A Free Society vs. Socialism and the Interpretation of Words

I find it interesting at times that people can both use the same words to make entirely different points.  I am really enjoying my time at PermacultureVoices and the people here are mostly entrepreneurial minded doers.   Yet as always when many gather in the name of Permaculture at least a few will gather that seek solutions from government rather than from ourselves.

I listened to one presenter bash the Food Safety and Modernization Act for the mess that it is.  He did a good job in pointing out how bad it was.  Then turned around and talked about what was good in it, he called them crumbs but said at least we got that.

He then said government needed to do more for us and that Obama was waiting on the people to give him direction.  To me it is difficult to understand how someone can both understand how bad government really is and yet still turn to government for a solution.    The reality is both those that want a free society and those who seek a socialist solution can often find a totally different meaning in the same words.

Such as this famous Star Trek quote below, the entire quote is “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one”.

kirk-and-spock-needs-quote

I have heard those who seek government solutions use this quote to defend government.  I have also heard many who love liberty say that this quote is socialist.  I say both are wrong if taken in the context of the movie.  In this movie Spock who has power (second in command on the ship) could have ordered someone to save the ship (applied force).  Instead he sacrificed himself for the good of the many by choice and with free will.

For me I would examine this quote and come up with the following extrapulaitons.  It is a fact indeed that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, so…

1.  In a free and ethics based society this fact inspires the few or the one at times to sacrifice willingly for the benefit of the many.

2.  In a society that is controlled by government this fact is used as an excuse for those in power to use force to victimize the few or the one for the benefit of the many.

I ask you simply, which society would you prefer to live in?  Which of the two would you wish to leave behind as you take responsibility for the future existence of your children and their children?

 

29 Responses to A Free Society vs. Socialism and the Interpretation of Words

  1. Mike Eckardt

    I think you minimize your second point. In our current society, there are those in control of our Government (especially Federal), many industries, and other organizations (read: Unions), that use this theory of benefiting society as a whole to victimize the many, while actually benefiting the many only enough to con them on, and taking the windfall for themselves.

    Which of your two options would I choose? The first, of course. Our civilization is likely not long for this world, as things are going. In my remaining decade of productive life, I hope to establish an independent lifestyle as suggested by Permaculture and similar ideas, so I and my family have something when SHTF, with the hope that my kid’s (and their families, if and when) will at least have somewhere to run to.

  2. Great point. The quote was in the spirit of self-sacrifice not self-justification. The nerd in me always loves it when you choose sci-fi for your anecdotes.

  3. Well said, Jack.

  4. I agree completely with your assessment and opinion. There was an article on Drudge this morning about a private land owner being harassed by the EPA for building a pond on his property. We need to make a cause out if this and get the EPA to back off.

  5. Great point. The needs of the many may outweigh the needs of the few, but it’s up to the few to decide that. No one else should be forcing sacrifice “for the greater good” on someone else. In a perfect world, no one would force anyone to do anything.

    Unfortunately it’s really easy for people to want to force sacrifice on others for what they interpret as “the needs of the many”. It’s also the cause of pretty much every government sanctioned genocide in history.

    This is basically the problem with government in a nutshell.

  6. And of course don’t forget that in the movie that followed, Kirk flips it around and tells Spoke that the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many.

    In both cases, it is the individuals making voluntary decisions based on what they value.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYvlhHPLzCA

  7. Well, we have No. 2, and we all can see how that has worked out for us… No 1 is what I would like to leave for my descendants, so, perhaps we can plant that ‘tree’ of thought, and maybe our great great grandchildren can enjoy living it.

  8. Please stop perpetuating this myth that we have a socialist government. If it was socialist, income inequality would be getting Smaller not Larger. We live in a plutocracy – the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition is “a country that is ruled by the richest people.” Those people do not want you to be independent of their machine that keeps you enslaved and them rich. That’s the issue with this country. The result is the same (ie harassment by the EPA), but the solution is much, much different.

    • Modern Survival

      There is a word for people like yourself, it is delusional.

    • KCTX, wise up buddy. Go back and re-read Jack’s words. His post discusses “Free Society vs. Socialism and the Interpretation of Words”. Yes it does contrast the two, and yes it does imply value judgements about both. (It would be pretty dull if he didn’t.) BUT NOWHERE does it say “we have a socialist government”. Maybe we do … maybe we don’t. Jack does NOT imply (at least in this entry) one way or the other.

      Amazingly & Ironically – you have just proven Jack’s premise: [the significance of] the Interpretation of Words.

    • … relative to “the Significance of Words” and Spock’s quote and motivation “The Needs of the Many Outweigh the Needs of the Few” …

      The only word in this statement that is subjective or open to interpretation is “NEEDS”. I find it interesting that KTCX immediately just to his interpretation that “needs” is monetary or income based. I wonder if that’s what Spock thought?

      I always marvel at the Marine’s motto: “No man left behind”. And when the band of brothers go in to extract their fallen command, another 3 or 4 die in their attempt to save one. Or the countless soldiers and warriors that have for millenniums gone into battle knowing full well their odds of avoiding death were minimal … but perhaps the battle would be won and their homeland and families safe. And sometimes even the odds of winning the battle – let alone the war – were nil. And yet they still sacrifice their lives!! WHY?

