Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Standard distorts the idea of "service"

The Standard has made a peculiar post saying:

"All those engaged in service violate the neo-lib/neo-con ‘ethic’ of looking out only for yourself. Since neo-liberals depend on the stable running of society to pursue their own interests, they operate as free-loaders on the efforts of others to maintain a civil and just society. Since they do not understand the urge to help others, they denigrate."

Where is the evidence for this? When has anyone either conservative or laissez-faire liberal ever condemned those who either choose to be in the armed forces or engage in voluntary or paid work that is primarily about helping others?

It goes on to claim those who "denigrate service" are "parasites on society" because they rely on the stability that comes from those who "give service".

What?

What planet of Orwellian doublespeak and lies is The Standard coming from?

The condemnation of Helen Clark as "engaging in service" is valid because she has NOT engaged in defending the country, or providing health, education, food or housing for ANYONE? Politics is not some sort of self-sacrificial "service" it is a relatively well paid (for a fair number who enter it) activity that is primarily about controlling people and spending their money. How is this service? What else would she have done? Who can possibly say Helen Clark feels unsatisfied or that she has sacrificed herself for what she did? Moreover, how can this be compared to being a doctor, cop or an entrepreneur who sets up business and employs people?

The "stability of society" primarily comes about because most people most of the time get on with their own lives, look after themselves, families and loved ones, and don't try to meddle in or control the lives of others. The Police play a role in being called upon in last resort when people initiate force against each other. This is seen as "service" because it isn't obviously self interested, but few join the Police to suffer. The Police are paid, and most enter the job for a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction. THAT is part of the selfishness Ayn Rand talked of, the virtue of looking after yourself as the primary goal.

You see for virtually everyone there is satisfaction in providing for yourself materially and emotionally, and in being benevolent to your friends, family and loved ones. It is what being human is.

Sadly some on the left think they have a monopoly on this, bizarrely translating "service" into meaning the superstructure of their beloved state - a series of interlocking institutions which initiate force.

That's where the two visions of human benevolence differ.

Statists believe your primary goal should be to "serve others", to "sacrifice yourself" is the highest virtue, and the best way to do this is through the state. You do this by working for the state and "doing service" through this, or you can surrender your taxes and know you are "caring" somehow by having it all done through this mammoth collective exercise.

Objectivists believe your primary goal should be to "live" and "enjoy life", and that is up to you. Human nature means people are social beings, so will be generous, benevolent and kind to family, friends and loved ones. It is, after all, how families are created. By maximising your life, you also maximise your own capacity and willingness to give to others - witness the generosity of Bill Gates.

Human beings who live their own lives pursuing their own values produce enormous positive externalities to others, as well as often being generous in their own right.

However nobody exists to satisfy the needs and wants of others. That is slavery.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Now that's a good post