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There’s No Such Entity as Society

October 15, 2009

Note: The following is my reply to a commenter nicknamed Biogeek who asked me the following question: “How do individualists put ‘individualism’ into practice, beyond the individual?” Read Biogeek’s full comment here.

An individual of self-esteem and pride is not a second-hander, or one who wants to be great in the eyes of others…

Society is a myth... its all of us.

Society is a myth... it's all of us.

Congrats [to the Ateneo Blue Eagles] and I appreciate your comment. Regarding your query I have to say that I’m humbled. I have talked about this in one of my blogs written about a year or two ago –> https://fvdb.wordpress.com/2008/02/17/individualism-versus-collectivism/. You asked me “How do individualists put ‘individualism’ into practice, beyond the individual?” You mean to say how does man practice individualism? In practice I believe that ego exists, and this is the source of your understanding of self-esteem and pride, including other important abstractions. However, such an ego must come from your objective understanding of reality, as well as your honest understanding of human achievement. You go by reason, not faith. Reason is the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by your senses. It is immoral for man of ego and self-esteem to take things on faith.

A man of ego has pride and self-esteem. He is the individual– the one who thinks on his own, who never asks for the help of others, and who never relies on the pity or charity of other people… It means he is primarily motivated by his desire to achieve, not by his desire to beat others. Now, is there any economic or political equivalent of individualism in the real world? There is, and this is the system of capitalism. I have talked also about why capitalism is the only system that can save this country. In a true capitalist society, the individual is the one who produces or who works for the producer for compensation. I would like to clarify that that we are not a capitalist country; we are a mixed economy.

Why is capitalism the economic and political tool of individualism? The only answer is because it is the only economic system consistent with man’s rights– his right to life liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness. Ayn Rand made a good explanation on this matter. It means that a true capitalist country is spared by government intervention, and the only proper function of a government are the following: police to maintain peace and order, law courts to settle disputes, the army to defend the state from invasion or rebellion. Taxes continue to rise because of excessive government spending in its welfare state projects. I explained this concept in my blog entitled Why is Text Tax the Philippines’ Gateway to Hell?.

Men must interact with each other as a human being according to objective rational principles and moral standards.

An individual of self-esteem and pride is not a second-hander, or one who wants to be great in the eyes of others, like Mikey Arroyo and most politicians. You don’t care what other people tell about you so long as you know you’re right. Their only weapon against you is laughter… You only rely on your ability. Now I’m referring to real capitalists who don’t rely on government subsidies, political connections, and the help of moochers-by-law and looters-by-law.

Do you think Mike Defensor, who received government help for his mining companies, is a real capitalist? Hell no! He is, by objective definition, a crony or a robber baron. I think one cannot practice individualism beyond the individual. It does not mean you should exclude yourself from society. Collectivism is a system that subjugates the individual to a collective. It preaches the sacrifice of the strong to the weak for the sake of the common good. Now take Obama’s health care reform as an example and the 2 to 7 trillion dollar bailout of ailing banks and companies at the disadvantage of the tax payers. In regard to this matter, the money will not directly come from taxpayers– it will be printed by the Federal Reserve that prints money out of nothing. This will eventually cause inflation. This monetarist and Keynesian system is actually taught and endorsed by educators from Harvard University.

In individualism, the individual must not sacrifice his life to others, nor ask others to sacrifice theirs to his. I can only suggest the following books to better understand individualism: Anthem, The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged and Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (all by Ayn Rand).

There’s no such thing as a society… it’s all of us. That which most people call a society is a composition of individuals of different economic status and levels of intellect and driven by diverse beliefs, convictions, and goals in life. Men must interact with each other as human beings according to objective rational principles and moral standards. A society is composed of individuals– it is not a living entity. It has no rights, values or conscience like a human being. Furthermore, there is no such thing as society that “promotes individualism.” As I said, the standard of value of a state is the individual, not a society, and every individual must take self-interest as his ethics.

Individualism regards man—every man—as an independent, sovereign entity who possesses an inalienable right to his own life, a right derived from his nature as a rational being.

Observe that in every society (composed of individuals of different economic status, understanding of reality, behavior, intellect, purpose and beliefs) the common code of morality is altruism. It is impossible for a society to promote the ideals of individualism, and if there were such a very rare, very impossible occurrence, what code of morality of individualism would it promote and what would be its purpose? In my latest blog entitled Self-interest versus Altruism (https://fvdb.wordpress.com/2009/10/10/which-is-the-real-evil-self-interest-or-altruism/ ), I discussed that man’s ethics is self-interest, his metaphysics is objective reality (that reality exists), his epistemology is reason, and his politics is capitalism. It is important to understand that contradictions cannot exist. Your code of morality must not contradict your understanding of reality– that A is A. For instance, you can’t run a business with altruism as your code of morality. A president can’t save the economy through government spending, too much regulations and interference into the economy and printing money out of thin air. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

A society that promotes individualism is a contradiction at best. However, I must warn you that several philosophers like Nietzsche are “fake” individualists. It is disappointing to note that even those in the academe have been sold to this evil lie that Nietzsche was an individualist. Philosophically, Nietzsche is a mystic and an irrationalist. His metaphysics consists of a somewhat “Byronic” and mystically “malevolent” universe; his epistemology subordinates reason to “will,” or feeling or instinct or blood or innate virtues of character. This is the reason why the father of racist and bigot Nazi Germany is Nietzsche and Hegel.

