8-Bit Philosophy: Is Capitalism Bad For You?

LysanderNemoinis

Noble and oppressed Kekistani
Nov 8, 2010
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Wow...and here I thought after certain members of the staff being let go, maybe The Escapist would have a little bit less political bullshit. Guess I was wrong. Though I'm really looking forward to the "Is Communism Bad For You?" episode, and hear how more people have been killed because of that oppressive system than have ever died or been negatively affected by capitalism. Wait, what am I talking about? This is The Escapist, the Pravda of gaming. Carry on, comrades.
 

CrystalShadow

don't upset the insane catgirl
Apr 11, 2009
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Gorrath said:
CrystalShadow said:
Lightknight said:
CrystalShadow said:
I do fear a 'work ethic' Is slowly becoming a liability though. Because of automation and it's long term implications, having that as a core social value is going to bite us in the butt sooner or later.
I've considered this quite a bit lately. The notion that automation should eventually put people out of work. Ideally, this would mean a future where people don't have to work but are free to direct their attention to whatever pursuits they desire. But there's a lot of things in-between that could wreck us.

I imagine that the government will eventually have to legislate a certain ratio of human works be maintained for companies. That could side step the issue of massive layoffs with fewer consumers to buy things (because, again, layoffs).

We'll have to see how that turns out. What's sad is that robots will inevitably out-pace us eventually. There will be a day when there's nothing we can do that they can't do better. Everything from innovation to humor.
That's one solution. But an especially awkward one assuming the work would normally be done by machines for the sake of efficiency.

I would imagine a more viable solution longterm would be to remove all work related taxes, (primarily income tax), and try to ensure the remaining taxes can be distributed to the population.

Unfortunately, with current trends I rather fear the handful of people with enough wealth and power to control the automated manufacturing systems are more inclined to attempt mass irradication of the 'excess' population, either directly, or through starvation.

Pessimistic I suppose, but that's what I expect to see if we don't radically alter our value system before automation truly starts to take over everything...
Starving the population is a really good way for those in power to get their heads lopped off and stuck on poles. Also, I'd say that a population is really only excessive (within the scope of this conversation) if it is difficult to house or feed said population, something which automation should make easier to do. You'd have excess population in comparison to work that you needed done, but I imagine you'd see a shift to jobs created for arts, sports and customer service rather than a summary round-up and extermination of those who can't find jobs. Not impossible of course, as the tactics you suggest have been used before. I just don't think it's all that likely to happen, and surely not likely to succeed.
It would depend on what kind of resources we have relative to the population, and what the minority might stand to gain from massive population reduction.

your implicatioon of shifting the work to other fields presumes those too don't end up subject to automation.
It seems a little naive to assume art and customer service jobs can't be automated, long-term. We're already seeing warning signs of retail staff being replaced with machines... Early days yet, but it's a bad sign on the whole.
As for sports, maybe. But only a handful of people hachave what it takes to be top athletes, and that being left in human hands would be mostly due to the incredibly arbitrary rules of 'fair' competition. Otherwise we wouldn't be checking for drugs. In other words, it's a field that isn't looking for the absolute best, but rather the best within a restricted set of criteria.

This kind of depends on how cynical you are, and how far you imagine automation to be able to get...
It's also possible to imagine a world where the machines themselves take over. What they do with us at that point would depend on what values we instill in them. Overly utilitarian reasoning (which seenems a reasonably probable resulyresult of our current values as a society), could easily lead the machines to question the purpose of the continued existence of humans...

In short, even being optimistic, what do you do with a huge number of people who cannot meaningfully contribute to society directly in the sense that we currently value what a person spends their time doing?
The options are pretty limited.
1. find 'busywork' that doesn't really serve any purpose, just to occupy these people's time...
2. Get them to do the work anyway, regardless of how absurdly innefficient that may end up by comparison to the machines.
3. Sort out a means of supporting this population without requiring anything from them in return
4. Eliminate as much of this population as possible...

Got any other potential options? because that's about all I can think of as alternatives...
 

Imperioratorex Caprae

Henchgoat Emperor
May 15, 2010
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Interesting video. Its not necessarily endorsing the ideas, but rather explaining where the idea is coming from. See, anxiety is a human trait, and we can have it no matter what. I work for myself, make my own hours and am happy with my job, very little anxiety there aside from the average customer being a pain in my ass.
However I've got other things that cause anxiety, and none of the examples I could think of immediately are not financially related.

