Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘collectivism’

I was listening to this address on the way home and found the first portion highly pertinent in this coming election cycle:

Ayn Rand Institute Multimedia Library

From Ayn Rand’s address “A Nation’s Unity” on October, 1972 at the Ford Hall Forum (click the graphic or link to hear the full audio of the address)

Every four years, at about this time, we begin to hear louder and louder appeals for national unity. We hear them between Presidential elections as well—particularly when something is about to be put over on us—though they are uttered in a more perfunctory manner.

Observe, however, that in recent years it has become fashionable to disparage unity, between elections, and to praise dissent as a kind of moral or patriotic duty. But the pattern of a Presidential election remains the same: first, there is a campaign in which the candidates denounce each other and seem to appeal to some sort of unstated principles; then, when the election is over, the appeals become, in effect: now let’s forget all about principles—national unity comes first.

This is, therefore, an appropriate time to examine the issue of national unity and to ask certain questions: Is such unity necessary? Is it possible? What makes it possible? What is the alternative? What are the consequences? The present election campaign offers many clues to the answers.

As in the case of many other errors or evils, today’s appeals for national unity are based on a perverted element of truth. It is true that, in order to exist as a nation, the large number of men who live in the same geographical area and deal with one another, must agree on some fundamental principle(s). And more: any two men who choose to deal with each other must have some sort of basic agreement, at least for the duration of their joint action. If you joined forces with another man in order to lift a heavy boulder, and you strained to lift it while he strained to push it down, nothing would come of both your efforts but failure, frustration, and—if the issue were important enough to both of you—the recourse to blows and mutual extermination.

The fact that in case of disagreement men can resort to physical force, i.e., to human destruction, is the reason why every human association is based on some sort of agreement, which is implemented by certain rules of conduct. An agreement, in this context, does not necessarily mean a common purpose: you may make an agreement with a neighbor that you will not attack him so long as he does not attack you—and if both of you abide by it, you are free to go your own ways and, perhaps, never see each other again. The fundamental agreement which is required of a nation is an agreement on the rules of peaceful coexistence. A territory inhabited by men engaged in perpetual conflicts, chronic fighting, physical violence, and general hatred of all for all, is not a nation nor a country, but a bloody mess. Internal peace and some sort of harmony are the precondition of the existence of a nation.

The big questions, however, are: Peace—at what price? Harmony—on what terms? Agreement—about what? And more: Can such terms and agreements be chosen arbitrarily? Can men choose any terms and make them work simply by wishing them to do so? Or are there objective factors which necessitate certain principles of human association, and defeat all others? In sum, the fundamental social question is: What principles should men agree upon in order to live and deal with one another?

The best way to answer questions of this kind is to start not with an enormous, floating abstraction, such as “society as a whole,” but with one member of society, the one you know best: yourself. Ask yourself: What rules of conduct would you be able and willing to accept in order to deal with your neighbors?

Let us say you are a young man who knows that he must work in order to support his life. You have a good job, a small family, and a home in the suburbs. Since you do not intend to stagnate, you maintain a certain financial and intellectual balance between the present and the future; you budget your money and your time: your money, to provide for your present needs and to improve your standard of living, For example, to pay off the mortgage on your home—your time, to do your present job well and to study in order to qualify for a better one. You like some of your neighbors, and you dislike others, but you are not afraid of any of them: they are not a threat to you, nor you to them.

This is the normal pattern of your life and you take it for granted, as if it were a fact of nature. But it is not. It took thousands and thousands of years to achieve it. Let us see what it depends on.

Suppose this country’s political system was changed. It was decided that the affairs of each community are to be determined at a monthly meeting of all it’s citizens – by general democratic vote, and that the rule of the majority is absolute – without limits or appeals. It would mean that you could be thrown out of your home and out of your community if the majority so voted. It would mean that you could be sentenced to die, if not liking your manners or your ideas, the majority so voted.

