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Loving a country of one's choice?

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DiscoveryJoy
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Hey guys, this has been occupying me for a while:

 

Should one love the country that one prefers to live in because of its concrete values (i.e. non-moral values such as art, lifestyle, aesthetics, produced goods etc.) more than another country that lacks those values but whose moral superiority expressed through its laws one appreciates?

 

 

For example:

 

John Doe lives in country A. Country A is economically semi-free, but its people care deeply about cleaniness, so part of their coercive laws prescribe there to be government street cleaners that do quite a good job and at the same time these laws prohibit and severly punish waste and hodgepodge disposal in places where it is optically disturbing. Furthermore these laws prescribe city infrastructure and homes (buildings, roads etc.) to be built only in places and in such architectural styles so that they maintain beauty, harmony and in certain places coziness and prevent places from looking chaotic or like rubbish. As a result, country A is a much more handsome place than country B.

Furthermore, let's say, most of the products John Doe really enjoys are available and can be bought cheaper in country A than in country B and are created by domestic producers.

 

Country B, on the other hand, is economically much freer than country A, has big enterprise, and produces a much bigger variety of goods than country A. But on the other hand, most of the goods that are produced exclusively in country B are products that John Doe doesn't really need or care about, because they are either unhealthy, too extravagant or simply unnecessary for him.

Furthermore, the people in country B - as economically free as they are - simply don't care as much about cleanliness, harmony and coziness to the extend that people in country A do. As a result, people often leave their waste in public places, skyscrapers exist next to gypsi-huts, and huge roads bombarded with commercial advertizing everywhere make it impossible to experience a sense of cozyness.

 

John Doe thinks that country B is morally superior to country A due to its better respect for individual rights, i.e. that country B has better or stronger moral values. But on the other hand, the concrete end values that most people in country A love happen to coincide much stronger with those that John Doe loves than those people love in country B. I wouldn't make a split between spiritual and material values here, because things like beauty and coziness also have a mental aspect to it, although they manifest itself in material objects.

 

Is it right for John Doe to love country A (the country in which he wishes to stay for that reason) more than country B, while at the same time regretting its moral inferiority?

Edited by DiscoveryJoy
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Have you heard of the story "The ones who walk away from omelas"?

When you know why they walk away, you will know the answer to your query too.

I would say he loses virtue by loving country A more.

But wouldn't that make anybody immoral who doesn't move to the freest country on earth, if he has the opportunity?

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Would intentionally choosing to live in a community which has less respect for individual rights than another be immoral? No. His choice to stay there does not reflect on how he chooses to live his own life.

 

But when he states he loves such a community (i.e. as he does in the scenario you originally presented), it means he loves its values; he is declaring his love and preference for something which is more irrational and more sacrificial. That would diminish his virtue, in my judgment.

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Is it right for John Doe to love country A (the country in which he wishes to stay ...

So, John stays in country A by choice? In other words, he has evaluated the pros and cons of both, and he could easily move to either, and then chooses A? Or, at least, if he had a choice about it, he would still choose A. Is that correct?

Edited by softwareNerd
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A country's government is not equal to the country's communities. I could love the people in one country and the way of life despite an unfree government. I could love the freedom of another country, but living there, I don't relate to the people. It's hard to say which is better, I don't think it's a matter of choosing one or the other. Some people choose the unfree option, and then work to make that country free.

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A country's government is not equal to the country's communities. I could love the people in one country and the way of life despite an unfree government. I could love the freedom of another country, but living there, I don't relate to the people. It's hard to say which is better, I don't think it's a matter of choosing one or the other. Some people choose the unfree option, and then work to make that country free.

 

A government is formed by individuals within that community. When you say you love the people in that community, I presume you mean only those who live by standards you agree with? If you loved all of them, you would also love those who are the cause of actions which are in breach of individual rights. How would you be able to reconcile that with a value system which is about upholding individual rights?

Edited by Jon Southall
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Would intentionally choosing to live in a community which has less respect for individual rights than another be immoral? No. His choice to stay there does not reflect on how he chooses to live his own life.

