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Socialism or truth

from David Ruccio

The liberal establishment continues to mourn the death of truth. Everyone else is moving on.

Every day, it seems, one or another liberal—pundit, columnist, or scholar—issues a warning that, in the age of Donald Trump, we now live in a post-truth world. In their view, we face a fundamental choice: either return to a singular, capital-t truth or suffer the consequences of multiple sets of beliefs, facts, and truths.

For example, just the other day, Keith Kahn-Harris [ht: ja] (in the Guardian) noted the “sheer profusion of voices, the plurality of opinions, the cacophony of the controversy,” which in his view “are enough to make anyone doubt what they should believe.” It’s what he calls “denialism”: the transformation of the “private sickness” of self-deception into the “public dogma” of seeing the world in a whole new way.

There are multiple kinds of denialists: from those who are sceptical of all established knowledge, to those who challenge one type of knowledge; from those who actively contribute to the creation of denialist scholarship, to those who quietly consume it; from those who burn with certainty, to those who are privately sceptical about their scepticism. What they all have in common, I would argue, is a particular type of desire. This desire – for something not to be true – is the driver of denialism.

Then, to ratchet up the morbid consequences of the death of truth, Kahn-Harris plays the ultimate trump card: contemporary denialism involves doubting the existence of the Holocaust, which in turn makes it possible “to publicly celebrate genocide once again, to revel in antisemitism’s finest hour.”

Olivia Paschal [ht: ja] (in the Atlantic) is concerned about a different facet of the world after truth: the role of repetition in creating beliefs that run counter to truth Thus, as she sees it, “even when people know a claim is false, just a few repetitions can make them more likely to think it’s true.” Such “illusory” truths serve to make false claims “familiar” and thus became ways of reframing the debate. Thus, according to Paschal, Fox News has been able to broadcast Trump’s claims (e.g., about the unfairness and inaccuracy of the Russia investigation), which “is also almost certainly contributing to their plausibility among the segments of the population that trust the network.”

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As if in response, just yesterday, Margaret Sullivan (in the Washington Post) claimed that, among the consequences of the crisis in American newsrooms, is the decline of “common information—an agreed-upon set of facts to argue about.” So, she complains, in an already deeply divided nation, people turn to Facebook and cable news and thus “were deep in their own echo chambers and couldn’t seem to hear anything else.”

These are just three recent examples of a burgeoning series of complaints, and warnings about the dangers of a world in which a singular truth no longer holds and the need to restore such a truth (as if it once existed)—by challenging denialism, exposing illusory truths, and establishing a set of agree-upon facts.

The “trauma” of Trump’s win just can’t make liberals stop writing this stuff. They keep trying their best to ask the nearly undisguised question: “are Trump supporters really human, like us?” This tells me that the members of the liberal establishment really thought they were never going to face another serious challenge to their ideological hegemony. And now that voters have had the temerity to defy the existing authority, liberals it seems can only dehumanize Trump supporters and, like the members of the Ancien Régime watching over the female cadaver of truth, hope their powers will eventually be restored.

Everyone else, however, is moving on—and a growing number of them are espousing socialist ideas or at least expressing support for them.

The turn to socialism stems in large part from the punishments meted out by the Second Great Depression and the lopsided nature of the recovery. It also represents a disenchantment with mainstream economists and their theories of capitalism, since they failed to consider even the possibility of a crisis in the years before 2007-08, and they didn’t haven’t anything useful to offer once the crash happened. Nor have mainstream economists (or pundits and politicians) been able to explain, much less suggest appropriate policies to undo, the obscene degree of inequality that has been steadily growing for decades now. And, of course, the rising cost of education, the unreliability of health insurance, and the growing precariousness of the workplace have left young people with gnawing material insecurity—and an interest in socialism.

Additional impetus has come from the spectacular—and largely unexpected—successes of Bernie Sanders’s campaign for the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party. And just this past June Americans witnessed the surprising electoral victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a self-proclaimed democratic socialist, against ten-term House incumbent Joe Crowley in a New York congressional primary.*

At a pace that appears to match, if not surpass, all the liberal complaints about the death of truth, mainstream American media outlets now regularly publish discussions of (including, but certainly not limited to, attacks on) socialism. There’s socialism in the New York Times, the Washington Post, on CNNVox, and on and on.

But, of course, authors in other publications have been thinking about and developing different definitions and approaches to socialism for much longer. One of the best, especially for a younger generation, is Jacobin, which recently included a piece by Neal Meyer on what democratic socialism might mean:

Like many progressives, we want to build a world where everyone has a right to food, healthcare, a good home, an enriching education, and a union job that pays well. We think this kind of economic security is necessary for people to live rich and creative lives — and to be truly free.

