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Neo-Aristocracy? Devil's advocate position

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This is a devil's advocate position I'm taking, despite my phrasing things as though I'm certain. It's easier to work this way, as opposed to saying each time all my uncertainties. I'm questioning that a government actually should be hands off when it comes to the law. In other words, I'll take the stance that a pseudo-fascist/aristocratic government may actually be better off from an egoistic perspective. I am still operating on egoism, i.e. what is in my rational self-interest; I'm just questioning that a hands off laissez faire government is the ideal for a virtuous man of ability. So here it goes.

I'll put it directly: the only heads of state should be those with a proven track record in business. For instance, only people on the level of Elon Musk, no one less. Not him literally speaking, but a person with that ability. Their moral worth would have to be egoistic, and they'd be a strong personality to represent what all people should strive to be. The only worthy head of state is a Napolean-esque personality, a strength of personality that qualifies for hero worship in the secular sense. Not only does this make for a powerful position on the world stage, but the populace would see in concrete terms what man is capable of.

What is man capable of? Perfect virtue that's self-driven. To create a society of such values, where the individuals of a population seek it for their own sake, would take making virtue part of the fabric of society. Forget allowing them to find their own way, the only permissible thing is to tell them the egoistic thing to do. Altruistic motives are discouraged through laws. Require taxation, as the egoistic thing to do -is- to fund the state. Reward the most productive people by direct honors. Anything done should reflect virtue. Failure to be virtuous would get you some form of fine. A variety of agencies would exist to create regulations that nudge people to egoistic decisions.

The aristocratic piece is that only a top tier of individuals are eligible to be heads of state, with strict criteria. They need to be people seen as a king or queen, or just a power of authority similar to a dictator. Furthermore, anyone could reach levels of virtue these people stand for, any egoist would want that level of confidence. Few can succeed, but a society should be built to explicitly cultivate egoism. Not a binded society, but one where individuals strive to similar greatness.

To strive for greatness requires seeing it concretized in actual people, especially the most visible and important people. Prime movers as the leaders, explicitly so.

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Louie said: I find this to be characteristic of the kind of psycho-epistemology that would support an übermensch. The kind that treats independence as a type of willingness to persue their own whim

Eiuol:   You claim your "position" agrees with Objectivist ethics, but disagrees only with its politics... i.e. that your politics can either be derived from Objectivist ethics or at least i

How would you propose we decide who has the moral worth (and sufficient track record in business) to be the dictator, the head of state? How would you go about telling people to do "the egoistic thin

This is a devil's advocate position I'm taking, despite my phrasing things as though I'm certain. It's easier to work this way, as opposed to saying each time all my uncertainties. I'm questioning that a government actually should be hands off when it comes to the law. In other words, I'll take the stance that a pseudo-fascist/aristocratic government may actually be better off from an egoistic perspective. I am still operating on egoism, i.e. what is in my rational self-interest; I'm just questioning that a hands off laissez faire government is the ideal for a virtuous man of ability. So here it goes.

 

Notwithstanding "all your uncertainties", please clarify:

What IS YOUR position? Are you "tentatively" in support of this devil's advocated "position" or are you primarily opposed to it and present it here merely as an exercise in argumentation of the Objectivist position?

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I'll put it directly: the only heads of state should be those with a proven track record in business. For instance, only people on the level of Elon Musk, no one less. Not him literally speaking, but a person with that ability. Their moral worth would have to be egoistic, and they'd be a strong personality to represent what all people should strive to be. The only worthy head of state is a Napolean-esque personality, a strength of personality that qualifies for hero worship in the secular sense. Not only does this make for a powerful position on the world stage, but the populace would see in concrete terms what man is capable of.

What is man capable of? Perfect virtue that's self-driven. To create a society of such values, where the individuals of a population seek it for their own sake, would take making virtue part of the fabric of society. Forget allowing them to find their own way, the only permissible thing is to tell them the egoistic thing to do. Altruistic motives are discouraged through laws. Require taxation, as the egoistic thing to do -is- to fund the state. Reward the most productive people by direct honors. Anything done should reflect virtue. Failure to be virtuous would get you some form of fine. A variety of agencies would exist to create regulations that nudge people to egoistic decisions.

The aristocratic piece is that only a top tier of individuals are eligible to be heads of state, with strict criteria. They need to be people seen as a king or queen, or just a power of authority similar to a dictator. Furthermore, anyone could reach levels of virtue these people stand for, any egoist would want that level of confidence. Few can succeed, but a society should be built to explicitly cultivate egoism. Not a binded society, but one where individuals strive to similar greatness.

