I might as well have spoken Dutch.
Thank you for testing my patience.
I did not have time when I replied to address everything you said, but now I do let me do so.
I hope you know that this is really, really, really offensive.
Like denying the halocaust. Keep quotes like that under your hat from now on.
You keep making wild analogies without any explanation. What did I deny? And how is that denial equivalent to denying the holocaust?
1. You don't have to be a "commie" to think Capitalism is a reprehensible form of global exploitation that has ABSOLUTELY nothing to offer a Buddhist system of ethics. Sure it often accompanies a democracy..but it's generally the influence that ruins said democracy. There are many other alternatives to Stalinist, Maoist forms of economy and governance. I think Communism, especially, is abhorrent. Except in Cuba. Maybe.
Like I said before, you can't imagine anything other than capitalism in reality. Communism is just capitalism where a party or dictator controls everything, rather than free individuals owning property. To ask what is the alternative to capitalism is like asking what is the alternative to weather.
Capitalism sucks. Everything about it has drawbacks. But what alternative do you have? Whenever people try to control the economy it ends up creating lower supply and a lower quality, as well as higher inequality. Soviet Russia and Communist Cuba had/have far greater inequality than states with free markets, and more importantly, far less social mobility - stratification into party elites will always occur when you give that much power to a few men and women.
The only major advantage, politically speaking, governments which are not socialist over governments which are socialist have, is that they allow the dispersion of power as much as possible. Too much power is the worst thing to give anyone, wherever you come in contact with it, try to disperse it as much as possible. Spread power to each individual - that's what capitalism allows.
It isn't perfect, but it affords greater benefit to sentient beings overall. Therefore, the Bodhisattva should not be a commie.
2. I never claimed to be logical, by the way, and I don't need to be. I'm a polemicist and a radical and I'm arguing with emotion. I don't care. There are other faculties and modes of cognition that we use to make sense of the world; you may think you're more rational than me, but we're about the same. Mainly I just wish you'd look at the consequences of everything you're advocating: they're all over the planet.
This is really too vague to address. I'm not completely clear what you mean here.
The parallell I'm drawing is this. Or at least, this is the impression you're giving: "the poor are poor because of their lack of merit. The rich are rich because they have merit. Let's leave it that way except by voluntary charity from the rich. This is better than forcibly taking from the rich to give to the poor because it deprives them of an opportunity of merit. And it's breaking the 2nd precept."
Firstly, merit or the lack thereof are not the cause of wealth or poverty - they contribute to your attainment of liberation. In fact, the person with the highest amount of merit is also the poorest person on the planet - because they have no attachments.
Secondly, I assume you mean karma. What I said was,
A lot of people have stuff and we don't understand why. A lot of people do not and we don't understand why. We cannot comprehend fully the law of karma and can control human lives such that people get just what they deserve - this occurs by itself. We can encourage people to give, and that is the Buddhist approach, but to actively reorganise the world would be offensive to the security of property and order of society.
I said, we can't fully understand the reasons why. And furthermore, we must be generous and give to all people. But to think that we can eliminate poverty through utopian social engineering and communist revolution is contradicting the law of karma. ONLY by encouraging people to be generous and practice good thoughts, words and deeds, can you stop poverty - you MUST encourage good actions, you can't force it through material means, the law of karma is all about intention and people's minds. If you reorganise society, but society is still bitter and angry and full of harsh emotions, you get the Soviet Union and Communist China. Such societies are also doomed to fail because they're founded in non-virtue and immorality - primarily killing and stealing.
MN 135: Culakammavibhanga Sutta; III 202-6:
3. "Master Gotama, why is it that human beings are seen to be inferior and superior? For people are seen to be short-lived and long-lived, sickly and healthy, ugly and beautiful, without influence and influential, poor and wealthy, low born and high born, stupid and wise. Why is it, Master Gotama, that human beings are seen to be inferior and superior?"