 

But when he states he loves such a community (i.e. as he does in the scenario you originally presented), it means he loves its values; he is declaring his love and preference for something which is more irrational and more sacrificial. That would diminish his virtue, in my judgment.

 

Well, maybe I was wrong to call it love, since neither of the countries fully represents what John wants. Country A represents John's concrete value objects, while country B represents the means by which he would prefer them to be achieved. Both countries lack their counterpart. Country A lacks its own partly, country B lacks its own fully.

 

So A is the best John can live with, the one he has stronger positive emotions for that result from his evaluation. Whatever one might call his emotions (whether that be love, sympathy, liking etc.). Love is said to be about concrete end-purposes, which is why I had chosen the term here, since it relates to concrete values here, versus the abstract moral ones that are a means to an end.

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...  neither of the countries fully represents what John wants. ...

So each is a mix of positives and negatives. John has decided that the mix represented by A is better -- considering the package as a whole. If he's right in his evaluation, it makes sense that he'd love A more than B... it's sort of saying the same thing, but using the language of emotion instead of reason.

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Country A and B are likely self-contradictions.  Many Objectivists here can argue why this is true.

 

That aside.  The choice would be country B.  John does not care about "moral inferiority" of country A as if it were an intrinsic attribute of countrihoodness merely to "tisk" at out of disapproval.  If, by moral inferiority John understand that living in country A is a disvalue to his life, then he must choose B.  His freedoms are not something to view from afar, they are something he USES to live HIS life.  If he is free he will find those of the society who think like himself and he can work towards a community with them.  At the very least he can associate with like minded people... in a free society you choose your friends and where you live etc.

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So each is a mix of positives and negatives. John has decided that the mix represented by A is better -- considering the package as a whole. If he's right in his evaluation, it makes sense that he'd love A more than B... it's sort of saying the same thing, but using the language of emotion instead of reason.

 

Yes, sorta ;-)

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Country A and B are likely self-contradictions.  Many Objectivists here can argue why this is true.

 

That aside.  The choice would be country B.  John does not care about "moral inferiority" of country A as if it were an intrinsic attribute of countrihoodness merely to "tisk" at out of disapproval.  If, by moral inferiority John understand that living in country A is a disvalue to his life, then he must choose B.  His freedoms are not something to view from afar, they are something he USES to live HIS life.  If he is free he will find those of the society who think like himself and he can work towards a community with them.  At the very least he can associate with like minded people... in a free society you choose your friends and where you live etc.

 

Well, in this case, the concrete freedoms being infringed upon in country A do luckily not siginificantly hinder John from pursuing his personal goals, since the country is still semi-free. They definately would, if he were to pursue an intellectual career as an Objectivist. This equates to Yaron Brook saying in one of his talks something like "Well, you have to know for yourself, what country is best for you, but I'm a fighter, so I left Israel for America". Ayn Rand, too, under certain circumstances could have stayed in Russia (if I remember the story about her and her boyfriend right). Although in the latter case, of course, the reason for staying doesn't relate to the country but simply to a single individual whom one wants to make love with.

Edited by DiscoveryJoy
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A government is formed by individuals within that community. When you say you love the people in that community, I presume you mean only those who live by standards you agree with? If you loved all of them, you would also love those who are the cause of actions which are in breach of individual rights. How would you be able to reconcile that with a value system which is about upholding individual rights?

There may be worthwhile communities. That doesn't mean supporting those who would violate rights. Nor does a government always represent a majority. As some examples, various people have lived under oppressive regimes in South America, anywhere from Peru to Chile. It's not as though -everyone- supported those regimes. America may have been more free, yet there are cultural differences in say, Peru, that makes it unique in terms of people that's not identical to America. Food, music, architecture, etc. In some cases, it is better to fight for freedom in the current country. There isn't always an either/or here. You can value country A and B for different reasons without giving up the other.

 

Here's a person that may interest you, especially since he supports free markets: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mario_Vargas_Llosa

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Economic freedom is just part of the whole package. John may very well decide that living in country A makes him happier than living in country B, because country A's positive aspects outweigh its lack of freedom. It's just like you may love a non-Objectivist more than you love an Objectivist because of the first person's other good qualities.

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