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Dustin86

Does Egoism Lead Ultimately to Socialism?

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I was having a conversation with an Objectivist lately about the tenets of Objectivism, and I was directed toward this forum section to try to get answers. Part of Objectivist philosophy is egoism, but as far as I can see, egoism leads to socialism when it is adopted on a societal scale. Here is how I see it:

Egotistical people, almost by definition, care greatly about "getting theirs". When there is a critical mass of egotistical people in any society and they aren't "getting theirs", they band together and begin using socialism to take from "the rich" who "already have theirs". And that's how they "get theirs". This is especially true when said society is an electoral democracy where the masses of people, for better or worse, have the authority to choose who governs on the basis of the greatest number of votes. In other words, they clearly turn to socialism as a mechanism to service their egoism.

To use an Atlas Shrugged example: Fred Kinnan is an apt example of what most people would consider an egoist. He's a fatcat union boss who blatantly leverages socialism in the service of his egoism. The vast majority of socialists are just like Fred Kinnan. They hate it when they are called on that, but that's what they are.

Edited by Dustin86

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Thomas Hobbes said all this nearly 400 years ago. What you and he, but not Rand, have failed to do is question what self-interest is. The behavior you describe just isn't what she meant by the term. If you want to appeal the matter up to a higher level and argue that your characterization is more cognitively useful than Rand's or more explanatorily powerful or that it avoids inconsistencies that hers falls into or what have you, I'd have to hear your case. On this level it is simply inaccurate about the plain language or her published writings.

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3 hours ago, Dustin86 said:

 

Egotistical people, almost by definition, care greatly about "getting theirs". When there is a critical mass of egotistical people in any society and they aren't "getting theirs", they band together and begin using socialism to take from "the rich" who "already have theirs". And that's how they "get theirs". This is especially true when said society is an electoral democracy where the masses of people, for better or worse, have the authority to choose who governs on the basis of the greatest number of votes. In other words, they clearly turn to socialism as a mechanism to service their egoism.

 

More accurately, the Objectivist ethics are rational egoism. The hazards of democracy were well known to the founders of the United States, and that is the reason Thomas Jefferson insisted on the adaption of the Bill of Rights, intended to prevent an oppressive majority from impinging upon the rights of the individual. Each succeeding  generation must decide how those rights are to be implemented and preserved. Once again, Objectivism is not Jeffersonian Democracy, as you keep implying.

Edit: The fact that you have "getting theirs" in parenthesis suggests that you need to define the term more exactly. If you wish to do so, it would clarify the intent of this thread. Anyone with any sense of property ownership understands that "what's mine is mine, and what's yours is yours," and any confusion of this concept would lead to theft. Theft by any other name is still theft. 

Edited by Repairman
Addendum

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No, in fact now that you've accused me of doing that I'm going to reveal that I was encouraged to make this thread by a moderator here whom I was having a private conversation about this issue with, who told me I was "welcome to ask about it in a thread". I will tell you the moderator's name privately if you want.

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5 hours ago, softwareNerd said:

This seems like a repeat of your previous topic, with similar obvious misrepresentations.

Are you trolling us?

It's kind of a common question, psychological egoism is often seen as what egoism means to everybody.

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1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

It's kind of a common question, psychological egoism is often seen as what egoism means to everybody.

Yes, it's very confusing, especially to someone who has had the misfortune to have run across many "Jim Taggarts" and "Fred Kinnans" across his lifetime because let me tell you these types of people are extremely manipulative and psychopathic. Egotistical to the extreme, and also they are often usually almost always some of the biggest socialists and/or phony "altruists" you will ever meet. They know how to "play the game", believe me.


But let me tell you something, one thing that keeps me coming back to this forum is I'm so inspired by when Hank Rearden, for instance, refused to be guilt-tripped by them anymore. If that's what you mean by "egoism" and "self-interest", then I'm 100% for it. It's just very confusing because I feel that the terms are being used in two different ways.

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3 hours ago, Dustin86 said:

 Egotistical to the extreme, ...

So, you're going to continue to insist on this usages of he term, in order to fuzzy the discussion? If you know enough to name Fred Kinnan, you obviously know enough to use terms in a way that furthers the discussion. In fact, you already know enough to answer your own question. So, I have to conclude that you're basically trolling for a response, or simply to socialize via a forum discussion, or for some other motivation that makes your question itself passive-aggressive rather than straight-up.

Edited by softwareNerd

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Software, if Dustin is trolling, then by his own comments, he was encouraged to do so by a moderator "privately". 

I would hope that gives you a cause to reflect on both your Mods and Dustin....to be fair.

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40 minutes ago, Plasmatic said:

Software, if Dustin is trolling, then by his own comments, he was encouraged to do so by a moderator "privately". 

Indeed, if someone is claiming to be honestly confused about something, it is best to encourage them to ask questions.

Edited by Eiuol

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30 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

Indeed, if someone is claiming to be honestly confused about something, it is best to encourage them to ask questions.

