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    • Contentious
    Against Individualism
    • Independence is a farce, an absolute lie that underpins our lives in the west. Under neoliberalism (global capitalism) it is the responsibility of each individual to be accountable for their position in life. They are responsible for their relative wealth, relative freedom, relative innocence, health and security.

      To some conservative neoliberals who prioritise the privatisation of public goods such as health, if you can't take care of yourself, and you are an able bodied individual, then you might as well die. It is no one's responsibility to pay for your health or education, you should have worked out how to do that yourself. Your choices have landed you where you are.

      Running through the vein of all this is a high amount of value placed on negative liberty as the highest form of freedom.

      Neoliberal rationality demands self-sufficiency as a moral ideal at the same time that neoliberal forms of power work to destroy that very possibility at an economic level, establishing every member of the population as potentially or actually precarious, even using the ever-present threat of precarity to justify its heightened regulation of public space and its deregulation of market expansion. We see this in the way the in the US, the fact that the GOP wants to remove Obama Care is presented as choice.

      So powerful is the normative power of negative liberty in the USA, that the "freedom from" positive forms of liberty is presented as a valuable, rational goal, despite its utter idiocy if framed as an effort to keep more American's healthy.

      The more one complies with the demand of ‘responsibility’ to become self-reliant, the more socially isolated one becomes and the more precarious one feels, they're doing away with the notion that they could ever ask for welfare, less they lose some measure of social status, or even human worth. The more supporting social structures fall away for “economic” reasons, the more isolated one feels in one’s sense of heightened anxiety and “moral failure” for things such as unemployment, illness and crime.

      Again the implication being, if you are not able to get a job that has health care or can afford it you belong to a population that deserves to die and is finally responsible for their own death.

      The greatest farce of it all is this notion of independence, that somehow your success is all your own and thus by extension your failure, all your own.

      As though you were never supported by another, be it a human, machine, institution or norm. Or as though systems and institutions have not discriminated against you or even just simply made it easier for jobs to be off-shored.

      Human action depends upon all sorts of supports - it is always supported action. In the mere case of commuting to work, this would not be possible without the infrastructural constructions that make it possible for you to walk (a pavement, street, signs, lights) or to drive (engineering, labour from the working class), once you are there you must eat (labour from farmers, factory workers, the teachers who taught you how to prepare, delivery people). Hell for the concept of there to be a "job" to even arrive at, you require the support of others.

      None of what you call your daily life, happens soley because of you. Even your greatest achievements in education were still possible because of the social relations between yourself education institutions, yourself and teachers, your self and previous thinkers/authors. The very truth of the human condition is its sociality.

      Without other humans, we don't exist. Freedom does not come from me or from you; it can and does happen as a relation between us, or, indeed, among us. So this is not a matter of finding the human dignity within each person, but rather of understanding the human as a relational and social being, one whose action depends upon equality and articulates the principle of equality.

      No human can be human alone.
      - Judith Butler

      In every sense, we need to embrace our sociality as a priori to any contractual understanding of morality. We have obligations to others, just as they have to us. Bodies require other bodies for support and for survival through their labour.

      Individuality is a not a progressive human value anymore - independence is a farce.

      The post was edited 1 time, last by Lucretia ().

    • I will offer the dissenting opinion I guess.

      Individuality is not just a human value, it is the essence of our humanity; therefore, individuality is the ultimate goal of society. Our very human existence stems from the question, why am I here? The human experience is a unique yet tragic experience. The human is the only creature on this planet that transcends nature by being both aware of her laws and subject to them. We are alive, we know it, and we know that our life must come to end. So somewhere between this accidental birth given (none of us chose to be born, our parents chose for us) to our inevitable deaths, each human being is given a responsibility to answer the most crucial and yet elusive question, why am I here? The search for this answer is the basis of individuality and freedom.

      Ever since humankind developed this self-awareness, humans have then been able to make decisions. Other animals simply cannot. If a cat is hungry, it will hunt; not because it wants to, but because genes dictating its behavior gave it no other option. If a dog is tired, it will sleep for the same reason. Human free will is powerful enough to act against basic, survival needs, and free will is the essence of choice and individuality. We are not our family, our genes, nor a product of our circumstances; we are who we choose to be.

      The purpose of any good, free society is to expand the number of possible decisions to achieve the fullest expression of oneself. When several free willed individuals, each made up of thousands of decisions that have shaped their lives up until that point, celebrate common decisions, culture is created. Society is not the basis upon which humans relate to each other, it is the manifestation of human relations. But when prioritizing society over the individual, one must remember that a society does not bleed or feel, humans do.

