on November 12th, 2010 at 11:04 am
Amongst the many crypto-totalitarian scum that it produces and idolizes, Harvard University counts not only politicos like Barack Obama, but also fashionable authors like Amartya Sen, or his predecessor and master, the revered John Rawls.
In the Press and University, Rawls is everywhere introduced as a "liberal", or even as the "greatest liberal thinker of the XXth century". He may be "liberal" in the american meaning, indeed, except of course that in the USA this word has taken a meaning quite different from the meaning it has in France: an american "liberal", like Rawls, may claim to defend Liberty, and it's in the name of allegedly "superior" so-called "liberties" that he gives a blank check to an all-powerful State to intervene arbitrarily on any topic, thus calling for the effective abolition of any liberty. This is but a trick whereby socialists steal the word "liberal" to wear a mask and spread their totalitarian ideology. In the USA, socialists have successfully completed this usurpation, with the complicity of conservatives. In France, socialists keep using the word "libéral" as an insult, the ultimate bogeyman, there again with the complicity of conservatives. In both cases, actual liberal ideas are largely censored, and confusion of terms and concepts is systematically used to prevent the few members of the public who would be in contact with authentic liberals (libertarians, as they now call themselves in the USA) to even understand the context or content of their ideas.
Rawls, who claims to be a liberal, is thus both put forward by proselytizing socialists to steal the words and concepts of liberty to the benefit of the egalitarian religion, and shown as a bogeyman by the most dogmatic socialists for the very little and hypothetical space that he still dares to reserve to economic freedom. By centering public debate on a choice between on the one hand greedy socialists like Rawls who consent to let producers get rich the better to fleece them, and on the other hand the malevolent socialists who denounce Rawls for daring to defend any trace of liberty, socialists ensure that socialism will win either way.
Rawls is so much cited and elevated at the pinnacle of philosophy that he deserves to be denounced for the fraud that he is, his main "arguments" debunked and exposed for what they are: conjurer tricks, a vast hoax, that only deceive those who want to be deceived (starting with himself, as with any good fraud). Let's examine the celebrated "Theory of Justice" that made Rawls famous in 1971. Translated to French only in 1987, it nevertheless served well before that as a pretense to contribute in France as in other countries to the arsenal of "justifications" of "democratic" socialism. Rawls claims to base his Theory of "Justice", his "liberal" egalitarianism, on two "Principles"; he justifies these "principles" themselves by invoking concepts borrowed from Game Theory, a fashionable formalism that he uses fallaciously.
The Theory of Rawls starts with a pseudo-liberal excuse, his First Principle: each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive scheme of equal basic liberties compatible with a similar scheme of liberties for others. This "principle" that came out from who knows where, superficially looks like it puts liberty first, but actually subjects this liberty to a hodgepodge of restrictions and humbug concepts that reduces it to nil.
To start with, as he clarifies his principle, Rawls hastens to restrict liberties to the sole freedom of thought and of expression, augmented with a "political freedom" to partake in elections, completed with the acknowledgement of the property of small personal possessions, and of procedures to protect against arbitrary arrest. As for economic liberties, they are explicitly excluded by Rawls from the "basic liberties" that he claims to defend. The fruits of your labor may be confiscated, all professions including yours may be strictly controlled, every production may be directed by the State, your ideas subjected to approval by bureaucratic commissions, your consumption rationed in portions chosen from "up above"; these aren't liberties worthy to be defended according to Rawls. Ah, if you're dissatisfied, you can talk about it all you want, and may even be a candidate at ballots; but newspapers, schools, televisions will be politically managed, and it isn't even guaranteed that you will have a symbolic access to them as soon as your discourse goes against the political, media and academic Establishment; even less so since the Internet didn't exist when Rawls published his work, and that Rawls's principle doesn't exclude that it should be controlled in the name of the people. Good luck to change anything. Moreover, since your professional career and your economic fate will be in the hands of the mighty acting in the name of the people, the means to intimidate, censor, deprive, defame and marginalize you will abound.
