encouraged it, there is a case to be made for “blaming the system”.

    Libertarians, however, believe that all sentient adults have both the right, and – more importantly here – the responsibility to direct the course of their own lives. To quote (again) the final line of Henley’s masterpiece Invictus, “I am the master of my fate, I am the Captain of my soul”. To fail in this responsibility, or worse, to abdicate one’s responsibility entirely and then try to allocate it elsewhere, is to concede the better part of one’s humanity. To search for a lack of meaning in life, you need look no further.

    I have to say Izen, either you typed this without your customary forethought, or else you have some soul-searching of your own to do – Oz

  14. Luton Ian says:

    Hi, been off grid for a few days, and will probably only be popping in occasionally for some time to come.

    I think there was something very complex and very interesting going on before the scum bags went to loot wide screen TVs and Nikes.

    The cops had murdered a young man, claiming he had shot at them, he hadn’t, it was a cop who shot one of his own.

    There was a peaceful protest. The looting appears to have been later and essentially un connected.

    I’ve been thinking about the riots of 1981, and wondering, were they the response to years of being on the receiving end of recreational beatings from the cops?

    There was also the interesting bit with the cops going after groups of defenders in Enfield, rather than after looters, yet they stayed well clear of Turkish shop keepers.

    I’ve worked around Africa, but I’ve never been to the Caribbean. An ex grew up in the Caribbean, and she even had a slight accent – weird coming from a white woman!

    Jamaica does have a very bad reputation, not helped by its gun laws and the “War on drugs”.

    The places I’ve been with really bad violence rates, had marxists telling the kids that any wealth they saw, had been stolen from them.

    When I was in the coal mining areas of South Africa, there was one murder which the cops put down to stealing the guy’s car radio – which I think has much more to do with childishness than race.

    In Kenya, I note a recent story of a local councilor (Mutomo District) going around to “compensate locals for the inconvenience of hosting drilling” but in the small print of the receipt he had them sign, he was taking ownership of their land.
    Looting from a position of power.

  15. Dr. Dave says:

    Here are a couple of excellent columns by the esteemed economist Thomas Sowell on the topic of social degeneration:
    Part 1:
    Part 2:

  16. izen says:

    Sowell seems to recognise that it is a race, black-white thing in the US but that it is a class thing in the UK.
    Given his political stance he then predictably blames it all on the intelligentsia and welfare state politicians.
    He says –
    “Today’s politically correct intelligentsia will tell you that the reason for this alienation and lashing out is that there are great disparities and inequities that need to be addressed.
    But such barbarism was not nearly as widespread two generations ago, in the middle of the 20th century. Were there no disparities or inequities then? Actually there were more. ”

    I doubt this is historically accurate, it depends on the exact period and nation you compare, but I think the US was MORE equal 2 generations ago than now, and violence including rioting and looting or political unrest from independence movements was just as widespread globally then as now. But perhaps he was being parochial and only really referring/considering the US and Philadelphia.

    Sowell somehow manages to equate the rioters’ hatred of the white/rich with the state-sponsered racism of Nazi antisemitism, a bit of a stretch I think…

    I have been avoiding as much of the media reporting of the UK looting as much as possible because it become less news and more an instruction on how to think about the news. Every event of person is garlanded with adjectives telling me that the violence was ‘appalling’, the criminality was ‘sickening’. Nothing is getting reported straight.
    Except perhaps the news that the fiance’ and mother of 2 children of the man shot by police that might have been a trigger for it all has just been arrested for possession of a significant weight of cocaine…

    However I would take issue with Dr Dave prefacing the links to Sowell’s article with –
    “Esteemed economist”
    When I am told what judgment to make I tend to get suspicious… an alternative description could be ‘syndicated RW newspaper columnist who always asserts liberal intellectuals are the root of all evil, taxes are bad and business is best. He is funded by Boeing, Chrysler, GM Ford, Exxon, J P Morgan….

    I could retaliate by posting this ‘wonderful’ analysis of the sources of social exclusion behind the problem -grin-

    But I think the Arab spring, and civic unrest around the world are probably no worse than in the past, and rooted in deeper changes in the perceived legitimacy of civic authority for rather more complex reasons than left-wing liberals imposing welfare on a reluctant middle class and an undeserving poor.

    Historically welfare programs arose out of the mid 19th century religious revival and a lot of Victorian do-gooders who went around asking themselves ‘what would Jesus’ do about all the suffering slaves, children, starving, poor, etc.
    Blame Dickens and the radical methodists for socialism!

  17. Luton Ian says:

    Hi Izen,
    I tend to think “The Iron Chancellor” was more concerned with buying popularity and avoiding social democracy than with any worries about what Jesus would think, but agreed, the Christian Revivalists and Christian Progs did make a ready constituency (of useful idiots?) for the ideas in Britain and the US. It seems that Prussia had been centrally planned for around 200 years before Bismark’s welfare state.

