In my desire to understand Trump and the right I came across this libertarian piece. Now I have a lot of time for libertarians because I consider them genuine people who hold freedom with high regard. I too hold freedom with high regard but I hold compassion higher. The main area in which I therefore have disagreement is deregulation, there are regulations in place to benefit the less fortunate – I want those. There were financial regulations in place that when removed led to repossession of homes, I wanted those regulations. Because of the nature of the world today libertarians working for freedom enable the 1% because they remove restrictions that hold back the 1%. But of course most regulation benefits the 1%, and I understand where libertarians come from.
There is an interesting libertarian article on individualism vs collectivism. Now I believe in collectivism and it is a very frustrating principle to hold. Because of this acceptance of collectivism I wanted to counter some of the arguments made by this libertarian because as I see it what he is describing as collectivism is his libertarian view of collectivism.
My history with collectivism has been involved with democratic meetings on the left where a policy is decided through putting forward a motion which is then debated and a collective policy agreed. Quite often attendees at such meetings are representatives and such policies have wider implications. In such debates positions are put forward, and a compromise position is agreed and there was some intention that all those involved in such a process (including those represented) would enact the policy.
In Occupy they never had voting either, what is the point of a policy voted in by 51%? How can that work? Look at everyone fighting Trump yet under the rules of the election he won. Is he still representing a majority? Occupy wanted a consensus for what it did. Under Occupy’s approach we would not accept “wars for profits” as there would never be a consensus. But such wars happen now because sufficient representatives are bought off.
The manipulation that occurred on the left happened because of intellectual egotism. Various intellectuals (Marxist of a form) would disrupt collective decision-making by repeatedly demanding that a particular position be discussed and voted in. There was no desire on the part of these intellectuals to reach a consensus of what the collective wanted, it was always what they wanted. They did not wish to compromise with what the mass movement wanted, they just wanted to drag the mass movement to their position. The Russian revolution would never have happened if the revolutionaries had waited for the mass movement so the left wing accepted a minority group, the Bolsheviks, because the left wing desired a revolution. This flaw dogged the whole revolution and the communist government (who accepted minority representation who then told people what to do) until it eventually fell.
What has become clear to me is that all the desires that I had for mass movement were so dominated by the ideal that the practise was completely flawed. The notion that the mass movement can be persuaded to accept a genuine democracy is never going to happen because of the power of the 1% to create division. As such there has to be a compromise. Equally I would say to those people who are genuine and compassionate on the right – such as libertarians, they also cannot make a dent in the 1% on their own; there has to be unity (see Unity Platform).
Until the rise of the populist right, as evidenced by Trump and Brexit, I had dismissed the intellectuals of the right as just being egotists. However that position was myopic – a convenient dismissal to avoid headbanging discussion. There could never be a united 99% until all 99% are working together – and that includes some kind of unity that would involve the left and right.
Before I deal with individualism and collectivism it is important to understand a huge stumbling block. This stumbling block I met on the left and on the right – and I am guilty of it myself – egotism. I am right, what I am saying is right¸ my ideas are the ones everyone should follow. Even if those ideas have some strength in numbers such as Marxism or Libertarianism, they are still just sets of ideas put forward by individuals. These individuals become invested in the ideas, and there becomes this idea set or ism that everyone has to squeeze into. Libertarians demand that all seek individual freedom, however free this sounds it is still an idea set that others must squeeze into – in other words, not free and not individual. Egotism has always been a problem on the left and it is a problem on the right. And the problem with such egotism is that it is so easy to buy off. The internet is full of individuals who are sponsored by the 1% to promote their egos and ideas. And what is the result – deep division of the 99%. These egos need to understand how deeply they are the problem because of their leadership, and learn to take a backseat. But the collective instead of following leaders needs to respect their own creativity and understanding, and come to their own conclusions based on understanding provided by leaders. Following per se needs to be discouraged because it creates two problems – ignorance of the followers and egotism in the leaders. Individuals need to be discerning and work within collectives, and the collective needs to be more active in their understanding and respect the individual; this is the yin-yang.
