2011 November 06 Sunday
Tyler Cowen: Individual Responsibility And The Left

Tyler Cowen points to a difference between the Lefta and Right on where they place individual responsibility and hard work in their value pecking orders. This is an area where I think the Left are just plain empirically wrong. If all of society placed individual responsibility first the society be far healthier than one where the Left's value pecking order was held by all.

I agree with most of Matt’s recent post, but one sentence struck me as noteworthy.  Matt writes:

I suppose I agree with Will Wilkinson about the importance of “an ethos of initiative, hard work, and individual responsibility” though I have no real idea why he thinks most progressives are against such an ethos.

I could write that sentence without the “I suppose”!  The final clause of the sentence I see as showing just how broad the perceptual gulf between progressives and conservatives/libertarians can be.

I would not quite say that progressives are “against such an ethos,” but where does it stand in their pecking order?  Look at fiction, such as famous left-wing or progressive novels, or for that matter famous left-wing and progressive movies.  How many of them celebrate “an ethos of initiative, hard work, and individual responsibility”?  Is there one?

Click thru and read the whole thing. Tyler makes excellent points.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2011 November 06 07:53 AM  Cultural Wars Values


Comments
Abelard Lindsey said at November 6, 2011 10:28 AM:

Left ideology is based on the parasitism of the productive. Even Karl Marz himself admitted that capitalism was better at productivity and wealth-creation. Yet he promoted communism. Leftist ideology is not a legitimate ideology.

Mthson said at November 6, 2011 10:40 AM:

That Matt started that sentence with "I suppose" is one of the funniest things I've seen in a long time.

The comments from liberals on Tyler's article just seem to support the idea that liberalism is caused by hunter-gather genes that can't naturally relate to concepts like productivity and to large, complex social systems like a free market.

WI said at November 6, 2011 5:01 PM:

The "free enterprise, free market" of the agricultural city-STATE (Civilization) has never been "free" at all - even if the religio-economic priestcraft heavily advertise the established system as such. It's more of a gulag.

It relies on restricting freedom of movement of free people across the land to hunt and forage for food. The biggest of big-government enTitlement programs is Land Title, creating Privation Property for the Privileged with power. They gain control of the resources and food. They put the food under lock and key, and starve non-owners into working for them.

The only way the free-market priestcraft can make their system look "free" is to constantly compare it to communism, which was an even worse prison. But that comparison is wearing pretty thin with the Capitalist Politburo jetting around in their ZilJets, and enforcers who serve and protect the Capitalist's accumulated wealth acting pretty much like the KGB in its day.

Mthson said at November 6, 2011 6:12 PM:

WI, when we say the "free market," we mean in the sense that anyone with a brain can rise to enormous success from nothing.

One of life's most refined pleasures is watching people who grew up with more advantages than we did squander their potential and then complain about how the system isn't fair.

Abelard Lindsey said at November 6, 2011 7:10 PM:

Leftist ideology is a mental disorder.

Peter A said at November 7, 2011 5:33 AM:

Unlike most of the right, Leftists recognize that most people are unable to adopt an "an ethos of initiative, hard work, and individual responsibility”. Where leftist ideology falls down is that they blame "culture", "prejudice" or repression for this fact. The reality of course is that this ethos is not hardwired into most hunan beings, especially those of sub-Saharan or native American ancestry. The expectation of many on the right that NAMs can learn to adopt this ethos is about as realistic as hoping chimpanzees will learn sign language. For that reason a true free market in a racially diverse society is an absurd proposition.

Mthson said at November 7, 2011 10:00 AM:

Peter A

Retaining a free market society with a large NAM population seems possible with 2 factors:

1. Income redistribution must be limited
2. NAM crime must be controlled.


If we're going to make actual predictions on those factors:

1. Income redistribution will probably increase as unskilled labor decreases in value and NAMs' share of the population increases.
2. Street crime seems likely to become more controllable with better quality and more comprehensive video surveillance and Minority Report style citizen tracking. Monitoring tends to make people honest. However, it's anybody's guess what the odds are that society will end up implementing such systems.

In said at November 7, 2011 7:08 PM:

I remember reading or hearing Ken Wilber say that the difference between a democrat and a republican is that the republican blames a person's situation/problems on the individual and his character (an inner cause). The democrat blames it on society (external cause).

Obviously neither perspective is neither wholly right or wrong. Peter A makes a good point that "Leftists recognize most people are unable to adopt an Ethos...", which suggests to me that the republican view tends to be more shallow. But paradoxically, clearly the left and their rejection of traditional values of hard work, etc does much more damage to our present society. I agree with Randall's prescription.

Seems to me we need to create a game where everyone can win.

Rapa Nui said at November 8, 2011 4:35 PM:

If all of society placed individual responsibility first the society be far healthier than one where the Left's value pecking order was held by all.

Yeah right! Dream on. Dreaming about individual responsibility in a society based on competition and selfishness is dreaming. What society would that be, capitalist?