      I consider myself an artist by the way, and art is the celebration of freedom and life. That's why I disagree with much of what you are saying. There is no art without individuality. However, I will add that absolute freedom in a society is impossible to attain because the freedom to limit freedom must be limited.

      I also disagree with the notion that capitalism, or neoliberalism, whatever you want to call it these days, is the economic system representing freedom. Capitalism is simply a step up from feudalism, in which you were simply born into a free life or an oppressed life; instead, capitalism allowed the acquisition of material wealth to provide a free life, putting people on slightly more equal ground. It is far from equal, however, and it oppresses people almost as badly, if not worse, as feudalism did. As evidenced by the industrial revolution and our own modern economies, the greatest flaw of capitalism is the way it manufactures privilege.

      For those without material wealth, the oppression is damning. For a salary or wage ultimately decided by the owner, an employee must sacrifice precious hours of its life and abide by the rules set by the owner. Remember, the only reason why store owner has the freedom to set the salary and set the rules is because he bought the store with material wealth. The only other decisions available is to either find a different job or be jobless and starve. The only way to escape this three decisions trap is to accumulate enough material wealth to generate more material wealth. And once material wealth gets passed down families, capitalism starts to look a lot like feudalism.

      Capitalism did not promote individuality. Individuality is the discovery of power in oneself. It is the celebration of decision making. Instead, capitalism promoted social isolationism, the surrendering of power and identity, usually to a symbol of some sort. It is prevalent in fascist societies that paint symbols all over every inch of land the government can grab. Social isolationism encourages people to place their faith and their power into a non-thinking, non-feeling, soulless image, whether it is a flag or a company logo, instead of placing faith in themselves and their neighbors.

      Individualism can be best described with Descartes' quote, "I think, therefore I am." If individualism is a farce, then so is the human experience.
    • I think that the one, specific, form of individualism you rail against is fair, the self-made man wasn't, outside of a few extraordinary cases.

      However, individualism encompasses more than that one idea, and some of what it stands for is very valuable. Namely, allowing differing ideas, opinions, etc.

      See, a society with no concept of individuality as a virtue is one in which everyone must be interchangeable in thought, form, and deed. But even beyond the fact that that's demonstrably not true, it also introduces a severe case of monoculture.

      Monoculture is interesting. See, if there is an ideal way to do something then you'll want everyone to do it that way, any other way is wasting resources. However, it seems improbable that there is ever one way of doing/thinking things that is universally the best, and should a situation arise which the society-wide approach fails (some sort of outside context problem, say) then a monoculture has no resilience. As soon as the one approach fails the entire thing collapses. Meanwhile, a diversity of opinions, skills, and approaches results in a much greater ability to react to changing situations: The horse whip manufacturers may be out of business, but the auto mechanics are doing fine.

      Beyond that, a diversity of views allows for improvements to the current situation to be discovered. As soon as one approach becomes the universal way of doing things, improvements to it become incredibly difficult to even conceive of, never mind implement.

      Finally, a pretty strong argument can be made that civilization is driven by specialization, and specialization is, in and of itself, a recognition of individuality.

      I don't think you fundamentally disagree with any of this, and it's pretty trivial to show that a civilization made up entirely of people who are completely different from each other in every way cannot work, but I think it is worth noting that diversity is good, even though it must, perforce, result in local inefficiencies.

      May those who accept their fate be granted happiness;

      Those who defy it, glory!
    • this is generating the type of discussion i love about SD, replies:

      @urnotlikeme you touch on two things, one where the forms of negative liberty favoured by neoliberalism/libertarians actually works against your thesis and secondly the notion of art and individual expression, which I believe feeds into some of @Johns criticism, so I will in some form, combine my responses to both of you.

      1. The question of why am I here does not need to carry the normative weight you claim it does, to be honest I think it is kind of completely irrelevant and only a goal for those interested in such. Where is this responsibility to answer such a question given to us from? Is there a divine being that places that responsibility?

      If you are a secular thinker, the notion that all humans are charged with the question of "why am i here?" is strange. Not everyone cares, the truth is material reality you have before you, nothing more nothing less, there is no reason why we are here, we just are. So I disagree with this notion that we exist to answer the why of our existence.

      2. I agree with you, that the purpose of any good and free society is to expand the possible number of opportunities available to its citizenry. You are talking about positive liberty here, the notion that to be free, you in some way require something done for you.

      For instance, education as a human right, requires that education institutions be made available for you.

      Thus I reject your characterisation that I said that capitalism is the economic system representing freedom. No, what capitalism represents is an economic system that functions under the values of negative liberty and this is a different understanding of what "freedom" is. To this end capitalism, values individuality as it makes each individual responsible only for themselves and their relative position.

