Going to hell in a hand basket

Going to hell in a hand basket

In the world of natural science existence is that which is measurable. If it cannot be measured it does not exist–except as that which must be exorcised–in any important way in the world of natural science. In the world of capitalism existence is that which correlates with commodity (an object of commerce). A person has value because s/he produces and/or consumes commodities.

The ideology of capitalism determines what is valuable and the nation’s institutions are determined by this ideology. Our schools are designed to produce good workers and hardy consumers. If a person wishes to be more than a producer or consumer s/he must find a way to do so without a great deal of help from the nation’s institutions.

To a large extent we are puppets of an ideology but we retain a degree of self-determination depending upon our strength of will, character, and intellectually developed desire.

Every capitalistic nation is on a trajectory greatly determined by the logic (principles) of capitalism. The logic of capitalism is constructed to facilitate the production and consumption of commodities. If we study the logic of capitalism we can, I think, accurately predict the trajectory of society.

I predict that we (the world) are “going to hell in a hand basket”. What do you think about this bit of prophecy? If you agree, what can you and I do today to help start a change in trajectory?

Nope,coberst I have to disagree with you. I have been around the block a few times and have seen a couple of the periodic downslides we are prone to. We have a difficult couple of decades ahead. But H in a H? I think not.

Do you think the world is in worse shape now than (say) 1934? How about 1965? We got though that, and we will get through this.

Exorcised? You mean like demons?

Why do you cut chunks out of textbooks? Don’t you have any thoughts of your own to share?
Does a homeless person have no value? How do you rate soup kitchens? WHere does a thief come into your equation?

Do tell us what the ‘ideology of capitalism’ is.
Does it value free health care? What about nationalised industries? How about Government subsidies?

Why don’t they teach plumbing then?
How about the idea that we teach pupils to think for themselves?


How ‘large an extent’? 20%? 50% 80%?

Yes that is what capitalism is for.
And what do you predict the trajectory of society to be?
Do give examples covering the US, Cuba, Sweden, Bangladesh and Israel.

I think that you fail to give examples, use large chunks of jargon and (based on your other threads) need to work on your debating skills.

Every year our inability to ‘just get along’ becomes more dangerous for our survival because our technology drives us constantly deeper into a situation that fewer and fewer people acting together can destroy the planet for life.


I contend that Wal-Mart is ‘the logic of capitalism’. I mean that if one follows the principles of capitalism the result would be Wal-Mart. To me this means that in a capitalistic society Wal-Mart is acting logically.

When I say that most nations in the world are trying to stop Iran from making a bomb and that this is a rational action I mean that they are following the logic of their principles. Likewise Iran is following the logic of the principles of a sovereign nation.

So, when both entities are doing what they are doing we have a situation that if we follow the logic of the matter we will in short order have a world wherein almost all nations will have the bomb or we have a war between the two entities, the group and the one, ad infinitum.

The logic of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) was all we could depend upon during the cold war. It appears to me that today we still only have the logic of MAD. When the world is filled with nations with the bomb will not the logic of human action, as we perceive that logic to be from past history, dictate that the bomb will be used?

I think that your prophecy is so vague as to be useless. I think that the sentences which preceded it have no logical connection to the conclusion.

Actually ‘capitalism’ would not exist without Government interference.

Adam Smith knew about Oligarthy being the natural state of affairs
(and he was wrong by two degrees)

It is complicated. You must pay attention.

Which is always the excuse for those who cannot express themselves succintly and coherently.

What are the conditions of hell, so we know when we we’ve arrived? Will there be stops for potty breaks on the way? Can we smoke if we want? Is it more comfortable in the handbasket, or should we get out and walk to hell, so that we at least get a bit of exercise?

Anyway, I guess if I want to start a change in trajectory, I suppose I could tell my boss I quit, go home, stop paying rent, stop buying any manufactured goods, attempt to grow my own food (anyone know how tomatoes do in the Houston climate?) and, of course, stop posting here, because I sure as hell won’t be contributing my non-existent earnings to no electric power oligarchy.

I don’t know. Looking at the above, it all sounds a bit difficult, and not much fun. I think I’ll take the handbasket, if it’s all the same to you.

I have been paying attention. It appears to me, and others, that you think, reason and write in a way that is not clear. You do not support what you assert. Let’s look at a brief example.

What is the ideology of capitalism? Capitalism doesn’t determine what is valuable. The free market is a means by which billions of individual decisions about value interact. The most valuable thing in my life is my relationship with my wife, which has little to do with capitalism. What is your support for the assertion about the purpose of schools? What are the “nation’s institutions” to which you refer?

