Monday, February 14, 2011

Moral Codes and Politics

For the purposes of this post, let us express the typical moral duality in terms of a JFK quote, because I think it sums up a dichotomy nicely: "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."

Let's call these two moral codes, for the purpose of this discussion, Selfishness and Altruism, where Selfishness is "What can my country do for me?" and Altruism is "What can I do for my country?"

Let's call Egoism the rejection of these two moral codes; that you should be doing nothing for your country, and your country should be doing nothing for you, as a matter of deliberate course.

Let's call Communalism a similar rejection but from a different angle, substituting in the question "What can my country do for itself?" as a rejection of the notion of individual addition or subtraction from the whole as a meaningful debate.

Some introspection: How would you classify your moral and political principles on these four codes, and how would you classify your political opponents?  How would you classify how you live up to your principles, at least if you subscribe to selfishness/altruism?  And your political party?

I am an Egoist; how I live up to those principles isn't particularly meaningful to anybody but me, but I do quite well at it.

I regard liberals as primarily Altruistic in theory, but in practice primarily Selfish (owing to that their primary support is derived from individuals who benefit from its programs); I regard conservatives as primarily Altruistic in theory, but in practice primarily Communalistic (owing to social conservatives' emphasis on moral law, which rejects individuality as a matter of course and purpose).

I regard my party, the Libertarians, as primarily Egoistic in principle.  In practice we tend to be Altruists; very few libertarians are libertarian as a matter of principle, but because they think the outcome will be better from a libertarian government.

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