Why the constant form of affirmation then denial in your posts? 

Like, "Yes, I disagree". 

Your statement is a completely different "if-then", that would be a contradiction of the one your quoting.

Why not just state your contention for why the previous conditional is false?

Edit: Notice that my initial comment to SN leaves open the question at issue. 

Edited by Plasmatic

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"Sort of, but" would have been better, which is in line with what I was thinking about.

EDIT: It might be really off topic, but if Dustin is not sincere, this may be an interesting case study of the "extremely manipulative" people he posted about. It would mean he's manipulating several people at once deliberately - he'd only be encouraged to "troll" to the extent he's hiding his true intentions or lying. It could even be an example of how psychological egoism is not rational egoism. It's not like we would be getting anywhere if he's manipulating us, it demonstrates no furthering of anyone's life. We can hope that Dustin isn't this person, and imagining something like that is a good example of how rational egoism is different.

Edited by Eiuol

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6 hours ago, softwareNerd said:

So, you're going to continue to insist on this usages of he term, in order to fuzzy the discussion? If you know enough to name Fred Kinnan, you obviously know enough to use terms in a way that furthers the discussion. In fact, you already know enough to answer your own question. So, I have to conclude that you're basically trolling for a response, or simply to socialize via a forum discussion, or for some other motivation that makes your question itself passive-aggressive rather than straight-up.

Because many Fred Kinnans do succeed, through their machinations, in getting ahead in their individual lives from the day they're born until the day they die. Like I said, they know how to "play the game" extremely well. Yes, ultimately they make it worse for the whole of the human race in the long run, but that doesn't necessarily happen during their lifetimes.

And that's the big thing that's happening nowadays: mortgaging the future, saddling future generations with enormous debts to pay for the socialism of today.

So no, I clearly did not "answer my own question", unless the answer is yes, egoism leads to socialism. Because these people are acting egotistically. These people are acting in such a way that destroys the future for their own profit today. And they're hoping to be able to "cash out" of this life before it all comes crashing down. And many of them, at least the older ones, were able to pull that off. That is their mentality. 

Edited by Dustin86

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Dustin86,

Your inquiry into Objective does convey accusations. Naturally, those of us who understand and act accordingly to Objectivist standards of ethics tend to respond defensively, even offensively. The sort of egoism you are charging as the precursor to socialism is a sort that is common among megalomaniacs. Megalomaniacs are an extreme of altruistic ideals; that is, there are people with natural personality characteristics inclined to extending their needs to the point of controlling as many individual members of mankind as they are able. External circumstances may enable such people to fulfill their ambitions. (An example would be the global economic crisis of the 1920s through the 30s, when dictators of all stripe assumed authority over the most affected nations.) Ayn Rand coined a term: second-handers. These are people whose lives are only fulfilled as their lives meet the standards of some majority consensus. Here is the link, check it yourself:http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/second-handers.html

Such people are not egotistical, by Objectivist standards. They are not selfish in any rational way. They are concerned with that which others think, with what the majority approves, and at the extreme, they can only be satisfied when the maximum number of people adore them and make monuments in their honor. The truth does not matter to second-handers; all that matters is some vane glorious celebration of their existence. Another term coined by Ayn Rand is the power-luster. Their own personal happiness is far less important than the power they wield over others. The colloquial term I prefer is megalomaniac, as it has more common use, and it sound like a mental disease. Which it is.

If your inquiry into Objectivism is earnest, you will find that rational egoism disregards any concern for the opinions of others, and in stead, focuses on truth as based on verifiable evidence, and the pursuit of one's personal happiness without conflicting with the truth. If one relies on opinions, rather than facts, one is only able to draw conclusions that will lead to failure, or worse, destruction. In order to fully comprehend Objectivism, you may consider reading more than bits and pieces, and I found it most helpful to read the non-fiction.

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2 hours ago, Repairman said:

 The colloquial term I prefer is megalomaniac, as it has more common use, and it sound like a mental disease. Which it is.

I suppose I am overstepping my purpose here. Megalomania might not necessarily be a disease, but it ain't right. I was getting a too opinionated; I wanted to correct it before anyone else.

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On 5/20/2016 at 10:19 PM, Dustin86 said:

And that's the big thing that's happening nowadays: mortgaging the future, saddling future generations with enormous debts to pay for the socialism of today.

 

Isn't that what the Kinnans of the world are doing with their own futures?

 

Remember the scene in The Fountainhead, in which Keating tries to get back into painting and discovers that it's too late? He'd wasted the best years of his life learning to "play the game" and, having won it (in purely materialistic terms), would never be able to enjoy it.

 

People like that aren't egoists at all. The very term "egoism" refers to what they're trampling over, in the race to get "theirs". And they will get it.

 

This is why we have to be sticklers about that word.