Rawls's first "principle" will protect you from arbitrary arrest, but it will suffice that some ad hoc legislation be enacted in the name of the people for your arrest to turn from arbitrary to regular. If required, you may simply be left as a helpless prey in the clutches of the socially friendly who will be excited against you to silence you without the Establishment having to dirty their hands — meanwhile the people will be directly oppressed by the criminal elements as well as by the police, in the reign of Anarcho-tyranny. To subject society wholly to political power is truly to offer the arbitrary whim of the mighty a totalitarian power; protection against a limited but highly visible form of arbitrary oppression is but a smokescreen whereby "democratic" socialists maintain an illusion of liberty even though they control everything. The ruling class alone is effectively protected against the zeal of official thugs or lack thereof.
If this rawlsian "principle" of "liberty" does not actually protect you from anything, what is the intellectual contribution by Rawls? Why does he go through the effort of articulating this principle? The answer is that Rawls puts his pseudo-liberties forward precisely to neutralize any true notion of Liberty. The appeal of liberty is more than popular, it's universal; anyone can feel his blood boil when he is deprived from it; and it's by erecting barriers of ignorance, hate and contempt that the mighty manage to prevent the empathy that makes us rise as well when we are made witness or accomplice of the oppression of someone else. Rawls adds confusion to these barriers, foiling the attempts by victims to understand that which befalls them, and bringing ideological support for the oppressors. By eliminating Liberty and Law as universal principles of non-aggression within the limits of each individual's property, and by replacing them by arbitrary schemes of small "liberties" and positive "rights" entitling to unspecified resources managed by an arbitrary centralized political power, Rawls does away with the concepts that matter, and disables indignation from focusing on the root of evil.
Finally, in the very statement of his first "principle", Rawls introduces the fallacious expression "equality in rights", that I already denounced at length in a previous post (in French): this fallacy subjects liberty to the humbug concept of equality, the subjective appreciation of which is left to arbitrary political power, which is but a pretense for totalitarianism. Pierre Leroux, inventor of modern "socialism", didn't hesitate to openly claim equality as the idol of a new religion. It is as a faithful follower of this very genocidal religion that Rawls introduces his pseudo-liberal and truly socialist "principle".
In his second "principle", called "difference principle", Rawls claims that Social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that they are to be of the greatest benefit to the least-advantaged members of society. That's plain socialism for you.
This principle means that as long as the life of a unviable malformed baby will not have been prolonged by one more second, as long as the sick dying with plague will not have the most beautiful women on earth lining to blow him, as long as anyone walks faster than a handicapped man, and as long as the ugly and lazy village idiot will not be as rich and well married as a hardworking genius with the looks of a God, then all rights are abolished, all confiscations are allowed, and politicians in power have complete authority to "organize" society as well they like. In short, all they have to do is a symbolic effort in favor of the least-advantaged members of society, and in the name of that symbol they can enslave the entire society at their discretion, in a gigantic sacrifice of the living to the dying.
Ah, will reply the followers of Rawls, but this isn't about the single least-advantaged member of society but about some plural group of "the" least-advantaged members of society. But where does this group of "the least-advantaged members" start and stop? Is it only the only the single least advantage member? We saw that this person is a dying handicapped person beyond any help. Or is this group made of the 1% of least-advantaged members of society? 10%? 50%? 100%? Least-advantaged according to which criteria, as measured in which way? Are they objective criteria, or just a pretext that leaves complete latitude to the arbitrary whims of who will be judge, legislator or tyrant?
And to begin with, the least-advantaged amongst which people? Shall we exclude citizens from other nations? And why so? Is there a superior principle that prevails at the borders? Just what is this principle that is superior to the principle of Rawls? It would deserve to be articulated and studied, to determine whether it wouldn't also prevail within the borders.
Or shall we include the citizens of other nations? Does that means that the domestic State has a totalitarian power on all national citizens with no duty to them whatsoever, since none of them is a least-advantaged member of society? In the name of those least-advantaged members of society, must our State compel into action the foreign State in which those least-advantaged members live, even though this may imply invading that foreign State should it not comply?
