Sunday, October 18, 2015

Altruist Economics: An Oxymoron

As the term economy is understood to be a system of trade – a barter system, or laissez-faire, or a mixed economy in which the freedom to trade and produce hampered, saddled and skewed by government controls and regulations, the notion of an economy founded on altruism is, like an “Islamic economy,” an oxymoron.

The Gatestone Institute carried a revealing article about the state of Sweden on October 17th, Ingrid Carlqvust’s “Sweden Close to Collapse.” She began the article with:

Sweden is fast approaching a complete collapse. More and more municipalities are raising the alarm that if the migrants keep coming at this pace, the government can no longer guarantee normal service to its citizens. In addition, ominous statements from government officials have left Swedes in fear of what tomorrow may bring. If the migrant wave keeps coming, in 10-15 years, Swedes will be a minority in their own country.

At a press conference October 9, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said that Sweden is in a state of crisis. However, when asked to clarify what he meant by this, Löfven was unable to produce a single coherent sentence.

Three ministers appeared by the Prime Minister's side at the hastily summoned press conference, which came on the heels of an extraordinary government meeting. The purpose of the press conference seems to have been to convey two messages:

  1. To explain to the world and the Swedish people that Sweden is facing "one of the largest humanitarian efforts in Swedish history."
  2. That there is no more housing available, and migrants should be prepared to live in tents.

During the question period after the ministers' speeches, journalist Tomas Ramberg of Ekot Public Radio asked: "You say that Sweden is preparing for a crisis situation, what do you mean by those dramatic words?"

Stefan Löfven's reply was incomprehensible:

And Prime Minister Löfven’s reply was indeed incoherent.

"Yes, well first of all we, we are in the middle of what I mean seriously when I'm saying, when I express a, a big thank you to all the people doing such a great job, because it is a humanitarian effort, it's just as the Minister for Justice and Migration just said. What we are actually doing is that we are saving lives when people who come from bombs, from, from killing, from oppression, their lives are shattered. We, we help them and that is a, that is a great humanitarian effort, and of course now that we can see the number of people who need it, that are seeking protection, then it is one of the greatest humanitarian efforts. And that we are facing a crisis situation, that is in part why I, we are outlining today that we are also preparing for a situation where we may need to house people in tents, because we stand up with the humanitarian refugee policy, right of asylum, but we can now also see that we cannot close our eyes to the fact that there are more coming than ever in such a short time, and we need to provide a roof over their heads. Then it is -- other things may be required."

This rambling, disjointed delivery is the mark of a disorganized, non-conceptual mind, of a non- or perhaps even anti-hierarchical mentality made worse by an urgency and a panic under pressure to say something, anything. The irrationality of the response is compounded by the very irrationality of the issue: the Kantian, altruist imperative to “do the right thing” regardless of the consequences to one’s country or even to one’s life. It is on a par with the incomprehensible mouthings of Vice President Joe Biden (whose mind seems to run on fumes) and Secretary of State John Kerry (whose mind seems powered by LSD). You have to wonder if Löfven can tie his own shoelaces or shave without cutting his face, or has these tasks performed for him.

What should be said to Sweden, Germany, Austria, France, Britain, the Netherlands, and other nations whose governments want to "do the right thing" and import hundreds of thousands of “refugees”  is:  Be careful about what you ask for. Or, think twice. But then the Swedes have been "prepped" by their government-dominated education not to think long-range, or even to believe that their country is a value. Some Swedes are beginning to wake up, but not enough of them. Those who speak out against the immigrant invasion are immediately branded "racist" or "Islamophobes" who have to be beaten down and shunned and made to conform and accept their own demise.

And the role of the Swedish media is disgraceful, in that it refuses to report all the rapes, robberies, and other crimes committed by the Muslims in their midst. That makes the Swedish media ideologically complicit with the government in a mutual suicide pact that hides the truth about what they’re condemning the citizenry to, which pact includes the citizenry against its wishes and knowledge.

One must also wonder what ever happened to Swedish manhood. Have the politically correct state education systems of Sweden, Denmark, and Norway reduced their men to photogenic versions of neurosis-ridden Woody Allen? They are existential nerds. They don’t get upset at anything, just wring their hands like anxious pansies every time their women are raped, or when they’re attacked by Muslim gangs, beaten up, and robbed?

It's the same in Germany, which has a policy of not reporting crimes and bad news about the "refugees" and “asylum seekers” and “migrants” because doing so would create a "negative image" of them and lend “legitimacy” to the complaints and fears of the citizenry that it is about to be overwhelmed by hordes of barbarians who refuse to assimilate and who come with an attitude that Germans owe them a living, all the comforts of home, and unconditional deference to their religion and wants and "needs."

