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Does Capitalism include the legal gain of property by use of force?

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The Laws of Biology
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Please consider the logic of this idea that I am here proposing. As I understand it, Ayn Rand and Objectivists justify Capitalism as being ethical on the ground that property is gained through the Trader Principle, which is the voluntary exchange of property and services in free market context. And I agree that Capitalism does include that aspect. But today I was thinking that Capitalism also seems to include the legal gain of property by the use of force. Here's one example: NFL football games. NFL teams succeed, and gain property, through defeating other NFL teams. They don't win games by use of the Trader Principle. They win games by use of physical force, brute force. Fans watch NFL games specifically to see teams apply brute force to each other. Now, it is true that no person is forced to participate in NFL games. But, once players are inside the games of the NFL, property is gained by brute force. And fans derive much pleasure from watching the NFL players obtain property by brute force. Now a second example: In the school system, full-ride scholarships are given to the few students who end up with the highest grades. It is impossible for every student to end up with the highest grades, even if they all worked as hard as possible in their studies. This is because it is well known that academic ability is distributed as per a "bell curve." So, a few students will always defeat the other students in academic performance. And so we can see that the large property value involved in getting a full-ride scholarship to college is not obtained by the Trader Principle, but by the force of superior academic ability defeating others on academic tests. Here's a third example: Some aspects of investing in the stock market are game-like with players trying to outsmart and outplay each other. And so, here too, property is not gained by the Trader Principle, but by force (force of mind, not brute, physical force). Well, thoughtful comments on this proposition would be most welcome. Thank you, best wishes. 

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I thought of two more examples to add to those above:

Here’s a fourth example: Politicians and their close allies typically end up gaining a great deal of private property as a result of obtaining public offices. But politicians do not obtain public offices by the Trader Principle, but by defeating rivals in elections for the offices. So, public offices are obtained by force; not physical force, but force of mind (strategy; tactics; etc.), force of words, force of efforts, etc. Many politicians employ deceptions (e.g., promises they know they cannot and will not keep) in their political campaigns, and so use the force of fraud (fraudulent speech) to defeat their rivals and gain public offices. But even politicians who win offices without use of deception are still winning by force, not by the Trader Principle. Politicians don’t force voters to vote for them, so don’t use force in that sense. But in relation to their political rivals, politicians do seem to be using a form of mental force in order to outplay their rivals, just as NFL players use mental force (along with physical force) to defeat their rivals. Here’s a sixth example: Chess competitions with monetary prizes. Those financial prizes are not gained by the Trader Principle. So, how are they being gained? It must be by force—superior mental force.

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19 minutes ago, The Laws of Biology said:

Now, it is true that no person is forced to participate in NFL games.

This is crucial.  

A player who joins and participates in an NFL team is voluntarily agreeing to contests in which limited physical force plays a role.  This makes it an example of the trader principle.

23 minutes ago, The Laws of Biology said:

but by the force of superior academic ability defeating others on academic tests

This is not physical force. 

The money is obtained, not from the defeated students, but from whoever is funding the scholarships.

26 minutes ago, The Laws of Biology said:

Some aspects of investing in the stock market are game-like

Any stock market transaction is a voluntary exchange consistent with the trader principle.  Outsmarting or outperforming or outlucking someone while operating under mutually agreed-upon rules is not physical force. 

12 minutes ago, The Laws of Biology said:

But politicians do not obtain public offices by the Trader Principle, but by defeating rivals in elections for the offices.

Politicians obtain their offices from the voters, not from their rivals.  They are subject to judgment by the voters for broken promises and other failings.

49 minutes ago, The Laws of Biology said:

Chess competitions with monetary prizes.

Prize winners get their prizes from whoever is funding them, not from the other competitors.

51 minutes ago, The Laws of Biology said:

mental force.

Your concept of "mental force" is nonsense.

 

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18 minutes ago, Doug Morris said:

Your concept of "mental force" is nonsense.

First, thank you for your answer to my question.

If a man uses a gun in the real world to shoot another man and take his money, that is physical force.

