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  #1  
Old 12-07-2009, 03:59 AM
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Default Do the philosophical roots of the New Left hamper the enactment of environmental policy?

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  #2  
Old 12-07-2009, 07:20 AM
Baltimoron Baltimoron is offline
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Default You Were Just Warming Up

A very ambitious diavlog...and another reason why this ridiculous time limit policy should go.

Props for tackling woo. But, it's not enough to analyze the scientific roots of global warming or hunger, without analyzing the social scientific problems of vested interests, rent-seeking, patents, and a whole host of other documented theories. hamandcheese (sic?) mentions the "tragedy of the commons", but there just wasn't enough time to get into a good discussion of that topic.

There needs to be a "Part 2" where both of you debate carbon taxes vs. cap and corruption (oooppps!), patents, and "tragedy of the commons".

If Ann Althouse or Michael Goldfarb can have 60 minutes, you two need 90!
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  #3  
Old 12-07-2009, 09:24 AM
PreppyMcPrepperson PreppyMcPrepperson is offline
 
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Default Re: You Were Just Warming Up

Quote:
Originally Posted by Baltimoron View Post
A very ambitious diavlog...and another reason why this ridiculous time limit policy should go.

Props for tackling woo. But, it's not enough to analyze the scientific roots of global warming or hunger, without analyzing the social scientific problems of vested interests, rent-seeking, patents, and a whole host of other documented theories. hamandcheese (sic?) mentions the "tragedy of the commons", but there just wasn't enough time to get into a good discussion of that topic.

There needs to be a "Part 2" where both of you debate carbon taxes vs. cap and corruption (oooppps!), patents, and "tragedy of the commons".

If Ann Althouse or Michael Goldfarb can have 60 minutes, you two need 90!
Thanks for the endorsement, Baltimoron. In fact, Sam and I spent awhile on the phone after we stopped recording debating the issue further--so there's definitely material for another DV.
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  #4  
Old 12-07-2009, 09:25 AM
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Default Video link ...

... is here.
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  #5  
Old 12-07-2009, 05:07 PM
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Default Re: Do the philosophical roots of the New Left hamper the enactment of environmental policy?

Hamandcheese reveals his sympathies to the juicebox mafia at 7:45.
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  #6  
Old 12-07-2009, 05:10 PM
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Default Re: Do the philosophical roots of the New Left hamper the enactment of environmental policy?

But seriously, excellent job examining an anti-science conspiracy theory of the far left.
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  #7  
Old 12-07-2009, 05:35 PM
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Default Re: Do the philosophical roots of the New Left hamper the enactment of environmental policy?

I enjoyed this a lot. You guys are really good.

To push back lightly at something around the 20:00 mark: There is more to "postmodernism" than relativity between the life of a human and a life of a tree. Obviously I think that is cracked. But some of what is considered postmodernism amounts to, for example, explaining the way the world becomes self-referential when communication becomes very rapid and very global. I.e. simulation, fake authenticity, etc. I think those things have worth and should be thought about. Not everything called postmodernism is nuts--the word is too big, encompasses too many ideas.

The test I use is: is something both 1) called postmodern and 2) an ideology. If so, I call it bad. So, like, the relativism you bring up ... I would agree that's both postmodern and stupid. But don't tar every 'postmodern' thought just because of that.
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  #8  
Old 12-07-2009, 06:53 PM
hamandcheese hamandcheese is offline
 
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Default Re: Do the philosophical roots of the New Left hamper the enactment of environmental policy?

I completely agree with you, Osmium. While what we were talking about certainly is under the postmoderm umbrella I don't at all think that it defines postmodern thought, especially when "postmodern philosophy" has contributed a lot to my own thinking. To be more specific, it would be part of the post-structuralist vein, that, though potentially useful, is ironically too easily molded to any conclusion -- including tree ethics, if not plain nihilism.

But not all of the postmodern influence is nihlisitic. I didn't mention Eco-Feminism, for example. An eco-feminist would assert something like: "The capitalist dominion over nature is a form of chauvinism. Its trenchedness is the result of a historically male dominated culture and its political institutions. Mans rape of the environment is no less Man's rape of the environment." Etc. Etc. Invariably they also incorporate Freud or Lacan and start calling smoke stacks an unconcious case of phallo-centricism. Really.

