View Full Version : Book: Moral Calculations by Lazslo Mero

02-01-2002, 01:10 PM
I just finished this book and it's the nuts and probably would be a big hit among the likes of minds that hang around 2+2.

It's not a humor book, not by the longest stretch, but it does have one little gem worth sharing:

The basis of capitalism is the exploitation of man by man, and with socialism it's just the opposite.


02-01-2002, 02:02 PM

02-01-2002, 02:24 PM
The basis of capitalism is the induction of cooperation by withholding and granting claims on propery (whether you call it "several" property or "private" property). Without a moral framework that enables you to deny or grant something to your fellow man, the only means of acquiring cooperation is force.

Through several property, each man has a handle, and a check, on the aims and ambitions of others. Through the price system, each man has a telecommunications system by which he can discover the aims of others, and harness them to realize his own aims better than he could acting on his own.

Through capitalism, the greatest possible realization of human aims by each person, through choices between alternative activities, and not at the expense but to the benefit of other people, is discovered. Capitalism is the only information-dissemination mechanism by which individual people can figure out how to dovetail their plans with the needs and wants of 10 billion faceless strangers.


02-01-2002, 02:38 PM
As an aside, I recently visited a web-site at lucifer.com.

The proprietors held to the illusion that a moral framework can be designed - calculated in effect - as a product of human reason.

But the system encompassing multiple human beings is so complex that no individual can foresee, analyze - or therefore choose between - the consequences of his "alternative" moral behaviors.

All efforts at moral calculation throughout history have merely deteriorated into the application of force by leaders, on minorities, in response to least-common-denominator mob aims. Moreover, the mob calculation was irrational, so their aims were not realized even at the expense of the lives of minorities!

No amount of human reason can ever calculate how to coordinate and intertwine human activites for maximum mutual gain. Moreover, the only morals which survive are those which, in no foreseeable way, promote the survival of the society which transmits them.

So, for instance, "Don't be fruitful, and don't multiply" is a conceivable "calculation." But it can probably never be a "moral."


02-01-2002, 02:48 PM
The quote is the exact opposite of reality. Socialism exploits, capitalism does not. Capitalism does not use force to get people to produce, buy, or sell. Someday we might even try capitalism.

02-01-2002, 02:49 PM
On this page, the book is promoted as explaining what we can do when self-destructive moral systems are unleashed:


But in reality, no human reason is needed to resolve such systems - as they self destruct, and have no reason to ever even be examined except as laboratory oddities to titillate intellectuals in the course of selling books.


02-01-2002, 02:55 PM
And no central authority can ever discover even a tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of the positive-sum cooperation opportunities presented through the reassignment of private property rights - such as to the product of individual labor - through the unfettered associations of atomistic individuals.


02-01-2002, 02:56 PM
Sorry, but you are wrong.

In a true socialist model, noone would ever be exploited.

It's just getting a true socialist model to work has proved impossible thus far.


02-01-2002, 03:10 PM
The reason socialism has never worked, and never will, is because people have no idea what to do.

So someone has to

1) figure out for them what to do, and

2) get them to do it.

But, by definition, there is no way of getting them to do it by paying them - because the worker is never given a means to communicate what he wants in return!

So with no means of discovering (and disseminating) what an individual wants - whereby his cooperation could be induced - the community (meaning the coercive authority in whom they have vested coercive powers) has no option but to tell someone "You're going to do this, and take what you get, and like it."

The only reason it cannot accurately be termed "exploitation" is because, for it to be so, somebody somewhere would actually have to somehow get what he wants at the end of all the misery. And apart from a few elites for a brief period, that never happens.


02-01-2002, 04:50 PM
No, a true socialist model inherently exploits people. This is because labor and production springs from the mind. Thus, everything we achieve is a product of the mind. It is a fundamental human right to own the product of one's mind and effort. When that effort is hijacked by others, whether they mean well or not, it is the most intimate violation that can happen to a person. It is no coincidence that socialist governments must try to control thought. I would also submit to you that the Soviet Union was true socialism.

02-01-2002, 05:58 PM
The Soviet Union was about as far from a true socialist model as can be.

True socialism would be where EVERYONE shares the work and reaps the benefits.

I would say the kibbutz system is Israel is the closest thing to true socialism in the world.

try reading this...




02-01-2002, 06:49 PM
Socialism is nothing more complex than a return to the tribal values built into human instinct.

So, yes, the true socialist model WAS tried, about 3,000 years ago, and in tribes involving only a handful of people.

They tried it again under National Socialism (NaZi's), but the tribe was too big, no matter how much leibensraum they carved out.

To achieve an "extended order of human cooperation" - meaning involving more than a handful of closely-related people - you need capitalism.

