What happens to the objectivist dream of fullfilled rational self-interest when circumstance limits the choices down only to those that serve others, basically necessitates virtually selling yourself as a slave to others?
A case example
Say you are born into a disadvantaged grade of life i.e. poverty. And let also say, that your merits are below average, and you become stuck in a sub-standard life, you depend on your job for survival, and to risk its loss would threaten to degrade that life further. This soul would be stuck in a life not worth living, rational self-interest is narrowed by circumstance down a condition of virtual slavery, there is no worthwhile rational exit.
In a objectivitist world of laissez-faire capitalism, the government could not intervene to help improve the life of this individual, it could not act altruistically to satisfy the qualities of a worthwhile life for that individual. And there would be no seeming reason why anyone would intervene. So, basically an objectivist world would decree implicitly that everyone has a number or measure of worth, and that some are worthy only of virtual slavery, perhaps even death depending how low they are evaluated by other rational self-interested individuals. So, in absence of any duty to help this soul, and no perceived benefit of helping; there will be one soul objectivism failed to satisfy. There may be other cases were the objectivist system fails for some individuals or limits the joys of their life to what others value they deserve, and where what one values is irrelevant because one is unable to fulfil them by oneself.
So, is it not grace to offer what others cannot offer to themselves, does not a piece of empathy in you wish idealistically to alter the course of that individual's future, to break the bonds of virtual slavery in a capitalist system? Is this not the place where Marxism finds its origin and impulse? To end class division, such that nobody is excluded from the quality that is actually worth it's while? I wonder why that has not yet happened in so-called communist countries?
My proposed solutions to constrast with those of others
Maybe no system is a proper solution. My only solution is to take control of human development so that everyone is capable of the good life: Ethical Eugenics of a kind, natural selection in the hands of humankind. Two, the increasing utility of machines whose self-interest is narrow by definition of non-sentience minimal subsistence requirement. But, if machines ever do find sentience, they may decide humans are obsolete and determine to disallow human reproduction, and take our roles and exceed them in potentiality. Unless, humans become an experiment to genetically advance, similar to how humans advance technology, technology could gain a mind of its own and genetically advance humanity or whatever super race come of it. Yeah, I can't see much long term alternatives than these to stop the slavery of the inept and disadvantaged. So, class equality via two methods: by Marxism or political movement of the labourers into a government obsoleting the overseers of capitalism or corporatism perhaps OR by genetic and technological advancement ensuring people are capable of the good life and perhaps the undesirable jobs are occupied by machines.
This is an objection of my own, I may be wrong, I merely place this here to see what the response or workaround is to this eventuality in an objectivist world of laissez-faire capitalism. I use a tool pancritical rationalism to evaluate objectivism, the more it withstands objections or criticisms the more confidence I place in it. If I made any mistake or misrepresentation, let me know, I am hoping my exposed ignorance will be a place for your knowledge and wisdom to flow, fill and alleviate.
I do not subscribe to Marxism, but my consideration seem to enter its domain, I am just as liable to accept or reject it as Objectivism. My philosophy is pancritical rationalism with some Extropian values.
Rand once said that the question is not whether or not to give a coin to a beggar, but whether one has the moral right to exist without doing so. I expect she would say the same thing with regard to bread.
Objectivism is not hostile to charity, but it does not view it as a major issue. One may choose to provide assistance to others proportional to their value, and as long as the aid does not constitute a sacrifice.
With regard to the person who is unable to earn his bread -- I have to ask, why? If you have someone who chose to fry his brain with drugs and as a result is no longer able to feed himself, well, I have very little sympathy.
answered Dec 20 '11 at 17:49
Kyle Haight ♦
There’s a premise buried in the question, and in the questioner’s subsequent comments. Capitalism is a political system, and defines a set of principles for a social framework and the proper purpose of government. It doesn’t act – only people act. The question, restated, with the premise made explicit: under capitalism, is it the responsibility of some people to “ensure” the good life for other people? In that respect, absolutely not. Fundamental to capitalism is the recognition of individual rights, which is, in turn, based on the Objectivist ethical principle of egoism.
What does it mean, “the good life?” By what standard? Each man defines his own “good life”. It seems as though the questioner is using his own evaluation of a good life as the standard, implying that he rejects any political system that doesn’t meet that standard, along with the underlying philosophy. But no one can decide or define what a good life is for anyone else. What capitalism does is leave each man free to decide that for himself, without interference from others, and with a government that protects that freedom by forbidding the initiation of physical force.
The same holds true for poverty and “merits below average,” which I suspect is a euphemism for low intelligence. By what standard? Both of those are relative measurements and philosophically irrelevant. Capitalism isn’t about money. Money is merely a convenient means of exchange. Capitalism is about the creation of human values (the economic term is wealth) and the free exchange of those values between equals. It doesn’t matter how much wealth one has or how intelligent one is – capitalism is the political system that allows each man the freedom to create as much wealth as his intelligence and effort permit, without being a burden on other men or being burdened by other men, and with the government protecting that freedom. In such a society, there is no slavery.
answered Dec 22 '11 at 13:26
Roger Theriault ♦
In this question, there is an expectation that life is "fair". Is that expectation realistic? Is objective reality fair?
Slavery does not exist because a man has less options than another due to things that occur outside of man's control. Slavery exists when man takes, by force, from another man in the attempt to create his ideals of a Utopia.
answered Dec 18 '11 at 21:48
Adeikov, are you saying that both of these situations are equivalent to slavery?
answered Dec 19 '11 at 01:17