Monday, February 20, 2012

CHARITY IS A PROFIT-BASED MARKET ACTIVITY


What’s so bad about ‘dog-eat-dog’? Aren’t they adorable?
There’s always the statist argument that a free market, being oriented towards profit, leaves out certain people in society who just don’t have the capacity to fend for themselves, due to illness or other bad circumstances.

But how is such a situation resolved, or reduced? It is believed that if you are ‘socially oriented,’ you would have the government handle things since it acts for ‘public service’ and not profit. And if you leave ‘social assistance’ to the dog-eat-dog world of laissez-faire, poverty will persist and even grow.


GIVING TO THE POOR SATISFIES THE GIVER AS OTHER CONSUMPTION GOODS DO

Contrary to common notions, the satisfaction of the desire to help others is an action inseparable and unclassifiable apart from the market.

But as it is consumption-based (directed towards ‘giving fish for a day’) rather than capital-based, it is not a maximal allocation of resources. Using charity as a means of ‘spreading the wealth’ hinders the regeneration of capital by which more sectors would have been able to provide employment and produce goods.

The less consumption now, the more jobs now,
and the more goods later
I use the term “maximal allocation of resources.” Of course, ‘maximal’ is subjective. Apparently, at present, proponents of charity gain greater utility in their giving as opposed to accumulating capital or increasing their ‘mere’ material satisfactions. It is not for others to redirect such a subjective preference that helps the poor in such a fashion.


CHARITY CAN BE RENDERED OBSOLETE BY FREEING OF MARKETS

But these same proponents of charity may eventually recognize, at least we hope, that even without charitable acts, the simple freeing of choices among consumers and producers makes for conditions of greater utility and scope than obvious showings of ‘beneficence’ or ‘social assistance.’

Increasingly long-term views will lead to a drastic reduction in charity. Replacing it will be greater entrepreneurial opportunities among a wider scale of entities. 

Whatever charity remains will be completely private and competitive, and limited to serving the small percentage of invalids and disabled.


MIXED ECONOMIES ARE NOT LAISSEZ FAIRE

We have to remind statists that the present economy is not one of laissez-faire. If it were, we wouldn’t have as much involvement of government in our lives, be it in regulation of commerce, or outright monopoly of certain ‘public utility’ sectors.

So the present poverty is not one created by ‘cold capitalism.’ If anything, it is the state which we have to blame for poor economic conditions, and which needs to be shunned.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

WHY RANDIANS ARE WRONG ABOUT ANARCHISM AND LIMITED GOVERNMENT


Doug Casey still with dark hair
back in the 1940s or something
.

I just listened to a debate [new tab] between Ayn Rand acolyte Yaron Brook, and anarchist Doug Casey. I have never bothered writing about anarchism as it pertains to Ayn Rand, but I was astounded at the sheer stupidity and delusion exhibited by Yaron, for which Casey was unfortunately unable to provide decent counterarguments.

It’s a shame that so many people get turned on to liberty from reading Ayn Rand, only to have their thinking stultified by her dogmatism, where someone can only disagree with her if they were anti-life, anti-man, anti-reason, anti whatever.

I’ve encountered several Philippines-based dogmatists of Ayn Rand, where the slightest appeal for them to look beyond her narrow views is met with hostility. They’re hopeless cases, and it is only hoped that such types of people die off eventually (if minds are to evolve further over time, such dying off is inevitable).

Ayn Rand spread liberty while simultaneously
debilitating minds like Yaron Brook’s.
But for those who do retain an ounce of openness to the idea of Ayn Rand not being infallible, I write this piece.


‘THE GUY WITH THE BIGGEST GUN’ IS THE GOVERNMENT ITSELF

Yaron is of the view that the abolition of government is bad and anti-freedom. He is concerned that eventually, “the guy with the biggest gun gets to make the decisions.”

Isn’t this EXACTLY what government is?

Cable is apparently a beneficiary
of anti-freedom anarchism.
Let’s say governments are suddenly eradicated. If people retain their primitive tendencies to coerce, if the mentality of acquisition-by-force remains dominant, this will manifest precisely in the reformation of governments.


