RE: virus: In defense of heroes and fans

Robin Faichney (
Fri, 5 Dec 1997 21:21:03 -0000

> From: Gifford, Nate F[]
> I see a
> similarity between your egalitarianism and Marx's communist vision.
That's hardly surprising. Egalitarianism is one of
the principles of Marxism.

> I AM
Don't sweat it. That's not such a dirty word over here,
where the capitalists have less of a hold over people's
thinking. :-)

BTW, if anyone's interested, I'm thinking about putting
together a memetic account of the suppression of
dissenting views in modern Western societies.

> I am saying that both of your visions are
> idealistic ... and open to predation by individuals with less
> idealistic
> visions ... such as your average third world dictator who channels
> percentages of aid for his country into a Swiss bank account or
> communist
> party members.
Is all idealism prone to such predation, or just certain

> >> It seems to
> >> me to be born in a circumstance where you are unable to
> develop a
> >> talent is
> >> equivalent to being born without the talent.
> >>
> >That equation is context dependent. Can you really say
> >that to be born in a particular circumstance is enough
> >to preclude that development?
> Yes, I can find conditions nasty enough so that we both agree
> that
> development is impossible: The Manila dump, Somalia, North Korea ...
But it's still a generalisation -- you can't say for sure
that any individual in such a place could not stumble
upon whatever they would need to counter the ill

> >> The point being that the
> >> majority of people on earth today are simply not literate
> enough
> to
> >> churn
> >> out mind-blowing stuff.
> >
> >Not right now, they're not. Maybe. So what?
> Gee, what were we talking about? What is ... or what is
> possible?
> Currently it is impossible for the VAST majority of people to churn
> out
> mind-blowing stuff because they are too poor, have no access to
> infrastructure <like paper and pencil>, and under-educated.
OK, so maybe we're in danger of reaching a
mutual understanding. I mean that almost any
individual, given the appropriate environment,
might become capable of churning out mind-
blowing stuff. I'm not saying they could sit
down and do it right now!

> >The fact that something doesn't happen doesn't mean
> >it couldn't have done so.
> Really? This would make an interesting debate. I argue that
> once
> something happens IT HAD TO HAVE HAPPENED ... I argue that the past is
> 100%
> deterministic.
Funny how these discussions always tend towards
these few strange attractors, isn't it? :-)

I argue that to say the past is deterministic is
meaningless. It happened, it happened. Look at
things that way, and absolutely everything is
deterministic. In a sense, I think, that is perfectly
true, but it's not a sense that is very useful in
real life, is it?

> >> It seems to me Robin, that you've been infected by some kind
> of
> >> egalitarian meme that is distorting your vision.
> >>
> >Ah, but is the distortion beneficial or detrimental?
> Whose values should we use? As I remember on of Karl Marx's
> kids
> died of TB because her daddy wouldn't get a real job.
Oh yeah? Who told you that? Wasn't an all-American
teacher-person, by any chance? Do you think that
even a time-travelling modern epidemiologist going back
there could pin down a kid's death of TB to any one

> Likewise, few artists wish to pay the cost for writing a mind-blowing
> work
> of art ... making the ones who do heroes. By not saying Willa Cather
> is
> "better" then Jackie Collins aren't we encouraging people to write
> like
> Jackie Collins .... since its so much easier?
I'm bemused by the suggestion that willingness to pay
makes the difference between great and not-so-great
artists. And I say that as an environmental economist
who has "willingness to pay" (WTP) coming out of
his ears. Don't you think that an artist's perceptions
of their own abilities might come into it somehow?
Not to mention their own tastes. You're not one of
those who believe they learned the meaning of life
in Econ 101, are you?

> The movie Dr. Strangelove does a wonderful job of exploiting the
> ludicrousness of a narrow definition of utility. I contend that your
> egalitarian views can lead to equally distopian scenarios. Perhaps
> the
> story in "Welcome To The Monkey House" by Kurt Vonnegut where everyone
> is
> equal is the best example of this.
Hey, I remember that, though it's about 20 years since
I read it! But what's artificially-enforced "equality" (like
fit people having to wear weights all the time) got to do
with what I'm saying? Isn't that the exact opposite of
saying that we are all intrinsically, potentially equal?