This is not fantasy. This was the social system of many Greek city-states – pure democracy, unlimited majority rule. Would you agree to accept it in the name of communal unity? No? Than would you agree to accept it on a much larger scale and by remote control?

Suppose it was decided but never announced openly and explicitly that the nation holds the absolute power of a Greek city-state. But since one cannot convene an entire nation to a monthly meeting, the people are compressed into groups representing various interests, and the government acts as arbiter and ruler – who listens to their clashing demands and enforces the will of those it deems to be representative of the public interest.

These groups are not elected. They are formed informally, spontaneously, democratically. Anyone is free to form them and to clamor demands for anything. How will you adjust to it?

First, there is a business lobby. But you don’t mind it, it helps your boss.

Then there is a labor lobby. But you don’t mind it – it helps you!

Then there is a farm lobby. But you don’t notice it. It is too remote from your activities.

Then a neighbor on the next block forms a group demanding better roads, and two blocks further a woman forms a group demanding better schools.

Another group demands ‘free lunches‘ for all school children and a rival group demands ‘free textbooks‘.

Your windows are smashed one night by a group of the ‘local juvenile delinquents’ or ‘problem adolescents‘. They show non-negotiable demands which you cannot quite untangle, but you gather it has something to do with ‘Youth Power’.

The residents of the local old-folks home form a group demanding ‘Senior-citizen power’.

The old-maid file clerk at the office – that you can’t stand because she can’t keep the files straight – is given a promotion with the help of a group that demands the liberation of women.

You have no time to keep track of it all. You notice only that your taxes keep rising and rising, and your money keeps buying less and less.

You are late getting to the office one morning because the local ‘welfare recipients’ group lies stretched out across the highway demanding a yearly income greater than half of your’s. You slam on your breaks just in time to avoid running over the group’s leader: a lady known as ‘fatso’ who has 12 children and no visible husband.

You had planned to have three children but you decided to wait a little for the third one – you cannot afford them.

A long haired, young man forms a group to forbid anyone to have more than two children, and a short haired young woman forms a group to forbid abortion and the use of contraceptives.

There’s a group that demands the display of sexual intercourse on the screen and another group that demands censorship of all movies above the intellectual level of a 6 year old. So you give up going to the movies.

You fall behind in your mortgage payment but your property taxes keep rising and rising. You consider giving up your house and renting one in a new development five miles away. But a local ‘birdwatchers’ group is suing the developer, demanding that the land he cleared be turned into a public park.

Your boss has promised you a promotion: the job of managing a new branch factory he is planning to build in your district. But he does not build it. The lady who used to have the local poetry club now has a group that demands the preservation of the beautiful ‘swamp’ he was going to kill.

Then, an educational group decrees that you cannot send your children to the local schools which so much of your property taxes has gone to pay for. So your children are bussed to a distant town: a daily trip of two hours going there, and another two hours coming back. This you are told will achieve ‘racial integration’.

You have never thought of it before, but you have become race conscious and try to untangle your own ancestry. You find it so mixed that you cannot qualify for any of the groups into which your community is [based]. The afro-americans, the chicano-americans, the italo-americans, the jewish americans, the irish americans, etc. And you … you are just a ‘mongrel-american‘. (so am I)

A title of which you would have been proud at one time but which is becoming ‘dangerous’. If you lose your job, there will be no preferential quota to help you get another one, and no way of knowing how many ‘ethnic’ applications will be pushed ahead of you. There will be no preferential quota for your son’s admission to a college when the time comes.

You are alone, unprotected, defenseless – and the only reason you know that you are living in a human society and not on a deserted island is the fact that your ‘taxes’ keep rising and rising.

How do you adjust? To whom and to what? The first thing to go is your future.

You can barely keep up with your current expenses. You have no way to plan ahead. If you try to save, you do not know which demands of which groups will eat up your savings in the form of new taxes and higher prices.

Why study to develop your skills? You do not know if you will ever get a better job or what new obstacles will spring up overnight or whether there will be anyone left to hire you.

