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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

The world in the 21st century is beset with economic fallacies that are, for the most part, modern versions of those that Bastiat demolished 16 decades ago. The answers to the vexing problems those fallacies produce are not to be found in proposals that empower bureaucracy while imposing tortuous regulations on private behavior. It’s far more likely that the answers lie in the profound and permanent principles that Frédéric Bastiat did so much to illuminate.

Lawrence Reed

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32 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • CaptDMO

    In the 21st century?
    I suggest a massive outbreak in confusion between Political Science propaganda, and “Economics”.
    Don’t take MY word for it, let’s review (ie)The New York Times AWARD WINNING Economics writer.
    I think he MIGHT have had to actually balance a check book….once.
    But it all sure looks good, “for the children”, on paper!
    Now, let’s chat about disproportionate affect, cultural appropriation, National WOMAN’S “health”, and Economics!

  • Thailover

    CaptDMO, indeed. We need, as Ayn Rand said, separation of economics and state (& state propaganda). That goes not only for the pro-union left, but also the pro-protectionist right. (And, damnit people, there’s no such thing as a trade deficit. The idea that imports are ‘bad’ is beyond assinine. 2/3 of what we import is used in domestic industry). Rand was impressed with Frédéric Bastiat, which is saying something since she was an equal opportunity despiser and prickly as hell, lol.

  • Thailover

    CaptDMO said, “Nation WOMAN’S ‘health’…”
    Check out this shit.
    http://www.multivu.com/players/English/7425551-stella-artois-water-org/

    Buy their fancy beer and they might just provide clean drinking water to WOMEN in developing countries for 5 years. But of course, fuck the boys. Fuck anyone with a penis, (including transsexuals verly likely, see TURF, Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists.) Yeah, let them all die of thirst, we only care about women, right?

    Now, seriouly, who in their right minds would offer a drink of water to someone in need based on gender?

  • Laird

    I doubt that one economist in a hundred today has even heard of Bastiat, let alone read him.

    CaptDMO, as to the link between Political Science and Economics, please keep in mind that what we today call “Economics” was, in prior centuries, called “Political Economy”. Our ancestors understood that economics, like politics, is merely an aspect of human psychology. Economists today would have you believe otherwise, and claim that it is a “science”, but they are deluded.

    Thailover, to lighten the mood, here’s a song about “Fancy Beer“.

  • Chip

    The fallacies are an important basis of school curricula.

    I often have to de-program my kids.

  • veryretired

    The development of the theory of the rights of man in the 18th century Enlightenment era undercut the assertion that some group of oligarchs, arranged in various ways according to cultural factors, were invested with the right to assume authoritarian political power over the rest of society.

    As I have stated previously, this was the only truly revolutionary concept in political theory that has ever been promulgated, and it swept away the justification for nearly all forms of governance that had been common to humanity for thousands of years.

    The 19th century became a frenzied intellectual effort to re-establish a valid framework which would justify the rule of the elite, regardless of how they were defined, i.e., by blood, or class, or religious belief, or some other rule, and refute the terrible idea that it was autonomous individuals who were the receptacles of political powers, political rights, and freedom of thought and action.

    It was the Reformation all over again, except in the political sphere instead of the religious. And the reaction was every bit as hysterical, as ferocious, and as violent.

    The 20th century was the stage upon which these various responses to the horrible thought that people have a right to their own lives were played out. Repeatedly, as empires fell and others arose, as ideologies were tested and imposed on various subject populations around the world, as wars were fought, revolutions attempted, and economic theories put into practice, the ordinary people of the world were caught up in the clashing waves of one idea or another, and their lives were twisted and turned, by the demands of this faction of fanatics, or that faction of ideologues.

    This tumult has carried over into the 21st century, in spite of all the evidence that states, so clearly, that the social and economic ideologies of the various collective theorists leads, inevitably, to violence, repression, poverty, and death, not only to individuals, but entire populations.