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On 5/21/2016 at 1:55 AM, Repairman said:

If your inquiry into Objectivism is earnest, you will find that rational egoism disregards any concern for the opinions of others, and in stead, focuses on truth as based on verifiable evidence, and the pursuit of one's personal happiness without conflicting with the truth.

1

Isn't disregarding any (and all) concern for the opinions of others irrational. Isn't it narcissistic, selfish in the negative sense? (Maybe hedonistic for that matter)

It must be a disregard for certain opinions, or opinions at a certain stage of the argument, there must be some limited specification.

Choosing to have NO awareness of what others think or feel is not survival qua man.

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2 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

Isn't disregarding any (and all) concern for the opinions of others irrational. Isn't it narcissistic, selfish in the negative sense? (Maybe hedonistic for that matter)

It must be a disregard for certain opinions, or opinions at a certain stage of the argument, there must be some limited specification.

Choosing to have NO awareness of what others think or feel is not survival qua man.

The short answer to your question: No. Disregard for opinions is disregard for a subjective analysis, as express by another person. The rational egoism of which I refer to includes reasoning out and/or researching one's own conclusions. As for selfishness, one's must always deliberate and act on the decision that is best for one's self. Perhaps you're siting some semantic argument over the definition of an opinion; there are opinions supported by evidence, and their are opinions that are entirely the product of someone's imagination, or popular belief. Disregard of the latter is rational. 

Now, if one decides for one's self that giving a fair hearing to the opinions of others is in one's self interest, of course it may be required to do so. I suppose it's nearly impossible to be completely oblivious of the opinions of others, but if those opinions do not serve your best interests, or better stated, if those opinions hold no value to you, it's best to regard such opinions in the same manner one might regard the weather. One's own fact-based judgment -- one's own objective analysis -- overrides the subjective appraisal of anyone else. If the opinion is based on fact, that's what matters. And one may examine the facts closer, depending on how crucial the judgement may be.You'll have to give me some sort of specific example as to how objective analysis of an important decision might qualify as narcissistic or hedonistic.

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2 hours ago, Repairman said:

Disregard for opinions is disregard for a subjective analysis, as express by another person.

I'm going mostly after the way it was phrased and I think you agree with me. I just want to make sure that (new readers) understand that is not a complete disregard/disdain of everyone. (I maintain that neither you nor I nor anyone on this forum has a complete disregard for other's opinions or we would not try to have proper grammar). I would not have brought it up if the statement said:

If your inquiry into Objectivism is earnest, you will find that rational egoism disregards subjective opinions of others, and instead, focuses on truth as based on verifiable evidence, and the pursuit of one's personal happiness without conflicting with the truth.

(Sorry to rehash the reasons) ... Reason being:

1. "Disregard for a subjective analysis, as expressed by another person ", refers to a subset of all opinions.

2. How does one find out if their opinion is subjective vs. objective when there is a complete disregard for it? A complete disregard does not allow identification (of subjective or objective) to take place.

3. It is only when phrased as "disregard for some opinions" based on some logic, it becomes valid. When the implication is that everyone (past present future) has nothing of value to contribute then the statement loses validity.

Examples of Hedonistic would be when one feels comfort in shutting others out without any principles behind it. No thought behind it, it just feels good to ignore, pay no attention to the existence of others. Narcissistic may also include an unadmitted fear of truths (from others) that may be painful.

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5 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

Examples of Hedonistic would be when one feels comfort in shutting others out without any principles behind it. No thought behind it, it just feels good to ignore, pay no attention to the existence of others. Narcissistic may also include an unadmitted fear of truths (from others) that may be painful.

How would it be in one's interest to ignore helpful opinions? If the opinion is informed and evident, it qualifies as having greater value than a less-than-informed opinion, or an opinion based on a faulty principle. It would stand to reason that a PhD in a given field of expertise would have a professional, evidence-based, and therefore valuable opinion, whereas the opinion of a high school drop-out would most likely be of considerably less value.

Let me offer an example for your hedonism category: It feels absolutely great having a sexual experience with the love of your life, but others hold to the opinion that there is something wrong with your relationship. Do you weigh the opinions of these "narrow-minded" people, or do you objectively decide for yourself that the affair is in your best interest? The prudes have opinions based on their principles; let's say they have Christian, or Muslim, or some other religious or tribal convictions soundly supported by their sacred scripture. You have objective truth. Without developing an extended short story of our star-crossed lovers, assuming nothing in their relationship other than the opinions of others is harmful to them, how is the opinion of the traditionalist prudes right, and the lovers wrong? The prudes have principles, the lovers have the truth. Someone in this story has a subjective opinion of hedonism, and I would say it's the prudes.

Regarding narcissism, one risks the dangers of Hayek's "fatal conceit." One must weigh the risks of any decision, and decide what is in one's rational best interest. Putting thought behind one's decisions, be they large or small decisions, is practicing rational egoism.

In the quote you sited from my earlier post, I was quite specific in pointing out that subjective opinions have less value over facts. I'm not sure what the argument is.

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