Capitalism is an economic system, not a philosophy of life. It has nothing to say about a person’s “value”; that’s a philosophical judgment.

No, people determine what’s valuable (in an economic sense) by how they spend their money. In socialist economies, the government determines what’s valuable and orders people to produce it. In capitalist economies, consumers determine what’s valuable and companies produce it in order to earn profit.


I think it’s banal, unoriginal, and so vague as to be useless.

Not always, but you are correct that some do present a great deal of bluff and bluster.

My support for my assertions are my life long obseration and good judgment. Essentially we all must make our decisions based upon this foundation.

I’ve am quoteing something by Noam Chomsky that might be of value here.

“Modern industrial civilization has developed within a certain system of convenient myths. The driving force of modern industrial civilization has been individual material gain, which is accepted as legitimate, even praiseworthy, on the grounds that private vices yield public benefits, in the classic formulation. Now, it has long been understood, very well, that a society that is based on this principle will destroy itself in time. It can only persist, with whatever suffering and injustice that it entails, as long as it is possible to pretend that the destructive forces that humans create are limited, that the world is an infinite resource, and that the world is an infinite garbage can. At this stage of history either one of two things is possible. Either the general population will take control of its own destiny and will concern itself with community interests, guided by values of solidarity, sympathy and concern for others, or alternatively there will be no destiny for anyone to control. As long as some specialized class is in a position of authority, it is going to set policy in the special interests that it serves. But the conditions of survival, let alone justice, require rational social planning in the interests of the community as a whole, and by now that means the global community. The question is whether privileged elite should dominate mass communication and should use this power as they tell us they must – namely to impose necessary illusions, to manipulate and deceive the stupid majority and remove them from the public arena. The question in brief, is whether democracy and freedom are values to be preserved or threats to be avoided. In this possibly terminal phase of human existence, democracy and freedom are more than values to be treasured; they may well be essential to survival.”

My life is my cite? Sheesh. This forum is called Great Debates. To engage the people here, you must explain how your “long observation and good judgment” have brought you to the various conclusions you assert. You don’t do that. Most of us base decisions of a serious nature on our experience combined with the wisdom of others. You may have wisdom, but you are not presenting it very well.

On preview, there you go again. Long quotes with any argument or explication from you suggest that you have nothing to say.

After schooling is complete a person faces the fact that they no longer have a teacher or a text book to guide them, they are left alone with their wits and their judgment. That is why they should first learn CT (Critical Thinking), which is learning how to think. Our schools have taught its graduates what to think but now one must begin the process of learning how to be an independent thinker. One must learn CT.
I once asked a philosophy professor “What is philosophy about?” He said philosophy is “radically critical self-consciousness”. This was 35 years ago. Only in the last ten years have I begun to understand that statement

I took a number of courses in philosophy three decades ago but it was not until I began to study and understand Critical Thinking that I began to understand what “radically critical self-consciousness” meant.

I consider CT to be ‘philosophy light’. CT differs from other subject matter such as mathematics and geography in that it requires, for success, that the student develop a significant change in attitude.

Anyone who has been in military service recognizes the significant attitude adjustment introduced into all recruits in the eight weeks of boot camp. During the first eight weeks of military service each recruit is introduced to the proper military attitude. During the eight weeks of basic training there is certain knowledge and skills that the recruit learns but primarily s/he undergoes a significant attitude adjustment.

I would identify the CT attitude adjustment to be a movement from naïve common sense realism to critical self-consciousness. It is necessary to free many words and concepts from the limited meaning attached by normal usage—such a separation requires that the learner hold in abeyance the normal sort of concept associations.

The individual who has made the attitude adjustment recognizes that reality is multilayered and that one can only penetrate those layers through a critical attitude toward both the self and the world. To be critical does not mean to be negative, as is a common misunderstanding.

If we were to follow the cat and the turtle as they make their way through the forest we would observe two fundamentally different ways that a creature might make its way through life.

The turtle withdraws into its shell when it bumps into something new, and remains such until that something new disappears or remains long enough to become familiar to the turtle. The cat is conscious of almost everything within the range of its senses, and studies all it perceives until its curiosity is satisfied.

Formal education teaches by telling so that the graduate is prepared with a sufficient database to get a job. Such an education efficiently prepares one to make a living, but this efficiency is at the cost of curiosity and imagination. Such an education does not prepare an individual to become critically self-conscious.

If we wish to emulate the cat rather than the turtle we must revitalize our curiosity and imagination after formal education. That revitalized curiosity and imagination, together with self directed study prepares each of us for a fulfilling life that includes the ecstasy of understanding.