To think that, in a world where people have tried licking frogs to get high, "true socialism" has never been tried is laughable.

Socialism has had every opportunity to be tried on a small scale, and to grow and spread if it succeeded. Pioneers tried it numerous times when they first set foot on This Great Continent from Europe. Heck, try it yourself!

But every time it has proven unworkable, whether in producing guns or butter, and has failed to grow or even sustain itself on a scale in which it is workable. In reality, a person living alone on a desert island can become wealthier than an individual living in a large group under the coercive non-exchange, non-cooperation system of socialism - in proportion to its size!

CAPITALISM IS NOTHING MORE THAN A COMMUNICATIONS MECHANISM, beyond what Aristotle called "the herald's call." People who, by its very nature, cannot understand the complexity of what it accomplishes - and as such blame capitalism for the underlying scarcity which it is just the messenger communicating to you - need to get their heads out of their asses!

It is a substantial achivement of capitalism that 1) it has organized a system so complex you can't understand it, and 2) it has successfully insulated you from the true nature of the world, to where you think capitalism itself is the source of human misery!

"He who knows only his own generation remains always a child."


02-01-2002, 07:06 PM
Not that it much matters, but the quote was invented as, and shared here as, a joke. (It can't be "wrong." Only unfunny.)


You wrote: "The reason socialism has never worked ..."

What do you mean by "worked?" Can you define it in such a way that some other ism has "worked" whereas socialism never has? We're talking thousands of years of societies here, all over the globe. Must a society call itself "socialist," to be defined as such? What about before that work existed? Get my drift?

If not, that's okay, because I sometime don't get yours either. But I love trying to.


02-01-2002, 07:09 PM
Capitalism does indeed use force to get people to produce, buy or sell. It aims to elimate all forms of economic activity except the market. The fathers of capitalism all knew that people would be forced to take place in the market economy and were in favor of it, hiding this behind their "natural hand" rhetoric.

"The Invention of Capitalism" by Michael Perelman and "The Great Transformation" by Karl Polanyi are both excellent on this. [See what I mean when I labeled myself a left-winger? /images/wink.gif]

02-02-2002, 07:05 AM
It must be the faceless part that makes it so easy for capitalists to exploit people for their own profit, continually denying those that do the work of the world adequate health care, livable wages, etc..

Workers of the world unite.


02-02-2002, 07:11 AM
Thanks Andy. Glad to know there is another pinko in the bunch. When our President equates the proliferation of "free markets" with greater freedom worldwide I get the willies. Capitalism is coercion--the slickest form out there.


02-02-2002, 07:16 AM

My belief is that one chooses to do what one wants with this gift of ideas that you submit it is a human right to own. The capitalist sells them, the socialist shares them. The former benefits the thinker above all, the latter benefits all.


02-02-2002, 09:05 AM
How does the socialist presume to know what anyone else wants?

Is he clairvoyant?

Even inside small families, you end up with a lot of unwanted junk after Christmas - ugly sweaters that don't fit and such - that have to be returned.

With socialism nobody gets what they want, you get a whole nation of junk, and nobody to return it to.

I wish I could give my pole as a gift to all the pretty girls I see. That's what they want, isn't it?


02-02-2002, 09:30 AM
That's just the point, you silly.

It is impossible to weigh the value of work - and determine what is "the work of the world" and what isn't - without capitalism.

Capitalism is just a way for remote people whom you can't see, often with different skin colors, to tell you how much they value what you are doing.

And what is "adequate" health care, and what is a "livable" wage?

Because if we are going to have to take a popular vote to define what this is, you are going to have to suck a lot of dicks in the political establishment before they even let you live!

Would you rather have capitalists tell you what to do and where to work, what to plant - and then pay you for it and let you buy whatever you want - or would you rather have politicians tell you where to stand and when to speak - and then just lock you in prison anyway, on a whim.

The saddest thing is that you measure the results of capitalism using the yardstick of Western Christian morals. In Africa, forget human dignity, people are lucky just to be alive.

As I said in a series of posts in the "stocks" forum, the principle achievement of capitalism is to help enough people to survive childbirth that they grow up to be whiners. You would prefer a world, quite simply, where with no means of survival, factory workers were simply never born.

Meanwhile, these people whom lazy, upper-middle-class intellectuals are training to be whiners, are risking their lives are drowning just to get here, from places like Cuba - where healthcare is free and nobody is "forced" to work.

The main reason you despise capitalism is because, as a communications mechanism, it is the messenger telling you how worthless the product of your mind really is.


So yes, poverty is our way of telling a million starving dirtbags somewhere we don't really need them. But nobody's asking them to show up for a single grain of rice - seems more like THEY WANT TO!

