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  1. #1

    Default Altruism, selfishness, capitalism, socialism

    From my reading of it, mainly at second hand in Samuel Brittan's Against The Current.

    Rand's objectivist theories are premised entirely upon selfishness as a virtue and a complete objection to altruism.

    Rand would by this token find even the extreme capitalist positions of Hayek and Mise because they held capitalism to be the best of all possible worlds because of its utilitarian consequences, harnessing individualism to satisfy the social or common good, in line with Adam Smith's suggestion that it was not from benevolence that candlestick makers, butchers etc. provided their services to others.

    The thing about this is that these lines of reasoning would suggest a kind of affinity or continuity between the reasoning of Smith and then Hayek and Mise and then later socialists. I've read Chomsky on a couple of occasions suggesting that there is a link between classical liberalism and early socialism for this reason.

    That is if socialism is premised upon altruism, there are a lot of people who consider that to be the case, infact there where a great many socialists who positively believed that in its golden age in the UK and afterwards, right up until now. Both Marx and Durkheim suggested that these socialist theoriests where attempting to reinvent or preserve traditional values in a changed post industrial revolution world.

    However, I think there are two seperate alternative schools of thought within socialism which cant be described as altruistic at all.

    They share with pretty much all socialists the premise that society is ontologically a prior to individuality or that all social exchange and interaction is a consequence of radical interdependence.

    However one affirms individualism while the other condemns it but from what could be described as culturally conservative (I dont believe that conservatism is individualistic or individualist, Nisbet and a lot of other theorists concur without believing that mankind is altruist or should be).

    Those that affirm individualism are like Oscar Wilde, the idea is that individualism doesnt exist. At least if it does it is the preserve of a precious few and an ideological precept for the many. However there is the unqualified advocacy that it should exist, socialism is to be judged a good only in so far as it leads directly to a growth in individualism and individuality. Wilde in his book The Soul of Man Under Socialism I think rightly cites some quotes from Marx about the full development of each being the precondition to the full development of all to this end.

    The other culturally conservative current condemns individualism as a goal on the premise that radical interdependence demands reciprocal obligations rather than individual sovereignty and the full flowering of free will. To be honest there's a hell of a lot of authoritarianism waiting in the wings with this current, I can see it in some ways under writing some aspects of great systems builders like the Participatory Economics theorists. If you reframed it and spun it correctly I dont think the suggestion that the anonymous but neighbourly oversight of household purchases spreadsheets arresting alcoholism would be rejected by moralistic conservatives. So there is a convergence to a central point, doing and demanding something similar for the different reasons.

    Which then brings me back to the individuality affirming socialists, considering their perspective its not too great a sumersault in logic or reasoning or to outlandish a thought experiment to suggest that they could reject altruism on the same basis as Rand. That no one should be compelled to sacrifice themselves any longer to others.

    I'm sorry if this appears a little bit too much like a blog post but I've been thinking about this and reading some other peoples posts in the politics and current affairs sub forum which mentioned socialism I thought I'd like to solicit their views.

  2. #2
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    From my reading of it, mainly at second hand in Samuel Brittan's Against The Current.

    Rand's objectivist theories are premised entirely upon selfishness as a virtue and a complete objection to altruism.

    Rand would by this token find even the extreme capitalist positions of Hayek and Mise because they held capitalism to be the best of all possible worlds because of its utilitarian consequences, harnessing individualism to satisfy the social or common good, in line with Adam Smith's suggestion that it was not from benevolence that candlestick makers, butchers etc. provided their services to others.

    The thing about this is that these lines of reasoning would suggest a kind of affinity or continuity between the reasoning of Smith and then Hayek and Mise and then later socialists. I've read Chomsky on a couple of occasions suggesting that there is a link between classical liberalism and early socialism for this reason.

    That is if socialism is premised upon altruism, there are a lot of people who consider that to be the case, infact there where a great many socialists who positively believed that in its golden age in the UK and afterwards, right up until now. Both Marx and Durkheim suggested that these socialist theoriests where attempting to reinvent or preserve traditional values in a changed post industrial revolution world.

    However, I think there are two seperate alternative schools of thought within socialism which cant be described as altruistic at all.

    They share with pretty much all socialists the premise that society is ontologically a prior to individuality or that all social exchange and interaction is a consequence of radical interdependence.

    However one affirms individualism while the other condemns it but from what could be described as culturally conservative (I dont believe that conservatism is individualistic or individualist, Nisbet and a lot of other theorists concur without believing that mankind is altruist or should be).

    Those that affirm individualism are like Oscar Wilde, the idea is that individualism doesnt exist. At least if it does it is the preserve of a precious few and an ideological precept for the many. However there is the unqualified advocacy that it should exist, socialism is to be judged a good only in so far as it leads directly to a growth in individualism and individuality. Wilde in his book The Soul of Man Under Socialism I think rightly cites some quotes from Marx about the full development of each being the precondition to the full development of all to this end.

    The other culturally conservative current condemns individualism as a goal on the premise that radical interdependence demands reciprocal obligations rather than individual sovereignty and the full flowering of free will. To be honest there's a hell of a lot of authoritarianism waiting in the wings with this current, I can see it in some ways under writing some aspects of great systems builders like the Participatory Economics theorists. If you reframed it and spun it correctly I dont think the suggestion that the anonymous but neighbourly oversight of household purchases spreadsheets arresting alcoholism would be rejected by moralistic conservatives. So there is a convergence to a central point, doing and demanding something similar for the different reasons.

    Which then brings me back to the individuality affirming socialists, considering their perspective its not too great a sumersault in logic or reasoning or to outlandish a thought experiment to suggest that they could reject altruism on the same basis as Rand. That no one should be compelled to sacrifice themselves any longer to others.

    I'm sorry if this appears a little bit too much like a blog post but I've been thinking about this and reading some other peoples posts in the politics and current affairs sub forum which mentioned socialism I thought I'd like to solicit their views.
    It's an oversimplification, but pretty much on the libertarians. Because she was a moral philosopher as well as political writer, Rand took a hardcore ethical stance on "the virtue of selfishness." The vast majority of non-Objectivist libertarians simply feel that altruism must come from the individual and that any attempts to legislate or force altruism upon society ends up being a cure that is worse than the disease.
    Who wants to try a bottle of merc's "Extroversion Olive Oil?"

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