Monday, March 5, 2012

385: The Utopia of the Free Market - introducing Selfisness

When Ayn Rand wrote her book "Atlas Shrugged" she was convinced that Reason (the faculty which identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses)

is man’s only means of perceiving reality, his only source of knowledge, his only guide to action, and his basic means of survival.

This was what Descartes thought too, but like Rand he hadn't the faintest idea what the future would reveal about the human being and his brain.

They both had no idea about our insights in neurology, neurobiology, evolutionary psychology, neurophilosophy or the modern ideas about consciousness and the mind, as I have presented to you in my project "The Mystery of the Brain".

If according to Ayn Rand reality exists as an objective absolute—facts are facts, independent of man’s feelings, wishes, hopes or fears, then there are a number of plain facts which contradict her interpretation of reality and the mind.

The most obvious error is her idea that reason is the basic means of survival. When I discussed the basic emotions like fear, joy, grief, anger, we learnt that these emotions were related to the amygdala and the limbic system in the brain.

Emotions that control our behavior and where reason is involved only afterwards. Yes we know the utopian individuals who don't know fear at all, because of their superb reason. The most famous one is probably Mr. Spock from Startrek.

Take for instance this quote from "Atlas Shrugged":
The door of the structure was a straight, (…). Above it, cut in the granite, as the only feature of the building's rectangular austerity, there stood an inscription:

- end quote -

Ignoring any evolutionary or ethological counter evidence this is the conclusion of the Randian Reason: the moral good is to focus on rational self-interest. Logically, altruism is only the road to self destruction.

As Rand says in her book "The Virtue of Selfisness" (1961) : "Altruism declares that any action taken for the benefit of others is good, and any action taken for one’s own benefit is evil. Thus the beneficiary of an action is the only criterion of moral value—and so long as that beneficiary is anybody other than oneself, anything goes."(…)

"The Objectivist ethics holds that the actor must always be the beneficiary of his action and that man must act for his own rational self-interest. But his right to do so is de­rived from his nature as man and from the function of moral values in human life…"

A typical statement: "…his right to do so is de­rived from his nature as man.." What is the nature of man? Is it a biological organism interacting with its environment, guided by its brain,

or is possessing and using Reason the very nature of man, where this Reason comes to the conclusion, that to survive self-interest, is the only right thing to follow?

All major characters in "Atlas Shrugged" are convinced of this moral principle. When Hank Reardon, steel tycoon, was asked whether he made better steel for railroad tracks to help others to build safer railroads, his answer was "No!"

But then why? And he answered "To make money". What he creates (better steel),he only does for himself and it is his inalienable property.

That he supports society in doing this, is only because he creates employment and produces a good product for the market, but it never will be his goal to produce a product intended to contribute to society.

And this Randianist view of man combined with economics has lead to where we now stand: the main goal of companies is to make money, profit maximization, whether this is for the social good or not.

The immense fraud in the US with selling mortgages to people who eventually (and the financial experts knew it) wouldn't be able to pay, is just the beginning of many other examples.