    This dogged devotion to any number of ideas which have failed, repeatedly, to blossom into the promised utopian paradise is due to the underlying religious attraction that these ideologies engender, or, in the obvious case, that resurgent religious fanaticism demands.

    In many ways, the political history of humanity is the repeated tale of theocratic absolutism rising, stagnating, and then falling, only to be replaced with another variant of the same model.

    It is freedom that is the anomaly, liberty that is the outlier, individual rights that are the most dire of threats to the accumulated “wisdom” derived from the experiences of people around the globe.

    It isn’t surprising that these economic and social misconceptions are still plaguing us in the current era. This is the common trial that all free people must deal with endlessly.

    Prepare yourselves to defend your rights and freedoms intellectually, morally, and in every other way. Teach your children what the schools and media will never teach them. Never give up hope, never decline the contest, never allow that which is yours by the very nature of your humanity to be whittled away and destroyed.

    Or did you think the true work of the free person was that job you go to every day? No. The true work is to live as a free and independent mind, and never accept anything less.

  • Thailover

    Veryretired,
    Brilliant writing my friend. Was your profession writing before said retirement by any chance?

  • veryretired

    Thank you for the kind comment. These are the issues I have been thinking about all my adult life. As a young man, I saw something strange, and seemingly incomprehensible, happening all around me. What I write here and other places are the answers I have found to some of these problems.

    My life has been ordinary and unremarkable. These are the ideas I have tried to teach my children, and defend in conversation with friends or opposing viewpoints. If I seem pedantic, it is because I am hoping to occasionally present an argument that some young person visiting this site has never encountered before.

    The moderators here have been very kind and tolerant of the long-winded wanderings of a foolish old man.

  • Ford Corsair

    Veryretired, that is an excellent piece and I agree with it. However, what I don’t understand is this: why is freedom the outlier? My journey from the default left to the Dan Hannan/Doug Carswell vague-libertarian right began when I watched news of protests against the G8 in Seattle. The left doesn’t understand Human Nature, but since my journey began, I’ve been troubled by the thought that maybe the libertarian right doesn’t understand it either. It seems to me that some people (very many, perhaps) want to be slaves, and will fight with great courage and determination to be enslaved. Isn’t that one of the lessons of the 20th century? Why?

  • pete

    Bastiat lived before the free market in Europe and the west had a free market for ideas and opinions.

    His views are old fashioned, out of date.

    The free market is not only about money now.

    People have votes.

  • Ford Corsair

    >>People have votes.

    Which leads us straight to the troubling conclusion that democracy (as we understand the word now) is the enemy of freedom.

  • Mr Ed

    democracy (as we understand the word now) is the enemy of freedom

    Yes, but only if the aggregate decisions of the individuals concerned have outcomes hostile to freedom. If one can resist the temptation to vote away other people’s property and money (and it will be your own in the end), then democracy can work, but one must consider methodological individualism. Who is being asked to vote, and what do they believe or care? Sadly, the troubling conclusion is likely to be correct. After all, those who don’t actively vote against the thieving mob do not get a look-in, although if one had a choice of a positive or negative vote, one could at least try to stop the worst candidate likely to be elected e.g. I could vote against a candidate, and cancel out a positive vote for him, but have no vote for my own choice.

    In a nutshell, anyone who wants to vote for ‘change’ is undeserving of a vote, it is simply a means of appointing a middleman for their thieving.

  • Watchman

    Ford Corsair,

    I think your question on human nature is perhaps wrong, in that the libertarian right (I’ll sign up to that label for convenience here) is not required to understand human nature, as it is quite happy for each human to have his or her own nature. It is the collectivists (these are not just on the left – many of those veryretired highlights were from a relatively right-wing economic perspective, albeit with protectionism) who need to understand human behaviour, in order to manipulate it to accept their ‘utopias’ or to try and design their presentation of their solutions to the worlds’ problems to fit. Their failure to do so is often expressed in their anger at the failure of people to understand why they are doing so.