Anxiety is a human trait, and we will experience it no matter what.
 

LostCrusader

Lurker in the shadows
Feb 3, 2011
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This has me wondering how much of the wisecrack channel might be joining the escapist. I have only checked out some of 8-bit philosophy stuff but I like the channel for thug notes.
 

Gorrath

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Feb 22, 2013
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CrystalShadow said:
It would depend on what kind of resources we have relative to the population, and what the minority might stand to gain from massive population reduction.
No doubt, but mass genocide of populations don't tend to be effective when a minority (especially a rich one) is trying to kill of a majority. That majority tends to get pissed and start a revolution that ends up with that rich majority either fleeing or dead. Mileage here varies depending on how well armed said majority is.

your implicatioon of shifting the work to other fields presumes those too don't end up subject to automation.
It seems a little naive to assume art and customer service jobs can't be automated, long-term. We're already seeing warning signs of retail staff being replaced with machines... Early days yet, but it's a bad sign on the whole.
As for sports, maybe. But only a handful of people hachave what it takes to be top athletes, and that being left in human hands would be mostly due to the incredibly arbitrary rules of 'fair' competition. Otherwise we wouldn't be checking for drugs. In other words, it's a field that isn't looking for the absolute best, but rather the best within a restricted set of criteria.
It's not that you can't automate art or customer service; you certainly can. It's that people don't tend to particularly like art or customer service that's automated. It depends on what sort of customer service we're talking here, too but in broad terms people like to talk to people more than machines and that customer demand does have an effect. As for sports, if most people are unemployed because they simply don't need to work, they will be looking for diversions. With this growing demand, I think it's reasonable to assume more sports leagues at more levels would rise in demand. Same goes for art. All that leisure time needs to be filled with something and art/sports are two of human kind's favorite diversions.


This kind of depends on how cynical you are, and how far you imagine automation to be able to get...
It's also possible to imagine a world where the machines themselves take over. What they do with us at that point would depend on what values we instill in them. Overly utilitarian reasoning (which seenems a reasonably probable resulyresult of our current values as a society), could easily lead the machines to question the purpose of the continued existence of humans...
Eh, a machine takeover is a plausible flight of fancy. I don't think it warrants serious consideration until we at least have a working cognizant computer. I'm more concerned with what we'll do if 90% of human "work" becomes automated; it seems the more immediate issue. But, if we did come up with cognizant robots, we'd need to, as you said, instill values in them and hope those values stick. Otherwise, things could get messy.


In short, even being optimistic, what do you do with a huge number of people who cannot meaningfully contribute to society directly in the sense that we currently value what a person spends their time doing?
The options are pretty limited.
1. find 'busywork' that doesn't really serve any purpose, just to occupy these people's time...
2. Get them to do the work anyway, regardless of how absurdly innefficient that may end up by comparison to the machines.
3. Sort out a means of supporting this population without requiring anything from them in return
4. Eliminate as much of this population as possible...

Got any other potential options? because that's about all I can think of as alternatives...
1. This seems possible. A fair-few professions already engage in massive amounts of busywork. Hell, how much youtube gets watched at peak business hours I wonder. I know I contribute to that figure!

2. This seems less likely, unless efficiency isn't the most valuable part of the work. See: Art, sports, customer service. Any field you can think of where efficiency is less important than the human element, I think the automation problem isn't so much a problem.

3. Depending on the efficiency of the production of basic goods/services, this may become a reality. If you can produce all basic goods in mass quantities for a pittance, you don't really need the population to put anything back in. But we'll still want someone to act/draw/throw a football/have a chat with us, so that's where people will shift their focus I think.

4. And that's the rub. If automation becomes really good, there isn't really a need to reduce the population. Plus, threatening the lives of billions of people isn't likely to end up with them dead, it's likely to end up with you dead. You'd need a method for eradication and a reason (assuming our hypothetical rich minority aren't psychopaths.) In a world of automated plenty, you might get #1, but you'll be hard-pressed to get #2 I think.

I can't think of any others either, except perhaps space colonization. Still, I think 2-3 are probably enough to prevent 4 from being necessary or even desirable. It's the optimist in me.
 

8-Bit Philosophy

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Feb 9, 2015
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My main problem with american capitalism is that it's less capitalism and just people taking advantage of the system, it's like comparing Stalin's russia to socialism.

