• Brett
    1.9k
    Is that even the right question?

    I’m not really expecting a conclusive result on this but I’d like to hear some of your thoughts about it. Governments and members of the medical profession around the world are making comment about freedom of movement, gatherings, lifestyle, and social distancing, all in the effort to fight and control the Covid virus. Sometimes more than just comments, sometimes fines, arrests and short term incarceration. Some comments have been quite draconian and discriminatory.

    These positions put the individual second to the state, the state being the masses viewed as a single entity that functions and survives as a whole or not at all. Yet the principles that lay behind our success are based on the rights of the individual and the strengths of the individual in the sense of the great diversity that lies with the individual and from which our development depends.

    I still feel the importance of the individual and still sense the value to everyone of the strength of the individual and yet individuals can start pulling against each other which then leads to the state imposing itself on the individual.

    This is not a new concern, but some of the decisions we accept today will obviously affect the future, always in ways we never anticipated.

    It’s difficult for me to place the state over the individual, and I can see that one might not survive without the other, and nor can I imagine living any other way, but is it possible I might have to?
  • Pfhorrest
    1.9k
    These positions put the individual second to the state, the state being the masses viewed as a single entity that functions and survives as a whole or not at all.Brett

    That's not what the state is, that's what the people is. The state is a monopoly on the use of force. You can have a people without a state, in principle.
  • Brett
    1.9k


    Yes I understand that. For this purpose I’m viewing the state as the people as an entity, as an organised political community.
  • StreetlightX
    5.3k
    A couple of historical points: the state form emerged very, very late in human history, and, in official terms, only properly emerged in the wake of the treaty of Westphalia in 1648. On the other hand, 'the individual' as a political entity also emerged very late in human history, an intellectual development fermented by early liberal thinkers like Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and so on. Third, even the very vocabulary of 'rights' developed super, super late too, and was commensurate with the intellectual development of the 'individual'. In fact this entire cluster of political concepts - rights, state, and individual - all owe to the decline of feudal society, and the beginnings of capitalism. In a very real sense, all these concepts emerge together, defined by and with one another.

    So these are not transhistorical terms, and it is very much an anachronism to ask which came first. Someone posing a similar question in feudal society might have asked: who came first? Priests, farmers, or soldiers? So my sugguestion would be to abstract from the question of 'who' came first, and ask instead which modes of social organisation came first, and how it is that these modes of social organization distributed social and political forms in their wake. The state-form and the individual-form being two political forms that developed in proto-capitalist and capitalist forms of social organization, which also gave rise to the political institution of rights. If you're going to be super abstract, what comes first is simply an ecology of society, organised in different ways.
  • Brett
    1.9k


    Good post. My question then is poorly put, what I mean is 'what' should come first and what is best for the future?
  • Echarmion
    1.3k
    Yet the principles that lay behind our success are based on the rights of the individual and the strengths of the individual in the sense of the great diversity that lies with the individual and from which our development depends.Brett

    That's a pretty big claim. "Our success" has always been achieved in the context of social organisation.
  • Brett
    1.9k


    The success I speak of is evolutionary and the fact that we’re here and able to ask the question. Maybe it’s a big claim, but we’re here.

    But for the sake of drawing out more angles on the question, what is the the social organisation, how is it structured, by random chance or by deliberately chosen steps? Is it of our making?

    Is the idea of the individual just a modern notion that our current position gives us the luxury of playing with? Consequently is it a threat to the idea of the community that the individual exists in and is supported by?
  • Echarmion
    1.3k


    We are here, yes, but none of us got here on our own. We are social animals and if we're talking of "us" as a species, our social structures predate us. Our ancestors have been living in family and band level societies before they evolved into modern humans.

    I think setting up the individual against the society, or, in more modern terms, the state, is therefore a bit of a false dichotomy. The two have always existed in relation to each other. And in many ways, our modern version of "the individual", endowed with unalienable rights, is very much a social construction. It's a result of the way western culture has developed.
  • Brett
    1.9k


    And in many ways, our modern version of "the individual", endowed with unalienable rights, is very much a social construction. It's a result of the way western culture has developed.Echarmion

    Yes, exactly. And I agree with your thoughts on social animals. However was Thomas Becket and individual, Oliver Cromwell? And were they instrumental in who we are now, or, was their individuality disruptive?