If a man uses a virtual gun in a video game to shoot another man's avatar in the video game, and thereby wins a monetary prize for being winner of a video game competition, isn’t that a case of property being gained (and denied to rivals) by use of mental force and physical force (since the players of video games use not only their brains but their arms and hands to operate the video game controller device)?

The winner of monetary prizes in a video game competition has not obtained that property entirely by means of the Trader Principle, even though all players voluntarily entered the competition, and so entered into a Trader Principle relationship with each other and with the organizer of the competition. To win, the winner also has to deploy superior force, with his body (hands, arms) and with his mind. 

I have seen that there now exists a device that allows a paralyzed person to control and move his wheelchair or his bed with his thoughts alone. Now, suppose that device was connected to a gun, and this device allowed the paralyzed person to fire a gun and shoot a person. Would we say that this paralyzed man did not use force to harm the other person? Thus, mustn't we acknowledge that "mental force" is a form of force?

If what I am calling "mental force" is not properly categorized as force, when what is it? How should it be properly categorized? Is it nothing? Is it something magical or mystical or supernatural? If we agree that deliberate, intentional mental activity that is orientated toward gaining property in the real world by defeating rivals who are seeking that same property—if we agree that that is not nothing, is not something magical, mystical, or supernatural, then what is it? It has to be something, right? And if we agree that it is something, can it not be classified and categorized along with other things of its kind?

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55 minutes ago, Doug Morris said:

Prize winners get their prizes from whoever is funding them, not from the other competitors.

Again, thank you for you answer to my question.

Consider the case of a poker game organized by the players themselves. Imagine that the poker game is being played for money, and that each player puts his own money into the game. At the end of play, suppose one player has won all the money of all the other players. Now, how did this winner gain all that property? By exercising superior physical force over the other players? No. How then did he end up with all the property that they put into the game? Luck? No, not entirely luck. Chance is a factor in poker, but not the only factor. Mental skill and the will to win are also big factors. One online encyclopedia says: "In physics, a force is an influence that can change the motion of an object." Now, this winning poker player managed to move all the property from the wallets of his rivals into his own wallet. Wasn't it force that moved the property from their wallets to his wallet? Wasn't it a superior mental force? 

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In the game of poker, the winner of the game did seek to obtain, and did obtain, the property that the other players put into the game. How did this winner obtain this property? He outplayed them. How did he outplay them? Was it not because he had, and he exercised, superior mental skills? If a man in a physical fight has Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) training, and the other men in the fight do not have such training, the man with superior physical skills (MMA) will defeat the others. We don't hesitate to say that the MMA guy used "physical force" to defeat the other men. Why not say, then, that the poker player with superior mental skills (innate or learned) used "mental force" to defeat his rivals and move their money from their wallets into his wallet?

And isn't the case of the poker game similar to a great deal of what goes on in a Capitalist economy?

And isn't this the element of Capitalism that most Socialists focus on with their objections and criticism?

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All over the world, people have an intense love of watching games such as NFL football, soccer ("futbol"), traditional boxing, MMA fighting, and so on.

What do all these have in common? Opposing men seeking the same pot of money (property), but only one winner gets the prize (property) or the biggest prize.

I just don't see Ayn Rand's Trader Principle being involved in how the winner wins the prize and denies the prize to the opponent(s).

I love Ayn Rand's Trader Principle. It's a beautiful, moral principle. It is the opposite of being a moocher, welfare recipient, subsidy recipient, thief, fraudster, etc.  Ayn Rand's Trader Principle is based on dedicating yourself to being a productive person. 

But then I think about all the super passionate love that people have for NFL, MMA, high stakes poker games, and so on, and it dawns me that that Ayn Rand's Trader Principle does not describe everything that goes on in a Capitalist economy. No one spends hours in front of the TV watching people engage in Ayn Rand's Trader Principle. People get excited by seeing the use of force to gain property. People love aggression. We are all conquistadors, by nature. In ancient Rome, they had a saying: "Homo homini lupus," which means "Man is wolf to man." We are all wolves. This is why the supposedly humanistic and benevolent Communism led to the mass murdering monsters Stalin and Mao. Man is wolf to man. And in a Capitalist system, though it is far superior to Communism, still, under Capitalism, "Man is wolf to man." 