We want to guarantee all of this while stopping climate change and building an economy that’s ecologically sustainable. We want to build a world without war, where people in other countries are free from the fear of US military intervention and economic exploitation. And we want to end mass incarceration and police brutality, gender violence, intolerance towards queer people, job and housing discrimination, deportations, and all other forms of oppression.

Unlike many progressives however, we’ve come to the conclusion that to build this better world it’s going to take a lot more work than winning an election and passing incremental reforms.

That’s pretty general but, at this early stage of the new, revitalized discussion of socialism in the United States, it’s a pretty good start.

It certainly moves us beyond the seemingly endless series of teeth-gnashing complaints about the perils of the post-truth world and charts a different path forward, which involves among other things a recognition of the real resentments and desires of working-class Americans, including those who voted for Trump.

Me, I’ll take socialism over truth any day.

 

*According to CNN, the excitement surrounding Ocasio-Cortez’s June stunner spurred another spike in dues-paying members of Democratic Socialists of America. The group now claims to have more than 45,000 members nationally.

  1. Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
    August 7, 2018 at 5:46 pm

    David, I don’t see any place in the world which makes an effective case for Sociallism–goverment ownship/control. Even the Scandinavians are Capitalists–with very heavy taxes. The Socialist leaders in the US & UK are old & unmotivating. Young leaders can help us reestablish better healthcare, education & infrastructure. After that they will no longer be young….

    • patrick newman
      August 7, 2018 at 6:02 pm

      You would benefit from tightening up your definition of capitalism/capitalists. It is a very crude idea of socialism to think all the means of production has to be state-owned.

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        August 8, 2018 at 7:05 am

        https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/socialism Hi, Patrick, this is a normal, accepted range of definitions, including: any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods. Patrick, please give us yours.

  2. Craig
    August 7, 2018 at 8:13 pm

    Consult the wisdom of the Hegelian dialectic. The integration of the truths, workabilities and highest ethical considerations of opposing perspectives is always a thirdness greater oneness and is a major signature of paradigm changes.

    [ (capitalism/thesis x socialism/antithesis) = the profit making system and new paradigm of direct and reciprocal monetary gifting/synthesis ]

  3. lobdillj
    August 7, 2018 at 10:18 pm

    Hmmm…I don’t see how we can have any society where nobody cares about truth. If truth doesn’t matter, by what reasoning do you choose socialism over capitalism? Do you just say, “Oh, my life is harder than I’d like it to be, so let’s do away with capitalism and try something else” ? And what would that something else be? Why would you think it would be better? Don’t you have to have a reason to choose–a reason that is based on what you think the result would be? And wouldn’t that require some idea of what the truth is?

    • Grayce
      August 8, 2018 at 1:11 am

      The question is really “Singular Truth” or “Point of view Truth.” Pareto acknowledged a certain Residue as the relatively constant or concrete way people perceive something really happened. He said Derivations (casually accepted as truth itself) as the way the people interpreted the residue, explained what happened (rationalize), yet handed it down as a Given or Truth. As well, he also identified “Sentiments” as the nonlogical way people felt about the Residue or Derivation and how it skewed formulae that assume logical actions. Enter Economics and its mathematical sureness of foot. But also enter Politics and its entirely different battle plain and appeal to sentiment. Truth OR Socialism is a nonlogical choice. They are not made of the same stuff. Economics deals in residues. Politics deals in derivations. He said, “Men follow their sentiments and their self-interest, but it pleases them to imagine that they follow reason.”

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        August 8, 2018 at 7:17 am

        Indeed, Grayce, in the age of Brexit & Trump we certainly need some base-line definitions of truth, it seems to me. All the money saved for public health care in the UK by Brexit, with implication that foreigners were costly. Fact: they are mostly young + don’t have the time off their generally lower-paying jobs to seek medical care. And Trump has given more than 4400 misleading or incorrect statements in his brief tenure.

  4. August 7, 2018 at 10:50 pm

    I joined the democratic socialists after Bernie Sanders folded. Cornell West is part of that group and he quit supporting Bernie after the meltdown at the democratic convention so I decided to check out his continuing push.

    Bernie Sanders is committed to reforming the democratic party with good candidates. Democratic socialists are committed to reforming the democratic party with good candidates.

    I went to the Green Party annual convention a few weeks back because incremental steps are okay yet we are also in a hurry. My workshop on evolution of democracy was not well attended but I was given a second chance at the fund raising talent show. The greens sang “Imagine” so loud I could not hear myself as an accompanist; exactly how the workshop would have worked with a larger attendance.