I think that radically critical self-consciousness combines the attitude adjustment of CT and combines it with the curiosity of the cat and then takes that combination to a radical level.

A good place to begin CT is: http://www.bu.edu/wcp/Papers/Educ/EducHare.htm

Religion & Rationality

“The religious believer assigns dignity to whatever his religion holds sacred—a set of moral laws, a way of life, or particular objects of worship. He grows angry when the dignity of what he holds sacred is violated.” Quote from “The End of History and the Last Man”.

To what does the non believer assign dignity? If the non believer does not assign dignity to rationality, upon what foundation does s/he stand? If the non believer does depend upon rationality for dignity how is it possible that so few know anything about rationality?

Our schools and colleges are beginning to introduce our young people to the domain of knowledge called Critical Thinking. CT is taught because our educators have begun to recognize that teaching a young person what to think is not sufficient for the citizens of a democracy in an age of high technology. CT is an attempt to teach young people how to think. Like the adage about giving a man a fish versus teaching him how to fish, a youngster who knows how to think is prepared for a lifetime rather than for a day.

What about today’s adult? Today’s adult was educated in a time when schools and colleges never gave universal instruction in the art and science of thinking—rationality.

If today’s adult wishes to learn CT s/he must learn it on their own nickel. I think a good read to begin with is this one

You seem to be fond of that article. Citing it twice in one post is excessive, I think. So how does the above relate to hell and handbaskets?

Related to what? To the market? Society at large? To other individuals? And how does this differ from any other society in history except in the supposed expectations ‘the world of capitalism’ places on individuals?

Define what you mean by ‘The ideology of capitalism’. And explain how this ideology determines what is of value, and how this relates to a nations institutions.

Explain how ‘If a person wishes to be more than a producer or consumer s/he must find a way to do so without a great deal of help from the nation’s institutions’.

Some details would be nice…you are talking in extremely vague terms here. If you want a debate, then you need to do a bit more work than this…otherwise whatever answers are given will either be making assumptions or be equally vague and meaningless.

How are we puppets of an ideology? In what way? What effect does breaking this trend have on us as individuals? Is breaking this trend a good or bad thing…and why? What do we as individuals get out of breaking this trend?

Looks around historically at the various capitalist nations and then compares to the various broken socialist/communist nations the world has produced. Nods

Yep…capitalistic nations certainly have a tragectory that is determined by the logic and principles of capitalism. Just like socialist or communist nations have a certain (downward) trajectory determined by THEIR logic and principles.

Whats your point exactly? Obviously you are drawing other conclusions than my own, so why don’t YOU point out what this trajectory is in your own thoughts, and what predictions you make about where this trajectory is leading society.

Why? How do you draw this conclusion? What exactly does it mean to you that we are going to ‘hell in a hand basket’? What is the effect? How will we recognize it?

What do I think about this prophecy? I think its too vague to be useful. What exact is going to come crashing down…and why? Because of out destruction of the environment? Because our economies will collapse? Space aliens? Gods, devils, the deep blue sea? You don’t say, and thus leave us to guess what the hell you are on about.



The only thing of value is the object of commerce. It is the production and consumption of objects that is important. People are important only in so far as they produce or consume stuff. Education is important only in so far as it maximizes production and consumption of commodities.
Capitalism is the idea that dominates the life of the citizen and dominates virtually all of the institutions. Capitalism is the logic of the economy and the economy determines to a large extent the lives of the people. The health of the people the welfare of the community are determined by the principles of capitalism.

Since an individual’s education is focused on production and consumption all other possible values must be determined by him or her self after schooling is complete.

I was listening to the radio the other day and the speaker said something to the effect “let the market decide the value of our higher education system…and the market appears to think that our higher education system is doing a good job”.

I think a good definition of the market might be ‘a place for buying and selling’.

Is it wise to allow the market to set the standard of value for our colleges and universities? It seems to me that the only value the market knows is ‘cash value’. Does there exist in our society any other means for determining the value of anything? Is the market our ‘default’ position for determining value for most everything?
The OP basically asks the question: How to determine social values?

The Market is the present answer for determining social values.

The Market is the object that our capitalism ideology promotes as the answer to all social values.

We are all ideologues and to gain a critical self-consciousness we must be able to critique our own ideological bias as well as our neighbor’s.

We are in the belly of the whale that we are trying to comprehend. We need an Archimedean platform to gain the necessary isolation for social critique.

A person’s attitude is a clue as to her ideology likewise my attitude is a clue to me about my ideological bias. Solitude is a means for critical self-consciousness. We must find a means to become critical of the ideology moving our self and others in order to correct such concepts as the Market is the means for determining social values.