Now I want to look at this libertarian’s view of individualism and collectivity. And to do that I want to set two provisos:-
The priority is compassion and not freedom. I contend compassion is natural (ask the Buddha) whereas freedom to do what you want is not natural – not when it infringes on the natural. Freedom per se risks egotism. Freedom at a deep level is only compassion but more superficially desire diverts freedom to egotism, and needs discipline – personal or otherwise.
The second proviso is to recognise that government and collectivism is not now the same. Originally government “might” have been for the people and by the people, but it is now not that – it is 1%-by-proxy. The voting systems and other checks and balances have established a government that often pretends to be for the people but in fact benefits the 1%. If the individual contrast with government that is not the individual contrasting with collectivism as government is now not for the people. If the individual is contrasting with collectivism then that individualism might be putting the individual before compassion and as such is contradicting the first proviso and is exhibiting egotism.
So now to the article.
Free trade as a principle is not a problem, but how it is practised today is there to benefit the 1%. If trade is considered as barter or using money to represent value, there are no issues. But our economic system with a tenet of free trade does not happen in this way. Our economy is dominated by the 1% whose raison d’etre is to accumulate – increase their personal wealth. This accumulation is carried out by controlling trade through cartels, imposing tariffs to the benefit of the 1%, manipulating currency and finance to increase their accumulation. None of this trade is free, so although it is called free trade it is protectionism and protectionism is the dominant mode of business in the western world – because it is the 1%-system. Deregulation is one of the libertarian platforms. It sounds good in that it sounds as if it is supporting freedom. Because the power lies with protectionism, that is the system that would continue when there is some partial financial and trade deregulations; this will only benefit the 1%. Hence some deregulatory measures or partial deregulation lack compassion. Free trade as in an equivalent barter system is a compassionate trading system but that will not occur when there are corporations and protectionism.
Western societies have benefitted from exploiting the third world initially through European (mainly British) colonisations that then became neocolonial exploitation through a US hegemony. This is historical fact, and needs to be recognised for a proper contemporary economic understanding. Education needs to change to be telling this historical truth. But this is not the same as “imposing” diversity training. For there to be compassion in the US or other places there needs to be recognition of equality for all its peoples including whites – compassion. Privilege wherever it occurs needs to be discouraged as it is encouraging benefits for people who do not deserve them. Within a proper historical understanding some might choose “reparations”, this happens in Australia to some extent because of expropriation of aboriginal lands unfairly; is this not justice? Would it not be justice for Native Americans? Should there be justice for people whose ancestors were enslaved? These are difficult questions, and there should not be a carte blanche solution. Should a wealthy black business owner get reparations? Should there be gratuities paid to black gangs to further their criminal activity? Compassion and justice should deal with these questions but it is my view that if there were a wider sense of justice in society such claims for reparations might well disappear. When there is little compassion and justice unreasonable demands can emerge. “I can see how the leftist race activists have created such an environment of hostility and even violence toward white people, based on collectivism and ignorance,” This is just emotive. I have no understanding as to how awareness of history or issues of justice concerning black people can possibly be ignorance, and what has it to do with collectivism? The writer himself was not afraid of minority white America, why was such a statement necessary except as an appeal to populism?
Health care is a compassionate right for all. When a requirement for health care is insurance then insurance should include finance for “pre-existing conditions”. But a compassionate society that is working for all would provide health care rather than seeing health care as a business. The US health and insurance system needs to be radically reconsidered in the light of showing compassion to its people. Defending insurance practices is not defending the compassionate interests of the health of the people. Supporting insurance companies against the interests of the people whose freedom is being limited by health issues and corporate interests (insurance) does not sound like a freedom principle. Maternity leave – do we return to the days when a woman forcibly loses her job because she has a child? Do we return to the days where women were not employed because they might have to leave and have children? Obviously there lacks compassion in this position. Having children is natural, should a woman’s freedom be restricted in not employing her? This is not collectivist, this is compassion and respect for nature.
