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(The following is a quote posted on Facebook and the exchange that followed it)

“We’re coming to a tipping point… there’s going to be a huge conversation; is government an instrument of good or is it every man for himself? Is there something bigger we want to reach for or is self-interest our basic resting pulse?” -Aaron Sorkin

DK: Each person in our great country gets to reach for something bigger or not.

SH: We are far too individualistic a society. First, our individual welfare depends heavily on how well developed are our institutions for cooperation and coordination of our efforts. Second, our liberty is a function of our unity and social cohesion, not of our disunity and social incoherence, because government isn’t the only potential agent for depriving one of one’s liberty (or life, or property, or happiness), and it’s absence ensures that other, more diffuse predators will plague everyone incessantly. Third, we are primarily expressions of a historically produced collective consciousness, thinking in languages and with concepts, operating through social institutions and utilizing technologies that we did not individually invent, but rather collectively developed over the course of generations. Our “individuality” is a unique confluence and marginal variation of both genetic and cognitive shared material. We are part of something bigger than us, and as big as it, for it flows through us and we flow through it. Government is not arbitrary; it is one valuable social institutional modality, evolved over millennia, to be refined and utilized in ever more useful and liberating ways.

DK: I grew up in a small MA community that still made decisions during annual town hall meetings. There was a strong sense of community and neighbors took care of neighbors. My grandfather was the town’s tax collector (thirty-five years) and he provided that service evenings and weekends from his home (his day job was being a shop foreman). It was very efficient as were many of the other town services, like fire and police (volunteers). Today in that same town many of these same services are full-time and the town has buildings to house them. Is there better service? Nope. But that’s small town America. My point is the closer the government is to the people the better. Our founders knew this and tried to set up a system that limited federal authority. It does allow more individualism, versus collective authority and remote control. In my opinion collectivism just doesn’t work very well (Russia). I don’t want you or anyone else bossing me around. I’ll take care of myself and do more than my fair share to help others who are in need. Only independence leads to self-actualization. As a former trust officer I saw this with trust babies. Money isn’t everything.

SH: If you’re saying that the disintegration of our communities has been horribly bad for America, and that we would be better off working toward recreating such communities again, I not only agree with you, but it is a topic I write on often, and in very specific ways. When I talk about my ideal social movement (which I do at length, in dozens of essays on my blog, Colorado Confluence), reconstructing a specific, modern form of local community is one of the three components I emphasize.

If your suggestion is that the growth in the federal governmental role in our lives is incompatible with this, or the cause of this, then I couldn’t disagree more. The primary causes of the disintegration of local community have been: 1) increased geographic mobility (and the economic incentives for it), 2) increased options for associating with people remotely (thus decreasing the need to associate with neighbors who are dissimilar to oneself), and 3) the same rise in hyper-individualism that is responsible for our diminished willingness to consider government a tool of collective action and collective welfare.

A sense of community may well have been at its height at precisely the same time that we were most willing to utilize and rely on Government as a tool for taking care of one another: During the Great Depression and the New Deal. This is because the two are more inherently compatible and mutually reinforcing than inherently incompatible and mutually inhibiting.

I agree: The closer government is to the people the better. But that’s not a geographic thing, but rather an emotional, attitudinal, and behavioral thing. First, let me point out why it’s wrong as a geographic assertion, and how our history has been, in one sense, the ongoing discovery of why it’s wrong as a geographic assertion.

At the founding of this county, many (not all) of the Founding Fathers were concerned about the potential tyranny of a more remote government, and took for granted that the more local government was more a thing of the people. In many ways, this was a very nationalistic notion, because they thought of their state as their nation (that’s how we came to change the meaning of the word “state” as we have), and they considered governments that weren’t their own true ”national” government to be imperialistic and foreign.

But our history has been one of successive increases of federal power either to increase the federal protection of individual liberty from more local government (e.g., the abolition of slavery and the 14th amendment, which catalyzed a gradual application of the Bill of Rights to state and local government as well as to federal government; the Civil Rights court federal court holdings, federal legislation, and federal enforcement), or to increase the federal role in facilitating individual liberty by increasing opportunities to thrive economically (e.g., the New Deal, the Great Society).