You used to plan your course in terms of years. The range of your concerns shrinks to one year, then to one month, and then to next payday. You can see nothing beyond but a black void.

Strange things happen to a man without a future. You begin to act like the type of man you once despised.

You become sloppy at your job. You can barely summon the effort just to get by.

You get drunk too often. You buy a luxurious lawn mower which you have no time to use and you quarrel with your wife over the expensive cut of lamb chops she bought for dinner.

And when you hear a seedy lecture at the group meeting that declares that Horatio Alger’s stories are a myth, [and claims] that man cannot rise by individual effort and ability, you applaud defiantly and beligerently.

Oh yes! You have joined a group! You have joined several groups.

You do not know exactly what they stand for but they talk of community action and mutual protection and they denounce other groups. You do not know clearly which ones or why. You had tried to get it clear but gave up.

Everytime you read the newspaper or listen to the snarling voices on television, things grow murkier.

You do not know by what steps your attitude toward your neighbors has changed. You have begun to watch them suspiciously.

Whenever you see two of them in a heated discussion or observe several cars parked in front of a house you feel a touch of anxiety. You do not know what they might be up to, what ‘new group’ might be formed and what it will do to you.

You learn to feel ‘fear’. You are afraid of your neighbors – of any human being.

You are afraid to speak. You smile and you agree with everyone you meet.

You are afraid to think.

One day, you discover that what you feel for men … is hatred.

In that moment, you wonder ‘what has happened to your neighbors?’ They were decent people once – you remember vaguely. They did not act like wild packs, scrambling to get at one-another’s throats – and pockets!

You do not know how many of them are wondering the same thing about you.

You know only that there was a time when the local bird watcher, and the problem adolescent and the poetry-club ladies and ‘Ms fatso‘ were of no danger to anyone – but now they are! Why were they better in the past?

If someone answered:

Because – they – did – not – have – a – GUN!

you would not understand it.

You have come to believe that people are no good and that force is the only practical way to deal with them, since ‘reason’ – they all tell you – has failed.

You cannot cope with the enormous complexity of an entire nation’s problems. You have no way of knowing – you conclude – who is right or wrong, so let some groups force others and re-established order.

No one has explained to you that the ‘golden rule’ applies to politics. If certain conditions of social existence are unacceptable and unbearable to you, you cannot expect others to accept them and make them work. And what these conditions do to you, they do to society as a whole.

Do you agree to accept a social system of this kind?

It is of course, the system under which we are living today, but which we have never ‘chosen’.

It is important to consider it now because, in the coming presidential election one of the candidates is asking us to agree – and in the name of ‘national unity’ – explicitly to accept the principle that society has an unlimited power, and that our lives belong to the state!

Read Full Post »

I have engaged in an interesting chain of discussions lately that led to an further interesting chain of thoughts.

One of the first conversations dealt with the American Civil War and the effects it had on the 9th and 10th amendments, state’s rights and federalism.  One of the responses from someone at work to this comment was that it started long before, and that basically the civil war was just a final nail in the coffin.  And it is true, the fight between Federalists and Anti-Federalists started very early in our country’s history and led to the adoption of the Bill of Rights as well as it’s inclusion of those two amendments.

A subject that seems to come up a lot lately is the nature of the Federal Reserve system and possibly putting an end to it.  Yet problems with central banks aren’t new either.  Andrew Jackson fought against the National Bank (founded with help from Alexander Hamilton) for reasons very similar to what we are hearing today in regards to the Federal Reserve.

Other discussions ongoing over the last few years focus on the ‘redistribution of wealth‘ issues.  These too have included reference as far back as the founding fathers, even going back to church dogma in the gospels of Christ and before.

