Freedom and equality?

Jim Farmelant farmelantj at
Thu Aug 31 15:03:59 PDT 2000

It would be hard to improve upon Bill Fancher's post so I won't try. However, just to toot my own horn a bit I have addressed some of these issues in the past in the form of a review of Marc Richelle's book *B.F. Skinner: A Reappraisal* and I once wrote a copule of posts on Proyect's Marxism List in which I attempted to relate radical behaviorism to Marxism.

For the book review see:

while for the posts on Marxism and Skinner see:

Jim Farmelant

On Thu, 31 Aug 2000 13:42:30 -0700 bill fancher <fancher at> writes:
> on 8/31/00 9:03 AM, Reese at reeza at wrote:
> > At 10:45 AM 31/08/00 -0400, Gordon Fitch wrote:
> >
> >> It's curious that personal autonomy is found, even assigned,
> >> to the Right, given that the Right is the party of
> >> authority, power, status, private wealth, order, and
> >> conformity, the friends of the King of France, while the
> >> Left is the party of freedom and equality. How'd that
> >> happen, anyway?
> >
> > I think it stems from differences in how key terms are defined.
> > Take freedom and equality, for example; how do you define them?
> > How do you think someone from the other camp would define them?
> >
> > Reese
> >
> I think it stems from the fact that the ruling class has worked very
> hard to
> eliminate the threatening ideas promulgated by Skinner in the 50's
> and 60's.
> Skinner enumerated the techiniques of effective behavioral control.
> He
> demonstrated how behavior is controlled and showed how and why the
> traditional "literature of Freedom and Dignity" is ineffective
> against
> non-traditional, non-punitive measures of control.
> Since such methods are (and were then) the methods of choice for the
> ruling
> class, this exposure was considered extremely dangerous.
> Consequently, his
> work was attacked from both the left and the right. His ideas fell
> out of
> favor, not because anything he said was shown to be false, but
> because his
> ideas were said to lead to authoritarian systems of control, or
> demeaned the
> dignity of man. Funding for research dried up, and a program of
> character
> assassination was instituted.
> Of course, the authoritarian systems of control were already in
> place.
> Skinner merely pointed out their existence and showed how they
> worked.
> On the right, we got Libertarianism, which is based on the autonomy
> of the
> inner man.
> On the left we got Chomsky's Anarchism (Libertarian Socialism) which
> is
> based on the autonomy of the inner man.
> In the middle we got Pinky and the Brain, Pinky being the only
> individual
> dumb enough to follow the Brain, a charicature of Skinner, who wants
> to take
> over the world though techological means.
> All in all a most effective program of population control, carried
> out
> almost entirely with non-punitive techniques. And both left and
> right will
> join hands to deny that they could possibly have been manipulated
> into their
> present beliefs. That follows, after all, from their shared first
> principles.
> --
> bill
> "It is traditional to regard opinion as due to mental causes, but
> this is
> only true of the immediate causes: in the background, there is
> usually force
> in the service of some creed." Bertrand Russell

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