    Edit: so is this idea of individuality a risk?
  • Outlander
    138
    The state being "a monopoly on the use of force" and comparing it against an individual being a false dichotomy are posts I'd agree with.

    It after all is made up of individuals who are public servants that can be fired or replaced.

    It's not the 1800s where there was only a few million people in the whole country. There are hundreds of millions here today all of which are allowed to be raised in virtually any environment of any morality and of any level of education. Or lack thereof. Long story short it's a real predicament. It's no longer like the times of the Andy Griffith Show where you can have two cops in the entire town, one who doesnt even carry a gun and have one or two cells with the keys hanging in arms reach.

    Therefore, today, neither can exist without the other. A free individual with his or her rights protected.

    Should the desires of a single individual have precedence over all others or the system that protects not only theirs but everyone else's (the State)?

    The State is not a person. It's a system of duly agreed upon laws, mechanisms, services, and other functions made up of individuals themselves.
  • Brett
    1.9k


    Yes, and this is a decision we have to make. How are we going to live, as individuals, which is very possibly a construct, or as members where we accept the greater good over our own interests?

    The rights as an individual are given to us, true or false?
  • Brett
    1.9k
    Isn’t it an irony that in a place of business or corporation the individual, with their skills, submits to the greater good of the company for its success.
  • neonspectraltoast
    195
    The greater good revolves around the good of the individual, though the state would prefer you believe otherwise. So long as you're not dead and still working, the state is satisfied. But the individual might as well be dead. I recommend mass suicide.
  • Outlander
    138


    Any person who can even be remotely associated with 'the state' is working! An individual getting paid to advance his own good. Lol! :lol:
  • Outlander
    138


    In the sense he's earning money.

    There is corruption. Always has been. Now with FOIA requests much of it can be uncovered or at least draw reasonable suspicion. I'm not in any way saying anything is perfect or their aren't prejudices or people acting on it ergo being literal enemies of the state per the Constitution who can and will be purged.

    But. What is the other option? What if all government, police, military dissapeared right now?

    Human society has always formed power structures. Gangs, whatever. Free for alls never last because people who aren't idiots realize theres power in numbers. You know that. The individualist will always be protected, by someone or at least a system thought of by someone, who wasn't.
  • neonspectraltoast
    195
    It isn't a black and white matter. People can relax. They choose not to, because they're horse's asses. The individual suffers for other people's vanity, which comprises the state. It's all utter bullshit.
  • BitconnectCarlos
    384


    Ideally, the individual because the individual is best informed about their own personal needs, i.e. they are their best personal advocate. The state generally belongs in the background creating and enforcing laws that allow individuals to peacefully go about their daily lives and keep public services running. The caveat to this is when there is a crisis that threatens the population and the state needs to come forth and fight it so things can return back to normal.
  • Outlander
    138


    Yeah. Now. Tell me something if you're starving, your stomach is growling and you even feel faint. You come across someone smaller than you, with no weapons, just there with I don't know just to make it modern a couple cases of tuna packets, sardines, salmon, etc. Or back then fresh meat, a pile of berries, etc. You ask for some and he says what will you give me and you have nothing. Would you leave? Sure, you might because you're intelligent and a philosopher and believe in something greater. But you get my point

    What do you mean by other people's vanity? How does this comprise the state? Appearance over utility?
  • Brett
    1.9k


    The individual suffers for other people's vanity,neonspectraltoast

    Assuming you believe this to be true then the individual suffers through the sense of individuality others have. This is the problem; the idea of individuality means the idea of uniqueness or importance, which translates to lack of compromise. Personally I don’t want to give up many aspects of my life. I might reach a compromise to make something happen as opposed to nothing happening, but it’s rear that I would place myself second to someone else. But I know we can’t live like that and have a functioning community.

    The individual does not suffer from the vanity of others, the individual suffers because they can’t have what they want.
  • Brett
    1.9k


    Ideally, the individual because the individual is best informed about their own personal needs, i.e. they are their best personal advocate. The state generally belongs in the background creating and enforcing laws that allow individuals to peacefully go about their daily lives and keep public services running.BitconnectCarlos

    That’s true about personal needs, but are personal needs important enough for the general health of the community and future wellbeing?

