Milton Friedman - Socialist

Wojtek Sokolowski sokol at
Thu Jun 11 07:58:29 PDT 1998


I think your reinterpretation of my posting indeed looks like changing the subject, but that is not exactly what I said. I was not talking of criminal liability per se or the Nuremberg principles - I was talking a bout an entire social context where responsibility is so difused that every smartass can claim clean hands and moral virtue while standing knee-deep in blood bath.

As you know, burning at stake was used in the Middle Ages as a sanction for thoughts that were considered dangerous to the then social order. We may consider the measure as draconian, to say the least, and the definition of what is dangerous too arbitrary, but that should dot distract us from the principle of accountability for one's ideas. And they dod not even reciognize intellectual property rights!

Or if you find that example objectionable, I'll give you another one. It was a common practice in the 19th century Russia, I was told, that the first time a train rolled on a newly constructer bridge, the architect who designed that bridge stood underneath it. Again, accountablity for one's mental work.

Today, intellectual schmucks demand intellectual property rights for whatever drivel comes out of their mouth, freedom of speech which is nothing more than constitutionally guaranteed occupational autonomy for symbol manipulators - but they fall short on the accountability issue. Most pieces of shit who work with their mouth rather than thier hand can blabber whatever they want, and even if they screw up royally - they wil be rewarded by a book contract, a tenure, or a golden parachute. And adding insult to injury, those schmucks have the temerity to lecture others on personal responsibility. Holding their feet to fire not only would not hurt, but it would be a sweet revenge indeed.

Of course, tee-vee pundits and social commentators are the most visible, and most annoying, aspect of the phenomenon, but the problem becomes more grave when we enter the realm of bio-tech or nuclear research. Technologies are being invented that can literally wipe out entire humanity - yet people who invent those technologies do not have even a shred of responsibility for what they are creating. The sepcter of Frankenstein does not exist anymore. Macht Ohne Moral. Anything goes.

With a few key strokes, you exonerated vonBraun of any responsibility for the murderous working conditons at the Dora forced labor camp. Forget that he must have had a say in how the production lines at Dora wre designed yet chose to look th eother way around, forget that the whole camp would not have not been created if it were not for his brainchild V2. An intellectual, the brain, cannot be responsible for his actions by definition, it is the lower-order executors, the body if you will, who take the responsibility and the punishment.

To summarize -- I am not advocating burning at stake (you surely did not take that metaphor seriously, did you?) -- all I am objecting to is the culture of intellectual irresponsibility and free-rides for symbol manipulators.



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