The Freudian influence on the new left is also postmodern, and is a direct result of the work of Herbert Marcuse, particularly his "Eros and Civilization". In it Marcuse ammended Freuds argument that Civilization is inherently and necessarily repressive to say that, not civilization, but Capitalism and it's legion are the repressors. This was in fact the intellectual foundation of the counterculture, and the ancestor to the later arguments against "mass produced society" and the technocracy.

So your quite right about postmodernism coming in very many kinds. But I defend my use of the term on the grounds that the postmodern influence on environmentalism has really been from every corner of postmodernity.

Last edited by hamandcheese; 12-07-2009 at 07:03 PM..
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  #9  
Old 12-07-2009, 07:54 PM
Baltimoron Baltimoron is offline
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Default Re: Do the philosophical roots of the New Left hamper the enactment of environmental policy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by osmium View Post
...There is more to "postmodernism" than relativity between the life of a human and a life of a tree. Obviously I think that is cracked. But some of what is considered postmodernism amounts to, for example, explaining the way the world becomes self-referential when communication becomes very rapid and very global. I.e. simulation, fake authenticity, etc. I think those things have worth and should be thought about. Not everything called postmodernism is nuts--the word is too big, encompasses too many ideas.
Actually, my introduction to postmodern literature came through Robbe-Grillet's Jealousy in a postmodern Lit seminar. I'm not sure of how the Venn diagrams work - new novel, Freudian et al - but my first and enduring association with "postmodern" because of Robbe-Grillet is a painstaking empirical approach. How many banana trees? That spot on the wall? Honestly, I thought "postmodern" was another word for "pain in the ass"! The rest of this ideological baggage never convinced me that postmodern was as big a problem as its critics said it was.
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  #10  
Old 12-07-2009, 08:14 PM
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Default Re: Do the philosophical roots of the New Left hamper the enactment of environmental policy?

I wish I could say something meaningful about this diavlog, but I'm still trying to process the first ten seconds: hamandcheese is a high school student...


I'm ready for retirement.
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  #11  
Old 12-07-2009, 09:24 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Do the philosophical roots of the New Left hamper the enactment of environmental policy?

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Originally Posted by Ocean View Post
I wish I could say something meaningful about this diavlog, but I'm still trying to process the first ten seconds: hamandcheese is a high school student...


I'm ready for retirement.
Heh. I was just about to post: "I wish I could have been half that articulate and a quarter that politically aware back when I was his age."
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  #12  
Old 12-07-2009, 09:38 PM
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Default Re: Do the philosophical roots of the New Left hamper the enactment of environmental policy?

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Originally Posted by bjkeefe View Post
Heh. I was just about to post: "I wish I could have been half that articulate and a quarter that politically aware back when I was his age."
I was wondering if I was the only one having that reaction.
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  #13  
Old 12-07-2009, 10:33 PM
Baltimoron Baltimoron is offline
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Default Beware the Sith

OTOH, the burden of all that ability rests firmly in his young shoulders for that much longer. Just kidding! As Darth Vader said, "Impressive!"
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  #14  
Old 12-07-2009, 10:35 PM
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Default Re: Do the philosophical roots of the New Left hamper the enactment of environmental policy?

We gave an environmental award to a 13-year-old in my town for his work on Global Warming. He came up to my shoulder. When he came back the next year to present the award to the next recipient, he was a head taller than me. He'd also met Al Gore. Now he's in 15 and in Copenhagen.
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  #15  
Old 12-07-2009, 10:40 PM
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Default Re: Do the philosophical roots of the New Left hamper the enactment of environmental policy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
We gave an environmental award to a 13-year-old in my town for his work on Global Warming. He came up to my shoulder. When he came back the next year to present the award to the next recipient, he was a head taller than me. He'd also met Al Gore. Now he's in 15 and in Copenhagen.
I'm still thinking about retirement... as soon as I stop crying...



PS: like Baltimoron said "Impressive."
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  #16  
Old 12-07-2009, 11:08 PM
jimM47 jimM47 is offline
 
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Default Re: Do the philosophical roots of the New Left hamper the enactment of environmental policy?

Impressive conversation. A pity that the time limit cut short the solutions part of the diavlog.

