Posts Tagged ‘selflessness’

The Political Motive: Imposition

25. June 2017

Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live. And unselfishness is letting other people’s lives alone, not interfering with them. – Oscar Wilde

But what if living as one wishes to affects other people? What if it compels others to act in a different manner in effect imposing one’s will on to others,  well this may be because their will is weak enough to be affected by someone else, but if “no man is an island” and if the ‘bell tolls for thee’ then can we really allow people to have personal autonomy regardless of how it will affect others? I am not talking about clear cut cases such as whether we should allow murder, of course we should not but what about something more subtle than that such as say a drug addict who is negatively affecting the life of his family,  a sexually liberal individual who is once again affecting his family negatively, someone who wants to divorce herself even if it will harm her children, someone who wants to have a late-term abortion or a racist or homophobic person, or a mysoginist who has an unpopular bigoted opinion which will negatively affect those to whom it is directed towards by spreading harmful stereotypes? The question is if society and more pressingly the state should impose limits on behaviour then how far should they go? Should these limitations stop at any point in any part of people’s lives at all? Should personal autonomy be banned entirely if possible? Is someone’s liberty always an imposition on someone else’s freedom? Well, Peter Hitchens and Karl Marx seem to believe that that is the case. And if that is the case why have any respect for liberty at all and why not treat it as none other than a temporary compromise because it is impossible to impose one’s will on every other ideological group in the country? Couldn’t Erdogan’s analogy of democracy being a bus ride that one gets on and then gets off once one has reached one’s destination, also be applied to ALL liberties?

Let’s say you are a part of ideological group A and you hate ideological group B and what they stand for. Now let’s say that group B gets into power, tell me, is there any reason that B should not impose its will unilaterally on  if B has the power to do so effectively? Why should liberty not be discarded in favour of whatever right-wing or left-wing ideology you may hold to be true?

Another problem however is the less violent of imposition in society, for example if you have certain conservative views about homosexuality, race and gender you may be denied employment in certain sectors especially if you can affect public opinion, isn’t this a form of imposition? However how can one be against this if one is in favour of impositions onto the side such as that two people should remain married whether they want to or not? In both cases innocent people are being affected, in one case minorities are purported to be affected by the spreading of harmful self-fulfilling stereotypes and in the other children may be affected negatively by the lack of a parent. It doesn’t have to something as heated as that, what about the proposition that there must be a day of rest every week, what right does the state have to be allowed to impose such limits onto businesses other than the simple fact that it has got the power to impose such a thing? What about taxation to help the destitute? Isn’t that an imposition too? It almost seems like all political motives(and this includes those of the religious right) have a way of degenerating into the pursuit of the power to impose one’s ideals onto others.

There is no solution to this conundrum but a step in a right direction would be to promote(once again at what level of level of ‘promotion’ does it become ‘imposition’) a belief that the state is not there to solve everyone’s problems, it’s just there to maintain stability and freedom so that we can each solve our own problems. I don’t think it is possible not to interfere with others, which must mean that according to Wilde we are all selfish, but that doesn’t warrant us to be as selfish as we want to be by going out of our way to impose our ideals onto others, and if we do so we immediately open the gates for them to try to do the same to us, which I suppose we can’t help but do.

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