Thursday, January 26, 2012

Coping with Variation in the Human Condition

All for freedom and of pleasure
Nothing ever lasts forever
Everybody wants to rule the world
--Tears for Fears

A fundamental axiom of nature is variation. In terms of the human condition, variation is expressed in the differing capabilities and interests among people. It is also expressed in the differing situations in which people are born--some environments being more favorable than others.

Why this occurs is unknown and perhaps unknowable. If you believe in God, then the answer rests in the mystery of the Creator. If you don't believe in God, then the answer rests in the mystery of secular humanity.

Two primary belief systems have evolved in modern times for coping with variation in the human condition. One belief system accepts this variation as part of life. People employ their resource endowments, whatever their nature, to advance their interests. Capacity and resource position can be enhanced thru self-development or thru voluntary exchange with others. Individuals are free to pursue their interests, which of course may include charity and outreach, as long as these pusuits do not forcefully intrude on the pursuits of others.

A second belief system views variation in the human condition as unacceptable. It is unjust that some have been endowed with less resources than others, and it is unfair for those with less to have to work harder to achieve what gifted people might accomplish with less effort. The equitable solution is to even up resources among people--to level the playing field in terms of resources and opportunities. Doing so requires forceful intrusion on the pursuits of others to obtain the resources deemed necessary to even things up.

It should be clear that the first belief system is grounded in the concept of personal liberty. People have a right to pursue their dreams unencumbered by forceful intervention by others. Each person's resource endowment, large or small, is but a starting point for growth based on free choice. This system is also grounded in the principle of non-violence. Individuals engage in peaceful, voluntary exchange with others when it is deemed mutually beneficial. Force is employed only to protect each person's life, liberty, and property from expropriation by others.

The second belief system is grounded in the concept of collective submission. Individual pursuit of happiness is subservient to the interests of others. Those endowed with less are viewed as unlikely to succeed unless they are provided resources. Voluntary dependence is a consequence. Because the resources given to the poor must be taken from the rich, a dominant principle of this belief system is violence--made legitimate thru government agency. Force is required to reduce variation inherent to the human condition. To keep people from pursuing their own interests, authoritarianism must rule.

It should be readily apparent which belief system is in harmony with nature.

But if the second belief system is so unnatural, then why does it predominate society? Perhaps it is because the drivers of freedom and peace conflict with another axiom the pervades human behavior: the urge to satisfy needs using the least amount of effort possible.

The spectre of getting something for nothing has been driving forceful conquest since the beginning of time.


dgeorge12358 said...

Attitude is your acceptance of the natural laws, or your rejection of the natural laws.
~Stuart Chase

fordmw said...

If u know who this guy was, then this seems an ironic quote.

dgeorge12358 said...

Chase was certainly on the 'rejection' side of the quote and supported 'New Deal' ideologies.

Gerry said...

Great post. I have been recently thinking about similar issues in my spare time (usually my morning shower). Though I sympathize with your position, I do think that many people who advocate the second belief system do so out of a sense of fairness. For instance, I have had a few discussions with friends in which John Rawls's thought experiment 'the veil of ignorance' was explained to people who had never herd it (I have a couple of friends with philosophy degrees). In these discussions I found that even conservatives had a hard time arguing against the fairness of distributing wealth and power when they put themselves behind the veil. Though I personally have some major issues with this sort of philosophy, I bring it up because I do think that many liberals use a similar kind of thought process.

fordmw said...

Yep, Fairness Thru Force. That many conservatives line up behind this belief system helps explain why our 2 dominant political parties are more alike than different.