    Independent green socialists are real and not written capitalized. One can register as an un enrolled non partisan and be an independent green socialist accepted as a Green Party member any time you decide to show up and be counted.

    Real world economists are, as near as I can tell, mostly independent green socialists.

  5. culturalanalysis.net
    August 8, 2018 at 1:37 am

    Socialism over through… Ideology over facts… grandiose principles over what actually works… a symptom of intellectual and ethical decadence, celebration of force over reason, force as the ultimate arbiter of truth. It will hurt us all.

    https://culturalanalysis.net/2018/08/06/wrong-religion-discourse-ethics-contra-ideology/

    • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
      August 8, 2018 at 7:21 am

      Hi, culturalanalysis, the Chinese version of Socialism works just fine as they remind us all the time. If you quibble about such things as a representative legislature, many have commented that neither the US Congress nor British Parliament currently represent the interests of most of us.

      • culturalanalysis.net
        August 8, 2018 at 7:44 am

        Representation is not the primary or the most valuable feature of democracy. That is the great misconception about democracy. We have Minimal, Aggregative, Representative, Deliberative and several other forms of democracy, and they all share one invaluable, structural feature that socialism cannot reproduce. Casting democracy in terms of representation suggests your Lack of familiarity with the academic debate on the subject.

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        August 8, 2018 at 9:56 am

        Hi, culturalanalysis, I am clueless as to your meanings. What academic debate in what journals? Of course, the rest of us are really concerned about a system which represents our collective interests. But we are outside this discussion.

  6. Edward Ross
    August 8, 2018 at 2:52 am

    In reply to Prof Dr James Beckham’s reply to David Ruccio
    Firstly as we all know there are often many interpretations of labels, for example here in Australia it is common to here politicians academics and the general public besotted with the main stream political ideology, that advocating government control of essential social services is dangerous socialism. In my view this is simply a ruse to support greedy capitalists scramble for wealth and power by misleading the people.
    Thus I agree with the professors rejection of socialism as practised in the past. Because history shows that absolute power in the hands of f those who govern, places their ideals and greed before the needs of the people.
    On the other hand we have to acknowledge that Democracy is being diminished by the greedy capitalists, who have no care for its lesser citizens who have been beaten into submission.
    However even though I am not an academic I think we have to be careful that we do not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Because it seems obvious to me that if the present system is subverted by wealth and power they could obviously manipulate any new system in the same way.
    From here what I am trying to say briefly is the first step is to educate the to understand that unless democracy is understood and appreciated then we will surely loose it.The second important point is that when democracy is weakened the door is opened for the greedy capitalists and the other seekers of power, to gain control over the masses.
    Thus my concern is to encourage a broad education that motivates people to think, as C.T.KURIEN writes ‘it is important to teach people how to think not what to think.” On this basis t becomes obvious that socialists and te greedy capitalists at this stage have a common goal and that is to destroy democracy.

    To conclude I add a comment of Helen Sakho where she obviously has considerable experience and compassion for the disadvantaged where she makes a plea for economists to teach in a manner that relates to the real world.;
    “We must and this is an urgent matter) humanise our approach, our teaching and preaching. I am fully aware that i am preaching to the converted, so once again no disrespect to anyone, let us please teach economics as a social science with its limitations and its potential”. This reminds me of my volunteer work in PNG where teaching them was not a matter of lecturing them, it was working with them on an equal leval in conversations about their everyday concerns in a language that they could feel at home with. Ted

    • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
      August 8, 2018 at 7:24 am

      Thanks, Edward, for your comments. I was once slated to become a Presbyterian minister, so your words really resonate.

  7. David Harold Chester
    August 8, 2018 at 10:26 am

    For those who doubt if an item of news is true, may I suggest that we firstly should express doubts. If the matter is one of opinion, then there truth is less significant and we can ignore it but if and when it is of a more serious matter, of a kind that requires some subsequent action of a useful kind to be given to the expiring body politic, then we need to determine the truth in scientific terms.

    This is why it has now become most significant to develop our science of social systems by means of logic, which must rest on the truth, in actual terms. Sometimes this can be complex when two theories give opposing results. These two opposing logical theories cannot exist together, but it is possible that they might lead to a superior third explanation.So in any event, it is my claim that the proper way to understand how our social system works is through logic and careful discussion of the logically based factors, as for example, in what I have previously provided in my book and papers on this important subject.

    We need to get at the truth by our thinking powers and by logic, and not by the emotional and institutional effects which are so characteristic of the opinions often being spread here.