The Discussion

[13:25] herman Bergson: Thank you..... ㋡
[13:25] Farv Hallison: Thank you..... ㋡
[13:25] Lizzy Pleides: Thank you Herman!
[13:25] Jaelle Faerye: Thanks Herman
[13:25] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): This is becoming more interesting than it seemed at first when we talked about economics
[13:25] Sybyle Perdide: thank you
[13:26] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): thank you
[13:26] herman Bergson: Thank you merlin....I hope to keep it up
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: another example is how they fool people with these sms loand that people for some reason don't see are so expensive they get just even more snared and that everything is just an evil lure
[13:26] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): :)
[13:26] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): that philosophy seems to be the leading stream of thinking for all businesses today
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: sms loans
[13:26] Mick Nerido: People are not born selfish, it is learned behavior?
[13:26] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): I did not like to interrupt but something came to me earlier
[13:26] herman Bergson: No Mick, people are not born selfish at all
[13:26] herman Bergson: People are born as social beings
[13:27] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): remember that there was much more fraud in those mortgages .... signatures that were not the real thing
[13:27] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Sometimes when people act selflessly they can mess everything up
[13:27] herman Bergson: and the group you fight for your part of the game...
[13:27] Lizzy Pleides: we know that primitive peoples are organized very social
[13:27] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): Is that true Herman?
[13:27] herman Bergson: but it doesn't exclude that you are able to share
[13:27] herman Bergson: Yes Annie...that is a fact....
[13:28] herman Bergson: Even animals show altruistic behavior....
[13:28] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): Its just that small children seem to have trouble sharing and have to be encouraged
[13:28] herman Bergson: that is behavior for which you get no reward...
[13:28] herman Bergson: you just do it for the other
[13:28] Mick Nerido: The Quakers are non competive society
[13:28] Lizzy Pleides: isn't it a kind of social Darwinism what Rand tells us?
[13:29] herman Bergson: No Lizzy..she misses the point there completely, I would say
[13:29] herman Bergson: Her view of man is completely outdated,
[13:30] herman Bergson: But her influence is still considerable
[13:30] Mick Nerido: Most games are competitive with winners and losers SL is not, perhaps a better game.
[13:30] herman Bergson: Rand has the simplistic idea that the human being is in essence a rational being
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: but SL is not a game, games is about challenge, sl is a 3d social system id say
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: sort of
[13:31] herman Bergson: For Rand all is controlled by reason and its method is logic....
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: to meet and have fun with others
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: then there are games inside sl
[13:31] herman Bergson: Just look at the financial markets today....
[13:32] herman Bergson: they behave irrational....just based on believes, expectations
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: yes id say that
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: short hand thinking to get quick money
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: no long therm at all
[13:32] herman Bergson: thus Rand's ideas demonstrate the Utopia of the Free Market
[13:33] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Do you know about chain letters Herman?
[13:33] herman Bergson: yes Merlin....
[13:33] herman Bergson: A trick as old as I am :-)
[13:33] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): I think these economic scams are similar
[13:33] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Something called Ponzy scheme
[13:34] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): not sure how its spelt
[13:34] herman Bergson: Yes thet Pyramide construction....
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: also we have the pyramid games
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:34] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): yes, pyramid selling is another
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: the ones at the top get it all the rest nothing at all
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: or rather they loose money instead to the ones at the top
[13:35] herman Bergson: Just social meaning at all
[13:35] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Chain letters would work if there was an infinite population
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: its terrible stuff indeed
[13:35] Farv Hallison: It is a trickle up scheme
[13:35] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): the rely on endless expansion
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:35] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Economic Growth bothers me
[13:36] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): but I am no economist
[13:36] Farv Hallison: our economy depends on endless expansion/
[13:36] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): yes farv, that's what I think
[13:36] herman Bergson: yes Farv...I am not an economist myself....
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: indeed
[13:36] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): and its impossible
[13:36] Mick Nerido: Remember the Tulip speculative bubble in Holland?
[13:36] herman Bergson: but I wonder....when does the growth end?
[13:36] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Yes-ah!
[13:36] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): heard of that
[13:37] herman Bergson: Oh yes...17th century....
[13:37] herman Bergson: the first economic bubble ^_^
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: ok
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: i see
[13:37] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Well, a song came out of it!
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: is that so?
[13:37] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Tulips from Amsterdam :P
[13:37] Farv Hallison: growth stops when waste products poison the environment.
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: hehehe ok i see
[13:38] Mick Nerido: Speculation is a problem still
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: well yes tulips they are known for
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: speculate is not good really you need facts
[13:38] herman Bergson: Let me give you an example how the free market utopia works in this word....
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: or everything can go wrong
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: but these gredy bastards seem not to realize that
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: take only the bank collapse 2008
[13:39] herman Bergson: just listen.....plz
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: the entire world stopped
[13:39] herman Bergson: Bejiita
[13:39] herman Bergson: Europe exports a lot of second rate chickenmeat to some african countries....
[13:39] herman Bergson: of course to make a good profit...
[13:40] herman Bergson: they dump it on their markets for low prices ruining the chicken farmers there...
[13:40] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): Fowlplay
[13:40] herman Bergson: now...what to do....
[13:40] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ LOL ♥
[13:40] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): ooh
[13:40] Farv Hallison: haha
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: aaa yes heard something abot something like that before as well
[13:40] herman Bergson: then the Secretary of the World Trade orginasation Paul Lamy says
