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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/handler/item_id/2259014-Capitalism--versus--Socialism
Rated: E · Group · Political · #2259014
The Individual or the Collective? Primal directive. Do as I say, or do as I do?
Capitalism versus Socialism

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Let me make one thing as clear as possible. The intent of this group is ‘not’ politics. I realize just how difficult the concept of politics may be, and it is arguable that everything we do is intimately interwoven with our concepts on self, as well as society, and therefore is a fundamental aspect of our very existence and the accompanying politics.

No, this is more about the philosophy behind the politics. I find the political aspects of life to be more an issue of emotions, while the ‘essence’ of the reason behind the politics is of much more value and substance, and we derive legitimacy for these emotions through this very same ability to think, and contemplate, and hopefully discover a level of comprehension that is simply not possible through the lens of emotion. In fact, it is my position that this emotion is in effect the greatest obstacle to the realization of our reasoned and intellectual objectives.

The issue is, which I find to be the case with almost all philosophical thought, to investigate the concepts that we find the most provocative and intriguing, while we accept them as the most obvious and objectively acceptable to us. This is, of course, superficially at first, and it takes focus and motivation to prosecute the investigation necessary to discover the credible reasons why we may in fact have found legitimate foundation for those concepts.

Perhaps the oldest conflict that mankind has had to endure is the disagreement that seems to exist between the ideologies of the collective, today exemplified in the philosophy of socialism and communism, as opposed to the philosophy of capitalism. It is my intent that this group will delve into the issue, and try to make salient points to both accept and reject either of those ideologies.

I do not wish this to be an immature food-fight, but a somewhat balanced and reasoned ‘argument’ as to the strengths and weaknesses of each paradigm, and I would suggest a focused intent to make the case why one’s own perspective is the more balance and practical alternative, as opposed to simply the vilification and condemnation of the other, especially since I find that most individuals are more than challenged in explaining why their own positions are valid than why the positions of their opposition is flawed. I realize that this is difficult to control, but it is important to deal in positive concepts if one truly wishes to persuade others to the rightness of their own perspective. Simply attempting to destroy that which you do not accept or comprehend is invariably unsuccessful and self-defeating. Time spent doing so is time not spent on changing minds and paradigms.



For those of you that would like to see the debates or read the full articles yourself, the following are links to the respective items:








For those of you who wish to read my commentary, which addresses all of the participants of the debates, comprised of virtually all of the comments made by the representatives as well as myself, these links are for those items penned by Lone Cypress Workshop:


 
1984 Debate - Capitalism vs. Socialism  [E]
The perpetual conflict between the individual and the collective continues
by Lone Cypress Workshop


 
1986 - Capitalism versus Socialism  [E]
The heart dreams of socialism. The mind knows that only capitalism can truly bring peace.
by Lone Cypress Workshop



For those of you that might enjoy becoming involved with a discussion on the issues you are welcome to join the group and offer your insight and observations. Anything is acceptable, from a comment or question to an article in response or rebuttal. We only ask that you use discretion and respect with your words. You can start the process at:



 
What say you? Capitalism or Socialism?  [E]
It should not be a matter of ideology or politics, but rather a matter of philosophy.
by Lone Cypress Workshop




Socialism

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There is not enough space to start trying to define and question any of the concepts that I will present here. I make no definitive statements, and make no attempt at changing positions with these minimal definitions. I do not claim that they are absolutes or definitive in any respect, in fact, they are simply my current summaries for the concepts, and will be presented in detail in the comments in the work offered. They are open to criticism, as well as adjustment, if you have the motivation and incentive, not to mention the ability to persuade and initiate doubt.

I do not even claim that they are completely valid in any respect, although I must note that they are simply my conclusions drawn over decades, through research and debate, and will not be easily swayed by superficial and emotional invective. Ad-hominem attacks, against myself or those referenced in the debates or articles, will be ultimately of little value in compelling change, or even considerations, so why not create an intent to have a discussion of substance, and speak of truth and credible information, with citation, and at the very least, an overwhelming presence of visible evidence to the points being made.