      Marxist economic theories directly disagree with the above. For starters, the state/people's access to public goods such as health, welfare and education as symptomatic of a value that the community is given the opportunities they require to be free.

      As opposed to the capitlistic notion of "I will give you MORE freedom, by giving your the freedom to not have health cover", the marxist notion is "I will give you more freedom by providing this to you, so that you can focus on other things, without having to worry about your access to health care.

      To this end, I think you completely misunderstood what I was talking about neoliberal fascination with negative liberty as the highest form of freedom.

      3. On the notion of art, diversity and monoculture.

      John, you and I completely agree, and perhaps it is a fault of my own or even the capacity of the English language which adds so much to the term individuality. So let me see if I can categorise and name some of the functions of the word and we can go from there.

      See I am an artist as well (specifically a musician), and urnotlikeme, you're a film student correct?

      What I am referring to when I discuss individuality is the very Randian notion of individualism. The notion that emphasises to value independence (which I believe to be a lie) and self-reliance (a category wholly impossible given the human condition as a social one).

      I am not against, individuation (the notion that we can separate and have different identities) or the notion of subjectivity/subjecthood (the notion that you are an agent, with different goals, desires or emotions to others) or self expression (the notion that this subjective experience can be made material through media such as sound, art etc).

      So here we have four notions of individualism, that are not one and the same:
      1. The moral philosophical position of Individualism
      2. The notion of individuation and thus, 'the self'
      3. The recognition of subjectivity
      4. The value in self-expression

      To see how my position plays out in that of a film director, I am against the notion that "there is no art without individuality". Purely incorrect nonsense.

      There is no art without sociality.

      For instance, the film director firstly needs other film directors to learn from. From the rich history of photography and art, to not only learn from, but to have the very meme of film in the first place. The director requires for there to be the material production, existence, science and finally possession of film, which required human labour, engineering and the lot to not only produce but to also distribute and finally teach the director how to use.

      The blatant truth of it is that a film, is not possible without all the names (and many many more) that appear in the credits scene.

      Likewise, myself a musician, even if I write a song and record it and publish it all on my own from my room, still required that music existed and thus musicians for me to have created what I did. It required the engineers who designed my laptop, the artisan who made my guitar, the oil worked who extracted the materials to make the plastic. Art is not possible without other people, humanity is not possible without other people.

      But I do not deny that the individual exists, that a subjective agent has interpreted her world and taken to writing (which requires support, pens, computers, the english language) to express herself in the community she finds her self in. She was never truly independent, and one never can be, all her actions were supported actions.

      What I deny is that her work is all her own, that her success is all her own. I am not against diversity, I am against the philosophical notion of individualism.

      Just as an aside I SUPER disagree with the notion that art is a celebration of freedom and life as a prescriptive normative assertion. But we can get into that another time :3

      The post was edited 1 time, last by Lucretia ().

    • Let's presuppose that humans fall in to three basic operational modes.

      In the first, behaviour is random or superstitious. People in this category express desires and carry out behaviours in accordance with system one processing over those desires but when pressed cannot point to causal connections between what they're doing at any given moment and what they hope to accomplish long term. They have relationships that do or don't work, go to work or school where they do or don't do well, enjoy or do not enjoy their day to day lives and generally can't express a model of why any of it is happening.

      In the second, behaviour is dominated by heuristics and categories. People here have a semi-empirical understanding that certain lived archetypes lead to certain outcomes, and accordingly conform to the archetype in order to meet their goals. These people can be extremely successful - if well executed the slick politic archetype pays dividends in the vast majority of business environments, the stern disciplinarian archetype can produce good test results in the vast majority of school, and the devoted romantic archetype can make the vast majority of marriages net happy and healthy.

      In the third, behaviour is convergent on the best practices as defined by appeal to consequence. People here actually model the world around them in the best fidelity which they can personally manage and try to trace the causal pathways from the causes they plan to implement to the effects which the hope to observe, relying as little on heuristics as possible. In the cases where archetypical behaviour is warranted they are indistinguishable fro group two, but possess a critical attitude towards their roles which manifests in those rare cases where the common wisdom fails and is evidenced by novel and inventive action rather than paralysis or random flailing.

      I do honestly believe that the world is currently arranged in such a way that a person behaving as in three should see relatively unbounded long term success by their own metrics. That is to say that I believe that, as a function of the universe being basically predictable, there is a mindset which is capable of achieving incredible outcomes in detestable circumstances. A critical question, under the umbrella of the individualist/collectivist debate, is what to do about it.