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I suppose my proposition here, for discussion, is that Ayn Rand's theory of Capitalism fails to take into consideration the natural, unavoidable, animalistic, aggressive instincts of human beings.

Communist theory contains the same error.

The philosophy of Aristotle contains the same error, though no one can blame Aristotle for not studying Charles Darwin's books, since they weren't written yet.

Karl Marx did read Charles Darwin's books, but he badly misunderstood them. Marx thought Darwin's theory supported Communism.

From what I've been able to find out, Ayn Rand did not study Charles Darwin's books, at least not to any significant extent, but dismissed them and their ideas as irrelevant to her philosophical work.

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The point of the trader principle is that people should interact with each other to mutual benefit, with neither being sacrificed to the other.  If a rational person voluntarily agrees to take part in a game, contest, or competition, it must be because they think they have at least a chance either of winning or of gaining some other benefit, such as entertainment or experience.  This is consistent with the trader principle.  Whatever people do, there is no guarantee of benefit; situations vary from a near guarantee to a long shot chance.

The loser of a game, contest, or competition is not being sacrificed.

The point about physical force has to do with one's basic approach to another person.  If one uses force to subject another person to one's will, as one would with an inanimate object, but acting against their will since they are a person with a will, that is what the no-force principle forbids.  If people voluntarily agree to something and abide by the agreement, this does not violate the no-force principle.  This is true even if the agreed-upon activity is some sort of contest of physical prowess and/or it involves physical contact.

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14 hours ago, The Laws of Biology said:

I have seen that there now exists a device that allows a paralyzed person to control and move his wheelchair or his bed with his thoughts alone. Now, suppose that device was connected to a gun, and this device allowed the paralyzed person to fire a gun and shoot a person. Would we say that this paralyzed man did not use force to harm the other person? Thus, mustn't we acknowledge that "mental force" is a form of force?

Firing a gun is a physical act, and causing a bullet to strike another person is an act of physical force against that person.  This is true regardless of how the gun is fired.

14 hours ago, The Laws of Biology said:

If what I am calling "mental force" is not properly categorized as force, when what is it?

It is using one's mind to win an agreed-on game, contest, or competition.

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14 hours ago, The Laws of Biology said:

"In physics, a force is an influence that can change the motion of an object."

The no-force principle does not refer to force in the sense of physics.  The Earth and Moon are applying gravitational force to each other, but this has nothing to do with the no-force principle.  Threatening force can count as a violation of the no-force principle, even if force in the sense of physics is not actually applied. 

Force in the sense of physics applies to shuffling, dealing, picking up, laying down, and gathering playing cards, and it applies to removing money from one's wallet or purse, placing it on the table, and picking it up later, but not so much to winning a game.

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14 hours ago, The Laws of Biology said:

If a man in a physical fight has Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) training, and the other men in the fight do not have such training, the man with superior physical skills (MMA) will defeat the others.

If the fight is mutually agreed to, it does not violate the no-force principle.

If A physically attacks B against B's will, and B defends himself, then A is violating the no-force principle, and B's actions are legitimate self-defense.  This is true regardless of who wins.

 

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14 hours ago, The Laws of Biology said:

We are all wolves.

This is a grotesque libel against humankind.

14 hours ago, The Laws of Biology said:

This is why the supposedly humanistic and benevolent Communism led to the mass murdering monsters Stalin and Mao.

Communism is based on sacrificing some people to others.  This masquerades as benevolence to the recipients, but is not in their true self-interest, and is grossly malevolent against those who are sacrificed.  Any system based on sacrificing people naturally leads to mass murdering monsters.

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14 hours ago, The Laws of Biology said:

But then I think about all the super passionate love that people have for NFL, MMA, high stakes poker games, and so on, and it dawns me that that Ayn Rand's Trader Principle does not describe everything that goes on in a Capitalist economy. No one spends hours in front of the TV watching people engage in Ayn Rand's Trader Principle. People get excited by seeing the use of force to gain property. People love aggression.