  8. August 8, 2018 at 3:23 pm

    I find it difficult to understand why anyone would place truth opposite socialism when socialism can be a form of truth.

    • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
      August 8, 2018 at 3:56 pm

      I share your perplexity, JJehr, as there are common tests for truth which Trump, Brexit & other paragons of decete have laid bare. Are we alive at this moment? Do we know what the weather is outside our window? Etc. (Yes, we know these matters unless we are suffering neurological impairment.) Of course, when in philosphy we might study LEVELS of truth & that is useful. But does your gas gauge show empty? If so, is there a doubt you will soon stop for petrol?
      We are no more post-socialism, post-truth or post-industrial, than we are pre- any of them. It depends on definitions, of course, but even more where/when we are and who we are experientially. Professors sitting in calm surroundings are about as connected to an Indonesian having just survived an earthquake or a Californian now trying to avoid being burned out as…you make the comparison. What I am saying is that everything is perceived in a particular context by persons with their unique life histories, which makes for lively con- versation I think!

      • Risk Analyst
        August 8, 2018 at 10:25 pm

        Prof. Beckman: Has it really led to lively conversation? A couple of years ago there were a few dozen active participants here to debate and discuss things. Now, I believe, its down to perhaps a dozen due to such nonsense. Economists are not very good at economics, but they are breathtakingly bad at discussing politics. The aggressive condemnation of describing those with different political viewpoints in extremely negative terms has driven many away, and to discuss economics here one seems to have to agree to show bias and contempt toward Trump first. Take your own statement above referring to Trump as providing thousands of false or misleading claims. I believe that is from the politically leftist Washington Post which does phrase counts. For example, if Trump mentions a point 88 times (that his Tax Cut is the largest in history) that the Washington Post disagrees with, then it is counted as 88 false or misleading statements. If I argue with you, Prof. Beckman over the distance between the Earth and the moon over an hour and it is stated 88 times, by their method one of us is wrong 88 times. Most honest people would not support that method and would just say the person was wrong, once, about the Earth and moon distance. It seems there is a lot of lying about lying. As I’ve mentioned repeatedly, engaging in low quality political discussions has done a lot to vandalize the visibility of heterodox as well as the discussions here. I believe that those most eager to discuss politics here would additionally guess that a Kalecki is probably something you would order in a polish deli. So, I do think there is a cost to what you call “lively conversation.” I think this forum is approaching a single opinion and it should be something of a red flag to have zero diversity unless the goal is to create a self admiration society.

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        August 9, 2018 at 2:10 pm

        Hi, Risk Analyst, I am referring to the New York Times; https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/25/reader-center/donald-trump-lies-falsehoods.html. I am a professional fact-finder & -interpreter for major US & German firms. Every thing I am paid for I must be able to support. I do not know about the Times, quote by quote, so that is why I use them here. Pleast tear them apart & send me the pieces: I want to know. Thanks.

      • August 9, 2018 at 6:19 am

        Take your own statement above referring to Trump as providing thousands of false or misleading claims. ~ Risk Analyst

        One would have to be deaf, dumb, and blind to lack the intellectual honesty to not see Trump’s lies. In reality, it is a willful choice of denial. That tells us much about the personal character of the individual turns a blind eye to Trump’s train of lies in my view, for it is pure bullshit to claim one cannot see or know the even be aware of the lies spewing from this pathological liars mouth. Bullshit is insidious when reasonable people sit silent while it spread like honey through civil society.

        A Defense of Common Sense

        [B]ullshit doesn’t care about distorting the truth. Distorting the truth is, after all, a way of respecting and keeping a relation to the truth, so as to steer us away from it…. Bullshit’s lack of concern for truth and falsity is at the heart of its nature and represents its threat to core values of civilization; its insidiousness comes from the very way it depends on scorning the differences between what is, or is not, the case. (Hardcastle et. al. 2006: 19-20)

        Bullshit in itself, … is characterized by semantic obscurity. The bullshitter, on the other hand, disregards or disdains the truth…. Neither meaning nor truth may matter to bullshit, on the face of it, but … something does: what matters to bullshit is that it should make something matter to us. [What we need to defend against bullshit is a] …. commonsense and uncompromising commitment to caring about truth and meaning. (Hardcastle et. al. 2006: 20-21)

        The Truth Matters

        (….) If we have gotten to the point–and there are many ways in which it seems we might have–where we think it’s silly or quixotic (at best) even to think in terms of truth, respect for truth, credibility, or even related concepts like character and integrity, the disease has taken hold. (Hardcastle et. al. 2006: 22)

