The Philosophy of Individual Valuism
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The purpose of this philosophy is to define proper systems of value and ethics. For the vast majority of humans, these immensely significant aspects of a person’s life are not chosen by rational sense and practical usefulness, but are rather absorbed through the blind acceptance of tradition and mysticism. Individual Valuism is based on the principle that values and the rightness of actions can only be defined relative to individuals. An objective value cannot exist because the very notion of value requires a point of view to perceive worth. On the whole, Individual Valuism is the philosophy that everyone has the right to their own lives and sense of value.
Values and Ethics
Value is the most important thing in life to understand. It must be recognized in order to perceive something as good or bad. It is central to the concepts of purpose and rightness. Value must be recognized in order to want something to have, to want something to happen, or to want something to be a certain way. It is fundamental to our entire existence. Without value, there is no reason to wake up in the morning. Without value, there is no reason to want respect instead of shame. Without value, there is no reason to prefer life over death.
So what is value, exactly? Is it a measure of usefulness? Is it the way something is worth having, knowing, or doing? Is it the characteristic of how something is desirable? These are all very common (and appropriate) definitions. However, they all require further explanation. Specifically, what does something need to have to make it worthwhile or desirable, and therefore have value? Let’s use an example with something that seems like a pretty obvious value: good health. What responses would people give if they were asked why they value their health?
Although different people will have different opinions about which of these answers are valid, most will agree that some explanations have merit and some do not. In other words, there must be some correct reason to know something is a value. Also note that many of these explanations do not declare health to be a value by itself, but instead as a means to a further end such as happiness, society, or life, which is assumed to be important. Then one could ask what justifies the value of those. This may lead to an even further goal, but eventually there will be a point at which no further reason can be expressed.
There can then be only two explanations for the value of the final end. One is that the final end is of value because one automatically believes that it is so. It is commanded by some authority that something is of value, so it is. Society believes that something is of value, so it is. Tradition says that something is of value, so it is. One was raised to believe that something is of value, so it is. The other explanation is that the final end is of value because it influences the state of existence in a positive way. In other words, something is a value if it causes desirable things to happen. One of these explanations is based in mindlessness and results in a morality determined by chance, whim, and the subjugation of free thought. The other is based in the ability to understand what is preferable and results in a morality focused on what is best to want and how is best to act.
I have mentioned words such as “desirable” and “preferable” several times. Notice that these words only have meaning relative to a consciousness. “Bob desires good health.” “World peace is preferred (over war) by Susan.” Something cannot be desired or preferred without a consciousness. It makes no sense to say “empty space desires that people have shelter in rain” or “the smell of flowers is preferred (over the smell of burning wood) by an objective nobody.” The same is true for value. Value requires a point of view in order to have any meaning. Unfortunately, most people are raised to believe the opposite. They are taught that value is defined by some impersonal standard that one is supposed to have or find. Such a standard cannot exist. Value is not a property that exists outside of thought or opinion. Something could be valued by some people in the world, all people in the world, or nobody in the world, but there cannot be a value that is “objective”, “necessary”, or “a priori.” In other words, there cannot be something that is desirable to—and independent of—every point of view. Any belief that such a value exists can only be supported by a naïve argument that fails to make a connection between what exists and what ought to be. In order for something to have value, there must be a point of view to perceive it. Knowing value requires a mind to think in the same way as knowing beauty requires eyes to see.
But despite how “value without consciousness” is a concept as absurd as “sight without eyes,” people have wasted thousands of years looking for the “true” measure of value, or coming up with various principles about value. None of them have ever provided any real justification. Many of them simply created value systems based around mysticism and refused to explain any further, proclaiming the authority of the supernatural. Some believed that reason alone can prescribe value, as if there exists some logical process that explains the objective worth of self-interest, utility, pleasure, other people, certain ways of living, or whatever. Both types have convinced many that aren’t willing to think, but they have never really proved anything.
Fact and Individual Value:
Two important questions need to be answered to understand value. First, whose viewpoint matters? Many people consider the value judgments of their family, friends, society, and god, but whose judgment of the universe, for example, should you consider to accept health as a value? The short answer is your own. Every individual is an independent consciousness whose existence lasts a finite time. What reason does a person have for not judging value relative to him? Is he a slave to the will of others? Does he owe a debt to someone? Is he simply incapable of judging value? Why should he consider what is best to others instead of what is best to him?
