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Forum Post: Nietzsche, Chomsky, & Proudhon

Posted 5 years ago on June 15, 2012, 7:09 p.m. EST by francismjenkins (3713)
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The whole of 'altruism' reveals itself as the prudence of the private man: societies are not 'altruistic' towards one another--The commandment to love one's neighbor has never yet been extended to include one's actual neighbor.3

By "actual neighbor," I take Nietzsche to be referring to bordering states or societies, as the context would indicate. It seems then, that Nietzsche is trying to say that the violence inherent in the way a society exerts its will to power is evidence that the true nature of man is one of violence also. What Nietzsche reveals about the nature of states in these passages is interestingly similar to some of the political views which Noam Chomsky has professed--that states are fundamentally violent institutions and a state's internally espoused values have no bearing whatsoever on its external behavior.4 This is not to say, however, that Chomsky subscribes to Nietzsche's doctrine of the will to power, but Nietzsche does seem to anticipate Chomsky and others who have said similar such things regarding the nature of states and societies. Other than that, however, their views differ considerably. Nietzsche seems to approve of the violent conquest of others while Noam Chomsky, of course, does not.


Reciprocal Altruism is a social interaction phenomenon where an individual makes sacrifices for another individual in expectation of similar treatment.

Originally introduced as a concept by biologist Robert Trivers, reciprocal altruism deals with how altruistic behavior and morality can arise from evolutionary causes, as evolution selects for the best possible game theory results.

If the benefit is higher than the initial cost, then multiple reciprocal interactions can actually outcompete more "greedy" forms of relationships, thus providing an evolutionary incentive for altruistic behavior.

Reciprocal Morality and its benefits are often encountered, and can be modeled in game theory. The usual example is the effectiveness of the simple tit-for-tat algorithm in the Prisoner's dilemma & Iterated Prisoner's dilemma situation.


At the same time (and in opposition to unlimited altruism), reciprocity ensures that cheaters are also harmed when they choose to do so and are gradually made less fit as a result of their own behavior.

In the same breath, Proudhon states that property is both theft and freedom.

Mutualism is an economic theory and anarchist school of thought that envisions a society where each person might possess a means of production, either individually or collectively, with trade representing equivalent amounts of labor in the free market.[1] Integral to the scheme was the establishment of a mutual-credit bank that would lend to producers at a minimal interest rate, just high enough to cover administration.[2] Mutualism is based on a labor theory of value that holds that when labor or its product is sold, in exchange, it ought to receive goods or services embodying "the amount of labor necessary to produce an article of exactly similar and equal utility".[3] Mutualism originated from the writings of philosopher Pierre-Joseph Proudhon.

Mutualists oppose the idea of individuals receiving an income through loans, investments, and rent, as they believe these individuals are not laboring. Though Proudhon opposed this type of income, he expressed that he had never intended "...to forbid or suppress, by sovereign decree, ground rent and interest on capital. I think that all these manifestations of human activity should remain free and voluntary for all: I ask for them no modifications, restrictions or suppressions, other than those which result naturally and of necessity from the universalization of the principle of reciprocity which I propose."[4] Insofar as they ensure the worker's right to the full product of their labor, mutualists support markets (or artificial markets) and property in the product of labor. However, they argue for conditional titles to land, whose ownership is legitimate only so long as it remains in use or occupation (which Proudhon called "possession");[5] thus advocating personal property, but not private property.


Clarifying Proudhon is important, because he's one of the first anarchist intellectuals to make a proclamation like property is theft, a maxim which is commonly misunderstood by many anarchists (and usually interpreted in the communist sense).

Just tossing out these various, and conflicting ideas, to hopefully inspire a more enlightened discussion about our future, the direction of our movement, and our philosophy. I'd rather be corrected and refuted by a comrade here on this site, versus looking like an idiot when I'm talking about occupy wall street on the street, with people who may be considering supporting us.



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