And shall we stop at our planet, or are all terrestrial rights null and void until the lot of extra-terrestrial proletarians has been improved? General Relativity will surprise us in many ways if the "principle" of Rawls applies throughout such distances, where time varies with space. Can we then even talk about the least-advantaged members of "today"? Or shall we not consider the least-advantaged members in the past or in the distant future? It may prove rather difficult to improve the lot of miserable people who died long ago. As for future people — is it possible to improve the lot of people who are not born yet, or worse who may or may not be born depending on what is being done to "improve" their lot? How can we do anything that doesn't prevent some people from being born, to the benefit of other people who will be born? Won't these future unborn people be disadvantaged compared to those future born people?
What's more, if we are to consider extra-terrestrial or virtual entities, what about the very real inhuman entities that inhabit our planet? Do superior vertebrates possess rights? Insects? Plants? Microbes? If equal rights ought to be democratically granted to every living being, well, humans aren't worth anything, and it is urgent to improve the lot of cockroaches and AIDS viruses by feeding humans to them. Like any collectivist "principle", the "principle" of Rawls gives birth to contradiction upon contradiction, as soon as it is taken seriously — and once stripped from its clothes, it is but a series of arbitrary dogmas, the nefarious expression of vague neurotic emotions: metaphysical insecurity, inferiority complex, jealousy, envy and hate towards those who are successful.
Beside, it's interesting how Rawls smuggles the idea that "the" entire society should and could be organized centrally. This happens through the identification of the reader with a philosopher possessing a divine power to shape society according to his will, social institutions then being the emanation of that "social choice", supposed to have to be identical for all philosophers who think straight (i.e. necessarily leading to the same conclusions as the author's). This is truly the myth of political power by divine right that victims are supposed to accept after identifying themselves to the divine. Nice emotional sleight of hand indeed. "You are God almighty, and this State is the emanation of your will (or would be if you were as rational as philosopher me)... whence follows that you must obey its arbitrary power." But in reality, you are not God, and the philosopher isn't the priest of Your Will any more than the State is an emanation of it. Quite to the contrary, the State is a natural phenomenon, of which you are the victim more so than the sponsor, a phenomenon that has its own characteristics, and that could very well be studied from the point of view of Game Theory, if one really wanted to (see for instance the "Game Theory" paragraph of my essay "Government is the Reign of Black Magic"). And the intellectual who serves the politically power as a propagandist is also a very natural phenomenon, that has been known and studied for a long time.
Rawls, who has trouble counting to three, complements his second principle with a secondary clause: [Social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that] (b) offices and positions must be open to everyone under conditions of fair equality of opportunity.
This second clause implies that the incompetent, the talentless, the dishonest, those who lack persistence, who lack integrity, have the same right to occupy positions as the competent, the honest, who possess persistence and integrity. From which it follows that with the allegedly "positive" discrimination desired by Rawls and socialists, incompetent, talentless, dishonest, lazy people who have the gall of claiming to be such will be able to oust their more deserving rivals. As for merit, Rawls insists that everything is but chance and that nobody deserves anything, justifying himself using intimidation via a formal model (see below the analysis of how his "veil of ignorance" is pseudo-scientific). I sympathize not only with the unfortunate deserving rivals ousted to the benefit of their inferior (aren't these ousted rivals then, truly, the least advantaged members of society?), but also the consumers, users, and other victims, who will have to suffer the power of the scum of society, raised by socialists to positions where they can do harm.
Against Rawls, I will cite Ernest Renan who denounces the French prejudice, that sees in positions a rent to be distributed to the officers more so than a duty to the public. This prejudice is the opposite of the true principle of government, which commands that the choice of an officer but the goodness of Government, or, in other words, the good execution of the office. No one is entitled to a position; everyone is entitled to positions being well filled. Of course, a socialist extends this prejudice to all positions, even "private", for a socialist sees everywhere but public officers, private companies only existing but by temporary and revokable permission from the State, and Rawls indeed insists that any private economic activity is subjected to arbitrary political power, and is to exist but if political power considers this activity as expedient towards the implementation of its socialist ends.
