James Leroy Wilson's blog

Monday, June 26, 2006

Social Bond Individualism

Mike Tuggle contracts Objectivist individualsim with the paleo-conservative vision:
I'll attempt to summarize the Southern/paleoconservative view: we are social beings whose true natures are best understood by generations of experience, and are most successful, as well as most fulfilled, through interactions within organic, self-selected communities; that the individual and the community shape and influence each other through these interactions, so ethical decisions are necessarily based on community standards that have been passed down through generations, and therefore promote both the interests of the individual and the greater community; because of the multiple, rich network of interactions among individuals that make a society, it is impossible for the limited capacity of human reason to grasp the workings of a complex social order, and it is therefore morally wrong to attempt to impose by force any new, unhistorical measures on time-tested cultural patterns.
I would argue that the time-tested, normative interactions among members of these groups constitute those expectations of what we owe others and what they owe us that we call rights. But a culture is more than the degree of individual liberty and social responsibility it recognizes. Just as important are the emotional attachments that inspire us to greater effort for those we care for. Sharing a common history, we will come to admire those heroes of the past who personify the highest expressions of our culture's finest values -- what Richard Weaver called the "tyrannizing image," by which he meant a vision of perfection which, as each member strives to achieve it, generates a freely chosen, natural order to society.

I like what Mike says here. Of course, cultures change, their ideas evolve, their values can shift, and, especially, knowledge can expand. Loyalty to "where you came from" is not the same as wishing that place to be stuck in time; a system must grow in order to survive.

In addition to what Mike writes, I also like much of what individualists of Objectivist and other stripes say. While philosophical emphasis is different, on the key political issues of the day paleos and "left" libertarians are in substantial agreement.

Two points must be emphasized. I oppose:
a) "universalizing" social and political principles, assuming that the same laws and practices can be implemented out of the blue anywhere in the world;
b) using force - whether by federal law, executive order, or Supreme Court decision - to overturn local practices and impose new ones.

But I endorse persuasion and example as means to introduce new ideas and new perspectives into an already-established social system. I think a move toward individualism and away from coercive practices (such as censorship and victimless crimes) is the "wave of the future." I believe the social system will eventually discard police-state tactics and institutions like prisons as destructive to the community's soul. And it is precisely because I believe this that I do not believe it should be imposed by force federally, or resisted with force locally.

1 comment:

  1. James,
    I, too, am optimistic about the future for the social system. But we may have to see it grow bigger before it collapses under its own weight. What I hope to see is an expansion in freedom that grows faster than the ability of the state to control it. Statists may have one last feeble effort, but when it's over, the capitol will fall.