Archives for posts with tag: social evolution

Basically, Adam Smith and Ayn Rand had the same thing in their minds.

How society works and how individuals meet their needs in a social context.

And both of them had reached the same solution.
That capitalism was good.

Unfortunately – for Ayn Rand’s fans, any similitude between them stops here.

Adam Smith had described a reality.
Something which had evolved, naturally, in the cultural milieu to which he had happened to belong.

Ayn Rand was trying to push a social model.

The fact that what Rand was trying to push was very close to what Smith had described is, indeed, important.
But the difference between something which had evolved naturally and the very same something which had been imposed, by force, is also important.

Let me give you an example.

Christianity.
Much of what we have today – from ‘human rights’ to the very concept of ‘science’, has it’s roots down in the principles exposed in the Bible.
South America is, now, a Christian territory. Populated by people who had immigrated as Christians and by people – just as Christian as the first category, who had been born to parents having other beliefs. Parents who had been forcefully ‘conversed’ to Christianity.

It’s easy to notice that people in South America don’t fare as well as those in Europe, North America or Australia.
Why? They are Christians, South America uses the same capitalism and the same democracy as the rest of the ‘civilized’ world… why are the results so different?

Don’t bring ethnicity into discussion!
The explanation is simple and has nothing to do with ethnicity.

While in Europe, North America and Australia Christianity and capitalism had evolved naturally – in the sense that they had occurred in Europe and had been translated by the European immigrants to North America and Australia, in South America – and in other places, Christianity and capitalism had been forcefully imposed by the immigrants upon the much larger local populations.

Just as Communism had been forcefully imposed by the Lenin led Bolsheviks upon the Russian People.

Forget about the fact that communism had failed, no matter how hard some people have tried to make it work, while capitalism works for real – when used properly.
My point is that whenever somebody tries to force something upon somebody else, the results will never rise to the expected level. No matter how good that ‘something’ might be.

Are you familiar with ‘you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink’?
Leading it to water is enough.
Whenever somebody becomes ‘enthusiastic’ enough to try to force a horse to drink, the results …. no matter how skillful the ‘enthusiast’ might be…

And there’s another ‘small’ thing which makes a hell of a difference.
Adam Smith’s main point was that the whole society benefits from the functioning of the free market. Where each ‘agent’ competes with the others towards meeting his own goal. Which competition – as long as it remains free, results in everybody – well, almost, having a better life.
Ayn Rand’s point being that the free market is there only for the benefit of the ‘strongest’. Which is in line with Lenin’s view on the matter… ‘The Bolsheviks merit to lead the revolution because they are the strongest…’

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As much as I love writing, I do have to eat.
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Your contribution will be appreciated!

As much as I love writing, I do have to eat.
And to provide for my family.
Earning money takes time.
If you’d like me to write more, and on a more regular basis, hit the button.
Your contribution will be appreciated!

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Nowadays, too many individuals are afraid of freedom. Specially of other people’s freedom, since other people’s freedom might bring in ‘unwelcome’ change.
Other people’s freedom might challenge our established way of life.
And why risk it?

Still interested?
History strongly suggests that societies which had considered the stability of their ‘established way of life’ to be more important than the freedom of any individual member to respectfully question everything have eventually failed to preserve that over-cherished way of life. Simply because those societies had not allowed their individual members to adapt their mores to the changes which inevitably alter the ‘environment’.

Conclusion?
Liberty is of utmost importance.
For both individuals and societies, equally.
And, as a matter of historical fact, real – as in ‘truly functional’, freedom can be achieved only together. By the individual members of a society, acting in concert. Through a robust mechanism of checks and balances – a.k.a. real justice, based on mutual respect between the members of the society attempting to maintain this arrangement.

Warning!
Since we currently experience a growing distrust among the members of many societies – America and Western Europe included, no wonder that actual individual liberty is sliding down a dangerous slope.
Simply because nobody is going to defend the liberty of somebody they do not trust/respect.

Altruism is a behaviour that has been ‘naturally’ selected at the ‘social’ level,
Communities that encourage it fare better, as a whole, than communities which condone widespread indifference towards the others.
Please notice that the opposite of altruism is not ego-centrism and not even egoism but complete indifference. An egocentric or egoistic individual is one who is aware of his person and values his individuality. As such he will try to take good care of himself and never dare to behave in a completely callous manner because he fears social rejection, provided his egoism is tamed by reason.
If his egocentricity becomes unmanageable he turns into a socio-path that will be, sooner or later, expelled from the society.
If nothing out of the ordinary (extremely good or extremely bad) comes along, naturally (randomly) occurring ‘altruism’ is encouraged by some, faked by others and on the whole a ‘moderately altruistic’ behaviour becomes the modus vivendi of that particular community. Ties between the members of that group gather more and more force but don’t overwhelm the individual autonomy of the members, on one side because of the ‘fakers’ and on the other because the ‘real’ altruism involves a certain degree of respect towards the others.
If a particular social group, for whatever reasons, stops discouraging extreme egocentricity, like the one Caligula and his heirs ‘practised’ in Ancient Rome, that entire group is doomed. The largely disseminated egocentricity gives birth to indifference about the fate of the group, later to lawlessness and eventually to a state described as ‘anomie’ by a certain Durkheim – a French sociologist who discovered the link between the number of suicides taking place inside a community and the intensity of the forces that coalesce that community.
Durkheim had reached the conclusion that although the actual decision belongs to the individual, each of the members of a community is more or less ‘prone’ to consider ‘doing’ it according to the strength of the bonds that exist inside that community. (Suicide, A study in Sociology). He continued by introducing the concept of Anomie “a condition or state in which there is a breakdown of social norms and guidance for the citizens of a society. Anomie occurs when society has little influence on individuals’ propensity to follow rules and norms, and individuals are, therefore, left without moral guidance. Individuals do not feel attached to the collective society.”

Meaning that there is almost nothing to bind together a society whose members no longer value their own lives, let alone those of their neighbors.

Let’s go back in time to Caligula’s Ancient Rome or to the pre-Revolutionary France. The general atmosphere in both instances could have been very accurately described by ‘apres moi, le deluge‘ (‘a huge amount of water will be needed to cleanse after me’) – a phrase attributed either to Louis XV of France or to his mistress.
Well, we all know what followed. Ancient Rome collapsed under the attacks of the barbarians and the famous Bastille was occupied by the sans-cullotes.

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