Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A refutation of "Exploiting a Tragedy, or Le Rouge en Noir" by Daniel Singer

" My objection to the corpsecounting historians is not that they tell a horrible story. It is that they are reducing a major tragedy--revolution in a backward country failing to spread and the terrible result then presented to the
 world as a model--to a grand guignol. And these historians are not doing it to prevent the repetition of horrors
 in future transformations. They are doing it to destroy the very idea of radical change. They are painting the East in black to whitewash the West."
  First of all how do you know their intentions?  For a start many of those who support this work have also attacked totalitarianism of the "right".  But even assuming they're " not doing it to prevent the repetition of horrors in future transformations" but to "destroy the very idea of radical change." why shouldn't that idea be destroyed? After all it's piled up 100 million corpses.  One way "to prevent the repetition of horrors in future transformations" is to prevent future transformations.  Now sure people like you, who denied the existence of such horrors for DECADES might say "There's a better way to prevent the horrors.".  But given the 100 million corpses, it's reasonable to tell you to prove your case.  Even if they are trying to "destroy the very idea of radical change" it's up to you to prove and your ilk to prove that idea is worth saving.  

  As it happens I am in favor of radical change, just not the kind your kind likes.  I became aware of the "corpse-counting historians " solely through the writings of those who favor radical change.  So it seems strange that those trying to destroy the very idea get some much free, positive publicity from those who espouse it.

"The basic weakness of both The Black Book of Communism and The Passing of an Illusion is their incapacity to explain anything. If you look at Communism as merely the story of crimes, terror and repression, to borrow the subtitle of the Black Book, you are missing the point. The Soviet Union did not rest on the gulag alone. There was also enthusiasm, construction, the spread of education and social advancement for millions; when this momentum was lost in the Brezhnev years the system was close to the end of its tether. Similarly, it is impossible to grasp the fascination of outsiders for the Soviet myth and their reluctance to see the reality if you don't view them in their own environment. If you ignore the Great Depression, the strikes and other struggles against exploitation, thecolonial oppression and deadly poverty, the wars in Algeria or Indochina-in short, if, like these authors, you
idealize the Western world--you cannot comprehend why millions of the best and brightest rallied behind the
red flag or why a good section of the Western left turned a blind eye to the crimes committed in its name. Historyis understanding, not just propaganda."

Why is it a "basic weakness" of a history book to not explain why people supported something?  I don't need to explain why people supported slavery to make a book on the inhumanity of the slave trade worthwhile.  It is no more a "basic weakness" of  The Black Book of Communism that it doesn't deal with why communism has 
supporters than it is a basic weakness of Darwin's Descent of Man that it doesn't deal with the evolution of the 
Kangaroo.  A book was needed that explained, clarified and listed the crimes of communism.  This book did that.  Where is the "weakness"?  

"The Soviet Union did not rest on the gulag alone."
  But it did rest on the gulag right?  Because if the Gulag wasn't needed to keep the USSR afloat then it was an 
even worse crime.  

"Similarly, it is impossible to grasp the fascination of outsiders for the Soviet myth and their reluctance to see the reality if you don't view them in their own environment. "
 But surely the first step is to show that such reluctance to see reality was present?  Surely the first step to examining the pretense that millions were not being murdered is to acknowledge and prove that they were murdered.  An examination of why people ignored evidence of Soviet and other communist atrocities would be valuable, but you don't provide it any more than they did."

To claim that "the Great Depression, the strikes and other struggles
against exploitation, the colonial oppression and deadly poverty, the wars in Algeria or Indochina" caused people to ignore these crimes makes no sense.  The primary concealers of communist reality (the intellectuals) never 
starved, were never exploited, never went on strike, and didn't live in Algeria or Indochina.  Even if they did 
there's no reason why these things would cause someone to ignore communist crimes.  Yes if you view the world as a fight between communism as practiced by brutal dictators and capitalism then you must ignore the crimes of the former to continue that fight.  But if you genuinely believe that communism or other radical change is 
possible without massive killing then you need to know why the killings happened.  Simply ignoring them means thee same "mistakes" are repeated.  But more than that, using the Great Depression as an excuse to ignore the 
gulags is like using Jim Crow as an excuse to ignore the Holocaust.  One is far worse than the other, and to
gloss over the one in your preferred system because of the far smaller crime in the other is morally bankrupt.   

Monday, March 10, 2014

None of the arguments against raising the minimum wage have fallen apart.

  This is a critique of the Joshua Holland article in "Nation of Change" entitled "All of the arguments against raising the minimum wage have fallen apart.".
  The first argument that allegedly "collapsed" was that a higher minimum would cost jobs.  "We also have real-world experience with higher minimums.".  We do, but they reference only one, the Washington State experience.  They don't analyze what might account for Washington State's better employment growth other than higher minimum wages.  With at least thousands of major factors, making a claim of causation from ONE factor from ONE location is absurd.  If that's the best he's got, then either he does not understand science at all, or he's being deliberately dishonest.
  It gets worse though.  His refutation of the argument “It will hurt mom-and-pop businesses” is that small business owners favor it.  So what?  Since when do small business owners know microeconomics?  Argumentum ad populem is a classic logical fallacy.  This man is a idiot, or thinks we are.
  But even assuming they knew enough economics to make the judgment only and that judgment determined their opinion only 57% to 43% favored it.  What if the ones the 43% that believed they would be harmed by it would be harmed by it much more than the 57% who favored it?  Note that 82% of them "say they already pay their employees more than the minimum".  So at least 25% of the small business owners wouldn't have to pay their own employees any more, but still didn't support the raise.  Note that at least some are COMPETING against people who employ people at minimum wage.  So in other words among people who definitely don't pay extra direct costs and possibly have their competitors pay higher costs, at most 69.5% * support it.  This is weak sauce indeed, even for argumentum ad populem.  Additionally at least 5% of those who said that "“people will have a higher percentage of their income to spend on goods and services” and small businesses “will be able to grow and hire new workers.”" didn't support it.  Pathetic.
  So how about the argument that “Major costs will be passed along to consumers”, fallen apart?  Not exactly.  The argument here is based on the effects of increasing wages at _2 companies_.  That's not even 0.0001% of the companies out there.  To pretend that everyone buys everything from Walmart and McDonald's is an insult to his reader's intelligence.
  But that's his job.  To insult his readers intelligence by telling them exaggerations and lies, and obvious one at that.  You see when an intelligent argument can be made for a leftist cause, you don't need the average Nation of Change writer.  Their job is to take up the baton when no rational argument can be made.
25% of the total don't support it and pay more than the minimum.  Divide that by the 82% of the total pay more than the mimimum and you get 30.48% of those who pay more don't support it.  Which means that at most 69.51% of those who pay more than minimum support it.