    Note this explains why certain academic disciplines, such as sociology and social psychology, are particularly dominated by left-wing academics; the interest in the question of why do groups (sociology is valid as a study of groups – not of society, which cannot be coherently identified) or individuals act in a particular way is more pointed for those who want to understand this for some way. This is not malicious – our academic interests (in the wider sense of academic, which includes contributions here) are always going to be driven by our own beliefs and biases – and it is not a flaw in valid areas of study (sociological insights into how the ethnic identities of post-colonial armies evolved have always stuck with me as explaining a lot about identity and power); it is simply that the inclination of some people to certain beliefs, which we see as wrong and perhaps tyrannical, inclines them to study subjects which can help understand the interactions they need to control to have collectivism. Ater all, a pure libertarian study of how human desires interact with each other will probably have to fall back on the old liberal motto of ‘do no harm’ and cannot then do much more.

  • Thailover

    Mr Ed. I respectfully disagree. One must shout down democracy at ever turn when it comes to the majority thinking they have a proper say-so over the freedoms of others, whether in any particular case the outcome is what one agrees with or not. A classic case in point, if one is favorable to gay marrige, then one applauds the American SCOTUS decision on gay marriage and recognize their duty to sometimes make decisions on rights that are non-enumerated in our US Constitution (ala the 9th amendment), and one is also apt to applaude the majority vote to legalize gay marriage in Ireland, but actually the latter should be frowned upon. (Yes, the Irish were aware that there still needed to be a proper vote but they considered it a cursory formality). The Irish case gives the impression that it’s proper for the majority, or the mob, to vote yay or nay on other people’s liberties. I insist that it is never proper, and to pander to “happy” occations is to welcome confution when one balks at “sad” occations.

  • Thailover

    Ford asked,

    “why is freedom the outlier?”

    Oddly enough, I think the answer can be found at free sex cam websites. People tipping the talent hovers around 1/2 – 1% of the viewers, (the rest being complete deadbeats), whilst people get in line to be unpaid “moderators” (bully censors) who arbitrarily punish people, banning them, silencing them over the smallest imagined infraction, (even the capitalist traders, i.e. tippers that fund the whole damned thing, and of course the more tips, the more entertaining the show). Even when one appeals to the talent that their own chosen moderators are costing them their livelyhood, they NEVER decommision the bullies abusing their power, which makes no rational sense. Human nature is the oddest thing.

  • Thailover

    veryretired said,

    “The moderators here have been very kind and tolerant of the long-winded wanderings of a foolish old man.”

    This is a board friendly to the ideas of Ayn Rand (I think overall), so humility is no virtue here, as humility is self-humiliation. No, here we know that pride is the result of a healthy self esteem, which itself is the product of achievement, and that masterful piece was indeed an achievement.
    Cheers.

  • Jordan

    The free market is not only about money now.

    It never was. However, you seem to be under the mistaken impression that politics is a free market. A market in which 50%+1 of participants can vote to rob, imprison, or murder the other 49% is not a free market.

  • Watchman

    Does democracy equal the rule of the majority? That seems a bit of a simplification – it represents the rule of the population (demos), nothing more, so might well be the rule of the strongest mob, but might also be a more nuanced system.

