Betrayer Of Freedom

On December 21, 2011, Jay Stuart Snelson did something we are all going to do—he died. One tribute to Jay Snelson describes him as one of liberty's "most energetic, creative, and dedicated students."

I have no doubt that Mr. Snelson loved liberty and believed he understood what it is and devoted his life to pursuing it. Unfortunately, like all so-called fighters for liberty, he did not understand the true nature of liberty, and none of his efforts secured an iota of liberty for anyone, not even for himself.

The tribute I mentioned quotes the following from the beginning of one of his speeches:

"What is missing from the social sciences, I can say in a word, is science. The failure of the social sciences to diminish the scale of war, poverty and servitude is the failure to apply scientific observation to optimize the cause of peace, prosperity and freedom."

I'll come back to, "social sciences," more commonly known as, "sociology," but first I want to point out the deception that follows in the very next paragraph.

Shallow Paradigms

According to Mr. Snelson:

"There are two paradigms of social action that govern how we interact with our fellow humans. One is the win-win paradigm that can be precisely defined as follows: 'For us to gain, they must gain.' Those who embrace this paradigm as their code of behavior are always looking for opportunities to create win-win exchanges where everybody gains and nobody loses. In sharp contrast, there is a second paradigm that governs how humans interact with their fellows. It is the win-lose paradigm, which says: 'For us to win, they must lose to force or fraud.'"

"Paradigms," is typical academic jargon for, "points of view," or, as in this case, "methods," either of which a plain speaking person would have used. There are, as a matter of fact, only two ways human beings my interact with other human beings, but neither of the ways Mr. Snelson mentions is one of them.

Whether simply conversing with another, or engaging in some kind of transaction, or attempting to influence another to act in a certain way, the only two methods available to an individual interacting with another is by means of reason, or by some irrational means, such as deception, appeal to feelings and emotions, threats of force or actual harm to their person or property.

Reason is the only moral method of dealing with other rational beings. Since reason is only possible to individuals using their own rational minds, a moral individual will always use reason when dealing with other individuals, but there is no guarantee reason will be the method others use.

A False Dichotomy

It is amazing how easily people are taken in by academic rhetoric and gimmicks. Whenever a supposed concept of importance is presented in the terminology of sports or games, it is a clue that what is being presented is some common cracker-barrel philosophy or other shallow idea of little significance. "Win-win," and, "win-lose," are just such meaningless concepts.

Life is not a game. The values of life are not, "won;" they are achieved or produced by some individuals' intelligent effort. Those values include the product of one's own effort as well as that gained by trading with others.

The false dichotomy is in the comparison between the two silly concepts, "win-win," described as, "for us to gain, they must gain;" and, "win-lose," described as, "for us to win, they must lose to force or fraud."

There is everything wrong with this. My only means of dealing with others is by means of reason. If I am trying to sell something to someone else, I can explain the nature and value of my product and perhaps answer any questions a potential buyer may have. If I am to deal with others by reason alone, anything more than this [attempts to involve his feelings, to deceive him about the value of the product, threats or intimidation, for example] is irrational and immoral. If he chooses to buy my product I can only assume it is the value of the product and my reasoning that convinces him the product is worth the price to him. I must assume he considers the product worth what he exchanges for it and that he has gained by purchasing it—but I cannot know that. I cannot know he actually gained by the transaction because the market value of anything is determined by how much it is valued by the buyer.

Perhaps he is a sentimental fool and thought I looked pathetic and only purchased my product because he felt sorry for me and will drop it in the nearest trash bucket the moment I am out of sight. I have no moral obligation to determine whether anyone else objectively gains from doing business with me or not. My only moral obligation is to be honest, to seek only what I have earned by my own effort, and to deal with other men by means of reason.

It is no one's responsibility to make others behave or think reasonably. So long as I am reasonable in all my choices and actions, what others choose is neither my responsibility or any of my business. No moral principle can be based on what others think or choose—no moral principle can require anyone to ensure others gain by their choices and actions.

"For us to gain, they must gain," bases some part of my responsibility in others—a distinctively collectivist view.

It is also the first half of a false dichotomy. "For us to gain, they must gain," [win-win] is contrasted with, "for us to win, they must lose," [win-lose], so far a balanced construction, though deceptive; but he then tacks on, "... lose to force or fraud," which not only makes the construction unbalanced, but absurd. Force and fraud are not the only ways one can gain from another's loss.

