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Absolutely shameful article on mises.org

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Prateek Sanjay Posted: Sun, Dec 6 2009 12:52 AM

As a regular and dedicated reader of this otherwise wonderful website, I must say that a recent article has sunk to a really shallow level of discourse.

I don't object to the ideas of the article at all; I personally never fell for the state-oriented agendas of those who claim energy sources are running out (when we don't have enough capital to tap all of it), or that flora and fauna are threatened by human intervention in a planet that has killed 99% of the species that have ever lived on it.

I do however object to its mocking and derisive attitude towards the people it counters.

http://mises.org/daily/3886

The article degrades and relegates proponents of sustainable development by calling them "sustainists", apart from some other choice words like "treehuggers", "greens", and "alarmist". As I said before, I find this a shallow level of discourse, because it is clearly meant to show down these people by adding an "ist" to the idea they propose, much the way certain Christian groups label supporters of evolution as "Darwinists".

Such a thing is nothing more than a way of showing people to be a type of dogmatic cultists, as if to show that their ideas are a religion to them (it is irrelevant whether or not it is), and hence reflects badly on those people. It is a way of attacking people instead of ideas, and tries to drive the point further by making a label that quickly stereotypes them, by attaching ideas to people.

Political discourse is already as subhuman as it is, where words like "socialist", "fascist", "leftist", "rightist", and "capitalist" are used, so that people use words to do their thinking for them, instead of doing the thinking themselves. Please do not bring economics, a decent and humane subject, to this level as well.

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bloomj31 replied on Sun, Dec 6 2009 12:58 AM

I personally didn't find the article to be degrading.  I mean they call themselves greens.

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filc replied on Sun, Dec 6 2009 1:06 AM

How else do you address zealots?

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AJ replied on Sun, Dec 6 2009 1:18 AM

I didn't find such words to be too harsh, but I do find overuse of "-ist" toward people to be a little counterproductive. I mean, here we are ostensibly trying to get someone to change their opinion, but the very words we are using seem to say YOUR POSITION IS SO MUCH A PART OF YOUR IDENTITY THAT YOU WILL NEVER CHANGE. One the other hand, it can be a useful shorthand.

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The level of discourse is common to many sites featuring pro-environmentalist views where free marketeers are derided and ridiculed.  My suggestion would be not to read things that you find offensive.

Some people are ridiculous and deserve to be mocked.  "Are you a mod, or a rocker?" asks the reporter.  "I'm a mocker!" responds Ringo.

It is alarming and disheartening that a term like "sustainists" is used for proponents of "sustainable development."  A much better, and simpler, word already exists for such people.  Statists.  Sustainable development is just another code term for central planning.  So the politicians get to pass out favors to their cronies, and the rest of us are forced to pay for it all.

Many environmentalists describe themselves as tree huggers.  Try it some day.  Hug a tree.  They're full of fiber.  Many environmentalists describe themselves as green, which is outwardly true.  But as Lew Rockwell and many others note, they are in fact watermelons - green on the outside, red on the inside.  Red as in communist, and as in mass murdering. 

Consider, for example, the hundred million or so who have died from the ban on DDT.

The Christians got there late.  They came up with Darwinist as a rejoinder to "fundamentalist" and other names, like "moron" and "Kansan" to deride their views.

Why is it irrelevant that environmentalism is a religion to many of its adherents?  The separation of church and state would apply if that is as true as it seems to be.  The state should not be involved in the establishment of a religion of environmentalism, but it is.

Ideas are attached to people.  People are the source of ideas.  It is relevant who has the idea, and why.  Thus, it is relevant that the ideas exposed in Climate Gate show that the liars in the climate change controversy were motivated by a desire to get lots more money for their "research" in spite of overwhelming evidence that the nonsense they were spouting was provably false.

If you mean to object to ad hominem comments, that's nice.  But the author of the essay to which you object doesn't seem to be singling out individuals so much as arguing against the ideology of a group of people.  So I'm not sure that objection fits.

Words like socialist and fascist have real meanings, and ought to be examined.  They also ought to be used, and if the shoe fits, wear it.  I don't like people who focus on only one such word, and use it in a Procrustean fashion against all opponents.  But there are real difficulties with fascism, socialism, communism, and state capitalism or corporatism.  By "real difficulties" I mean mass murderers have used these ideologies to justify the extermination of hundreds of millions of persons.