To strive for greatness requires seeing it concretized in actual people, especially the most visible and important people. Prime movers as the leaders, explicitly so.

How would you propose we decide who has the moral worth (and sufficient track record in business) to be the dictator, the head of state?

How would you go about telling people to do "the egoistic thing"? (For instance, how would you determine in some given case which course of action among a myriad of possibilities was properly egoistic?) How would law serve to discourage an altruistic motive?

How would you judge "the most productive people"? And who would you appoint to evaluate virtue, and by what means?

Suppose that whomever does all of these things, and by whatever means, the result did not cohere with what Eiuol considers to be moral, or sufficient, or egoistic, or productive, or virtuous. Would you still wish to be compelled to support it through taxation?

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If you're going to posit a system that systematically execises control over the choices of individuals, you have to have a successful counter argument to defeat the standard Aristotelian argument that virtue is voluntarily chosen in order to count as virtue, in order for this to have a chance at working. 

Otherwise a legal system based on ethical egoism would be centered on protecting each persons autonomy with regard to exercise of his rational agency. And then you'd have to explain why self-derictedness is not a necessary part of human flourishing, and the result would seem like a rather odd conception of flourishing for an egoist.

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Deciding on moral worth is a matter of whether someone expresses virtue in both business acumen and strength of personality as required by virtues such as pride and independence. For business acumen, the top 0.1% is a great start, to attain that amount of money by nature requires virtue. Furthermore, the strength of personality would be in the sense of gravitas that demands respect. The details are rather secondary, the point is such people do exist. Not to say no one -else- has moral worth, just that they're the only people fit to be heads of state, so any egoist would -only- want such leaders.

Simply put, telling the people what the egoistic thing is a matter of the populace. Not all people respond the same to all measures, but in any case, they'd be nudging laws as opposed to a Stalin-esque totalitarian regime. It'd be closer to a regulatory structure, where agencies evaluate, except made efficient by using business leaders, as opposed to the usual nobodies in a welfare state.

If the result did not cohere with what I consider to be moral, too bad for me. What is in fact egoistic is not up to me. Worst case is that my sensibilities are weak and I'm literally unfit to truly be virtuous. Like with Keating or Wynand, sometimes it's just too late. Indeed, I'd admit I should be compelled to fund the state.

2046, I don't need to argue that virtue need not be voluntarily. A person going through the actions and "faking" virtue because he was forced to is better than a person who is not even going that far. The point is to maximize virtue, a portion of people -will- be voluntarily virtuous. More than if we had a LFC government. Shouldn't the aim of a political system be a concrete and forceful demonstration of virtue to a society? In this way, the state, as embodied by the head of state, will allow people to conceptualize virtue directly, thereby having an easier time choosing to be virtuous.  

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How would you make sure that the charismatic business leader you chose to run your society didn't pass legislation favoring his own area of business? There is already a ton of corporate interference with the government, and a number of people have switched back and forth between high powered positions in business and the government.

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There are two streams here: the purpose of government and the choice or qualifications of a leader. The second is secondary and driven by the first. 

Eiuol: It sounds like your Devil is saying that the purpose of government is to drive or nudge people toward achieving value. So, the million dollar question is how one defines value. Since you say your Devil is retaining the Objectivist ethics, we have Reason, Purpose, Self-Esteem.

Even at this abstract level, the Objectivist ethics claims that reason is not an end in itself, nor are purpose and productiveness. The idea is that they're good for me in that they are pro-my-life and make me happy.

Objectivist politics says that one hindrance can be other people imposing their notions of what is good. So, Objectivist politics has a conception of individual rights. The claim is that if I am afforded my rights, then the pusruit of values will bring me happiness. 

It sounds like your Devil thinks not. Your devil thinks that these virtues need some help form the non-virtuous. So, the government should take from the non-productive and give to the productive. True? or misrepresentation?

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Aristocracy was not "a type of fascism". It was a combination of meritocracy and some arbitrary rules for assigning people power.

It was a meritocracy in the sense that aristocrats (both in Europe and Asia, like in the case of the Samurai in Japan) earned their membership in the ruling elites by contributing to the government, either financially or by fighting for their country/province on the battlefield. However, aristocrats would also gain power through bribes, political maneuvering, flattery, etc. Not to mention that, to some extent, the power was handed down through generations (though, just like with wealth, incompetent offspring would rarely hold on to it for long).

Just as importantly, the power of aristocrats was limited, and the political structure they belonged to was governed by laws, customs, and religious beliefs maintained and handed down through generations.