During the "shallow economy" portion of the conversation, when the topics of climate change's disproportionate effect on poorer regions and of institutions came up, I couldn't help but think of this (slightly tangential) analogy drawn from the common law tort system: In American courts, where a nontrivial amount of environmental policy is still made, many tragedy-of-the-commons-type environmental questions sound in nuisance law, which asks courts to balance the social utility of a harmful activity with the damage it causes to others. One of the first questions for the court, and one that implicates nearly every aspect of the case, is the remedy to be granted: injunction (ordering the polluter to stop) or damages (ordering the polluter to pay for the harm they cause). Under the influence of law-and-economics scholars such as Ronald Coase, courts have been reluctant in many circumstances to grant injunctive relief, and where they do grant it, the grant is specifically aimed at getting the parties to negotiate a price for lifting the injunction. The theory behind this is that there may be many cases in which it is more "efficient" to produce something of value, pollute in the process, and then compensate for the damage that pollutant causes, than to simply refrain from the harmful activity entirely. This has the secondary effect of helping to balance social utilities, because the requirement of paying compensation will cause less useful polluting activities to become economically unfeasible.

It seems to me that much of current environmental thinking, especially in the international realm, has focused on finding an injunctive-like solution, which seeks to limit emissions in terms of raw number, rather than a compensatory-like solution, which would seek to limit wasteful emissions and redress the inequitable effect of fossil fuel externalities, and that this has disproportionately hurt nations like those in the Indian Ocean and other poorer nations which will necessarily feel significant economic effects of the greenhouse emissions that remain inevitable for many years to come under any system.
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  #17  
Old 12-07-2009, 11:14 PM
Baltimoron Baltimoron is offline
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Default Re: Do the philosophical roots of the New Left hamper the enactment of environmental policy?

OK, we've passed the line between lauding hamandcheese and making ourselves feel irreparably - oh, gawd - OLD! Vreak out the aspirin and Sportscreme!
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  #18  
Old 12-07-2009, 11:21 PM
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Default Re: Do the philosophical roots of the New Left hamper the enactment of environmental policy?

Interesting legal analysis. I believe Coase's name has come up in recent EconTalk podcasts, where Russ Roberts has recently taken up the "tragedy of the commons" issue.
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  #19  
Old 12-08-2009, 12:00 AM
jimM47 jimM47 is offline
 
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Default Re: Do the philosophical roots of the New Left hamper the enactment of environmental policy?

Indeed. And to limit what I am saying somewhat, I take it from Russ Roberts's description of Coase that economists have a slightly more nuanced understanding of his ideas than I've seen demonstrated in court opinions. But I think there are still some valuable insights that survive into the legal realm, and which may be further applicable on an international policy level.
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  #20  
Old 12-08-2009, 01:33 AM
PreppyMcPrepperson PreppyMcPrepperson is offline
 
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Default Re: Do the philosophical roots of the New Left hamper the enactment of environmental policy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimM47 View Post
During the "shallow economy" portion of the conversation, when the topics of climate change's disproportionate effect on poorer regions and of institutions came up, I couldn't help but think of this (slightly tangential) analogy drawn from the common law tort system: In American courts, where a nontrivial amount of environmental policy is still made, many tragedy-of-the-commons-type environmental questions sound in nuisance law, which asks courts to balance the social utility of a harmful activity with the damage it causes to others. One of the first questions for the court, and one that implicates nearly every aspect of the case, is the remedy to be granted: injunction (ordering the polluter to stop) or damages (ordering the polluter to pay for the harm they cause). Under the influence of law-and-economics scholars such as Ronald Coase, courts have been reluctant in many circumstances to grant injunctive relief, and where they do grant it, the grant is specifically aimed at getting the parties to negotiate a price for lifting the injunction. The theory behind this is that there may be many cases in which it is more "efficient" to produce something of value, pollute in the process, and then compensate for the damage that pollutant causes, than to simply refrain from the harmful activity entirely. This has the secondary effect of helping to balance social utilities, because the requirement of paying compensation will cause less useful polluting activities to become economically unfeasible.