Socialism has been a concept, even before the labels existed, whereby the community, the ‘collective’ is the term most notably used, is enhanced and strengthened by the actions of the group in question, through individual actions. I find that an acceptable intent. My initial response is that no ideology is necessary to do such a thing, and I see individuals attempting to accomplish positive actions all the time, and I find no conflict with larger groups doing so, acknowledging a certain sense of security and calmness that comes with that intent, although it never truly seems to result in the intended outcome.

This basic viewpoint has been expanded currently to step back from the philosophical concept just referenced, to the political one of putting the ‘means of production’, in economic terms, into the hands of the ‘workers’, even though it has never been shown that it is the vast majority of this ‘labour’ that gets this benefit, nor that it is even desired. That, for me, is a distinction that needs to be addressed. The inequities that have been necessary to institute such a paradigm seem to be formidable, and they consistently exist in any alternative that has been tried, without exception. I would like to see it accomplished through an unquestioned voluntarily cooperative experience, and I am not sure that this is even possible, and there seems to be no intellectual movement to defend or explain why my concerns are invalid or unnecessary.

My reason, my first-hand experience, and the visual evidence as well seem to show that there is invariably a huge influx of force or coercion used to implement, promote and manage any socialistic endeavours, and without an alternative to that force, my support is unavailable to the philosophical intent of the ideology.




Capitalism

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Capitalism is much the same as socialism, in many respects. It also cannot be summarized in a confined space at this time. If you choose to sample any of the work I will present in the attempt at understanding this issue, you will see hundreds, if not thousands of comments that run the gamut from the intellectual to the irrational, from both sides of the ideological aisle.

My own sentiments unashamedly lie on the capitalist version of an economic ideology and a philosophical reality. There are many indeed that feel that capitalism is nothing more than a system, and not an ideal or a philosophical movement, but they would be so much more than simply wrong. I have made some comments to this end. Capitalism is every bit as philosophical as socialism is, and has already shown its efficacy and benefit to mankind, notwithstanding the opposition of some.

I am always open to those that feel they have something of substance to offer, but find myself frustrated and impatient when they do nothing but exhibit that ‘emotion’ that I mentioned. Emotion invariably ends up in anger and resistance, and even hatred, and I would hope that we could all agree that these kinds of reactions irrefutably end up with the exact opposite of our expectations, an end to communication, and an escalation of the negatives involved, and never in resolution, consensus or cooperation. So why let it happen, why let it end the conversation before it even begins?

Capitalism, as opposed to the definition of socialism, believes in the individual. It seems that the case is repeatedly made that this precludes the concept in the theory of community, but I find no direct correlation between the ideology and the absence of any ‘collective’. The point is made that it cannot exist, but that is rather easy to refute. Every endeavor that has ever existed, and been successful, under capitalism, contains multiple examples of cooperation and community. While it is true that no one can do anything alone, which I find no examples of being said by anyone even remotely connected with capitalism, it is also true that some can, in specific circumstances, and what does it matter if an individual wishes to accomplish something alone? They may normally be unsuccessful, so how are ‘you’ harmed in this failure?

That being said, our infrastructure, our homes, our cities, our advances in science, and in every facet of mankind, have been a cooperative effort to some degree between individuals to accomplish a ‘greater good’ if I can abscond with a socialist mantra. What is different is that with capitalism, and individualism, it is not everyone that is required, and it is not everyone who may directly benefit in some way, although it is undeniable that indirectly, each and every member of the community, the society, does in fact benefit, at least potentially, in the actions of those few that came up with the initial ideas that developed over time, sometimes centuries, into progress for all.

Capitalism is an ideology that believes in freedom, and arguably that can translate at times into ‘too much’ freedom. Socialism, on the other hand, struggles with allowing even what I would term an absolute minimum of freedom, and that is a stumbling block. Capitalism believes that every individual should decide for themselves what is good for them and those they care about, with an absolute minimum of interference from any ‘state’ or government to impede them, When this interference actually ‘is’ necessary, it must be an ‘absolute’ equality across the board. The weakness in the administration of these freedoms is evident simply by looking at history.