    I’ll agree that the British Labour movement does owe more to Methodism than to Marx, although at the risk of being shunned by the rest of the congregation, you could choose to leave Wesley’s flock (The feud between the “Wee-Slee-uns” and the Primitives ran deep and bitter), or the employment of a paternalistic Quaker industrialist (the Quakers were happy to fund Methodist Sunday schools and buy bibles for their workers children), it is harder to leave the country.

    Ironic, as today the British Quakers have almost died out, and the Methodists have become so few, that they have patched up their schism with the Anglicans.

  18. Dr. Dave says:

    I have been remiss in responding to izen’s posts. I have been rather otherwise engaged in the mundane process of “saving lives and healthcare dollars” (please note the sarcasm…healthcare ain’t all that glamorous). I take exception with izen characterizing Thomas Sowell as a RW syndicated columnist”. Dr. Sowell was born in North Carolina and grew up in a poor household in Harlem. Since 1980 Professor Sowell has been a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He’s 81 years old. He dropped out of High School to join the Marines during the Korean War He earned a B.A. from Harvard, an M.A. from Columbia and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago. He has held professorships at Cornell, Brandeis and UCLA. He has authored over 20 books on economics and is highly regarded and often quoted in the US. Oh yeah…he’s also a syndicated columnist. He is a student and teacher of the Austrian school of economics and a close friend of the late Nobel laureate Milton Friedman. Sowell is decidedly Libertarian.

    By contrast, his good friend Dr. Walter Williams (also black) leans more conservative than Libertarian. I mention Professor Williams only because I will be referring to his material in the future and wish to spare izen the bother of posting lame denigrations. Dr. Williams (75 y.o.) grew up in a Philadelphia housing project. He, too, served in the service in the Army during Korea. He earned a bachelors and a masters degree from California State University and a Ph.D. in economics from UCLA. He is currently a Distinguished Professor of Economics at George Mason University. He, too, was a close friend of Milton Friedman and has authored many books on economics and social issues. Oh yeah…he’s also a syndicated columnist.

    As long as I’m at it I may as well mention Dr. Victor Davis Hansen (Ph.D. in History and a California University Professor…and an author and syndicated columnist). I’ll be quoting this gentleman farmer, educator and author, too.

    These gentlemen are funded primarily through their university appointments, not any big businesses as izen implies. Sowell and Williams are both black and from very humble backgrounds. I’m more inclined to give these very accomplished gentlemen opinions more credence than that of some Euro-socialist that actually believes in the AGW fraud.

    And just for good measure, I have to note that izen used Wikipedia to quote the US media income. This is total income and includes the unemployed and the “impoverished”. The median income for those WORKING in the private sector is about $47K/yr. In the public sector the median salary is about $20K greater. Further, though blacks only represent about 12% of the population, they hold 20% of public employment jobs.

  19. izen says:

    @- Ozboy
    I appreciate it is work and health/time constraints, but the delayed addition of substantive responses to my post, that I then only find when I accidentally use a previous bookmark is… Frustrating!
    Do I concede to the the provoked desire to respond, knowing it is an irrelevance to the blog as things have moved on?
    I do, despite the inconsequence of the task! -Grin-

    Ozboy-“Because their life lacks meaning? For a materialist like you Izen, you’re skating on some really thin ice here. Man is an economic being, you’ve told us, and pretty much all the problems of the world are attributable to inequitable resource distribution – a problem that can be put right by a bigger, more powerful government, a ruling class of “elites”. Structures like family and church are relics of a decadent, tyrannical past. And so on, and so forth.”

    I feel like a teacher that sets a test to find out what everyone learnt only to discover that it bears little relation to what he though he had taught!
    Stereotypes and stock responses have replaced the nuanced, subtle and complex view that was intended. -grin-!

    Of course the teacher could blame the ignorance, stupidity and uninformed dogmatism of the pupils…
    But in reality its a failure to communicate – the teacher must try harder.!! -g-

    First, A materialist (well at least this one!) doesn’t hold that meaning is non-existent or unimportant. Just that, along with morality and ethics, it is something that happens because of material event between ears.
    It has context.

    Second, I have never intended to imply that ALL problems are attributable to inequitable resource distribution. There are plenty of problems that have nothing to do with resources, and many that have to do with the inadequate level of resources. But then if a resource was infinite and its use depleted no other resource, problems of inequality would not arise.
    Neither have I tried to claim that a bigger, more powerful government, a ruling class of “elites” can solve problems of inequality or insufficiency. I hope I haven’t given the impression I think that church and family are relics, decadent or tyrannical. Both are key factors that stabilise societies. They both shape, and are shaped by the range, magnitude and distribution of resources. It is obvious that examples of church and family that embody the antonyms of relics, decadent or tyrannical exist.

    Both are examples of human cooperative enterprise that can exhibit the full range of ethical behavior.

