Matt Cramer cramer at
Mon Oct 23 08:13:37 PDT 2000

[two replies in one, of course]

On Tue, 24 Oct 2000, Rob Schaap wrote:

> >The equivocation of social darwinism with libertarian political
> >philosophy
> >is absurd.
> Well, then Christopher must not be a libertarian, because he's
> sure-as-hell a social darwinist! Trying to fit the species-oriented
> Darwin to the individual in an implicit 'war of all against all'.
> And the social is either a way to optimal human freedom or it is a
> nagging and ever-threatening inhibition to human freedom. American
> libertarians tend, it seems to me, to the latter view. If so, that
> falls bodily into the social darwinist category.

Well, last time I used the phrase "not orthogonal" I got my wrists slapped for being too geeky. Social Darwinists can be libertarians, but not ALL libertarians are social darwinists. More below.

On Mon, 23 Oct 2000, kelley wrote:

> >ROTFL! We should be so lucky!
> >
> >I hate to break up this little "no I'm the underdog" love-fest, but
> >utilitarian individualism is certainly NOT predominate in the US. "By
> >their fruits ye shall know them". Judge the actions, not the words.
> >Where are all these utilitarian individualists on election day? Voting
> >for Gore and Bush????? Yeah right.
> do you know what utilitarian individualism is? this example doesn't
> suggest to me that you do. there is no contradiction here. voting for
> either of the two candidates or any of the candidates does not preclude one
> from being a utilitarian--whether moral, political or both!? but one thing
> is clear, you can't possibly be a utilitarian individualist because if you
> were, you wouldn't type the above in quite the way you typed it.

OK, I may be guilty here. There are very specific definitions for what I would claim are very general phrases and I'm not aware of them, I suppose. I took "utilitarian individualist" in the sense of utilitarian as a model for morality, such that things defined as "good" are things which are useful for protecting sovereignty of the individual and his liberty.

[snip "enlightenerati" (nice word, BTW) - see my reply to Doug]

> >The robot is only superior if you judge
> >superiority using amount of debt and number of useless toys. The robot
> >knows nothing of utility and lives his life trying to stamp out the little
> >individuality he has. The robots dress alike, talk alike, and think
> >alike. The robot is programmed for fear,
> is this dave you're channeling here or what!?

You got the "brief history of Matt" offlist. :-) No, my philosophies were firm long before I met the talking Woodchuck.

> btw, you should read
> c.wright mills and herbert marcuse on the same phenom! (i won't hold my
> breath though. rotf!)

Well, this is the essence of a Wilsonian "fnord".

> >and has been conditioned to
> >associate fear and unpleasantness with responsibility, so the robot does
> >anything to abandon responsibility whenever possible.
> basic utilitarian algorithms...

It was the "individualistic" more than the "utilitarian" that my comments were addressing.

> >The equivocation of social darwinism with libertarian political philosophy
> >is absurd. Libertarians believe in cooperation and charity, we just don't
> >want to be forced to cooperate and support charities at the barrel of a
> >gun.
> i don't think you understand what social darwinism is. see herbert
> spencer, a grand old daddy of liberal social theory--as in old fashioned
> liberal social theory (see also, d.d.)

Social darwinism is the theory in sociology that groups achieve advantage over others based upon genetic and biological "superiority", no?

> >It would be more useful to evaluate the social darwinist theories
> >providing the foundation for programs like affirmative action.
> you are talking about social engineering i think yes?

Yes affirmative action is social engineering. But I am talking about the rationale behind *why* such engineering is a good thing. The reasoning behind such programs is a lot closer to social darwinism than the champions of affirmative action would be comfortable to admit.


-- Matt Cramer <cramer at> In small proportions we just beauties see, And in short measures life may perfect be.

-Ben Johnson

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