Monday, October 18, 2010

"a deep observation about" useful idiots

Chris Matthews
But how would those miners have survived, the 33 of them, and their loved ones living above if they`d behave like that with the attitude of every man for himself. This is above all, and deep down they`re in the mine about being in all there together. It`s about mutual reliance and relying on others.
He further implies that the message coming from those opposed to the increased intrusiveness of the government is "a statement that we're not all in this together."

First, I would like to assert that it is human nature to project ones own personality and motives onto those around us.  When a person assigns a likely motivation to someone else based upon no evidence, but just "common sense" I think that says more about the person talking than the subject of the talk.
I would like to divide humans into two camps for the purposes of the observation I would like to make:
  1. Those who believe that voluntary co-operation of self-interested individuals is the best way to supply the needs of the community as a whole.
  2. Those who believe that physical coercion is the best way to supply the needs of the community.
Any activity mandated by the state is, by it's nature, physical coercion, because at some point continued non-adherence to the dictates of the state must lead to violent action against those resisting. Admittedly on a few rare occasions the state may blink in the face of popular resistance, but I believe that history shows this to be the rare exception and not the rule.

Some comments about these two groups:
  • It is not that the people in group 1 will not organize to fulfill the needs of their community, they will just not force the participation of others into their endeavors.  I think this seems like the natural solution to them because they themselves are willing to voluntarily act for the communal good.
  • By contrast, I can only assume that people in group 2 feel that force is needed to meet community needs because they would only act against their self-interest for the communal good under duress, and they assume that most people are like them.  I assume this because I am assuming that these people project their motives the same way I project my motives.
And this is the basic reason I believe that those in group 1 are more likely to act in a moral manner than those in group 2.

Of course, what defines the "communal good" is not always obvious, and good people may disagree on this depending on their values, perspective, and specific local knowledge. This is the functional reason why the people in group 1 are more likely to act in a correct manner than those in group 2

Then, to illustrate the idiocy of asserting that self-interested capitalist attitudes would have lead to the deaths of the miners, Daniel Henninger has an interesting write-up in the Wall Street Journal. (the basic gist of it is that without the innovation of a special drill bit by a "greedy capitalist" none of the miners could have been rescued alive.

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