Thursday, September 20, 2012

Altruism...and more

I've been in lots of bull sessions and blogs where altruism is equated with desire to promote the a group self interest.

I think there is such a kind of group-self-interest, and like the original self-interest it has considerable importance.

But I object on purely technical grounds.  Altruism is doing good for all.  All is all.  All is not some tribe.

So could there be a genetic reason why such a trait might arise?

The question is silly.  Of course.  Certainly if it exist it has.  Even if it doesn't exist, it could, given enough people and variation it could.  Genetics has given rise to nearly inconceivable variation in everything.  Not to say that the variation has been the result of genetics alone.  We have well known love of symmetry, and fairness for example.  Fairness, at least idealistic fairness is fairness to all, not some group.

Wouldn't such a characteristic get weeded out in time?

Perhaps, but then some similar one might arise.

How important is this in comparison to self-interest and group-self-interest?

Heck if I know.  But it seems to me, given the social nature of human existence, we depend on others for nearly everything, a proliferation of pro-social traits might be expected to be the norm.  And I would say this does indeed seem to be the case, if not perfectly so.  Most people seem to be very inclined toward fairness especially.

But what is fairness in a kleptocracy?  The very institutions, I would say starting with private property but with many steps along the way, like limited liability corporation, and the queen of them all, Credit Default Swaps, may be institutionally disinclined toward fairness even if the people involved perceive themselves as operating completely fairly within the blinders those institutions provide.

Didn't Thatcher say there is no such thing as society?

Well then why the heck does a Queen need a Prime Minister?  Is there no Britain?

Aren't you blending the notion of "family" into this?

Yes, of course when we are born in modern countries, non-family members assist in most birthings, for example.  And it only starts there.  Before long one has been seen by thousands of others, at least for most people in cities, and dependent on billions for things one takes for granted.

Actually it is not at all suprising that capitalism has torn families apart too.  My nuclear family lived in two states when I was born, and first generation relatives have mostly been thousands of miles away.  My nearest relative lives thousands of miles away.  I got the best job and the lowest cost housing here, so I was foolish not to move given those incentives.

So it only stands that the old rules no longer work.  So it was that something like Social Security was invented in 19th century Germany.  Such a collective arrangement is, ironically, necessary to make capatilism work tolerably well to people who haven't been made into the most undemanding wage slaves.

But why oh why can't we pummel working people into just accepting anything?

Well, that indeed IS the neoliberal project.  And you can see how well it is working.  People are not happy about it at all now, but in has been working for 34 years now, since the Thatcher revolution, and her Reagan follower.

And the Euro is also a neoliberal experiment of the grandest kind, since the very heart of it basically involves forcing deflation onto people, and without having that threat, it can't work, at least if rich people are going to be permitted to indulge their fantasy of low taxes and low inflation.

Which reminds me, I have another post I've been meaning to write.

No comments:

Post a Comment