But a larger role for federal government does not have to be an emotionally or socially remote thing. I feel a personal connection to my two U.S. senators (one more than the other) and several of my state’s congressmen (as well as many in the state legislature and state government). In a different way (i.e., without the benefit of actual, personal interaction), I feel a personal connection to President Obama. And all of us who feel that we are in a shared national community feel that we are also in a shared local community. We tend to be more involved locally as well as nationally. I, for instance, made an effort once to reinvigorate my community, to get my neighbors more involved in our local schools and local businesses, to become more of a community. (Ironically, it is in the strongly Republican/Conservative/Libertarian enclaves such as where I live where local communities are weakest, and in the strongly Democratic neighborhoods where local communities are strongest, suggesting again that the correlation you identified is the inverse of reality.)

“Collectivism,” like “socialism” is an inherently overbroad term, and even more so in the way that it is used by modern conservatives. It is used to simultaneously refer to a set of failed totalitarian states, and to the entire corpus of modern developed predominantly capitalist but politically economic hybrid states that are the most successful economies in the history of the world. Every single modern developed nation, without exception, has the enormous administrative infrastructure that invokes those terms from conservatives, and every single one, without exception, had such an infrastructure in place PRIOR TO participating in the historically unprecedented post-WWII expansion in the production of prosperity (pre-empting an insistence that it is an unhealthy and self-defeating by-product of such wealth). In reality, the political economic form that you insist doesn’t work is the only one that ever has, on the modern scale, and the one you insist is the best imaginable has never actually existed and can never actually work.

(Sure, before the New Deal we had a much smaller federal government, but we were already using it in multiple ways to address social problems, including child labor and anti-trust laws. It only resembled the conservative ideal when we lived in a historical period that did not support any other form, due to the state of the economy and of communications and travel.)

Our founders set up a system that had the potential to articulate with and evolve according to the realities of lived history. The Constitution is brilliantly short and highly general, except in the exact design of the governmental institutions, which remain as they were outlined, with some Constitutional modifications since (such as the elimination of slavery and of their infamous designation as 3/5 of a human being, and the direct election of U.S. senators). Our nation is not some stagnant edifice following nothing more than a blueprint which perfectly predicted and mandated every placement of every brick, but rather an organic articulation of our founding principles and documents with our lived history, creating something that is responsive to both simultaneously.

No, this isn’t the America envisioned by Jefferson and Madison. It is a bit more like the one envisioned by Hamilton and Adams, and, in some ways, not nearly as “collectivist” as the one envisioned by Franklin, who considered all private wealth beyond that necessary to sustain oneself and one’s family to belong “to the public, by whose laws it was created.” But, more importantly, it is the one that the articulation of foundational principles with lived history has created. None of us can read the minds of historical figures, or impute to them with confidence what they would think today, but for everyone who says that Jefferson would be revolted by modern America, I say that it may well be that he would be delighted by it, for the ideals he helped to codify gained fuller and deeper expression, through the unexpected mechanism of a stronger rather than weaker federal government, than he was able to imagine possible. (And it was Jefferson; after all, who insisted that our social institutions have to grow and change with the times, for to fail to do so is to force the man to wear the coat which fit him as a boy.)

Community, like a well-functioning and substantial federal government, is, to some extent, all about us as a community, as a people, limiting one another’s actions and pooling resources for mutual benefit. You may not want a government bossing you around, but I don’t want corporations poisoning my air and water because they can increase the profit margin by not “wasting” money on avoiding doing so. You may not want a government bossing you around, but I want a functioning market economy rather than the undermined and unstable one that occurs in the absence of sufficient governmental regulations to ensure that centralized market actors don’t game markets to their enormous profit and to the public’s enormous, often catastrophic, detriment.

Are there challenges to be met while doing so? Does the resolution of problems create new problems to be resolved? Absolutely. Does that mean that we should rely on the never-adequate system of private charity to confront deeply embedded and horribly unjust poverty and destitution, rather than confront it as a people, through our agency of collective action, our government? Absolutely not.

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(The following essay is in large part drawn from and inspired by conversations I have had recently with my friend Dr. Mark Foster on these subjects. The opinions expressed, however, are my own. You can find Mark’s blog, “Healthy Living in Colorado,” at

I’ve previously discussed various aspects of the creative tension between the individual and the society, how it implies a more subtle and complex conceptualization of “liberty” than is currently in vogue, and how it reaches to the heart of how we define ourselves as individuals and how we organize ourselves as societies. These essays most explicitly include Liberty & InterdependenceLiberty & SocietyRights v. Security, Freedom & CoherenceInclusivity & Exclusivity, E Pluribus Unum, The Meaning of “Representation”, Free Will, Determinism, Quantum Mechanics, & Personal & Social Responsibility, Social Coherence and DisintegrationCollective Action (and Time Horizon) Problems, The Genius of the Many, and The Inherent Contradiction of Extreme Individualism, to name a few, but really include most of the essays on Colorado Confluence to some degree or another, because the creative tension between the individual and the society is at the heart of so many issues, on so many levels, through so many disciplines.