I really feel sorry for a rational person living in any one of these countries. There was a Bob Hope comedy from decades ago called "I'll Take Sweden." Were he still alive, I don't think he'd want to, anymore. It would be too dangerous.

One can isolate two key concepts from Löfven’s that are keys to why Sweden is facing “one of the largest humanitarian efforts [disasters?] in Swedish history”: humanitarian and the right of asylum.

There are two kinds of humanitarianism: the kind demonstrated when a tornado strikes a Western state and leaves a path of death and destruction; people are free to send the victims aid and assistance. That is the benevolent kind. It is debatable whether or not  governments should have the power to practice this kind of humanitarianism. Other than sending in military forces to preserve law and order, how is it to be paid for, and who decides which victims should be helped, and how?

The other form of humanitarianism seeks to “save” others from their independence, to force them to conform to standards of morality established by self-appointed social and political elites. Most of the “refugees” pouring into Europe are not refugees from tyranny, oppression, or genocide. Most of them are Muslims who wish to impose their own brand of tyranny, oppression, and even genocide (especially when it concerns Jews, although I personally don’t adhere to the notion that being Jewish necessarily implies a racial category, just as I don’t adhere to the notion that being Catholic means being Irish or Polish). In that respect, Muslims, especially the aggressive, supremacist ones, can also be called “humanitarians,” in that they wish to save infidels from their apostasy; everyone, says Islamic dogma, was once a Muslim; they strayed from the faith in acts of infidelity. So, if they can’t be “saved” or brought back into the nihilistic, life-hating fold, then they must be despised, enslaved, or killed.

The other term, the right of asylum, is directly linked to humanitarianism: people need to find a place of refuge from whatever they claim bedevils them back home; the altruist corollary is the moral obligation of those who can offer succor to place their countries, homes, and economies at their service, even it means sacrificing their countries, their citizens’ lives, homes, safety, and economic solvency. It is altruism that makes this kind of selflessness possible. The right of asylum, recognized by virtually every Western government, is an automatic and unconditional claim by “refugees” on the benevolence, resources, and money of others.

No “refugee” group has a “right to asylum” in any country. One’s suffering, real or alleged, is not an automatic claim to enter and settle in any nation, no more than a homeless person has an automatic claim to move into one’s home, or to anything one owns. Suffering and destitution are not measures of life. To recognize suffering as a primary measure of moral social interaction is, ultimately, suicidal for the humanitarian and kneejerk altruist.  Sweden is among those nations discovering or acknowledging this fact for the first time.

Altruism is the bedrock morality for this species of humanitarianism, and it is altruism which partners with Kant’s categorical imperative to “do the right thing” regardless of one’s life and other values. Without the morality of sacrifice and self-sacrifice, the kind of destructive humanitarianism we see at work in Europe now with the “refugees” would not be possible.

The term altruism is derived from Auguste Compte’s own Positivist imperative, vivre pour autrui, or "live for others.” Altruism was his “religion of humanity.”  Humanitarianism, the totalitarian or statist kind, is intimately linked to altruism. Most dictionary definitions of the term stress the regard for the welfare of others, although they do not underscore an indiscriminate or limitless concern or regard. The Compact Oxford English Dictionary (1971 edition) however, has nearly a whole column devoted to the variegated senses and meanings of the term, implicitly stressing the wholesale or limitless regard for mankind:

A.2 – One who professes the “Religion of Humanity” [viz. Comte], holding that man’s duty is chiefly or wholly comprised in the advancement of the welfare of the human race; applied to various schools of thought and practice.  [Square brackets mine]
3. – One who advocates or practices humane action; one who devotes himself to the welfare of mankind at large; a philanthropist.

The Oxford definition of altruism, after the necessary reference to Comte,  is short and straightforward:

Devotion to the welfare of others, regard for others, as a principle of action; opposed to egoism or selfishness.

And what happens when everything is given to the recipients of the unearned, when there is no more left to give? Anarchy. The collapse of society. Savagery. Carlquist write:

Reinfeldt's deal opened the immigration floodgates. In 2014, 81,000 people sought asylum in Sweden; and 33,500 were granted asylum. However, as many of the immigrants subsequently brought over their relatives, that figure substantially increased. Last year, 110,000 people were granted residency status in Sweden. One should add to this figure an unknown number of illegal aliens.

There is now talk of 180,000 asylum seekers coming to Sweden in 2015. That number is more than twice as many as the year before. If half of them are granted asylum, and they each bring over three relatives, we are talking about 270,000 new immigrants to Sweden -- within one year. Over 8000 people arrived just last week, 1,716 of whom were so-called "unaccompanied refugee children."