13. "Here, student, some man or woman does not give food, drink, clothing, carriages, garlands, scents, unguents, beds, dwelling, and lamps to ascetics or brahmins. Because of performing and undertaking such action ... he is reborn in a state of misery... But if instead he comes back to the human state, then wherever he is reborn he is poor. This is the way, student, that leads to poverty, namely, one does not give food ... and lamps to ascetics or brahmins.
14. "But here, student, some man or woman gives food ... and lamps to ascetics or brahmins. Because of performing and undertaking such action ... he is reborn in a good destination.... But if instead he comes back to the human state, then wherever he is reborn he is wealthy. This is the way, student, that leads to wealth, namely, one gives food ... and lamps to ascetics or brahmins.
20. "Beings are owners of their actions, heirs of their actions; they originate from their actions, are bound to their actions, have their actions as their refuge. It is action that distinguishes beings as inferior and superior."
In that way, it's almost identical to social darwinism. You never advocated this--I just want you to know this is what ends up happening a lot of the time.
Gee, thanks for the help. You know I never advocated it and yet you accused me of doing so?
You seem convinced that free market Capitalism works without exploiting and destroying the global poor, the developing world, and the oppressed races of every nation. this makes me really, really, really frustrated. I have to admit.
This has nothing to do with rich people sneaking into the homes of the poor and robbing them blind in the middle of the night. It seems like that's the only concept you have of what the rich stealing from the poor might look like.
People who argue otherwise are not just Communist conspiracy theorists or something.
String of rhetorical questions: Haven't you ever worked a minimum wage job where you put in way more than you received back? Been forced to work unpaid overtime? Been a victim of sexual harassment? Been a victim of rape? (this is not a separate issue.) Haven't you ever seen the maimed and wretched beggars in the streets of every major city in the world and wondered why can't there be a place for them? Haven't you had parents and grandparents work themselves til death to make another man's fortune? Haven't you ever taken a bite of food and thought "wow, this came from halfway across the planet."
In your house, or your apartment building, don't you think at least one article of clothing was made in that Bangladeshi garment factory that collapsed a month ago and killed over 1,000 workers?
There's blood and sweat and poverty and prostitution and narcotics residue on all of our hands. As Buddhists, as Mahayana Buddhists, because of pratitya sammutpada, we have to look at this whole mess and realize the fault does not lie with the powerless. The more wealthy we are, the more relative privilege we have, just the fact that we can speak English and have access to a computer to write this on---damns us with responsibility. Our money did not come from a magic wishing tree, nor did it come solely from our hard work. It came from those below, even if only in the most fractional, infantessimal ways...it is the sum total of a world built on exploitation. This is karmic debt. Because it all came from them. The workers at Foxconn who made my computer or the children who sewed up my really nice shoes, or the farmers who grew my rice who can't afford medicine for their kids. The rabbits and guinea pigs who were tortured to test my shampoo. The Native Americans who were cheated, bullied, massacred, imprisoned, enslaved, endoctrinated, robbed of their children, sequestered to reservations so that I and my race could build freeways and strip malls all over the whole nation.
Does any of that make sense? I mean, I'm not completely crazy! I'm not a master of logic, but please express to me that some of this made sense to you.
Once again, you seem to be trying to imply that I am saying to people, "Hey everyone, break the five precepts!"
You also seem to believe that I advocated somewhere not helping people in need, or stopping people from being treated like slaves.
It's a pretty big jump to think that everyone who isn't a Socialist wants to do all those things.
I said it and I will say it again, killing, stealing, and sexual misconduct as well as other things you listed, which include things like willful negligence, are all non-virtuous actions, and if they are not illegal, they should be. This is different from the entire conversation about whether socialism really benefits people better than free markets. It's a straw man, you are building up an image of your opponent which is completely contrary to what he actually is, and then knocking it down. It is no use in this discussion, to take crimes committed by or related to companies (who manage most economic affairs in the world), and say that as a result, the only way the exchange of value can possibly occur (i.e. capitalism), is worse than Socialism. Especially when they're already illegal.