As such, aristocracy was very much a viable form of government, and it lasted through many centuries, across several civilizations. Fascism is very different. It is unlimited power, based in the short term whim of the masses. It's not viable as a long lasting form of government.

So, if what you're arguing for is a perfected form of aristocracy, well, that would be a limited republic: it would involve taking what was good about an aristocracy (the limits - but, this time, the limits should be objective and aimed at ensuring the protection of individuals rights; and the merit: only people who have earned it, by contributing to the government, would be allowed to participate in the decision making), and getting rid of the various arbitrary/religious rules and all the excess power.

However, that should no longer be called an aristocracy: one of the defining characteristics of an aristocracy was that the lower classes were in fact serfs. That would not be the case if political power was properly limited, just because some people would not be allowed to vote or run for office (on account that they haven't earned it).

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Nicky, yes, a perfected form of aristocracy, in the sense there are people cultivated to be a leaders and to hold a social position of an aristocrat. But I avoid calling it a limited republic - I am explicitly saying that a head of state should be an absolute leader, a dictator in the sense his authority is final. That dictator is nothing short of virtue personified, and such virtue makes him worthy of his position. Imagine if Francisco were taught to earn his values, except that his goal wasn't to be a virtuous capitalist, but to be ruler of a country. Even more, I'm talking about enacting laws by the leader's decree aimed at making people compelled to take the egoistic action, learning how to be virtuous as a child being taught. Some people are too lazy or irrational to really learn now; those people would be compelled by a lingering threat of serfdom from the state, and thus the a threat from the dictator himself. Most people respond well to nudges, so threats would only exist for severe offenders (e.g. drug addicts, chronic drunkards, etc)
 
The people who are choosing to act virtuously aren't acting differently than they would otherwise. There is no threat of serfdom for them - they wouldn't want to be lazy and irrational anyway. They get the added cognitive benefit of seeing human perfection explicitly admired, much like a Roman emperor. As it is, art is a concretization of abstraction, so this is going another step forward and highlighting perfection through a state's spotlight. So shouldn't we craft a state that makes it clear to a populace what egoism does?

It's important to remember that this is not about strictly paternalism. It's not for only the good of the populace. The dictator himself is better off by surrounding himself with a productive and virtuous society. There may be some "fake" virtue, but the most virtueless people won't get in the way. Plus most people learn best by example, through real people. Imagine aesthetics being the foundation to politics.

Those 3 paragraphs should answer sNerd as well.

"How would you make sure that the charismatic business leader you chose to run your society didn't pass legislation favoring his own area of business?" -William
It's his metaphorical "divine right" to do this if he deems it best for himself.

[SL, if you really must know, this is a process for character development while also challenging myself. Most arguments against LFC are egalitarian. My anti-LFC devil is essentially Nietzschean, hence the aesthetic argument.]

Edited by Eiuol
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Louie said:

 A person going through the actions and "faking" virtue because he was forced to is better than a person who is not even going that far. The point is to maximize virtue, a portion of people -will- be voluntarily virtuous. 

I find this to be characteristic of the kind of psycho-epistemology that would support an übermensch. The kind that treats independence as a type of willingness to persue their own whim "to hell with you if you dont like it" with no thought for rational warrant or principle.  The kind that says "He is smarter than me, so I should listen even if I dont understand. I can pretend to understand. I'll never admit that I am ignorant because what matters is that the genuinely virtuous think I'm virtuous too". 

This is a maximization of pretense, not virtue. A society of actors-performers in a social drama. 

Your Nietzchean devil has no idea what independence means, or how productive acheivement requires volition.

legislated virtue is an oxymoron for a truly independent mind. Duty and force are antithetical to productivity.

Edited by Plasmatic
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This is a maximization of pretense, not virtue. A society of actors-performers in a social drama.

That's only what some people would do. Those people would be fakers and not really virtuous, but they'd be useful. They'd be better than otherwise, albeit only dimly aware of what it means to be virtuous. The important thing is some would learn and therefore reach their potential. Someone who gets it would treat the dictator according to his expertise just as you'd trust a general to lead a war in foreign lands. By nature of the "aristocratic criteria", the dictator is worthy of respect in all matters of virtue. Doesn't matter if you like it, the dictator has the highest credentials of leadership.

