OCCOM BILL wrote: joefromchicago wrote:
Self-interested Randian types can operate successfully in US society because there is a regime of laws that is based upon the assumption that people, in general, don't act like self-interested Randian types. In a Randian society, however, we should expect that the laws would no longer reflect that assumption.
Wow. We view this radically different. Could you give an example or 2 of laws that currently benefit the Self-interested, but would vanish in the Randian Revolution?
I'll give only one example; I think it will become evident why it's not necessary to give two.
Let's return to promise-keeping. Under the current regime of laws, there are few criminal penalties associated with breaking one's promise (one example might be perjury, where a witness promises to tell the truth). On the other hand, the law of contracts, which is part of the civil law, is based entirely
on the notion of promise-keeping. Thus if a person promises to exchange a product for a sum of money and fails to deliver that product, that person can't be jailed
but he can be sued
for his failure to keep his promise.
Now, the self-interested Randian knows that, in the grand scheme of things, keeping promises is rational, in that, over the long run, he will benefit himself more by keeping his promises than by not keeping his promises. And that applies even in those cases where keeping his promise might not, in the short run, benefit him. In this respect, the rationally self-interested Randian resembles a Kantian, although they arrive at their "categorical imperatives" by radically different means.
In the Randian community (Galt Gulch), the citizens would not hesitate to deal with one another, because each would be confident that the other would adhere to the same rational belief regarding promise-keeping: each, in other words, would uphold his end of the bargain, even if it turned out that the bargain was disadvantageous to one (or both) of them. Indeed, it would not be necessary to enact a law regarding promise-keeping, since rational people would have no cause to break their promises.
One might argue, of course, that the laws regarding promise-keeping would still remain in force in a Randian community, even though no one "in their right mind" would ever violate the law, but that would be a rather curious position. After all, Rand thought that society could
operate according to her principles. If that's the case, then either everyone would be a Randian (in which case there would be no need for the law because no one would break their promises) or else only some
people would be Randians (in which case there would still be a need for the law, since no one could count on everyone acting as rationally self-interested promise-keepers).
But if only some
members of the community are Randians, then that leads to a paradox: how do we create a Randian society where only some of its members are Randians? Well, as I pointed out before, one way would be for the true Randians (the "Galts" and "Roarks" of the society) to gull the non-Randians into acting in a fashion that conformed, more or less, to the Randian ideal -- perhaps through some kind of "Platonic noble lie." In other words, the non-rational (or, as I put it before, the "stupids") would need to be led
by the Galts and Roarks.
Frankly, I don't think Rand would have had too much trouble with the idea of heroic individuals like Galt and Roark leading the unenlightened masses in a Randian society. There's a certain Nietzschean rejection of "slave morality," I think, behind much of what Rand wrote. Granted, she thought that everyone
was a potential Galt, but I have a sneaking suspicion that she had very little confidence that such a transformation could ever be achieved by the masses. As such, the rationally self-interested would operate under one set of moral principles, while the stupids would face one of three options: follow the Galts; attain self-interested "enlightenment;" or perish in the Randian struggle for survival.
Consequently, in a society composed entirely of rationally self-interested people, there would be no need for a law of contracts, since no one would break their promises. If someone did
break their promise, it would be more appropriate to subject that person to a psychiatric examination than to a lawsuit, since breaking a promise would be a sign of irrational
behavior. On the other hand, in a society composed partially
of rationally self-interested people, there would still be a need for a law of contracts, but then that would either not be a Randian society (as is the case with US society today) or else there would be the need for some mechanism to control the non-Randians, both for their own good and the good of society as a whole.
OCCOM BILL wrote: joefromchicago wrote:
Or murder all the productive types in a bloody revolution.
Didn't they do that in Mother Russia once? I don't get why you are convinced Joe-Average-American would be foolish enough to do such a thing. Absent desperation or fanaticism, why would anyone do such a thing?
Murdering people in a revolution would, presumably, be an irrational
act. In a society composed entirely of Randians, such an event would be unthinkable. In a society composed only partially of Randians, however, there is nothing to say that such a bloody uprising could not take place. It would be irrational, that's true, but then people occasionally act irrationally.