    We have a democracy that exists with the rule of law, and with inbuilt checks on the power of democratic institutions (the tripartite system in the US, supreme courts in much of Europe, constitutional monarchs as heads of state etc) that means they cannot just disregard law without reverting to mob force. So criticising democracy (which is still the least worst system as it at least values everyone’s opinion equally without privileging religion or birth) as the power of the majority seems rather strange. Historical practice shows that democracy in fact is the best system for creating more liberal societies and less intervention in other people’s lives – compare all the others we’ve tried. Democracy is not perfect, but it is the opponent of the vested interests and it (at least in the anglophone world) tends to be opposed to the collectivists in the long term, so it is hardly the enemy of liberty, unless the other choice is simply no government and the rule of law, which is a fantasy…

  • Watchman

    Thailover,

    I am not sure most of the posters here, who generally seem self-aware and capable of humour, will share Rand’s view of humility. And indeed, Rand on the person is far weaker than Rand on the economy and society (and even there I would hope most of us are too smart and individual to be dogmatic followers), because Rand on the person assumed Rand was a good model for all the people…

    Personally I’d suggest humility is not a bad thing – it is for others to judge the worth of what you offer. If you assume high worth to something you produce, you are simply interfering with a valuation that is properly determinedby how useful/attractive a thing is to others as well as you; if you personally value it highly, then by all means stress that, but if you are unsure of whether there is value why be afraid to state this?

    And, since this is a comment on a well-crafted comment (so a metacomment?), if veryretired was simply using a humility formula here, that is a valid rhetorical device – and as we are admiring his rhetoric, we can choose to value it more or less because of the use of this, but that is a matter of his choice as creator and ours as consumers.

  • jacobress

    “The development of the theory of the rights of man in the 18th century Enlightenment era undercut the assertion that some group of oligarchs, arranged in various ways according to cultural factors, were invested with the right to assume authoritarian political power over the rest of society.”

    Well, the violent removal of the “oligarchs” by the French Revolution, resulted in a murderous and catastrophic mob rule. The rule of oligarchs is maybe (most of the time) unjust, but violence of the mob (led by demagogues) is catastrophic. It was the seizure of absolute power by a “super oligarch” – an Emperor (Napoleon) that saved France from immediate ruin (though it brought ruin of another kind). Code Napoleon, which is the basis of the French legal system, cannot be said to be the product of democracy (i.e. the mob), though it is the product of Enlightenment (by which Napoleon was influenced).

    The Constitution of the US is also the product of an Elite, and not of democracy. It is wrong to claim that Elites are always evil or throughout evil.
    The World is a messy thing. There is no one and only clear cut way to Nirvana, there is no Nirvana at all.

  • Chester Draws

    cannot be said to be the product of democracy (i.e. the mob)

    Democracy can only be “mob rule” when it is direct democracy. There isn’t a single country in the world who do that.

    Instead they are use forms of representative democracy. Although the people in power are often scrotes, in the end they act to mitigate from mob rule, even if only by acting as a brake on the speed at which change can take place.

    Mobs frequently invade the streets of modern democracies, sometimes even to the extent of looting and burning. Provided the elected representatives hold their heads (which they usually do) the result of the mob is generally very little. By the time the issues at hand are passed through the legislative system the extremism is usually quite watered down.

    Provided elections are held regularly and are more or less fair, representative democracy is the best system yet invented.

  • Nicholas (Self-Sovereignty) Gray

    I can think of a better system, which I call local time-share democracy. I think that the price of citizenship should be some form of community service, such as militia practice, or voluntary firemenship, or road patrols, etc, and you get the right to be a part of the government of your county, directly for 1/12th of the year. Have all the laws subject to review. Seniority would determine leadership, except for regular sporting events around these activities, where the winners could be offered the chance to be a part of the local public service, with the chance to co-ordinate with other local governments, and to rise to other levels based on skill- but the Local level should be supreme, and have the final say. Local democracy without professional politicians- surely better than what we have now?

  • Thailover

    Watchman said:
    “because Rand on the person assumed Rand was a good model for all the people…”

    I’m not sure what you mean by that. Are you saying that her view of the person wasn’t inclusive enough or are you equivocating her ideal person with her personally and saying that she came up short?