Another, more recent conversation focused on the ‘great unwashed’ speaking of people who tend to abdicate individual responsibility to instead follow charismatic leaders.  Instead of thinking for themselves, they echo whatever viewpoints ‘feel’ the most compelling to them.  This discussion focused on the fact that such people always seem to exist and without compelling them in the right direction, even the best ideas of morals, ethics, governance and the like will never have success.

In other words, ignore the people who act as sheep and someone else may not be as willing to ignore them and may ultimately sway them against you.  Looking back over time, the method of governance historically speaking, generally involves ‘popular’ movements and exercising of force.

The gist of the second discussion was that a sound government will not continue to exist if you cannot maintain popular opinion in support of it.  That opinion may be founded in the minds of irrational individuals who do not consider the philosophical issues and do not think beyond reciting what others say.  Being ‘right’ and ‘objectively accurate’ in both your arguments and conclusions will not do you a lot of good if no one listens to your arguments or shares those conclusions.  Or at least supports your right to exercise them freely.

Do all the right things, earn your own way, take responsibility for yourself and you will still be left with nothing if someone convinces a mob that they have the right to the results of your hard work.  Minding your own business will only take you so far.  You still need to live in a world where other people will ‘let’ you mind your own business.  To this end, it becomes necessary to play a role in influencing public opinion as a facet of your own self-interest. (whether it be ‘right’ or not that you need to do so.  Is what is – wish all you want, an inspired mob can still overpower a righteous individual by force)

Thus came up the subject in these discussions, “if these forces have been at play for so long, why are they becoming an issue ‘now’?”  And by ‘now’ in that context, I refer to the past century.

If you take the end of the Civil war as a general turning point, you can see a steady, downward trend in state’s rights, individual rights, individual freedoms and expanding government.  Sure, you can see some forms of it before that, but the rate of change seems to be increasing.

There was Theodore Roosevelt and the introduction of progressive policies, the adoption of the 16th amendment establishing a federal ‘income tax’, Woodrow Wilson and the Federal Reserve Act,  Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the New Deal, Lyndon Baines Johnson and the Great Society, James Earl Carter and the creation of the Department of Education all way up to ObamaCare.

So why is it becoming more problematic within the last 100 years? What I arrived at was one word.  ‘Frontiers

All those things I listed above followed the expansion of the US over geography of what pretty much constitutes the modern US borders.  Prior to that chain of events occurring, there were still large expanses of unclaimed, undeveloped or otherwise frontier based land.

Why is this important?  Well, if you didn’t like what government was doing in your particular state or part of the country, you could pack up your bags, load up your wagon and head for the American Frontier to take your chances and start anew.  We’ve all heard the stories about the ‘Wild West” – all the stories about people creating their ‘own law’ or being outright lawless, all the stories romanticizing the good guy vs. the bad guy, the black hats vs. the white hats, even the frontiersman vs. the native savages (with all due respect to native Americans, I refer more to the symbolism of the civilized/rational world versus a barbaric/primitive world view).

But now the frontiers are gone.  People and nations are forced to draw their lines in the sand.  Yeah, these forces against individual freedom and liberty have always existed, but we are running out of places to go to get away from it.  People are increasingly being confronted with the nature of government as they can no longer escape it.

I’d like to make a few predictions.  If new frontiers open, be they space or living on/in the oceans or in the sky, people will flock to them in droves to form newer, freer societies.  If new frontiers do not open, it will result in the ultimate confrontation between the state and the individual – and will suck the entire world into that fight.

Read Full Post »

(originally posted to Facebook on Friday, November 26, 2010)

I figured having a reference for all the ‘socialistic’ altruism in the bible might be useful.  I’ll add more as I come across them.

Old testament

Exodus 22:25
“If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do not be like a moneylender; charge him no interest.”

Leviticus 23:22
“And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not make clean riddance of the corners of your field when you reap, neither shall you gather any gleaning of your harvest: you shall leave them to the poor, and to the stranger.”

Leviticus 25:25
“If your brother becomes poor and sells part of his property, then his nearest redeemer shall come and redeem what his brother has sold.”