It seems to me that much of current environmental thinking, especially in the international realm, has focused on finding an injunctive-like solution, which seeks to limit emissions in terms of raw number, rather than a compensatory-like solution, which would seek to limit wasteful emissions and redress the inequitable effect of fossil fuel externalities, and that this has disproportionately hurt nations like those in the Indian Ocean and other poorer nations which will necessarily feel significant economic effects of the greenhouse emissions that remain inevitable for many years to come under any system.
I hadn't thought about it that way before--thanks.
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  #21  
Old 12-08-2009, 03:44 AM
kezboard kezboard is offline
 
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Default postmodern tl;dr

I dunno. I think there's a lot more that this line of thinking has in common with nineteenth-century romanticism, which just takes the modern faith in material progress and turns it around. I mean, the fetish for the natural, for instance. It would take a postmodernist one second to look at that and say that that category is totally cultural, that there's nothing more essentially or authentically human about chewing a leaf or living off the land than there is in taking a pill or living in the city.

Granted, postmodernism is responsible for a lot of pseudo-intellectual denial of the rationally provable, but that doesn't mean that it's responsible for all of it. Similarly, I don't think that because the postmodernist would question the statement "We should make things better for the human race" that means that only postmodernists would -- the romantic environmentalist would say "Why should we make things better for humans and not trees?" but the postmodernist would probably say "What do you mean 'make things better', and what do you mean 'human race'?"

The question of what it means to make things better is probably where postmodernism does come into the things you were talking about, specifically the essay in The Nation about how the US supported the Green Revolution so people in poor countries wouldn't be pushed into communist uprisings by starvation. On the one hand, I definitely think the appropriate answer to this argument is "So what, at least they got food". On the other hand, I sort of think (without having read the essay, of course) that the writer would rather characterize it as "By giving the world's poor somewhat easier access to cheaper food, the Green Revolution helped perpetuate the system that created the conditions of exploitation that made these people poor and hungry in the first place". I'm somewhat sympathetic to this view (which I guess earns me my 'far left' card) but I understand that it's fairly impractical and really more interested in moral consistency than practical solutions.

It reminds me of this bit I read in Zizek (yeah, I know) once, where he said that George Soros was the worst person in the world because he spends the first part of his day making money off an unjust economic system and the second part of his day throwing money at people trying to fix the bad effects of that system, and at the end of the day the system is the same. Again, you kind of see the point -- at least I do. But would it be better if Soros just spent his whole day making money and then willed it all to his dog? Is what he's really saying that Zizek is the worst person in the world because he's not authentic?

I think the answer is that postmodernists are just suspicious of technocratic solutions, both because they depoliticize and dehumanize the problems (the world's poor aren't hungry because they're oppressed or because other people are exploiting them, they're hungry because they don't have them food, so let's just give them food) and because they turn systematic problems into discrete ones, which allows them to not address the underlying structures which are causing the problems -- and which the technocrats are often benefiting from.
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  #22  
Old 12-08-2009, 08:01 AM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: postmodern tl;dr

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[...]
As is so often the case after I read one of your posts, I can only marvel and wish that I'd said that.
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  #23  
Old 12-08-2009, 08:03 AM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Link plz

@Ham: Do you have a link for that Nation article you discussed at the beginning of the diavlog?
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  #24  
Old 12-08-2009, 12:42 PM
PreppyMcPrepperson PreppyMcPrepperson is offline
 
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Default Re: postmodern tl;dr

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Originally Posted by kezboard View Post
I think the answer is that postmodernists are just suspicious of technocratic solutions, both because they depoliticize and dehumanize the problems (the world's poor aren't hungry because they're oppressed or because other people are exploiting them, they're hungry because they don't have them food, so let's just give them food) and because they turn systematic problems into discrete ones, which allows them to not address the underlying structures which are causing the problems -- and which the technocrats are often benefiting from.
Right. And my frustration with postmodernism is:
1. I DON'T think the world's poor "are hungry because they are oppressed." I think they ARE hungry simply because they don't have food.
2. I think most problems are discrete, not systematic, and yet systematic approaches get a disproportionate level of attention in leftist thought.
3. I don't think it matters much if you benefit from solving a problem or not, so long as you solve it.
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  #25  
Old 12-08-2009, 01:12 PM
AemJeff AemJeff is offline
 
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Default Re: postmodern tl;dr

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Originally Posted by PreppyMcPrepperson View Post
Right. And my frustration with postmodernism is:
1. I DON'T think the world's poor "are hungry because they are oppressed." I think they ARE hungry simply because they don't have food.
2. I think most problems are discrete, not systematic, and yet systematic approaches get a disproportionate level of attention in leftist thought.
3. I don't think it matters much if you benefit from solving a problem or not, so long as you solve it.
I'm actually on the opposite side of each of your bullets:

1. Can widespread hunger within a population be viewed as cruel, unjust, and burdensome? If so, then it seems to meet at least one definition of "to oppress."