IF SOCIETY BECOMES INTELLECTUALLY MATURE, WHY STILL HAVE GOVERNMENT?

Yaron also believes that if “good ideas” are integrated by people and there is a mature recognition of individual rights, this will make for a government whose actions are limited to protecting people from force.

If such a society does occur, where property rights are recognized anyway, why the need for some monopolistic institution to keep violators in line? Wouldn’t the right to property be upheld in an organized fashion?

Why do these Randians turn to an institution premised precisely on violation of rights, for the protection of rights? Wherein if people didn’t like the manner by which their property would be protected by a certain institution, they would still have no choice but to accept such a service via taxation? Why rid them of choice as to the how of protection?


WHO COMPRISES GOVERNMENT ANYWAY?

Yaron is of the notion that even private defenders still need an ultimate arbiter in matters of justice. A people free to choose their means of self-defense would result in chaos, but apparently, such chaos transforms into ‘objectivity’ when force is monopolized by this entity called government. If people are unable to live in peace and order, how does putting up a monopoly make for ‘just’ rules? Blank out!

Contrary to what Randians think, the choice is not between flawed humans and perfect order as embodied by government, but rather flawed humans and the abuser of such flaws known as government.


‘OBJECTIVE’ MY ASS

One thing that annoys me about Randians is their constant use of the term ‘objective,’ both in matters of epistemology (which is for another discussion) and law.

It’s so stupid. For Randians, to be encompassing and monopolistic, makes for ‘objectivity.’ Why not advocate for a world government then?

Encompassing-ness is not what makes for order. How does having Philippine laws, enforceable nationwide, make for ‘objectivity’? It doesn’t.

If people recognized private property, such could be enforced among the concerned property owners themselves.

And if a threat existed that encompassed the whole world, there are two scenarios possible:
1. The right to property will be violated extensively anyway as the world degenerates into chaos; or
2. Property owners across various geographies will organize adequately to stop such a threat,
wherein the formation of government will not be in aid to the property owners, in any case.


Mmmm, cheesecake. Hundreds of thousands
of years of human evolution in the making.
PEOPLE FACE CONSEQUENCES EVEN WITHOUT GOVERNMENT

Limited government advocates think that sans government, there is no way people can be held accountable for their actions. If not for government, people would only be able to associate with each other by shows of force.

Aren’t trade and private property precisely the means employed by people as a result of the development of the faculty of foresight? Over time, once-savage peoples realized that they could gain more by peaceful transactions as opposed to zero-sum fights. Once the system of trade spread, the former use of force as a means of acquisition took a backseat; or rather, it persisted, manifesting in government.

Even present society, threats to freedom notwithstanding, is far more conducive to the pursuit of happiness, because of the accumulation of both intellectual and material capital over time, which occurred apart from and in spite of government.


FINAL REMARKS, WITH SOME HELP FROM A MINARCHIST

What is needed to make peace durable is neither international treaties and covenants nor international tribunals and organizations like the defunct League of Nations or its successor, the United Nations. If the principle of the market economy is universally accepted, such makeshifts are unnecessary; if it is not accepted, they are futile.― Ludwig von Mises, Human action, Chapter 24.

Mises, although a limited government advocate, said it well. In the quote, we only have to replace the United Nations with any nation state, to grasp the idea that a representative of the people can only be as good as its people, and no better. To expect order to come from the institution that uses tools of social disorder, e.g. coercion, is wrong-headed, to put it nicely.

We can say that we are actually now already living in an anarchistic society. Yes, we are, where private property is acknowledged, and we generally go about our lives doing what we want, and facing consequences for each action.

It’s anarchy ― that is, without centralized order ― BUT thugs continue to maintain their hold on the populace in varying degrees depending on the place. The primary thugs are governments. And inasmuch as thuggery is thwarted, government is thwarted.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

WHITNEY HOUSTON DIES AT 48; IS SELF-LOVE REALLY ‘THE GREATEST LOVE OF ALL’?


