Means to an End: The market and unlimited resources vs centralized distribution and limited resources
Climate change and its effects on the modern world have been highly disputed in the political realm. Liberals say climate change is bad while conservative will be likely to say climate change is mostly political hype. There are some liberals, however, who say that climate change causes terrorism. President Obama, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and others have made this claim. It is a completely absurd idea. Climate change does not cause terrorism. The only exception of this are perhaps the environmentalists. Greenpeace, one of the most well-known environmentalist groups has been designated as a terrorist organization by the UN and is an anti-climate change organization that has gone to extreme measures to promote their cause. Considering the fact that there have been more terrorist attacks committed by environmentalist groups than actual terrorists on US soil, then I guess climate change does cause terrorism.
No, climate change does not cause real terrorism. I’m not saying the environmentalists do not commit real acts of terror, it’s just that they are the JV squad when it comes to murder and mayhem. I also do not intend to marginalize anyone who has been the victim of an environmentalist group, let’s just be real, it is hard to equate evil hippies to a jihadist with a bomb pack strapped on his back. Real terrorism is not caused by climate change.
This analysis is not going to go into exactly why climate change cannot cause terrorism. In fact, we are not even assuming, like so many other people, that climate change even exists. We are moving forward while considering the fact that the data on climate change is shaky at best. What we will be exploring is the idealism behind why liberals can believe in such a thing and how exactly it fits into their worldview and not the worldview of a conservative. In fact, most conservatives should find the idea of climate change causing terrorism an absurd idea. But why is that? The liberals are rational in believing what they believe. In the liberal mind, climate change is a perfectly reasonable explanation for what is happening in the middle east. Conservatives also are rational in believing what we believe. The conservative mind is built such that climate change does not cause terrorism. It is the underlying assumptions of the liberals that lead them to believe such an absurd thing.
When you start looking at the underlying assumptions and reasons for a worldview, things do get interesting. The interesting thing is that most people have no idea this is the way they think. The objective here is to arrive at the base assumptions of each liberals and conservatives. We are looking for the underlying worldview that each group uses in arriving to their conclusions on this subject. That most basic worldview, you will see, is reason for much of the divide in our country today. Most political issues come down to this difference in worldview. This is the ideological war that
is currently being
waged between the left and the right. When you hear that term, ideological war,
it speaks to the worldview that liberals and conservatives use when arriving at
conclusions on a given topic.
We will start with the liberal mind and how they can believe such an absurd thing and then move on to the conservative mind. The liberal argument for climate change causing terrorism is rather simple. They say climate change causes the earth to lose resources through weather pattern shifts, temperature shifts and the like. We don’t need to go into the specifics of how they say it happens, it is only important that liberals believe that there are some areas of the world that are disproportionately and negatively affected by changes in the earth’s climate. The thing here is where those negative changes occur. Due to the global placement of most of the poorer nations, poor nations in the middle east would hypothetically be disproportionately affected by climate change.
If the middle east is disproportionately affected by climate change, this would clearly be a legitimate area of consternation for poor people in the middle east. The environmentalists all say that the west is causing climate change. If this is true, then the middle east is paying the price for the west causing climate change. Because the people in the middle east are oppressed by the western world, that is a motivation to turn to terrorism. Under the worldview of limited resources, terrorism is a legitimate opinion under the face of the evil capitalists.
One of the most basic worldviews that liberals have is that the government is the most capable entity of making good decisions. They also believe the government has the authority and even calling to do this through a national self-determination. While these principles will be expanded upon later, basically national self-determination provides the justification for government to be the ultimate determiner in what is right and wrong in the world. As this turns the focus on utilizing current resources in the most equal way, the liberal will naturally focus on the distributing the earth’s limited resources in an equal manner. The liberal believes there are limited resources on the earth and that it is the job of the government to make sure everyone gets an equal share of those limited resources.
