No Johann, not quite

The same predictions are made about every disaster – that once the lid of a tightly policed civilization is knocked off for a second, humans will become beasts. But the opposite is the case. It sounds grotesque to say we should see reasons for hope as we watch in real time while the earth is shaken six inches on its axis, tsunamis roar, and nuclear power stations teeter on meltdown. But it is true. From this disaster, we can learn something fundamental about our species. It should guide how the Japanese authorities behave today – and kill off right-wing ideologies based on the belief that humans are inherently selfish tomorrow.

That in extremis humans are hugely cooperative is true.

That when not in extremis humans are not so is also true.

Thus we need to base our plans, our designs for society, on a sound footing. Assume cooperativeness in extremis, not so in not.

The right is right about everyday life so we should be organising daily life upon those principles.

As an analogy, we all know that at the end of the night, when the beer goggles are firmly in place, when hormones are running rampant, that the fat chick can get laid.

But we don\’t therefore conclude that fat chicks can get laid any time they want to.

Extreme environments change behaviour, d\’ye see?

11 comments on “No Johann, not quite

  1. Right wing ideologies do not believe that humans are inherently selfish, left wing ones do.

    Those who believe in the free market believe that we can make a tidy little profit while voluntarily helping those less fortunate than ourselves. Left whingers however firmly believe that the only way to combat inherent selfishness in their fellow humans is to regulate and thus compel them to help others despite their selfish natures.

  2. I would say it’s more like arguing violently with you old man and then rallying round when the silly old bugger has a heart attack. We want to score points off of other people, but that doesn’t mean we want them to die.

    And what DocBud said. It’s the lefties that think we would sell our grandmothers, beat our wives and bugger any toddler we could get our hands on if it wasn’t for the restraining hand of the state.

  3. “From this disaster, we can learn something fundamental about our species. It should guide how the Japanese authorities behave today – and kill off right-wing ideologies based on the belief that humans are inherently selfish tomorrow.”

    Someone needs to tell Little Johann that the exception to the rule is not the rule.

    Someone also needs to tell him that “the belief that humans are inherently selfish” sounds a lot like modern environmentalism.

    Unctious rodent.

  4. The mistake Johann makes is confusing ‘selfishness’ with‘self interest’.

    Self interest really means ‘voluntary, uncoerced decision’, which says nothing about whether that decision will be particularly cooperative or selfish.

    Yes, people are cooperative. That’s why they make lots of voluntary, uncoerced decisions to undetake cooperative activity – starting families, clubs, businesses, charities, churches etc.

    If we look at the top 10 freest countries (e.g. US, Australia, Canada, Denmark etc), you’d find plenty of cooperative activity

    And sometimes that voluntary, uncoerced decision results in selfish activity, but you will see plenty of that too in countries at the other end of the list – Zimbabwe, Venezuela etc.

    Maybe we need to ditch the ‘self interest’ expression and use the expression ‘voluntary, uncoerced decision’ instead – if for no other reason than to help Johann.

  5. “kill off right-wing ideologies based on the belief that humans are inherently selfish tomorrow.”

    Moron.

    The right-wing ideology isn’t an ideology and it isn’t based on the belief that humans are inherently selfish.

    It is simply the observation that humans try to get as much as they can with as little effort as possible. They will actively invest effort to find out how to reduce the effort needed for any given task – this is the thing that has allowed such fantastic wealth to be created.

    Any system which either ignores or attempts to prevent this is doomed.

  6. Hmm. Disaster strikes an extremely racially homogeneous country, that is also extremely culturally law abiding and respectful of old people.

    Is it any wonder there is no looting and rioting and exploitation of strength over weakness?

    Judging by some of the cases that pass through our court system on a daily basis I would doubt it would be all sweetness and light in the UK in similar circumstances.

  7. You only know what you are told. The media prefer it that way. From the Blitz to Katrina there was behaviour not reported on.

  8. The attempts to create communism could have taught people stamping out self-interested economic activity has severe unintended consequences – but no, people co-operating under extreme circumstances constitutes such powerful evidence that right wing economics is so obviously and crudely false only a reactionary troglodyte would cling to it.

  9. “You only know what you are told. The media prefer it that way. From the Blitz to Katrina there was behaviour not reported on.”

    Yep, and all the Brits who live over there who are remarking on the non-looting and wondering what would happen if (say) Brum were wrecked in a (presumably canal-based) tsunami are similarly in the pay of ‘them’.

    Put your tin foil hat back on, the rays are getting to you.

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