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Andrew Bernstein Debate @ USC

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Dagny
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Just received this in my email. I will definitely be attending. :)

DEBATE:

CAPITALI$M: Is there a Moral Alternative?

Laissez-faire Capitalism

Dr. Andrew Bernstein

Pace University Professor of Philosophy

Senior Speaker and Writer for the Ayn Rand Institute

After roughly 250 years of capitalism, 80 years of socialism and millennia of statism more broadly, the historical verdict is in. Capitalism ? the system of individual rights ? has wrought vastly greater freedom and prosperity than has ever previously existed in the world. Whether in Western Europe, North America or the ?Asian Tigers,? the system of individual rights has protected citizens? freedom of speech, of intellectual _expression, of the press, of religion and of the right to own property and seek profit. Not surprisingly, such freedom of the human mind has led to the highest general living standards of human history by whole orders of magnitude. The system of individual rights and limited government must be implemented in 3rd World nations for! them to overthrow

political oppression and rise out of the resultant destitution.

Vs.

A Moral Alternative

Dr. Peter Robertson

USC Professor of Social Policy Planning and Development

Expert on Organizational Development and Change

Laissez-faire capitalism, as practiced in today's global economy, is dysfunctional for the planet and for human society. Despite all the benefits this economic system has generated throughout the modern era, the logic underlying capitalism is incompatible with the conditions of our post-modern, post-industrial, Information Age world. The result is that capitalism is now doing as much harm as good, threatening the long-term sustainability of the global village. Fortunately, an emerging set of frameworks, proposals, and applications are establishing the basis for some fundamental changes in the rules of the game by which capitalism is played. Such changes can and should be made, and while we might continue to cal! l the revised system capitalism, it will most certainly be a moral alternative to the contemporary version of laissez-faire capitalism.

Friday, November 12 6:30PM SGM-123

sponsored by

The USC Objectivist Club

[email protected]

Further Details:

There is no fee to attend the event. I think it will last 2 and a

half hours.

As far as the building location, punch in this address on mapquest:

3667 Mc Clintock

Los Angeles CA 90089

This is parking structure A which is diagonally across from SGM

Or if you don't like mapquest, breifly:

Get off Adams Blvd from the 110. Head south on Figureoa (sp?) turn

right on Jefferson. Left on McClintock and enter USC at gate 5. Go most

of the way down McClintock. Pass two stop signs, turn right to enter

Parkign Sctructre A.

Parking is 6$. Street parking is possible but probably not a good idea

if you have a nice car.

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Hey! You beat me to this post! :D

I was curious how many people from this forum where going to attend. I thought it would be cool if we all had some sort of signature article of clothing so we could recognize each other. While some people might think it is a little risqué I would love to meet the people on this forum in person (and I don’t know anyone that would want to go with me so as it stands I’m going to sitting all alone :( ). But think of how many common topics we could have to discus!!! It would be fabulous. :lol: If anyone else is up for it we’d have to think of something distinguishing but not to odd... maybe big gold dollar chains?.. or more seriously a blue bandanna on the left wrist... or anyone knows USC well and could suggest a good meeting place, then we would have to have a distinguishing phrase like – A: Who is... -> B: John Galt? (actually random people at that conference might pick up on that...) maybe A: Who voted for Kerry? -> B: MisterSwig (couldn’t resist, second thing that came to mind, it would actually be really cool if you will be there MisterSwig, seeing you in person would probably change half my perspective of you [your avatar combined with your sn kind of makes me think of you as a pirate]... on second thought why would I want to ruin that? :):) – anyways I hope you didn’t mind the jest or personal comment :) ). I think I’m getting ahead of myself... just got excited for a moment, meeting fellow Objectivists/students of in California would be cool, I haven’t seen a fully rational person in person since Andrew went back to Pennsylvania. :( If anyone else is up for it, let’s get this party started! :D

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well I just put my photo as my avatar again so anyone can recognize me if they're going. I was going to update the photo but i'm so busy right now I probably wont get around to it for a few weeks. its only a couple of years old so I dont think I look that much different (except shorter hair). I"m attending with Doug (my husband)....I'll be carrying my copy of Atlas Shrugged.