      Because (IMO) the “Needs” in question are not about money, are not even about their own lives, maybe not even about the lives of their comrades or countrymen. My interpretation of this phrase and the word “needs” is HONOR, INTEGRITY, SELF-RESPECT.

      And it is my opinion that a socialist government can give a man money, a minimum wage, welfare, food stamps … a job they’re not qualified for … benefits for being unemployed … or disabilities they don’t deserve – – – but a socialist government CANNOT give a man Honor, Integrity or Self-respect. Rather, in a Free Society, a man has far more opportunities and encouragement to obtain this most fundamental of “needs”.

  9. You hit the nail on the head Jack. Without freedom one would not have to free will to choose to sacrifice themselves for others. Free will is a wonderful gift from our creator, it is the only thing that makes love possible.

    Think about it, if someone could make people do exactly what they command and only what they comand then the people under oppression couldn’t make any choices, therefore they couldn’t choose to love, and without love nobody would sacrifice themselves for the good of others.

    The amount of freedom people have is directly connected to the amount of love they can have for others, which translates to the ability for them to give to others.

    This reminds me of the greatest love the world has ever known and the greatest sacrifice the world has ever recieved.

    John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”

  10. Sometimes you hear Liberalism/Progressivism referred to as a mental disease. Anyone who has spent serious time with the mentally ill can easily understand the analogy. But I also think that it is like a religion. All else is ultimately sacrificed on the altar to Government. (As a Bible believing Christian, I am not running down religion. I am just noticing how the State worshipers take it as an article of faith despite all reason, logic, or evidence to the contrary.)

    • Dawn, I too have heard a version of this. Liberalism/Progressivism referred to as “Insanity”. Where insanity is defined as “Doing the exact same thing over and over and expecting different results”. Like continually raising the debt ceiling … oh just this one last time and then our economy will turn around and we’ll pay down our $17 trillion debt. Insanity!

      Or Quantitative Easing (QE-zero in 2007 under bush), and then QE1 (Obama 2008) should solve the problem … No? Well maybe QE2 (2010) … No? Well maybe QE3 (2012) … No? Well let’s just stop numbering and let the Feds print artificial money ad infinitum. Insanity!

      Or let’s raise minimum wage just one more time. We know that every time we’ve done it in the past it’s always been the low-income, or students, or blacks, or elderly on fixed incomes that suffer the most; loose their jobs or have their hours reduced. We know that it has always caused some small companies to fail, or raise their prices and escalate inflation — but maybe that won’t happen this time. Insanity!

      Maybe it is a little like religion: requiring blind faith that some power greater than I can and will take care of me. I too have faith in God, but I never expect anything from Him other than the guidance and strength to do His Will; and perhaps reward me in the end. But if you worship at the alter of big government, you ask and expect to be taken care of during your life and then get screwed in the end.

  11. My mentor’s were all old men in the 1960’s when I was able to understand what was going on and learning about life..
    These men were all very well respected in their areas of business by not only their employees but by their community’s. They all believed in what we know today as the permaculture principles and would never ask anyone under them to do something that they could not or would not do themselves.

    I have always prided myself in following their examples and have tried to instill these same attributes in my children and grand children.

    Keep up the good work Jack.

  12. Craig Turcotte

    That quote was from Star Trek II which was an amazing movie. Remember though that in Star Trek III, the crew all chose to collectively sacrifice their careers to return to the Genesis Planet and retrieve Spock’s body. The point of THAT movie was that sometimes the needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many.

  13. Craig Turcotte

    Also, check out Transformers: Dark of the Moon. In that movie, Leonard Nemoy provided the voice of the villain, Sentinel Prime. As he is in the process of destroying Earth to give new life to Cybertorn, he quotes, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” That shows how horrifying that ideology is when taken to the extreme.

  14. If you haven’t already seen it, you gotta see Star Trek: of Gods and Men
    Check out what Captain Uhura has to say at 15:40
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFqAME7dx58
    Cpt. Uhura says “That maxim is the most dangerous and misguided belief that I have ever heard!” She & Spock also lead Vulcan efforts to secede from the Federation, which has become a police state, “ruling through fear and violence”. I don’t want to spoil it, but she almost sounds like Ayn Rand at times! Official movie site: http://startrekofgodsandmen.com/main/

    I am also a Christian. There is enormous freedom knowing that “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” John 3:16 -17

  15. Ya got to love Star Trek first of all. Jack’s points are right on. The old Star Trek movies and TV shows are worth watching. although the first movie does not really fit in with the show and other movies.

    Sometimes
    “the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many or few ”.

  16. I won’t name the speaker (since Jack obviously purposefully didn’t), but that person is not a Permaculturalist, and had no business being a speaker at the Permaculture Voices conference due only to name recognition. During the question and answer portion, one of the attendees told the speaker that their being there “legitimized us.” Even if it were true (I would say it has it backwards, if anything), that statement betrays a disgusting lack of dignity and self-respect on the part of the speaker.