One aspect of this creative tension involves a set of interrelated issues on both the individual and social levels, touching upon our notions of mental illness, deviance, human variation, professionalism, and tolerance or accommodation, and how all of these things integrate into our social systemic reality.

Mental Health has traditionally been conceptualized as a duality: Those that are mentally ill, and those that are not. Some things that used to be considered mental illnesses (such as homosexuality, until 1974 according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association) no longer are, but it involved the moving of an item from one category to another, not a reconceptualization of the categories themselves. I addressed this somewhat in Sound Mind, Sound Body, Sound Society; Sound Good?

The similar duality involving deviance v. social conformity has experienced some parallel developments. It could be argued that homosexuality, removed from the rolls of mental illnesses in the 1970s, has remained until recently, in many or most minds, within the broader category of “social deviance” (and remains there in the minds of too many). At both the individual level of what we define as “mentally ill,” and at the societal level of what we define as “socially deviant,” we are addressing the issue of where we draw the line between that degree of deviation from the norm that is tolerable, and that degree which exceeds the limits of our tolerance.

To be fair, it is not a one-sided affair, merely a matter of how much diversity society will tolerate, but also a matter of how much deviation from the norm is functionally possible. A person must be able to integrate him- or herself into a society to a degree adequate to thrive within it. A person who deviates from the norm in a way which makes engaging in any productive contribution impossible, for instance, regardless of how accommodating the society strives to be (such as, for instance, by simply refusing to work under any and all conditions), will have a hard time paying the bills. (On the other hand, someone who disengages equally in terms of contribution and in terms of benefits is more easily tolerated.)

Generally, a deviation which involves drawing upon our collective production of wealth and welfare without contributing anything to it is deemed to be parasitic. It makes sense, on some level, not to tolerate such deviance, even if we might want to look beyond it and figure out what is motivating it and what might be done to address it. At that point, considering it either a mental health issue, or a character flaw, and how to encourage or facilitate a change of heart, becomes a functional necessity.

More emphatically, we clearly don’t and can’t tolerate forms of deviance that involve acts of violence or predation against others. This is an important point, because I believe that one of the reasons for relatively low tolerance of less threatening forms of deviance is that they challenge our faith that more threatening forms might not be implicated. For instance, if someone walks toward us acting in extremely odd ways, even if not in any explicit way threatening violence, most of us feel some apprehension that the norms which most of us follow, including those which protect us from one another, are not well enough in evidense to feel secure that they will be adhered to. In other words, when someone is acting oddly in a non-violent way, we generally have raised apprehension that he or she has above-average likelihood of acting oddly in a violent way as well.

But there is a dialectic between, on the one hand, how accommodating and flexible and tolerant a society is, and, on the other, how well that society incorporates and benefits from the true diversity within it. A police state is, by definition, a state in which there is an authoritarian stifling of all officially intolerated deviance, which is usually that deviance which is most threatening to those in power. But it tends to include almost all forms of ordinary minor deviance as well, since authoritarian states tend toward “overcontrol,” considering all variability generally threatening to the status quo from which they benefit.

In America today, those who are the most inclined to support more rather than less stringent enforcement and punishment of laws, and who are least tolerant of human variation (e.g., homosexuality, bilingualism, etc.) are also those who come “wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.” Ironically, many who most readily invoke the word “liberty” in America are least tolerant of human variation (i.e., the liberty to deviate from social norms). “Liberty” to them means only the opposite of “collectivism,” which leads to the perverse conclusion that it is better for our social systems to be coopted by powerful individuals and groups than for the polity as a whole to exercise, through its elected agents, some public oversight in the public interest.

In other words, the modern right-wing concept of “liberty” has become co-opted by an authoritarian world view. A true commitment to liberty would involve recognizing the dialectic between the individual and the society, the legitimate demands by society for some degree of conformity or “articulation” by the individual, and the legitimate countervailing force of individuals testing and stretching those limits by deviating from the norm and advocating for a social systemic evolution which ever more organically accommodates such deviations.