      As an example:
      The Objectivist/Randian/American Libertarian position is, explicitly, that you gain moral weight as a creature by moving into the third mode. A life lived subjectively is crass and barbarous, a life lived in conformity is cowardly. Achievement of the third mode justifies your isolating yourself from society in the "Galtian" mode and never paying another thought to those left behind. That's a repugnant position, in my view, but it's self consistent and easily pointed at. I wouldn't actually label this a neoliberal position and I think the group we point at in general when we say neoliberal would baulk at the suggestion, but that's not really critical.

      Provisionally, I'm going to offer an alternative which to me *seems* pragmatic and basically in keeping with the current moral zeitgeist - when a person moves from mode two behaviour to mode three behaviour, throwing off the shackles of circumstance, they gain *as individuals* a responsibility which had previously been diffuse in the collective around them. When the society of archetypes succeeds or fails it is the success of failure of the society, or even more broadly of the set of archetypes proper. When the society surrounding the mode three person succeeds or fails it is the internalizable, personal success or failure of that individual.

      This is the idea of "heroic responsibility" and it offers a very clear set of alternatives: either you are bound up in your circumstances and your successes (and failures) are best interpreted in terms of the much larger ecosystem of which you are a part, or you have mastered your circumstances and the failures (and success) of your ecosystem are best interpreted in terms of the titanic power you have gained part and parcel with your freedom.

      To me, this rings true and terrifying.
      (So who're the real cowards now, Objectivists? :P)
      Although postsocratics like St. Augustine and Judith Butler explored a diverse set of ethical and metaphysical ideas, their unifying feature as a movement was a principled refusal to speculate upon which of the four elements the world was made out of.

      boxes is the best human and I am going to get her a kitten or 2 kittens
    • Now that we have cleared up the various definitions of "individualism" and that I have been talking about "individuation" this whole time... I meant to say is there is no art without individuation.

      Lucretia wrote:

      To this end capitalism, values individuality as it makes each individual responsible only for themselves and their relative position.
      If capitalism truly gave a shit about individual responsibility, the US government would have never bailed out Wall Street in response to the 2008 recession. Capitalism values money, regardless of whether one self-reliantly acquired the wealth or more realistically inherited it. Does capitalism promote social darwinism? Yes, but so does socialism. I agree that individual success is impossible to achieve alone, and self-reliance is a fantasy crafted by the elite.

      But individual responsibility is a value that must be taught if sociality is to be achieved.

      Definition time to prevent misunderstandings:
      Individual responsibility is the idea that individuals are the cause of their own actions.

      You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. You can provide educational resources to a college frat boy, but if he decides to spend his time drinking himself to near death, would you continue paying for those educational resources? You can switch to a social means of production, distribute income equally, and provide ample economic opportunities, but is it the government's responsibility to take care of people who do not wish to take care of themselves?

      Even the US military, a socialist paradise in many ways, teaches individual responsibility. It must in order to ensure that every individual is a productive member of the organization. No one individual receives all the credit for successful missions. But all individuals are held accountable to their actions. Individual responsibility instigates action, not sociality.
    • 1. you ignore the weight that the banks have in congress? my thesis still stands, the bailing out of the banks makes perfect sense when you look at how much lobbying power, and well, power in general that they have. capitalists serve their own interests, why wouldn't the individuals working there, throw their excessive politically might behind securing their money?

      2. sociality is not something achieved, it is the very essence of humanity, you're always in a social situation, your birth is a consequence of social relations, the language you speak is a consequence of sociality, everything is because of other relations between each other. What do you mean by sociality? I feel as though you are using a different definition to me.

      3. yes, i believe that everyone should have access to a universal income.

      do you believe in human rights? it is a human right to have access to education, shelter, food and the basic needs of life to survive. it is the contemporary norms of international state sovereignty dictates that states have a responsibility to their citizenry to provide the basic human rights as a form of positive liberty.

      i believe that universal income is one way in which this could be provided, because it is a basic human right, someone doesn't need to "study hard/work hard" to be worthy of their internationally agreed human rights. people can be absolute scum bag pieces of shit, and i would never deny them their human rights if i had the means to provide them.

      so yeah if we have decided someone has a right to educational resources, they do not lose that right for having taken it for granted. and again, the notion of "someone does not want to take care of themselves" is exactly what I am rallying against.

      this notion that people DO take care of themselves, as though they are an island, and receive no other supports... really... right back to the OP again: people ALWAYS need support taking care of themselves, no one takes care of themselves completely independently, they never possibly could without the complex systems we have created to make such "self reliance" possible. right down to cooking your own food, you're still supported by the labour of those who created the food, the knives, your stove, extracted the gas you use to cook, the coal used to light the kitchen and the made the plates you will later serve your food on.

      the idea of "taking care of your self" as though it is an independent action is a lie.
    • 1. I fail to see how lobbying power connects to self-sufficiency.

