Human Nature & Politics

Human Nature & Politics  ( Queries at the end)

ref1001 — Psychological Needs — by Rosenburg  

ref1023 — Flaws in human nature
ref1007 — Flaws of human nature

The Derision of Labour  by Roger Scruton

Being a Tory — Matthew Parris

Why we are where we are — a review by Simon Heffer

ref1093 — Why I am a Socialist

ref1094 — Socialism society problems

Simon Heffer — Why we are where we are. Empire of Democracy — The Remaking of the West Since the Cold War

Marx stated: “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways, the point is to change it.”

However, it is essential to interpret the world first, before one goes about changing it so one knows why it needs to be changed.

Jean Jacques Rousseau said, “man is born free but is everywhere in chains”. 

1          Psychological Needs

From ref1001 — The nature of Needs especially psychological Needs

Rosenberg says it has been his experience that —  “from the moment people begin talking about what they Need rather than what’s wrong with one another, the possibility of finding ways to meet everybody’s Needs is greatly increased” 

2          Flaws in human nature

From  ref1023   — OpEdNews.com, is a non-partisan, non-profit, bottom-up, progressive / liberal news, opinion, op-ed media site, activism tool and blog community.

For the sake of discussion, I have broken down these so-called “innate” flaws of human nature into four broad categories —

  1. Impaired rational decision making,
  2. Self-centeredness and greed,
  3. Laziness and aversion to work,
  4. Innate aggressiveness and violence.
  • Impaired Rational Decision Making, Impulsiveness and emotionality allegedly make human beings (especially those from the poor and disadvantaged classes) innately irrational.
  • Limited capacity for rational decision making, due to emotional instability, ignorance, superstition and/or prejudice makes it impossible for the average person to participate in self-governance.
  • This means wiser, more technologically sophisticated people are needed to make the fundamental decisions necessary to run the basic institutions that govern their lives.
  • This viewpoint isn’t limited to the ruling elite — As Wilhelm Reich observes in the Mass Psychology of Fascism, much of the working class, especially those raised in authoritarian families, share this belief.   In fact many of them deliberately seek out external authority to set out firm rules for their personal lives.
  • Self centeredness and greed —  Survival of the fittest dictates that individuals prioritize their own self-interest. Innate competitiveness and greed will always prevent human beings from voluntarily sharing resources unless they derive direct personal gain or some external authority imposes it on them.
  • Laziness and aversion to work —  Human beings (especially those from poor and disadvantaged classes) are innately lazy.  Socialist economic systems are doomed to collapse. Without strong financial incentives, people would have no motivation to work.
  • Innate aggressiveness and violence —  Human beings, especially males from poor and disadvantaged classes, are fundamentally violent and aggressive.
  • Without external restraint from law enforcement, stronger individuals will constantly victimize weaker ones.

I am always struck by the one-sided examples of flawed human nature offered by conservatives and so-called “centrist” Democrats. They talk a lot about violent crime, drug and alcohol related abuse, domestic violence and child abuse, but almost never about banksters, fraudulent corporate bookkeeping practices or the unscrupulous drug company CEOs who aggressively market dangerous pharmaceuticals. They capitalist classes, who have near absolute control over public education and the mainstream media, argue in favor of preserving class society and privilege, owing to so-called innate character defects that make working people incapable of governing themselves.

The above is by Dr. Stuart Bramhall is an American child and adolescent psychiatrist and political refugee in New Zealand.

Comment —

The Protestant work ethic, which justifies compelling the working class to labour long hours under high stress, unsafe conditions, is a new development with the industrial revolution. Historically there is no comparable work ethic in ancient or medieval cultures.

From  ref1007 — The flaws of human nature

 Flaws of Human nature

Faith: We tend to be more drawn to beliefs rather than facts. We can easily believe in something without the means necessary to know it’s real, i.e without making research. And, thus, we are easily fallen into blind belief and living in complete illusions or half-truths.

Passions: We can easily be the slaves of our own desires, thus being able to be manipulated, deceived and lose our freedoms just because of this inner burning inside of us which its fulfilment make us feel good.