        [T]he truth matters, and it should matter…. And loss of credibility should matter…. [T]he menace wrought by bullshit takes place on the inside, where any kind of respect for what’s true and what’s false starts to look downright expendable. Accepting, or being complacent to (or worse, colluding with) a disdain for a distinction between truth and falsity is not so innocuous–becoming inured to it is to stop caring about what’s true and what’s not, or even worse, to stop caring that it’s not OK to stop caring about what’s true and what’s not. So the danger of bullshit is that it will grow increasingly resistant to treatment, so much so that we won’t even notice that we stopped caring about truth and falsity. And this starts to look more and more like something we should be worried about. (Hardcastle et. al. 2006: 24)

        In order to counter bullshit effectively–beyond just recognizing it–we need to turn it against itself. Bullshit, after all, has one significant weakness: it needs to be believed or accepted. (Hardcastle et. al. 2006: 24)

        (….) Truth doesn’t matter to bullshit, but it matters to bullshit that bullshit can be made to matter to us. If we care more about the truth, than a fortiori we care less about bullshit…. It needs to find a way to be convincing and to make us care. If we care more about truth, bullshit will not succeed by not caring about truth. So if we resist caring about the assertions of bullshit–and being immune to its temptations–we might be able to undermine it, to no small degree…. [We must become, like the philosopher George Edward Moore (1873-1958)] … a resolute carer about the truth and meaning. (Hardcastle et. al. 2006: 25)

        In 1903 Moore published perhaps his most well-known work, titled Principia Ethica, a book whose effect was so profound on the young men who arrived as undergraduates at Cambridge in 1902…. John Maynard Keynes, for example, writes:

        It was all under the influence of Moore’s method, according to which you could hope to make essentially vague notions clear by using precise language about them and asking exact questions. It was a method of discovery by the instrument of impeccable grammar and an unambiguous dictionary. ‘What exactly do you mean?’ was the phrase most frequently on our lips. If it appeared under cross-examination that you did not mean exactly anything, you lay under strong suspicion of meaning nothing whatever. (Hardcastle et. al. 2006: 26-27)

        (….) What the Moorean attitude has, and what we might think about deploying more explicitly, is his dispassionate respect for the truth such that it considers any attitude that falls short–such as disdain for truth–as a disgrace. (Hardcastle et. al. 2006: 29)

        (….) Consider this passage from Moore’s “A Defense of Common Sense,” where his asperity firmly conveys that when it comes to bullshit, even in philosophy, enough is enough:

        In what I have just said, I have assumed that there is some meaning which is the ordinary or popular meaning of such expressions as ‘The earth has existed for many years past.’ And this, I am afraid, is an assumption which some philosophers are capable of disputing. They seem to think that the question ‘Do you believe that the earth has existed for many years past?’ is not a plain question, such as should be met either by a plain ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ or by a plain ‘I can’t make up my mind,’ but is the sort of question which can be properly met by ‘It all depends on what you mean by “the earth” and “exists” and “years”: if you mean so and so, and so and so, and so so and so, than I do; but if you mean so and so, and so and so, and so and so, or so and so, and so and so, and so and so, or so and so, and so and so and so and so, then I don’t, or at least I think it is profoundly doubtful’. It seems to me that such a view is as profoundly mistaken as any view can be. (Hardcastle et. al. 2006: 31)

        (….) Moore didn’t suffer bullshit gladly, and we can do the same. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as the platitude goes. What Moore’s resistance against forms of what we’d call bullshit takes as a priority is clarity. Moore shows us that a doggedness about getting clear about the content of an utterance or statement to get to the bottom of what it could really mean can really pay off–say, in the indisputable effect of revealing the characteristic scorn for the difference between truth and falsity that bullshit purveys. The scorn for truth that characterizes bullshit, after all, must be masked in various ways, or bullshit itself would run the risk of imploding. So, on top of disingenuous vagueness, equivocation, downright incoherence, and a whole host of other tactics for skirting the truth, what bullshit really needs is for us to be less inquisitive, less analytical, less determined to follow along and scrutinize its claims. Bullshit needs us, but we don’t need bullshit. So to thwart it, we must instead adopt the ‘tenacity of a bulldog’, … the characteristic of a Moorean pursuit of clarity and truth; especially, it goes without saying, with respect to ourselves. (Hardcastle et. al. 2006: 31)