Second, how does one judge value? Value is that which affects the universe in a positive way, but how does someone come to see a consequence as positive? Certainly there must be a foundation for value that is better than someone choosing what is preferable on a whim. There certainly is. The ability for an entity to judge value lies in the foundation of its thought. In humans, this is the brain. Essentially, we perceive what is preferable through positive and negative sensations. Sensory input creates the framework for what is considered good and bad. A computer, which is not (to date) capable of feeling positive or negative sensations, is incapable of judging value at all. There can be no “logical” reason to do anything at all if you cannot feel or observe anything. Within the framework created by the senses, the way in which a person comes to know something as positive or negative is determined by a complex interaction of biology and the external world. Even small differences in nature and nurture can cause people to vary in how and to what degree they perceive something to be good or bad. Still, there is a lot of common ground among people. We care about the physical and psychological well-being of ourselves and others.
I previously mentioned that value is central to the concepts of purpose and rightness. They are closely related, because actions which are right to do or want can only be defined, like value, in terms of how they affect one’s existence. Ethics is concerned with what is right and wrong, and those terms can only be defined in the context of what is good to happen. Again, this only makes sense through a point of view. When a cat eats a mouse, it is good to the cat and bad to the mouse. There can be no “objective” preference for either. There cannot be a “view from nowhere,” since empty space is incapable of seeing or judging anything. To judge the value of a thing is to judge the long-term desirability of the thing’s existence. To judge the rightness of an action is to judge the long-term desirability of the action’s effects. What is good to a person is what makes the universe better in his point of view.
Before I continue, I need to clarify what I mean by “good to” a person. I mean that goodness is what accords with that person’s standards of desirability, whatever they may be. This is not necessarily the same as “good for” a person, which implies that the person is the beneficiary of the action. Of course, the “to” and “for” are often the same. It is typically both good to and for a person to eat when hungry, and bad to and for a person to fall off a building. But if a person is unselfish, it could be best for him to watch a movie, but best to him to volunteer his time instead. On a similar note, it is difficult to determine what percentage of the human population are egoists (concerned with self-interest), altruists (concerned with the interests of others), or levels in between. The great majority of people, regardless of their environment, are quite concerned with themselves, since self-benefit is usually a primary consideration in viewing how something is positive.
I feel that I must explain the distinction between Individual Valuism and views of moral relativism, which argue that ethical assertions are relative to the traditions or beliefs of a culture, individual, or group. On the surface, there may not appear to be much of a difference between the two. The most obvious difference is that Individual Valuism only recognizes ethics relative to individuals. That is, a person is not morally bound to the views of his culture or group. Furthermore, traditions and beliefs are not the same as values. A child could believe that inoculations are bad, but they may actually be good to him (if they save him from a terrible illness). A group of savages may sacrifice animals because tradition tells them to, but doing so may actually be bad to them (if not sacrificing the animals would’ve had better results). For some reason that escapes me, some people say that relativism implies that all moral decisions are equally valid and should be tolerated. In any case, this should not be applied to Individual Valuism. Conflicting ethical judgments may be rejected and responded to.
Culture, Reality, and Religion
Cultural Values and Ethics:
Internal values are not like currency. Money is worth whatever people agree that it is worth. But the importance of wisdom, truth, and goodness to an intelligent person cannot be validated or invalidated by the views of anyone else, not even the entire world. Unfortunately, most of the world is obsessed with culture. Culture is a system of thought that defines value and the rightness of actions by whatever society or tradition says, not by what is actually good to happen. Over 2400 years ago, the Greek historian Herodotus wrote about culture. He recognized that different societies have vastly different social practices, and nearly all members of any particular society are convinced that their own practices have merit above all others. He illustrated an example of this by comparing the methods of disposing of corpses in two different societies. Each person in his story expressed approval for their own culture’s method, and disgust for the other. Herodotus came to the conclusion that custom—behavior promoted by culture—is king over the judgment of men. While I agree that is often the case, I also notice that the intense beliefs for the validity of customs are often based in nothing more than automatic acceptance of one’s environment.