I have been wanting to get a gold dollar sign pin or bracelet but will have to wait for xmas. Can't think of any other distinguishing things. Hopefully more people from the forum will be attending. It will be interesting since there'll probably have supporters for the other speaker as well. This will be my first Objectivist event and I look forward to meeting other Objectivists as well. :)

p.s. if anyone approaches me with "who is...?"...i'll answer "John Galt".

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  • 2 months later...
Just Curious,

Is there anyone that attended the debate that could recap the event?

I wrote this shortly after – just never did anything with it. Here it goes:

On Friday I went to the debate ‘Capitalism: Is there a moral alternative?’ For everyone’s distaste I have copied Dr. Robertson’s “Top ten problems with Capitalism, and corresponding requirements for a moral economy:” I have to say what really amazed me though was the split between the Capitalists and the Socialists, I was sitting in the front but from what I could hear it was about 50/50... so much for USC. I felt bad for Dr. Bernstein because had this been a private conversation he should have just walked away, there was really no point arguing with that socialist weasel. Anyways, on to the list:

1. Capitalism induces dysfunctional competition among human beings.

A moral economic system would encourage and reward the kinds of collaborative endeavors needed to assure the peaceful, healthy development of society.

2. Capitalism is undemocratic.

A moral economic system would be under the control of the people, society at large, rather than under the control of only the rich and powerful.

3. Capitalism is inherently unjust.

A moral economic system would be designed to promote greater equality among all of the world’s people, and thereby improve the conditions for an possibility of a long-term, peaceful coexistence.

4. Capitalism is driven by the capital markets at the expense of the real economy.

A moral economic system would focus first and foremost on the requirements of the real economy, rather than letting human well-being be determined by the speculative dynamics of the capital markets.

5. Capitalism places no value on the future.

A moral economic system would value the future and thus insure that current economic activities don’t prevent future generations from being able to meet their needs as well.

6. Capitalism is a very wasteful and inefficient system.

A moral economic system would be oriented towards minimizing the amount of waist produced through processes of production and consumption.

7. Capitalism creates a materialistic, consumption-based society.

A moral economic system would take into account the fact that continuous consumption is not a necessary or sufficient condition for human happiness.

8. Capitalism abuses the natural environment.

A moral economic system would promote a healthy and thriving natural environment as a necessary precondition to the survival of the human race.

9. Capitalism values money over people.

A moral economic system would put people before profits.

10. Capitalism is based on an old, outdated, obsolete philosophy.

A moral economic system would be designed to reflect the contemporary conditions of our postmodern, post-industrial society.

/// Back to present :D

If anything else strikes my mind I’ll post it... but for the most part this was the argument against capitalism that was presented point by point and in fact quite rudely past the designated time limit of the debate. There were plenty of people who went right along with this viewpoint and took plenty offence to Dr. Bernstein because sure enough controversial issues came up about Iraq and some people took it quite personally.

One of my favorite moments was, after the rules for asking questions had been laid out, including “questions only, not lectures” and this one cubby social planner gets up and starts lecturing about how what he does is good for communities (Dr. Bernstein made a point about how social planning creates slums) so anyways this guy was a crybaby and kept talking after politely being asked by the moderators to ask a question or step down – so the point came when he said “Hey! I have a right to...” then simultaneously every smart person in the room said, “no, you don’t!” :P

Anyways, interesting it was.