        So my suggestion for resisting bullshit is the adoption of the critical stance, characteristic of philosophy, toward any claims on our mental lives; our beliefs and certainties, including the ones that characterize our deeper convictions about ourselves and our ability to tell truth from falsity…. [I]t’s also just common sense to realize that caring about the distinction between what’s true and what’s false matters a lot to us. If we care more about the truth, then bullshit has to find another way. But now bullshit has to care whether we care about the truth, and so it more or less undermines its own position, withering away from the inside out, so to speak,. This is the paradox of bullshit; both street and academic. Truth and meaning don’t matter to bullshit; but bullshit has to make itself matter to us. So what matters to us is going to have to matter to bullshit. If it matters to us not to scorn the difference between truth and falsity, and if it matters to us to take the search for clarity in our concepts and statements seriously, bullshit ends up on a short leash. And thanks to Moore, we now have a strategy to keep it there. Enough, indeed, is enough. What exactly do you mean? (Preti, Consuelo. A Defense of Common Sense. In Bullshit and Philosophy (editors Hardcastle, Gary L. and Reisch, George A.). Chicago: Open Court; 2006; pp. 19-32.)

        What ever do you mean by Trump has not lied?

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        August 9, 2018 at 2:39 pm

        Hi, Meta Capitalism, I think we all have EXPECTATIONS of behavior from people in various jobs. While Presidents of the US were often a shady lot, but starting at least with Teddy Roosevelt most Americans seem to have accepted their worth–benevolent imperialsim with Teddy. Wilson was overly idealistic, but so too were/are most Americans, not having had their homeland destroyed as of this date. Roosevelt kept America together after the 30’s economic collapse. Truman got us into the Marshall Plan. Kennedy the first Catholic President & Obama the first with African blood, at least publicly. What will Mr Trump’s legacy be? Can you recommend Mr Trump as a role model for your kids or grandkids? Would you invest with Mr Trump without major due diligence? Lots of room for discussion here, naturally. P.S. Since I live in Europe & do business internationally, I of course am constantly being asked, “Is that a real person?” The Chinese in particular ask this question, as at the moment they intend at ALL COSTS to advance economically, as we all should know.

      • Calgacus
        August 9, 2018 at 11:30 am

        Risk Analyst: I for one value your contributions and insights, being from a different political viewpoint from mine makes them more valuable.

        While I don’t think it is too controversial to say that Trump fibs, fabricates and just plain lies a good amount, I think it is clear that it often but not always just shows him to be a blowhard who is clearly not even really trying to impart truth.

        He has tended to be less of a murderous thug than Obama, whose lies imho had a great deal more content and import, starting war after war, claiming and exercising the lying right to murder US citizens. And the absurd and provable lie of the appalling Mueller “investigation” and the Russiagate farce makes even Trump look honest.

        What the haute monde protests against is Trump’s coarseness. But it attacks him the most when he says obvious truths – Russiagate is a fake news witchhunt, and when he refuses to imitate the Democrat’s insane aggressiveness against North Korea or Russia, it madly calls him a traitor.

        What the haute monde protests against is the commonness, indiscreteness, and obviousness of Trump’s lies,
        Obama was the man in the ruffled collar who always manages to levitate above the blood he spills, by piously mouthing always sweet-sounding hypocritical and cynical lies.

        Which lies less, which is more honest? Trump or his foes, the Clinton-Obama Dems, the MSM and their shameless, dishonest, blatantly political McCarthyite “investigations”?

        Not sure, but Trump surely has a case.

      • Risk Analyst
        August 9, 2018 at 3:33 pm

        Prof. Beckman: I appreciate your interest in ferreting out the truth but your link was not responsive. We were talking about your saying that Trump has provided 4400 false or misleading statements while president in your reply to Grayce. The link you sent was about one controversy over a statistic in Germany. That 4400 number appears to be from the Washington Post and, if so, the methodology is not defensible, or at least my brief research leads me to that conclusion. What they seem to do is take every point they personally disagree with and count up how many times that point was raised in speeches, or papers and tweets or wherever. If that is what they are doing, it is a gross exaggeration meant to maximize political impact. Such a number just doesn’t pass the smell test of how much information a president or anyone could give over that time.

        And again it reemphasizes my point that economists should kind of stick to economics and get that right first before moving on. I can image the Washington Post writers giggling each time their numbers are repeated. These are not the days of Edward R. Murrow or Walter Cronkite and they are not there to tell you the truth, but to weave a story line.