However, the fact that the government is now talking about housing migrants in tents, may be a signal that Sweden, despite everything, may not want to be on the front lines of the "humanitarian" battle anymore, after all. The prospect of spending an ice-cold Swedish winter in a tent may make migrants choose countries other than Sweden. If not, a complete collapse of the Swedish system is imminent.

In 2014, the Danish historian and social commentator Lars Hedegaard prophetically remarked in the book "Farliga ord"(Dangerous Words), that the economic breakdown of a nation always happens quickly and unexpectedly:

"If there is any lesson to be drawn from history, it is that what you do not think will happen, does. Time and again. The final consequence of the West and, above all, Sweden's immigration policy is that the economy will collapse -- because who is going to pay for it all? And economic breakdowns, once they happen, always happen very fast."

What happens when the welfare state can no longer provide “services,” medical care, and guaranteed incomes to the “refugees”?

There is no more economy. Altruism cannot sustain a productive economy. Altruism and productivity are as irreconcilable as are Western civilization and Islam. An altruist economy is also an oxymoron.

It is usually the claimants of the unearned, the parasites, who take to the streets in demonstrations or in “retaliatory” violence. We have seen that happen over and over again elsewhere.

What would happen if the “providers” – the doctors, the engineers, the skilled labor, the taxpayers – go on strike, or simply “migrate” from their own country because it has become inhospitable? What happens when they stop supporting their own destroyers, which would include the barbarians and their government?

What would happen in Sweden if Swedes edged closer and closer to open revolt, and like many Germans now, cry, “We're mad as Hell and we're not going to take this anymore!”

If you want to be a humanitarian, a philanthropist, or a career altruist, the lesson is to do it on your own time and dime.

Ayn Rand wrote a blockbuster novel that dramatizes the consequences of “managing” a country according to altruist principles: Atlas Shrugged.


Edward Cline said...

Postscript: A looters' economy ultimately cannibalizes itself. When there is no more left to loot, no one left to loot, it collapses, implodes, and brings down with it whatever is left of productivity and civilized society.

Joe said...

The right to asylum is predicated on the idea that government itself has rights... Which, it does not. under a proper government system, where only individuals owned property, including all of the land in a given country, where would these asylum seekers be housed? You would need someone willing to host these tent cities on his land, and be willing to be responsible for how that camp is administered.

Immigration is fine... The expectation of free services is not. In any situation, the refugee/immigrant should abide by the laws of whatever country he moves to.

laine said...

Joe's suggestion that "immigration is fine...the expectation of free services is not" is unworkable under present leftist government policies. Muslim immigrants who lack both skills and the language of the host country are bound to require free services such as tutoring in language, upgrading skills, health care and finally education for their 8 or more children. In a few countries such dead weight would not be accepted under immigrant programs so they're sprinkled with the fairy dust of "refugee status" and can still enter as life long drains on the host economy.

Even the so-called altruism of the loony Left is suspect as they could do a lot more good for a lot more people by sending any charity funds to the 3rd world instead of importing a lucky few 3rd worlders to consume them. Euros, kroners, dollars, they all go much further in countries where the average daily earnings are a few dollars a day. Money that would support a single family in the West could help out 10 or even 100 families in their impoverished countries of origin.

Joe said...

Liane, I understand the difficulties that exist based on bad policy, socialist governments with improper principles, and the possibility that bad actors(terrorists) may come right along with the immigrants. To that I say to those socialist governments, "you get what you've asked for." Enforce objective law based on individual rights and the problems will lessen considerably.

But I have a hard time getting past the fact that all men have inalienable rights... If an entirely innocent person flees the barbarians in the Middle East and asks for nothing, and initiates no force against anyone, what is his crime? Who has say over where he may go or not go?Ayn Rand herself fled Soviet Russia, granted, we did not as yet have much reason to fear Russia, but what if the US had categorically denied anyone Russian from coming here?

I have no illusions about the possible threats from Islamic terrorists... I face them more closely than most of our population. As a member of the military I've already been targeted. Because of that, I say be ready for anything and caution others to do the same. Creating rights violating policy as a bandaid for previously passed bad policy seems a step in the wrong direction. Focus should be on fixing the bad policies and bad governments.

Having said all that, none of this would be much of a problem if property rights were strictly recognized and protected, as I mentioned in my first post. The government would not just bring people in willy nilly. Those people would need a physical place to stay, on someone's private property and would therefore be incentivized to assimilate if they wanted any assistance from those private sources. Manufacturers could get a boon on cheap labor as those seeking to improve their condition learned new skills.