Leviticus 25:35-37
“If one of your countrymen becomes poor and is unable to support himself among you, help him as you would an alien or a temporary resident, so he can continue to live among you.  Do not take interest of any kind from him, but fear your God, so that your countryman may continue to live among you.  You must not lend him money at interest or sell him food at a profit.”

Deuteronomy 15:1
“At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts.”

Deuteronomy 15:7-8
“If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs.”

Deuteronomy 15:11
“There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.”

Deuteronomy 23:24-25 *
“If you enter your neighbor’s vineyard, you may eat all the grapes you want, but do not put any in your basket.”

   * I need to remember this one next time I’m at a devout Christians house – the fridge is free game baby!

New Testament

Matthew 5:42
Jesus said, “Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”

Matthew 6:2,3
Jesus said, “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do… when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.”

Matthew 19:21-24 (also Mark 10:21-25, Luke 18:22-25)
Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”  When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

Luke 14:13,14
Jesus said, “But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Acts 2:44-45
“All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.”

Acts 4:32-35
“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had… There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.”

1 Timothy 6:17-18
Paul says, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.”

2 Corinthians 8:13-14
Paul says, “Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality.”

2 Corinthians 9:6-7
Paul says, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

That last one is a cute one.  ‘not reluctantly or under compulsion.’ And what’s the alternative under Christianity?  BURN IN A FLAMING HELL FOREVER!!!!  Translation:  “God loves blind obedience.”

Read Full Post »

Originally posted on Facebook Notes
Published in the Ann Arbor News*

I have been trying to spread a new notion to anyone that will listen. There is a problem inherent in our culture that is allowing a dangerous kind of thinking to resonate. It is a misinterpretation embedded within the very mythos that makes up modern thinking….

The best example comes from the story of Robin Hood that is one of the truly unique mythologies of western culture. I start by asking people if they are familiar with the story of Robin Hood then asking them what his claim to fame was?

Most people will answer this question by replying “he stole from the rich and gave to the poor” – and herein lies the problem. That is a misconception, and that is the reason certain types of political suggestions take hold. Re-examine the story of Knottingham and re-learn it’s message.

Robin Hood was in essence a tax evader. Robin Hood was basically a grass roots motivator who led an anti-establishment rebellion. What he and his merry men were known for doing was not stealing from the ‘rich’ but “taking back” from the government what rightfully belonged to the people. He did not, in fact, steal from the rich to give to the poor, he stole from the oppressor to give back to the oppressed!

Most people view the story of Robin Hood as noble, heroic and just – and they should! But until people begin to understand the truth of that story they will not be able to comprehend the truth of what really is noble to be doing now.

Pass this along with my permission!

(*for some reason the ‘author’ on the archive of piece is mis-attributed now that the Ann Arbor News is no more and it’s op-eds nothing more than an archive.  I have contacted their webmaster but they don’t seem very responsive when it comes to correcting the archived content, but I assure you that  I was the author.) 


Read Full Post »

I tend to be political. When I am involved in politics, if forced to pick a ‘category’ for my politics, I most closely identify with libertarianism. But more often than not, I tend to find that my political action tend to entail fighting a similar sounding word – liberalism.
Mind you, I am one of the few in this world that still remember the difference between a Roosevelt democrat and a modern liberal. In short, I tend to associate the modern liberal with the philosophies of Moore (Thomas, not Roger) and more specifically, Marx. Therefore it comes of no surprise to me that collectivist and populist groups such as minority ‘rights’ collective movements or organized labor traditionally support or at least provide a voter base for the ‘modern liberal’ politician.
At the same time, I tend to hold an atheistic agnostic view of mysticism in general. Thus it often begs the question why I am more often willing to support a republican candidate ahead of a democratic (read: liberal) one when many republicans express an open inspiration from predominantly Christian belief systems and backgrounds. Upon thinking further on this subject I first looked at the similarities and then at the differences.