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        August 9, 2018 at 6:44 pm

        Hi, Risk Analyst, sorry if that was not the intended: 1) https://www.esquire.com/uk/latest-news/a20111768/donald-trump-has-managed-to-tell-3001-lies-as-president-here-are-five-of-his-best/. 2) https://www.washingtonpost.com/…/president-trump-has-made-3251-false-or-misleading… 3) projects.thestar.com/donald-trump-fact-check/. And so on it goes. If Mr Trump considers himself the captain of the ship of state, how can anyone understand him when he both contradicts himself & contradicts basics like water for the present California forest fires. It was not forest or crops, but rather forests normally receive most of their bounty from mother nature. I was an officer in the US Marine Corps long ago. Trump would have been locked up, not as bad but as irrational, if he had been wearing our uniform.

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        August 9, 2018 at 6:49 pm

        Risk Analyst, get the Kock Brothers to accurately measure these statements. They certainly have the resources, and probably little reason to be inaccurate. Never in the many decades of my adulthood have I ever heard of a major politician being so challenged. Facts are the basis for our discussions of differing ways in dealing with any issue, it seems to me. And those discussions are really important & interesting, are they not?

      • Risk Analyst
        August 10, 2018 at 12:38 am

        Prof Beckman, I believe you are wrong on several levels. First, I questioned your statement that someone lied or mislead 4400 times, and you immediately retreated to a lower number of 3251. Is that OK? Suddenly you are now saying your first number is 35% off, and with no explanation, no story, and not even any hand waving. If Trump changes his numbers, then the leftist media and (I am assuming) you are eager to call him a liar, but if you are off then you feel no explanation is even worth offering. And this goes to my point that economists should just stay out of political discussion because they are awful at it.

        Another point is brought up by Calgacus above about the real impact. When the Johnson administration misrepresented the Tonkin Gulf incident, it led to a war that killed hundreds of thousands, or actually a couple of million if you include civilians. The Bush weapons of mass destruction misrepresentation led to an Iraq war that killed hundreds of thousands. The link you provided on Trump lies has a list of the top 5 whoppers Trump has told. One is a story about bowling balls. Another about a crowd size. Seriously?

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        August 14, 2018 at 11:50 am

        Risk Analyst, if this were scientific–and journalists don’t have time or resources–then we would have lists of quotes, given by Mr T at certain places/times under certain conditions. For example, if he applies his negotiating style to leaders of the EU he speaks one way as opposed to going to a US campaign site. When he was in deep conversation with Putin, he probably had different topics in mind than when discussing hotel deals with his eldest son.
        I think the public is not really interested with these distinctions either, as they have their lives to lead. The result:different analysts pick up on different topics & evaluate them differently, I expect.

  9. Jorge Modesto Rodriguez (Argentina)
    August 8, 2018 at 6:14 pm

    Tengo entendido que la “Democracia” es el “gobierno del pueblo por el pueblo para el pueblo”
    entonces como se puede admitir que “El poder privado corporativo” financie el funcionamiento de la misma, permitiendo entonces a sus operadores (lobbistas) sancionar leyes y regulaciones que beneficien substancialmente al poder hegemónico en contra de las necesidades del pueblo, como está a la vista, y son “hechos” no ideología . El hecho que el
    1 % de la población mundial sea apropie del 60% de la riqueza producida.. no les produce
    ninguna reflexión ?..o es porque Dios creó al mundo así o porque es una ley “natural” ?
    la explotación del hombre por el hombre desde la noche de los tiempos. Si se quiere vivir
    los resultados de una “Verdadera Democracia” tendrá que funcionar la “igualdad de oportunidades” desde la información, la educación y la votación , teniendo muy en cuenta
    lo que dijo Mashall Mc Luhan “Los Medios de Comunicación existen para influir en nuestras
    vidas con percepciones artificiales y valores arbitrarios”, y hoy están en manos de Corporaciones, más allá de las singularidades democráticas de algunos periodistas.

  10. August 8, 2018 at 9:51 pm

    Economics, too, is pre-truth
    Comment on David Ruccio on ‘Socialism or truth’

    David Ruccio echoes the newest post-truth slogans: “Every day, it seems, one or another liberal ― pundit, columnist, or scholar ― issues a warning that, in the age of Donald Trump, we now live in a post-truth world. In their view, we face a fundamental choice: either return to a singular, capital-t truth or suffer the consequences of multiple sets of beliefs, facts, and truths.” This, though, is not such a big concern for David Ruccio: “Me, I’ll take socialism over truth any day.”

    First of all, the idiocy of the post-truth blather consists of the tacit implication that there was a period in human history where truth prevailed. This neither holds for the near nor the remote past. “We” still do not have the historical truth about the Kennedy assassination and “we” never had the historical truth about figures like Jesus/Mohamed/Solomon and their teachings. What “we” have since 2000+ years is story-telling/literary fiction/propaganda/forgeries/False-Hero-Memorials. Roughly the same holds for profane history. Herodotus, to recall, was not only called the ‘The Father of History’ but also ‘The Father of Lies’.

