Bryan Caplan  

National Egoism and Vronsky Syndrome

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I was just at a conference where several eminent economists embraced the following principle:
The United States should adopt whatever policies maximize the per-capita GDP of the existing population of the United States, and their descendents.
It was frustrating to listen.  On the one hand, any philosophy professor could instantly produce devastating counter-examples to this principle of national egoism.  For starters:

1. If conquering and enslaving Canada would increase American per-capita GDP, should we therefore conquer and enslave Canada?

2. If we could forever end world poverty by reducing American per-capita GDP by a penny, should we refuse to end world poverty?

3. If we could costlessly exterminate all Americans who produce a below-average quantity of GDP, should we exterminate them?

At the same time, though, I was virtually certain that if I raised these counter-examples, the promoters of the principle would accuse me of attacking an absurd straw man.  "Of course we don't favor enslaving Canada, maintaining world poverty, or mass murdering Americans of below-average productivity."  How could I be so dense as to criticize what they actually said instead of what they vaguely meant?

After the conference, I spent a lot of time reflecting on the mentality of the avowed national egoists I'd encountered.  Before long I remembered one of my favorite passages in Anna Karenina:
Vronsky's life was particularly happy in that he had a code of principles, which defined with unfailing certitude what he ought and what he ought not to do. This code of principles covered only a very small circle of contingencies, but then the principles were never doubtful, and Vronsky, as he never went outside that circle, had never had a moment's hesitation about doing what he ought to do. These principles laid down as invariable rules: that one must pay a cardsharper, but need not pay a tailor; that one must never tell a lie to a man, but one may to a woman; that one must never cheat any one, but one may a husband; that one must never pardon an insult, but one may give one and so on. These principles were possibly not reasonable and not good, but they were of unfailing certainty, and so long as he adhered to them, Vronsky felt that his heart was at peace and he could hold his head up.
The lesson: National egoists are hardly alone.  They're just one prominent example of what could be called Vronsky Syndrome.  The general pattern: They swallow conventional morality whole.  They don't search for inconsistencies.  Indeed, if you point out their inconsistencies, they act like you're the clueless one.  As a result, they rarely wonder if they're in the wrong - and habitually embrace popular evils, guilt-free.
 


COMMENTS (42 to date)
FredR writes:

To me it sounds like Tolstoy could be describing a libertarian (except for the whole paying a tailor thing), but I suppose every moral code/ideology is going to break down somewhere.

Methinks writes:

FredR, that can only be because you either misunderstand Tolstoy or libertarians.

Dan Hill writes:

@Methinks - who doesn't misunderstand Tolstoy (and libertarians)?

I agree wholeheartedly with Bryan. The Vronsky Syndrome is the default human behavior. Most people use their moral code to rationalize their intuitions.

If you are devoted to following a moral code based on internal consistency you will be social outcast, regardless of what that moral code is.

David R. Henderson writes:

Bryan,
Are you willing to share their names or are you prohibited from doing so?

Matt H writes:

Bryan,

The fact that you can't see your arguments are sophomoric straw men is worrying.

If we take take the accepted principle as our only moral principle then your objections stand. If, like normal people, you believe that is one among many principles we accept, then your objections are only valid if our other principles allow for them to be true.

There are plenty of good arguments against that principle, none are offered by you.

MikeDC writes:

Setting the standard of what a philosophy professor might say really doesn't tell me anything useful.

And even they don't begin any discussion by spending any length of time laying out a whole set of first principles before tackling a question.

Instead of asking any number of absurd questions that would change answers to the question at hand (I.e. I'd expect war and slavery to actually lower our descendants' GDP so I don't know what sort of policies would work in a world like that), why not make the much more simple and obvious case that open borders and ending world poverty would both be pro-growth policies for the US?

As far as I know, these are both standard and robustly supported economic conclusions that will be both effective and help you not sound like a crank. :)

Brent B writes:

Do you see any problem squaring this criticism with your general motto that "It is better to be vaguely right than precisely wrong"?

Ted Levy writes:

"The United States should adopt whatever policies maximize the per-capita GDP of the existing population of the United States, and their descendants."

This is a very strange goal, Bryan, if for no other reason than that it is not equivalent to maximizing the per capita GDP of the entire population of the United States in the future. Is the quoted statement what they actually said, or your interpretation of what they implied?

Taeyoung writes:
At the same time, though, I was virtually certain that if I raised these counter-examples, the promoters of the principle would accuse me of attacking an absurd straw man.