Suppose I am in the business of producing a product that has a limited share of the potential market because of another businessman producing a similar product. Now suppose the other business man makes some bad decisions and goes out of business, thus increasing my share of the market. My gain is certainly at the expense of my competitor's loss, but I had nothing to do with his loss; there is no force or fraud involved. But if, "for us to gain, they must gain," is a principle, how do I implement it in that case.

Belief In Pseudo-science

In "WIN-WIN THEORY FOR WIN-WIN SUCCESS: Introduction to Win-Win Theory and the Science of Social Causality," Snelson presents his "theory" in full.

He begins by invoking the idea of the, "scientific method."

"Why hasn't science been able to overcome the social blight of pervasive war, endemic poverty, and rampant servitude that plagues the people on every settled continent? With all its proven prowess at solving even the most difficult and stubborn physical and biological problems, is the scientific method destined to fail at attenuating and ending the continuum of social crises and afflictions?"

First of all, science does not solve problems. Science discovers the nature of things, how they work and what they are made of, which knowledge becomes scientific principles. It is the application of those principles to problems that provides solutions—that application is called technology and engineering.

The success of science is primarily due to the fact that what the sciences deal with is objective physical reality. From celestial bodies to sub-atomic particles, it is their nature that determines their behavior, even those entities that make up the complex organic compounds of which all living organisms consist. To the extent that nature is understood, the behavior of all physical existents is determined by their nature and their behavior, therefore, predictable, which is the reason technology and engineering a possible.

In my article, The Roots of Revolution I described sociology:

"Sociology is another pseudo-science, the invention of Auguste Comte (1798-1857) which he called the greatest of sciences that would subsume all others (which in a very real sense it has—think environmentalism and the subordination of sciences to political agendas). Sociology is 'dressed-up' collectivism; it's fundamental premise is that society is the ultimate end or purpose of values and actions and that individuals are subordinate to and derive their values and purpose from their relationship to or membership in a society. Comte coined the word altruism to refer to the moral obligation of individuals to serve others and place the interests of society above their own. He is the father of positivism, which he regarded as 'human religion;' both the logical positivists (Vienna Circle) and Secular Humanism have their origins in Comte. If Sociology is a science, its application is 'social engineering.'"

Unfortunately, Mr. Snelson has fallen for this false idea originated by the father of altruism and collectivism. There is hardly a more wrong-headed idea than so-called, "social science."

Societies are nothing more than collections of individuals, usually in a common geographical area, treated as though those societies were independent entities with an existence and nature of their own. In fact, the character and nature of every society is determined entirely by the nature of the individuals that are that society. For a science to be a science what is being studied must be determined by its nature—that is, to understand how it will behave it is only necessary to discover its nature, because it is its nature that determines its behavior, which is then predictable. This is true of all physical phenomena.

But, that is exactly what is not true of societies, because societies are composed of human beings. Their nature does not determine how they will behave, because the peculiar nature of human beings is that they are volitional beings and must choose how they will behave. No matter how much is learned about human beings, it will never be possible from that knowledge to determine what any individual human being, much less collections of them, will do.

I said, "if Sociology is a science, its application is 'social engineering.'" That is what any attempt to change or control society is from totalitarianism to anarchism. They are all attempts to produce a certain kind of society, and every such attempt is always disastrous. Yet that is exactly what Mr. Snelson proposed.

"The solution to creating benevolent and progressive social change is to wield the commanding leverage of the paradigm shift to shift AWAY from win-lose leadership governed by the win-lose paradigm TOWARD win-win leadership governed by the win-win paradigm."

Notice the subtle introduction of the concept, "leadership."

"The quality of family, business, community, and national leadership can be no better than the quality of truth that forms each leader's paradigms of causality and reality. From beginning to end, human choice prevails. Human progress or human regress within every sector of society is decided entirely by the quality of human leadership."

In a society of mostly of followers, perhaps it's character could be molded by a few charismatic self-appointed leaders, but what kind of society would that be? People who do not want to choose for themselves how to live their lives but willingly follow some leader or leaders is not what I'd call a free society; it is a society of self-imposed slavery. Free independent individuals neither want or need leaders.

It seems odd that Mr. Snelson should fall prey to the reverse of a human foible he so clearly identified in his article, "The Ideological Immune System: Resistance to New Ideas in Science." His mistake was not resisting a truly new idea in science, but in believing what he called the, "Science of Social Causality," was a truly new idea, when it is one of the oldest of wrong ideas, social engineering, attempted over and over again, each time producing greater human horrors and suffering.