I tend to be leery of any organized movement that relies upon ‘belief’ to support their core objectives. Both religion and modern liberalism – mind you I am using that term synonymous with what could best be described as ‘softened’ collectivism – rely on belief in their ideal to support their motives and therefore their respective agendas. No biggie I suppose … just about any movement or even philosophy has behind it an idealistic goal that is as of yet unrealized and therefore requires some level of ‘belief’ that should it be realized (or at least sufficiently advanced) then the results will speak for themselves.
However, many such ideal do become at least somewhat realized and as of yet, the ideals of both parties (pun intended) have not spoken very strongly in support of their claims of what ‘should’ be expected by their realization. (at this point I could go into greater details of failed socialist or communist states or point to the horrors of time periods seen over by christian or other religious zealots – but I’m sure most are aware of enough of them to avoid the redundancy)

So what are the similarities?
Taking each onto themselves we can start with religion: a belief in an omnipotent being responsible for creating everything and somehow ever present in the events of the world. You can’t see it, you can’t question it, you must simply have faith in it. You are asked to sacrifice to your fellow man and to take your suffering as your award awaits you in the hereafter and while here the good lord will provide for his faithful. – to do otherwise is heresy, blasphemy and sin.

Then there is statism: a belief in a utopian society where the state is responsible for owning and distributing all that is created and all that is needed. You should not question it, and it does require a faith that those involved within it are upholding that same utopian ideal; From each according to their ability, to each according to their need. The state does ask you sacrifice (the first part) but also offers you assistance – dare we say to the ‘faithful’? To do otherwise is a crime against the state akin to treason.

Both ask of the individual selflessness and require duty to the whole. Both provide something somewhat intangible greater than one’s self for which they are to provide this sacrifice; for one the ‘state’ and the other the ‘almighty’.

So why then does statism bother me more than mysticism? It’s interesting now that I have stepped outside the blind ‘faith’ style of the Christians I find around me to look at many so-called ‘modern’ religions and to examine their ceremonies, rituals and methods of worship, to read in history how these developed to what they are today and to look also at how many christians (or other religions, but mind you were are talking about christians in the present) have looked upon other beliefs with their own rituals as ‘primitive’ or ‘superstitious’ – even barbaric in nature. As the tenor sings a can’t in the back and a man in a fancy robe with a pointy hat waves around his little ball of incense on a chain before offering his followers the symbolic flesh and blood of their savior I can’t help but stifle a chuckle at the hypocrisy.

But then where is God? (big ‘G’) I looked for him at many points in my life before coming to my current doubters perspective – believe me! (again, pun intended) God (big ‘G’) is this invisible man whom most say lives in the sky, he is all around us, he is responsible for everything, knows everything, sees everything. Yet no one can really prove he’s there to a reasoning individual with any level of certainty – at least one that does not also require a leap of faith.

So where is the state? The state ‘is’ all around us! Anyone that understands the least bit about causality knows that although they can – for the most part – control their own behavior, decisions and how they react to the consequences, the same cannot be said for the man (or woman) standing next to you.
As long as there are two or more people in a situation, each with their own needs, wants and desires, you will need some construct of ‘rules’ to govern their interactions with each other and with those things around them that they might need, want or desire. This would be nice and peachy in that idealistic (yet all too often unrealized) existence where everyone followed the rules all the time – but of course we know better.
Then comes the need for enforcement of the rules – enforcement that does not adversely support the needs, wants and desires of one individual over that of another. The combination of these rules and the enforcement of same sooner or later shows up as government and can be eventually found synonymous with ‘the state’.
So, therefore (using a little deductive reasoning here) as long as there are two more more people in a situation, each with their own needs wants and desires – the emergence of a governing entity that could be dubbed ‘the state’ is pretty much an inevitability.

In short? A lot of people believe in a god. A lot more believe in some type of statism. But the state is the only one that we can readily demonstrate having an immediate and incontrovertible effect upon our daily lives.

Read Full Post »