Like any socialist, Rawls considers economic activity only from the point of view of the interest of the producer, the various social professions being but "positions", as available in a machine the plan of which is pre-established. An authentic liberal, like Bastiat, will see economic activity from the point of view of the interest of the consumer; for the purpose of the various human activities is to satisfy the needs, the desires, the interests of humans as consumers. Besides, an authentic liberal understands that there is no pre-established social plan, and that it is the liberty to choose one's activity, completed by the responsibility of making a profit, that drives everyone towards the improvement of his economic arrangements. To cap production and give people a job to toil at, here is progress for the socialist. To work less so as to produce more satisfactions, here is progress for the authentic liberal.
If there is any merit to Rawls, it is that he makes explicit the heart of the socialist creed, in a way that is relatively concise and articulate. But the justification he offers to his "principles", also largely put foward by socialist "philosophers", is particularly revealing: Rawls invokes the concept of "original position", in which the reader is called upon to choose (no less than) the society in which he'll live, under the constraint of a "veil of ignorance" that prevents him from knowing which position he will have in this society, and forces him to emit but general rules identical for everyone. Rawls then claims that the proper attitude to adopt is a "maximin" strategy, that consists in choosing whichever rules will maximize the welfare of the least-advantaged person amongst the members of said society, for the risk is great that one may be relegated to it and/or one must cater to the worst case scenario.
However, whereas socialists celebrate genius and popularize everywhere these concepts of "original position" and "veil of ignorance", referring to Rawls as a "master", honest philosophers will reckon that this is but the reuse of previously well-known concepts in a way that corrupts these concepts, and that the originality of Rawls isn't in these concepts but in their corruption.
The expression "original position" was invented by an economist, John Harsanyi (since awarded the Nobel Prize), to study the choice of rules of social behavior, by using a mathematical formalism that has since been called "Game Theory", and that has found applications in many other sciences, like computer science, biology, military or commercial strategy, etc. Within this formal framework, the "original position" and its "veil of ignorance" are a useful filter to only consider the most general rules, that can achieve the consensus of a great number of people in a great number of situations, and are hopefully applicable beyond the particular hypotheses of the simplified models that one may study. Up till now, these are but elementary mathematics of indisputable obviousness; but here already, Rawls, who elevates this abstraction as a basic principle, detached from any real application, reverses the epistemological order of economic science that on the contrary sees in this abstraction but an approximation, useful but coarse, of actual situations: The rawlsian philosopher claims for himself a divine power, and is interested about arbitrary rules that stem from intentions he believes are good, where the economist is interested in human action, and explores the logical consequences of rules considering the constraints of human nature.
Soon, Rawls introduces divergences as compared to the well-established classical use of Game Theory. Harsanyi, as an economist, presents as preferable those rules that maximize the expected gain for everyone, i.e. a "maxi" strategy, that Rawls denounces as "utilitaristic", so that he may prefer to it his "maximin" strategy. Now, in economic science, the obviously relevant strategy is "maxi", since it allows to compare the result of interactions according to the various rules being considered from the point of view of efficient use of resources. And it is indeed this efficient use of resources that will decide whether those who adopt some rule will be competitive when facing their rivals who adopt different rules, and it is this competitiveness that implies survival and multiplication via natural selection.
The "maximin" strategy promoted by Rawls, has a meaning in Game Theory only if one supposes a malevolent opponent, who attempts to minimize the welfare function that one wants to maximize as one chooses social rules. The implicit model of Rawls, is thus that of the philosopher who legislates as a God, and a Devil who will choose whom the yet unborn philosopher will incarnate as. This contrasts notably with the model followed by economists, where the choice of social rules is made by humans, who do not fight against a malevolent opponent, the Devil, but act in a neutral context, Nature. As compared to a choice of rules in the naturalistic framework, the choice of rules in the diabolical framework will of course lead to a dismal result, since the Devil has the last word, and will give you the worst of what nature has to offer.
Hence, it isn't surprising that the rawlsian point of view should lead to the nefarious justification of a totalitarian political power: the rawlsian innovation consists precisely in introducing a Devil and in giving him the last word, where economists were studying an interaction with Nature. Even though the Devil didn't exist in Nature, following the socialist principles, as made explicit by Rawls, consists exactly in implementing the will of the Devil on Earth — a will that in the end finds its source in Rawls and his socialist accomplices. It therefore isn't an exaggeration to claim that Rawls, and the socialists, "progressivists" and "social-democrats" who share his ideas, are literally diabolical, and that socialism, "progressivism", or whatever name it uses, is a form of diabolism.
