Tuesday, May 01, 2018
Free to be a Team Player...
There have been studies that address the issue of how societies orient themselves in relation to their affiliations and group identity vs. individuality and independence. Needless to say, The research seems to back up what everyone intuitively knows, “the east” — Asia — tends to have a more collectivist orientation. In the west, there is a more individualistic one. Not really rocket science. There are certainly times and places were either orientation would be beneficial to circumstance. Surviving off of a labor intensive crop like rice or being subject to a variety of natural disasters may indeed favor a strong “we’re in this together” mentality. At times, the West has had its circumstance too that required more solidarity than autonomy.
“No man is an island” often becomes a one-line argument as to why no one should dare think themselves a free-agent. Of course no one has argued that we should be left as isolated islands. In the lefts’s polemic war-chest is the cliche’ description of those who favor individuality, independence, the West, and capitalism. They are seen as caricatures of non-cooperation, indifference, selfishness, and even cruelty. This is B.S. and most sane people know it. One can be cooperative, friendly, kind, charitable, and altruistic while defending the right to act of one’s free will and to strive for the lifestyle and values one chooses. The Left’s argument really isn’t about “cooperation with others,” it’s about cooperation with a powerful punitive apparatus of state with the assumption that said state will be benevolent and guide society in a collective / cooperative endeavor. It never seems to occur to a leftist idealist that the benevolent socialist hierarchy often eats its own and once given unbridled power, will enforce some policies you won’t like.
In all my years of debating political principles I can say with certainty that the one thing that will rile the anger of a leftist more than anything is the proclamation that I wish to be free to choose my own path and allegiances. It is then that the attacks begin like clockwork. I will be accused of “selfishly” using public roads, built by the glorious state out of compassionate concern for the long-suffering roadless citizens. I’ll be chastised for renouncing my “fair share” of taxation, forcing other groveling peasants to pay more (of course, in the real world the groveling peasant pays nothing and may not even be a citizen but will unselfishly be drawing blood from the society assembled in their honor).
Like many who take interest in politics and world affairs, I often — stupidly — pull myself into the back and fourths of the comment section of YouTube or news websites. It gets pretty ridiculous at times and I just throw in the towel. Occasionally a person will comment who is fairly reasonable and knows a fair amount of history and holds opposite views from my own. Like me, their belief is an antecedent condition, born more of personality than revelation. I’ve always been “right-wing.” I’ve always had a gut disgust for ideologies that, in the end, want no more than to compel others to live in accordance with their dictates. I’ve experienced those who lay claim to my property because I have something they don’t and therefore feel justified in taking it. My property is a reflection of my values and choices as much as it is a reflection of my wealth (disclaimer - I’ve never had much “wealth”). Facts and information about poverty rates or health is not going to convince me that I should relinquish my freedom to a corrupt and inefficient mega-state. (By fortunate coincidence, the facts don’t back such propositions well anyway). I assume that the intelligent and informed person who passionately argues their case for collectivism has probably held those views long before they came across any facts that may have backed such a stance. The polarities on the political spectrum will always be with us no matter how actively one hopes for the eventual triumph of their “side.”
Alongside debates one may have with intelligent opponents in thought, one often confronts a member of the mob out there that will potentially do us all in. These are the clowns that repeat the cliche’s of the Marxist death cult. The violence, death, and tyranny of socialism “wasn’t real socialism” (I can’t believe people still say this). “The gulags and mass-murdered never happened. They were all capitalist propaganda forced on children in public schools.” (I was a public school teacher and I can assure that this was/is not the case - quite the contrary). And, of course, there’s the stupid debate point of equating public road building and schools to “socialism.” ...really?
Sometimes a debate just isn’t worth having. When someone starts to drone on the perpetual mantras about slavery in America’s history and the wealth generated by capitalism having been mere theft, I just roll my eyes up, yawn, and move on. There are only so many times one can have that debate before realizing there are better way to be spending one’s time.
The conflict in opinion is irreconcilable between those who favor the establishment of a powerful state and those who believe people should be free to affiliate as they chose — and have the option to be left alone to the degree they choose.
In defense of my position, I’d note that “leave me alone” is a passive stance, it’s not an active call to harm others. “Love and obey Big Brother” and “the people” ...we know where that goes.