The problem, as I see it, is that the ideology of capitalism has no direct connection, whether through action or philosophy, in the breaking of trust between individuals or between business and government and individuals in the communal sense. Socialism, on the other hand, believes that everyone should ‘want’ to do whatever is necessary to ensure the security of the collective, and that includes compelling, aka forcing, people to do whatever that greater good wishes, irrespective of the intent or expectation of any particular singular individual. Again, this compulsion against ones will negates any benefit I see from the philosophy and therefore my acceptance and support will be forever held in reserve until that issue is resolved to my satisfaction.

Again, there is so much more to the concepts, and will be addressed in the posted items by thousands of comments and statements and observations from myself, guests in the debates, audience members from those debates, as well as online comments from viewers over the years. I am confident that every instance of an issue has not been addressed, but if these ideologies, and their conflicts, provoke any interest at all, there is much to be discovered, much to be contemplated, and much to be resolved. I hope that you are as intrigued and fascinated as I am by the philosophies.





Objectivism

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There are many that have opinions on the philosophy of Objectivism. I am one of them. Some have made the observations that they read Ayn Rand when they were young, often just teenagers, and then, at some point, they simply ‘grew up’. Not an intellectual comment by any stretch, but of course, everyone has the right to their own opinion, no matter how wrong they may be.

Objectivism is something that I discovered as a young man, a boy as it were, back in the late sixties. A tumultuous time. Sex, drugs, and rock-‘n-roll. Viet-Nam, demonstrations, Woodstock. Feminism and racism, socialism, communism, capitalism, and for me, Objectivism.

According to my detractors, I never grew up, and yet, I look back on a life where I never took advantage of another, at least not in any appreciable manner, I never killed or beat or raped another person, and while I did steal some childish items when quite young, this paradigm did not exist over decades. I never defrauded another, I never backstabbed someone for a job, I never knowingly cheated another. I could go on. Can you say the same? If so, I applaud your discipline and your integrity.

For me, integrity, ethics, morality, character all played a large part in my life, and Objectivism was the genesis for all of that, and so much more. It taught me how to recognize love, and how to appreciate the obstacles and challenges that others have had to endure. Empathy and compassion came directly from my experiences and investigation into Objectivism. For anyone to demean and condemn the philosophy with no first-hand experience is less than intellectual, less than ignorant, and less than reasonable. And yet, it continues, and I find it difficult to understand why.

Actually, nothing much has changed. Change Afghanistan and a few others for Vietnam and I don’t see any change at all. Fifty years, and we are pretty much where we were. To tell the truth, we can go back five thousand years, and the languages were different, the clothes were a bit gauche, but the discord, the ignorance, and the hatred were pretty much in line with what still exists today. Incomprehensible and unacceptable, and so very, very sad.

There are those that call Objectivism a cult, but I have seen cults, have watched them manipulate and compel others, and direct and ‘persuade’ them to do things that they would never have done in a rational environment, or at least that is my own personal perspective. Feel free to come to your own conclusions.

Manson, David Koresh, and Waco, many variations of various religions, Jim Jones and the Peoples Church, the list is endless if you really want to take a look. A lot of people dead, and countless others damaged, many beyond repair. The problem is, that Objectivism has no similarities, except in the confines of small-minded people that simply don’t ‘like’ what they have to say, and will do anything to vilify and demean the concepts, the philosophy, and the ideology. I have long ago made my peace with those that use irrationality as a weapon, but I still find it difficult to comprehend what exactly lies behind their motivations and actions, much the same as those collectivists that we are here to investigate.

I have to make the point here that I passionately and sincerely want to hear what these individuals have to say because I want to understand the disconnect that I see between their actions and intentions and their words, which I find reprehensible in many cases, and my own, where I have made it a life journey to harm no one, man or animal, that shares this planet with me.

The only thing that I possess is my thoughts, my ideas, my philosophy, my ideology. I have no power to make anyone else do anything at all, and yet, they seem to object not to these opinions and questions that perpetually intrigue me, but the very existence of something that has made my life demonstrably better than it was, or possibly could have been. They call my own personal existence into play, and that is not interesting, but highly troublesome.