      Lucretia wrote:

      Lucretia wrote:

      Under neoliberalism (global capitalism) it is the responsibility of each individual to be accountable for their position in life.
      Lobbying power gives groups of individuals access to government and funding, contradicting the idea of self-sufficiency. The idea of "too big to fail" is not individualism, even by your definition...

      Lucretia wrote:

      Lucretia wrote:

      if you can't take care of yourself, and you are an able bodied individual, then you might as well die.
      So if a bank lost hundreds of millions of dollars, the bank should have taken the loss, and if it went bankrupt, too bad. Instead, the big banks took advantage of their government friends and received $700 billion in tax payer money. It's ironic because the people who were unable to pay their mortgages were given the individualist treatment.

      2. This is the definition of sociality according to Wikipedia:

      Wikipedia wrote:

      Sociality is the degree to which individuals in an animal population tend to associate in social groups and form cooperative societies.
      Because there is a degree to which individuals form groups, there I assume there are different levels of sociality? I'm not too familiar with the abstract concept, though.

      3. Universal income and other social safety nets are only necessary for a society in which the wealth distribution is so skewed that they become necessary for survival. No healthy society should ever utilize an economic system that requires social safety nets.

      Lucretia wrote:

      i would never deny them their human rights if i had the means to provide them.
      That's a helluvan assumption to make. If you did not have the means to provide people their basic human rights, is it back to the old individualist ways we go? I'm all for providing basic amenities for my fellow neighbor, but we need to focus on that means to provide these amenities first. Otherwise, society becomes unsustainable.

      Therefore, there must exist a method to ensure that the population is productive enough to provide the means for an abundant supply essential amenities. This is why individual responsibility is a necessary virtue. Or you could do what the Chinese revolutionaries did and enforce production. That being said, individual responsibility and human rights are not mutually exclusive ideas.
    • Lucretia wrote:

      this notion that people DO take care of themselves, as though they are an island, and receive no other supports... really... right back to the OP again: people ALWAYS need support taking care of themselves, no one takes care of themselves completely independently, they never possibly could without the complex systems we have created to make such "self reliance" possible. right down to cooking your own food, you're still supported by the labour of those who created the food, the knives, your stove, extracted the gas you use to cook, the coal used to light the kitchen and the made the plates you will later serve your food on.
      Sure, but there's a crucial difference between the examples you gave and what you're arguing for regarding positive rights. In all of the former cases, I'm paying someone in order to provide a service for me in a mutually beneficial contract agreed upon by two parties in order to advance our respective self-interests, all using money I gained by forming a mutually beneficial contract with an employer for the purpose of advancing our respective self-interests; that's how neoliberal capitalism works. By contrast, what you're arguing for is forcing people to give charity and aid to others in a one-sided arrangement necessitating coercion. They're two completely different phenomena, so the former can't very well be used to argue for the latter.

      Nobody belives that everyone is an island capable of living without any interaction with others; most capitalists would take no issue with the assertion that people need and rely on each other in organizing society and establishing their own lives. In fact, it's exactly this that makes capitalism so great: it allows people to do this in a framework that involves no coercion and in which people can be truly independent. The only way to get anywhere in an ideal capitalist society is to appeal to others' self-interest, whether it's convincing a company that hiring you will be an asset to them worth the money they pay you or persuading people that your products/services are worth purchasing. In this sense and for all intents and purposes I am completely independent and self-reliant, as everything I make is made through my own hard work and ability to convince others that helping me is in their self-interest, and at no point am I reliant on the charity/aid of others, or even worse, having people force others to give me charity or aid.

      /devil's advocate
    • Pretty interesting how humanity has gone down this route wherein your worth is determined by how much you can provide to the larger national concept of an economy, to the point where thousands upon thousands of individuals living in poverty is considered a natural process by which society has run.

      I can't help but wonder what society would be like if instead of say, poverty existing, was an issue the majority of society looked at and saw as a failure of the society we've built up, rather than blaming it on laziness and poor budgeting. Or if the failure to have free education, access to shelter, food, healthcare, was seen as a collective failure of ourselves as a community, instead of some sort of righteous fight to be on the top of the pyramid.

      Really wish I could've grown up in a world that prioritized the well being of humanity over the pursuit of individualistic greed.
    • @urnotlikeme

      I find it a bit hard to swallow your warning that some of the greatest atrocities happened in the interest of humanity when you think that the US military is a socialist paradise... Regardless in response to your other points:

      1. Big banks have powerful leaders who lobby in their self interest. It is completely in line with everything I have been saying about individualism. In the case of the bail out, bankers acted in their self interest, and sometimes their interests align with others within their group, such as nationalism, or in the case of capitalists, the exploitative social relations they have with their workers.

      More on that later.