Ah, growing up in the 1980s. 

Give them a glass of milk...

Details are still hazy as to what caused Whitney Houston’s death, but I would like to touch upon her admitted drug problem in any case. It’s notable to me in connection with one of her early hits, ‘The greatest love of all,’ whose lyrics [new tab] are a rare phenomenon in pop music: a nod to ‘the virtue of selfishness,’ a term popularized by Ayn Rand.

You would think that someone singing about developing self-esteem early on in a child would be able to face the hardships of fame without developing addictions. But apparently, “learning to love yourself” was not enough to keep Houston out of rehab.

I admit that my depiction of events is quite simplistic, and only the person themselves, if anyone at all, can understand what they have gone through. But my main point is that it is quite easy to sing about self-love (not a euphemism); it’s another thing to direct one’s energies in a healthy, holistic manner.


BEING SELFISH AND KEEPING FOCUS

When one reads Ayn Rand’s ‘selfish’ heroes who succeed against the establishment, this can serve as inspiration for accomplishing difficult feats in one’s life.

I know that ‘The fountainhead’ helped me, in however small a way, conquer a mini-crisis I was facing at the time I read the book. Sometimes, when being driven to do something unexpected or unsettling, you have to drill in yourself, mantra-like, “I have to be selfish here, I have to be selfish...”

However, the desire to satisfy one’s self may lead one to lose focus as to what it is that one actually wants. One might do a ‘selfish’ act simply to make a statement, rather than to accomplish something good. To insist on acting for one’s self doesn’t automatically mean that one’s decisions will be healthy.

Being ‘selfish’ may even indicate a reluctance or fear to expand one’s worldview. This is a prelude to ‘capital consumption’ of one’s mind, that is, an atrophying in mental staleness.


WHY THE SELFISH-UNSELFISH DUALISM AT ALL?

Man is a social being. But seeking self-interest should not be looked down upon. Actually, the problem is in supposing a dichotomy at all between ‘selfish’ and ‘unselfish’ acts. In truth all acts could not be for other than the self. What varies is the timeframe on which such selfish acts are based.

(Private property and free trade have developed alongside humanity’s lengthened timeframes for action. The mentality of acquisition-by-force as exemplified by the state, is a vestige of mindless savagery.)

It is often easier to give in to other people’s wills ― being ‘altruistic’ ― even as this slowly eats away at your potential. It’s tougher to summon enough ‘capital of will’ to assert one’s long-term valuations.


FINAL REMARKS

To shun society hinders interactions by which one otherwise attains self-growth. 

What is stultifying is not so much doing things ‘for others,’ but rather the notion of an external duty to do so, of acting against one’s longer-term evaluations.

(As we know, ‘duty’ is often cited as a pretext for state expropriation of private property.)

In the process of discovering and realizing one’s values, one must be wary of defying for the sake of defying, in ways that hinder fruitful ‘socially-oriented’ endeavors, or defying out of a narrow view as to what constitutes one’s happiness.

It would be careless to judge Whitney Houston’s character on the little that I know, but her death at 48 years old can serve as a reminder that conscious recognition of one’s worth is only the first step in a long road to self-actualization.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

RELIGION, THE STATE, AND THE ADVANCE OF THE HUMAN MIND


Outline:

Part I
Collectivism
Nationalism and the ‘closed-bible’ outlook
Being ‘chosen’ is isolationism

Part II
Primitive bloodlust and the state as keeper of order
Prohibition and legislation never make for change

Part III
Scripture as political propaganda
Who hears the voice of God? Politicians of course
Was God a monarchist?
The voice of God passes to the heirs
Christianity: a new ethics

Part IV
Faith
The Bible as myth
Contra Bible positivism

Final remarks


***


PART I


COLLECTIVISM

In religion, particularly Judaism and Christianity, a collectivistic attitude manifests itself in different ways. 

In the Bible, the works of numerous authors over several centuries are treated as a single ‘good book’ with a supposed singular God theme.