Because of these issues, I have refrained from going into real detail on this issue of Objectivism, instead living my own life through my own decisions and my own beliefs. I grew up thinking that this was as irrefutable fundamental of the American paradigm, the American Dream, but I am far from sure that this is true anymore. The cancel culture makes me re-examine exactly what it is that those around me have determined are of much more importance than freedom, liberty, equality, and justice. I know they use the words often, but completely out of context, and with a degree of irrationality and bias that has no equal.

Objectivism is fundamentally built upon a few basic concepts, and it is not necessary for anyone to believe them all, but of course, to be an Objectivist it is necessary to at least have more than a passing interest in many of them.

First and foremost, the Objectivist believes in reality. While they normally acknowledge the philosophical schools of thought that question truth and existence, reality, and the ability to perceive that which may not exist, they don’t embrace these concepts as true, or even as probably true. They believe in objective perception. Ayn Rand was something of an extremist on this issue, but it was the bedrock of her philosophy.

She would probably have some issues with me, and many have said she ‘excommunicated’ others that may have disagreed to a large extent, but then again, how many of us continue to associate with others that do nothing but tell us just how wrong we are? I have found that while objectivism is what I would call a goal, it is not something easily resolved, since so much of our existence is run through filters that are strongly subjectively based. In any case, as mentioned, I don’t believe that you cannot embrace Objectivism without an undue objective perception radicalism.

One of the most influential concepts that immediately caught my attention was the tenet that all men should be bound, ethically and morally, but not physically coercively, to the idea that men need to trade with one another, whether physical objects or philosophical concepts, only under the auspice that it is to a ‘mutual benefit through mutual agreement’. I find this to be a fundamental concept that I do not wish to live without. Nothing can be done without each individual believing that it is a good transaction for each of them, wanting the other to be satisfied with the trade as much as you are. You need an apple, I need money to buy a shovel, or a shovel itself. Perhaps ten apples for the shovel, or one dollar per apple. It is a good deal for both of us. It is a bond that will stay with us for quite some time since neither is disadvantaged by the exchange. Is this not what everyone wants? Is this not what the socialist is looking for? I am not so sure.

This allows and demands that both players ‘agree’ completely with the trade. What could be a more positive action or result? The socialist, again from my perspective, is not preoccupied if the transaction is in any way beneficial or agreeable between the individuals, but only if it is to the benefit of the ‘greater good’. I am truly sorry, but that is not the kind of relationship I wish to have with my friends and neighbors, and especially with strangers. As is often the case, if the effort is not made to make it a legitimate and beneficial exchange, it can easily result in poor relations and future transactions. If I am wrong, please show me the error of my ways.

Another issue to be addressed with this mini-presentation is the use or initiation of force, which has already been reference a couple of times. When that fundamental of freedom is not a prerequisite to the interactions within the ideology, then coercion is an inevitable result. If one cannot get another to ‘do the right thing’ through persuasion of the mind, then the only other alternative is to do so through persuasion of the body. I realize that laws have to be implemented for any system to ultimately be successful, but it must be in moderation, but without at least some individual freedom, I interpret the final conclusion to be one of slavery.

The last issue is a continuation of this concept. Objectivism acknowledges the use of some form of coercion but ‘only’ in response to force already initiated, which is demonstrably a different issue. The state cannot force individuals to do what they ‘should’ do, but only involve themselves in a situation where they are doing something that already has been determined is something that they ‘cannot’ or ‘should not’ do. Not a personal decision, which is the way most violence begins, but by the actions that have been determined by whatever legal system that exists and has adjudicated and concluded it is an inappropriate way to act.





Collectivism

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Collectivism is a term that has been horribly misunderstood with its comprehensive inclusion into the ideologies of communism and socialism. It is actually a fairly simple concept, but as a part of a political philosophy, it becomes divisive and confrontational. The attempt has been made to ‘hijack’ the term, to mean a single thing, when it in fact covers a multitude of meanings.

The political definition has come to be accepted as the fundamental reason that these ideologies even exist, and it becomes very difficult to differentiate between the politics and the actual meaning. A ‘collective’ is simply an agreement in principle, between any number of individuals, to cooperate on some specific task, and to work towards an end that is normally considered in the best interest of all of the individuals involved. Like I said, it seems simple, but rarely comes across as such.

