Anonymous September 23, 2012 8:10 AM
Your friend’s viewpoint appears to be denying the essential
personhood of “rich people” and “poor people”. I don’t think
he’s understanding them as people, but as abstract classes.
Perhaps he should be reminded that everyone lives near the
center of their own narrative. Most people are the heroes of
their own story; when this isn’t true, the hero still tends to be
close by. They acquire resources to improve the world in
which they live. Rich people and poor people alike do this.
The desire to live a better life is universal. The fact that the
modern world is better than the ancient world is testament to
the fact that progress is real.
Your friend doesn’t appear to believe that rich people are
capable of being voluntarists. He is arguing that rich people
will never seek win/win transactions with those who are
poorer than they are. “Never” is a strong word, but it fits here.
He is directly arguing that rich people will buy up the
necessary elements of life and then use their exclusive
access to enslave the poor. This can only work if, as your
friend clearly believes, the poor have no collective resources
with which to resist, no ability to use the market, and no
ability to network with each other effectively.
I wonder if your friend understands that the debtor class in
modern society is the ultra-wealthy, while the creditor class
are the working poor and the middle class. People very often
think “high net worth” equals “no debts, massive savings”.
Historically, that was generally true, but in the modern day
the so-called wealthy tend to have vast amounts of fixed
resources and shortages of liquid assets. The collective argument is a symptom of this dehumanizing perspective. Your friend appears to believe that it is right and proper to remove cancerous elements from society with a government’s violence, just as it is right and proper to remove
cancerous elements from the body with a doctor’s scalpel.
The government is not that precise, but that is not the real
issue. He is dehumanizing people who disagree with him by
referring to them as cancers in human society. His arguments appear to be an attempt at justifying the forcible
excision of other people for the crime of disagreeing with him
as to the best way to improve their lives.
I have no idea how to correctly interact with such an
individual. There are specific counterpoints to some of what
he’s said that I’ve skipped mentioning, as none of the logical
consequences of the policies he’s advocating matter so much
as the fact that he’s targeting policies against people he
doesn’t regard as people. As long as he has no empathetic
connection with the people over whose fate he is arguing, he
is not going to come to a peaceful solution to their problems.