2. If you start elucidating a list of problems, I'd be willing to bet that I, or any of a number of others, could identify a systemic issue at the root of that problem. e.g. - Third World hunger and deprivation. The mere fact that there's such an obvious label that identifies a problem suffered by billions of people suggests a systemic issue, don't you think? And the systems represented by the global economy, particularly as they govern the production, transport, and distribution of food are pretty obvious candidates for blame here.

3. Corruption is always an live issue. Asserting that you're solving a problem and solving a problem are not the same thing.
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  #26  
Old 12-08-2009, 01:40 PM
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Default Re: Do the philosophical roots of the New Left hamper the enactment of environmental policy?

Thank you Preppy and Hamandcheese, for your fresh and intelligent perspective on things.

A quibble, though, from someone who has been kicking around this planet a lot longer than either of you. There is no direct line of descent from the New Left of the 60s, or the counterculture, to postmodernism. The latter, as some have pointed out here, is (was?) a very diverse movement. It meant very different things to different people. The American New Left (similar in many respects to the French "soixante-huitards") was really a hangover from the old left: It was both revolutionary and anarchistic--like so many revolutionary movements since the 19th century. It believed in the power of the people and of the individual to bring about social change. In short, Maoism with a touch of Rousseau and Thoreau. Environmentalism ("back to nature") was only one aspect of its program. The hippies who thought they were reenacting Hawthorne's utopia of Brook Farm--but apparently without having read the novel to the end---can hardly be held responsible for the nonsense of some contemporary environmentalists.

Postmodernism, on the other hand, grew out of a scepticism about history and revolution. It was largely inspired by French thinkers (Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze, Lyotard) who thought that the idea of revolution was balderdash and who were extremely (and I mean extremely) dubious about the notion of the "individual."

Last edited by Francoamerican; 12-08-2009 at 02:20 PM.. Reason: grammar
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  #27  
Old 12-08-2009, 04:24 PM
Don Zeko Don Zeko is offline
 
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Default Re: Do the philosophical roots of the New Left hamper the enactment of environmental policy?

Absurd. He's clearly drinking a capri sun pack, which is functionally equivalent to a juicebox, but not the same.
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  #28  
Old 12-08-2009, 04:29 PM
Don Zeko Don Zeko is offline
 
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Default Re: Do the philosophical roots of the New Left hamper the enactment of environmental policy?

Agreed. If this forum were to institute some kind of "absurdly precocious award" or something, i believe we'd have our winner right here.
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  #29  
Old 12-08-2009, 04:31 PM
JonIrenicus JonIrenicus is offline
 
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Default Re: Do the philosophical roots of the New Left hamper the enactment of environmental policy?

Maybe the best of these so far. And Ham is batting a thousand on his take about the strange fetish of many on the left and their greater concern about the state of nature over the state of man.

Preppy is right, you have to make your arguments from a stronger place, not from weak and brittle foundations. And many arguments made against either genetically modified foods or whatever else are just laced with concerns over what is "natural" being what is better.

As if anything modified by human hands is, by definition, inferior.

It is a weird fetish as it not only sought to knock mans special place down a notch, in some cases it seemed to want to place man BELOW nature. Again, ass backwards. It is nice to see people who have the correct priority and take some of the lefts conceptual errors to task.
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  #30  
Old 12-08-2009, 04:34 PM
Don Zeko Don Zeko is offline
 
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Default Re: Do the philosophical roots of the New Left hamper the enactment of environmental policy?

Good point, but I think that it tends to lead you to the same place. If the damage caused is sufficiently high, then either injunction or reparation will tend to lead to the cessation of the harmful activity. The trouble is that it's not entirely clear whether the damage from AGW will be enough to lead to cessation or not.

THis, by the way, is why I like a cap-and-trade rather than a carbon tax. We have a lot more certainty about the reductions in emissions that are necessary than we do about the price elasticity of carbon emissions. I think there's a much higher risk of setting a carbon tax too low or too high than there is of setting a carbon cap at an incorrect level.
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Old 12-08-2009, 04:36 PM
Don Zeko Don Zeko is offline
 
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Default Re: Do the philosophical roots of the New Left hamper the enactment of environmental policy?

