Sunday, August 14, 2011

Society in Conflict Part 1

Imagine that you are a space traveler who has landed on a planet where the people are constantly in conflict. As you observe the society, you notice that all male children are raised to be warriors. Fathers teach their sons to have a warrior mentality and to always be suspicious of outsiders.

Society is based upon a pecking order. The strongest member of the tribe must win his dominance by beating any challengers in a fight to the death. Every tribesman is subject to the dictates of the strongest man and they are considered to be his property. The leader dictates the rules and others must do as they are told or be killed.

The more you look around this planet, the more you learn that there is much resentment in society over the demands of the powerful leader. And you notice that these resentments are the very reasons the people are starving AND why they can’t seem to agree about anything. They starve because everyone thinks he should be the tribal leader; but no one has the power to physically overcome the leader or do as he would prefer.

You also notice that the societies on this planet are tribal collectives. For centuries, these men have been told that man could survive only by collective joining and cooperation; otherwise, it is thought, he would die by nature’s wrath. These people believe that man can't survive through his own resources but must rely on collective efforts and total sacrifice to the group.

Needless to say, primitive societies like these have existed on our planet for centuries. They are societies that have not learned how to handle conflict because they value it as a survival tactic. For these societies, life is about dog-eat-dog, about the survival of the fittest who must force all others to obey or die.

In fact, the collective approach to human organization has always countenanced sacrifice as the most practical means of ensuring social success. Even on our planet, many people advocate collectivism as the best way to ensure "justice" and equality of result for all men. Collectivism is supposed to lead to utopia and peace and happiness and eternal salvation...if only men would sacrifice totally to the collective...and do so with energy and hard work and love for mankind.

Yet, we must understand the difference between free cooperation among individuals and the ideology of social collectivism. The former creates peace, the later creates conflict.

Cooperation among individuals is voluntary. Those who agree to join a group effort do so with full freedom to leave the effort at any time. Voluntary cooperation is usually also joined by selected individuals who bring particular skills or knowledge to the group. It is not a group made up of just anyone. And it is the specific skills of the individuals chosen to work in the group that are the keys to the success of the group.

In a voluntary association, there is no demand that the individual must participate or that he is doing something evil by not participating. There is no specter of total social failure looming on the horizon if someone decides not to participate. In fact, cooperation can work only in voluntary associations where each individual has agreed to contribute something specific in order to accomplish an agreed-upon result. Once that result is reached there is no need for the group to continue to function. Yet, the power and success of such cooperation is made possible only because each individual is committed to the outcome for a personal reason. There is no implication that the individual must accept the leadership, must do as told or that he cannot leave the group.

Social collectivism, on the other hand, is based upon an ideology that views collective action as necessary for human survival. Collectivism offers a system of organization in which the leaders have ultimate decision-making powers while individuals must do as instructed. An aspect of collectivist ideology is that the individual is “drafted” into the collective without choice. He is either born into the collective and cannot leave or he is bound by circumstances of territorial origin, ethnic origin, even language or dress. To solidify this membership, the individual member is told that sacrifice to the collective is the highest moral attainment. To dissent, or to express individualistic tendencies, is considered worthy of ridicule and punishment.

There are many forms of social collectivism including fascism, communism, monarchy, socialism, welfare-statism and democracy. Collectivist groups of this type can be small, consisting of a mere few individuals or as large as nations spreading across vast stretches of land. Each form of collective, however, contains an ideology of collective survival, altruism/sacrifice as a moral imperative and hatred of self-interest.

A collectivist society sabotages the free mind. First of all, people with the ability to threaten the life of the individual often decide for him what he should do. These decisions, based upon a collective standard, may not be proper for the individual in his particular context. So when an individual is forced to do something that he would not otherwise do, the negative consequences of this action redound only upon him...he suffers, others do not. This is why collectivism does not work; it always harms the individual by insisting that he do as told.

In a free society, man thrives when he is allowed to use his mind to affect his survival. A free person can certainly make mistakes but he has the freedom to learn from his mistakes and change his behaviour. The knowledge he develops from his successes and failures makes it possible for him to improve his life over time. And because he is able to keep the results of his thought and work, there is nothing holding him back and stealing his production. The only thing that harms a free man in a free society is poor thinking and poor planning.