I think Godwin is an ass.  To suggest that bringing up the Nazis or Hitler is a bad thing because it reduces the level of discussion to a "subhuman" level (to use your word) seems to me to be an attempt to cover up the holocaust.  If we cannot compare an existing policy of mass murder (banning DDT, say; capping carbon emissions, say) to other efforts of dictators and central planners to exterminate millions because Godwin is upset by such talk, we are all much worse off.  We have to remember Hitler, the Nazis, Stalin, the commies, Mao and Pol Pot and all the others.  We have to remember who they were, what they thought, and how they acted.

Yes, we have to remember that Hitler was an artist, a vegetarian, an environmentalist, anti-smoking, and pro-gun-control and question those characteristics in others.  No, not all artists are mass murderers.  But many environmentalists are eager to see a lot of humans die.

Economics hasn't always been a decent and humane subject.  Malthus made it seem dismal.  I think Malthus was short sighted, arrogant, and foolish.  Tyler Watts, on the other hand, seems to be having fun with this essay.   It is light hearted, enjoyable, and at the same time able to make compelling and sincere points about the importance of market clearing prices, etc.

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Kakugo replied on Sun, Dec 6 2009 3:48 AM

So when Obama is going to announce that you'll have to pay heavier taxes on everything to save the Earth you'll probably not only agree, but ask to pay more? Or you'll do the same as all the elegant leftists, ask that someone else pay for it because "they" are part of the problem, not "me"? Or you'll do like the ordinary person, think environmentalists are "just harmless hippies" and then realize in horror they are now running your life?

Many persons, even very intelligent ones, seem to think this: environmentalists are well meaning, they are just bumbling and confused. They do not realize that hiding behind the ask of "save the rain forest" or the cute panda puppies there's the biggest shot at power Socialism has ever had. Forget Karl Marx, forget the October Revolution, forget Mao, forget Castro... why do you think Al Gore and the entire world's elite are now in Copenhagen drinking gallons of champagne and laughing at the stupid serfs who look at their gathering as at the Second Coming? To save your precious Earth? Even "compassionate" Obama has shown the most blatant disregard for human life, do you think he cares about polar bears?

Together we go unsung... together we go down with our people
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I guess Tyler Watts doesn't intend to insult proponents of sustainable development, but it will be quite easy for anybody to dismiss the article quickly simply by looking at the word "sustainists".

Anyway, how do we know whether pro-environment parties knew their ideas would kill millions of people? Comparing them to mass murderers can only be first established if we first knew whether they actually intended to kill people by lying about some environmental agenda. And if that's what their actual intention was, it hurts the claim that they adhere to it like a religion, because then they don't actually believe in it. Otherwise, they are simply people ignorant of the effects of what they believe.

That said, what you say very much specifically applies to certain nihilistic environmentalists, who push for government policy for population control, population reduction, and destroying family structure to achieve it. John Holdren, Obama's science czar, wrote in his book Ecoscience, that governments must institute a radical change in family structure, and start tax laws that favour single people and single working mothers, while taxing families very heavily for the supposed cost they put on society. I think such people are genuinely criminal and inhuman, and I guess it legitimizes any hostility some people may have towards environmentalists.

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jtucker replied on Sun, Dec 6 2009 6:28 AM

Hmm, I would never have expected this article to be named as the most offensive on the whole of Mises.org. Puzzling.

in any case, we like it and so we ran it.

Publisher, Laissez-Faire Books

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I guess I may have been unnecessarilly harsh.

But I found it a rather similar to people who criticize global warming by calling its proponents "warmists" or "globowarmthinkists", and global warming skepticism would receive a bit more credibility, if people didn't use such words.

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credibility or lack thereof doesn't necessarily equate the use of certain words

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
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Arvin replied on Sun, Dec 6 2009 7:46 AM

wilderness:

credibility or lack thereof doesn't necessarily equate the use of certain words

Agreed, if I choose to call my opponents "poopieheads", that's OK, as long as my arguments are solid.

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Jim Davidson:
I think Godwin is an ass.  To suggest that bringing up the Nazis or Hitler is a bad thing because it reduces the level of discussion to a "subhuman" level (to use your word) seems to me to be an attempt to cover up the holocaust.
If you are speaking of Godwin's Law: you are sorely mistaken in your understanding of it. Godwin's Law simply states that in any internet discussion, the probability of Hitler or the Nazis being brought up converges to 1 the longer the discussion goes. It says NOTHING about whether that's good or bad.