All of the conflicting ideologies that do not accept something like socialism or communism in its totality all have instances of the same cooperation, and therefore the same collective effort, but are characterized as not only having a different perspective on the concept but portrayed as not having the ability to cooperate at all, incapable of doing anything for their own version of the greater good. This is quite easily refuted and yet continues to be an overpowering obstacle in the understanding of these conflicting ideologies.

Socialism, and all collectives, like to present their membership as working together as a single entity, towards the betterment of all, which is, of course, an admirable objective. My own reservations are evident when the issue of force is introduced into the debate, since this all-encompassing intention to do good, without the inclusion of said force, is nothing that can be demonstrated in the history of mankind, at least in anything more than single, specific, and unique environments.

Large groups of people do not tend to agree to large-scale control of their decisions, and I would have to agree, which then necessitates the use of something more than simple persuasion to get the ‘greater good’ to actually act in the best-perceived interests of that same greater good. It just doesn’t work, and I believe that it is an integral aspect of the discussion that needs to exist to bring a better comprehension of exactly what that collective ideology demands, whether it be communism or socialism, or some other derivative.

Force tends to be an imperative, at some point, to control and direct this greater good, and I, for one, find it difficult to accept or agree to allow someone else to make my life decisions. I cannot understand why the membership cannot come to a more organic agreement, especially since the inference I often see is that everyone, basically without exception, is in general agreement as to direction and intent anyway. If this were true, I find it difficult to understand the need for coercion in any form whatsoever.

The opposing philosophies, on the other hand, believe in personal agreement, and this includes the alternative of rejecting any particular project, or shall we say transaction, and to remove themselves from the action, at least in this one particular instance. I find no real conflict in such an option. The collective ideologies tend to frown on that individual decision-making, and that is one of my major concerns.

Capitalism, Objectivism, and other free-market paradigms all accept that cooperation is not only beneficial but necessary, especially when larger projects are being envisioned. Buildings, bridges, roads, even businesses all require multiple players to achieve any desired result. Not that an individual may not be able to do so, but in almost all cases, it would be prohibitive in the amount of time and resources to ultimately be successful. They acknowledge that, as the Amish do, that it can be much easier to raise a barn with the cooperation and agreement of a number of individuals, with the unwritten, or written, contract to react in kind when one of the helpers eventually need assistance with their own project. That is the nature of true cooperation, uncoerced, and as the objectivist would present, of mutual benefit through mutual agreement. A good basis for those elements of freedom, liberty, and choice that are epitomized in the concepts of these ideologies.

I contemplate which ideologies allow me the ability to determine my own future, and the answer is actually an easy one. This is one of the reasons that I wish to discuss the issues involved, and the fundamental reason why I am constructing this group and commenting on these debates and articles. It is not an easy undertaking, and open to interpretation and perspectives, hopefully, many of which I have not yet experienced, and hopefully, as well, perspectives that will be advantageous to the debate and that can bring a better understanding of all the ideologies involved.





Individualism

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Individualism. For me, it is something that has been self-evident since even before my teens. There was nothing I wanted more as a boy than to make my own decisions, and even then, I knew there was a component of responsibility and obligation that was inseparable from the desire. I never liked taking direction from authority, and this did not make for a comfortable childhood, which only strengthened my resolve to somehow circumvent the impact this had on my life until I was able to break free of that measure of control that others had over me.

I never wanted anything more than to make my own decisions. I rarely blamed others for my mistakes and attempted to learn from each misstep, which for the most part I was able to do. An individual is not an anarchist and does not wish to do whatever they please at the expense of another. I recognize that many believe that, wrongly, and still others believe it as legitimate behaviour in their interactions with other individuals. I never went there, I never thought my own needs should be subservient to others, but I also never believed that those of someone else were more important than my own either.

Objectivism was the difference for me, and for those that say it is some kind of scam or cult, that was not my experience. I have easily balanced the need for rational self-interest and the ability to refrain from that irrational self-interest that I see so many others participate in. There is a difference, and that is determined by the individual and unique decisions that we all make. We will talk much more about this in the comments I will present, or we can delve deeply into the concepts from any perspective you wish.