Sorry I didn’t see you Dagny. I always get carried away with things anyway (observe appallingly excessive use of smiles in previous post :D ), it was a little unrealistic to think that a whole group of people from the forum would show up and hang out, but my imagination gets carried away some times. Still for the most part you people are cool. <_<

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Sorry I didn’t see you Dagny.  I always get carried away with things anyway (observe appallingly excessive use of smiles in previous post  :) ), it was a little unrealistic to think that a whole group of people from the forum would show up and hang out, but my imagination gets carried away some times.  Still for the most part you people are cool.  :(

Stephen and I were there too, right in the front row. Sorry we missed you. Here's the write-up of the event from my January CyberNet:

The November 12, 2004 debate on "Capitali$m: Is There a Moral

Alternative?" between ANDREW BERNSTEIN and Peter Robertson, associate

professor at the University of Southern California (USC) was

front-page news in the next USC Daily Trojan, although the article

at times misrepresented Dr. Bernstein's position.

<http://tinyurl.com/5gxsw>

The debate was sponsored by the USC OBJECTIVIST CLUB, ARI, the USC

Academic Honors Assembly and the USC Graduate and Professional Student

Senate.  USC Objectivist Club President JASON HOSKIN, who along with

other club members was responsible the debate, reports:  "The debate

was a smashing success.  We got 140 people to attend.  Dr. Bernstein

performed brilliantly."

Faculty sponsor ROBIN MOCKETT agrees:

    During the debate itself, the contrasts of content and style

    between the two speakers became apparent immediately. Dr.

    Bernstein began with clear definitions of the terms he would be

    using, and then presented both moral and practical arguments in

    favor of capitalism. His manner was serious, animated and at times

    impassioned, particularly in response to an emotional heckler, and

    he emphasized the basis of his theories in observational evidence.

    Dr. Bernstein's performance made this 'the best Friday evening I

    have ever had', according to one undergraduate student, while

    another student new to Objectivism told me that her whole world

    view had been challenged in the debate, and as a result she would

    be coming to future Club meetings.

The USC club is in the process of setting up a web site at

http://www.uscobjectivistclub.com and those interested

in being added to the club's mailing list can (mailto:[email protected]).

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... it was a little unrealistic to think that a whole group of people from the forum would show up and hang out, but my imagination gets carried away some times.

There was a group of about 12 of us that went out for dinner after. I only knew 2 or 3 of them before that evening. Lots of fun.

It's frustrating, though, that no debate I've seen involving an experienced Objectivist intellectual has any real opponent. It's as if nobody but Objectivists take ideas seriously. It shows just how empty our opponents are: they have to resort to slander and obfuscation.

The debate was, to say the least, quite one-sided.

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I have to say that Dr. Robertson's "Top Ten" is as twisted and immoral a group of statements as I have ever read in one place. Wow. Who is Dr. Robertson?

(Edited after first post) Never mind, I see it was a debate, and I assume Robertson must have been the opponent. I would like to have heard that...

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Dr. Robinson's "Top Ten" is garbage for many reasons, but I laughed upon reading #4 "Capitalism is driven by the [speculative dynamics of] capital markets at the expense of the real economy," followed by #5 "Capitalism places no value on the future."

As an equity analyst it was immediately apparent to me that 4 contradicted 5. For though "speculate" is now a perjorative term, it once meant looking forward, thinking, and with an eye to gain. Financial markets are constantly looking to the future, trying to guide resources to where they can most profitably be employed to generate value to human life.

I'm sure stupid Dr. Robinson only meant by "speculative" that financial markets are gambling casinos totally disconnected from (or in conflict with) the "real economy". In fact, capital markets are one of the key means for guiding the "real economy" (which in itself is an anti-concept).

For more on how financial markets help an economy, one obscure and only somewhat flawed book I can recommend is "The Wealth of Nations Rediscovered: Integration and Expansion in American Financial Markets, 1780–1850" By Robert E. Wright.