There is a dynamic and creative tension between the individual and the society. The society is, and must be, coherent, able to maintain its coherence, to function with the greatest possible efficiency in producing and distributing wealth (and other forms of human welfare), and in doing so in a sustainable manner. But societies benefit from individual initiative and diversity. The division of labor is a more robust creator of wealth than all people doing identical work (e.g., farming). The markets that emerge from a substantial degree of individual liberty in finding one’s niche is more robust than a command economy. But a failure to enforce the laws within which such markets function would result in a disappearance of that robustness; in other words, some centralized conforming forces are necessary and useful. The trick is to figure out how and where to draw the line.

Though we fancy ourselves a society defined by the utmost respect for individual liberty, we may in fact be a more conformity-demanding society than most other developed nations. In any case, we are a more conformity-demanding society than is optimal. This is most apparent in our prevalent standards of “professionalism,” and the impact they have on the vibrancy of our professions.

“Professionalism” has come to mean, to too great an extent, being sufficiently bland and conformist within the professional institutional setting. A doctor who blogs about the over-prescription of drugs in the treatment of mental illnesses may lose his job as a result (as one I know did), or a particularly outstanding teacher who rocks the boat by having too much personality may be driven from the profession, as many are. We are, to some extent, prisoner’s of Max Weber’s “Iron Cage of Rationality,” sterilizing our environment and ourselves in the interests of conformity and the smooth operations that it facilitates.

This does not mean that any and all behaviors should be blithely tolerated, but rather that we need to work at loosening up our social institutional framework, making it flexible enough to accommodate more rather than less human variation, tapping into that variation as a resource whenever and however possible, and demoting it to the status of a self-imposed burden as reluctantly as possible. We have to recognize that our differences, even some of our more dramatic ones, aren’t threats to our collective welfare unless we refuse to accept them and adapt to them, that we don’t have to cure ever deviation from the norm, nor dismiss every person who isn’t enough like every other person.

Liberty requires tolerance. Prosperity requires utilizing rather than ostracizing our diverse human resources. Mental health requires accepting and accommodating our differences more and seeking to eradicate them less.

As an intellectual child of “the rational actor model” (or “homo economicus”), who has at times argued that it makes most sense to conceptualize all individual actions (even apparently altruistic ones) in terms of self-interest, yesterday was one of those grand days that come with decreasing frequency, when some fundamental thread in my understanding of the world underwent a slight but significant modification.

“Homo economicus” wasn´t where I began, but rather, after exploring the universe of social theory, where I landed, retaining an interest in (and inclusion of) some elements that did not come with it (e.g., epistemology). And, though George Lakoff´s The Political Mind has just influenced me in a new way, I still do not quite so thoroughly renounce the rational actor model as Prof. Lakoff does. Rather, I see a subtler position that draws on fewer assumptions, harmonizes with a broader range of thought, better incorporates the findings of cognitive science, retains everything of value in “the rational actor model,” but supplies both a more useful and more accurate metaphor: “Thrive-interest” instead of “self-interest.”

Evolution is indeed driven by the challenge of thriving, reproducing, and ensuring that one´s offspring thrive. But the metaphor of competition that has dominated the representation of this process has been modified away from within (with non-zero-sum reasoning and acknowledgment of the emotions as mutual commitment mechanisms) and undermined from without (with cognitive scientists discovering a predisposition for empathy as perhaps the more basic cognitive fact than a predisposition for selfishness). Both the rational actor model itself, and cognitive science, have proven that cooperation is at least as salient as competition to the challenge of “thriving,” at least as “natural,” at least as basic.

Thriving involves competitive and cooperative aspects, both of which we are variously predisposed to engage in, depending on which best serves the goal of thriving. Neither is more primary than the other, except that, in nature, all thriving depends on cooperation, whereas not all thriving depends on competition, and species range from those hard-wired for cooperation (e.g., bees and ants), to those more flexibly imbued with the capacity for cooperation (e.g., mammals).

Thriving clearly implicates something very different from self-interest. As someone who had his first child at the age of 44, and lived a remarkably rich and adventurous life prior to that, I can attest to the fact that I have thrived far more deeply as a result of the huge burden on one´s narrow self-interest that is a child. But it is not just in the evolutionarily predictable context of profound and selfless love for one´s offspring, but in more general ways, that we can readily see that thriving is almost invariably served best by love and generosity. One can even, paradoxically, thrive better by net self-sacrifice than by net self-serving, even at times via the ultimate sacrifice, in which one ceases to exist as an individual organism, but thrives mightily as a member of society.