When liberals talk about what is fair, they mean equality, they are talking about how some people have more than other people and that is unequal and therefore bad. When liberals say climate change causes terrorism, what they are really saying is that the (alleged) change in climate is caused by western civilization taking resources, namely oil, and expending them. When the climate changes, this disproportionately affects middle eastern nations who then do not have enough resources to go around. When they discover that they do not have enough resources to go around, the people, in their now justified hate and rage, turn to terrorism against the US who created the climate change. Liberals, using this thought process, can honestly say they believe that these terrorists have nothing better to do than blow things up for a living because there are now no longer the resources in their nation to sustain the population. Liberals truly believe that their jihad is justified against the US because the liberals truly believe that the US caused all the problems in the middle east.
There are some real problems with this. A man named Louis Blanc coined the term capitalism. He used it as a dirty word. There is no difficulty is seeing why he thought capitalism was bad. Blanc was a liberal who thought that the government was the only entity capable of making good economic decisions. Capitalism, Blanc believed, was where certain people took more resources than they actually needed to the exclusion of others. So there was inequality of resources. The suggestion is that the capitalist nations effectively took resources from the middle east and that is unfair.
Socialism is the champion of limited resources and the antithesis of capitalism. Actually, the most basic premise of socialism is that there are limited resources and the government must stop the evil capitalists from stealing all the limited resources. It is explicitly said in socialism, and is a basic premise of liberal thought, that each person is currently working at their maximum capacity; that the current resources are equal to total possible resources. “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” Is a phrase usually attributed to Karl Marx, but was also coined by Louis Blanc. While this phrase is not always associated with socialism, it certainly applies. The phrase above clearly indicates that each person has a maximum potential, his ability, and that each person is actually producing at that maximum capacity. This is central to the teachings of socialism, that each person will be compelled by the greater good to work to their fullest potential. The second half of the phrase indicates that the resources created are sufficient for everyone to benefit equally to their need. The issue with this reasoning is that everyone will not work at their fullest potential unless there is an incentive to do so. The liberal world provides no incentive to work at one’s fullest potential.
As humanity progresses we increase our understanding of the various things that create surplus. The point of developing the various theories is to figure out a system that makes society better faster. While liberals believe equality is what makes society better, and their worldview reflects that, conservatives must believe that progress makes society better. Progress can only be achieved when there are surplus resources. Essentially, what the word surplus means is that there is more stuff to go around. A thousand years ago there was less surplus than there is today. Surplus is a good and desirable thing. If there was no surplus, then every action a person took would be centered on producing something for survival. To understand the idea of surplus it is important to think about what is necessary for survival. In a zero surplus world, each person would work until they created enough food to sustain themselves for a day and it would take them exactly 1 day to produce enough food (and any other necessities such as sleep or warm clothing) for 1 day. There would be no action taken for any other reason than to produce something that was needed for the next day. This is a zero surplus world. There would be nothing put back for later, nothing created or done for any other reason than to sustain one’s self.
A zero surplus world be very bland and a bad place to live because there would be nothing to live for except your own being. While it is good to live for yourself, most people would find life to be rather pointless if there was nothing else to live for. In a zero surplus world nobody would have children, because to raise a child you must have a surplus of resources to take care of the child. If each person is only producing what they need then there would not be enough resources to care for children. There would also be no holidays, because a big thanksgiving meal requires a surplus of food, and no new ideas or inventions because it takes a surplus of time and other resources to develop a new idea or invention. If there is no surplus of time or resources with which to develop the new idea or invention, then there will be no new ideas or inventions. Basically, a zero surplus society results in zero progress. Zero progress means that everything will stay the same. Nothing will get better.