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There is one aspect of the debate at USC between Peter Robertson and Andrew Bernstein that I found quite fascinating: Robertson represents the new face of Marxism. The flag of Marxism has been too discredited to wave openly and proudly in academia today, so Robertson subverts the issue by proclaiming he is all for the practical effects of capitalism, but a capitalism that must be humanized by concerns for ideas and actions more in tune with a different morality. In other words, the Marxism is concealed behind the embrace of the practical value of capitalism, but is given full leash in an attempt to transfigure the free market by concern for certain "moral" values that just happen to reflect the Marxist position. All in all, the very existence of a Peter Robertson is a somewhat good sign in that he reflects the fact that direct Marxism is no longer viable in academia today.

Edit: Incidentally, Betsy and I had dinner before the debate with Robin Mockett, the faculty advisor for the club that sponsored the event at USC, and several of the club members (Andy was supposed to join us but his ride got lost!). I just have to say how impressed I was with the students in the club. To the person they were all not only bright, intelligent, and articulate, but they exhibited an openness which reflects a high degree of comfort and self-confidence. It was a joy meeting them all.

Edited by stephen_speicher
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The flag of Marxism has been too discredited to wave openly and proudly in academia today, so Robertson subverts the issue by proclaiming he is all for the practical effects of capitalism, but a capitalism that must be humanized by concerns for ideas and actions more in tune with a different morality.

This brings one thing to mind… I don’t remember the exact exchange but there was a point in the debate where Dr. Bernstein made the point that Dr. Robertson was a socialist, Dr. Robertson’s reply was, “…well… I wouldn’t label anybody…” or something along those lines. Dr. Robertson was either afraid to wave the flag of Marxism openly or he actually thinks he is something new – more likely than not he thinks because he is afraid – regardless I don’t like him.

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This brings one thing to mind… I don’t remember the exact exchange but there was a point in the debate where Dr. Bernstein made the point that Dr. Robertson was a socialist, Dr. Robertson’s reply was, “…well… I wouldn’t label anybody…” or something along those lines. Dr. Robertson was either afraid to wave the flag of Marxism openly or he actually thinks he is something new – more likely than not he thinks because he is afraid – regardless I don’t like him.

I too disliked him intensely; he was a slimy pseudo-intellectual twit. Even his constant mannerisms -- adjusting his clothing and stance -- were calculated to emphasize his superiority in the human race because of the concerns for humanity which oozed out of him. I pity the poor minds that are influenced by him as a teacher. But, still, it was great to see concrete evidence that the enemy now needs to relegate its roots to the underground, while revealing a pale reflection of its philosophy on the surface.

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  • 2 weeks later...
There is one aspect of the debate at USC between Peter Robertson and Andrew Bernstein that I found quite fascinating: Robertson represents the new face of Marxism. The flag of Marxism has been too discredited to wave openly and proudly in academia today, so Robertson subverts the issue by proclaiming he is all for the practical effects of capitalism, but a capitalism that must be humanized by concerns for ideas and actions more in tune with a different morality. In other words, the Marxism is concealed behind the embrace of the practical value of capitalism, but is given full leash in an attempt to transfigure the free market by concern for certain "moral" values that just happen to reflect the Marxist position. All in all, the very existence of a Peter Robertson is a somewhat good sign in that he reflects the fact that direct Marxism is no longer viable in academia today.

In other words, It's Communism that doesn't want to take credit for every single failed communist system in history (which, incidently, would be all of them.) One Republican editorial writer called these people that try to distance themselves from the empirical evidence Indi-crats. Sure he was refering to Democrats who went independent so they wouldn't have to put up with defending the Democrat party, but the notion remains. :D

It reminds me of President Johnson in Atlas Shrugged when he told Galt that he was willing to listen, and do whatever he said would be necessary to fix the state, but then shrivelled away from John when John told him to do something Capitalistic (in that case, abolish the income tax.)

That seems to be fairly common among socialists today. They seem like they are trying to give Capitalism the credit it undeniably deserves, but also trying to bend the facts for their purposes. The common mantra I hear is "Capitalism is a nice economic system, but makes a lousy religion."

damn, Now I have guilt that I didn't sign up for CyberNet back in October, if I had known about this event I would have bent over backwards trying to attend. Time to remedy that problem.

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