This is to the prejudice of the authors and prophets whose works are complete in themselves. Imagine J.K. Rowling being lumped together with Stephen King by future readers, in a book called ‘The 21st-century fiction book,’ and you can begin to realize how ridiculous is this ‘book collectivism.’

The books that comprise the Bible are so varied in terms of style and substance, not to mention quality. David’s psalms suffer in their being associated with other books that chronicle in pedantic fashion such boring genealogies of no spiritual significance.


NATIONALISM AND THE ‘CLOSED-BIBLE’ OUTLOOK

To imagine that ‘The Word of God’ or ‘The Gospel of the Lord’ are limited to works of several tribes who lived in a rather small section of the world, is a folly of the ethnocentric, and makes for staleness. 

Cary Grant, a premiere figure 
in the 19th-century 
transcendentalism 

movement
200 years ago, Ralph Waldo Emerson lamented the attitude of many Christians in believing that the time of ‘divine inspiration’ has come and gone long before:
With each new mind, a new secret of nature transpires; nor can the Bible be closed, until the last great man is born. ― ‘Uses of great men,’ from Representative men


BEING ‘CHOSEN’ IS ISOLATIONISM

A more obvious display of collectivism is the idea of being a ‘chosen people,’ where everyone else is a Philistine. How can trade prosper and expand when the idea of being chosen over others is taken to heart?

Pharaoh was a villain, not because he practiced slavery. Slavery was socially acceptable at the time, even by Jews. No, Pharaoh was a villain because he was not an Israelite.

Today, as Judaism and Christianity are practiced all around the world, the idea of being chosen has shifted from one concerning race, to one concerning creeds ― still a collectivistic, divisive attitude.

But actually, by the time of Jesus’ ‘Good Samaritan,’ the Jewish notion of being ‘chosen’ had begun to lose ground. That the Gospel’s philosophy is so different from anything previous just emphasizes the variety of views expressed in the many books we generalize as the Bible: another point against book collectivism.


***


PART II

PRIMITIVE BLOODLUST AND THE STATE AS KEEPER OF ORDER


What did the preacher mean by saying that the good are miserable in the present life?... The legitimate inference the disciple would draw was, -- ‘You sin now; we shall sin by and by; we would sin now, if we could; not being successful, we expect our revenge to-morrow.’ ― Ralph Waldo Emerson, ‘Compensation,’ from Essays, First Series
 
Considering that God punishes disobedient folk with horrible deaths or an eternal afterlife of misery, is it so hard to understand why the initiation of violence on others in the name of morality is so prevalent in society today? That the monopoly on arms known as government is turned to as solution to supposed ‘market failures’?


PROHIBITION AND LEGISLATION NEVER MAKE FOR CHANGE

To believe that reform or justice are meted out through coercion is simply bad psychology. Coercive prohibition on anything, even murder, never alters attitudes; it merely modifies behaviors only so that such appalling attitudes manifest in other forms of behavior.

This principle helps us understand why top-down approaches (legislation as means of ‘change’), central planning, and even nagging, are ineffective.

Yogi Paramahansa Yogananda speculated 

that Elijah and Elisha were previous incarnations 
of 


John the Baptist and Jesus, respectively. 
Far out!

Social change occurs via evolution of mentalities, with any corresponding legislation being merely indicative and not causal of such change.

(For libertarians rooting for Ron Paul, their attention should be not so much on his being elected as on the drastic altering of mindsets that would make Ron Paul electable.)

As it is, even present criminal elements as most manifest in the state are a factor in the maturing of individuals in a yet-adolescent species.


***


PART III


SCRIPTURE AS POLITICAL PROPAGANDA

In my grown understanding of political economy, much of the Old Testament, in particular the two Kings books, reads like political propaganda. Makes you wonder if campaign speeches and commercials of today will end up as scripture 3,000 years from now.

Let’s consider some of the BS the people back then were made to swallow by their leaders.


