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Monday, September 25, 2023

More Hossenfelderbashing and capitalism

Sabine Hossenfelder is a fool, in my opinion, to make videos outside of her supposed area of expertise, physics. But considering that her non-physics opinions on issues like race and trans are invariably conservative and reactionary, I can't help wondering if she's getting funding from the usual plutocratic creeps.

Hossenfelder's claim that capitalism is a driver of scientific discovery is absurd and simplistic. 

Unfortunately I don't agree with Rebecca Watson either, that capitalism is responsible for "most if not all of society's greatest ills, including but not limited to income inequality and runaway climate change."

It's been my observation that on the Left, even more than before, capitalism is now considered the root of all evil. I doubt that. 

Capitalism was not created by a bunch of heartless monsters out to destroy the world. It evolved in response to the problems of daily human existence. 

I looked around the Internet to see what the consensus was on the origins of Capitalism, and Teen Vogue sums up what I found, pretty well:
The origins of capitalism are complicated, and stretch back to the 16th century, when the British systems of power largely collapsed after the Black Death, a deadly plague that killed off up to 60% of Europe’s entire population. A newly formed class of merchants began to trade with foreign countries, and this newfound demand for exports hurt local economies and began to dictate overall production and pricing of goods. It also led to the spread of colonialism, slavery, and imperialism.

The death of feudalism — a hierarchical system often seen as oppressive that kept poor people bonded to their masters’ land, which they farmed in exchange for a place to live and military protection — also left rural British peasants with no homes and no work, which eventually funneled them away from the countryside and into urban centers. These former farm workers then had to sell their labor in a newly competitive work environment in order to survive, while the state worked in concert with the new capitalists to establish a maximum wage and “clamp down on beggars.”

I doubt many would argue that feudalism is better than capitalism. And the claim that capitalism led to "the spread of slavery" is easily disputed by the many and varied forms of slavery that have existed outside of the age of capitalism. 

As for Watson's claim that capitalism is responsible for "runaway climate change" I think that's a case of "correlation is not causation." While climate change may have happened during the age of capitalism, humans destroying their environment and the phenomenon of unintended consequences also exist outside of capitalism.

And since I assume Watson doesn't want to trade capitalism for feudalism, what is her alternative? Socialism? Does she seriously think that humans couldn't make decisions with unintended consequences in a socialist system?

Humans fuck up - they trust people who should not be their leaders - see the Roman emperors, the European monarchies, the Catholic Church, Hitler, Stalin, Trump etc. etc. etc.; they don't think through all the possible consequences of decisions; they can be greedy and cruel and careless - and all without capitalism. 

Capitalism is just a collection of human-value exchange mechanisms, basically an accounting system, which is being mistaken for the actual root causes of human error and weaknesses and bad judgment - in Watson's case - and is being mistaken for the root cause of scientific discovery - as in Hossenfelder's case.

Just as nobody plotted to replace feudalism with capitalism, if capitalism dies out, it won't be the result of a plot, it will be because a new system of human-value exchange mechanisms evolved to better meet the needs of the people living in that society. 

In other words, human behavior is much more complicated than either Hossenfelder or Watson seem to understand. 

I don't claim to have a grasp on the whole thing myself - just enough to know that both Hossenfelder and Watson are being simplistic.

But at least Watson is not impressed by Pinker's idiotic "The Blank Slate" as Hossenfelder is. 

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