    Ozboy-“Libertarians, however, believe that all sentient adults have both the right, and – more importantly here – the responsibility to direct the course of their own lives. To quote (again) the final line of Henley’s masterpiece Invictus, “I am the master of my fate, I am the Captain of my soul”. To fail in this responsibility, or worse, to abdicate one’s responsibility entirely and then try to allocate it elsewhere, is to concede the better part of one’s humanity.”

    Yes, absolutely agree the key, primary source of responsibility and causation with any issue of human meaning, morality or ethics are the sentient adults. The intentional moral agent.

    But…. (you knew that was coming?!)

    I respond with Donne and ‘No man is an Island…’
    We may be Captains of our soul… but when we collect into urban societies we are often sailing on a ship of fools!

    Well done Izen – you’ve brought the discussion round to one of my pet themes (which I haven’t got around to yet at LG) – urban societies and how they have outlived their usefulness in a post-industrial world. I promise, I will deal with this eventually at LG, and at some length.

    You have mentioned problems of “resource distribution” – a Marxist shibboleth – so many times now that one could be forgiven for exaggerating somewhat that it seemed to be your explanation for everything. If you indeed perceive a higher meaning than materialism, then I for one appear to have failed so far to absorb that particular lesson from you. One who uses such a shibboleth however, with such recurrence, is hardly in a position to lecture others about “stereotypes and stock responses”! Glass houses and all, you know.

    But all right: you certainly have, by implication, promoted bigger and more powerful government, unless the term “resource distribution” somehow doesn’t imply an omniscient and omnipotent distributor. As to family and church, if I have misrepresented your views on these, I apologize and withdraw. An all-powerful tax-collector and distributor, however, must, if he is both omnipotent and omniscient, operate by some set of first principles. If these are the principles of the institutionalized church, then by definition you have a theocracy. If by some doctrine of “dialectical materialism”, then you have the Rule of Marx, which subsumes all social structures such as family to the economic dictates of the State. It would appear you are trying to have it both ways Izen, and I just can’t see how that is both possible and self-consistent.

    BTW I accept your frustration at delayed responses – from me, at any rate. Unfortunately, I just haven’t had the time I’d like to devote to LibertyGibbert these past few weeks. It certainly wasn’t a troll-like attempt to sneak the last word by you! Tell you what: if I do so again, I’ll notify you privately – Oz

  20. izen says:

    {and while we are on a voyage of futility…. :-}
    @-Dr. Dave says:
    August 19, 2011 at 10:46 am
    “And just for good measure, I have to note that izen used Wikipedia to quote the US media income. This is total income and includes the unemployed and the “impoverished”. The median income for those WORKING in the private sector is about $47K/yr. In the public sector the median salary is about $20K greater. ”

    I would consider it an exercise in advanced irony to apologies for using Wiki to someone posting Hoover and Heritage stuff…

    But in this case I didn’t use Wiki for the median incomes, it was an estimate from the US census bureau data. That gives the ‘All Races’ figures for median income as $33k for males, $20k for females. Given the ratio I figured $31K was a reasonable guess. The extreme values, from Table 700, are $37k for White males and $16k for Hispanic females.

  21. izen says:

    Hi Ozboy –
    No apology needed, its just while I occasionally check old threads I don’t often check back to specific posts, so when I link in via an old bookmark and find a substantive and valid critque of a post… I wonder – ‘how long has that been there? is it too late to reply…. d&M, must check back more often, but not enuf hrs i th dy.

    I am NOT advocating change! Its my job as a visitor to adapt -grin-

    Thanks for the feedback. I hadn’t considered that the use of resource distribution and discussing how it interacts with social structure would be seen as a sign of Marxist economics. Kinda obvious in retrospect, but I have encountered and used the term much more (at least since idealistic adolescence!) in the biological field. There it has reference to ecologies and the way energy in the form of food/sunlight propagates through the system.
    Simple example – (honest!)
    Biofilms, the bacterial slime that will coat any available wet surface, consist of colonies of different bacteria. Some are good at scavenging any food substrate available. They dont ‘eat’ it all but produce organic molecules that other less efficient scavengers can eat. These other may produce a very sticky polysaccaride that enables the biofilm to have a stable macro-structure. There are often several levels of interdependence, and the proportion of each population type is optimised for the environment by the distribution of resources between the types. No omnipotent central control required. Its all done with chemical feedbacks that have evolved to establish stable colonies with the right ratios. Like ant colonies there is no central control, just a network of interactions thst MAY have a ‘most linked hub’ status.

    Natural and agricultural ecologies have similar properties that can be understood by tracking the distribution of resources.

    I can see how variants in meaning, and historical/political association can derail whatever point I was trying to make.

    Although when I dabble in the political froth expect unformed, inconsistent and probably contradictory opinions according to whim as much as belief. I think rational analysis of political ideologies is probably a category error. Like the weather, you keep an eye on it to see if you need a coat, but you don’t expect to make sense of it, or it to be predictable beyond a few days!

  22. Dr. Dave says:

    A most worthwhile investment of 9 minutes:

  23. Pingback: The Libertarian: Milton Friedman on the Function of Government and Self-Interest

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