Egos: Let’s admit it, it can be hard not continuously patting our egos. The more we pat our egos, the more limited we become in our perception of the world around us, and when we see that someone or something is better than us, instead of learning from it to be better, we can easily get jealous and become depressed because we realize that we are not the number one at something.

Emotional Dependence: Our need for attachment can exist as a double-edged sword. Because of this need we can easily trust and be attached to someone else, to the point they may have control over us in which we are not aware of, and so we are deceived by our illusions of safety and, sometimes, autonomy, while in the reality we are enslaved by a higher, yet hidden, authority.

Thirst For Power: While power is necessary for the general order of the social construct, it is easy to be addicted to such concept many of us see as success. As we climb up the ladder, we are introduced to a new drug that eventually may defeat our conscience and make us addicted. This is called corruption, and sadly it is not rare in our world to have people defying their sense of justice over the good feeling of having authority, wealth and social luxury. Speaking of which:

Addictions: The human nature is built in a way it can be easily addicted to certain substances, habits and people. The more addicted we are, the less control we have on our lives, as we give way to the source of addiction to satisfy us while in practice it can cause harm to ourselves and at times to others. I just can’t understand the evolutionary role of addiction. Why the hell we can be satisfied while we actually cause harm which is inflicted against us in the name of mere pleasure?!

Suicidal Tendencies: Have you ever found it humorous that the most powerful species on Earth – the humans – which dominant the planet to a point of controlling its fate, can easily suffer from high suicide rates within its ranks? Look, I’m an atheist, and I think that if there was indeed a supernatural entity that created every single object in the universe, while would it make humans capable of being suicidal? What role does suicide play in the grand scheme of things, religiously speaking? What good does suicide bring?

Lack of Awareness: Many of us can easily forget the general picture we are set in, and therefore we might cause problems and making mistakes that could easily be prevented if we just waited a little before making action and thinking the best we can about the various consequences our actions may lead to.

Emotional Drainage: If I, as a human, wouldn’t suffer from emotional exhaustions, I could become a better writer than I’m already am. I could write pages after pages of books, articles and poems every single day if only I had all the inspiration I needed – and also the mental energy required to do so. I just wrote this answer and I’m already exhausted, to be honest, and I’m not feeling sleepy at all. This is why unfortunately I am aware that I need to stop. Just think of all the productivity we humans could have if we didn’t suffered from such exhaustions! We would become better writers, industrialists, engineers and so forth. Just think of how we could advanced as a civilization we could’ve have become than we already are!

 From  The Derision of Labour  by Roger Scruton

Big business once cherished workers. Now it exploits them.

After two decades in which it was assumed that the argument was over, capitalism has resurged at the top of the political agenda.

  • Is it the key to prosperity or the solvent of communities?
  • Is it the source of inequalities or the cure for them, the path to stability or the sure way to a crisis? And is there, given what we know of the old ‘socialist econo­mies’, a real alternative?

The term ‘capitalism’ was introduced by Saint-Simon to describe any economy in which privately owned firms compete in a market, the owners take the profits and the workers take a wage.

But the owner/ worker distinction has been eroded, and wages are now only one aspect of the deal between them.

Marx depicted ruthless cap­italists driving down wages to the lowest level while competing for the largest possi­ble market share.

But that picture was never accurate. Wages were rising throughout the first half of the 19th century; factory leg­islation governing the hours of work, and the provision of healthcare and education, changed the structure of the wage contract, while employers began to accept what Dis­raeli called ‘the feudal principle’; that the relation between employer and employee is a fiduciary one, in which the parties are tied by reciprocal duties — hence, among many other things, the model towns of Saltaire and Bournville

(Fiduciary — Of or relating to a duty of acting in good faith with regard to the interests of another)

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Share-holding and cooperative own­ership have transformed the hierarchical structure on which that culture depended; service industries have driven manufac­turing to the sidelines, and the workforce of a major industry may now be scattered across the globe.