Also, americans like to point fingers and whoever they think is responsible at their state, which is anyone but them. Even the entertaiment industry lives on it, the big evil guy is the rich white american tycoon, not the branch manager who lays off workers to make the end year look more positive and gives the guy's salary to himself.
 

Jake Martinez

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Apr 2, 2010
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Lightknight said:
CrystalShadow said:
I do fear a 'work ethic' Is slowly becoming a liability though. Because of automation and it's long term implications, having that as a core social value is going to bite us in the butt sooner or later.
I've considered this quite a bit lately. The notion that automation should eventually put people out of work. Ideally, this would mean a future where people don't have to work but are free to direct their attention to whatever pursuits they desire. But there's a lot of things in-between that could wreck us.

I imagine that the government will eventually have to legislate a certain ratio of human works be maintained for companies. That could side step the issue of massive layoffs with fewer consumers to buy things (because, again, layoffs).

We'll have to see how that turns out. What's sad is that robots will inevitably out-pace us eventually. There will be a day when there's nothing we can do that they can't do better. Everything from innovation to humor.
If this ever comes to pass then eventually no goods or services will have any value, so economy will be a moot point. Just go and take whatever it is you want. You've basically shot straight past capitalism, through socialism and into a complete utopian world.
 

TomWest

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Sep 16, 2007
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LysanderNemoinis said:
Wow...and here I thought after certain members of the staff being let go, maybe The Escapist would have a little bit less political bullshit. Guess I was wrong. Though I'm really looking forward to the "Is Communism Bad For You?" episode, and hear how more people have been killed because of that oppressive system than have ever died or been negatively affected by capitalism. Wait, what am I talking about? This is The Escapist, the Pravda of gaming. Carry on, comrades.
You think you are better off *not* knowing the history and possible weaknesses of the systems you support?

I suspect that any *successful* capitalist revels in learning about the systems he uses far more than adding another kick at a moribund system. But certainly your attitude will go far if you're interested in working for the government rather than capitalism as a whole.
 

BrownGaijin

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Jan 31, 2009
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Wouldn't the fear of being fired have to do more with having a fixed mindset or the absence of a growth mindset?
 

LysanderNemoinis

Noble and oppressed Kekistani
Nov 8, 2010
468
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TomWest said:
LysanderNemoinis said:
Wow...and here I thought after certain members of the staff being let go, maybe The Escapist would have a little bit less political bullshit. Guess I was wrong. Though I'm really looking forward to the "Is Communism Bad For You?" episode, and hear how more people have been killed because of that oppressive system than have ever died or been negatively affected by capitalism. Wait, what am I talking about? This is The Escapist, the Pravda of gaming. Carry on, comrades.
You think you are better off *not* knowing the history and possible weaknesses of the systems you support?

I suspect that any *successful* capitalist revels in learning about the systems he uses far more than adding another kick at a moribund system. But certainly your attitude will go far if you're interested in working for the government rather than capitalism as a whole.
Oh, I certainly know my history. It's why I hate communism. And while capitalism is not a perfect system, not by a long shot, it's also the best system mankind has come up with. Whatever it's roots, whatever it's failing and abuses in the past (and sometimes in the present), it's also the thing that allowed most of us to be living the lives we are with the creature comforts and technology we have.


Hell, America wouldn't even exist without people who were determined to be able to live as they wanted, to work for themselves, and not have a government tell them what to do, how to work, and what to think. After all, for every person that abuses the system or takes advantage of their workers, there's hundreds if not thousands of business owners who do right by their employees and enable themselves and those that work for them to provide good lives for their families.

My main problem is that once again, The Escapist is putting up a completely one-sided argument without even mentioning the possibility that there's another side or that communism is far worse. Plus, it's also lazy as hell. I mean, exactly how many comments appeared that weren't just a bunch of head-bobbing and tut-tuting about this modern day boogieman? Aside from me and a couple others, I doubt there were many people who clicked on the video who don't already think capitalism is the tool of the devil (here represented by a straight white male) even without this video's 'evidence.'
 