Agreed, although I tend to think that beating up on these hippie, New Left arguments is a bit of a weak man argument, or at least I would if I heard the same criticisms coming from someone who opposes both cap-and-trade and other measures like a carbon tax. Still, this was a very good discussion, and intracoalitional philosophical fights are both interesting and important. Thanks to nikkibong and hamandcheese.
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  #32  
Old 12-08-2009, 04:37 PM
claymisher claymisher is offline
 
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Default Re: Do the philosophical roots of the New Left hamper the enactment of environmental policy?

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Originally Posted by Don Zeko View Post
Good point, but I think that it tends to lead you to the same place. If the damage caused is sufficiently high, then either injunction or reparation will tend to lead to the cessation of the harmful activity. The trouble is that it's not entirely clear whether the damage from AGW will be enough to lead to cessation or not.

THis, by the way, is why I like a cap-and-trade rather than a carbon tax. We have a lot more certainty about the reductions in emissions that are necessary than we do about the price elasticity of carbon emissions. I think there's a much higher risk of setting a carbon tax too low or too high than there is of setting a carbon cap at an incorrect level.
That's why I'm for both.
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  #33  
Old 12-08-2009, 04:39 PM
JonIrenicus JonIrenicus is offline
 
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Default Re: Do the philosophical roots of the New Left hamper the enactment of environmental policy?

It was more a display of how young he is. Anyone drinking a capri sun instantly seems like sub 20s in age. It just does not appear in the hands of older people in the same numbers, like seeing someone on a skateboard. Not a bad thing btw as he seems considerably less confused and having a better filter to reality than most people, at whatever age.

Last edited by JonIrenicus; 12-08-2009 at 04:41 PM..
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  #34  
Old 12-08-2009, 04:40 PM
Don Zeko Don Zeko is offline
 
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Default Re: Do the philosophical roots of the New Left hamper the enactment of environmental policy?

He did admit to being Canadian, however. Do you figure there's some kind of cultural difference between Canada and the States with regard to Capri Sun?
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Old 12-08-2009, 04:46 PM
JonIrenicus JonIrenicus is offline
 
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Default Re: Do the philosophical roots of the New Left hamper the enactment of environmental policy?

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Originally Posted by Don Zeko View Post
He did admit to being Canadian, however. Do you figure there's some kind of cultural difference between Canada and the States with regard to Capri Sun?
Not at all, I see capri sun as a universal sign of something you often drink when younger, that is all. Could be different in Canada though. I drank it much more when a younger kid, then graduated to caffeine, sweet caffeine.
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  #36  
Old 12-08-2009, 04:57 PM
JonIrenicus JonIrenicus is offline
 
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Default Re: Do the philosophical roots of the New Left hamper the enactment of environmental policy?

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Originally Posted by Don Zeko View Post
Agreed, although I tend to think that beating up on these hippie, New Left arguments is a bit of a weak man argument, or at least I would if I heard the same criticisms coming from someone who opposes both cap-and-trade and other measures like a carbon tax. Still, this was a very good discussion, and intracoalitional philosophical fights are both interesting and important. Thanks to nikkibong and hamandcheese.
It is definitely beating up on the weak mans of the world, only problem is that you often get so many making the weaker case you do not know whether that needs to be taken to task or not. Maybe the less vocal silent majority does not agree and just stays silent, but how would we know.


I can get behind a more or less revenue neutral carbon tax idea. Everyone thinks pollution is bad and out to have a cost associated with it as it affects the living space of others (other human beings - not as concerned about the effects on the imaginary tazmanian cockroach). It is the kind of argument that has some sway with me, not the arguments of the form if we don't do this a handful of polar bears will die, maybe - or we need to reduce pollution/carbon by switching to mass transit... in Los Angeles... or bike to more places.
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Old 12-08-2009, 05:51 PM
PreppyMcPrepperson PreppyMcPrepperson is offline
 
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Default Re: postmodern tl;dr

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Originally Posted by AemJeff View Post
1. Can widespread hunger within a population be viewed as cruel, unjust, and burdensome? If so, then it seems to meet at least one definition of "to oppress."