Those who own the capital may make none of the crucial decisions and enjoy few of the day-to-day rewards. Employees may receive health insurance as well as housing and pensions as part of their wage. They may even get shares in the firm.

Capitalism has adapted to the plans of those who have a stake in it, and is now regulated in ways that change the relation between workers and employers (who, in the larger businesses, are unlikely to be human individuals).

The owner-worker relationship painted by Dickens and Zola has little place in a modern economy, and those who sniff in search of the old forms of cruel exploitation will be hard pressed to find them.

Far easier to find them in the last remaining socialist economies like North Korea and Cuba, which illustrate that the alternative to the free economy is not ‘social ownership’ but slavery.

For all that, the critics of capitalism have a point.

The separation of ownership from control, which seemed to spread the benefits of ownership beyond a small capi­talist class, has also introduced new ways of taking the profits while handing on the cost.

Members of a board can borrow against the capital, pay themselves bonuses, sell off  all marketable assets, escape to their lux­ury yachts then file for bankruptcy.

Those who acquire a firm may have:

  • No knowledge of where it is,
  • What it is or whom it employs;

They can freely ignore the pain of those whose livelihood they take away when they strip the assets and run.

The old fiduciary relationship means less and less in this debt-funded economy, which allows —

  • The easy sale and purchase of assets across frontiers, and
  •  The easy escape from duties (tax included) that come from being rooted in a place.

Whether this is a fault of capitalism itself, rather than an abuse of it by global predators, is disputa­ble.

But it is clear that the free movement of capital and labour across frontiers, funda­mental to the European treaties, has done much to undermine fiduciary relations.

A humane capitalism —

  • Retains its workforce through downturns,
  • Offers apprenticeships to local people and
  • Acts as a responsible citi­zen in places that depend upon it for prosperity and survival.

But these obligations are easily ignored in favour of shareholder value when a firm’s administrative heart is located nowhere in particular, rather than in the somewhere of those who work for it.

In short, modern capitalism — Is a sys­tem devised for the benefit of absentees which shields them from many of the real moral challenges.

Victorian capitalists:

  • Usually belonged to the same country.
  • The same town and
  • The same faith as those who worked for them, and could not escape, as their successors can, the demands of neighbourhood.

Those who defend the new globalised capitalism must show how it might come down to Earth, among the real people who depend on it.

Roger Scruton — Conservatism: An Invitation to the Great Tradition

Conservatives and liberals agree on the need for limited governmentrepresentative institutions, the separation of powers, and the basic rights of the citizen”, but conservatives reject social contract theory and individualism not grounded by custom and tradition.

See — ref S 001 — Comment on Scruton by David Willetts

From BEING A TORY — Matthew Parris

I believe in the dangers of moral hazard. The precautionary instinct, and a sense of the link between behaviour and outcome, are the lifeblood of personal development. In its mission to protect citizens, government must not weaken these instincts.
I believe in inequality. People should be allowed to succeed or fail. To cushion those who stumble and to temper human greed, good government must take from the rich to help the poor and narrow the gap; but the exhibition in daily life of the rewards of hard work and talent, and the consequences of indolence or foolishness, is necessary to the progress of a race or nation.
I believe in good and bad luck. Success or failure are often undeserved, hence the need to tax the first and cushion the second. But the fickleness of fate is part of life, of its spice, of its meaning.

The fickleness of fate is part of life. Government should not seek to jam the wheel of fortune/ We take a restrictive view of the role of government to reverse the fortunes of both the undeserving and the unlucky.
I believe in choice. A liberal Conservative is on guard against the pressure in government to force upon people the life choices they ought ideally to make, the ways they ought to be, to think, speak, act and live. We know the argument for coercion may sometimes be right; know people do sometimes need shepherding; but remember we are not sheep; and meet with scepticism proposals to impose virtue.
I believe in business. Conservatism is nothing without a driving sense of the duty of politics to encourage the generation of wealth; and we believe economic liberalism is the best motor for prosperity.

