Sunday, January 15, 2012

"Top 10 Liberal Hypocrisies" Considered (2): "Contradiction #2: Pro-Technology vs. Anti-Free Market"

This one's easy -- so easy I'm almost embarrassed to even bother.  But, here goes.

Mr. Vallorani's 2nd attempt at a stab-wound:

Contradiction #2: Pro-Technology vs. Anti-Free Market
I love Apple products. I think Steve Jobs was a genius. I have a MacBook Pro, an iPad, and an iPhone 4s. Many liberals (especially Occupiers) love Apple products too. As a capitalist, I am consistent in purchasing Apple products. They are not. They build web sites to promote their socialist causes while using software and technology that is only made possible in a free market environment. Apple products would not (and could not) have been created in a socialist nation. There’s no way liberals could fight capitalism without the very tools capitalism provides!
Yes, I too have a Macbook and an iPhone.  Vallorani's claim that these could not have been invented in socialist nations is, at best, ignorant, and at worst . . . well, politeness keeps me from saying it.

Here's a link to a recent Washington Post op-ed by Francis Tapon, in which he says:
Hungarians, for example, invented the ballpoint pen and holography. A Hungarian, John George Kemeny, co-invented the BASIC programming language with American Thomas Kurtz. Hungarians also invented artificial blood and the Rubik’s Cube. Four Estonians designed Skype. Russians were the first in space, made the biggest nuclear bomb, designed Tetris, and created the iPhone of assault rifles (the AK-47).
Claims such as Vallorani has made are akin to claims of "American Exceptionalism," which seems to be a doctrinal sine qua non for running for president: we have to promote the myth that we Americans are God's chosen nation, and that we are the "best nation on earth," and such is exhibited in our supremacy in the field of technology.  In so doing, we have to have something with which to compare ourselves so that our exceptionalism is supported, and we like to choose those nasty socialist European countries, yada yada yada.

I know most of you (if there are any!) who read this don't actually need to hear what I'm about to say, but just in case someone wanders into my blogden of iniquity: America is a great place to live in many ways, and preferable to many.  Personally, I like it (some parts better than others, of course). But guess what: Hungarians and Estonians and Russians and Norwegians and Spaniards (ad infinitum) would also say that they would rather live in their own countries than anywhere else on earth -- and by the way, some of them have indeed visited the United States, and still want to live in their own country.  Go figure.

Those claims are also akin to some of the political rhetoric going on among the Republican presidential candidates, which is sometimes directed also at President Obama, concerning their alleged ties to or (at some level) acceptance of the cultures -- and specifically the languages -- of other countries.  So, one of them speaks French, another once did a commercial in really bad Spanish, etc. And those things were cast as somehow "bad" or as an affront to American Exceptionalism.  Sad. Are we really that determined to be ignorant?

We're not exceptional, and innovation can take place anywhere -- and it has.  We're one country among many great places to live.  We are not God's chosen nation (just ask the Jews).  If we had been, I'm pretty sure God would have unchosen us over the whole genocide thing against the original peoples of this geographical territory, anyway.

Finally, it seems to me that Vallorani's assumption about the free market being necessary to creative work assumes something else that is basically wrong: that greed, acquisition or self-promotion are the only things that can drive innovation.  It seems to me that's a godless assumption.  Can love of friends and family also drive innovation?  What about pure curiosity?  What about seeking after God? What about simply trying to understand God's creation?  All of these -- and more -- have driven some of the greatest innovations in history, and all without a capitalist "free market" economy.

The fact that some "conservatives" view America this way is ignorant and dangerous.  Ignorant we've already discussed.  How is it dangerous?  Well, ignorance means you will be unable to anticipate threats, because it creates a hubris that assumes our exceptionalism is so clear that no one would dare to challenge us.  I think that hubris was what led to 911.  Further, the hubris causes us not to take challenges (when we actually see them) seriously.  We think we can just stomp into a nation and "shock and awe" them into complete submission.  Ten years of Iraqi occupation didn't do that, and apparently has not taught some people anything at all.  Hubris.

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