Individual vs National Self-Interest

Main Question or Discussion Point

I think that most people would agree that harming your neighbor to acheive your own selfish goals is wrong and something that people should not do. However, when it comes to one's nation imposing its will on other nations and people of other nations, to the detriment of those people/nations, many people I have talked to seem to find that acceptable in the pursuit of national self-interests. Why the disparity? Are people of your own nation (which is naturally the best in the world) somehow better than those of other nations and equal to yourself, which means that you have to respect them more, while people from other nations aren't part of that "best country in the world", and don't deserve to have their rights considered as important?
 

Answers and Replies

1,927
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This is a gross over simplification. People can and do impose their will on their neighbors all the time in order to achieve their personal selfish goals. In case you hadn't heard it is called the "law" and has been used and abused since time immemorial. If most people are unwilling to admit the reality of this situation, it just goes to show that politicians aren't the only hypocrits around.

As for the international scene, there is so little law on an international scale that the abuses are even greater.
 
Lifegazer
Good post Dan. What you have to remember is that it isn't the public's morality which should be challenged here, but their ignorance to the fact that their morality is confitioned (from birth onwards) to be refined around the premise that "We love our own country" (nore than we love anyone elses).
That's why morality gets twisted. The same moral principles exist, but they are mirrored to reflect the conditioning of our minds.
 
drag
Science Advisor
1,055
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Greetings !
Originally posted by Dissident Dan
I think that most people would agree that harming your neighbor to acheive your own selfish goals is wrong and something that people should not do. However, when it comes to one's nation imposing its will on other nations and people of other nations, to the detriment of those people/nations, many people I have talked to seem to find that acceptable in the pursuit of national self-interests. Why the disparity? Are people of your own nation (which is naturally the best in the world) somehow better than those of other nations and equal to yourself, which means that you have to respect them more, while people from other nations aren't part of that "best country in the world", and don't deserve to have their rights considered as important?
Overall it is wrong in both cases, but one
should distinguish between causing real damage
and "lighter" damage - we do live in a competetive
world after all. :wink:
(BTW, if the above is somehow related to the conflict
in Iraq then my response above is completely unrelated.
A "normal" human being - in the sense that his/her
life was not spent only in the above mentioned so-called
"best country in the world"(which BTW if it reffers to the
US then is a highly questionable term) and who has first
hand experience with non-democratic rules will agree
that freeing a people from a tyrant is a good thing for
the people even if some relativly very low - minimmum
casualties are sustained. The fact that this is
economicly beneficial to the US and that it is one
of the causes for the war does not change that simple
fact. But, hey ! This is not the politics forum... :wink:)

Live long and prosper.
 
Zero
I think that people too often polarize large-scale issues as black/white, us/them. It is easier to deal with complexity when you make it simple, no matter how incorrect that view really is.
 
Originally posted by wuliheron
This is a gross over simplification. People can and do impose their will on their neighbors all the time in order to achieve their personal selfish goals. In case you hadn't heard it is called the "law" and has been used and abused since time immemorial. If most people are unwilling to admit the reality of this situation, it just goes to show that politicians aren't the only hypocrits around.

As for the international scene, there is so little law on an international scale that the abuses are even greater.
Of course, there are people who maliciously impose their wills on others in any society. However, I'm rather sure that most people would say that such action is wrong (even though we all have been guilty of it at some point).

I have talked to people who value the lives of people from within their own political boundaries over those of people outside, even to the extend that they wouldn't mind the killing of people outside their boundaries to save the lives of significantly fewer people inside their political boundaries. Yet many these same people would say that it would be wrong to do such a thing to citizens of their own country.
 
Zero
Originally posted by Dissident Dan
Of course, there are people who maliciously impose their wills on others in any society. However, I'm rather sure that most people would say that such action is wrong (even though we all have been guilty of it at some point).
And you would be wrong. There ARE certain large segments of the population of any counrty who subconsciously hate everyone who isn't just like them, and would be happy to see them 'convert' or suffer.
 
drag
Science Advisor
1,055
0
Greetings !

How about cases when people don't know what's
good for them ?

Unfortunetly not everyone is a scientist for
example, but then again - if everyone were than
the word would loose it's practical meaning because
such a situation is not realistic. What I'm saying is
that scientists - for example, could make much better
choices and yet they need to consider the others'
opinion because the others are too foolish to
understand what's good for them and because
absolute power corrupts absolutely - even in the
case of HUMAN scientists.

So, the point is that "imposing your will" can
also be a good thing for the one upon whom
it is being imposed. In wars, for example, each
side HAS to use force to win - wether you consider
that side good or bad.

It's just how the real world works...:wink:

Live long and prosper.
 
Zero
Unfortunately, Drag, that same justification is used by tyrants. Hitler and Saddam Hussein surely thought that their rule was the best for the 'ignorant peasants'. Imposing your will is NEVER positive...the best you can hope for is to minimize the danage.
 
1,927
0
Originally posted by Dissident Dan

Of course, there are people who maliciously impose their wills on others in any society. However, I'm rather sure that most people would say that such action is wrong (even though we all have been guilty of it at some point).
As I said before, politicians aren't the only ones to prove hypocritical.

I have talked to people who value the lives of people from within their own political boundaries over those of people outside, even to the extend that they wouldn't mind the killing of people outside their boundaries to save the lives of significantly fewer people inside their political boundaries. Yet many these same people would say that it would be wrong to do such a thing to citizens of their own country.
I agree with Zero on this and would add that hypocracy is rampant. In addition, as I said before, international law is lax and virtually nonexistent. If people are going to insist on treating nations and multi-national corporations as individuals and pseudo-people then they had best police them as such and stop insisting they are somehow better than the rest of us.
 
3,754
2
Originally posted by wuliheron
This is a gross over simplification. People can and do impose their will on their neighbors all the time in order to achieve their personal selfish goals. In case you hadn't heard it is called the "law" and has been used and abused since time immemorial. If most people are unwilling to admit the reality of this situation, it just goes to show that politicians aren't the only hypocrits around.

As for the international scene, there is so little law on an international scale that the abuses are even greater.
Well, if you want to compare the U.S.'s relationship with the rest of the world, to that of the law and the people, then you make the U.S. better than all other nations. You also make it the U.S.'s responsibility to impose their law on other nations. This is of course faulty, as the United States has no such authority. The U.N. might be considered to be a more likely candidate, for the law enforcers of the world. The U.S. is presuming beyond itself.

BTW, this is a political issue. Shouldn't it be in the Politics Forum?
 

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