Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

Aurini comments on Traditional Capitalist Values - Less Wrong

38 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 17 October 2008 01:07AM

You are viewing a comment permalink. View the original post to see all comments and the full post content.

Comments (102)

Sort By: Old

You are viewing a single comment's thread. Show more comments above.

Comment author: Aurini 27 November 2010 10:39:22PM 10 points [-]

Not capitalism - neo-colonialims, or American imperialism, or Corporate Welfare & the Military Industrial complex or whatever you want to call it. During the Cold War, part of the CIA's containment strategy invovled the Americans toppling any government which didn't do what they said - democractically elected or otherwise - and replacing them with leaders of convenience.

This is what put Iraq into Saddam's hands; this is how Iran got turned into a Theocracy.

They're angry at the US for subversively undermining their governments, for their own political ends, or to provide contracts to Haliburton - you notice that right now it's mainly Western Companies profitting off of the Iraq oil? Usually the same companies that are profitting off of the war itself. However, these legitimate grievances against the US are hard to explain to somebody without an understanding of history. There's a general sense that the US is to blame - and though their actions might have been justified by the Soviet Threat, it doesn't change the fact that they were the agents - but most of them are too damned stupid to understand what this means.

So they settle for "The US is powerful, and non-muslim - ALLAH ACKBAR, DERP DERP!"

Comment author: Carinthium 28 November 2010 12:38:43AM 2 points [-]

If that's their rhethoric (I haven't really looked into the subject), then why are you so certain the real cause is historical exploitation?

Comment author: Aurini 01 December 2010 05:50:11PM *  5 points [-]

Short answer - the same reason I believe that WWII was inevitable, given the harsh penalties laid on Germany at the end of WWI.

Long answer - it fits into a historical approach I'm familiar with, and which has proved effective across different periods. I haven't read many primary sources on middle eastern history (my focus was enlightenment-modern), but the occurrences there aren't too dissimilar from what we see in other places. I've read other's analyses of the situation, and the facts which I've double checked have been accurate.

Essentially, this explanation fits into a Historical Theory which I haven't seen disproven, and it matches all of the facts. It also contains the innate 'symmetry' that good theories usually have.

[History - when it's done properly - is a Scientific discipline. Historical theories should be able to make predictions, which can be tested by (either) deeply unethical Lord of the Flies experiments, or by comparative History. Historians and Archaeologists are in the business of finding new information to support/deny old ideas. Compare to the pseudoscience of Psychology, which doesn't actually want to examine its innate assumptions; thank goodness Neurology is beginning to overtake it.]

What is that theory? Bah, it's been years - essentially, I am distrustful of any arguments which cite 'culture' as a primary influence. From everything I've seen, culture matters very little, except in how it affects the resource base (a tribe which practices cannibalism may be more prone to disease, for instance); aside from that, culture adapts to the situation - I view the "Xtianity gave us a history of institution, narf narf" as another "Just So" story.

You topple a popular leader, and install a totalitarian, you get a vicious, misogynist theocracy - doesn't matter which religion you start with. Compare North Korea, Iran, and the USSR. Probably some Catholic examples from South America, too (presumably split from the central church).

Comment author: Carinthium 02 December 2010 02:22:08AM *  5 points [-]

1- Why should a good historical theory have an innate 'symmetry"?

2- Since I haven't seen the justifications for myself, could you actually link me to some of the relevant research?

3- The U.S.S.R was not popular as of it's overthrow, nor was the government it overthrew. North Korea was the sucessor state to Japanese rule of Korea, and thus did not (as far as I know) replace a popular government.

4- If most people are too stupid to understand, you are presumably saying that it is the "elites" of Muslim societies who are responding based on exploitation. Post the Cold War, shouldn't they have been smart enough to see it would happen less?

Things which could be called exploitation in a broad sense exisited (troops guarding Mecca if I remember right, Israel, western-installed governments), but they should have realised that with the end of the Soviets it would be toned down. Saddam's invasion of Kuwait was opposed by most of the Muslim world, so it wouldn't count. (pointing out in case you argue that)


5- Come to think of it, individuals are probably no more free under a traditional Middle Eastern government then an American puppet. Presumably you are talking about the nationalist sense of freedom?

Comment author: Aurini 03 December 2010 12:52:16AM 1 point [-]

1 - The same reason that a good Physics Theory, or Mathematical Theorem has an innate symmetry and beauty. When something feels 'ugly' there's usually a reason why.

2 - I don't have any of the relevant documents at hand; it's been a while since I focussed on History specifically. www.tremblethedevil.com, however, does an excellent job explaining the roots of modern terrorism (you may have to web archive his stuff).

3 - If the theory I outlined above was my be-all-end-all theory of history, I would be going against what I wrote about history being scientific; in science there's more than one way to make a flying machine, it's magic where only one incantation works.

The overthrow of the Czar was an internal matter, so it doesn't apply - and the USSR wasn't viciously theocratic or misogynist. It was a lot of other things, but it wasn't the two I listed above.

As for North Korea - which is not a history I know - from what you said, their previously, presumably popular, government was toppled by imperial powers and a vicious theocracy (which I would expect to be misogynistic) took its place.

4 - It's not the elites 'manipulating' the masses out of some sort of historical understanding, it's a broader gut instinct amongst the plebs. There are historical events which led up to it, and which form legitimate grievances. The plebs just know that they hate the west.

There's no reason for them to realize that, with the withdrawl of the Soviets, that things would be toned down. The plebs aren't that smart, first of all, and second of all, it's arguable that - if anything - it's been escalated.

5 - eing a slave under your home-grown dictator is preferable to being a slave under a foreign invader. As I saw it put, once, "I hate the US government, but that doesn't mean I look forward to the Chinese 'freeing' me."

Comment author: Carinthium 03 December 2010 03:42:25AM 2 points [-]

1- A good theory can feel "ugly" simply hecause it is counter-intuitive.

2- Checking up now, so not deciding to agree or disagree yet.

3- You listed North Korea, the U.S.S.R, and Iran as examples- I was refuting them.

4- Muslim Middle Eastern commoners aren't that well educated- what signs would they have of American influence? And what reason would they have to delude themselves.

5- Why should it be preferable? I don't see a good reason. Even your example doesn't work- the U.S government is in many ways bad, but is better then the Chinese.