    The state as you define it might belong in the background creating and enforcing laws but that idea of the state is a political tool, or mechanism, for the managing of the real state, which is the population at large.

    The Australian Aboriginal culture is regarded as the oldest culture in the world and yet I don’t imagine they survived all that time through the concept of individuality. But it serves our modern culture to believe in the idea of individuality, it drives the economy.

    My question is still, if we can, which should we choose?
  • Tech
    9
    Isn’t it an irony that in a place of business or corporation the individual, with their skills, submits to the greater good of the company for its success.Brett

    I take this as your proposition: "In business, individuals submit to the greater good of the company."
    Without a definition for "submit" that proposition lacks meaning.

    Alternatively I offer, an individual can choose to allocate his scarce time into labor or something else. If labor best maximizes his utility, then he works. The employee doesn't "submit to the greater good of the company". He sells his labor because it is the option that best maximizes his utility.
  • Brett
    1.9k


    The employee doesn't "submit to the greater good of the company"Tech

    Of course he does, or they no longer have a need for him. The company has an objective that everyone plays a part in achieving. The employee doesn’t go off on his own tangent or belief in what’s good for the company.
  • Brett
    1.9k
    The irony is that a communal effort achieves success in a capitalist environment.
  • Tech
    9
    The company has an objective that everyone plays a part in achieving. The employee doesn’t go off on his own tangent or belief in what’s good for the company.Brett

    It's the other way around. The company has become part of the individual's tangent. The individual determines his goals and the most efficient means for achieving them. The individual then trades his work for cash if and only if laboring for the company qualifies as "most efficient means".

    Put another way, the trade only happens when it is the most economical path to his goal. Given that, I do not think his trade is usefully characterized as "submission". But I am interested in your definition of "submission".

    The irony is that a communal effort achieves success in a capitalist environment.Brett

    Voluntary cooperation is a necessary condition for any capitalist regime. I do not observe any irony.
  • Brett
    1.9k


    But I am interested in your definition of "submission".Tech

    To agree to put your own interests second to something else.
  • Brett
    1.9k


    The individual determines his goals and the most efficient means for achieving them. The individual then trades his work for cash if and only if laboring for the company qualifies as "most efficient means".Tech

    This is not true. For the employee “most efficient means” doesn’t come into it. He/she applies for a position. On the basis of their potential contribution to the objectives of the company they’re hired.

    You might have to define “efficient means”.
  • Brett
    1.9k
    The problem, or the source of conflict in my question, is the refusal, or inability, of the modern individual to submit. Once they submitted to God, now submission to anything is seeing as some sort of shadow to totalitarianism. The individual does not submit. “I am an individual. Therefore I submit to nothing, even if it’s in my own interests”.
  • Brett
    1.9k
    If individuality is the most important aspect of humanity, moreso than the state then why can’t we submit to another individual?
  • Tech
    9
    For the employee “most efficient means” doesn’t come into it. He/she applies for a position. On the basis of their potential contribution to the objectives of the company they’re hired.Brett

    The employee and firm are independent entities each having their own goals. The individual agrees to work if and only if he believes the arrangement is beneficial to him. The firm agrees to hire him if and only if the arrangement is beneficial for them. Neither party's goals are subsumed in the process.

    The individual doesn't account for the company's goals in his decision making. And likewise, the firm doesn't account for his.

    You might have to define “efficient means”.Brett

    The individual has scare resources: time, money, favors owed, etc. He must choose how to allocate these resources to achieve his goals. The "most efficient means" is the allocation that maximizes achieved goals, that is, it the allocation of resources that maximizes his utility.

    In this case, the individual must decide how much of his time to allocate towards labor.

    The individual does not submit. “I am an individual. Therefore I submit to nothing, even if it’s in my own interests”.Brett

    I don't think "submission" is a special type of action. For the individual, the action either maximizes his utility or it doesn't. Maybe you are making a criticism of modern preferences. "Modern people ought to get more subjective benefit from obeying God."
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