The Boring, Amazing, Great, Idiotic Bertrand Russell

Lets get this show on the road: Why is Bertrand Russell an Idiot? What is up with “The case for Socialism” that is just a poor argument? How interesting or boring was this man? Was this man one of the greatest thinkers of the modern era?

Slow down, WW. I didn’t say he was an idiot. I said he was an idiot about some things, but definitely not about others.

No worries. Other people have called him an idiot as well I’m sure. This is not just about you Mr. Faust

Something tells me that when Faust says, “idiot”, he means it in a technical sense. I dunno. Just a feeling.

Well, this guys basically said he’s an idiot. Maybe more do. Lets find out.

The Big American Zero: Bertrand Russell is an Idiot
Dec 11, 2007 – Bertrand Russell is an Idiot. I do not understand how or why certain people become famous for their works in the area of ethical philosophy. … 3792608981

I don’t know his works, but frankly, who isn’t?

I can name a few.

What’s your point?

That reports depend on the level of the stupidity of the person doing the reporting, not on what is being reported.

Thus when anyone says, “that is stupid”, the question must immediately become, “how stupid is the one saying that?”

But also when a person says, “That was genius”, the same question must immediately be answered. Or perhaps, “how capable is the reporter in knowing genius from idiocy?”

That is very largely why I hardly ever quote other people. It is merely relegated to how intelligent one sees himself as he reads that other person. If he is is stupid, he sees what stupid people see regardless of who said it. If he doesn’t like either the person being quoted or the one quoting him, he strongly tends to see only what his emotions tell him, “Attack. Defend the contrary” even though he might not understand what would actually be contrary.

So how can one honestly assess if Bertrand Russel was an idiot without merely, perhaps idiotically, assuming that one is not an idiot himself?

The only thing at risk here, by your own admission, would be other people’s perspective of your intelligence. If you’re not confident enough to handle that kind of judgement, then don’t post.

Its not a matter of how one can honestly assess Bertrand Russell, its a matter of how intelligently one can assess Bertrand Russell. Everyone who reads this will be a judge. Same as always, same as anywhere.

Let’s take Russell’s initial claim, in “The Case for Socialism”: I do not regard Socialism as a gospel of proletarian revenge, nor even, primarily, as a means of securing economic justice. I regard it primarily as an adjustment to machine production demanded by considerations of common sense…"

As his exposition begins is earnest, he says, “Profit, as a separate economic category, only becomes clear at a certain stage of industrial development.”

He continues with a ridiculous allegory about Robinson Crusoe. (I’m not going to copy it all here - in fact, it will be difficult to converse with you if you haven’t read the text. So please don’t ask me for more detail - the details are in the text.) He makes that claim because he uses the narrowest possible definition of profit. There are several different kinds of profit in economics - Russell chooses the one that suits his purposes best, without accounting for the other definitions. This is the worst sin of the philosopher - presenting politics as if it were philosophy.

Sole proprietors can make a profit, and this is a profit even if they perform labor themselves. Sole proprietors are investors as well as are those who buy stock in a company. To illustrate, a business owner can expense the labor of employees, but not his own labor. Russell fails to make this distinction. What Bertie is really getting at is that a sole proprietor makes a “profit” if he makes tons of money, but not if he only makes “a living”. That sounds okay to Marxists, but they are already convinced. Not much of an argument.

He also ignores distribution. All economic goods are scarce, by definition. But they are scarce somewhere.

“There is one further very important reason for the failure of the profit motive in the present day, and that is the failure of scarcity. It often happens that goods of certain kinds can be produced in enormous quantities at a cheaper rate than on a more modest scale. In that case, it may be that the most economical mode of production would be to have only one factory for each of these kinds of goods in the whole world.”

Name one such good, Bertie. I’m thinking that Bertie never paid for gasoline.

But he also makes claims like: “In place of the pursuit of profits as the guiding motive in industry, there will be Government planning. While the Government may miscalculate, it is less likely to do so than a private individual, because it will have fuller knowledge.”

Do I really have to show how dumb this idea is?

How’s that for a start?

By the way, I would make the case that some industries operate more efficiently when socialized. But Russell makes no such distinction.

I think that was my point.

Which in its reporting exemplifies the point.

Please explain how my sentence exemplifies the point?

It seems you’re fairly harsh and I’m really not interested in reading what you posted, but nonetheless, thank you for your response. I’ll keep it in the back of my mind somewhere.

No problem. I’ll keep it in the back of my head not to respond to your OP’s.

Ouch. You don’t really mean that.

Don’t worry, Faust doesn’t use that part of his head.

In mathematics and logic, he was a great thinker. His social philosophy stuff was weak to middling: Power is an interesting book, but it wouldn’t have got him into the ranks of the great social philosophers.

As Faust says, his arguments for socialism overlooked a lot of economics/dynamics issues and was ignorant about information (in the economic markets sense). Given that he wrote it before the problems of state distribution systems had been demonstrated so horrifically by the Russians and Chinese, and that a lot of such systems to date in smaller, more industrialised countries like Britain had gone fairly well, the former is more naive than stupid if you want to give him the benefit of the doubt. It’s all a bit “well, if people were rational and nice, it’d be a great place.”

I don’t know how that was meant to come across, but I don’t think it was what you meant.