Monday, March 12, 2007

This cynical ideology of individual selfishness is a relic of the cold war

From the Guardian Unlimited's Comment is Free...

An excerpt:

The central tenet of the argument is that during the cold war an understanding of human nature as suspicious, distrustful and always operating out of self-interest came to dominate political thinking. From that emerged a narrow definition of freedom as "giving people the ability to get whatever they wanted". This kind of freedom has become the central political idea of the past 25 years, but it's a corrosive form of pessimism rooted in a bleak, simplistic view of human nature.

It all goes back to the bizarre world of cold-war strategists in America developing sophisticated ways to achieve the "delicate balance of terror". They seized upon game theory that originated in poker playing as a way of rationally calculating your opponent's moves and therefore your own. How many Soviet cities would you have to nuke to deter the Soviets from nuking New York? The theory was that the suspicious distrustfulness of both sides in the cold war created a kind of stability.

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