    Humility comes from the Latin Humilitatem, meaning lowliness, insignificance. It indeed does mean self-humiliation. Those that tout humility as a virtue often commit the excluded middle fallacy, suggesting that the alternative to considering oneself properly lowly and insignificant is insufferable hubris and irrational almost delusional degrees of pride. Religions are rife with self immolating concepts that mortify the flesh, (“carnality”), and the idea that our minds are “depraved/reprobate” (Romans 1) and that our good deeds are as “filthy rags” (book of Isaiah) and so on. Even a religion as benign as Buddhism vilifies the ego, (Latin for “self” or “I”) because Nirvana is….get this, nonexistence, because to exist is to “suffer”. Monks with a “proper” amount of humility should greet others with eyes lowered, head bowed and a soft non-confrontational voice. However, I contend that those with self esteem greet others with eye contact, a level head and firm handshake and even firmer voice. I consider humility the very opposite of a virtue, and of course that is not an endorsement of arrogance. A healthy degree of self esteem comes from achievement, and leads to a rational pride in one’s accomplishments, whereas the very antonym of humility is pride. (So sayeth the dictionary).

    Watchman said, “And, since this is a comment on a well-crafted comment (so a metacomment?), if veryretired was simply using a humility formula here, that is a valid rhetorical device – and as we are admiring his rhetoric, we can choose to value it more or less because of the use of this, but that is a matter of his choice as creator and ours as consumers.”

    He called himself a foolish old man. I once heard one person respond to self deprecating comments with a comment that said something like, “I won’t stand for my friends being bad mouthed by anyone, including themselves.” LOL, I think there’s a lot to be said for that.

  • Paul Marks

    Quite correct – Bastiat (and the rest of the French “Liberal School”) were correct.

    The best selling American economics books of the 19th century were not by Henry George (that is a myth) – they were actually by American followers of Bastiat.

    And whilst America was never won over to external free trade – internal policy was influenced by opposition to government interventionism.

    The size of American government (Federal, State and local) in the 19th century and early 1900s has been greatly exaggerated.

    The United States was, basically, a free market country (at least internally).

    Statism did exist, especially in education, but it did not dominate society.

    Sadly the ideas of American followers of Bastiat have been driven from the universities – and, thus, in the end from public policy.

    The statism of people such as Richard Ely (the founder of the American Economics Association – a sort of trade union for bad “economists”) has driven out truth.

  • Paul Marks

    The leading American followers of Bastiat were F.A. Walker and A.L. Perry.

    If Frank Fetter (the refuter of David Ricardo on land) had recognised the evil that Richard Ely and co represented American intellectual (and other) history might have been very different.

    However, Frank Fetter was mislead by Richard Ely’s false-front of respectability – and treated him as just as a gentleman of another point of view (not the representative of evil that Richard Ely actually was).

    Frank Fetter even tried to work with Richard Ely in defence of “academic freedom” (specifically in the case of Jane Stanford de facto firing a statist, and vicious racist, from Stanford University).

    Frank Fetter (the representative of the Austrian School that carried on the insights of the French Liberal School) did not understand that in Richard Ely’s version of “academic freedom” the only job that people like himself would be offered at a university would be clearing the toilets.

    So the insights of freedom were lost – and collectivism won out in education (and everywhere else).

  • Watchman

    Thailover,

    I think my concerns with your comment can be linked to the use of self-esteem, which I associate with rather dubious educational concepts that talk up the person regardless of achievement – I suppose a model whereby a person can be told they are inherently valued is fine, but they need to understand their actions (and to an extent results) affect this. What you are implying is that the individual should be confident of their worth without this being tested, which seems to be the same fallacy…

    And my comment on Rand was that Rand seemed to base the ideal person on Rand herself, who I do not get the feeling would be more sort of ideal person (dogmatic, almost collectivist in her promotion of her ideals etc).

  • I am with Watchman on both humility and Rand.

    Also, Reed is excellent, as always.

  • Richard Thomas

    It is time for the word “economist” to join its ranks among the pantheon it belongs with other words such as “alchemist”, “astrologer” and “sawbones” and a new, rigorous discipline arise in its place.