How are those not straw men? On the one hand, yes, they didn't specify that their proposal was meant to be limited to policies that didn't involve mass murder or slavery, but on the other, that really goes without saying for anyone who isn't a moral cretin.

And your "end world poverty for a penny" hypothetical seems to be assuming a conflict where there is, in fact, no conflict at all. Even as you yourself formulated it, they are looking to the interests of:

"existing population of the United States, and their descendants."

How is ending world poverty not going to redound to the benefit of their descendants? Rich trading partners are better than starving trading partners with nothing of value to trade. It's one thing to suggest that present generations should incur substantial costs to improve the condition of foreigners -- there, one has to balance the interests of present Americans against a highly uncertain future benefit to Americans yet unborn. It's something quite different to suggest that if a payment of $3,000,000 would be sufficient to end world poverty we shouldn't do it. (Unless, I suppose, one were concerned that once raised up beyond subsistence level, foreigners would have more free time and more free resources to devote to the ultimate destruction of the United States and the extermination of her degenerate libertine inhabitants, etc. etc.)

Leaving that aside, though, if we assumed your absurd hypothetical -- that it were possible to end world poverty with such a trifling sum -- I think the other economists' answer would be quite clear under the rubric you laid out. That is impossibly good value for money. If we could structure it so we lay a claim to a fraction of these uplifted foreigners' future incomes (i.e. all the trade they do with each other, not just with us) it would be a windfall to every one of our descendants.

andy writes:

I got into a similar discussion about indoor smoking. I once saw an article 'Don't argue with a chair' - it seems to me some people just don't have a notion what 'logic' and 'logical deduction' mean. It looked like this:

- A man has a inalienable right to life; therefore you, as a person, cannot grant anyone permission to wound you; therefore, by entering a smoking restaurant, your right to life is infringed upon.
(me) What about voluntary kidney donation - is the surgeon a criminal?
- Of course not, there is a law about kidney donations.
(me) Is the law therefore unconstitutional?
- How could you propose such a stupid thing?
(me) ****!#@$@$

They propose a principle; if you ask them if they think the principle should really hold, they tell you they don't think so. But you are still the stupid person who can't understand, how could a principle that sometimes holds and sometimes doesn't (without any principle guiding us as to when it does and when it doesn't)

@Matt - it's not straw man. They built upon a principle. If there is a million of conditions on which the principle rests, then it's not a principle. It's as if I said: on intersections I always turn right; except when I don't.

Paul Crowley writes:

It seems to me that if we allow the Vronsky defence to "absurd" counterexamples, as commenters here seem to think we should, then any principle may be put beyond criticism, since any counterexample is either absurd and so can be dismissed, or not absurd and so not a counterexample.

Robert writes:

Bryan: Lose the we! Maybe the economists at the conference say "we" to mean the US government, but you should know better.

ssh writes:

"If conquering and enslaving Canada would increase American per-capita GDP, should we therefore conquer and enslave Canada?"

Similarly, if you believe your primary objective is to maximize the welfare of your family then you should consider invading your neighbors house, as it will almost certainly double the size of your most valuable asset.

Steve Sailer writes:

Thank you, Bryan.

Your superior moral sensitivity is the only thing saving the world from the horrors of an America-Canada war.

Don't ever change.

Andrew writes:

The economic protectionism espoused by the majority of voters would lead me to believe that the loss of 1 "american" job is to great a price to end world poverty.

MikeDC writes:

If you're gonna be philosophical about it, why not first strongly consider the possibility that it's the large group of distinguished economists who are right and you are wrong?

But above all else, I think the point I was getting at and Taeyoung stated even more clearly is the right one. You're basically saying, "Assume the laws of economics thrown out the window! Now, what fundamental economic principle would you embrace?"

As you describe the "Vronsky Syndrome":
The general pattern: They swallow conventional morality whole. They don't search for inconsistencies. Indeed, if you point out their inconsistencies, they act like you're the clueless one.

Your examples call for war, refusal to invest in, and destruction of productive assets as means of raising our long-term national wealth.

There's nothing inconsistent in saying those examples are downright stupid because the things you suggest will not, in fact, raise our long-term national wealth.

On the other hand, making the eminently more sensible argument that peaceful trade, open borders, and investment in human capital abroad will improve our long-term national wealth may, in fact, expose a lot of Vronsky Syndrome as the eminent economists in question scramble to excuse their support for things that, in addition to being bad themselves, are also inconsistent with raising our longer term GDP/capita.