WHO HEARS THE VOICE OF GOD? POLITICIANS OF COURSE

For one, the voice of God is supposedly heard by only a select few: politicians. And given that it’s God speaking and sanctioning whatever genocidal acts are committed by kings, everyone else should take heed, lest they be struck by lightning.


WAS GOD A MONARCHIST?

How brilliant was it to envision an ultimate being, ‘God,’ dictating his will via coercive leaders. Can a true-blue freedom-loving anarchist really believe that an all-wise being considered monarchy a viable political system?


THE VOICE OF GOD PASSES TO THE HEIRS

Even political nepotism, ‘keeping it in the family,’ is to be taken as a given. Today, we know how backwards such a view is. In the evolution of humanity over time, the relevance of actual genetic relations fades, in favor of associating among people according to ideas.

Emphasis on lineages and tribes is yet another mark of primitivism that ought to be discarded in a society where economic and intellectual capital are vastly increased.


CHRISTIANITY: A NEW ETHICS

The New Testament clearly perpetuates the father-son theme, even as in most everything else a revolution in morality begins. Given prominence in Christianity, is the matter of forgiveness, even to the point of denial of one’s organism. ‘Strength’ becomes a matter of humility rather than obvious shows of political might.

Finally, an excuse to use Bruce Lee in my blog!
Jesus’ ability to craft a more life-responsive system of morals in contrast to stale ‘pharisitical’ dogma is like Jeet Kune Do to the Jewish ‘Kung Fu’ of the time.

What a scandal was caused by this guy who:
  • defied written law (“The Sabbath was made for man”);
  • touted individualism over tribalism (“I am come not to bring peace but the sword”);
  • found value even in transgressions against one’s person (“Turn the other cheek”); and
  • neither condoned nor condemned established sinners.


Yet it is too simplistic to suppose that the Old Testament was crude and the New Testament refined. The story of David and Goliath, for example, is an early tale of the power of the mind over brute strength.


***


PART IV


FAITH

Like Zoolander, we often ask ourselves: 
“Who am I?”
Faith will always have a place in our lives. Even with our advanced sciences we could not settle very elementary aspects of our existence. Reason can only go so far. We could not know beyond what we perceive.

Kant’s paradoxical ‘antinomy’ of space and time remains irresolvable. How could we reconcile existence’s seeming infiniteness (because there will always have to be something beyond the end), yet necessary finiteness (because there must be a limit to everything)?

The fragility of our states of mind is understood in mystical experience, which promises new ways of perceiving life but remains non-conveyable to those who have not had it. We have to concede that all we know is derived from whatever frameworks we have, but frameworks themselves are ever-changing and unique. ‘Ultimate’ knowledge, even of the smallest detail, escapes us.


THE BIBLE AS MYTH

Yet this should not be an excuse for throwing one’s self (taking a ‘leap’) to worship whatever one may imagine to be ‘God.’ The enduring value of traditional religious literature remains mythical or symbolical, independent of historical phenomena. A more intellectually advanced folk would look to Jesus’ life and ministry in the analogical way we look at the creation story, which most of us realize did not occur 7,000 years ago.


CONTRA BIBLE POSITIVISM

Indeed, ‘faith’ is applicable to a priori matters alone. To ask “Did so-and-so really die for us?” or “Was his mom conceived without sin?” is just as futile and unproductive as focusing on Newton’s falling apple as opposed to the principles of physics on which Newton expounded.

Taking the above in consideration, we understand the popular quote of “For those who believe, no proof is necessary” more deeply. Faith simply has nothing to do with reason.



***


FINAL REMARKS

What fun!
There’s no getting around that in one’s intellectual development in the two touchy topics of religion and politics, much of one’s preconceptions must be reassessed, if not utterly abandoned. A willingness to do so has more to do with one’s psychological disposition as opposed to mere intelligence.

However much one succeeds in expanding their understanding, I believe that present unhealthy and inefficient fixations on past modes of living and thinking will be shed off ― eventually. Short of a cosmic or nuclear wipeout that is.


***


Related links:
The role of religion, an excerpt from my essay collection ‘The new president...’