  • Thailover

    Watchman, no, Rand fell far short of her ideal person, even in her own eyes, and we should really keep this in mind when the army of detractors try to conflate Rand’s phylosophy with the imperfect philosopher. They remind me of the goofy ilk that hate evolution theory of species, and so call Darwin a racist, lol. And to carry the analogy further, detractors of rand like to say “randism” as people like to say “darwinism”. There is no scientific theory of darwinism. There is instead a theory of evolution of the origin of species. And just like evolution critics ubiqitously don’t know what the words ‘evolution’, ‘theory’ or ‘species’ means, likewise rand’s detractors often cite the opposite of what rand advocated in their ‘randism’. (I’m not projecting this onto you, I just found this worth mentioning).

    And self-esteem is not lefty external feel-good-ism and bolstering of feelings, where everyone gets a trophy. That’s counterfeit. Actual self-esteem is how you esteem yourself when one refuses to lie to oneself. Of course this has to do with our interaction with the real world. If you strive to be honest, not lie, cheat and steal, and treat others fairly, etc this and many other factors should reflect in ones estimation of oneself. What’s the alternative, to say that it’s all subjective and no one can trust their own minds? If that was the case we might as well go find a homeless drug addict ad go on a date, lol. We either cultivate a mind and self worthy of trust, or we don’t.

  • Thailover

    Richard, there is absolutely nothing wrong with “economist”, there is something, however, quite wrong with people who are unable to discern the political from the economic. For example, “protectionism is good for a nation because it creates domestic jobs” is political propoganda used to pander to economically illiterate constituents, not an economic truth. It is in fact an economic fallacy. (Fallacy is a word we use when the teller might not be aware that they’re telling somone else’s lie). Indeed, I presume that most people who vouch for protectionism believe that it’s good for the country.

  • veryretired

    I wasn’t expecting a minor throwaway to cause so much discussion, so suffice it to say that I have always been taught that when you arrive at the banquet, don’t sit in the first seat next to the host, but take the lowest seat. That lesson is from another little book somewhat more influential than Rand.

    Anyway, as to a more substantive issue, the problem isn’t elites, which always develop in any area of human endeavor, but the more significant aspects of the situation, such as how the elites are chosen, and what powers do they acquire by their membership.

    If the criteria is blood, or class, or some other inherited feature, and the power acquired is not limited by legal protections for the rights of others, than the situation rapidly degenerates into tyranny, regardless of any good intentions on the part of those who developed or maintain the system.

    The greater part of human organizations unconsciously model the earliest hunting clans, with a leader, several powerful elders who support him, and the bulk of the clan giving fealty to those who have organized a successful hunt. Warrior clans follow this model also, and down through time so have political organizations, religious groups, economic entities, and even such voluntary groups as youth sports leagues.

    This feudal format is ubiquitous across human cultures, and contains an elite group of some kind by definition. The key element is the nature of the elites’ power, how it is derived, and how it is circumscribed.

    The purpose of a limited representative state model is to clearly attribute the possession of basic political power to the individual citizen, who delegates it to the elected elite group, and to clearly limit the power that elite enjoys to specific state functions, divided among the several branches of government.

    The fact that the founders, in the American example, were flawed, and their creation also contained faults and weaknesses, does not negate the moral significance of attempting to create a state which would serve to protect the rights of its polity instead of violating them due to the lack of legal restrictions on the actions of the ruling elites.

    The French example, to which could be added the German and Russian, among many others, is tragic because the structures developed to define the role of the ruling elites within the state organization did not clearly define either the peoples’ rights or the restrictions on the ruling group in such a way that the legal limits could be enforced.

    No matter how well the plan is fashioned, the reality of ongoing political activity is for the ruling group to seek increased authority and resources relentlessly, and to use any method they can get away with to acquire them.

