In Ayn Rand’s Anthem, a dystopian fiction novel, she describes a Communist society organized by a centralized bureaucracy called the World Council of Scholars. Children are raised collectively by the whole society and not their biological parents. These children are not given names, but rather numbers – the protagonist is referred to as Equality 7-2521. Roles are assigned to them once they become adults and they are expected to fulfill these economic roles. There is no concept of salary though; equal communal living arrangements (housing and food) are provided for everybody by the World Council. The workers are also fully expected to sacrifice their lives for the sake of the collective, if necessary.
Ayn Rand may have been describing a well-functioning colony of ants or bees. E.O.Wilson, the famous sociobiologist, once quipped: “Marx was right; he just had the wrong species”. He was referring to the fact that eusocial animals with reproductive division of labour like ants and bees exhibit traits remarkably similar to communist societies.
In eusocial species, brood care responsibilities are shared by the entire hive. Since the workers are infertile, there is no need for any genetic competition between them; they can all work together with communal ownership of resources. Since the workers are clones, there are no distinctions between them. The worker bees work as a collective to serve the Queen, who is their genetic clone sister capable of reproduction. Worker roles are typically assigned by the Queen at birth (based on dietery differences in feed to the larvae). And the workers often sacrifice their lives (they are infertile, their lives don’t mean much) for the sake of the hive.
Humans, unlike bees, are a parasocial species (but not solitary like some members of the cat family). We live together in a shared community and there is inter-adult male cooperation but we are not wired for communal child-rearing. We are genetically different and fertile, which means that there will be competition among us resulting in economic inequalities. But, being social creatures, we also trade and cooperate with one another.
The notion of property rights also seems to be genetically determined. Children often make distinctions such as “this toy is mine and that is yours!”. When a child’s toy is stolen, it creates an emotional outburst. Property rights are not a social construct; Adults often have to teach children to share. That implies that sharing is the social construct and property rights are genetic.
Successful farming and dairy collectives are in existence, but they are typically family owned affairs with genetically related members. The Free Market does not impose corporate structures; it gives participants the freedom to organize their enterprises any way they want. Organizing an enterprise as a collective would require a very high degree of trust among the members and such collectives do not scale well; enterprises organized as corporations scale up more easily. This implies that the social construct called ‘sharing’ only works in genetically related, small scale units.
One of the primary corollaries of Natural Law is that the legal constructs used to govern a species must closely match the intrinsic nature of that species. All mismatches between the legal constructs used for governance and the intrinsic nature of that species create social tension and disharmony, eventually leading to violence.
When property rights are not legislatively mandated, societies remain poor and dysfunctional. When Pol Pot attempted to raise children in a communal basis, parents protested, eventually leading to a mass genocide. The Free Market, which allows competition but also trade and cooperation, is easily the best way to organize human economies.
But, process patents seems to be unnatural. Children often copy one another in sports. A child who develops a better strategy to play a game might attempt to keep that strategy secret. But, if another child manages to figure it out and copy that strategy, it is accepted as a natural consequence and is not a source of any emotional outburst. I believe that removing process patents altogether will actually make us more prosperous. Companies can keep their best practices as a secret if they can, but they should not be suing one another if their strategies are copied. Process patents will just result in making lawyers richer and consumers poorer.
You can read the original at my blog here: http://humancivilizations.wordpress.com/2013/12/20/humans-have-been...
"Perhaps we need to make a copyright distinction between the copyright of artistic works and the invention of processes which might be of general benefit and which could lead to monopolies and other abuses if ownership never ended." - Well put. This is exactly what I think. I was referring to process patents in my post above, which I feel are illegitimate. I think that artistic copyright laws are legitimate.
Do you feel as I do that artistic works should be owned in the same way as real estate, by which I mean able to be passed along from father to son/daughter and from they to their own heirs in perpetuity until/unless they decide to part with it?
I usually don't read more than the first paragraph or two of such long posts. This was interesting, some points I agreed, some I didn't. Though my acceptance of it completely irrelevant as it is a statement rather than a question.