    The exception to perennial story-telling is, of course, science. Scientific truth is well-defined by material and formal consistency and is established by rigorous proof. Fact is, however, that the brains of about 99 percent of any population have zero scientific content which means that societies are firmly at the pre-truth stage. In this respect, nothing has changed with Mr. Trump and therefore it is plain idiocy to announce a post-truth era.

    This holds in any case for economics. After 200+ years, economists still do not have the true theory. Economics is not a science but what Feynman called a cargo cult science. The four main approaches ― Walrasianism, Keynesianism, Marxianism, Austrianism ― are mutually contradictory, axiomatically false, materially/formally inconsistent, and all got profit ― the pivotal concept of the subject matter ― wrong. With the pluralism of provably false theories, economics is at the pre-truth = proto-scientific stage.

    Since Adam Smith/Karl Marx, economic policy guidance NEVER had sound scientific foundations. This holds for capitalism and communism and everything in-between. The scientific truth-value of economics is zero.

    The truth about economics is:
    • Economics is axiomatically false, that is, Walrasian microfoundations and Keynesian macrofoundations are materially/formally inconsistent.
    • Because the axioms are false the whole analytical superstructure is false.
    • Economists do to this day not know what profit is.
    • Economists do not understand how the economic system, i.e. the price- and profit mechanism, works.
    • Economists fail to realize that the market economy is NOT self-correcting but inherently unstable.

    To this day, economists are NOT committed to scientific truth but to political agenda pushing.#1 For them, post-truth and pre-truth is a matter of indifference, they simply keep on telling the same brain-dead stories about capitalism and communism. They do not know the difference between writing a wishlist#3 and scientific research.#4 Neither orthodox nor heterodox economists know how the economy works. They are even too stupid for the elementary mathematics of National Accounting.#5 For the time being, economics and truth cannot be mentioned in the same breath.

    Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

    #1 There is no truth in political economics
    https://axecorg.blogspot.com/2016/03/there-is-no-truth-in-political-economics.html

    Economics and truth
    https://axecorg.blogspot.com/2017/03/economics-and-truth.html

    Pre-truth and post-truth in economics
    https://axecorg.blogspot.com/2017/03/pre-truth-and-post-truth-in-economics.html

    Economics is not post-truth but pre-truth
    https://axecorg.blogspot.com/2016/12/economics-is-not-post-truth-but-pre.html

    #2 : For details of the big picture see cross-references Political Economics
    https://axecorg.blogspot.com/2015/11/political-economics-cross-references.html

    #3 “… we want to build a world where everyone has a right to food, healthcare, a good home, an enriching education, and a union job that pays well. We think this kind of economic security is necessary for people to live rich and creative lives — and to be truly free. We want to guarantee all of this while stopping climate change and building an economy that’s ecologically sustainable. We want to build a world without war, where people in other countries are free from the fear of US military intervention and economic exploitation. And we want to end mass incarceration and police brutality, gender violence, intolerance towards queer people, job and housing discrimination, deportations, and all other forms of oppression.”

    #4 How the Intelligent Non-Economist Can Refute Every Economist Hands Down
    https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2705395

    #5 Wikipedia and the promotion of economists’ idiotism (II)
    https://axecorg.blogspot.com/2018/07/wikipedia-and-promotion-of-economists.html

  11. August 17, 2018 at 10:00 am

    David, excellent article. Aletheia is the daughter of Zeus or alternatively was crafted by Prometheus. Whichever, Aletheia is truth, translated also as “unclosedness,” “unconcealedness,” “disclosure,” or “truth”. The literal meaning of the word is “the state of not being hidden; the state of being evident.” Also means factuality or reality. It is the opposite of Lethe, which literally means “oblivion,” “forgetfulness,” or “concealment.”

    One of the highest values of the Druids was that of truth, designating holiness, righteousness, and faithfulness in both religion and justice.

    The ancient Greeks and ancient Druids do not agree about truth. I see no reason trying to wangle a conciliation between them. Or between any other notions of truth.

    Humans have concerns about their lives, which they create and address through their cultures. We have matters of concern that drive us to action. Truth – Greek or Druid version – has little to do with this work. We work to solve concerns and build a culture that gives us the kind of life we believe we deserve. It’s always a struggle and never finished. But it’s all we have. Socialism is offered as a possible way to address some of our current concerns in the US. How well socialism can do this job will be determined by some experimentation but mostly by hands-on experience. Everything else is just propaganda or wishful thinking.

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