    It is clear that Lord Acton’s admonition was every bit as insightful towards human nature as the laws of thermodynamics are towards physical nature.

    As others have pointed out, Shannon Love among them in a recent posting at Chicagoboyz, greed and lust for power are universal in human culture, and to imagine that those flaws exist in corporate culture, but is miraculously absent in public organizations, is fatuous at best.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Excellent discussion!

    Thailover, all of your remarks strike me as highly pertinent and extremely important, and corrective of a lot of misapprehensions. A real joy to read. :>)

    Especially the reminder of the real meaning of “nirvana,” which is distinctly NOT a state of heavenly bliss unless one believes the silly idea that bliss can be achieved by the obliteration of the self, that is of self-awareness, which is contradictory on its face (it’s impossible to experience joy when one can’t experience anything);

    The potential value of democracy, as opposed to other methods of acquiring Leaders, as long as it is representative and not direct. ——(Although it assumes that the group being governed is interested most in liberty and the kind of personal satisfaction in life that it enables. If the members of the group have come to value the thrill of violence against others at the risk of death to oneself, it makes sense for the leader to to be the currently strongest Strong-man, I suppose);

    The corrections remarking on “Darwinism” and also on the character of Ayn-Rand-the-person vs. that of her thought and her Ideal Person;

    And more.

    The discussion of “humility” is also interesting. To me the word does not quite convey the meaning your dictionary, or the etymology, gives it. I have always taken it more as standing in opposition to “arrogance” than to “pride.” The Biblical injunction, as I recall it, is against false pride, not pride in general. For most of us Americans, at least, Pride is one’s feeling of enjoyment-of-self that comes of knowing that one has done well in some instance, or even that one possesses some characteristic that it values. (Lengthy further discussion omitted.) “False pride” is what the original Objectivists, at least, called “pseudo-self-esteem.” (I forget whether Miss Rand or Dr. Branden originated the term.)

    One can easily feel proud of other people, of course. One is proud of one’s child or one’s parent or some stranger one’s never heard of before, or of some of group (including one’s country), when that person or group does something well that is also right (and good), because his or its doing, or even some of his or its characteristics, adds to one’s pleasure in living, in being human, in knowing that it is possible for humans (or even dogs, for that matter! if one “identifies” with them to some extent) to do good things well. And it helps us to pull up our socks and get on with it. This kind of pride is one of the nutrients of the more general feeling of self-esteem.

    I think there’s an important clue in the parenthetical there, also: To be proud of others arises in part out of our natural human ability to “identify” with others. This is partly the capacity for empathy, but it seems to me it’s something more than that. It’s that the other — whether person, dog, or hamster — is not wholly Other. We share something fundamental, something valuable, and to feel that shared valuability, so to speak, is a joy.

    And all pride helps us to feel that life is worth the living, which is part of the fuel we need to carry on.

    I am well aware, of course, of usage of the word “pride” in usages such as “he is a proud man.” A proud man in that sense does not tolerate disrespect from others, for some value of “tolerate” and some value of “disresprect.” Some men’s principles and behaviour do deserve great respect, and some don’t even though the man believes, or pretends to believe, that they do, or that he is entitled to them regardless. But it seems to me that’s not a very common usage today.

    I don’t remember the whole quote, but in one of his movies — I think it’s The Sons of Katie Elder — Mr Wayne says something ending in “…and I won’t be laid a hand on.” That’s the statement of one kind of Proud Man, and in context it’s the good kind.

    . . .

    Very, thanks very much especially for your comment above at 7:27 p.m. It strikes me as exceptionally well-stated and accurate in “modern” or “civilized” (so existing for at least 12,000 years, though not everywhere) societies at least (I take the sociology of hunter-gatherer groups and warrior clans as plausible, even likely, but I do not myself know its theses to be certainly correct).

    The whole thing is beautifully introduced by your second paragraph. Just an excellent job.

    . . .

    And a top-notch discussion, so thanks to all.