There will certainly be performers, but there will probably always be someone like that. Wouldn't you rather someone be -useful- if they're otherwise worthless? Best case with the "fakers", some will learn how to be authentically virtuous. If they don't get an education, they'll never be authentically virtuous. To bring about moral education, and to stitch it into the fabric of society, would make it so there are people who really grasp that "duty" only applies to those who don't choose egoism on their own. If I "obey", it's not because I throw away my thinking, it's because I actually agree. But one cognitive need of man is concretization of abstraction, so it may as well be done directly rather than a slow and inefficient means of dancing around with "rights". Just use a dictator to embody virtue in the state itself, the largest institution that exists.

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You advocate the initiation of physical force against the individual by the government, and your only "justification" is a floating claim that somehow it is good for them.

Have you tried posting at   ObjectivismOffline.com? or nonObjectivism.com or anticoncepts.WTF??

 

*Facepalm*

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2046, I don't need to argue that virtue need not be voluntarily. A person going through the actions and "faking" virtue because he was forced to is better than a person who is not even going that far. The point is to maximize virtue, a portion of people -will- be voluntarily virtuous. More than if we had a LFC government. Shouldn't the aim of a political system be a concrete and forceful demonstration of virtue to a society? In this way, the state, as embodied by the head of state, will allow people to conceptualize virtue directly, thereby having an easier time choosing to be virtuous.  

1. Why would the claim that fake virtue is better than vice relieve you of the responsibility of having to deal with an argument that specifically is aimed at the very claim you are making?

2. The argument that fake virtue is better than vice itself requires an argument. Unless I'm missing it, there isn't one on this page, just the claim itself.

3. Even if that were true, it wouldn't in itself say that fake virtue was better than real virtue, and if you cannot overcome the "virtue as deliberately chosen and voluntary" argument, then it is unclear if your system even permits real virtue (because it requires a systematic framework of coercion and paternalism.)

4. It seems that this requires some sort of argument about the content of virtue. If I am right that self-directedness is not just a framework within virtue to operate, but in fact a constitutive aspect of virtue, then it would seem to undercut any kind of paternalist government from the get-go. Obviously there is more to that than can be said here, but I think that's definitely a part of it.

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2046,
"Fake" virtue is only to distinguish that there will be a population of people who are at least going through the motions. In the process, some of those people will become authentically virtuous thanks to learning how. At that point, those people are choosing to be virtuous, the presence of coercion disappears for them. Being forced to pay taxes isn't force for them, they want to pay anyway. They'd pay even if taxation didn't exist.

Fake virtue is better than vice, in the sense there is nothing the person is doing that is a vice. Their psycho-epistemology might be a mess, but at least they're doing something beneficial for me, especially for the dictator. It's not like they have an idea of what egoism is. The whole structure is aimed at cognitive benefit of leadership by example.

Robert, "taxation is theft" is a conclusion based off of already saying indvidual rights (for all people) are proper or necessary for the best type of society. I'm claiming this is false. It's unvirtuous to not fund the state, so forcefully taking their money is no issue. It wouldn't be wrong then to do what would be wrong against anyone else. Only the already unvirtuous would be coerced. In other words, initiating force on the unvirtuous is good.

"Are these aristocrats elected?" -Plasmatic
No. Only by a select few get to decide, whose qualifications are based off of political expertise or political advisement ability. Think of how Aristotle tutored Alexander the Great.

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4 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Robert, "taxation is theft" is a conclusion based off of already saying indvidual rights (for all people) are proper or necessary for the best type of society. I'm claiming this is false. It's unvirtuous to not fund the state, so forcefully taking their money is no issue. It wouldn't be wrong then to do what would be wrong against anyone else. Only the already unvirtuous would be coerced. In other words, initiating force on the unvirtuous is good.

I see circular reasoning here.   You’re saying “theft is virtuous if done by the virtuous”, without bothering to define what is virtuous.  You say the only heads of state should be those with a proven track record in business because you assume they are virtuous.  But you say nothing about why they are virtuous.  No one considers such businessmen virtuous because they engage in mass theft, murder, etc.  (else you would have said you wanted only the most ruthless egoistic thug to be head of state).   They do so because such people are good at creating things of value that people want to voluntarily trade for.   So you are saying “I want these people who are considered virtuous for not engaging in theft to engage in theft.  I want them to be admired for being not A because I admire them for being A.”

You also state that funding government functions voluntarily would not be a virtue, while simultaneously declaring such voluntary funding by businessmen to be virtuous.  Yet another contradiction.

Edited by Robert Romero
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1 hour ago, Robert Romero said:

You also state that funding government functions voluntarily would not be a virtue, while simultaneously declaring such voluntary funding by businessmen to be virtuous.  Yet another contradiction.