MikeP writes:

Note that the eminent economists could have come up with this:

The United States should adopt whatever policies maximize the per-capita GDP of the existing white population of the United States, and their descendents.

While Bryan leaps to ad absurdum pretty rapidly, I think all of the arguments posed here against Bryan's point would be equally valid if this were the eminent economists' position instead.

MG writes:

If an emergent, bottoms-up process whereby current Americans acting in their self-interest happened produced an observed maximization of the GDP of current Americans, should this "egoistic" behavior also irritate a libertarian? I know it would still irritate a spectrum of American progressives -- from the self-hating internationalists to those who just resent inequalities. I hope that what bothers you about the way the question posed is the assumption that this result is to be achived top-down, not that it would happen to enrich Americans.

Jeff writes:

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andy writes:

@MikeDC - I don't want to speak for Bryan, but it seems to me Bryan's point is, that the economists espouse some principle - which they themselves wouldn't want to use.

Your examples call for war, refusal to invest in, and destruction of productive assets as means of raising our long-term national wealth.

You may as well be right; however supposing that some war would lead to increased US GDP (and that really is quite concievable proposition), would these economists propose the US should wage the war?

Actually, I think any conceivable hypothetical is valid criticism. And Bryan's counter-examples are perfectly possible.

Peter writes:

I think the nature of utilitarianism is a confidence that you'll be able to reasonably handle any awkward situation that comes up.

If you were talking about people with actual principles, they would indeed have to defend uncomfortable implications. But you're talking about people who, I think, explicitly disbelieve in principles; they worship the "open mind" that discards superstitious principle for whatever their well-developed morality tells them is right at any given moment. Hence their lack of concern.

So where you see a danger of drift, they are confident they'll just reshuffle or caveat their principles if they need to. I'd agree with you that the historical record on that "emergency principle-shuffler" is not good. Off-hand, progressive eugenics comes to mind.

Krishnan writes:

This does not seem any different from policies that each person/group/company may adopt to maximize their own returns - and while doing so, benefits all.

If the US were to pursue this policy - and so, by example if other nations also pursue this type of policy (i.e. advancing the cause of their own people and descendants) - would we not ALL do better than if we were to say "work for that poor nation" or "let us not do this and allow others to benefit" or "we will give others what we have so they have what we have" (or some such?)

Seems like that statement simply says that we all benefit if each group were to pursue policies that would benefit them - the invisible hand applied to nations, is the way I read it.

MikeDC writes:

@Andy,
Right on! But expose this by forcing them to abandon the principle. Not by suggesting things at odds with the principle in the first place.

To wit, war is the destruction of economic resources and relationships. It's almost always an unequivocal economic bad over the long run. While it's conceivable a war might lead to a temporary boost in GDP for the US, unless we almost totally discount "our descendents" (and all the people who die in the war!), it wouldn't make us and our descendants better off.

Despite this, I'm not a pacifist. My point is simply that if you consider the opportunity costs and the long-term present value, I can't imagine most wars (and certainly not the war of conquest Bryan hypothesizes) being the best use of the resources being employed.

MikeDC writes:

If you say "Grow your economy through a policy of conquest", the economist should respond that you're a bad economist in addition to being immoral.

If you say "Grow your economy through a policy of free trade and open borders" the economists must grit their teeth, admit what you're proposing is good economics, and confront an inconsistency.

twv writes:

"National egoism" is not the most elegant bit of terminology. But it is understood, in context, and makes a point. The accepted term? Particularism.

Ethical particularism is the default position of most people, in practice if not in theory. Ethical universalism, though a "logical" consequence of most attempts to stake out a distinctly ethical realm, is honored mostly in the breach. Actual universalism rubs against the grain of tribal-minded man.

Examples of this abound. Herbert Spencer was very fond of trotting them out, particularly in the second book of his Principles of Ethics, where he distinguished between the "ethics of amity" and the "ethics of enmity."

Caplan's example is, on the whole, a nifty addition to the anecdote storehouse of the human, all-too-human . . . or what could be called "the Horror File."

roystgnr writes:
If we take take the accepted principle as our only moral principle then your objections stand. If, like normal people, you believe that is one among many principles we accept, then your objections are only valid if our other principles allow for them to be true.

Maximization is only compatible with additional selection criteria if there are multiple maxima, which won't occur for the utility function they suggest should be maximized.

