Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Some of the Stuff Around Me #2

Here are some of the things that have been buzzing in my head for the past few days --

1. What does it mean to serve the society or the public good?

Let's zoom out a bit.

Individuals could live on desert islands but prefer not to because an individual can reap a great amount of value from people around him in a division of labor society. A tailor stitches his clothes, Bill Gates makes computers and the pleasure of watching Adam Gilchrist bat of course. Now what does it mean for a person to propagate the idea of altruism in any form -- whether one should serve the Lord, the society or weeds. It especially comes out very nicely when somebody asks young people to live not for their now little "selfish" dream but for the greater public good. I mean, individuals chose to live in a society precisely because it would benefit each of them; so that they can trade values, grow richer and live a more fulfilling lives. But for somebody to ask me in a society, to serve the society [other people] instead of selfishly pursuing my chosen values is total lunacy. Here is what Hank Rearden had to say from Atlas Shrugged:

I could say to you that you do not serve the public good–that nobody's good can be achieved at the price of human sacrifices–that when you violate the rights of one man, you have violated the rights of all, and a public of rightless creatures is doomed to destruction. I could say to you that you will and can achieve nothing but universal devastation–as any looter must, when he runs out of victims. I could say it, but I won't. It is not your particular policy that I challenge, but your moral premise. If it were true that men could achieve their good by means of turning some men into sacrificial animals, and I were asked to immolate myself for the sake of creatures who wanted to survive at the price of my blood, if I were asked to serve the interests of society apart from, above and against my own–I would refuse, I would reject it as the most contemptible evil, I would fight it with every power I possess, I would fight the whole of mankind, if one minute were all I could last before I were murdered, I would fight in the full confidence of the justice of my battle and of a living being's right to exist. Let there be no misunderstanding about me. If it is now the belief of my fellow men, who call themselves the public, that their good requires victims, then I say: The public good be damned, I will have no part of it! [Bold Added]

As Kevin from Logical Disconnect put it: Hank is the man!

2. A mixed economy is an anti-system -- literally speaking. If it sounds too far fetched, then simply take a look at the current financial mess. Something definitely failed. Identifying the elements that failed is the first setp towards repair and prevention of such a mess ever again. It is a fact that what failed were not the elements of the free market process but those elements of government intervention. Now take a look at who is blamed. The evil free market of course!

The cure: more regulations and an even worse day to wake up to in the following years. The mixed economy literally sucks the good blood out of the economy and injects venom into to it. As Ayn Rand put it:

One of the methods used by statists to destroy capitalism consists in establishing controls that tie a given industry hand and foot, making it unable to solve its problems, then declaring that freedom has failed and stronger controls are necessary."

What we need today is not just a defense of the free market from economists; people like Henry Hazlitt and Von Mises did that decades ago but we still see socialism and fascism around us every day. It is the notion of altruism that we need to dismantle and bomb away. Until it is accepted that a person has a duty to live for somebody else, the growth of the mixed economy will not stop or the growth of regulations will not stop until we get to a point of no return. To fix it, its not just free market economics we need but cultural change that will show that a person should be selfish and pursue his chosen values as he sees fit.


Kevin McAllister said...

Well said. The fact that nothing short of a major moral revolution will bring about a society that consistently recognizes man's rights, is something that is said often throughout the Objectivist literature, but that is one point that took me a long time to fully grasp.

Thanks for the link!

khartoum said...

Hi Kevin,

Thanks for the compliment. I am still a student of Objectivism myself and what a ride it has been!

Thanks for stopping by!