Revnak_v1legacy

Fixed by "Monday"
Mar 28, 2010
1,979
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LysanderNemoinis said:
Wow...and here I thought after certain members of the staff being let go, maybe The Escapist would have a little bit less political bullshit. Guess I was wrong. Though I'm really looking forward to the "Is Communism Bad For You?" episode, and hear how more people have been killed because of that oppressive system than have ever died or been negatively affected by capitalism. Wait, what am I talking about? This is The Escapist, the Pravda of gaming. Carry on, comrades.
That's impossible. The number of deaths that can easily be attributed to manipulative capitalist imperialism in Africa, India, South America, Central America, and China far out number the deaths that can be attributed to Communism in Russia, China, and Eastern Europe. Just looking at the size of the population groups under these ideologies should make it clear enough, capitalism had a much larger reach. Ultimately, Communism can be blamed for some 70 million deaths at the high end. Capitalism can be blamed for almost half of that through WWI alone, let alone the opium wars, the race to colonize Africa, the loss of life, economic productivity, and food in British India, and the abuses in South America carried out by the west. This is still all ignoring that the capitalist imperialism of the 19th century can be blamed for much of the current situation in the middle east, Africa, and south east Asia. Regardless of whether or not Capitalism is truly better or worse than Communism, the sheer breadth of Capitalism's effects on humanity should easily put it above Communism's body count.

Also, at what point did this video promote communism, and in what way is calling out the abuses of capitalism, the flaws, tantamount to supporting communism? One does not need to be a communist to read Weber, especially considering that Weber was not a communist.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Max_Weber
 

Zato-1

New member
Mar 27, 2009
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What is this drivel? Video should be titled "Max Weber's take on Capitalism", there's no real discussion about whether Capitalism is good or bad for you.
 

Armadox

Mandatory Madness!
Aug 31, 2010
1,120
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Zato-1 said:
What is this drivel? Video should be titled "Max Weber's take on Capitalism", there's no real discussion about whether Capitalism is good or bad for you.
It's not designed as a discussion, but as a crash course, you have to bring your own discussion on how you feel about the information provided.(I agree with the title change, but the last sentence in the video leaves an open ended thought on the subject for you to infer your own conclusions....)

That being said, it's no worse for you then any economic system, as you have an ability, no matter how slim to score riches for your efforts as long as those efforts pay you back the time spent. Where as other systems can grant everyone the base living safety net, but your labor will not give you any means more then that...

All and all, I'm rather happy to see Wisecrack expanding to other websites. I prefer Thug Notes myself, and if you've not had the pleasure of watching it, I recommend it. 8-Bit Philosophy covers a broad spectrum of subjects, it just so happened this one was economical/political.
 

Jodan

New member
Mar 18, 2009
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Do that again I loved it. Do more of this. Its nice to see some intellegent content for a chnage.
 

Lizmichi

Detective Prince
Jul 2, 2009
4,809
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inu-kun said:
My main problem with american capitalism is that it's less capitalism and just people taking advantage of the system, it's like comparing Stalin's russia to socialism.
In Marxist thought that is what they say capitalism is. It is the antithesis of the the owners of the means of production with is depended on how desperately the workers need their jobs.

Also, Stalin's Russia was... weird. It wasn't fully blown communism or socialism. I could go on and on about this but I don't want to bog things down.

Edit: Fuck yea philosophy on the Escapist. I am in love.
 

CaptainBill22

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Nov 18, 2009
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This guy knows nothing of capitalism or how it even works. What he describes is bad working conditions which has nothing to do with Capitalism or Socialism. At least in a Capitalist society you can move up and get better jobs, you can go from dishwasher to chef if you have the skills and ambition. With Socialism the state tells you what to do, if the state tells you to be a factory worker you will be a factory worker. With Capitalism you are rewarded for hard work, and if you don't like the conditions where you work you can seek out a new job or start a business. In Socialism you can work 60-70 hours a week at one job and be better at it than anyone else, you won't get rewarded for your hard work and if you don't like it too bad.

Tell me which is worse now?
 

TomWest

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Sep 16, 2007
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LysanderNemoinis said:
My main problem is that once again, The Escapist is putting up a completely one-sided argument without even mentioning the possibility that there's another side or that communism is far worse.
Um, the video wasn't an argument at all, let alone a one-sided one. It didn't contrast capitalism with socialism, just gave a brief (if possibly inaccurate) history of the religious origins of capitalism. As such, I don't find it a take-down of capitalism any more than studying the origins of Communism is a take-down of communism. It's just history.