People enjoy seeing people work hard to achieve a goal.  This does not have to involve competition.  But having to compete with other people makes the struggle more challenging, and therefore more interesting.  

 

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15 minutes ago, Doug Morris said:

If a rational person voluntarily agrees to take part in a game, contest, or competition, it must be because they think they have at least a chance either of winning or of gaining some other benefit, such as entertainment or experience. 

First, thank you for your further answer to my question. I found value in your answer.

Now, let me say that I hope am not being obstinate for the sake of being obstinate, and hope that I am not falling into the "oneupmanship" that is so common in online discussions. I believe all philosophical discussions should be about working individually and interactively to see and discover the truth about reality; philosophical discussions should not about winning arguments and defeating others (i.e., philosophical discussions should not be like an NFL game). 

Now then, let me say this: I do now think that I see a logical problem with the answer that no force is involved in the gaining of property in NFL games, or in high stakes poker games, or in other contests that involve 2 or more parties competing fiercely, passionately, and furiously to obtain a limited amount of property that only one party can end up with. 

Here's the possible logical problem I see: What if most people have no choice but to participate as a player in some economic game that has all the essential qualities of an NFL game? What if most people do have some choices about which economic game they will enter (e.g., I can apply for work at McDonald's, or apply for work at Apple Computer, or I can offer my services as a mower of lawns as a freelance businessperson), but they do not have the choice not to enter or try to enter some NFL-like economic game.

Of course, any person could say, "I will not enter or try to enter any economic game." But if they do that, and if they do not have a trust fund or inheritance from a rich relative, they will end up in the misery of being homeless and living on the street, and so risk premature death.

So, I guess I am logically contesting the factual premise that everyone has a choice about whether or not to participate in an economic game that has all the essential elements of a brutal NFL game or of a high-stake poker game. Since most people don't have trust funds or inheritances to live on, and most people don't want to become homeless or die prematurely, the free choice about this matter really seems to be an illusion. 

This is, I think, a point that the Socialists make. They further point out that, under Capitalism, the infrastructure of all or most of the economic games is owned by the Capitalist Owners (a small percentage of the citizens). The Socialists have the idea that if the ownership of the infrastructure of all economic games could be democratized, then the working conditions and the standard of living of workers could be improved. Of course, this was tried in the USSR and in Mao's China, and results were quite different (mass poverty; mass murder; no human liberty or human rights).

But the abysmal failure and immorality of all actual socialist systems does not logically prove that Ayn Rand's theory of the perfect ethics of Capitalism is correct. Logically, it could be the case that Socialism is a great moral evil and that Capitalism is a lesser moral evil, and that some as-yet undiscovered/invented economic system could be morally superior to Capitalism. At least, so it seems to my mind, at the present time.

Why assume that Capitalism is the final and greatest economic system? Homo Sapiens existed 40,000 years ago but, as far as a I know, they did not have Capitalism at that time. So, since there has been progress or evolution in human civilization, economics, culture, and philosophy in the past, why could there not be further such progress or evolution? Why does Ayn Rand assume that there will not be or cannot be any further such progress or evolution?

Thank you for your consideration of these issues.

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14 hours ago, The Laws of Biology said:

the natural, unavoidable, animalistic, aggressive instincts of human beings.

Human beings do not have instincts.

Human beings are able to use our reason and to override impulses and temptations with reason.

14 hours ago, The Laws of Biology said:

Charles Darwin

"Survival of the fittest" does not mean a fight.  It means survival of the organisms that are best adapted to their environment.  It is also called "natural selection", but the word "selection" can also confuse people.

The crucial reason humans have been so successful is not aggression but our faculty of reason.

 

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8 minutes ago, The Laws of Biology said:

What if most people have no choice but to participate as a player in some economic game that has all the essential qualities of an NFL game?

People have no choice other than to be economically productive in order to live.  For people who enjoy the tremendous benefit of living in a society, as opposed to being a hermit or a lone survivor, economic productiveness usually involves competition.  This is an essential part of living in a society.  It does not violate the no-force principle.

21 minutes ago, The Laws of Biology said:

Why assume that Capitalism is the final and greatest economic system?