Scrooge was rich but not thriving prior to Marley’s and the three spirits’ intervention, and George Bailey was thriving far more robustly for having sacrificed his very attainable dreams of adventure and individual “success” in favor of altruism and extreme self-sacrifice to the welfare of others. Misers are miserable, egoists shrivel from within, misanthropes miss the boat, but generous souls thrive, even if childless and poor, even if in death.

Artists often suffer materially (and emotionally) for their commitment to a romantic or aesthetic vision, but occasionally thrive centuries after their death for having done so, a fate not unattractive to many such souls. Neither comfort, nor survival, nor procreation, nor even being remembered define thriving. Leaving an indelible positive mark on reality does. And that is a more inherently altruistic than egoistic goal to pursue.

“Thriving” is not an arbitrary concept, not a way of squinting and pretending that self-interest isn’t at the root of it (it isn’t), nor devoid of analytical power (it is equal to self-interest on that front, and retains all of the modeling produced by the rational actor assumption, since it still involves an individual actor making autonomous choices). It simultaneously incorporates individualism and collectivism as essential motivators, not necessarily privileging either, reorganizing both into a single coherent concept. It retains all the insight produced by economic and evolutionary reasoning and modelling, and all the value produced by both conceptualizing the world as comprised of robust competitors and demanding of people that they be robust competitors, by continuing to recognize and emphasize a fundamental motivating force at the individual level. But it avoids an unnecessary and counterproductive (and inaccurate) false dichotomy of, and false distinction between, “self-interest” and “altruism.” It is, in some profound way, simply “more true.”

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Out of many, one. The phrase on the Great Seal of the United States is an explicit reference to the realization of those who are idolized by today’s extreme individualists that we are not ultimately a mere collection of individuals or states, but rather each a part of a greater unity.

Those today who claim to be the standard bearers of the Constitution and of our original national ideology implicitly chant, instead,  “E Unus Pluribum” (Out of the one, many). They constantly denounce recognition of human interdependence, and the responsibilities that come of membership in a society. They claim the Constitution which was drafted to unite us is the authority of division, that all sense of mutual obligation implemented through political agency is a travesty against the anarchy that they imagine is our highest ideal. They return us to the days of Social Darwinists rationalizing indifference to human suffering, and reverence for gross inequalities and injustices. They not only are the preachers of ignorance, but of centuries old ignorance.

But there are wisdoms more ancient than their ignorance. “E Pluribus Unum” is not just a political motto, but also a spiritual one. Hinduism codified the wisdom that individualism is an illusion, that we are each god pretending “he” is the Many, while in fact we all are merely faces of the One. It doesn’t require a deep spiritual revelation, or even enormous reflection, to realize the essential truth of this: We each think in languages, concepts, and forms that are not ours alone, that were produced by the many over time, and that merely combine in marginally unique ways with marginally unique balances to create our individuality very much on the margins of reality, with our commonality being by far the more basic fact of our existence.

The same that is true of us cognitively and culturally is true of us biologically: We are comprised of almost entirely shared genetic material, with only some marginal variation of how that material is combined creating some very marginal biological individuation. We are, biologically as well mentally, far, far, far more similar than we are different.

Our essential, pre-political unity is not just a function of similarity, but also of interdependence. Nature, sometimes misconceptualized as fundamentally an arena of competition, is at least as fundamentally an arena of cooperation, of interdependence, of an ecological unity (even, according to James Lovelock in his book Gaia, a geological/atmospheric/ecological unity).

Nature in general, and humanity in particular, consists of fields of coherence and variance, or individuation, within that coherence. The coherence is both temporal and spatial; there is a continuity of natural history, of human history, of the two in combination; there is a continuity among people in their families and communities, of families and communities in their states and nations; of states and nations in global humanity; and of all of this in the natural contexts (geological, ecological, and physical) in which we are embedded. The One is comprised of many, many elements, but they are all ultimately woven into a single dynamical tapestry in almost unlimited ways, on almost unlimited levels.