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Arvin:

"poopieheads"

you didn't just say that word did you...lol...Stick out tongue

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
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Saan2 replied on Sun, Dec 6 2009 11:10 AM

Prateek Sanjay:
Such a thing is nothing more than a way of showing people to be a type of dogmatic cultists, as if to show that their ideas are a religion to them (it is irrelevant whether or not it is),

It is very relevant if we are going to be forced into their religion or dogma at the point of a gun.

Prateek Sanjay:
It is a way of attacking people instead of ideas, and tries to drive the point further by making a label that quickly stereotypes them, by attaching ideas to people.

The label identifies the idea and those supporting it.  How is this degrading?

Prateek Sanjay:
Political discourse is already as subhuman as it is, where words like "socialist", "fascist", "leftist", "rightist", and "capitalist" are used, so that people use words to do their thinking for them, instead of doing the thinking themselves. Please do not bring economics, a decent and humane subject, to this level as well.

It's quite human. I don't see animals engaging in political discourse.  Economics has been at this level since it began.  What is new here?

 

I am Saan

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I'm in favour of making a good argument first, then being vicious and nasty after that is wrapped up.

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Prateek Sanjay:

The article degrades and relegates proponents of sustainable development by calling them "sustainists", apart from some other choice words like "treehuggers", "greens", and "alarmist". As I said before, I find this a shallow level of discourse, because it is clearly meant to show down these people by adding an "ist" to the idea they propose, much the way certain Christian groups label supporters of evolution as "Darwinists".

Such a thing is nothing more than a way of showing people to be a type of dogmatic cultists, as if to show that their ideas are a religion to them (it is irrelevant whether or not it is), and hence reflects badly on those people. It is a way of attacking people instead of ideas, and tries to drive the point further by making a label that quickly stereotypes them, by attaching ideas to people.

Political discourse is already as subhuman as it is, where words like "socialist", "fascist", "leftist", "rightist", and "capitalist" are used, so that people use words to do their thinking for them, instead of doing the thinking themselves. Please do not bring economics, a decent and humane subject, to this level as well.

These people wish to hold a gun to your head so you will "save the earth".  Bastards deserve this and much more.

Periodically the tree of liberty must be watered with the blood of tyrants and patriots.

Thomas Jefferson

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Solarist replied on Mon, Dec 7 2009 10:41 AM

I love the label watermelon.

Green on the outside.... RED in the inside.

that's even better then sustainist

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Arvin replied on Mon, Dec 7 2009 12:48 PM

wilderness:

Arvin:

"poopieheads"

you didn't just say that word did you...lol...Stick out tongue

"Poopie! Poopie! Poopie!" My point was that even if one chooses to use childish or offensive words to describe one's opponents, it doesn't change one's arguments. I for one might not use the word "poopiehead", but a 3 year old might. If the 3 year old has decent arguments though, I will listen.

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Prateek Sanjay:
Political discourse is already as subhuman as it is, where words like "socialist", "fascist", "leftist", "rightist", and "capitalist" are used, so that people use words to do their thinking for them, instead of doing the thinking themselves.

Seems like your issue is with the use of the English language.  The negative connotations are your own.

Once a person's belief system is known, it is entirely appropriate to call them what they are.  If a person espouses Nazism, then it's perfectly acceptable to call them a Nazi without judgement on any virtues or vices of that position.  Also, since a belief system can have many different variations it's not entirely stereotyping to call them by the belief system they advocate.  For example, a capitalist may include minarchists, anarcho-capitalists, conservatives or several other groups that have a similar belief system.  The use of the term "sustainists" is rather open to several different groups who advocate different belief systems, and I don't find this demeaning in any way. 

Part of the problem here is that the very people who advocate a certain belief system don't want to be identified with it so they can go about their subversive efforts without calling attention to themselves.  Using terms like "Green" is an attempt to disguise the belief system.  There are many environmentalists who call themselves "Green" that have no interest in socialist policies, but their movement has essentially been hi-jacked by socialists.  For a person such as Obama to clearly have socialist policies and agendas, and yet call the term socialist a label meant to smear him is both disingenuous to his own belief system and the English language.  The only reason he uses this defense is because a large portion of the population does not support the belief system of socialism.  He'd rather that his personality and charm win (or the image his handlers project) over his thinking or who he really is (or the reasoning of his positions).  I find that to be quite offensive to public discourse much more than any name-calling.

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