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: or similar cases
[13:40] herman Bergson: says
[13:41] herman Bergson: they should make their farming more efficient and more specialized in stead of producing only for the local needs
[13:41] herman Bergson: in other words...
[13:42] herman Bergson: the local farmers who produce for the local market which is self sufficient have to tak eover our model of production....goal...not being self supproting…but making profits
[13:42] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): idiot!!
[13:43] herman Bergson: Thus we ruin local economies....
[13:43] herman Bergson: We force our economic model...the self interest upon them
[13:43] herman Bergson: THAT is the free market...
[13:44] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): misty
[13:44] Sybyle Perdide: hi Misty
[13:44] Mistyowl Warrhol: sorry ;-(
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: hi Misty
[13:44] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ LOL ♥
[13:44] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): missed the whole thing
[13:44] Lizzy Pleides: modern colonialism
[13:44] Mistyowl Warrhol: hugs all :-)
[13:44] herman Bergson: Yes I find it criminal...
[13:44] Lizzy Pleides: Hi Misty
[13:45] Farv Hallison: When industrialized farming can't make a profit they will stop growing food and there will be a world wide hunger.
[13:45] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): there are many examples o
[13:45] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): happening now also in the pharmacy industry
[13:45] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): shortages of special meds
[13:45] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): There was a satire on modern european economics and the financial bubble on Tuesday afternoon on BBC Radio4
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: aaa yes
[13:46] Merlin (merlin.saxondale):
[13:46] herman Bergson: That may be so Farv, but that doesnt mean they have to invade markets with low prize products disrupting the local economy
[13:46] Mistyowl Warrhol: I got in on the end, but as to farming.. All the good farm land has been used for urban areas. The land is dead now.
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: the medical companies only see to their own profits, that poor people cant afford it and therefore will die they give no care
[13:46] Lizzy Pleides: we have products from china here too
[13:47] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): great example of rand
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: AIDS medicine for example
[13:47] Mick Nerido: have to go thanks Heman, everyone...
[13:47] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Bye, Bye ㋡
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: ok mick
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: cu ㋡
[13:47] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Bye Mick
[13:47] Jaelle Faerye: Bye Mick
[13:47] Farv Hallison: byre Mick
[13:47] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): Bye Mick
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: bye
[13:47] Mistyowl Warrhol: By Mick, TC :-)
[13:47] herman Bergson: Yes we import electric bikes form China,though it was invented in the Netherlands
[13:48] herman Bergson: Hard competition there...
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: indeed
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: very hard
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: China is the big thing now it seems
[13:48] herman Bergson: Well...
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: but there are lot of probs
[13:48] Lizzy Pleides: and dentures as well
[13:48] Mistyowl Warrhol: And who help start the movement to the Chineses? Who can we blame for that?
[13:49] Farv Hallison: We have to prepare for our own local survival by growing our food locally.
[13:49] herman Bergson: what I wanted you to show today is that the basic ideas about man of Ayn Rand are completely outdated and beside the point...
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:49] herman Bergson: actually...utopian....she thinks that the real human being is a Mr.Spock, I guess ㋡
[13:49] Lizzy Pleides: i agree, it is not reasonable
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: hehe maybee
[13:50] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): Was Mr Spock selfish?
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: well unfortunatley star trek isn't real
[13:50] herman Bergson: far so good....
[13:50] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): emotionless
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: its just one of the best sci fi ever made
[13:50] Farv Hallison: MrSpock was rational.
[13:50] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): Emotionless but not selfish
[13:50] herman Bergson: we'll move on in a next lecture to dismantle the utopia of the free market....
[13:50] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ok
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: oki
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: that can be interesting
[13:51] herman Bergson: and read your for the examples...
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:51] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): Mr Spock could see the benefit in cooperation
[13:51] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: hehe well i se plenty every day in the news
[13:51] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Yes-ah!
[13:51] Mistyowl Warrhol: The major agree on what is reasonable, but we bow to the power of the rich's version of reason. We need to take back the balance of power.
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: and nmost of them make me mad
[13:51] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): yep
[13:51] herman Bergson: Yes Annie...quite possible....but in Rand's view..sharing is the worst you can do
[13:51] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): Yes and that is why she was wrong
[13:52] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): She didn't understand
[13:52] herman Bergson: no she didn't at all at that point....she missed evolutionary insight completely
[13:52] herman Bergson: she was stuck in the old philosophical traditions
[13:53] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): see you next week!
[13:53] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:53] herman Bergson: May Ithank you all for you participation.... ㋡
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: really interesting as always Herman
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:53] Mistyowl Warrhol: Hugs Gemma
[13:53] herman Bergson: Class dismissed ^_^
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: i SHARE my appreciatiion
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: cu soon all
[13:53] Mistyowl Warrhol: I can tell my missed a good lecture.
[13:54] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Yes, Bye every1
[13:54] Jaelle Faerye: Bye Merlin
[13:54] Lizzy Pleides: bye merlin
[13:54] Farv Hallison: and we missed you, MistyOwl.
[13:54] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): Perhaps Michael Jordan could be brought in as an example?
[13:55] Farv Hallison: bye Lizzy, you have a nice butt.
[13:55] Lizzy Pleides: lol, ... byee Farv
[13:55] Mistyowl Warrhol: Ty Farv :)
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:55] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): When he started to be less selfish , his points tally went down but the Bulls won
[13:55] Sybyle Perdide: good bye
[13:55] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar) shrugs
[13:55] Lizzy Pleides: good byee
[13:55] Jaelle Faerye: Bye all
[13:56] Bejiita Imako: bye
[13:56] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:56] Lizzy Pleides: waves*
[13:56] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): Bye
[13:56] Mistyowl Warrhol: TC everyone.. til next time.
[13:56] Mistyowl Warrhol: Sorry for being late, Herman..

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