Thursday, October 18, 2007

More On Grade 9 Social Studies

I’m still on this quote from a grade 9 social studies textbook.

Individualism is a theory that individual freedom is just as important as the welfare of the community or group as a whole. It often involves the absence of cooperation.” P.35 “Made in USA.” Reidmore books, 1990

Let’s talk about this quote. Individualism involves the absence of cooperation. Huh. This is explicitly false. Instead capitalism is the economic model which stipulates that all contracts are voluntary. When two separate groups choose to work together for a common purpose is the very definition of cooperation. A paradigm where all contracts are voluntary and no individual or group has the right to coerce another man or group is dependent on cooperation to achieve aims.

And the opposite of a free cooperative state is a controlled society. Statists are not dependent on cooperation because the government has the ability to coerce people. They in effect control production, pricing and the law. For example when the government stipulates that X percentage of work done on crown lands must be done by unionized workers they are not promoting cooperation they are promoting coercion. The union rep knows the industry man is bound to law and must work with him, and he exploits this knowledge for his own potential gains—wages, work schedules, and general power. The industry man resents that he must do work with who state has told him to work with and certainly there is little cooperation between the two groups.

When contracts are voluntary they must be good for both sides or the contract will not be signed. This puts an emphasis on cooperation between the two groups.

10 Comments:

At 1:11 PM, Blogger Chimera said...

"Let’s talk about this quote. Individualism involves the absence of cooperation. Huh. This is explicitly false."

You missed a word: "It often involves the absence of cooperation." Often. Not always.

The point of individualism is that each individual is as important as every other individual, and that no one can be forced into actions he finds objectionable.

Like-minded individuals often come together as a group for a specific purpose. There is strength in numbers, after all. This does not mean that they all stay in the same group for every purpose.

Non-cooperation is a subtle and passive tactic that an individual can use to signal either his opposition or his lack of interest in the actions or direction of a group. Like abstaining from a vote, which is as "free" as members of parliament are allowed to be in the ultimate controlled society -- party politics.

 
At 4:03 PM, Blogger angryroughneck said...

Often is an important word. I'll grant, but still the implication is that lack of cooperation amongst people is especially indicative of a free society. We are all savages just waiting to loot each other-- only stopped by the benevolent government.

 
At 4:30 PM, Blogger Chimera said...

I interpretted that passage in a whole different way: not that lack of cooperation is the defining parameter of a free society, but that a free society can function without the specific cooperation of every member, all the time.

Being an ardent individualist myself, I have a loathing for an artificially controlled social structure. Ideally, everyone should be able to conduct his own life in his own manner, without having to suffer disapproval or stigmatism from other members of society. I speak here of a social structure, rather than an economic one.

 
At 10:32 PM, Blogger angryroughneck said...

"Ideally, everyone should be able to conduct his own life in his own manner, without having to suffer disapproval or stigmatism from other members of society."

And of course you are 100% right.

Your overall interpretation is is interesting-- maybe right. I am more cynical though.

Does your interpretation of the quote then not imply that cooperation is is acheived through mandate-- by the taextbook's structure and your own interpretation?

Or else he would have said individualism is not reliant or dependent on cooperation-- which would have been fine.

 
At 12:46 PM, Blogger Chimera said...

"Does your interpretation of the quote then not imply that cooperation is is acheived through mandate-- by the taextbook's structure and your own interpretation?"

I don't know about textbook structure or definition. I rely a lot on what makes sense to me, as an individual. And I don't always agree with what others before me have said.

But "cooperation by mandate" strikes me as being non-individualistic, if we define a mandate as being a majority opinion. While such a system might work well if the numbers are small, and there's a little horse-trading going on, I don't think it works well for the population of a country. The higher the number of individuals involved, the more complicated and unfeasable the mandate process gets.

Say, for example, three people are going to a movie. Two want to see an action film and one wants comedy. With a promise that the other two will pay for his ticket and buy his popcorn, the one who wants a comedy might be willing to see the action film. Or he might go see the comedy by himself and meet up with the other two later.