People who aren't logical enough to do math shouldn't try to ape the language; the words there actually mean something.

Mr. Econotarian writes:

What conference where you at????

Ghost of Christmas Past writes:

"2. If we could forever end world poverty by reducing American per-capita GDP by a penny, should we refuse to end world poverty?"

That does seem like an absurd strawman. A more realistic question might be "if we could give everyone outside the OECD countries a one-time 5% increase in per-capita real income by reducing the per-capita real income of American citizens by 80% (with future growth for both groups in the 1% per-annum range) should we refuse to trade nearly all of Americans' current income for a tiny increase in everyone else's?"

It's been pointed out in comments to Econlog before that simple back-of-the-envelope calculations show that even if you redistributed all the wealth in America to poor people around the world, you would hardly move the needle on world poverty. Worse, "sharing out" America's wealth would ensure that Americans, reduced to the status of, say, Nigerians, would no longer generate the technical advances which are the only way to produce large quantities of new wealth for everyone, not just Americans.

(Where do you think advances in, e.g., African agricultural or industrial productivity come from? In fact they come from technical advances made in wealthy, high-IQ countries. If you swamp those countries under low-IQ immigrants the technical advances will stop flowing and poor countries will cease to get richer even in absolute terms, not just relative ones.)

Americans have no moral duty to impoverish themselves by admitting a flood of poor immigrants and such a policy would not even produce lasting gains for the world's population. Americans should instead continue to exploit their own wealth and the freedom it gives them to experiment to generate technical advances which the rest of the world's people can adopt at their own pace.

Kevin Driscoll writes:

Bryan's arguments aren't straw men at all. They go to the heart of the principle. His point is that there is really some other principle guiding their actions and endorsement and they should discuss that, rather than this merely intermediary principle. He uses very far-fetched examples to show the disconnect between this principle and our intuitions. There are any number of more realistic scenarios that make up the grey area where we would have to argue about whether the principle should apply. The point is that there are not just 2 regimes; 1 in which the principle automatically applies because it is a 'normal circumstance,' and 1 in which the principle doesn't because its application would obviously be absurd. Things are much murkier than that.

I have come to believe that there are 2 kinds of people in everyday society, pragmatists and analyticists (terrible term but I had nothing better). Analyticists worry about the far-fetched scenarios because we want to find the guiding principles that work in all situations. If a principle doesn't work in an outlandish situation, then we don't see why we should follow it in a more usual situation. Pragmatists, on the other hand, understand that for a large number of everyday cases a certain principle works, so they use it. They only worry about the strange cases when they come to it. The fact that the principle usually works is seen as evidence for its truth/goodness by the pragmatist but not by the analyticist. My view is that society is largely pragmatic today and this causes a lot of angst among analyticists.

Ghost of Christmas Past writes:

"3. If we could costlessly exterminate all Americans who produce a below-average quantity of GDP, should we exterminate them?"

Wouldn't killing some Americans reduce the victims' share of GDP to zero, violating the constraint of maximizing "existing" Americans' per-capita GDP?

Plus the problem that it might take a lot of killing to get rid of everyone producing a "below average" portion of GDP. Or do you plan some kind of one-time ranking and slaughter, since an iterative process might not end until the population is reduced to 1?

MikeP writes:

A more realistic question might be "if we could give everyone outside the OECD countries a one-time 5% increase in per-capita real income by reducing the per-capita real income of American citizens by 80% (with future growth for both groups in the 1% per-annum range) should we refuse to trade nearly all of Americans' current income for a tiny increase in everyone else's?"

Meanwhile, in the universe where the sky is blue and free association is not zero sum, the conservative estimate of opening borders around the world is a doubling the world's GDP that comes at virtually no cost to first world economies.

Ghost of Christmas Past writes:

MikeP, my friend, the belle of the ball at that link is a paper by Michael Clemens in which, by the end of the third page, your supposed doubling of world GDP becomes "we might plausibly imagine overall gains of 20–60 percent of global GDP." Yes, that's one of a range of estimates, but you should agree that there is considerable uncertainty.

While deriving that estimate Clemens at least acknowledges the issue of declining marginal gains from migration (as more people move, the difference between their wages at home and wages at destination declines), but to get the optimistic World numbers he wants, he projects that decline as a straight line which hits zero only after half of the poor people (3/7 of world population) have migrated to rich countries. Using that projection, he estimates the average gain per migrant as half the gain for the first migrant. His arithmetic is fine, but his assumptions are absurd.