      2. Okay good definition of sociality, if that is the definition you are using, how is it exactly that "sociality is achieved" if sociality, as I propose is the nature of the human condition? I only ask because I don't see how "sociality" is achieved, to me it makes about as much sense as saying "a human being achieved an arm". It's part of what we are.

      3. If I do not have the means to provide people their basic human rights, what else am I supposed to do? By definition, I can't, so yeah, I guess I won't?

      I never said that human rights and individual responsibility are mutually exclusive, I don't know where you got that idea.

      Anyway, I believe that the market economy and the capitilist drive to grow in the interests of profits is unsustainable. I suppose that means you believe that markets are a good thing as welfare makes people lazy?


      Ahhhhh but capitalism is necessarily social! I never said that neoliberalism and the value of individuality negates the truth of our sociality, far from it. Capitalism relies on an exploitative set of social relations between the employer and the employee.

      Capitalism is necessarily exploitative, stealing the profits produced by employees to fund the bourgeois class that owns the means of production. While it may be mutually agreed upon contract between two parties, that does not mean that we are not under the false conscious of today's hegemonic ideology: markets are good.

      Also I have not argued for anything much yet, only against individualism as a moral value and by extension capitlism and neoliberalism, you will note I have not said the word charity once, only you have said that word. Though you could say that I am a Marxist who believes we should have an economy that finds a way to value abundance over scarcity.

      And if anything your second paragraph merely vindicates me all the more that capitalism is all wrong.

      The only way to get anywhere in an ideal capitalist society is to appeal to others' self-interest, whether it's convincing a company that hiring you will be an asset to them worth the money they pay you or persuading people that your products/services are worth purchasing.
      Wouldn't it be great if instead of having to appeal to other's self interest, we recognised the value in each other and helped create a system where everyone had access to a liveable life? Instead of the way it is now, in which liveability is unequally distributed?

      Because instead what we currently have under capitalism (which could never be an ideal, capitalism necessary functions through scarcity and crisis) if far from ideal, if anything capitalism could never achieve its ideal, it requires that there be indentured poverty and unemployment to function.
      In this sense and for all intents and purposes I am completely independent and self-reliant, as everything I make is made through my own hard work and ability to convince others that helping me is in their self-interest, and at no point am I reliant on the charity/aid of others, or even worse, having people force others to give me charity or aid.
      You were never independent though, in any sense, if anything you are still reliant on there being other people to have interests! I mean, lol who taught you how to speak? Who made the clothing you wear? You certainly did not teach your self, you certainly did not make that clothing. Who paid you the money to make that clothing? You have always required supports even if they are exploitative, even if they were not freely given. Independence form other humans, and more important the supports of other humans is a myth.

      How could everything you make be your own, if you're say, an engineer and your design is owned, sold and the profits gained, kept by your employer? What you have made is stolen, because you have no other choice than to sell it, as the means of production are owned by one class not of your own, as opposed to those means of production being owned by the workers, of which you are one.

      Tell me, if you have a gun pointed at your head and someone tells you "give me your wallet, or i will kill you" do you have a choice? Most would say not - your choices have been coerced.

      Well then, in a neoliberal society where the only way you can live is to sell your wage to someone who will not share in the profits, have you made a choice?

      Since it seems keep putting words into my mouth and assuming my position, the reason I made this thread was to discuss the philosophical value of individualism, as put forward by Objectivists, such as Ayn Rand, the notion of which I believe is the foundational value to out current neoliberal economic system.

      If you wanted to take that further, it means that I am very much a Marxist. I believe that we need an economic model that prioritises abundance, and not one which functions through scarcity. This so that wealth distribution can be more equal, so that people who produce profits, receive their share of the profit, to avoid the reality that we live in today where wealth is accumulated in the top echelons of humanity.

      I believe that this happens because people all want the life style of those top richest people, despite it being wholly unachievable under our current economic reality. And yet we somehow believe that they achieved this wealth through their own might, and for that reason we should admire them.

      Instead I think we should look at the reality of the situation, that no human is an island. That they are there because of exploitative social relations no matter how noble and human being they are and that instead of wanting to have what they have, we should instead value our fellow human beings who die in famines, wars and plagues, to instead of wishing that we as individuals had what someone Bill Gates has, we wished that someone living in the poorest regions of India has what we have as well as a global community.
    • Lucretia wrote:

      I believe that the market economy and the capitilist drive to grow in the interests of profits is unsustainable. I suppose that means you believe that markets are a good thing as welfare makes people lazy?
      Capitalism has done a fine job sustaining the top ten economies for the past few centuries. But that's irrelevant to the point that I'm making. I believe that markets are a good thing because of the competition it fosters and the subsequent advancement of ideas. I can't exactly say that welfare makes people lazy because, well, I use welfare all the time, but I do frequently criticize the economic system that has made welfare a necessity for survival. But I do believe there exists an economic system that promotes free market competition and sustains the impoverished.