Individualism is the fundamental impetus for all that is positive in the human condition, acknowledging that it can be the root of improper and negative actions as well. While I believe in the concept of all men being created equal in essence, it is obviously more in relation to the ‘opportunity’ that most human beings should be afforded to reach their own potential, but it is even more self-evident that no two individuals are alike, in any way but a superficial one. I have a thousand abilities, and any other individual can have from one to hundreds that are superior to my own. They can have greater abilities and fail to develop and use them, and they, unfortunately, can have physical or psychological disadvantages that prevent them from nurturing and developing those abilities. In any case, I find it difficult to come to any other conclusion but that, ultimately, no two human beings are truly equal in any demonstrable way. This is not a criticism at all, but simply an objective and contemplated observation. I am more than willing to discuss the issue.

Looking back at the concept of the collective, I have heard it said, and passionately agree, that any collective is simply any number of individualists that work together towards any specified goals, which allows the full potential of all the individuals combined to be a part of that collective paradigm, and be evident in the conclusions and ultimate result of the intent of the collective. I find that thinking of the collective in a thousand instances is superior to a single collective that will at times bring pressure, aka force, to bear on getting all the individual parts to work together, when the individualist collective does so completely through that mutual agreement to a mutual benefit, to achieve common goals through inarguable cooperation and irrefutable freedom and liberty-based contemplations and conclusions.

The individual can step back and reject any project, or step forward and offer the best of his abilities to the effort. He can participate in all projects or only a few. I understand the feeling of unfairness that some perceive when ‘everyone’ does not pull their fair share, but I question this position when the individuals involved are not allowed self-determination. The use of force to obtain a positive result is an immoral one, on many levels, and never results in a moral end. I find it impossible to accept the ends justifying the means. I tend to believe that it is only through legitimate actions of character and integrity that a valid and credible ‘end’ can be accomplished.





Altruism

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Altruism is so similar to all the other fundamentals of the collective. There seems to be an inherent ‘virtue’ within collectivism that consistently makes me reluctant to even consider the ideologies. It is that inclusion of force, and this rears its ugly head once again with this concept.
No one can really argue that altruism is not a positive thing in the human condition. I certainly will not make any attempt to negate it. Doing something good for any other person, no matter the circumstance, based on reason, compassion, ethics, morality, or character is without question admirable. The question is whether the individual that does the ‘giving’ is doing so irrefutably through their own choice and decision.

If so, I don’t see how it can be a wrong thing, but then again, if completely uncoerced, they do not need any suggestion or direction from any authoritative entity. If they are under duress, or any kind of societal or collective pressure to do so, and are the target of ire or criticism or even condemnation, that would seem to make the case that the act itself, while still a positive action for the recipient of the largesse, is not a moral or ethical behaviour, but a coerced action with negative repercussions if not taken in accordance with some ‘higher’ intent and expectation.

Suffice it to say that the Objectivist believes in altruism, contrary to a sizeable segment of the uninformed that proclaim, without the presence of any legitimate evidence whatsoever, that it is something that does not exist in the Objectivist paradigm. In fact, they say it is the ‘teaching’ of the ideology to intentionally ‘not’ help others in any way, to the degree that it is part of the ideology to take advantage of others, in any and all situations, to enrich and enhance their own existence.

I would like to refute such a statement, but anyone of even a rudimentary knowledge of anything philosophical, and especially anything remotely related to Objectivism, know this to be a false narrative. If not, then give some credible citation of where the philosophy suggests or directs such action. It does not exist, and cannot and will not be found. I would call it fake news but that would only exacerbate the irrationality already exhibited by those who simply cannot bear the existence of something so exquisite within the field of philosophy.