We have such twisted values, views and beliefs about everything; the way we invade and pray, the way we pollute and profit, the way we lie and clear our guilts, the way we deal with terrorism, even the people we call terrorists, the crap in our tv and movies. Jesus fucken Christ, Randall! Even Homer Simpson seems to have better ideas for something worthy of being called terrorism than Bin Laden, like dumping all that pig crap in Springfield's reservoir (or NY's or any other city's)

I know that blowing up buildings makes a lot of fucken noise, but how about dumping thousands of gallons of fossil fuel into the ocean! Now that's something worthy of being called terrorism. The problem is that the terrorist perpetrators are not called 'enemy', no, they are called Exxon and British Petroleum. How about leaving millions in poverty by those terrorist you still call "bankers"

What "ethos" are you talking about? The banks'? The media's? The politicians'?
What "hard work" are you talking about? More still!

What we need is less fucken work goddamit! and more incom and dignity. I'm tired of so much hard work, that is if I can still find me another part-time job, sucker. I need to put food on my table and pay bills! Ethos and individual responsibility my ass. it don't exist and believing in such idiocies is just like believing you can set up your rules in street fight, riots or police restraint while facing unarmed citizens.

Rapa Nui said at November 8, 2011 4:41 PM:

And yo Abelard Lindsey, what the hell are you talking about "legitimate"? Since when does any ideology is subject of being legitimate or illegitimate?

Legitimate! Go legitimate your head. The only legitimate ideology at the moment is the Occupy protests.

Rapa Nui said at November 8, 2011 4:44 PM:

The only parasitism I see now is in Wall Street offices, banks and politicians, sucker

Get the parasites off your head man!

Skalla said at November 12, 2011 5:38 PM:

Not much of a poster, but listening to the OWS representative has stirred me to type a bit.

My father's last command, after a 20 year career in the Navy as a fighter pilot, was VFAW-3 (1959) which had the distinction of reporting directly to NORAD. VFAW-3 covered the SW US from potential Soviet nuclear intrusions. Think Jack Nicholson in a "Few Good Men". Most people would call him "right wing".

He was a democrat, as was my mother, who did "work" for the OSS after graduating from Berkley. Just because you are "right wing" doesn't mean you won't help a guy when he's down, or take care of a family when the primary income is lost to ill fortune.

America as a whole has swung so far "left" that places where normal common sense should prevail are sorely lacking. The "left", which to me now includes the entire democratic party, is guilty of "Panglossian Optimism", which in my mind is optimism to the point of self destruction (I actually first heard the term in this blog somewhere, and wikied it, leading to a several hour detour into Voltaire which was well worth the time). This foolishness is becoming all the more apparent every day in the news.

America controlled much of the world after WWII, in sweeping terms, it was roughly American, Soviet, or Chinese, whom later went communist. Take a brief moment to compare the lives of the populations of the American Sphere to those ANYWHERE else. More people in this world have more personal freedom than at any other time in history. Thank the Danelaw, Thank English Common Law, Thank the Magna Carta, Thank the Declaration of Independence. You can even thank God (or gods) if you wish. But first thank the men who fought for these freedoms, they did the hard work. This is the ethos you search for, a 1000 year push for freedom from tyranny backed by a work ethic stressing individual responsibility. Equating the removal of terrorists with oil spills has no value, one is military, one is economic. Like it or not we are a significant part of the "world police force", the problem is we don't get paid. For those of artistic inclination, no one ever painted a picture, wrote a poem, or contemplated the whichness of the why, unless he was protected by someone with a sword, even if it was himself.

I think most of the world owes America a big thanks for spreading the prosperity that these laws have allowed us to build. However this prosperity has come at a cost. The cost is essentially the lazy. Not the ignorant, not the black, not the poor, but the lazy. Fixes for this will be needed or people will starve in the near future. Personally i think that if you take government handout dime, you lose the right to vote. I have already resigned myself to America proving democracy (as we practice it) will fail due to an entitlement-voter positive feedback loop.

Fixes to put the American Humpty-Dumpty back together again would have to be draconian already. Including work crews for the welfare recipients. 2 to 4 years mandatory military or social service between 18 and 25. But i digress, I could go on, and have in my blog where i do my personal ranting.

So defining the "left" past optimistic self destruction, i will use parasitic and predatory. The parasitic left is the welfare recipients, the Social Security fraudsters, government programs of little to no real value, much of our school system, etc.

The more destructive is the predatory left, these are the people that gain power and think they know what is best for everyone. Foisting their agendas through the media and school systems. Notable errors such as everyone is equal are great words and perfect for a judge, but cannot be taken as gospel in a school system designed to work. If anyone still thinks "we are all the same" I suggest reading up on Haplogroups and it will show long term physical divisions exist between races. There are deep unacknowledged cultural divides, and the fact that much of white culture is dominated by the winter-spring cycle, which is notably lacking at the equatorial belt. again i digress.

Much of the predatory left is at work breaking America, it is unclear how much organized malice is behind it but much seems to be simply self serving greed. As one example i will cite the Solyndra caper, left leaning government in cahoots with left leaning business for campaign funds with the restructuring of loans to pay constituents back before taxpayers. This is a prime target of an OWS goal but all I see is the likes of M. Moore and all I hear is drivel.
out of time, to the OWS foot soldier: sounds like you work, so tip o' the hat to ya, and your spot on about the lack of ethics in our government and much of business, but you are picking the wrong fights, and, if you really work, you are aligned with the wrong people.


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