Of course, Rawls refrains from making explicit the diabolical meaning of his model. He probably doesn't realize it, happy that he is of having found a justification to socialism that so effectively corresponds to the way socialists think. He realizes indeed that his model does not correspond to reality as studied by economists who use Game Theory; but his reaction is to denounce these economists as "utilitarians" and to propose his "maximin" evaluation function as resulting from a subjective choice that he claims is better. However, the choice of an evaluation function in Game Theory isn't subjective at all; a different function corresponds mathematically to a different model — in this case, to the diabolical model. If one were to reject the principles of Game Theory, then on the one hand, Rawls should either explain the error that is hidden in the well-known interpretations of Game Theory and propose a corrected Game Theory, or he should abandon this theory and with it all the attempts of justification that he build on top of this theory. When a scientist sees that the hypotheses of his model do not correspond to reality anymore, he abandons the model to pick one that is better adapted to describing reality. When the mystic sees that reality does not correspond to the hypotheses in his model anymore, he abandons reality and decrees that it should adapt itself to his utopia. Rawls is a mystic. A diabolical mystic.
Like all frauds who disguise their superstitions under the mask of Science, Rawls makes an improper usage of Game Theory, the valuable concepts of which he misapplies outside of a context where they are relevant, to discreetly smuggle his egalitarian axioms under a formal clutter that gives him an appearance of intellectual rigor. The use of a formal scientific vocabulary, together with mathematical models, is thus but an attempt at intimidation to hide the ad hoc fallacy under the complexity of formulas that a contradicter can be accused of being unable to understand, of lacking the diploma, the education, the title, the official qualification before he may comment on them. In this, Rawls is verily a contemporary version of Marx, who also was dressing socialist mysticism with erudite words and was mimicking the economic science of his time. Both had as their sole innovation the misuse of economic concepts, the smuggling of their premises as contraband under an impressive mathematical model, the reckless confusion between causes and consequences.
Let's examine a few of the "dynamic contradictions" by which the conclusions of Rawls, that only explicitly reprise the hypotheses he implicitly smuggled, destroy the very hypotheses that could allow one to draw the inferences by which he claims to further his reasoning.
Thus, the concept of maximizing expected gain, whether for the aggregate of members of society (the utilitarian approach) of for the least-advantaged members of society (the rawlsian variant), presupposes that this "gain" can be evaluated in terms that can be compared from one person to the other. An economist will then talk about "cardinal" value allowing for interpersonal comparisons. Now, in the general case (as studied by the Austrian school), one may only suppose "ordinal" value, i.e. personal preference scales that are not reducible to a number and cannot be compared from one person to the other. The existence of a shared cardinal value scale is a simplifying hypothesis, a gross approximation, that is only justified in the case that the actors, having their interests in harmony and interacting peacefully, are also able to exchange goods and services on a free market, thereby revealing a marginal price for every satisfaction on a unique monetary scale. Since he claims to arbitrarily control and restrict markets, Rawls, like all statists, socialists, "progressivists", etc., destroys the very hypothesis that allows to approximate the notion of "value" by a number shared by everyone, yet that approximation is a prior to all the calculations he claims to perform.