Rational Self-Interest

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This concept creates a real challenge for those that do not possess the faculty of critical thinking. It is not particularly debatable, since it is only an opinion, a belief that correlates with other behavioural and considered thought. Many people think this is some kind of a false narrative, or more appropriately a narrative fallacy, but it is nothing of the sort. To engage in a debate with another individual, it is necessary to grant them some kind of legitimacy if they take the time to define and explain, in detail and specificity, how some concept is interpreted by them, and even perhaps by them alone. This does not negate the legitimacy that the definition holds for them, and there is a certain imperative if you wish to discuss an issue with them, that the concept be accepted as presented, and a rational argument can ensue from that point. It does not mean in any respect that the definition has to be accepted as true or factual, only that it is representative of the deeply held belief of the speaker. By all means, it can be refuted, but in a reasonable and respectful way. This is not the reality that I have experienced with this concept.

Again, it would not be feasible to even attempt an all-encompassing explanation of exactly what rational self-interest is, but the salient points would be that it is first and foremost what the speaker, or myself in this context, believe to be a rational perspective, based on an overwhelming amount of information and demonstrable behaviour. It is a matter of opinion, but this would infer that it is something more substantial than simply an off-hand interpretation.

This self-interest is often characterized as simple selfishness, but that would be a false assumption as well. The self-interest, in this case, would be anything that is beneficial to my own existence, and to the existence of anyone that has any real value to me, but ultimately to everyone, even those who would be considered strangers, as well as those that I purposely might disagree with, or even dislike, no matter the extent.

The distinction that I have found with the Objectivist view of rational self-interest, that conveniently gets dismissed out of hand, which is highly disingenuous, is that any action that is taken is with the specific and expressed intent to ‘not’ harm in any way any other individual following their own path to self-interest, also with no intention of harming me in any way, physically, psychologically, financially or in relation to life, liberty and the pursuit of my own happiness. This seems fairly simple and straightforward to me, without exception.

There is no aspect of exploitation of another, taking an intentional advantage of another to their detriment, stealing their intellectual or personal property, including money and resources, or physical harm in any manner. I find it incomprehensible that one can equate such a position with the self-serving, and self-absorbed actions of greed, and the disregard for life and limb of another that most equate with the concept, without any true evidence to the truth of that opposition. I comment on the concept quite a bit in these debates, so it is not the forum at this point to go into more detail. I welcome examples and scenarios to define and explain the paradigm if you are so inclined.





Irrational Self-Interest

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Irrational self-interest, on the other hand, is exactly what these others, usually liberal and socialist collectivists, use as ammunition to wrongly demean and condemn the ideologies of capitalism and Objectivism, as well as some others. It seems that if you are not willing to do what they deem to be appropriate behaviour, without exception and without argument, then that is somehow interpreted as reprehensible and immoral, and this makes it totally justifiable to inevitably introduce their intent to the use of force to coerce and direct others that embodies those same vices.

Selfishness does indeed exist, within society, within socialism, within capitalism, and within Objectivism. All of these philosophies are comprised of human beings, fallible and imperfect in a myriad of ways. The actions of individuals does not constitute the ideologies and are not a result of some failure of the philosophy, but rather the failure of the individual or the ability of same to even comprehend what the ideology is attempting to accomplish. I find it unacceptable to continue to place culpability on these philosophies when it is self-evident it is the existence of damaged and inferior participants and followers of these ideologies.

Selfishness is insidious and something I think we should all wish to mitigate or remove from the political, economic and personal paradigms, but false accusations and vilification of inanimate belief systems is not the way to resolution, but only division and the shredding of our societal reality. Look around you. Is that not what is happening as we speak? Do you see reasonable discourse taking place? Anywhere? At any time? I do not, and I lament the ignorance and bad intent that allows it to continue.

This is why I represent this particular form of selfishness as irrational self-interest, to make the chasm between the two as specific and demonstrable as possible. I have had to endure and confront this self-destructive kind of dialogue for most of my fifty years as an Objectivist, with little willingness on the part of the opposition to even consider my perspective, much less spend the time and effort to discuss and debate. I have few options but to use coercion, and that is something that I have pledged not to do. I only wish those others would do the same.





