A lot of smart people recognize that there are serious structural problems with the current political system, but there is much disagreement on how those problems should be dealt with. While I have often argued for sophiarchism, in many corners radical democratic theory remains more popular. I’d like to offer an argument for rejecting, at least in part, what radical democratic theory has to offer. “Radical democratic theory” is a lengthy phrase, so, for our mutual convenience, I will refer to radical democratic theory as “Rad-Demism” and those who believe in radical democratic theory as “Rad-Dems”. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve been thinking lately about why we cooperate with each other–why we form communities and states. The typical Hobbesian answer to this question is that we cooperate in order to protect ourselves from violence. There is truth in that answer, but security concerns, while a primary motivator for cooperation, are not the only motivator. This is important, because there are those who oppose cooperative institutions on the grounds that a world without cooperative institutions isn’t as dangerous as Hobbesians commonly believe, suggesting we should become total individualists (e.g. anarchists, transcendentalists, etc.).
In political theory, there is some disagreement about what precisely society is. Liberal theorists believe that society is just an amalgamation of individual interests. Libertarians often argue that there is no society at all, that the individual interests are all there are. Both views contrast with the collectivist view, that there are irreducible social goods that cannot be located in individuals at all, because these goods require a society to exist in the first place. Today I’d like to weigh in on the topic by arguing that there are indeed goods that typically require society, but that this nonetheless does not make them irreducible. Society is more than the sum of various individual interests, but it is not separate from its component people either. Let’s dive in.
There’s another upstart group of intellectual hipsters in addition to the sceptics and the lovers of Nietzsche–the libertarians. You’ve definitely met these hipsters before. They wax romantically about Ron Paul, some of them voted for Gary Johnson, they tend to like theorists like Nozick and Locke, and some of them are Ayn Rand-embracing objectivists. You know the type. Like all hipsters, their ideas are much less sophisticated and clever than they imagine, and their position is neither novel nor socially helpful. Of course, I cannot merely assert these things, I have to prove them. Let’s go.