      I understand that self-interest is a bit of an outdated ideal, but the very idea of society was born out of a desire for self-preservation. Sociality in nature is an evolutionary strategy meant for survival and succession of the genes. Societies as an abstract concept came about long before humans ever thought of it, but none of its members participate for the greater good. If, for some odd reason, a species survived better by being independent, then sociality disappears.

      Of course, humans are not animals and are capable of thinking with varying levels of complexity. But the principle of society remains the same: society exists to serve the individual's interests. Humans are the end, not the means to another's end. Humans must utilize material production, not the other way around. And good, healthy societies promote individual autonomy and freedoms. To this end, I believe Ayn Rand and Karl Marx argue the same thing. From what I have read from Marxists, individualism is still preferred over collectivism.

      Karl Marx wrote:

      the class in its turn achieves an independent existence over against the individuals, so that the latter find their conditions of existence predestined, and hence have their position in life and their personal development assigned to them by their class, become subsumed under it.

      Erich Fromm wrote:

      [Socialism] is not a society in which the individual is subordinated to the state, to the machine, to the bureaucracy.
      Socialism acknowledges the role of sociality in realizing personal freedom and individual autonomy. But most importantly, self-interest is the motivator and personal freedom is the end. I'm not sure if Marx argued for greed as an innate human quality to be exploited in the socialist society, but I know Fromm certainly did.

      Anyways, enough of putting off my homework assignment due in two hours.
    • 1. Capitalism has boosted the economies of the top ten countries in the world through exploitative neoliberal policies like the Washington Consensus, Plan Colombia and sweat shops in poor nations. It has literally brought about climate change. So sure, it has been great for the USA and others, but through the exploitation of the planet's resources and the world's poorest.

      Capitalism, as well as competition lol, has also brought about concepts such as built in obsolescence and the fact that the competition is not over who can make the "better" product, but instead who can make the "more sellable product" which is why you have so many private media organisations strangled by the market, and often it is state media such as the BBC, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that enjoy higher levels of trust, and product "better news". After all what they are competing for is market share, not "better _____". Sometimes that lines up, and sometimes it doesn't, like the pharmaceutical industry.

      2. Ah yes, evolution, that is good sleight of hand there but:

      I understand that self-interest is a bit of an outdated ideal, but the very idea of society was born out of a desire for self-preservation. Sociality in nature is an evolutionary strategy meant for survival and succession of the genes.
      Yeah, survival of the species not the individual. Species denotes a group, a population. Yet again, the truth of the human condition is our sociality.

      3. Yeah I don't disagree with your third paragraph. I merely state that having a moral value in individualism undermines that project, and instead being aware that we must think of our fellow human and how our projects will affect them is more likely to achieve that project.

      At no point did I argue against personal freedom or individual autonomy. My point is that your self interests are intimately bound up in the interests of others, so we should organise as equals, and not as individuals.

      Have you not heard of the tragedy of the commons?
    • 1. I 100% agree with that first paragraph (I'm no capitalist myself). But, thus far in the past three hundred years, capitalism hasn't ended the human race, and the only two major superpowers that have tried their hand at communism has either failed (the Soviets) or turned to capitalism (China).

      Competing businesses used to make better stuff for cheaper; this was how companies competed for market share. When ideas and products compete against each other, a sort of Darwinism happens. Ideas are formed or reformed from previous, successful ideas, and the ones that work survive and profit, while the unsuccessful ones die. This is how ideas, markets, and societies advance.

      Then monopolies came about and ruined everything. That's why we have anti-monopoly laws. However, what our people did NOT expect was when companies, although separate entities so "technically" competitive, decided to team up and control the industry for themselves. Why compete as individuals for market share when we can work together, divvy up the market, and monopolize our own, separate niches? The ISP, food, and big pharma industries are all prime examples of this.

      2. Evolution is not good for the survival of the species, it is only good for the survival of the individual. When a male lion defeats a pride's male and takes over, he kills all the cubs that aren't his. That's not beneficial for the panthera leo species, that's beneficial for himself. I can cite hundreds more examples. The only altruistic species that I can think of is the vampire bat.

      3. Our self-interests are indeed tied up with each other. What generally tends to happen when people organize into groups is the group becomes an entity separate from the individual. The entity then provides thoughts and ideas for the individual, instead of allowing the individual to form ideas to influence the entity. I know this isn't what you are arguing, but this a very realistic and very probable outcome of the group mentality that you are arguing. Look no further than the political parties of the modern world. In America, the two main political parties are so big that what an individual believes is of little consequence to the establishment. The parties have their beliefs and their own interests, while the constituents must compromise their beliefs to the party if they are to have even the slightest tangible effect of the political process.