More responses later, but I must've typoed somewhere or you misread. I said "[the virtuous] want to pay anyway", i.e. the virtuous recognize that it is virtuous to fund the state by the very fact of its existence this form (a Socialist utopia is another story).

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"without bothering to define what is virtuous" -Robert
The same as the Objectivist sense. Business in particular would require a type of ability in foreign and domestic affairs, hence not speaking of philosophers or doctors.

Whether taxation is theft doesn't matter a lot here. The people who want to pay aren't forced because they already want to pay; only those who fail to comprehend egoism would really be forced. So, we're not talking about stealing from the virtuous. I'm saying steal from those who are unwilling to be virtuous - which is as much stealing as retaliation to threats is murder. It'd be taking what is owed, and demanded by virtue. It's not "mass theft", as the key point is that paying -and- wanting to pay means a person is voluntarily paying. Admiration of the dictator comes from how he'd uphold virtue in the face of people who wish to stand against it. This is secondary, it's all based on the role the dictator is supposed to provide. See my next paragraph.

"Is there a difference between what you are proposing, and say a government based on the purpose to enforce a moral commandment of "Thou Shalt Think"? " -DW
It's similar. But I am not justifying it on grounds of demanding all people will be virtuous. Not at all - a lot of people will be the "fakers" I spoke of. I'm justifying it on grounds that the people who are virtuous will be better off by 1) encouraging an explicit moral education and 2) having a leader who embodies virtue. Those two points lead me to say "this is best accomplished by a robust and regulatory government". An LFC government would literally permit lack of virtue and at best, all that virtuous people can do is complain, perhaps create a toothless organization to talk. Slowly maybe it'd work, but this is inefficient. An egoist doesn't want to live for a vague future he might not see or would take centuries to form. If it can be done sooner and faster, with equal quality at least, that's what's right. Make the future now, don't just ride the waves!

A dictator would be good because it makes clear the importance of hero worship and seeing virtue in action. In a phrase, LFC government fails to provide the cognitive requirements for a good society. A dictator would serve an aesthetic role, concretizing an abstraction, a role enhanced through the strength and visibility of a government.

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2 hours ago, Eiuol said:

"without bothering to define what is virtuous" -Robert
The same as the Objectivist sense.

Absolutely false.  Here are John Galt’s (Rand’s) words from Atlas Shrugged:

Quote

Whatever may be open to disagreement, there is one act of evil that may not, the act that no man may commit against others and no man may sanction or forgive. So long as men desire to live together, no man may initiate—do you hear me? no man may start—the use of physical force against others.

“To interpose the threat of physical destruction between a man and his perception of reality, is to negate and paralyze his means of survival; to force him to act against his own judgment, is like forcing him to act against his own sight. Whoever, to whatever purpose or extent, initiates the use of force, is a killer acting on the premise of death in a manner wider than murder: the premise of destroying man's capacity to live.

“Do not open your mouth to tell me that your mind has convinced you of your right to force my mind. Force and mind are opposites; morality ends where a gun begins. When you declare that men are irrational animals and propose to treat them as such, you define thereby your own character and can no longer claim the sanction of reason—as no advocate of contradictions can claim it. There can be no ‘right’ to destroy the source of rights, the only means of judging right and wrong: the mind.

“To force a man to drop his own mind and to accept your will as a substitute, with a gun in place of a syllogism, with terror in place of proof, and death as the final argument—is to attempt to exist in defiance of reality. Reality demands of man that he act for his own rational interest; your gun demands of him that he act against it. Reality threatens man with death if he does not act on his rational judgment; you threaten him with death if he does. You place him in a world where the price of his life is the surrender of all the virtues required by life—and death by a process of gradual destruction is all that you and your system will achieve, when death is made to be the ruling power, the winning argument in a society of men.

Rand says NO man may initiate the use of physical force against others.  NOWHERE does it say that the virtuous may engage in theft (“virtuous theft” is an oxymoron).   NOWHERE does it say that a man may steal from the “nonvirtuous”.  You are saying that “your mind has convinced you of your right to force my mind” in defiance of reality, as Rand put it.  Don’t bother to claim that it really isn’t theft, that A is not A.  You are taking things from people at the point of a gun.  That is theft, period.  Not only are you advocating theft, you are indeed advocating it on a mass  scale.  So no, you are not advocating virtuous behavior according to Objectivism.  You are advocating, as Rand put it, "death by a process of gradual destruction....when death is made to be the ruling power, the winning argument in a society of men."   And if you don’t think  that matters, as you put it, then you are in fundamental opposition to the Objectivist view of virtue.

Edited by Robert Romero
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