In summary, and to prove that you can break not only the 2nd precept but any and all of the precepts
"Therefore understand this well,
And always labor for the benefit of beings.
The far-seeing Masters of compassion
permit, to this end, that which is proscribed."
It's well known that to refrain from supposed nonvirtue when compassion clearly demands it is actually breaking the Bodhicitta vows.
If you do not, you will be called a cowardly Bodhisattva.
Sorry I misspoke: the 3 negative actions of mind can never serve the purpose of benefiting beings, so they are always proscribed.
But everything else must be discarded if the Bodhicitta demands it.
This is different from saying that you will have less poverty, less inequality, and so forth, if you just use redistribution to attain that, instead of the free market. Since the free market, actually has attained that, and socialism always has failed and always causes more negligence, lower quality, lower produce, more poverty, inequality, less responsibility, less work ethic, innovation and initiative, and so forth, I think that Bodhicitta demands the support of my position.
Ben, fundamentally how can you think that a system which is predicated on greed can achieve wholesome results? Is this not the very root of samsara?
Like I said, sure it sucks. But there's not an alternative, and in the end it does produce MORE wholesome results, than the alternatives which have been tried.
It's a specious argument to say that taxation takes what is not given. It is part of the social contract to pay taxes. If businesses do not want to participate in taxation, then the roads they transport their goods on are not freely given, the ports that are maintained are not freely given, the courts that protect contracted entities are not freely given, the police that keep social order are not freely given, etc. In short, businesses can not benefit from the social framework they depend on without contributing back to it.
Yes, I agree. I said this before in fact. There's a basic requirement. But to go from that to saying it should be the basis for all action in the world is nonsense. It's even more nonsense to believe that it is ALWAYS the BEST way to achieve a certain result. With equality and wealth, it obviously isn't - just take projects in American cities for example. Everyone knows that poverty was on the whole decreasing in minority populations before welfare kicked in. People often end up with much better results when you just let them choose what is best for themselves on their own. Included in the notion that the government is not always the best way to achieve a certain result, is indeed roads - you often will end up with higher quality roads and lower traffic when roads are privatized, this was shown with the highways in Oslo quite recently.
In the US today, we have a bizarre situation where those who benefit *the most* from all of the investments in infrastructure don't pay the equivalent share of the expenses for it. It's unfair from any perspective, buddhist or otherwise. Ideally, society has to be built around the idea of caring for each other with the Sangha as our model. Was not Lord Shakyamuni's idea of the Sangha far closer to socialism than capitalism?
Of course it is unfair. The US government makes it practically impossible for any regular person to start a company which can compete with the top dogs by legislating endless arrays of useless regulations. That's called corruption, it doesn't make the US economy in any way closer to a free market than countries like Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore or Hong Kong.
As for the Sangha being closer to Socialism, within the organisation itself, it was arranged like an ancient Indian guild. In it's activities with other agents, it acted and still acts like a corporation. This kind of idealisation of the Buddha's Sangha as being non-materialist is a kind of orientalist fantasy which simply isn't grounded in any fact. See Gregory Schopen's "The Buddha as Astute Businessman, Economist, Lawyer."
The residential schools are only a very small part of the problem. Obviously, you have no understanding of Canadian history. The Micmacs for example were exterminated. In most cases the treaties were negotiated under duress and though viewed as sacred covenants by the native people, were viewed as simply an expedient means to expropriate the natives of their land so that the resources could be used by the European invaders. Many treaty claims have not been honoured, particularly when oil or precious metals are found on native land.
I dispute none of this. Please explain how this has anything to do with the conversation.
It's sad to think that Ashoka was maybe the last decent ruler in human history. And some doubt that we are living in the Kali Yuga.
How do we really know? All our knowledge of him is from his own propaganda. That's like saying, 2000 years in the future, that Mao was the last decent ruler in human history, based purely upon the libretto to The East is Red.