    • I think that speaker was included because of the high percentage of permaculturists who are also into the food movement, in particular the local food and raw milk movements. He has championed these causes for a number of years and brought a lot of the problems in the food system into the public light.

      And, believe it or don’t, unfortunate as it is, there is still a large percentage of people in permaculture who buy into global warming, leftist ideology and think the government has the solutions for our problems. This was evidenced by a great many of the speakers at the conference. Unfortunately not all permaculturists are libertarians and TSP listeners, but we’ll keep working to change that.

      I like to find whatever common ground I can with people and sometimes you just have to eat the meat and spit out the bones when you’re listening to someone. Even if you totally disagree with them, you can still learn from them, even if what you learn is how the opposition thinks or what not to think. That knowledge can be very powerful. (Keep your friend close and your enemies closer type thing)

      • Modern Survival

        Well I don’t really care if someone is an AGW believer like I keep saying it is a religion, there is little you can do to change a person’s religion. We certainly have major environmental problems. I also do think man has major localized climatic impacts. In other words we don’t change the macro climate globally but we do change how that climate effects both small and large areas.

        My point here is how the understanding of words is based on preconceived beliefs in modern times vs. the actual meaning of the words.

        That said apparently he wasn’t very keen on leaving people alone in regard to raw milk and when questioned even said it posed a risk to children. Now that I take exception to!

        • PowersProduce

          The raw milk could hurt kids statement got me thinking.

          First, I see where he is coming from. If you look at raw milk in the system the average teacup American child lives in, going to 7/11 and buying raw milk to feed to a weak American child dosent sound safe.
          What he should have said, as Adam Klaus so eloquently put it. If you dont know the farmer or his cows because you have never been to his farm, dont buy raw milk. (At least until AgriTrue, or Fraser Bliss’ FarmWell are wide spread, but I digress..)

          This is not a raw milk problem, this a whole systems failure. A lack of the holistic approach to life.

          The kid should be with you meeting the farmer and the cows too! Getting dirty and scuffed up on the farm in the middle of the week because this is real life learning, better than any school can teach. Drinking fresh, clean raw milk from mom and dads friend who has cows.

        • I didn’t hear the comment about raw milk hurting kids, and I also take exception to that. If you’re drinking raw milk from cows in a feed lot type situation there could be a problem, but that’s not in tune with raw milk practices.

          I have to agree that if our kids were getting out in the dirt and not sanitized into immune deficiency, they’d be less likely to have all the health problem, ie asthma and allergies that so many of them seem to have these days. Add raw milk into the mix and our kids would be healthier and heartier.

  17. That quote describes to me one of the reasons why the founding fathers were brilliant.

    There needs be a balance between the majority and the minority.

    Some examples of minorities that needed protection: African-Americans, the rich, property owners.

    An example where the majority needs protection against a minority: the extreme rich’s power and influence must be tempered by the needs of the majority.

    The greatness in our world is its ability to embody both the simple and complex at once. An example think of the number of grains of sand on beach compared to the number of neuron connections in an individuals brain. Or if you take a human lung and spread it out it covers about a tennis court inside.

    The state of our world is free and obligated. Obligated by the forces of nature and free to express within those bounds.

    In these ways should a government operate. Bound by the people it represents and the people bound by social contract not to enforce their will on others.

    In other words, we should have every freedom except the freedom to harm others in less it is to protect our person or property from harm by an aggressor.

    Our duty to our larger community to supply sufficient means to insure individual freedoms and protection necessary to express those freedoms how each individual sees fit.

    Individually, we can hope our community has moral bearing to do the right thing in helping one another in times of need. But such choices should be made individually.

  18. And, the NEEDS of the many are best served through liberty. We NEED freedom, and a free society benefits the many. The true NEEDS of a few [those who truly could not take care of them self] would benefit from collectivism somewhat, but in a free society, the many would voluntarily help those who truly need it. So, while some may think the quote justifies a big government, It really supports a free society imho. For example, currently 47 million need food stamps now ONLY because of the economic drag on society government creates & the inequality caused by our corporatocracy. In a free society, the # who truly need food assistance would be much fewer, and many would help them voluntarily. Big government only really benefits the few at the top, because the ‘many’ they claim to help would be better off in a free society, but would also have to be productive.

  19. I’d like to point out that gov. very much uses “the needs of the few out weigh the needs of the many” to get things through such as Obamacare or gmo’s where the many take the hit for the few or a friend who owns a corporation.

    their power lies in using lies from both sides of the fence to persuade the many with lies that sound right, I mean don’t you think everyone should have health care especially poor people!

    thanks Jack for teaching me about personal sovereignty

  20. David Michael Myers

    I totally reject the premise. The needs of the many NEVER outweigh the needs of the few in a truly free society. The only place in which the needs of the may out weight the needs of the few is in a collectivist/communitarian/communist/progressive/socialist/statist [take your choice—-they all have the same goal] society PERIOD. The article is baloney!

    DM Myers