Trade agreements are part and parcel of the “free trade” practise that is protectionism. To adopt a position that says hands-off some protectionist practises whilst leaving others in place plays into the hands of the 1% who would benefit from such apparent “free trade” practises. The current economic practise benefits the 1% in corporations and lacks compassion. Once trading is compassionate, when protectionism at all levels has disappeared regulations need not occur. Setting deregulation as an objective without putting compassion at the forefront is a dangerous policy. Disband cartels, remove market mechanisms, remove the money manipulators, then you have free trade. But the 1% will not allow that. The free trade they want is trading without restrictive regulation maintaining existing cartel mechanisms, because they have accumulated money and will control the economy further to the detriment of ordinary people – no compassion. Eminent domain needs to be considered on an individual level based on compassion, the pipelines are disastrous ecologically and should not be allowed.
Taxation has to be considered historically. Taxation was introduced by the British in Africa because they couldn’t get anyone to work for them as the people were trading through barter. Once the people were taxed they got the workers, built the infrastructure that enabled the businesses to make profits. Will businesses accept infrastructure costs, environmental costs as part of production costs? Should a compassionate society not care for those who are unable to care for themselves? Should a compassionate society not educate poorer people? Complaining about taxes as a principle is a compassionless act. Examining taxation expenditure is common sense. Why do our taxes pay military businesses huge amounts of taxation money for wars that increase their profits, do not defend democracy, kill people and damage the ecology? Yikes, no taxes as a position lacks compassion, and puts principle before people.
When he talks of human rights and presumption of innocence he is talking compassionately and I have no issues. However he seems to associate disagreement with him on these human rights issues as collectivism. It is compassion, it might be called collective compassion – compassion for all. Individual human rights have to be respected; at the same time compassion for others has to be respected. There can be no principle here, if there is a conflict the matter has to be resolved through communication and justice.
Two paragraphs on immigration. Firstly criminal acts should be punished whoever you are – rich or poor. Small business people being arrested because they employ illegal immigrants is more difficult. If a principle is established that immigration is illegal then business people who benefit from illegality need to be punished, the immigrants come because they are looking for work. Because of the policies of the US hegemony as a whole, the US is rich and becomes a place where immigrants want to work. A more equal world means there is no such problem. People should be protected from inequities in the law. Of course these business people should be paying equal wages, do they? If they were I would want to defend them. Most pay exploitative wages taking advantage of the people whose poverty has turned them into criminals, I have far less sympathy with them because there is no compassion. Again principles other than compassion present a problem, people should not be free to exploit.
Why is blocking people entering the US collectivist? It is certainly against the freedom of an individual but why collectivism? It is protectionist, it is protecting the indigenous people (by this I mean the people of the US) by preventing people from entering and possibly competing on the job market. It is not compassionate, and if “blocking” is collectivism then it is against compassion, and I don’t support such “blocking”. But this is not in the interest of the mass movement although I must admit that in my years working with trade unions their policies were interested in such protectionist measures – something I fought against. I can understand this as a collective measure against the interests of the individual (the immigrants). But for me this was a small part of what mass movement politics was about, but I have to accept it was a weakness in many trade unions . My mass movement is the 99%, and I fight the interests of the 1%. Such protectionism is part of 1% divide-and-rule tactics, and is not part of any Unity of the 99%. To apply the sophistry of US territory as a property is just another form of protectionism.
“Collectivism is a bad thing” seems to me to be “inventing” an enemy leading to “the individual against the collective”. Applying such a paradigm tends to make compassion confusing, because there is collective compassion and individual compassion. It is the very paradigm, and the clinging to that paradigm that causes libertarians to be in conflict with what is happening. It is not the heart of these people who I believe think that the application of their paradigm would benefit all humanity. In the meanwhile compassion suffers as in the interim people will suffer.
The same benchmark of compassion can be applied to socialism and the paradigm that creates. When you have a dogma and apply that dogma, people suffer. Was the Soviet revolution acceptable when so many suffered even though theoretically in the long-term Marxism could benefit all? You cannot put theory before compassion so any libertarian measures in my view need to be placed in a pragmatic compassionate framework. What are the results of the actions? Not do the actions because they have a sound theoretical basis – freedom. This is a 1%-world, and freedom in such a world cannot be attained when 1%-governments are applying it. To describe the problem as collectivism, the individual against the collective, is a diversion against compassion.
But if we accept a Unity platform against the 1%, morally and compassionately all people should be included if they can leave personal egos behind.