The fact that a few people use it to take pot shots means nothing meaningful. It's like condemning the United States because of the slavery of the founders. What is important is not the history, it's how the history informs the present.

The fact that you feel defensive about capitalism is odd. After all, there's pretty much nowhere on the planet that gives serious consideration to deviating from a market based system. (If you're talking pure capitalism, that's different. But nobody has tried it.)
 

zumbledum

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Nov 13, 2011
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CaptainBill22 said:
This guy knows nothing of capitalism or how it even works. What he describes is bad working conditions which has nothing to do with Capitalism or Socialism. At least in a Capitalist society you can move up and get better jobs, you can go from dishwasher to chef if you have the skills and ambition. With Socialism the state tells you what to do, if the state tells you to be a factory worker you will be a factory worker. With Capitalism you are rewarded for hard work, and if you don't like the conditions where you work you can seek out a new job or start a business. In Socialism you can work 60-70 hours a week at one job and be better at it than anyone else, you won't get rewarded for your hard work and if you don't like it too bad.

Tell me which is worse now?

well its a bit unfair , capitalism is better than the level of communism or socialism humans are capable of, if only we were not such flawed creatures those models would be better. its a pretty sad state really.

Capitalism and so does democracy , both were good step ups from what went before but they are hardly ideal.

would love to see democracy scrapped for a model closer to the scientific method and our economy abandon money and wealth for a sustainable resource allocation based economy
 

Therumancer

Citation Needed
Nov 28, 2007
9,909
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Less politics, more geek culture related content. The existing commentators here already bring more than enough left wing spin to the site just in trying to do their job. Anti-capitalist rants being presented as features are the last thing this site needs. Especially when this was a poorly researched piece to begin with, the guy writing it seems to have no practical idea of what a Calvinist is (as someone already pointed out in detail).

That said, at the end of the day someone has to dig the ditches, and society needs far more people at the bottom holding it up than on the top. The man who is at the bottom is always going to want a change in the status quo in feeling it will benefit him. In a capitalist society, the guy at the bottom looks at those on the top and demands different distribution of wealth because that benefits him. After all from his perspective it's not his fault that he isn't as smart, talented, or gifted, or descended from someone who was. In a socialist system the man at the bottom thinks that if he could compete more freely he would be better off. At the end of the day in a capitalist system the most gifted and ruthless rule alongside the merchants and traders. In a socialist society the government that is responsible for distributing everything "fairly" occupies the same position. Either way on the bottom your either envying the businessmen and independently wealthy, or those in high powered government positions who will inevitably use their status to benefit themselves and lead lavish lifestyles that benefit both them and their favored. No system or social philosophy will ever be utopian, even a perfect system on paper will not survive contact with human nature.

For the most part I'm content with the American balance on Capitalism and the limitations and safeguards it puts into force. Things could be better and like everyone there are changes I'd make (some in directions of socialism as I'm a big believer in worker's rights) but I think right now we've got a pretty decent balance.

Life is stress, to be honest I don't think social philosophy changes that. Those in communist regimes don't have any less stress. Indeed the grass is always greener on the other side of the pasture, and no matter what side your on, you at least envy some aspects of the other... it's human nature.

The world generally sucks, and honestly even if we develop limitless resources and transcend any need for us to do anything but pleasure ourselves, we'll still find reasons to be stressed... even if it's over whether we have the latest model of auto-masturbator, and if there will be enough produced fast enough to get the newest one when it first comes out. Stress is based on the environment, just because people's concerns are trivial compared to yours does not mean they are any less real or stressful. Sure worrying about an auto-masturbator seems petty compared to say clean drinking water, but if it's the only thing you are concerned with do to having everything else, people will stress about it. This is one of the reasons why I tend to be dismissive of people complaining about "First world problems" just because other people have bigger problems does not mean the other problems concern the people involved any less. You look at the guys in the US concerned about IP laws and the guy in Africa concerned about not having water, and all it shows is that no matter where you are on the scale something is always going to stress people, even when the concerns become increasingly petty.... and let's be honest, when people are involved conflict will likely always arise, even if all we have to do is pleasure ourselves, we'll still find reasons to fight each other over lube... and if millions die in the lube wars the reason doesn't effectively make it any different than World War II... all that matters is that enough people disagreed about things important enough from their perspective for massive violence to break out. When lube is a big part of your life, it becomes important.