The problem begins at birth. All around the world, children are taught to define themselves through others and act according to the standards of others. Children are taught that the content of one’s mind is something to be inherited. They are born and given automatic beliefs, just as they are given automatic countries, families, religions, wealth, status, and identities. We are all raised being told what to love and to hate and how to act. We are rarely told why we should do so in a way that respects our right to choose. We are told that our identities and desires are not our own to critically evaluate and discover, but are determined by the identity and values of others. Some of the behaviors taught in society emphasize this fact. People are told how to have honor, fashion, etiquette, respect, charity, and humility. All of these are requirements to act according to the beliefs of others, with no consideration for the self.
Culture does not teach that people have individual views of value or that worth comes from what is desirable to someone. It claims there is some overriding standard of value. It claims that value can exist independent of a consciousness to value. It claims that value is something automatic that requires no reason or explanation. Societies have corrupted what it means for an action to be right or wrong because their standards are only defined through culture. What happens when these standards of morality are applied to real life? Well, when your system of morality comes from your values, your thoughts and actions work devotedly towards the goal of making the world a better place to you. When you surrender your mind to the values of culture, at best you’re working for what might be good to you most of the time. At worst, your thoughts and actions are based in unproductiveness, fantasy, and the destruction of your real values.
Many people do not even get to choose. Most cultures tell people how to value and how they must behave, with punishments ranging from disapproval to death. The way culture enforces its values on people is a rampant disease in today’s world. People are told how to believe what objects, activities, and ideals are good and bad. They are told how, when, and with whom they are free to have sexual relations. They are told what is permissible to eat, wear, and do for money. They are told what substances they can and can’t put in their own bodies. Many are even told what they can and cannot think in the confines of their own minds!
When a person or group enforces their morals on others for a purpose other than self-defense, they are agents of oppression that try to make others think and behave in ways that may be bad to them. For example, many societies in recent history have tried to force their citizens to be collectivists that are obligated to act for the benefit of others. Since most people—despite the best efforts of propaganda and conditioning—are too egoistical for such a program to work, that sort of society only leads to the oppression of the majority, who must live in the chaos of having their personal values endlessly conflict with their cultural values. Whenever a person or group tries to force values on others on grounds that they’re “objective” or “self-evident”, they have demonstrated harmful intent, and they deserve any backlash that results. All lies and coercion used to make people behave contrary to their values carry the risk of making them bitter, resentful, and vengeful.
Of course, many of culture’s rules have a purpose; people would live in chaos if everyone decided for themselves which side of the street to drive on, what time of the day it is, or how long a meter is. Humans are social by nature and need to be able to interact effectively with others. But it often goes too far. Many people have such a need for society that they let their identity, values, and cognition be dictated by the volition of others. When this happens, they exist only in a way that is made by their environment. They lose the ability to identify truth; their reality is shaped by others. They lose the ability to identity value and rightness. What is desirable is shaped by others. They lose the ability to identify themselves. Who they are is shaped by others. If someone chooses to accept this sort of life, there is nothing I can do about it. However, I can try to guide individuals burdened by teachings that say value is external.
While the primary focus of Individual Valuism is ethics, it is necessary to speak of the nature of reality as well. One can only know what is best in the context of how the universe exists. For example, if you are currently dreaming and will wake up in a few hours, what is right to do is basically whatever you fancy. You are safe and powerful in the confines of your own mind and may do whatever you like with no ill effects when you wake up. If, however, you are awake and the universe you observe around you objectively exists, then what is right to do is whatever results in the most positive state of that universe to you. If this universe is subject to the influence of supernatural forces such as karma or deities, then what is right to do is whatever results in the most positive outcome to you within the rules of those supernatural forces.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to know for certain the sort of reality we are in, since it is impossible to disprove the existence of any number of higher forces that have the ability to deceive us. For example, my universe could be a projection of a brain in a vat kept alive by a scientist in another world. The world of that scientist could have been created by a god. That god could exist in a reality created by a computer simulation. The world with that computer simulation could have been created by an all-powerful Flying Spaghetti Monster. And so on. But there is a big difference between not being able to prove something false and having reason to believe that thing is true.
