niedziela, 8 maja 2011

Cylons of Collectivism

As is most often the case, Mike Huben's post was my inspiration, this time about altruist robots.

Now, neither Rand nor libertarians are obviously against altruism proper. They are merely against forced altruism (collectivist altruism?) which is indistinguishable from slavery run by parasites.

Altruists are as natural as parasites (apart from, obviously, producers) and both will inevitably arise during evolution process, be it natural or artificial. But it gets really interesting with the emergence of conscious thought and ideas, when parasites start to cloak their true motives under the guise of altruism. In other words, there always are charity volunteers and thieves, but what happens when thieves develop an ability to pose as altruists using clever ideas? Note the parasites do not even need to be conscious of that. In fact, to achieve the highest efficiency, they should not be aware of that, same as skin-job Cylons on the Colonial Fleet. They should rather believe wholeheartedly they are the good guys. After all, parasites have to convince producers they are altruists. There have always been con men, but we are talking nationwide, even worldwide scheme that involves up to billions of human beings. This is a tall task you need dedicated men for, men which actually believe what they preach. In short, you need ideas at least as strong as those that make religious fanatics commit suicide for the cause.

Hence the eternal fight between parasites and producers also starts to affect the higher level of ideas. Parasites can obviously never win completely because they would then die out too (like say in Pol Pot Cambodia), no matter what level they are working on. But can libertarians ultimately win the battle of ideas by proving to Cylons of Collectivism (using logical reasoning based on self-evident assumptions, like those of Mises and Rothbard) what they really are? Evolutionary-wise, highly doubtful. Note the general rule has always been, the less parasites there are, the more beneficial it is to be one. So no, we will never eliminate parasites by showing them what they are. Even if we do decrease their amount temporarily (like in late 18th and early 19th century thanks to classical liberals), evolutionary process will simply create more sophisticated parasites with ideas even more cleverly disguised as altruism (marxism of late 19th century, 20th century liberalism etc).

No, there is no other way than to give ideological tools to producers so they can recognize parasites on their own. In short, at least people's majority need to become libertarian before we get rid of collectivist parasites for good.

Can you imagine Mike Huben's feelings when he watches Battlestar Galactica now? But then again, he should not feel too bad, as he is no less natural than a producer or true altruist is. Cylon of Collectivism simply happens to be his evolutionary part, but it could have been any one of us.

2 komentarze:

  1. I believe there is some confusion on the subject of altruism due to the fact that the word has more than one definition. Biologists typically use it to describe an act where an organism improves the chances of survival of another organism at its own expense. This usually has an explanation in either kin selection or reciprocity of some sort. This isn't anything that Ayn Rand opposed. In fact some of the heroes in her novels have this attribute.

    Ayn Rand used the word in another sense: the belief that we have an obligation to serve others. She argued that this was indeed incompatible with capitalism in that both could not co-exist in the same society or in the same mind for long.

    As if this confusion were not enough, some philosophers have even come up with a slightly different definition from these two. They hold that it merely means that it is good to help others. I think that many people fail to notice the distinction between saying that assisting others is commendable and saying that failure to do so is worthy of blame. However, I think this is an important one to make.

    Blaming people for failing to help others is the first step that people make toward initiating harm against innocent others. On the other hand we will want to encourage people to help others, but we don't need to resort to the threat of blame in order to do so. This blame is a necessary condition for any punishment that we might give to people who have not harmed others.

  2. Right on the spot, Bradley! I don't think we should encourage people to help others though you know. It's almost as when you force them. Altruism is really one of the most beautiful things out there. But only when it really comes from your own heart or mind (as in Rand's enlightened egoism), not because of social pressure or... physical force (sic!) as collectivists would want. When you think about it, collectivists are precisely the ones who RUIN the very idea of altruism. Collectivists are actually the very deadly enemies of altruism. Cyclons. Can we ever break the cycle?