- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Social relationship

Posted by: Samuel Day Fassbinder ( Citizens for Mustard Greens, USA ) on June 21, 1999 at 18:41:54:

In Reply to: about hemming posted by Gee on June 21, 1999 at 14:25:50:

: : People are not, never have been, and never will be the sole arbitrators of their own lives, they've always been and will always be hemmed in by social connections.

: It is not whether or not there are constraints to what you can do,

SDF: I was responding to Shannon Medlock's assertion that people are "fit to be the sole arbitrators of their own lives." People arbitrate their lives, of course, but not all by themselves. My disagreement with Shannon Medlock's specific wording will become more palpable below.

: Shannon may answer by restating the non aggression principle. It is about who is doing the hemming, why, and whether punitive action is reserved for those unwilling to be 'hemmed in'.

SDF: Being unwilling to be hemmed in will not make one any less hemmed in. The "non aggression principle" is fine as principles go -- it's real life that decides how principles are to be applied, though.

: Because there are social connections there is not an automatic righteousness (nor inevitability) about being hemmed in - whether its a person in America who feels hemmed into having to work at a job to obtain a living, a lower Caste Indian denied regardless of merit, or a girl in whichever tribe it is that performs barbaric female circumcision denied personal choice in her own body.

SDF: Here in the US we have a typical brand of righteousness that falsely proclaims that it is NOT hemmed in -- the "rugged individual" who takes advantage of generous family ties and generous government policies and then turns around and proclaims, "I'm the self-made man," or "we always stood on our own two feet," as if there were something shameful about getting help on one's way up the economic hierarchy of American society.

: Hence the point isnt to say "thats the way it is so there" but to challenge it, not to say "I need my neighbour so I shall be his keeper and slave" but to challenge it.

SDF: Challenging a relationship is a great way of straightening it out.

: The libertarian position - that social connections be voluntary and individuated -

SDF: Here I imagine a system where everyone is allowed to choose what sort of parents they would like to be raised by. I think that if I had such a choice, I would have chosen to be raised by parents in the wealthiest strata of American society. Wouldn't everyone choose thusly? The point is that there are some necessary limitations upon the choice of social relationship -- if one starts from present-day reality and not from principle, such limitations become more easily apparent.

: would seem far more appropriate to humankind than any kind of dictatorship.

SDF: Oh, yes, I agree, dictatorship is bad, but it's also a straw figure as far as this argument is concerned. The fact is, that who you are and what sort of choices you have in this life, is determined by your present, or potential, social connections. But this doesn't necessarily mean that you are governed by any dictatorship -- in fact, you might be constrained thusly under a completely fair and democratic government, or under no government at all for that matter.

: The idea of stateless socialism seems pleasant too - if one assumes that just about everybody on the entire planet agrees with it, and agrees to its effects on their personal lives. Both are unlikely, the first because so many people appear to gladly swap liberty for leadership, the second even more so because such agreement does not occur.

SDF: I'm glad you're open to the idea of stateless socialism.

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