With social collectivism, serious harm afflicts the individual when he is forced to work for the “state” without payment; or as is more often the case, when he is forced to give up some of the product of his work to the state. Since the decisions of the leaders are often wrong, and since a collective standard benefits some but takes from others, conflict necessarily results. The person forced to give up his product or energy is essentially a slave who is conscripted against his will and this creates the negative consequences that are known to proceed from slavery. No slave will work with vigour and excellence to benefit the slave master. The result is always less production from the slave, “cheating”, poor motivation and wasted energy.

Throughout modern history, collectivists have claimed to be imposing “justice” on people who “sabotaged” their revolutions by not enthusiastically sacrificing. Former capitalists, political dissenters, underground revolutionaries or even people who laugh or smirk at a government official receive the "justice" of the firing squad, the prison or the concentration camp.

Yet, propagandists for collectivism keep promising that all those dead bodies from Soviet Russia, Communist China, Communist Cuba and many other failed experiments, don’t really mean that there is something wrong with collectivism; on the contrary, “this time” they are going to make it work because they will do it right. What so many people ignore about this argument is that it was also made by the leaders of the Soviet and Chinese experiments too. They promised to “do it right”, and the result was millions of dead killed to rid the world of capitalist thinking.

Today, collectivists justify their actions behind a presumed collective “social contract”. According to this view, when we join society, we make an informal pact with other members of society to be loyal to the group in which we are born. Collectivists tell us that part of being civilized includes agreeing to allow the government to re-distribute a portion of our incomes for the benefit of others, as a sort of insurance policy or “social safety net” to be used only when necessary.

Many collectivists ignore the history of ancient Greece where democracy implied a social contract that had devastating effect in the Greek city-states. These governments required that the individual do whatever the majority decided. The result was the hatred that many people still feel about a system that determines life or death according to a mere vote of the majority. Democracy is collectivism run wild; a system where conflict rules and the majority exploits and destroys the minority.

The idea that the individual should accommodate the “will of society” is nothing more than a justification for legalized theft and murder.

One notable characteristic of those who run collectivist governments is the elitism they exhibit when they discuss how to “run” a society. These “planners” think they have the ability to pull the right levers (regulations) and otherwise dictate to citizens what they should do. They obtain college degrees in business law or economics and pretend that they have the knowledge and skills that enable them to control whole swaths of American economic life. The difficulty is that these manipulations affect the lives of real people and they always accomplish the opposite of their intent, decide winners and losers and violate the rights of citizens to freely transact business with their own property. Interventionist economics (Keynesianism) is nothing more than modernized collectivism with the same deadly consequences as tribal collectivism.

For government elites, there can never be enough sacrificing and most of the sacrificed goods or money is spent on feeding or pampering people who do not deserve it. The re-distributed goods are destroyed by mere consumption which means that profits are destroyed and there is often no money left to invest in making new goods to sell. This is the declining society brought about by collectivism. We are seeing this decline happening today.

Many of these elites, after they see the killing fields they have created, wind up bitter that men were not “good enough” to fulfill their vision of a great society – this squalor is not what they had in mind, they scream, and it is not their fault. Their litany of "blame" has no end...because they know, deep down, that they are responsible. Their morning mirror is their hated enemy.

But the real moral failure of a collectivist society is not the "travesties" done by people who are unwilling to sacrifice. The real wrong of collectivism is the immorality of the "elites" who think they have the right to "legally" force people against their wills. By supporting the arguments for sacrifice and justifying theft, these men commit the grossest acts starting with the stealing of money through taxation and ending with wholesale slavery (and sometimes murder).

There is no moral justification for taking from any man what he has earned with his own work. The protestations of people who “have no problem” with it should be roundly met with boos, resistance and defeat in the ballot box.

The lie of the social contract and the call to sacrifice (as expressed by President Obama and progressives) is the belief that proper government is about controlling man, forcing him to do right and ensuring that he does not violate the demands of "duty" or "social justice" – as deemed proper by the elites. To exhort men to sacrifice just a little more when that sacrifice means they must give up their lives and energies is a travesty of true justice.

They ignore the fact that the conflicts they create between productive citizens and society are the very conflicts that, next time, will mean imprisoning and enslaving those people who do not go along, who cheat or who, according to them, make “too much” money. Such is the lynch mob that develops when men embed conflict into their societies.

There is only one type of society that does not create conflict; a republic with constitutionally limited government whose sole purpose is the protection of individual rights. This system enables the citizenry to live without fear of theft or exploitation by government. If a republic is instituted without contradictions, a peaceful, safe society can be created. This is a society where men are left free to make their own decisions and to keep the results of their labor.

To be continued in Part 2.

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