Thus, individualism regards man—every man—as an independent, sovereign entity who possesses an inalienable right to his own life, a right derived from his nature as a rational being. Individualism holds that a civilized society, or any form of association, cooperation or peaceful coexistence among men, can be achieved only on the basis of the recognition of individual rights—and that a group, as such, has no rights other than the individual rights of its members.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Paco Francisco permalink
    October 20, 2009 3:38

    Hi!

    I agree with the issue you raised about taxes.

    I can’t seem to wrap my head around the political discourse in this country which always seems to favor welfare legislation. I am a taxpayer myself, and because it is MY money, I always hope that how the state spends it will favor ME, not others. After all, my income is the fruit of my labor. I don’t want to keep working just so the government can spend my money to aid those who continue to irresponsibly produce seven, eight or nine children, knowing fully well that they cannot support them.

    What you are doing in this blog is commendable, especially in creating a consciousness about how taxes should be spent. I think we should all be mature enough to understand how taxes should benefit the taxpayers. Or at the very least, that those who advocate against welfare statism shouldn’t be vilified outright for the sole reason that they are anti-poor.

  2. concerned citizen permalink
    November 7, 2009 3:38

    The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil. We see before us a huge community of producers the members of which are unceasingly striving to deprive each other of the fruits of their collective labor—not by force, but on the whole in faithful compliance with legally established rules. In this respect, it is important to realize that the means of production—that is to say, the entire productive capacity that is needed for producing consumer goods as well as additional capital goods—may legally be, and for the most part are, the private property of individuals.

    For the sake of simplicity, in the discussion that follows I shall call “workers” all those who do not share in the ownership of the means of production—although this does not quite correspond to the customary use of the term. The owner of the means of production is in a position to purchase the labor power of the worker. By using the means of production, the worker produces new goods which become the property of the capitalist. The essential point about this process is the relation between what the worker produces and what he is paid, both measured in terms of real value. Insofar as the labor contract is “free,” what the worker receives is determined not by the real value of the goods he produces, but by his minimum needs and by the capitalists’ requirements for labor power in relation to the number of workers competing for jobs. It is important to understand that even in theory the payment of the worker is not determined by the value of his product.

    Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights.

    The situation prevailing in an economy based on the private ownership of capital is thus characterized by two main principles: first, means of production (capital) are privately owned and the owners dispose of them as they see fit; second, the labor contract is free. Of course, there is no such thing as a pure capitalist society in this sense. In particular, it should be noted that the workers, through long and bitter political struggles, have succeeded in securing a somewhat improved form of the “free labor contract” for certain categories of workers. But taken as a whole, the present day economy does not differ much from “pure” capitalism.

    Production is carried on for profit, not for use. There is no provision that all those able and willing to work will always be in a position to find employment; an “army of unemployed” almost always exists. The worker is constantly in fear of losing his job. Since unemployed and poorly paid workers do not provide a profitable market, the production of consumers’ goods is restricted, and great hardship is the consequence. Technological progress frequently results in more unemployment rather than in an easing of the burden of work for all. The profit motive, in conjunction with competition among capitalists, is responsible for an instability in the accumulation and utilization of capital which leads to increasingly severe depressions. Unlimited competition leads to a huge waste of labor, and to that crippling of the social consciousness of individuals which I mentioned before.

    This crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism. Our whole educational system suffers from this evil. An exaggerated competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for his future career.

    I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are owned by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion. A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman, and child. The education of the individual, in addition to promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a sense of responsibility for his fellow men in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society.

    Nevertheless, it is necessary to remember that a planned economy is not yet socialism. A planned economy as such may be accompanied by the complete enslavement of the individual. The achievement of socialism requires the solution of some extremely difficult socio-political problems: how is it possible, in view of the far-reaching centralization of political and economic power, to prevent bureaucracy from becoming all-powerful and overweening? How can the rights of the individual be protected and therewith a democratic counterweight to the power of bureaucracy be assured?

    Clarity about the aims and problems of socialism is of greatest significance in our age of transition.

    -Albert Einstein

  3. November 7, 2009 3:38

    Very wrong premise from a genius like Einstein. We are not a capitalist society, we are a mixed economy. No country in the world today subscribes to capitalism.
    Now, here’s my answer to this long, intellectually and philosophically flawed article of Einstein– https://fvdb.wordpress.com/2009/09/16/capitalism-and-imperialism-are-contradiction-in-terms/

  4. November 7, 2009 3:38

    Why Socialism Must Always Fail: Ludwig Von Mises on Economic Calculation under Socialism…
    “Without calculation, economic activity is impossible. Since under Socialism economic calculation is impossible, under Socialism there can be no economic activity in our sense of the word … All economic change, therefore, would involve operations the value of which could neither be predicted beforehand nor ascertained after they had taken place. Everything would be a leap in the dark. Socialism is the renunciation of rational economy.” — Ludwig von Mises, Socialism, 1981, pp. 103-105.
    http://www.capmag.com/article.asp?ID=600

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