Saturday, December 7, 2013

Obama's Collectivist "Togetherness" vs. Genuine Individualist Togetherness

During the 2012 election campaign, President Obama raised hackles with these now infamous comments:

“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own.Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

"The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.
"So we say to ourselves, ever since the founding of this country, you know what, there are some things we do better together. That’s how we funded the GI Bill. That’s how we created the middle class. That’s how we built the Golden Gate Bridge or the Hoover Dam. That’s how we invented the Internet. That’s how we sent a man to the moon. We rise or fall together as one nation and as one people, and that’s the reason I’m running for president — because I still believe in that idea. You’re not on your own, we’re in this together.”

There is much to say on these comments. But at root is a fundamental question: What is the proper means of human association? 

Human beings must live among other human beings. In a world of six billion people, none of us have a realistic choice about that. The choice we do have is in determining how to accomplish the task of living among one another. It is a political choice; choosing the proper social system. More importantly, it is a moral choice. Regarding the above statement, then, the question is: What does Obama mean by the term "together?" 

There are essentially two visions of that term. There is the collectivist sense of group supremacy vs. the individualist sense of peaceful coexistence. To understand the difference, let's start at the beginning.
There is no "we." Metaphysically, the only human entity that exists is the autonomous individual. This is an indisputable fact of nature. In the most fundamental sense, we're not "in this together." Each person is "on your own." No one can think for another. No one can operate the cognitive processes inside of another person's skull. No one can focus another person's mind. No one can make the mental connections that lead to understanding, except you, the individual owner of your brain. Only you can do these things for yourself. It is only a matter of choice and personal responsibility--yours.

That being the case, the group supremacy premise actually means state supremacy over the individual. Since government is solely an instrument of force, collectivistic "togetherness" means forcible subjugation of the individual and his property to the state--the togetherness of a rightless chain gang. The social systems that embody this principle are many--communism, fascism, Nazism, welfare statism. But all are manifestations of statism. All have one thing in common; no individual freedom to act on one's thinking.

In the individualist premise, togetherness means sovereignty for each individual. Does this mean everyone is an uncooperative loner, as Obama suggests? Hardly. Individualism means independent thinking and acting on one's own judgment. It means each individual is neither subordinate nor supreme over another. This type of togetherness leaves only one type of association among people--a type that is alien to Obama--voluntary association  There is only one social system that embodies this principle--capitalism. Capitalism is based upon inalienable individual rights and a limited, rights-protecting government.

Obama obliterates the individualist means of living together, mainly by distorting the nature of individualism. Notice the false choice he offers in regard to fire fighting services. Either we have a government-funded fire department, or "everybody had there own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires," he said. Yes, it would, which is why, without government involvement, people would voluntarily organize and pay for fire companies. The same goes for building the Golden Gate Bridge, roads, or the Hoover Dam. There are things, as Obama says, that we don't literally do on our own. 

But according to Obama, only government force gets things done together. Therefor, we must be forced into compliance with government dictates whenever there is a task that requires a cooperative effort among many people. 

Under statism, the state, as representative of the collective "we," owns the lives and wealth of its citizens. It can forcibly dispose of any individual(s) or his wealth in any manner it deems beneficial to "society" or the "public good." Under the division-of-labor exchange economy of capitalism, people deal with each other by means of voluntary trade to mutual benefit. People work together on a rights-respecting basis by voluntary contractual agreement. Under statism, people have their wealth seized by force to fund the public dreams of state officials. Under capitalism, people pursue their own dreams with their own wealth.
Obama's vision of togetherness is built on force. The opposite vision banishes force from human relationships. Obama's vision enslaves the productive to the needs of the less productive or the unproductive. The opposite vision protects the fruits of every productive person from human predators. Obama's vision is of a man getting what he needs from others by force of government theft (wealth redistribution). The opposite vision is of a man getting what he needs from others by trading his work product in return; i.e., by paying for it.
Obama's togetherness means collectivistic predatory socialism--the subordination of the makers to the takers. He is pandering to his greedy, grovelling, envious, parasitical base, the only beneficiaries of the "we're in this together" society. We need the peaceful coexistence provided by capitalism, and we need a strong enough Republican to articulate that moral vision.

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