Rawls also smuggles the idea that the rules of behavior to be chosen themselves should take their game decisions behind a veil of ignorance that treats everyone identically without being able to differentiate individuals according to who they are and what they do. However, in Game Theory, although the rules themselves may have to be chosen before one may know the particular situations of the players (once again, a perfectly reasonable hypothesis, at the core of Game Theory), these rules by definition can and in general must take into account the information available during the game. To go from a priori ignorance to a posteriori egalitarianism is therefore one more intellectual fraud committed by Rawls. It is completely admissible to recognize that players are distinct individuals, each being born with different fortunes and talents, and to acknowledge this reality and vie for the best given this situation, rather than to claim to "equalize" everyone according to the subjective criteria of demagogues in power. If "merit" is effectively invisible to the hypothetical legislator who would have to choose universal social rules, it isn't invisible to these rules themselves, that may distinguish who has talent, integrity, persistence, whether these virtues be innate or acquired, and will deserve the position sought, and who is a zero, a criminal, a sloth, whether his vices be innate or acquired, and will deserve but adequate punishment. Even though the hypothetical disincarnate soul of the rawlsian model would by hypothesis possess neither vice nor virtue (yet is supposed to be a perfect philosopher capable of choosing social rules), by the time the social rules will apply to it, it will have been incarnated into a being who actually possesses vices and virtues, that these rules can and must take into consideration.
By a sleight of hand, Rawls grossly misuses the notion of "veil of ignorance" to forbid us from using the information that is actually available about the real world, and intimate us into following instead the egalitarian dogmas that he smuggled into his model. Replacing substance with poison — Rawls is a poisoner. Note that the same stratagem lies behind other variants of the "veil of ignorance" as used by other tyrants: the "precautionary principle" consists in substituting the ignorance of bureaucrats to the opinion of the people involved. The "abolition of the death penalty" substitutes to the conviction of the judges the ignorance of the do-gooders. In each case, the real problem is due to the irresponsibility of some players (industrialists, judges, etc.) as protected by a State monopoly ("limited liability" statute, judicial immunity), and the solution is to reestablish full personal responsibility for everyone, whereas socialists want to institute full irresponsibility.
The use of scientific tools and concepts by Rawls is at best a long discourse that says nothing, and actually a diversion to conceal the totalitarian hypotheses he smuggles so as to pull them out as conclusions as if he had scientifically established them. The only "innovations" by Rawls are just another series of lies, of mistakes and of omissions, philosophical conjurer tricks. What Rawls says is but a vast intellectual fraud the purpose of which is to find a fraudulent justification for totalitarianism, under the appearance of science, moderation, civilization and honesty.
Rawls knows how to dribble with good intentions, goodthinking righteousness, moderation in the tone of his discourse, etc. But just like his pseudo-liberal first principle these pseudo-good intentions, this pseudo-goodthinking righteousness, this pseudo-moderation in tone, are as many baits designed to lure the reader into drinking the poison of the various intellectual innovations of Rawls, that are as many deceptions serving totalitarianism. Rawls of course is neither the head slaughterer, nor even the giver of orders for the murders and oppression that his ideology implies. Moreover, if like every socialist, Rawls possesses a malevolent background, as is amply demonstrated by the diabolical nature of his fundamental argument, Rawls is amongst the greedy socialists: in the name of alleged benefit to the least-advantaged members of society, he wants to extract from the producers of wealth as large resources as possible, even though he may have to let them personally get rich.
Rawls is but the official ideologist of the almighty State. Comfortably sitting in his ivory tower whereas other people do the dirty work of Power, he justifies the totalitarian aspirations of the mighty, he introduces confusion amongst the victims with his humbug concepts, he disarms these victims intellectually, he reinforces emotionally the arbitrary total power of the tchekists, and allows them to go on with their crimes with a good conscience whereas their victims will not defend or will even become accomplices. In other words, he very well fulfills the role of the intelligentsia serving the Establishment, and that's why he had his place in the nomenklatura.
Ayn Rand, in her untitled letter of January 29th 1973, as published in the collection "Philosophy, who needs it", writes a brilliant analysis of Rawls and his fellow stooges, dissecting the anti-human "morality" of their socialist righteousness: to sacrifice anyone who is successful at anything, because he is someone, so as to offer his flesh, his time, his suffering, his belongings, to those who are nothing, because they are nothing. I heartily recommend this text by Rand. As for me, I merely analyze the Rawls's discourse from a more technical point of view, to exhibit the fallacies upon which it hinges.
Rawls is revered, introduced as developing the best and most "liberal" justification for social-democracy. If this is the best they have, you can reject the theses of "social-democrats" directly to the garbage disposal. They are but a cover of lies for the usual totalitarian superstitions from the die-hard mystic cult of "equality".