      The fear of the collectivist mentality is the eventual seizure of individual autonomy. That may seem fine and dandy to you, but when you are forced into the group that represents everything that you don't believe in, you will wish you had that individualist power.

      I had to look up the tragedy of the commons, I won't lie. But I did find interesting that the primary solution to the problem was privatization or some form of privatization. Government regulations seemed to be the last resort.
    • 1. glad to see we have some common ground, though i think honestly the drive to monopolise is inherent in the drive for competition.

      further competition does not always line up with the drive to create a better product if that product, it is the drive to create a more profitable product, as such i do not take it as a holy darwinian notion that will save humanity as many free market lobbyists believe.

      2. eh it is still in the interest of the species to do so, the strongest lion is the one that can kill the others. hence it makes sense for the younger lion to kill the offspring of the older lion. reproducing at older ages carries with it a higher likelihood of genetic defects. so even in your example, evolution does not exist for the individual, it exists for the species.

      if it did exist for the individual wouldn't its interest be to just live the longest? In which case pregnancy makes no sense to occur, since pregnancy is dangerous. no the drive is to carry on ones genes, and this serves absolutely zero good for the individual that the individual has not already evolved to enjoy for the purpose of mating. specifically to carry on the species. i mean if evolution existed for the individual, wouldn't it make sense to produce individual that raise themselves? i think you are waaaaaaaaaaay wrong here.

      3. i don't disagree with that, the farce i think is the notion that people are ever separate from a group and can thus "think independently" to begin with. I want us to accept that, acknowledge that and work through it. It is part and parcel why in other areas of this forum I claim that everyone (even people of colour) is racist, because we live in a racist context, to an extent, we can't help it.

      Regardless, massive slippery slop fallacy, accepting the fact that the truth of the human condition is in our sociality does not mean the seizure of individual autonomy.

      4. privatisation is but one response to the problem, one i don't think you will agree with if you are being intellectual honest. for instance, you your self said that monopolies were the result of a free markets/privatisation so we require anti-monopoly laws, hence government regulations are necessary to prevent the tragedy anyway, lest you end up with a monopoly of the commons at some later stage.

      Post by Red Dingo ().

      This post was deleted by Pietro: SPAM ().
    • 1. The free market allows for as much participation in economics as possible. It intends to give as many individuals as possible the power to determine resource distribution and idea advancement. But if monopolies are the eventual result of a free market economy, then a planned economy is a monopoly to begin with. In a planned economy, the state, an entity separate from the populace, chooses and enforces its own agenda for resource distribution and idea advancement. This system gives way too much power in the hands of a select few individuals and, hence, why I argue it is a monopoly.

      However, any free market believer such as myself knows that limitations to freedom are necessary to avoid certain situations, like monopolies, and the people have a responsibility to enforce it. Whether these preventative measures are anti-monopoly laws, environmental regulations, or sanitation standards, the most important thing is the individual is empowered to participate in the free market, and empowered to regulate it as well.

      2. Why natural selection has not beaten senescence yet is still a mystery.

      With senescence and eventual death assumed as natural, unchangeable laws, organisms do not reproduce for the sake of preservation of the species, they do so for the preservation of self. This is in fact what drives speciation in nature. The theory of evolution makes absolutely no sense if the passing of genes was meant for the purpose of preserving a particular species because if this were the case, there would be no such thing as a genetic mutation and all life would be nothing more than bacteria born from the original primordial goo of life history.

      Instead, one individual bacterium changed out of the population of primordial goo and decided that eating the others was a better strategy instead of sharing the nutrients available. That individual passed down its genetics and therefore its new survival strategy. Then two prey bacterium banded together to decrease its chance of getting eaten. Thus a new survival strategy was formed and passed down to the new generation of bacteria. And thus began evolution. The story is made up, but the point is the same. Without the drive for self-preservation, the first multi-cellular organisms would have never existed.

      Another key example of why individuals of the same species live for self is because of their inability to grasp the concept of tragedy of the commons. Animals can hunt entire species of prey to extinction, as evidenced in ecosystems invaded by other species. If bears understood how to hunt to maintain a steady bear population, then their population numbers would look very constant and steady. Instead, the bear population heavily depends on the population of their prey.

      3. I think we should definitely accept our sociality as a human condition, an essential strategy to our survival, and as a representative of our relationships to each other. While I don't believe we should take our sociality for granted like Neoliberals do, I don't believe we should put our faith in it. I don't want people to become dependent on a system, I want people to depend on themselves.