Connections

I have a brother who is very passionate about politics. One of the relationships he often brings up in political debate is the relationship between the individual and society. Personally, I studied analytical philosophy in college. I studied the relationship between the individual and properties (think Plato’s bifurcation), not the relationship between the individual and society.

Anyway, my brother is always arguing that individuals do not exist on their own. They are connected to other individuals; that is, they have a relationship with society. According to my brother, Capitalism suffers from an extreme form of individualism without acknowledging a connection to society, and is, therefore, flawed. On the other hand, Communism is flawed in the other direction by placing too much emphasis on society (i.e. the collective) over the individual. According to my brother, the reality of the situation is something more of a hybrid. People are sometimes drawn toward the collective, and sometimes drawn to be by themselves. According to him, this is the root of the problem with the American way of life.

I’m not sure if the American way of life is any more problematic than it has always been. Capitalism has, I believe, produced more goods for more people, and lifted more people out of poverty than any other system ever tried. But it is not perfect. Indeed, the human condition is probably imperfectable. Regardless, I want to go down on record that I tentatively agree with my brother’s notion of a hybrid-like relationship between the individual and society. To that end, I wish to point out a few examples of things that connect me to others in ways I can’t control. Basically, there are items and practices that are imposed on me because the rest of society accepts them without a second thought.

Health insurance. Once upon a time, when life was much more rugged and doctors made house calls, there was no such thing as health insurance (at least, I don’t think so). Yet, people lived and prospered and thought nothing of it. Now, if you fail to get health insurance you are considered irresponsible. Why? Because everyone else is getting health insurance; they are paying into the health insurance system, and if you skimp, they pay for your care. So, you really are sort-of connected in this regard. Similar arguments can be made for car insurance, home insurance, etc…. My point is not that insurance is a bad idea (in fact, it is a good idea and, currently, I am fully insured), but rather, that the existence of insurance implies a connection between the individual and society such that the individual is compelled to follow the preferences of society.

Smart phones. These really aren’t a luxury; they are becoming a necessary part of our lives and our economy, so much so, that the person who does not own a smart phone will suffer significant disadvantages in our current economy.

My favorite type of cereal no longer exists. In high school, I adored a cereal called “Crispy Wheats and Raisins.” I haven’t had it in years, because, I think, “they” stopped producing it. Basically, the invisible hand of the market determined that my favorite cereal is not profitable enough so it was removed from the marketplace. In other words, the cereal preferences of the majority of other Americans aligned against my own. The collective evaluation of my favorite cereal resulted in that cereal’s disappearance; so, we are kind of connected.

Those are three examples. I’m sure there are more.

I’m not sure I had a central point to this post; it was more of an intellectual exercise analyzing the connection of the individual to society.

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Money Is Technology

I want share an insight I had a number of years ago. It’s not a particularly profound insight, it was just a curiosity I noticed. Basically, I realized that money is a form of technology. Very, very old technology. Perhaps I would be able to convince you more easily if I had a clear definition of technology. But I don’t. These days, I usually conjure up images of electrical gadgets and doohickeys when I think of technology. Money, of course, is nothing like that. It’s little more than a substitute for other things of value be it food, labor, or pieces of the other aforementioned technologies.

Long ago, man kept what he killed and that was about the end of it. Then he (and she) advanced a step and began bartering back and forth so as to allow for greater distribution of goods. But the barter system was inefficient. So some genius somewhere invented money. Basically, we took something of value and allowed it to represent something else and we traded it in exchange for goods. Originally, we used gold and silver and similar such stuff. Somewhere along the way we traded the gold in for something almost without value: paper. Now we are transitioning to something truly devoid of value: electrons flowing in circuits. Electronic money is the wave of the future much to my personal chagrin.

Anyway, what is clear is that money is tied to us in a very deep, intricate way. It is like the technology on which all other technologies rely. It is the technology upon which all other technologies are built.

Wow. I was expecting to write maybe one paragraph on this topic and I squeezed out three. Chalk one up on my innate ability to ramble.

Don’t Worship the Universe

That’s right. I said it (to borrow a phrase from Mark Levin). Do not. ABSOLUTELY do NOT worship the universe. Why? I’ve said it elsewhere. I believe the universe is Satan. What we perceive as reality is Satan’s attempt at playing God. I believe this is what Jesus of Nazareth realized forcing Him to confront the Devil at the cross so long ago.

So, if you are following a nature religion … I’m sorry, but you are worshipping the Devil (unwittingly, of course). I’m sure God will forgive you. And if you think I’m accusing you of being a sinner (which, of course, you are), I’ll simply point out that I have you out-sinned six ways to Sunday. I’m the antichrist, baby. When it comes to sin, the only one who can top me is Satan himself, and even he might be a little iffy.

Maybe I should be more serious about this. But I have to laugh, or I’ll go mad.