Part Six

Modes of Interaction

Section 1


Chapter 1

Basic human interactions

To begin this discussion on the modes of interaction between human beings, let me point out, as I did in Chapter 6 of Section 4 of the third part 3.4.6, that there are two basic ways we have of interacting with each other. First, since each of us is a person, and therefore a self, creating himself unto his own image and likeness within the limits of his genetic potential, but who can be interfered with or helped in this self-creativity, then we relate negatively toward others by not interfering with them unless they interfere with us or still others, and positively, we serve others for compensation, or ask compensated service from others. This is the economic relationship, which we are going to discuss in these two sections.

But we also, as I also mentioned in that same chapter, need uncompensated service from others in order to survive (certainly as children, but also in various ways in adulthood; none of us is actually completely self-sufficient); and therefore, the economic relationship does not exhaust the way we interact with others. This second way of relating to others, which does not (in itself) take into account rights and compensation, is called the social relationship. We relate negatively to others by means of threatening undesirable behavior with punishment (sanctions) and positively with what used to be called esprit de corps, and is now more often referred to as team spirit.

I intend to discuss the social relationship in general in the third section of this part; and in the fourth section, I will treat the three "natural" societies: marriage, the family, and civil society.

Before launching into a discussion of the negative side of the economic relationship, that of rights, let me stress what I mentioned in passing in Chapter 6 of Section 4 of the third part 3.4.6 in discussing persons: The economic relation cannot be reduced to the social relation, nor can the social relation be reduced to the economic relation.

Neither of these two relationships are "consequences" of the other one, though historically the attempt at derivation has gone both ways. But the economic relation may be said to be based on our independence as selves, our self-creativity which depends on nothing but our own choice, while the social relation is based on our interdependence because of what I guess you could call the biological nature of our bodies, which must have food that for quite a number of years we simply cannot supply to ourselves, not to mention shelter, clothing, and the other necessities of life. In our fallen state, as I discussed in Chapter 5 of Section 4 of the third part 3.4.5, we can be harmed against our will; and so we need to cooperate in order to see that this involuntary damage is minimized for everyone.

But, as I think you can probably see, this cooperation is for the advantage of "everyone," and may or may not be for the advantage of the person who is actually doing the cooperating--who may be able to handle the situation on his own. A very muscular person who has found fighting gear doesn't need to worry about bullies; in fact, he can be one himself. Why should he bother supporting law and order? If you say, "Well, in the long run he would benefit more by cooperating than by just looking to his own development," you are living in a world of dreams. Perhaps--though I am not sure I want to concede this--if everyone cooperated, then it would be advantageous for everyone to cooperate; but as soon as one person opts out, it often becomes to a person's personal advantage not to put himself out for others, but to look to Number One.

That means that if you take the economic view of "the real way" people relate to one another: that we are all always "really" looking to our own advantage, and that (apparently uncompensated) cooperation is only engaged in when we see that we are better off for it--then you miss the fact that this will only work for the strong, talented, and lucky; and the rest of us are forced by them to do what really doesn't offset the loss we incur from cooperating. "The system" really works against the people who can't manipulate it, and no amount of tinkering with it is going to make it work for everyone's advantage. The best we can hope to do is get a social structure that minimizes the damage the manipulators can do to the powerless.(1)

On the other hand, if you take it that we're all "one big family" (which exemplifies, as we will see, the social relationship) and "we're all in this together," and assume that people will be inspired by the good of the "team" to work for its benefit at the expense of their own, then you miss the fact that the "team" is supposed to exist for the good of the members, not the other way round. It is not an organism, with us as cells in it which live with the life of the whole rather than our own individual lives, so that the whole is what "really" exists and we get our dignity from belonging to it. That makes the individual expendable, for one thing, for "the greatest good of the greatest number," and for another, it denies that what we're all about is setting goals for our individual selves, even while it supposes this, because it expects basically free cooperation. The fact that if my body as a whole is healthy, the cells in my body, by and large, are also healthy can't carry over to the relation between society and the individual; because a well-cared-for and even petted slave (who can't in practice exercise any freedom to do what he wants) is in a dehumanized condition.

Hence, you can't really bring one of the relationships out of the other one.



1. If you think it's my opinion, based on this, that this means that the least worst government is the least amount of government, you're right. The more intrusive into various areas of life government becomes, the more easily the manipulators can turn to their own advantage greater portions of the lives of the rest of us. Even the regulations which are supposed to prevent this only exacerbate it, because the laws creating the regulations are created by people subject to the influence of the manipulators. The collapse of Communism, which more or less started when I began to write this book, demonstrates this abundantly.