Surplus and progress are in a symbiotic relationship. When there is progress, there is more surplus and when there is more surplus there is more progress. Thousands of years ago, when fire was the greatest technology known to man, there was little progress and little surplus. The next greatest technology after fire, perhaps iron, was not developed for many hundreds of years after fire was developed. That is because the people at the time had very little surplus resources to use to develop iron. Most of their resources were used for survival. This was clearly not a zero surplus society, but an almost zero surplus society. Once iron was developed, that made life easier for people. The iron could be used to make a plow to make farming faster which opened up more surplus time for farmers to develop other farming technologies. Farming gets easier and easier, nowadays it only takes one person to harvest thousands of acres, more and more people go from working on things that are necessary for survival to working on things that create progress. The faster society is able to fill its needs, the more it can focus on using its surplus resources to develop more progress. When a society has a lot of surplus, it can do some pretty cool things. In 1492, Spain found itself with enough surplus to fund a sea voyage that discovered America. Hundreds of years later, America had enough surplus resources to fund a space voyage to the moon. Several decades after that, the first voyage to Mars was funded. A couple of years later, the first space ship landed on an asteroid. At this point in time, society is far from zero surplus. In fact, the western world is mostly a surplus society. Most of what people do is related to surplus not survival.
This is where the difference between the liberal and conservative views becomes important. The liberal view is anti-market. A market is undeniably the most effective way at creating more surplus and more progress. The conservative view is pro-market. There is a good reason why the liberal view does not place any importance on progress or surplus, the liberals believe in equality of outcome. In other words, it does not matter how well off society is, it only matters to them that every person in society is allotted an equal amount of resources. The conservative worldview is focused on ensuring that society is progressing. The idea is that, the faster society progresses, the fewer problems people will have. As society progresses, there is more surplus. If there is more surplus, then people will be able to use that surplus to be able to solve their problems. More surplus equals fewer problems.
Liberals would argue that there is no point in increasing resources if those resources are not going to be equally distributed. This is what the word capitalism was developed for, to point out that people at the top get all the newly created resources. Despite the fact that economics, history and every other metric would say that a properly regulated market ensures that resources are distributed so that each person gets the resources that are best able to help them create the most surplus, the liberals insist that there is an unfair distribution of newly created resources. In fact, considering the increasing access to resources over time, markets will bring the people at the bottom up faster than any other economic system. Capitalism, when used as a dirty word, is a very misleading term. A market ensures that the money goes where it will be best used as determined by all the people who participate in the market. If a person is not participating in the market then they cannot justly complain about that system and if a person is simply not worth expending resources on then they should not demand that someone else give them a share that would create an inefficiency that would result in less progress for society. In fact, it is seen as the duty of those conservatives who participate in the market to be as efficient as possible.
Because there are not enough resources to go around in the middle east, some evil capitalist must have taken an unfair share of the resources. This comes from one of the basic premises all liberal thought comes from, that all resources are limited and it is because of this limited nature that it is important to monitor how resources are distributed. When the resources in the middle east are taken and moved to the US, people are driven to terrorism.
Contrasted with the conservative viewpoint, this theory sounds a little nutty. Conservatives approach the problem from an entirely different viewpoint. In the conservative mind, there is no such thing as limited resources. While there is literally a finite amount of resources on this earth and even in the galaxy, functionally, the actual limit of resources does not matter. This is because conservatives rely on a free market worldview whereas the liberals use a centrally planned or governmentally controlled market worldview. This matters because depending on the system you use to interpret the world, the finite resources may or may not matter. When a conservative says there are finite resources, the conservative is talking about physical resources such as there is only a finite amount of oil on the planet. When the liberal talks about limited resources, it is from the perspective of access. The liberal does not really care about how much of something there is. If oil runs out, that is okay. What matters is that everyone equally has access to these resources. The common denominator or the thing you most want, for a conservative, is high quality of life. For a liberal, that common denominator is equal access to a particular quality of life. That particular quality of life will necessarily be lower than it would otherwise be because the focus is taken off producing and put on redistributing.
