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Re: Encourage Singapore To Come Out Of the Stone Age

On Sun, 1 Sep 1996, James A. Donald wrote:

> At 07:13 PM 9/2/96 +1000, James Seng wrote:
> > What i am saying is that Asian (Singapore)
> > values are _DIFFERENT_ from western (America) values.
> One of the classic Greek rationalizations for slavery was that Asians
> are slaves by nature.
> It would seem that you are saying that they were right.

Only if you assume that values depend on the nature, which James didn't
say. (Besides, Greeks didn't need to rationalize: slavery was part of
their society, not only in cities like Sparta based on a caste-style
social structure, but also in the "democratic" Athens. Aristoteles
shrugged off the whole issue saying that slavery would have been abolished
only if "machines could move by themselves": and the prophecy has proven
accurate indeed).

Back to the nature vs nurture issue: even though I usually agree with most
of what you say, I must disagree with your .Sig file:

> We have the right to defend ourselves   |   http://www.jim.com/jamesd/
> and our property, because of the kind   |
> of animals that we are. True law        |   James A. Donald
> derives from this right, not from the   |
> arbitrary power of the state.           |   [email protected]

The idea that rights and values can be "natural" is contradicted by
several thousand years of history, during which absolutism or downright
tyranny have been well more common than freedom. 

The success of that misleading view in America, and by extension in most
of the western countries, is largely due to the unfortunate influence of
French rationalism over the founding fathers, as Hayek repeatedly noted. 
(A similar criticism of the theory of built-in values in Rousseau and his
followers, with emphasis on the ethical -as opposed to economic/
political- side, was moved by Nietzsche in "Human, all too human"). 

In the real world, freedom is a by-product of a materially prosperous
society (which is why capitalism generally produces free societies, but
socialism does not). Constitutional papers should spell what a society
guarantees to and what it expects from its members, not the (supposed)
nature of the latter. Trying to build a free society by screaming loud
what the "natural" rights are supposed to be, has no better chances of
success than trying to summon a god into existence by virtue of prayers.