Initiation of Force vs. Freedom

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This is another somewhat redundant concept that continues to reinsert itself into the conversation. All of these things are so intimately interwoven into philosophy in general that it is difficult to break any one of them out and deal with them independently. I am not sure it is possible or desirable. The only way these issues will be resolved will be to develop and evolve a truly comprehensive mindset that deals with all these things simultaneously because they are so closely related, and without giving all the attention they deserve, in co-equal parts of the desired whole, it will probably be next to impossible to come to a motivated and reasonable conclusion. Isn’t that what we all want? I am not so sure with the conflict and aggressive responses I see in all the information that I will be presenting. There are a lot of really angry people out there, many with little more than an unrelenting passion to hate something that they have illustrated, time and again, that they do not even understand.

I find it a real fundamental concept to address this idea that the use of force is ever a reasonable reaction to another individual that simply has a difference of opinion, and thinks that it may be advisable to do something a different way, or perhaps not at all. You would think that this is something that can be discussed and debated, maybe eventually agreed upon, but if not, we just go our own way and avoid the conflict. I realize that there are things that must be adjudicated, and that is what the courts and founding documents are there for, but not for everything, and not for just anything. We are looking for a system that allows the largest amount of people to have the greatest amount of freedom to do what they believe is in their best interests while doing the least amount of discomfort or inconvenience to another. In very specific circumstances, authority may become necessary, when actions are blatantly inappropriate and self-evidently harmful, but not in the case of personal opinion, belief, thought, or words. Political correctness is a personal decision, nothing else. If I have to do what you want, while you do not have to do what I want, there is an impossible obstacle to understanding and cooperation.





Philosophy

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This, of course, is the bedrock upon which everything else is constructed. You want to talk of any of the ideologies, they are an extension of philosophy and not a distant correlation. Every action you do within the ideology, from personal actions to the way you treat and interact with those with whom you disagree is simply an extension, an illustration, of what you believe your ideology to be.

The behaviour you exhibit in relation to the ideology is nothing but a deep reflection of your own personal philosophy, irrespective of what the ideology represents. It is a reflection of who you are as an individual, even when you don’t believe in the concept of the individual itself. When you do something positive, it may be at the suggestion or behest of the ideology, but in the end, it is a personal decision as to thought and action, whether positive or negative, whether you harm someone in some way, or help them, or even just do them no harm at all, due to not even making a decision. The absence of a decision is a decision nonetheless.

Altruism is a deeply personal decision, and at times, it may be the only assistance that another individual will receive from anyone, even if only a smile or a kind word. Ideologies, like governments, do nothing, in and of themselves. It is the individuals that constitute the ideology that accomplishes acts of kindness, and acts of aggression and ill-will. Again, your own decision.

You will notice that I keep referring to individuals, and that is for a specific reason. There is no real collective, except a collective of individuals. Ayn Rand has said that the smallest minority on earth is the individual, and if you do not support the individual, you cannot say that you support any minority at all. I find it very difficult to dismiss or to refute such a statement. I believe it is important to work together, in cooperation, to accomplish shared goals, but ultimately, this is done on an individual and personal level. We need to do so much more than we do. The division and dissension I see all around me are disheartening and discouraging. It’s really not necessary, but we have to have a paradigm that does not tell people what to do but helps them to make their own decisions, and simply do the right thing, for the right reasons. I find it incomprehensible that this is not a fundamental imperative in everyone’s reality. We have to find a way to change that.

Philosophy is the answer, of course. We need to spend the time necessary to understand ourselves before we can expect to direct others or ask for their cooperation in any future endeavor. I find that the idea of coercion is, or should be, anathema to the human condition, and yet history shows us that it is the norm, and that brings me no joy. We all have to be the best person we can be, day after day. We have to question, diligently, our own deeply held beliefs, and leave an open space to contemplate the questions that are posed to us about those beliefs. If we don’t we miss the opportunity to make the changes necessary to bring about that new paradigm that will allow us all the ability to live in peace and harmony. It sounds so trite and corny, but if this is not what we all want, then exactly what is it that we expect to happen? I ask myself this question daily, and I really don’t have an answer, even for myself.

Get involved, every day and all the time. Do so with passion and reason and respect. That is all that I can hope for from anyone else, and all that I can offer in return. I only hope that it’s enough.

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