Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Fur (not) flying

Spending most of my time on openDemocracy these days

[quote=Wiggly] For example fur coats are now lower in price as a RESULT of a drop in value since we have come to view such a coat as "cruel" (though hardly any crueller than a hamburger). Price and value are so closely linked that are hard to differentiate - another reason ASE rejects any mathamatical model of economics. As another example something of sentimental VALUE may be "priceless" to you.

Fur is a good example of how the free market cannot provide sustainability. Polar bears are being hunted. As they grow rarer, the supply goes down, to the price goes up, so the motivation for the hunter to kill more rises until they are extinct. Hence the need for wise government to guide the market, in this case to put the polar bear on the protected list. Regulation. Anathema to the free marketeer, but necessary to protect the vulnerable from our irrational, predatory instincts.

For what I suspect is the majority of people, the polar bears and other charismatic wild animals are things of intrinsic value. The wilderness likewise has intrinsic value. For people who build their value system on individualism, I guess you have to say, "If I have no wilderness to go to, and no wild animals to look at, I will die of great loneliness of spirit, (or I will feel like a complete schmuck) so I must act to preserve them".

How did we get here from people's views of militarism? From the philosophy of individualism. Again, it seems that the problem is that although a cultured individualist can create an ethic that allows for other people and life forms to flourish, on the basis of enlightened self interest, there is a tendency to do away with the middle part of the chain of reasoning, and behave in a frankly selfish way.

Individualism and socialism are both anthropocentric world views which are in an antithetical relation to each other. They can be brought into synthetic relationship (each being a different aspect of the same entity) with each other in an ecocentric world view - which is after all the only reasonable way to view the world in the 21st century. Not only does this world view reconcile these old philosophical enemies, but also it reconciles physical enemies, just as tigers fleeing a forest fire will run alongside deer without thinking about attacking them.

We have too much to do in securing our life support systems to be fighting each other.

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