California's U6 is about 20% now, and we know there isn't much latent demand for low wage workers (low wages indicate low demand). California holds 10% of the US population (and a greater proportion of immigrants). Assume with Clemens that half the world's poor migrate (the number of migrants must be very large to get into the "free migration will double world GDP" zone of estimates) and assume the migrants are pretty evenly distributed among rich-country regions and cities. US population is about 4.5% of world population, therefore 32% of rich-world pop., so Calif. should get 3% of migrants, or 84 million people (0.03 x 0.5 x 0.85 x 6.6e9).

84 million new people would nearly quadruple California's population. What would they all do for a living? Obviously, those people represent demand for goods and services as well as potential labor to produce goods and services, but that is no more or less true after they move than before, and they are poor now despite their latent demand and latent productive capacity. The first half-million to arrive may get jobs as janitors and so-forth, but the remaining 99% of immigrants will have to work at primitive farming and hut building just to provide themselves (83 million people) with subsistence. Or more likely, since the newcomers won't have money (capital) to buy farms, they will fester in violent Soweto-style slum unemployment eating food grown by high-productivity, high-capital mechanized farmers (who shoot at immigrants on sight because if even 1% of them try to raise their standard of living by violent crime, that's 840,000 new robbers). (I won't even treat the problem of natural increase.)

Clemens neglects the fact that the migrants won't bring any capital (other than "human capital") with them! And we know that the current industrial capital stock of rich countries is not very desirous of more low-wage labor (if more labor was wanted, wages would be rising and U6 falling, but neither is true). So instead of Clemens' straight line for declining marginal gains from migration, we need to draw a curve showing a gradual decline as the number of migrants approaches, say, 25% of the rich-world population, then turns steeply downward for a while, then falls off a cliff long before half of the world's poor have moved. Instead of doubling, world GDP would increase slightly, then plateau, then start to fall as Hungry mobs of poor people ravaged rich countries...

I thought of the following example myself, but until I saw it in Clemens' paper I was afraid to use it. Since Clemens used it, though, I will too, and I will thank my readers here not to mock me by saying that it is inapposite because the folk anayzed in the role of "immigrants" are actually the "natives..."

"For example, [Clemens wrote] wages of whites in South Africa have not shown important declines since the end of the apartheid regime (Leibbrandt and Levinsohn, 2011), despite the total removal of very large barriers to the physical movement and occupational choice of a poor population that outnumbered the rich population six to one." [Same as world poor:rich ratio.]

Nominal wages I'm not sure about, but South African whites' standard of living has fallen dramatically! Many whites have emigrated to escape one of the highest violent crime rates in the world, to get away from an astonishingly destructive (and crony-ized) "affirmative action" scheme called B.E.E., and because the South African economy is staggering, in part due to B.E.E. and the brain drain, in part because South Africa no longer has a reliable supply of electricity*-- causing both disruption of industry (low productivity) and danger and costs to persons (running small generators at home is hazardous as well as costly).

Many if not most observers expect industrial productivity to keep declining in South Africa because the majority government, like other African regimes, is interested in looting, not fostering, the country's productive sector.

South Africa simply did not have the industrial capital to employ all its people, particularly low-IQ blacks, at first-world wages after the fall of the Apartheid regime. Unsurprisingly, disappointed blacks, naturally prey to leftist propaganda, elected a government of "populist" thieves. No matter what that government promises in campaign speeches, it cannot deliver high wage jobs in non-existent factories-- nor can its program of redistribution go on for long. "Enterprising" poor people in South Africa have already turned to crime, preferring a small chance of wealth from crime to a certainty of poverty from underemployment.**

Open borders around the world would simply turn all rich countries into South Africa. Once there were no innovation-friendly, high-capital, high-standard-of-living countries left, world economic growth would slow down to nearly zero and stay that way, perhaps for centuries, until some region managed to build up enough capital to restart innovation-- behind border fences to keep migrants from arriving to eat the seed corn.

Really, the best way people in rich countries can help people in poor countries is by making technical advances. With another few decades of work, rich countries could export robot factories which could provide material comfort to everyone on Earth. Unlimited migration of poor people would simply turn rich countries into poor countries and strangle all future technical progress in the cradle.

*Electricity in S.A. Is mostly provided by the state-- the new government diverted capital from the electric utility into fruitless consumption-- immediate subsidies to poor people. Some might call that imprudent, but it was very popular at the time!