This should not exclude interference by government to sharpen competition, punish greed and protect consumers, but even when the rough and tumble of the marketplace offends us —  and the vigour of markets should never be far from a liberal Conservative’s priorities.
I believe in resistance to the growth of state spending and state control. Liberal Conservatives know the modern state must spend enormous sums. But we’re conscious of an underlying drift, like an ocean current, for government to take on new tasks and spend ever more in accomplishing them.

We reject in our bones the growth in the reach of government into citizens’ lives. We feel a duty to swim against the current, greeting every new proposal not with unthinking resistance, but with fierce, intelligent scepticism. A Liberal Conservative saw in ‘austerity’ more than an emergency response to an economic crisis, but a useful pushing back against the creep of state spending, too.
I believe in the virtue of certainty in public administration. To maintain consistency, politicians must often harden their hearts.

From ref1093  — Why I am a Socialist

All around me, I can see injustices, poverty and war, and I can interpret the root of these problems in contemporary capitalism.

I’ve come to see the inherent and intrinsic emptiness that accompanies materialism, consumerism and profiteering.

I suppose it started off with me becoming aware of certain things around me, the vast inequality between rich and poor people and countries. It was through George Monbiot and his book The Age of Consent that I first became aware of the extent of conflict and oppression of poor countries by rich countries and the exploitation that huge corporate multi-national companies get away with.

It thus became obvious what system I’d rather want to be a part of. Although Marx left no practical policies in how to implement socialism, and he didn’t want to speculate on how socialist policy would take shape in a future society. But socialism does allow us to be creative in how we achieve it.

Socialism, then, is about the future, and in different ages each generation defines what socialism means to them.

Socialism today, for me, stands for the various issues we can see in contemporary society; it is irrevocably linked to the feminist, gay rights and green movements.

It stands for all those that are oppressed under capitalism. It is for those who are victims or subject to the officious nature of the corrupt and powerful.

Socialism is a reaction, just like it was initially a reaction to the industrial revolution, and a way out.

It’s a project, the great humanistic project that helps give meaning to our earthly existence- namely by altruistically helping the whole of humanity.

From  ref1094 — Socialism society problems

Common critical responses of socialism centre on the injustice of redistributing wealth, and the idea that it is simply ‘stealing’ by the state.

However, it seems most people would endorse a redistribution of wealth.

John Rawls argued that given the choice, a person, hypothetically, who didn’t know what kind of society he was going to be placed in would choose an egalitarian society over a more unequal one.

The latter society would be a huge gamble; you could end up in destitute poverty or hugely rich and prosperous.

Even those that are the powerful elite of society would choose an egalitarian society over an unequal one as the fear of poverty greatly outstrips the greatness of wealth. And certainly, inequality has increased dramatically over the last few years.

Another criticism is that there would be a lack of motivation in a socialist society.

The key to answering this critique lies in the growth of science and technology in the future; the means of production may well be revolutionised (especially because of the dramatic growth of technology over the last few years).

In the future, working hours could be reduced so we can spend more time participating in direct democracy. Once working hours are reduced, we will suffer less from the alienation, dissatisfaction and the de-motivation that many people (especially a lot of working-class people) face in their work.

In contemporary society, the tiresome monotony of the workplace contributes to a great sense dehumanisation, much in the same way that workers in factories were during the industrial revolution.

When people get an active opportunity to structure society for themselves, they can decide the road a future society takes, keep their freedom and thus not be coerced into anything.

The only way that socialism will come about is by activism; taking an active part in shaping the world around you and so shaping the way socialism will come about it in the future.

In universities, thousands of students are joining in the campaign against tuition fees, are part of the CND (campaign for nuclear disarmament), anti-privatisation, anti-fascism and anti-racism movements.

It’s through these small campaigns and social movements that the true ideas of socialism will spread and we’ll come to realise the power of working together rather than against each other.

It’s incredible what people can achieve when they present a united front, as was shown in France when the working classes, students and professors all revolted against proposed employment laws. These were proposed by the French government in 2006; known as the ‘first employment contract’ they were designed to encourage employers to hire young people by allowing them to fire anyone under 26 with no notice during their first two years of work. The French government eventually succumbed to those who opposed the laws and so scrapped them.

