I ask not only: Is individualism good? But: Is it the best?
A challenge to individualism
I have looked it up and there is such a term for this: Noocracy
Fears and doubts of individualism
I believe laissez-faire capitalism would translate into plutocratic elitism: the wealthy and strong would rule and exploit the poor and weak, and it would lead to cronyism: favouring your relatives irrespective of their ability. The ends in this case does not justify the means: exploitation as an ends falsifies freedom as a means. Just as you either shot the hoop in basketball or you don't, the ends do just the means, if outcomes of laissez-faire are unsatisfactory, then the means cannot be justified, it serves no point.
If you disagree let me know, I can not only criticise objectivism, but also form alternatives that tackle its basic disagreements with collectivism or other forms of individualism. I like the idea of collectivism and with imagination it believe there is hope it can overcome complaint, but if it can't I will take note. I still need to familiarise myself with Rand's works, but this is based on my impression/conception so far.
You really ought to read Atlas Shrugged. I know that was already suggested to you recently and you said you might do so. Here is a description of it by Ayn Rand:
The story of Atlas Shrugged presents the conflict of two fundamental antagonists, two opposite schools of philosophy, or two opposite attitudes toward life. As a brief means of identification, I shall call them the "reason-individualism-capitalism axis" versus the "mysticism-altruism-collectivism axis." The story demonstrates that the basic conflict of our age is not merely political or economic, but moral and philosophical -- that the dominant philosophy of our age is a virulent revolt against reason -- that the so-called redistribution of wealth is only a superficial manifestation of the mysticism-altruism-collectivism axis -- that the real nature and deepest, ultimate meaning of that axis is anti-man, anti-mind, anti-life.
(This excerpt is from Ayn Rand's article, "Is Atlas Shrugging," published as Chapter 15 in her book, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.)
In Atlas Shrugged, Part III Chapter I, John Galt explains to Dagny:
"We've heard so much about strikes," he said, "and about the dependence of the uncommon man upon the common. We've heard it shouted that the industrialist is a parasite, that his workers support him, create his wealth, make his luxury possible -- and what would happen to him if they walked out? Very well, I propose to show to the world who depends on whom, who supports whom, who is the source of wealth, who makes whose livelihood possible and what happens to whom when who walks out."
Adeikov, your description of a collectivist world does not mention (evades, actually) that facts that man has a rational faculty which operates volitionally, is man's basic means of survival, and is inherently an individual process, not a collective one. Man can choose whether to support your collective or not. What would you do if someone chooses not to support it? Execute him? Surgically alter his brain so as to destroy his rational faculty? What do you think would happen to your collective if all the men of the mind were to be eradicated or otherwise removed? Do you think your collective would still be able to exist and function? Who would provide the material and intellectual values it would need? Do you think (like Marx) that the physical labor of the masses would be enough? You would quickly find out that it is not.
You write: collectivism is "about delegating tasks in the most efficient manner. And uncooperative solely-self-interested individuals are not for task-delegation but appropriation, not global efficiency but for profit, right?"
No, that's not right. Whenever voluntary, private (non-governmentally imposed) associations serve the self-interests of the participants, the participants willingly enter into such associations voluntarily, if left free to do so and if they see that they would be better off by doing so; and under capitalism, they do see it. It's the economic principle known as division of labor and the benefits of mutually voluntary trade for mutual benefit. That is what makes capitalism so effective as the optimal form of social organization for man. Capitalism is actually best described as the system of cooperation, on an astounding scale, unmatched by any other system ever devised by man. It is not a system of "dog-eat-dog law-of-the-jungle" or "exploitation of the masses by the fat cats."
As for "appropriation," no one is allowed to engage in "appropriation" of others' property by physical force of any kind under capitalism. Capitalism is the system of individual rights. The initiation of physical force against others is strictly prohibited in a capitalist system (laissez-faire capitalism), but it is thoroughly integrated into every form of government-enforced collectivism. Physical force, in turn, paralyzes the mind, man's essential tool of survival; it is utterly and profoundly anti-life for man. (Man is differrent from non-human animals in this respect; non-human animals don't have rational faculties, and they don't rely on rationality for survival.)
You've said that you judge a theory by (a) its logic, (b) evidence, and (c) its beauty. Yet the "pancritical rationalism with Extropian values" that you profess to uphold makes short shrift of "evidence," i.e., facts of reality. Indeed, PCR explicitly strives to avoid any concept of an objective reality at all, and Extropianism ignores the issue of what makes technology and science possible. (Those who are interested can learn more about "Pancritical rationalism" from a Wikipedia article that Adeikov explicitly cited and quoted from in another recent thread, and about "Extropianism" from another Wikipedia article on that topic.)
I hope you are sincere in claiming to be moved by evidence (of objective reality). That is the only objective basis for deciding between a potentially elegant "construct" of altruism and collectivism, and a fully rationally integrated (reality based) system like capitalism and the wider philosophy of reason-egoism-individualism on which it depends.
answered Dec 26 '11 at 19:49
Ideas for Life ♦
"All the needs individualism proposes to fill, I believe a collective can do better."
Then your belief is in tragic conflict with the facts.
My chief need is to be able to use my basic tool of survival to pursue my life and happiness. Being a human -- a rational animal -- my basic tool of survival is my rational mind, and I can only use it if I am left free to look at the facts of reality and act according to my judgement. This is why individualists are so careful to state the purpose of a legitimate government: to secure individual rights -- which is just a fancy way of saying that the purpose is to create a circumstance where everyone is left free to peacefully pursue their lives and happiness, alone and cooperatively, as they each see fit.
Objectivists are focused on achieving a form of government that will actually fulfill the most important need of humans. You are focused on achieving a form of government that -- by definition -- will do the opposite.
I would ask that you please stop treating people as playthings; my life is not a toy for you to arrange.
answered Dec 27 '11 at 12:16
Greg Perkins ♦♦