2. If you start elucidating a list of problems, I'd be willing to bet that I, or any of a number of others, could identify a systemic issue at the root of that problem....
This is the essence of postmodern logic--"can it be viewed as" is not the same thing as "is it." I see that hunger is one example of a larger category that some might call oppression.* But I do not see that larger category, oppression (a general and abstract term) as the CAUSE of hunger (a general and abstract term).

Instead I see, for example, cartelization and price-fixing in the South Asian sugar and wheat market as the CAUSE of food shortages, and thus hunger, in rural South Asia. [will be writing on this soon] Is cartelization a bundensome and cruel injustice? Maybe. But I don't look at the hunger that way. That is the difference between the postmodernists and me--I'm inclined to see the immediate link as the causal link and to focus on addressing that. And I think if more liberals thought that way, more liberal goals would be met.

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Originally Posted by AemJeff View Post
3. Corruption is always an live issue. Asserting that you're solving a problem and solving a problem are not the same thing.
I assume you've heard that line "All squares are rectangles, but all rectangles aren't squares." Corrupt people benefit by pretending to solve problems without solving them. Duh. But the argument I was responding to above suggested that people who A. actually solve the problem AND B. benefit have done something wrong.

If you haven't faked part A., it's not clear to me that there's anything to be concerned about. Unless, as I suspect of some liberals from whom I often hear such concerns, you consider altruistic motive to be as, or more, important than beneficial outcome.

*[Sidenote: oppression to me is deliberate and only certain hunger in certain places has been imposed intentionally--other times it reflects incompetence more than ill will.]
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Old 12-08-2009, 05:55 PM
claymisher claymisher is offline
 
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Default Re: postmodern tl;dr

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Originally Posted by PreppyMcPrepperson View Post
That is the difference between the postmodernists and me--I'm inclined to see the immediate link as the causal link and to focus on addressing that. And I think if more liberals thought that way, more liberal goals would be met.
That's a hell of a shortcut.
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  #39  
Old 12-08-2009, 06:12 PM
PreppyMcPrepperson PreppyMcPrepperson is offline
 
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Default Re: Do the philosophical roots of the New Left hamper the enactment of environmental policy?

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Originally Posted by Francoamerican View Post
A quibble, though, from someone who has been kicking around this planet a lot longer than either of you. There is no direct line of descent from the New Left of the 60s, or the counterculture, to postmodernism. The latter, as some have pointed out here, is (was?) a very diverse movement. It meant very different things to different people. The American New Left (similar in many respects to the French "soixante-huitards") was really a hangover from the old left: It was both revolutionary and anarchistic--like so many revolutionary movements since the 19th century. It believed in the power of the people and of the individual to bring about social change. In short, Maoism with a touch of Rousseau and Thoreau. Environmentalism ("back to nature") was only one aspect of its program. The hippies who thought they were reenacting Hawthorne's utopia of Brook Farm--but apparently without having read the novel to the end---can hardly be held responsible for the nonsense of some contemporary environmentalists.

Postmodernism, on the other hand, grew out of a scepticism about history and revolution. It was largely inspired by French thinkers (Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze, Lyotard) who thought that the idea of revolution was balderdash and who were extremely (and I mean extremely) dubious about the notion of the "individual."
True. I think I tried to bring this up at some point, but there was an important gap between academic and popular '60s leftism. The academics were not into systemic revolution and more into institutional structures and how they work/can be worked. This, to me, is more in tune with what I call economic leftism. The popular '60s crowd was more in tune with what I call cultural leftism. And because the latter group essentially game to dominate the modern American left, what we have today in the policy space is the bastardized version of postmodern logic they absorbed.

As a general matter however, I also have my beef with postmodernism, because it tried to be both too specific and too broad. On the one hand, there's nothing outside the text. On the other hand, we should be questioning categories like history, literature, culture themselves. But if all we have to study is 'the text,' we need the analytic tools of those categories to study it, and if those categories themselves aren't ultimately accepted, then there does seem to be a general cycle of inconclusiveness. That is fine in academia--indeed, the greatest work of postmodernists has been to try to suss out the nature of that cycle rather than to break out of it. Fair enough. My problem is that the logic entered the policy space, for which it was so obviously not designed.
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  #40  
Old 12-08-2009, 06:13 PM
JonIrenicus JonIrenicus is offline
 
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Default Re: postmodern tl;dr

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Originally Posted by claymisher View Post
That's a hell of a shortcut.
Sometimes, I really like shortcuts, especially when they get the job done.

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