Thursday, January 14, 2016

Ayn Rand and Government?

This is Joseph

You thought that this would never happen -- that we'd link to Gin and Tacos.  But the latest piece on Ayn Rand and collective action problems is serious (instead of mocking) and I think highlights one of the major fault lines in thinking,  Consider:
Anyway, the real money scene is where the protagonist heads out into the forest and, in the space of a few hours before dinnertime, he makes a bow and arrows and shoots plenty of birds out of the sky to feed himself. He also gets a few by throwing rocks at them. This is a minor detail in the story but, in my view, is a great litmus test of a fundamental personality characteristic. The kind of person who thinks, "Yeah that seems plausible" believes that some people, namely themselves, are simply Great and therefore can solve any and every problem on their own through the force of their own Greatness. The other kind of person looks at a man running off into the woods with no supplies, food, clothing, or tools of any kind and thinks, "Well he's gonna be dead in about a week."
Now I am an introvert.  I am surprisingly more productive when nobody is capable of finding me.  But I realize that, innately, I am not good at everything and I will need help.  One option is to have some many resources (say social or financial) that one can call upon help at need.  But I know what the typical endpoint of somebody without tools and supplies in the wilderness really is.  

[I also have not read the book, but absent some actual textbooks it seems extremely implausible that somebody would discover electricity, in a usable form, given how long the historical process took]

But I think that this question gets at the crux of one of the great philosophical arguments of our time.  As a student of history, I presume that governed societies always out-compete un-governed ones, barring some very unusual circumstances.  Just ask your local hunter-gatherer tribes.  So the great question is how to make the best state.

But one could also presume that the state of nature is one in which everyone could prosper.  And then the question becomes should we have government at all.  But then how does one define property rights without it becoming a "war of all against all"?

No comments:

Post a Comment