>Who ever claimed that "things are getting monotonically better every
>day for everyone"? Not me, not Marx, not James Heartfield.
True enough. My apologies for characterizing it that way, although my impression of James' response to Carrol was that he feels productivity = progress, which is something I would reject.
>think the drift of Carrol's post was that things are more or less
>getting worse, and have been since the first woman knelt to grind
Now who's making false claims? That's not what I got out of Carrol's post. Rather, his point was that most changes are bad as a way of arguing against the notion of progress being inherent. He used agriculture as an example. Grinding corn is a difficult task and can have serious health consequences later in life - there is a down side. If some of our ancestors decided to give up agriculture for a foraging way of life, it might well have been a rational choice.
>The choice between being a hunter-gatherer or a 19C English
>miner isn't very relevant to any political choices we have to make
I agree, but it was you who brought up the hunter-gatherers in the first place to try to dismiss Carrol's point in a flippant manner.
>The point is that capitalism has given us material wealth and
>sophisticated technology, but it's done a very bad job of using those
>things to better the lives of all.
Again I agree. You could certainly argue capitalism has made the lives of most worse than they otherwise would have been. You could argue the other side just as easily.
>Before Coxian pessimism became
>hegemonic on the left, such as it is, there was a belief that humans
>could do better with the capitalist inheritance.
When did "Coxian pessimism" become hegemonic on the left? I've never argued for a return to the Stone Age, nor to my knowledge has anyone else either on this list or on the left.
>I still believe
>that, and I think that biotech has the potential for being one of
>those things that could make life better in the right hands.
Yet again, I agree. However, biotech is not in the "right" hands. It is in the hands of corporate america, which will only want to use this technology to enhance its profits. Which doesn't mean it will abuse the technology necessarily, but it is more likely to do so than some sort of socialist democracy which has eradicated the market and democratized its economy. Monsanto will only use this technology in the best interests of the world community if they align with the interests of Monsanto shareholders, or if they are politically forced to do so.