In a small group, this would work.

But make the numbers much larger, and the majority is a simple majority (say, 1501 to 1499 for a total of three thousand), and you've got a whole different dynamic. Even if you stick with the movie scenario, the "mandate" doesn't seem like such a simple thing anymore. And now you're also getting into the sub-division of categories of movies, as well (what kind of action, or comedy). Even if the majority would be willing to pay for the minority (and not all of them would be willing to do that), there is now a large minority -- some of whom will absolutely refuse to be cajoled, bribed, or horse-traded.

It gets complicated. But then, we are complicated beings.

This is a fascinating topic. I've not previously had a chance to explore its depths like this. When I was in grade nine, our social studies classes were nothing like this.

 
At 7:51 AM, Anonymous lwestin said...

. Obviously, the more individualistic a person is, the less AUTOMATICALLY they co-operate with gov't mandated control of their lives. I am individualistic in my behavior. I homeschool to avoid gov't indoctrination of my children. I am proudly and publicly religious. An individual choice. My individual spiritual and ethical choices are to care about my neighbor. This caring does not coiincide with the gov't mandated caring. In fact, there are very few areas of agreement with gov't mandate. Am I a bad citizen? Am I uncooperative, to the detriment of society? I believe the contrary is true. My individualism is based on my beliefs, and has a resistance of 'evil' and a promotion of 'good' as its modus operandi. However, my idea of 'good' and 'bad'. which I would argue, and believe, are objective truths, does not come close to the gov'ts.

Secularism, our current societal mode and belief structure, relies and promotes individualism, kind of. I don't see anything wrong with the textbook definition. The question is " what does the gov't mandated teacher, teach about how the individual should behave in society." On the one hand, the 'rights' oriented propaganda seems individualistic (behave how youlike, as long as you don't bother me) but the gov't forces more than 'live and let live'. It MAKES US SAY THAT CERTAIN BEHAVIORS ARE GOOD AND NORMAL. It can't work both ways, and is doomed to be repressive towards the truly individualistic.

 
At 11:20 AM, Blogger Chimera said...

"My individualism is based on my beliefs, and has a resistance of 'evil' and a promotion of 'good' as its modus operandi."

Any time anyone steps out of the shadows and actively promotes anything, he steps away from the whole idea of individuality. A true individual accepts the individualism of others, as well.

 
At 11:27 AM, Blogger angryroughneck said...

"Any time anyone steps out of the shadows and actively promotes anything, he steps away from the whole idea of individuality"

Even an individualist must make his own moral judgements though. being an individualist doesn't make an individual a passive thinker. he has right to his own thought, he is just unable to force his ideas onto anyone else. That is a free state.

But an individualist is still free to promote and if he has any integrity he will actively promote his own ideas.

 
At 11:54 AM, Anonymous lwestin said...

But an individualist is still free to promote and if he has any integrity he will actively promote his own ideas.


Exactly. An individual in a free society should be free to live his beliefs so long as he is not FORCING them on others. Our Canadian society represses the natural right of individuals to do that. FORCING is not the same as expressing them. Or promoting them. When a gov't decides which beliefs should be promoted by gov't and which are forbidden to be seen or heard, that is repression.

 
At 3:01 PM, Blogger Chimera said...

"FORCING is not the same as expressing them. Or promoting them."

I half agree. A simple expression of belief is a statement of what one believes. Nothing more.

However, promotion of a belief involves the addition of a "should," as in, "You should believe the same as I." The implication is that someone else's beliefs are not good enough, or wrong.

We're not talking about facts, which are objective, but beliefs and philosophies, which are subjective. Anything subjective can never be wrong for the person who holds it. The wrong of it comes in when anyone tries to impose it on someone else who is unwilling to have any part of it.

I think we're all of us not too far apart in our thinking. The difference comes with our definitions of the word "promote."

 

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