Friday, February 8, 2013

Gavin's magnificent conclusion


At Adam Smith's Lost Legacy, Gavin Kennedy writes:

I read most of Ayn Rand’s paper-back philosophy books and novels in the 50s-60s. I was struck then by her fatal weakness: to “save the world” she requires the world to adopt her objectivist philosophy, or at least behave as if they did, a most unlikely outcome. Therefore, it ain’t likely to happen.

I never read Ayn Rand. But I feel very much about Marx as Gavin does about Rand. To suit Marx, we all must agree to the famous one-liner From each according to his ability, to each according to his need. And we must choose not to withhold ability or effort. And we must choose not to embellish need.

I just don't think it's in human nature. Therefore, it ain’t likely to happen.

Gavin provides a perfect ending:

Smith did not require the conversion of everybody to new morality or to a universal conformity to logic. In fact he wrote of humans as they were. He made no predictions about the future (except about the future of the former British colonies in North America becoming the wealthiest economy in the world by around 1875). Instead he studied the past to understand within the limitations of knowledge the present; we might be better doing the same.

4 comments:

Clonal said...

From From each according to his ability, to each according to his need

Quote:
Although Marx is popularly thought of as the originator of the phrase, the slogan was common to the socialist movement and was first used by Louis Blanc in 1839, in "The organization of work".[4] The origin of this phrasing has also been attributed to the French utopian Morelly,[5] who proposed in his 1755 Code of Nature "Sacred and Fundamental Laws that would tear out the roots of vice and of all the evils of a society" including

I. Nothing in society will belong to anyone, either as a personal possession or as capital goods, except the things for which the person has immediate use, for either his needs, his pleasures, or his daily work.
II. Every citizen will be a public man, sustained by, supported by, and occupied at the public expense.
III. Every citizen will make his particular contribution to the activities of the community according to his capacity, his talent and his age; it is on this basis that his duties will be determined, in conformity with the distributive laws.[6]

Some scholars trace the origin of the phrase to the New Testament.[7][8] In Acts of the Apostles the lifestyle of the community of believers in Jerusalem is described as communal (without individual possession), and uses the phrase "distribution was made unto every man according as he had need":

Matthew 25:14-30: And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to each according to his ability. And he went abroad at once.
Acts 4:32: All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.

Luke Smith said...

Capitalism, socialism, objectivism, communism, or any modern -ism, is nothing more than moneyism disguised as a fair-distribution system. Or perhaps I am too dogmatic - nevermind me, I was corrupted by the unfortunate philosophy of different economists.

Tom Hickey said...

"Smith did not require the conversion of everybody to new morality or to a universal conformity to logic. In fact he wrote of humans as they were."

This is what I call the level of collective consciousness. It is not rigidly fixed, since there is no fixed "human nature." The level of collective consciousness evolves and with its evolution come cultural shifts and therefore institutions as well.

The level of collective consciousness is, of course, not a universal that is homogeneously distributed. It is a general characteristic as a sort of common denominator that makes social interaction possible. Different groups and sub-cultures exhibit different levels of collective consciousness, but all interact in terms of the common denominator. Society as a whole cannot rise above that denominator without a corresponding change in consciousness.

Marx realized this BTW. He thought that the level of collective consciousness could be changed, e.g., through education. He is not alone in thinking that.

The Arthurian said...

Tom: "This is what I call the level of collective consciousness. It is not rigidly fixed, since there is no fixed "human nature." The level of collective consciousness evolves and with its evolution come cultural shifts and therefore institutions as well."

Pencils in a Cup.

The cup holds all of the (infinitely many) possible forms human nature may take.

The pencils are the humans, which take some of those forms.

Around the cup is a circle, which is the cycle of civilization. As the cycle turns, the cup turns with it, and the pencils fall from one position to another -- at random, but for the most part in a clump of similarity.

(Or, perhaps, as old pencils die and new pencils are born, the existing clump seems somehow incorrect and the young ones gravitate to a new position. In this version it is the pencils that drive the movement of the cup and the cycle.)

There is no fixed human nature, but there is an fairly inflexible range within which human natures fall, I think.

I guess the cup is the collective.