**Some very optimistic open-borders enthusiasts like to counter natives' worries about newcomers voting for socialism by suggesting that the immigrants could be excluded from citizenship and the franchise. How long do you think 30 million Californians could deny all political power to 84 million immigrants? Remember, those 84 million are just California's share of the people Michael Clemens suggests would have to migrate to greatly increase world GDP, so a skeptic might ask "which talking point will you give up first-- doubling world GDP, or immigrants needn't have political power?"

soren writes:

I'll take national egoism over national masochism any day.

David writes:

"The United States should adopt whatever policies maximize the per-capita GDP of the existing population of the United States, and their descendents."

Sounds like the policies of Australia or South Korea. Those dumps will surely go under soon enough due to lack of open borders and not enough GDP enhancing free trade. Why would the US government advocate for the economic interests of it's own citizens? That's crazy.

Just a question for Mr. Caplan: Why does an average American making a fair wage for his labor and having a pleasant life make you so mad? I'm actually quite curious as slavery of Canadians is not required to enhance the day to day life of an American worker.

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M Steinberg writes:

So you're not a fan of Israel or Japan I guess?

Isn't the primary purpose of government to protect its citizens? Is that egotism?

I'm wondering if your post is some kind of hoax?

Robert writes:

How would those philosophy professors have received their PhDs without knowing what a ceteris paribus clause is?

Severn writes:
Vronsky's life was particularly happy in that he had a code of principles, which defined with unfailing certitude what he ought and what he ought not to do ... These principles were possibly not reasonable and not good, but they were of unfailing certainty, and so long as he adhered to them, Vronsky felt that his heart was at peace and he could hold his head up.

That's the most succinct description of libertarians and libertarianism I've ever come across.


How could I be so dense as to criticize what they actually said instead of what they vaguely meant?

Come now, I don't think you're THAT dense. I'm sure you understood perfectly well what they were saying, which was that the economic and immigration policies of the United States should be principally concerned with the best interests of the America people and not with maximizing the well-being of people in other parts of the world.

Severn writes:
Ethical particularism is the default position of most people, in practice if not in theory.


It's certainly the default position of Bryan "I'm ethnically Jewish because my father is ethnically Jewish" Caplan. Would he be as fervent an advocate of open borders for America if America was, say, 90% Jewish? It seems unlikely.

Alex Trivunovic writes:

'The lesson: National egoists are hardly alone. They're just one prominent example of what could be called Vronsky Syndrome. The general pattern: They swallow conventional morality whole. They don't search for inconsistencies. Indeed, if you point out their inconsistencies, they act like you're the clueless one. As a result, they rarely wonder if they're in the wrong - and habitually embrace popular evils, guilt-free.'

Bryan Caplan describes himself.

Drewfus writes:
1. If conquering and enslaving Canada would increase American per-capita GDP, should we therefore conquer and enslave Canada?
The history of the world shows that:
  • Dictatorships attack other dictatorships
  • Dictatorships attack democracies
  • Democracies attack dictatorships
  • Democracies do NOT attack other democracies
Nicholas Stix writes:

Dear Mr. Caplan,

I see no connection between the principle you ascribed to the unnamed economics professors at the unnamed conference, and the passage from Anna Karenina.

And though I spent more years than I care to admit as a philosophy student on two continents, teaching philosophy in college, and reading philosophers, I never crossed paths with “any philosophy professor [who] could instantly produce devastating counter-examples to this principle of national egoism.”

As a non-philosophical matter, you clearly fancy that supporting one’s own nation makes one as selfish and hypocritical as Vronsky, but you fancy wrong. You likewise fancy that supporting foreign nations, and harming one’s own makes one virtuous, but again, you fancy wrong. Thirdly, that any philosophy professor might produce counter-examples to the principle you cited that you would find devastating would be due to your hostility to America.

You’re not talking about principles at all, but about loyalty and disloyalty. You hate America, and wish to see her destroyed, and consider anyone who supports her to be an immoral moron.

The economics profs who stated the principle you hate are loyal Americans, which most economics professors, and indeed, most professors period, used to be.

When you re-organize an institution, so as to lock out people with certain attitudes and beliefs that had long been considered not only defensible but eminently sensible, and shun anyone who now expresses them, those remaining within said institution will develop very peculiar dispositions regarding what is "hypocritical" or "devastating."


It’s not “national egoism,” but rather national interest.

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