If a person says that there may be a better system than capitalism without being able to say what it would be, their statement is arbitrary and is logically equivalent to saying nothing.

If someone has a particular suggestion, we can discuss whether it is better.

 

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24 minutes ago, Doug Morris said:

"Survival of the fittest" does not mean a fight.  

Charles Darwin did use the words “fighting,” “struggle,” “battle,” and “war” in describing how all individual biological beings (including human beings) engage in life-or-death competition with each in order to obtain the limited available resources necessary for survival and reproduction:

Darwin quote #1:

“These STRUGGLES are generally decided by the law of BATTLE; but in the case of birds, apparently, by the charms of their song, by their beauty or their power of courtship, as in the dancing rock-thrush of Guiana. Even in the animals which pair there seems to be an excess of males which would aid in causing a struggle: in the polygamous animals, however, as in deer, oxen, poultry, we might expect there would be severest struggle: is it not in the polygamous animals that the males are best formed for mutual war? The most vigorous males, implying perfect adaptation, must generally gain the victory in their several contests. This kind of selection, however, is less rigorous than the other; it does not require the death of the less successful, but gives to them fewer descendants. This STRUGGLE falls, moreover, at a time of year when food is generally abundant, and perhaps the effect chiefly produced would be the alteration of sexual characters, and the selection of individual forms, no way related to their power of obtaining food, or of defending themselves from their natural enemies, but of FIGHTING one with another. This natural STRUGGLE amongst the males may be compared in effect, but in a less degree, to that produced by those agriculturalists who pay less attention to the careful selection of all the young animals which they breed and more to the occasional use of a choice male.” (From an essay by Charles Darwin in the book “The Foundations of the Origin of Species”)

 

Darwin quote #2:

"It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with reproduction; Inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the conditions of life, and from use and disuse; a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a STRUGGLE for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less improved forms. Thus, from the WAR of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows.” (From the last page of Darwin’s book titled “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the STRUGGLE for Life.”)

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17 minutes ago, The Laws of Biology said:

Darwin quote #1:

“These STRUGGLES are generally decided by the law of BATTLE; but in the case of birds, apparently, by the charms of their song, by their beauty or their power of courtship, as in the dancing rock-thrush of Guiana. Even in the animals which pair there seems to be an excess of males which would aid in causing a struggle: in the polygamous animals, however, as in deer, oxen, poultry, we might expect there would be severest struggle: is it not in the polygamous animals that the males are best formed for mutual war? The most vigorous males, implying perfect adaptation, must generally gain the victory in their several contests. This kind of selection, however, is less rigorous than the other; it does not require the death of the less successful, but gives to them fewer descendants. This STRUGGLE falls, moreover, at a time of year when food is generally abundant, and perhaps the effect chiefly produced would be the alteration of sexual characters, and the selection of individual forms, no way related to their power of obtaining food, or of defending themselves from their natural enemies, but of FIGHTING one with another. This natural STRUGGLE amongst the males may be compared in effect, but in a less degree, to that produced by those agriculturalists who pay less attention to the careful selection of all the young animals which they breed and more to the occasional use of a choice male.” (From an essay by Charles Darwin in the book “The Foundations of the Origin of Species”)

This refers to competition for mates, not to competition for food or to anything that could be considered economic.  Among human beings who make proper use of their faculty of reason, which male gets to mate with which female is decided by the voluntary choice of the female, not by a physical fight.

17 minutes ago, The Laws of Biology said:

Darwin quote #2:

"It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with reproduction; Inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the conditions of life, and from use and disuse; a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a STRUGGLE for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less improved forms. Thus, from the WAR of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows.” (From the last page of Darwin’s book titled “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the STRUGGLE for Life.”)

This refers to how well organisms are adapted to their environment, not to a literal fight.  (Font enlargement added.)

 

Edited by Doug Morris
clarification
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2 hours ago, Doug Morris said:

Human beings do not have instincts.

Human beings are able to use our reason and to override impulses and temptations with reason.

 

 

What concept or word describes the origin of the impulses and temptations that humans are subject to , if not instinct ?

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