Libertarianism and Positive Psychology

I draw the connection:

Positive psychology (the study of happiness, wellness, and improving normal life) tells us that optimists (who are happier) tend to see themselves as empowered, and their accomplishments as resulting from their efforts and abilities. Pessimists see themselves as victims of fate, with no control over the bad things that happen to them.
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In this context, libertarianism can be seen as a political philosophy based on optimism, focusing on the power of the individual to affect their life, rather than protection from fate. The nanny state, while it can be seen as more caring and compassionate in its desire to help those who suffer, is also deeply pessimistic in its focus on fate instead of power. It teaches people that what happens to them is not their fault.

Sometimes this is true - but I worry that it is poisonous to happiness and self-worth, and antithetical to a culture of striving and achievement.

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agree, but on the other hand

I think Libertarians tend to over rate their abilities and dismiss the advantages of cooperation for common goals particularly when it comes to Libertarian distaste for labor unions. Saw a report of a study comparing American and Japanese students in which a large majority of Americans thought they were above average in math and a large majority of Japanese thought they were below average. Both groups were wrong.

I suspect that 99% of Libertarians think they are above average. In the business world I know that I am not above average and was happy to work in a union shop.

They're probably right

Saw a report of a study comparing American and Japanese students in which a large majority of Americans thought they were above average in math and a large majority of Japanese thought they were below average.

There is a self-esteem fad going on in the States. People deliberately try to raise kids' self-esteem. This does not necessarily have anything to do with America outside that fad. And anyway you were talking about libertarians initially, not Americans. They are not the same thing.

I think Libertarians tend to over rate their abilities and dismiss the advantages of cooperation for common goals particularly when it comes to Libertarian distaste for labor unions.

The libertarian distaste for labor unions comes in part - large part, I think - from the self-righteous criminality of many unions and the government-granted special privileges that unions nowadays enjoy.

The market is cooperation end to end. The market economy is composed of voluntary, and therefore two-sided, cooperation from one end to the other. Socialism, in contrast, is involuntary cooperation, and therefore one-sided. That is, one person commands (and therefore can hardly be said to cooperate), and the other one cooperates with the goals of the first, out of fear. A market transaction is two-sided cooperation because both parties to the transaction are cooperating with some of the goals of the other party.

Libertarian pessimism

[made into a blog entry]

GM and the UAW, for example? Or Boeing and the Machinists?

The company would not sign the contract if they had concluded the company would lose money on the deal. The union would not sign if they thought they could do better. Both parties think the contract is in their best interest at the time it is signed. Year later, new ball game.

...and

Self Delusion ownz! Some "healthy optimism" comes from a delusional viewpoint. The reverse is also true.

First comment got it right! Know thyself, is a challenge.

Libertarian fans of genetic determinism and optimism vs. fate

In this context, libertarianism can be seen as a political philosophy based on optimism, focusing on the power of the individual to affect their life, rather than protection from fate. The nanny state, while it can be seen as more caring and compassionate in its desire to help those who suffer, is also deeply pessimistic in its focus on fate instead of power. It teaches people that what happens to them is not their fault.

People like Charles Murray and Arnold Kling would seem to accept that fate is a large part of one's life trajectory in the form of genetically informed personality and intelligence traits. Compared to them, it's the social constructionists that manage to salvage free will.

Interestingly, the more "hardcore" libertarian one is, the more they take on the rhetoric of the fatalistic left - the state is so all powerful that it prevents people from...gaining wealth and being self sufficient (at which point the left cringes at the content of the libertarian version of fatalism).

Libertarianism as social dysfunciton?

Many libertarians (not all) I have met in real life are of the opinion that they are oppressed geniuses ala an Ayn Rand fantasy. They view other people as alien outsiders who interfere with their full growth.

Many libertarians (not all) I have met online believe they are self made men. They speak as if no one has ever helped them in their lives. Bakunin once said something along the lines that radical individualists believe they sprang fully formed from the head of god with language and perfect knowledge.

I believe that, save for moderate minarchists, most libertarians are an evolutionary aberration. Instead of working together for enlightened self-interest they take an isolationist and myopically greedy approach to social interaction.

Libertarians are advocates of society

Maybe you know libertarians who have those characteristics. However, libertarianism is not about that. Libertarianism is not a rejection of society or of the market. It is a rejection only of certain specific categories of action, which libertarians (and which most people, when the action is not performed by the state) consider to be criminal acts, and therefore anti-social acts.

In short, libertarians reject categories of action which are anti-social - and only those categories. What sets other political philosophies at odds with libertarianism is that they advocate one or another anti-social action, making those philosophies, in that respect, anti-social.

unreal archetypes and real circumstances

After all, pure Communism/Socialism and pure Capitalism are merely illustrative archetypes that can never exist in reality. Hence, Libertarianism, as any other brand of Anarchism, Capitalist or otherwise, manifests an irresponsible Pollyanna optimism in spontaneous order, to the effect that intervention will never ever be necessary, effective or desirable. And that is little better than the opposite extreme of utopist centralized micromanagement.

Whereas, any responsible study of civics would seek to discover when intervention is necessary, desirable and effect, when not, and why. And that is why the George Soros doctrine of constructive positive intervention and Popperian piecemeal engineering, also known as SABR (pronounced: "sabre") for: Small Actions with Big Results, is so clearly effective in actual practice. You may recall that George Soros is the Multibillionaire Robin Hood currency speculator with his own highly successful foreign policy.

So, where if at all might Positive Psychology come into this? Positive Psychology is merely the study of mental health and even happiness in the first place as distinct from aberration and pathology. Positive Psychology, then, may inform the pursuit of happiness, and even address deficiencies in the circumstances of spontaneous order.

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