Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Illusion of Individuality pt. 14


It is nothing short of infuriating madness to be held to and thus punished and guilted by another’s arbitrary rules, arbitrary in that those rules magically don’t have to apply to the rule-makers. This is a damned arrangement where the only effective leveling one can do to that absurd power structure is to retaliate with equal or greater vindictive, selfish, and irrational convictions. Once you have been through the full terror of a situation like that, the glaring contradictions embedded throughout every aspect of society suddenly become impossible to ignore any longer.

It’s hard to imagine any instance of an average person’s life it would not be true where if that person looks close enough he/ she would realize that they are in a similar situation of conflicting societal values, opportunities, constraints and laws. It would seem a daunting task to not have a feeling of being totally lost and victimized when confronted with a system that has no functional ability to change or escape from, yet that in one way or another controls every aspect of their life. So then what’s the point of trying?

The concept of the individual is at a crossroad here. Two undeniable arguments for the existence of the individual appear, personal desire and personal ability. In a Darwinian sense, ability should reign free to choke out those ill equipped to the challenge of survival, while those able should be aloud to continue living as well as to reproduce. Then there is also desire. Desire is an important thing. It is what drives an individual to live – gather material resources, reproduce, and out-survive others.[i] This raises several issues concerning the survival of the whole of humanity in which the needs of future generations should equal, if not outweigh, the whims and obsessions of the past or current generations. Simply, it makes more sense in the long run to limit the inhibitions of current individuals in order to create a more favorable environment for future ones. In the wake of the most recent collapse of unregulated derivative markets Allan Greenspan, champion of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism, he had to admit that his gospel of deregulation was fundamentally flawed.[ii] Coincidentally, over the past twenty years the income disparity (as an indicator of standard of living) the world over has grown at a faster rate than the population even in such a prosperous nation as the U.S.A.[iii] Nobody wins in that game. The ultimate and unsolvable problem is that when the world starts to really go to shit in twenty years or so there will be no separate and well-stocked store of natural resources only available to those who acted responsibly early on, or ever.

In this system of consumption, stubbornness, and of individual desires that is resistant to egalitarian consequence and that catastrophe will only nudge its velocity, how is one to reasonably hope for any sort of meaningful change? Much less, could necessary change be achieved in the small window of time that very well may close within the next two generations, if it hasn’t already?

There seems little reason to have any hope in the face of this kind of view in which every life experience the ultimate situation seems to always mirror this phenomenon where many of the rules seem to be engineered for short-term gains for the most powerful individual interests at the top of an extremely tiered pyramid that believes it can maintain its height while eroding material from its base. This set-up is not just unsustainable; it is construction guaranteeing the most epic collapse imaginable. Society as individuals is just not ready or willing to accept any real responsibility for the extent to which it is degrading its own surroundings given it seems stubbornly unaware of the dependant relationship it has with its planet.

Represent the whole biosphere as a pie. There is only a tiny slice of that which is all we have to live from. And amongst us all we should have to share that portion equitably. The balance needed here is both that which has to be achieved with how much is able to be used as well as how we use it. Should whoever has the ability to take what they can, be able to do so? Or, should we parcel out everyone’s share based on what is available and upon completion of a social contract?[iv]

[i] “Psychological Egoism,” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, http://www.iep.utm.edu/psychego/ (accessed April 25, 2013).
[ii] Frontline: The Warning, directed by Michael Kirk (2009; PBS).
[iii] Floyd Norris, “Median Pay in U.S. Is Stagnant, but Low-Paid Workers Lose,” The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/27/business/economy/wage-disparity-continues-to-grow.html?ref=todayspaper (accessed April 28, 2013).
[iv] “Social Contract Theory,” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, http://www.iep.utm.edu/soc-cont/ (accessed April 25, 2013).

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