Quantas músicas você conhece que dizem algo como "não se importe com nada, procure a SUA felicidade". Um excelente texto de John Medaille critica a ideia moderna de que "eu sou dono do meu nariz", por isso posso qualquer coisa para "ser feliz". Esta ideia de que eu sou dono de mim mesmo e tenho direitos a tudo para ser feliz, é uma lógica moderna, capitalista, consumista, liberal.
Medaille critica tanto a esquerda como a direita.
O texto de Medaille foi publicado no site do The Imaginative Conservative. Vou colocar aqui partes do texto.
Possessive Individualism: Can We Really Own Ourselves?
The bedrock principle of all Liberalism, whether of the Right or the Left, is Locke’s assertion that “every man has a Property in his own Person.” It is from this principle that Murray Rothbard can assert, “The right to self-ownership asserts the absolute right of each man, by virtue of his (or her) being a human being, to “own” his or her own body; that is, to control that body free of coercive interference.” And one has only to peruse the defenses of contraception and abortion to see that they are rooted in this principle of possessive individualism, the absolute and inviolable ownership of each person over their own bodies. Or as C. B Macpherson put it, “What makes a man human is freedom from dependence on the wills of others.”
Indeed, this would almost seem to be an intuitively obvious and self-evident principle. After all, if I don’t own my own body, who does? And if I don’t own my own self, then what can “self” possibly mean? Nevertheless, I would like to assert the contrary principle, namely, that of all the objects in the universe, the one thing we cannot own is ourselves. We can stake a claim to the moon, gain title to the Sun, wrench vast wealth from the Earth and claim it as our own. But ourselves, we cannot own.
We cannot own ourselves for the simple reason that we cannot create ourselves; we cannot seize control of our origins or be present at our beginnings. Rather, all of us are called into being through an act of love into the ready-made community of the family. From this little society, we receive certain gifts. The gift of being itself, in the first instance, and a sufficiency of material gifts—food, clothing, shelter—or else we would not have survived. But beyond these material gifts, we are graced with other kinds of gifts: language, culture, our first ideas of right and wrong, our first experience of love and beauty. But if we are initially the repositories of grace, the creation of gifting communities with whom we can exchange no gifts, then are we just a “we,” a community with no room for personality?
This fear of being subsumed into the community, of failing to be or become an “I” is the fear which motivates Liberalism, in whatever form we find it. For to find ourselves, they believe, we must lose the community, or at least lose any restrictions the community would impose, other than those we voluntarily select. Liberalism, it is argued, frees us from that familial and communitarian “we” to finally become an “I.” The family and the community are the institutions which Michael Novak and Ludwig von Mises derided as “hegemonic,” and from which Liberalism seeks to free us. These hegemonic institutions must of necessity exercise over us precisely that “coercive interference” with our individualistic development that Rothbard feared.
Moreover, this self-ownership is viewed as the ultimate protection against slavery, which is the opposite of self-ownership. So between freeing us from the wills of others, which would inhibit our humanity, and insuring that no one can enslave us, which would end it, we find the whole of Liberal polity. But let me suggest that self-ownership accomplishes neither goal. Indeed, once the idea of any kind of ownership of a person is admitted, slavery is an unavoidable consequence. For if you can own yourself, you can also sell yourself. And if another can get ownership of you by sale, they can get it by other means; they can “repossess” your body for debts, or create economic conditions under which you have little choice but to sell yourself in return for subsistence. What is owned by one, can be owned by another.
What proof is there that the so-called “person” is not just an accidental configuration of social forces and pressures? A libertarian might assert that “there is no such thing as society,” but surely the same evidence leads equally well to the opposite conclusion: that the “reality” of the person is an illusion and we are all just molecules in a social formation. So how can we assert the reality of our individual identity in a way that really makes it “ours”?
To answer this, I think we must go back to our origins, which are undeniably tied up with the fact of “gift.” But how could our parents give us the gift of life, and all the other gifts, except that they “owned” these things. And here, I think, we find the answer to this whole riddle: they claimed ownership of these things by giving them away. We never deny that we received life from our parents and thus we affirm their ownership of something that may be given. In giving us food and love, they assert these things were theirs to give, and in accepting them, we affirm their ownership. Thus we come to a great paradox: we own that which we give away; we affirm the self in the gift of self.
With this in mind, we no longer need to fear the “we” as Ayn Rand did, with a sort of pathological vehemence. To be sure, the “we” can be an oppressive collective of “owners” each seeking to increase his holdings at the expense of the others. Such is the nature of both slave societies and a certain kind of competitive commerce. But the “we” can also be the gifting community, in which each person affirms themselves by sharing.
This gap between the use-value and the exchange-value is not only the measure of the gift, but the measure of the economic wealth created by the trade. For wealth, properly understood, is not measured in money, but in use; the more use I get out of a thing, the more value it has. The car I drive for 10 years creates more wealth then the car I drive for five. But this wealth can be diminished when the seller seeks to absorb as much of the use-value into the price as his power permits. This, unfortunately, is the basis of all “utility pricing” theories. The schoolmen of the middle ages, from Aquinas onward, recognized utility pricing as a violation of the 7th commandment, because the seller was selling that which was not his. As Louis Molina of the School of Salamanca put it,
That one may not accept a higher price by reason of the advantage of gain of the buyer is proved from the fact that the advantage is not something of the seller’s but the buyer’s; therefore the seller may not accept payment for it; otherwise he would sell what is not his (1759,Disputation, 348:6).
The price the buyer pays, when it is a just price, is the gift the seller gives to the producers; the commodity the seller surrenders is his gift to the buyer, and the size of that gift is the gap between use and exchange values. Thus, even in our mundane transactions, the element of the gift remains; an attempt to eliminate this gift destroys both economic rationality and the basis of a rational social order. Gift, that is, grace, is not a mere platitude, but a practical principle of economics and politics. To deny this in favor of the cramped rationalism of possessive individualism is to replace the economy of grace with what John Milbank called “a mean little heresy.”
We do not so much “own” as “owe,” and by discharging the debt we come to own what we give. And in giving ourselves, we come to own ourselves. The ultimate gift is the self, which we only own when we give it away. My life is not really my own until I am willing to give it to family, community, and vocation; to lay it down for a friend.
Books by John Médaille and on this topic may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore.
Médaille não lembra, mas o texto dele serve também para dizer por que o suicídio é extremo egoísmo.
(Agradeço o texto de Medaille a Daniel Schwindt)
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