Individuation is neither the ultimate goal, nor a mere means to another goal, nor a useless illusion (despite the wisdom of Hindu thought); it is, rather, one small, beautiful, and powerful aspect of a vast coherent reality. We can celebrate it, admire it, enjoy it, utilize it, and analyze it, but we should not reify it, we should not turn it into an ultimate and immutable reality defining the limits of what we are and what we are capable of being.

Like many things in life, the relationship between the One and the Many, between the individual and the society, is a dialectic, with each serving the other, in order that the other may be of better service in return. The individualism of markets is a robust generator of wealth, while the social contract required to frame and regulate markets so that they continue to function both ever-more efficiently and ever-more fairly is our collective commitment both to that robust social institution, and to the individuals that it serves.

When minds gravitate to one extreme or the other, they diminish both their collective wisdom and their collective utility, and both individuals and the collectivity to which they belong suffer. We should neither subordinate individuals to some collective, nor collectives to some unbalanced ideal of individualism: We should instead explore our shared existence, complete with the vibrancy of individual liberty, both as a people and as individuals, working together to enrich all of our lives.

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A conservative recently wrote (though hasn’t yet published) that my statement that this blog is committed to our collective welfare is what’s wrong with this blog, this preconceived notion I am imposing on the discourse here, promoting a collectivist rather than individualist orientation. But what individualist orientation, that is even vaguely consistent with our fundamental shared values, does not privilege our collective welfare? For what is our collective welfare, other than some function of our combined individual welfares?

If someone is not advocating for our collective welfare, even if a social system that benefits some at the expense of others, or that leaves some to suffer horribly, then what are they advocating for? Consider, for instance, the argument, that I consider erroneous but that certainly is a valid argument to make, that we are all better off in an uncompromised lottery of life’s fortune, each left to his or her own fate, or to whatever non-governmental alliances they can form, all pursing only their own interests by any and all means that they can, unfettered by any collectively imposed constraints, than in any more equitable system, because at least, in such a lottery, each has some chance of winning, whereas in a more equitable order everyone loses (or so the argument goes). Even that erroneous argument is an argument about why such a lottery is in our collective interest. So who would refuse to engage in discourse about what is in our collective interest, if even the argument that a Hobbesian war of all against all is the best of all possible worlds is admissible in such discourse?

The answer: People whose ideology is inherently absurd. Those who argue against working toward having a functioning society, including a functioning government which constrains individual freedom in ways which serve our collective interests (as our Founding Fathers knew was a necessary part of the challenge, and as our Constitution set out to do), can’t frame it as an argument about what is in our collective interests, because their position is ultimately absurd if they do. And they can’t frame it in any other way, because, again, their position is absurd if they do.

If one is not arguing that their preferred policy is in our collective interest, then why should anyone care about their argument, or favor their policy? If they’re arguing for something other than our collective interest, what is it? Their own individual interests, which serve no one else’s interests? Some group’s interests, which serve no other group’s interests? No one’s interests at all? Some blind bit of dogma that privileges some other dehumanized social value over our collective interest? Why would any rational person taking an interest in social policy prefer any of these over our collective welfare?

The problem with extreme individualism is that it obfuscates this self-evident truth, and privileges a bizarrely inconsistent insistence that only extreme individualism is acceptable, not because it is in our collective interest, but because our collective interest doesn’t matter. And by that argument, if made consistently, we need no laws, no protections, nothing but the Hobbesian war of all against all that I have long considered the far right to covet, which no sane person can argue is in our collective interest. And so no sane person does.

So we have a robust ideology, a movement, in America, that argues against our collective interest, and tries by an alchemy of irrationality to convince itself that that makes sense. And this is why I think we have reached the final distillation of the great struggle of human history, the one that really counts: The struggle between reasonable people of goodwill, and irrational belligerents who argue a socially self-destructive absurdity, pursued with fanatical determination.

But why, then, should any decent human being react in any way other than disgust at this notion that we should dissolve as a society, and be only a jungle of conflict and mutual predation? And how can we be anything else without discussing the parameters of what that something else should look like, to best serve our collective interests? Why should anyone embrace an agenda seeking, stupidly, the lose-lose outcome of absolute conflict, rather than the win-win outcome of a well ordered society, perhaps one characterized by well-framed cooperative competition?

Extreme individualists are literally “enemies of society”.  Well, here’s my olive branch: Let’s rid ourselves of this absurdity, and agree that we are always discussing what is in our collective interests, regardless of what you think it is. And, by recognizing this, maybe we can finally engage in some rational and constructive public discourse.

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