I think if most people thought about it enough, they would agree that our society is inherently broken. This is not a cause for sorrow however, the fact that we can recognise it is the first step to fixing it and we should celebrate this.
I don't think we should look to the past for a cure or a broken society for a template in which to form ourselves, but the past is important, I have always believed that you learn more from mistakes that from success (Though you do have to accept that you made a mistake first, something some find easier than others)
I don't like to use the word 'believe' if I can avoid it, there's a short jump from that to blind faith. But I believe that as a species we will find the solution, have a peaceful society where the battle lines will be drawn in education, medicine and scientific endeavour rather than bloody conflict.
I really don't know what the solution is for a working global society, though I do know where we need to start. There are people still starving in the world, how about there?
" This was interesting, some points I agreed, some I didn't. Though my acceptance of it completely irrelevant as it is a statement rather than a question." - Thanks. You can raise your issues though.
oh, no issues. I found it interesting as I said, and I love outside the box thoughts like this even if i don't fully agree with all of it as it gets people thinking, and that's what we all want, a society that thinks.
I am as big a proponent of laissez faire capitalism as there is out there (and no, we aren't even remotely close to it here so don't accuse me of being in favor of what we have right now) but even I won't claim it's genetically predisposed!
In point of fact Ayn Rand believed our minds were a totally blank slate (tabula rasa) at least as far as informational content went. It's unclear whether she thought we might be predisposed or tend towards certain behaviors, but I think most "students of Objectivism" today would say "hell no!"
"but even I won't claim it's genetically predisposed!" - Before economists came along with their theories of capitalism/ socialism etc, the natural state was the free market. It is only through intervention that the shift towards socialism happened. As a rule, under kings/ tribal chieftains throughout history, most people hated paying taxes and paid them grudgingly for the protection of the realm. That shows to me that we are a property owning species genetically predisposed towards free market capitalism.
This is highly speculative, because we have exactly one data point (us); but I'd maintain that any creatures who are volitional, i.e., who use their minds as their primary tools of survival and who are individuals (as opposed to a hive) would operate like humans do, and all of the Objectivist arguments as to why they have rights and those rights imply a capitalist system as the only proper system would apply to that species as well as they do to us. In other words, it's not the genetics, which are specific to our species, it's the fundamental nature of the situation we find ourselves in as volitional beings whose primary tool of survival is our minds.
As a rule, under kings/ tribal chieftains throughout history, most people hated paying taxes and paid them grudgingly for the protection of the realm. That shows to me that we are a property owning species genetically predisposed towards free market capitalism.
Our human genome was shaped by evolution long before chiefdoms. Property rights didn't arise until band and tribal cultures gained enough technology, surplus of resources and leadership/management abilities to deal with them.
What empowered bands, tribes, and chiefdoms to "evolve" from communal sharing to managed trade of valuables wasn't a continuance of genetic evolution, but an explosive, contagious spread of technology--even if we're speaking of basic tools, at first--and other cultural constructs, plus novel methods of managing material and human resources.
I like better how Belle explains it a few posts, below. And add: agricultural settlement and animal domestication forced people to invent and impose property rights (and specialization of economy-oriented behavioral roles, including planning and management).
I believe that many human experiences stem from biology - like culture, economics, religions etc. I will make another post, maybe next week, with the topic "Humans have been naturally selected for religiosity".
Don't take this the wrong way ... but it seems you've already made up your mind Civilizationist. You've read works by Ayn Rand and some other books and have proposed a theory and have defended it against anything anyone else has to say. Believing strongly in a theory, searching for evidence that confirms it and negating on principle any response to it...shows passion and resolve...but it won't do much for your theory.
What makes a theory strong, worth defending and valuable ... is it's ability to withstand the test of anything you can throw at it. You should be the biggest anti-critic of your own theory, test it against everything, submit it to any criticism you can. Search for examples of human civilization where property is not inherent. Consider though experiments where property and evolution have no meaningful connection. Read books and sources which challenge it, find evidence against it. If your theory still stands...it will be a powerful and robust one. One worth defending.