In contrast to those French workers, students and professors who actively protested against their government, what we can see in the world at the moment is the many left-wing intellectuals and their atomisation from each other. They show their unwillingness to bring their different ideas together with other people of like persuasion to form a significant movement for social change.

In many ways socialism has parallels with religion, hence the existence of ‘Christian Socialism’ as an ideology. Many people see socialism as a Christian morality in a political and economic form. There is certainly an ethical basis for socialism as seen by the humanistic side of it. In a way, it complements religion and helps us understand the world around us. In this way the ideas of socialism have assisted in my personal growth; it’s made me understand what is really important and meaningful in life.

Why we are where we are

Simon Heffer

Empire of Democracy:

The Remaking of the West Since the Cold War, 1971 -2017

by Simon Reid-Henry John Murray, £30, pp. 880

The subtitle of Simon Reid-Henry’s substantial work indicates its thesis: ‘The remaking of the West since the Cold War, 1971-2017.’ The Cold War had started in 1945, and the author takes us through the upheavals of the 1960s before the advertised start of his narrative. He describes a western world that, by 1971, had undergone the student-led convulsions of 1968, and that, as well as facing challenges from the Soviet Union, China and their satellites, would have new ones to grasp: notably those presented by the 1973 oil crisis and the resulting delinquency of western treasuries as they sought not to disappoint societies — and electorates — used to rising real wages and the indulgences of consumerism.

Although this book is not always well- written it is extensively researched and wide in scope.

Reid-Henry looks principally at Europe and America, but also at the democracies of what was once called the ‘White Commonwealth’ — Canada, Australia and New Zealand. He reminds us how, at the start of his period, democracies were rare: Europe was not merely severed by an Iron Curtain, but Greece was run by the Colonels, Spain by Franco and Portugal by Salazar. Outside the English-speaking world and north-western Europe there was little democracy; and his book is an account of democracy’s triumph, as Gorbachev lets the Soviet bloc go. The author does not explore the limited attempts to follow the doctrine in Latin America or India, something perhaps dictated by the need to keep this massive book within reasonable restraints; his definition of ‘the West’ is very much a Cold War one.

There is a problem with writing history without a long perspective, and this perhaps is the

inevitable flaw of an exercise such as this. By far the most satisfactory and illuminating part of the book are those chapters dealing with the West before 1989, and notably the rise of radical conservatism under Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan; and it discusses the exception of Francois Mitterrand, and his failure to use a socialist approach to kick-start France’s economy after the difficulties of the 1970s ended les trente glorieuses. We are

reminded how the challenge to democracy was magnified long after the barricades of 1968 had been taken down, with the rise of the Red Brigades in Italy and Baader-Meinhof in Germany.

When, however, in the late 1980s Reagan and Thatcher could engage Gorbachev in dialogue

about the liberation of eastern Europe, they did so from a position where democratic polities

had multiplied and had apparently seen off the challenges from protestors who preferred

revolution. Gorbachev, too, had seen off the gerontocrats who had kept the USSR firmly in the era of Khrushchev. It seemed the ultimate endorsement of democracy and peaceful change; or, to use Francis Fukuyama’s words, the end of history. Reid-Henry does not take Fukuyama specifically to task for his famous assertion, but the rest of his book is, to an extent, its repudiation.

It is hard not to feel that, once the Cold War was won and America became the world’s sole superpower, a sense of purpose was removed from the West. The 1990s seem hollow years, the main international activities being the slow rise of democracies in the former Soviet bloc, the determination of the European Community to become the European Union, single currency and all, after Maastricht, and Bill Clinton’s drive to expand economic opportunity in the United States.

Four themes dominate the last third of this book:

  • The effect notably on America, but also on all western democracies, of Islamic terrorism
  • The aborted attempt to build democracy in Russia, which culminated in Putin’s dictatorship; the crash of 2008
  • Its effects on western societies
  • The use of democracy to attack what had become democratic norms, notably the vote for Brexit and the election of Donald Trump.

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