interests

Richard Spear rspear at primenet.com
Wed Apr 12 11:32:07 MDT 1995


In article  Justin Schwartz <jschwart at freenet.columbus.oh.us> writes:
>Date: Wed, 12 Apr 1995 11:02:06 -0400 (EDT)
>From: Justin Schwartz <jschwart at freenet.columbus.oh.us>
>Subject: Re: interests
>To: marxism at jefferson.village.virginia.edu
>Cc: marxism at jefferson.village.virginia.edu,
>Reply-To: marxism at jefferson.village.virginia.edu


>In the following Lisa Rogers says that talk about interests--what's good
>for you--threatens to justify paternalism. I think this is a mistake.
>Paternalism, forcing people to do what's good for them because it is good
>for them--depends logically on the notion of interests, bvecause there has
>to be something which is good for them for the idea to make sense. But
>saying that there is such a thing does not even begin to justify making
>people do it. It is quite possible to hold that people have interests
>which they do not recognize and that it is morally wrong to force them to
>satisfy their interests. This is in fact the position of the most famous
>non-paternalist of all time, John Stuart Mill. Mill, as a happiness
>utilitarian, is an objectivist about interests. He also claims that
>maximizing happiness requires nonpaternalism.

>It's possible to argue with people that something is good for them without
>trying to impose it on them. I think this is in fact the position, whether
>by practical default or moral conviction, of socialists in America. We try
>to persuade workers and others that socialism is in their interests. Does
>Lisa really want them run from us?
[the rest deleted]

It seems that "interests" addresses the question of false consciousness head
on. The Capitalist worker believes that the State is acting in his/her
interest and shares the goals put forth by it as his/her own. If we accept
that most people act to maximize their well-being (as perceived by them) while
reducing the expense of their actions (a "cost-benefit" analysis of human
behavior ... not too bad, I think) then it is their *perceptions of reality*
that determine the goals for which they will strive. The discussion now deals
with the interstices of ideology and materialism ... a fertile area for
examination.

I'm not a very good theoretician ... I'm always accused of being too much the
Generalist ... but ... praxis is directed action, rooted in theoretical
principles. This may be a good solid starting point for understanding
interests and action. Anything else mires us in a psychological swampland.


Regards, Richard
rspear at primenet.com


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