The moment where socialism stops starving people is the moment where it starts having to kill them, or cut their uteruses out, like in China. But people are not your pets.

If poor people want a chance to have kids, what business is that of yours? You would tell them it's better never to have lived then to take the opportunity to live poor.

If death is so much better, than try it yourself. The rest of us will keep springing into the world to chase after the multitudinous fruits capitalism has scattered about.

All systems support poor people, the question is just how many.


02-02-2002, 09:36 AM
I'd bet all my limbs against a dougnnut, KJS, that

1) you have never lived in, like North Korea or Cuba, to where you would even know the meaning of coercion, and

2) your parents were rich enough to where you had your own bedroom when you were little.

I can't believe, there were people dying to get out from behind the Berlin Wall, and you're sitting here calling the fact that you have to work 25 hours a week to pay your shag-carpet rent "coercion."

Sure, socialism would work, if only the men with sharper spears and the meaner warpaint didn't push us into the sea. They should just lie down next to their starving kids and wives and die.


02-02-2002, 09:40 AM

02-02-2002, 04:15 PM
I can pretty well explain it like this:

Capitalism is naturally occurring, like bacteria, like moss, like all life. Nobody has to think about it for it to work it just happens. It springs up spontaneously between people.

Socialism, on the other hand, is a conscious effort to interfere with what occurs naturally(without design), to create a certain result. And the simplest reason socialism never "works" is because capitalism - like any life - is but a manifestation of the dissipating entropy in the universe, and of the arrow of time as space expands.

As such, nobody really has any choice what to design at all, it's all a reflection of what you start with, and systemic inputs beyond our reach. This is not to say that you can't kill a cow to get a steak. But socialists think you can rearrange a cow to get two cows! And all they ever end up with is a tiny piece of meat and a big puddle of blood.

Put differently, the maximum prosperity of the maximum number of people will occur naturally, without anyone having to think about it. And any contrived scheme, introduced by an actor with something less than the complete knowledge brought to bear by the entropy-and-evolution sorting system called a "catallaxy," will just erode the crystal.

But it is beyond human capacity to design or build the crystal, it just occurs naturally. Heck, isn't it these very evolutionists who believe life was around long before there was anybody to supervise it? At what point did natural order become a disorder in need of human meddling?

After all, if we have "evolved" to the point where we now need to think about what we are doing, how did we ever get here? Did we think before we had the ability to think? If evolving humankind dipped its first unconscious toe into a world in need of supervision, it would have simply pulled back.

Wolves and whales don't need conscious supervision, and neither do we.


02-02-2002, 04:41 PM
Socialism is an attempt to solve a problem, but the information needed to solve it is never available in its entirety to any person or decision-maker who could do it.

Capitalism is a way of making use of the scattered information necessary to solve the problem, even though it is never available to anyone (and even though it is always possible for someone to complain about how the problem was solved).

Socialism could succeed in a world of perfect information. It doesn't matter whether we like "the market" or not. It has the information and we don't. And we can NEVER get our hands on the information it utilizes. It will beat us EVERY time.

Capitalism is a problem, solved, without a solver. It brings to bear as much information as possible in what is really the only feasible way to bring so much information to bear! It figures out how to dissipate as much entropy, and create as much human happiness, as possible.

We have all the tools, and the morals, and the desire, to solve the problem! Now if only we had the data! The data is scattered, and will forever remain so.

This is not unlike saying it takes the whole universe to store all the information about the state of the universe. If someone were to attempt to rearrange the universe so that it looked a certain way, how could he ever obtain the knowledge of the point from where he is starting, or confirm that it looked right when he was done? From where would he get the energy to do the rearranging?

Is not the transmission of light from one point to another the fundamental problem of the universe? Without that "problem," could the universe even exist? In a world of the perfect information necessary for conscious direction of the means of production - socialism - to work, there would not even be an economy.


02-03-2002, 07:33 PM
A person might choose to give his idea away. That is the individual's choice. However selling does not mean that an idea isn't shared. Industrialists have sold us a lot of good ideas. I would rather be able to buy a car and modern house than have boiled grass shared with me. Most socialists can't even provide the boiled grass, it must be purchased, along with beets and cabbage and the like, on the black market. And they don't always have very interesting ideas to share anyway.

02-03-2002, 10:12 PM
Interesting how the allegedly socialist kibbutz raises money with "eco-tourism", i.e. getting money through a capitalist system due to frivolous desires of rich people. That's not very socialistic. Anyway, the kibbutz can survive because of capitalism in the world at large. The free market is big enough to let people live that lifestyle if they choose. A socialist system would not allow me the same courtesy.