Obama’s recent gaffe about how people with businesses didn’t do anything to build them themselves (attacking the “every man an island”, strict-individualism philosophy-caricature) has been in the news and trending through the blogosphere as of late. It won’t be important for long– some other outrage or trivial incident will soon replace it, as always happens — so I’ve got to get my commentary in now and strike while the iron is still hot.
The common response to this is predictable in that it follows the dialog of the false dichotomy perfectly. If you like Obama and what he represents, you get an opportunity to get pissed off at the naive idiocy of conservatives who “really believe that everyone does everything on their own” and who ignore that we live in a society of other people! Your view that we really are interconnected on a fundamental level is reinforced and you can then make any logical jumps to policy recommendations based off this premise that you desire.
If you don’t like Obama and what he represents, you get an opportunity to get pissed off at the naive idiocy of liberals who “really believe that no one is capable of excellence and achievement on their own” and who ignore that some people like Steve Jobs, or even a lonely small business owner, largely stand alone in society as they quest after accomplishment! Your view that entrepreneurial decisions which create wealth and opportunity for all are never made collectively is reinforced and you can then make any logical jumps to policy recommendations based off this premise that you desire.
Thesis, antithesis… synthesis? The false dichotomy reigns supreme and serves its ultimate purpose, which is to “divide” society so that it may be “conquered” by the elites straddling atop it. Everyone is so busy fighting one another about formalistic issues, “Is every man an island or does it take a village?”, that no one notices the masked-villain with his hand in the cookie jar and his grip on the whip.
The question is not individualism versus collectivism? It may surprise you to hear it, but it doesn’t matter. The important question is, whether members of society largely organize as individuals or collectives, should their interactions be constructed on the basis of coercion or voluntaryism?
Should you be free to choose, or guided by the invisible, omnipotent and omniscient hand?
The other important observation to make here is this: Obama is a politician, and as a politician, he is a puppet of perceived public interest. Everything he says, he says to cater to a part of society that agrees with him and is willing to support him politically.
If you watch the clips of Obama’s gaffe, you can tell from the hoots of “YEAH!” and the clapping that for many in his audience, it wasn’t a gaffe. It was “truth.” It was something they identify with and connect with.
Again, a false dichotomy. We can all fight about Obama versus Romney, Republican versus Democrat, etc. But meanwhile, our friends and neighbors are captured by this philosophy of coercion.
That’s the real problem to face and solve. Save your anger and disgust toward the puppets for the people who nominally control the strings. Ask not, “How will we get rid of Obama?” but instead, “Why do some of my fellow members of society believe this, and how can I change their mind?”
Ask yourself, “If I can’t change their mind, what then?”