This is why a liberal, when they analyze the problem in the middle ease, calculates total resources. The liberal wants those current resources to be equally distributed among all current people. The conservative does not look at total resources. That is why, to the conservative, it does not actually matter how much of something there is. Essentially, the conservative does not believe that the problem is with lack of access to resources, but a lack of physical resources. Now this sounds like a contradiction, earlier I wrote that conservatives do not care about the number of resources so essentially assume there are infinite resources. This is true, what I am writing about here is now not physically how much oil (or any other resource there is), we have moved beyond that, what I am writing about here is why the middle east does not have as much as the west has. It is not a problem with lack of total resources as suggested by the liberal (climate change decreases total earthly resources and so then there are fewer resources to go around and the west consumes much of what little there is left), it is a problem with increasing current resources. The problem is that the middle east has not focused their efforts on progressing past where they are as much as the west has. While there are areas in the middle east that have progressed far, think Dubai, the majority of the middle east live just about the same as they did several hundred years ago. The west has expended considerable resources to progressing as a society and so the west have developed more than the middle east, it’s that simple. If the world was centrally planned, then that redistribution of current total resources would be rational, but that is not how it works, the free markets are the best force to control what we have. Looking at the problem through the free market lens, the conservative arrives at their basic assumption or most basic worldview. That what matters is increasing surplus and progress, not redistributing what we already have. It is a simple premise that (this is important because obviously there are limited resources in a literal sense) does not look to the present, but looks to the future. If every producing thing is used to its maximum potential, then that is our limit. We will never reach that limit because of inefficiency. This is another important thing to know. The free market is specifically designed, and perfectly designed when nobody is breaking the rules, to achieve high efficiency. A centrally planned bureaucracy can never achieve even a moderate level of efficiency which creates little surplus or progress. When it comes down to it, the conservative believes that the middle east is not successful because they are working at a very low efficiency. War tends to do that. It is a sad thing. These people are being held back from militant groups, oppressive government and a history of being unstable. The road to having high quality of life is not compatible with much of what the middle east is and until they start building a group of nations committed to what the west is committed, they will never achieve what the west has.
So this is the contrast, the liberal viewpoint blames strife in the middle east on limited resources and limited resources on climate change and the conservative viewpoint blames the strife in the middle east on lack of resources and a lack of resources on inefficient production. The ideological war continues. It is essentially the metric that each side uses that differ. The right measures resources using potential. So they ask what a group’s potential is. If there are X people in the middle east, their potential would be Y. If a group of people uses the market and works on increasing their efficiency then they will not have to worry about taking what other people have, they will have enough themselves.
The left uses the metric of limited resources. They ask how the limited resources on the planet should be distributed among its various inhabitants. Under this theory, if there are X amount of resources, then each person should have a Y sized portion of these resources. This theory necessitates resources being taken from the west in the form of both money to combat climate change and in money to be redistributed to the middle east to compensate them for the wrong the west has done to them. It is only because of a wrong or injustice that the limited resources of this planet be distributed in such a way that not everyone would have what they need under the liberal theory, that is the excuse they use to redistribute. If the focus is on limited resources then it is not on producing more so we do not have to worry about limited resources. Time is spent on figuring out how to best apportion what we have which makes producing more inefficient.
And that is the difference. Liberals want to redistribute because they belief there are limited resources that the evil capitalists want to hoard for themselves. They believe the market is a bad thing because in their fictional land the market is bad for poor people and good for rich people. Because the market is bad for poor people, the liberals take it upon themselves to redistribute the wealth from the rich to the poor. The conservatives take a more factually accurate approach and believe that people should be allowed to participate in the market. This is because the market is the most efficient tool for creating surplus and progress. The conservatives want efficiency in their production because the more efficient the system is the more surplus there will be. The more surplus there is the more society will progress to be better than it was before and all people, rich and poor, will increase their standard of living faster than under the liberal system. The conservatives believe the market can do this because it can access and process more information than a centrally planned system and the more information you use and process the better decisions you will make.