Feel free to try to find out if your world is a dream or under the rule of supernatural forces, but don’t believe such things without good reason. Instead, begin with the assumption that the natural universe is the only level of existence that can affect your life. The natural universe is the space we live in. It contains only matter and energy (which can be measured in force per distance alone) that objectively exists with certain properties. The natural universe is subject to laws of logic and causality. The importance of knowing reality should be clear. If one arbitrarily assumes the existence of a supernatural force that is not actually real, he is likely to lose sight of what makes life good to him.
I believe there is a table in front of me. Can I prove that it is really there? No, but I can see it, touch it, and put my computer on top of it. Whether or not I have sufficient justification to know its existence is not as relevant as the fact that it clearly affects my life. The table also conforms to the rules of the natural universe. Its existence is objective; its form doesn’t change according to the people around it. Its value is subjective; what it’s worth to a person depends on how it affects that person. It is subject to causality; if I saw the table in half, it will not be fit for use. I have nothing to gain by assuming supernatural influences. No matter how much I hope or pray or chant, the table is not affected by mysterious sources.
By just living normally, everyone should quickly recognize that only the natural universe affects their lives, and any indications of supernatural influences are illusory. Somehow, most people fail to see this. Instead, they give their minds over to magic. They believe in such things as lucky numbers, ghosts, astrology, psychic abilities, etc. In what way can such things be proven to exist? Can someone even plausibly show their powers are real? No, they’re only believed by those that are easily convinced by anecdotal evidence and self-fulfilling prophecies.
I recently witnessed an example of how a person can credit the supernatural despite clear involvements of the natural universe. A friend of mine had a loved one that needed dangerous surgery. In informing those close to him of the situation, he mentioned two things: “We were able to get … one of the best [surgeons] in the world” and “I would really appreciate if you could keep her in your thoughts and prayers.” After the surgery went well, he said, “All I can say is the success of her surgery was through the grace of God!” and “Your prayers and good wishes and those of all of our friends have made the difference in the success of her operation.” Is that what really happened? What caused the success, the expert workings of a qualified doctor or good wishes magically thrown by friends and family? Which one actually had an effect on reality? If they had gone to a quack instead of a great doctor, what do you think the results would be? Would the consequences show the “the grace of God” or the reality of causality?
As bad as the problem of culture is, it is magnified to horrific proportions when combined with the supernatural. Culture’s oppressive forced values become even worse when people are commanded to surrender perception and reason to mysticism, and the values forced upon them are portrayed to be coming from a transcendent authority. This problem is religion, a system of beliefs which suggests that reality is influenced by something other than the natural universe. This includes any concepts of deities, karma, mysterious forces, etc. Typically, religions also demand adherents follow rules of living and thinking that are based on its mystical premise.
The deepest trap of religion is convincing people to allow their thoughts to be based in a “higher” reality. Once someone is in this trap, he is able to rationalize any mistake, inconsistency, or contradiction. He is not worried about logic, causality, or physical evidence. The foundation of his knowledge of reality is “above” such things! But where does one obtain this knowledge of “higher powers”, anyways? Someone told him that it is true? He “feels” that it is true? He has some ancient stories proclaiming it is true? Are those good reasons, or are they the same reasons everyone from every religion in history would give? These are examples of how people everywhere accept the supernatural without reason, and it only results in them losing touch with truth and becoming attached to fiction.
Just look through history to see the effects of those who’ve put their beliefs in higher powers. Centuries ago in Central America, humans sacrificed other humans for the purposes of pleasing gods and ensuring the existence of sun and rain. Around 1850-1864 China, a man heard some Christian doctrine, declared himself the brother of Jesus, and convinced thousands of people to join his army in taking over much of the country with fanatical discipline and devotion. In 1997 USA, thirty-nine people taken in by a cult killed themselves in order to be transported to a hidden spaceship. In 2001 USA, groups of men with absolute conviction they were going straight to Heaven crashed large planes full of civilians into large buildings full of civilians. Throughout the last millennium, there have been crusades and holy wars in Europe and the Middle East. Century after century, different religions and sects declared war on each other, spilling blood to cleanse the land of nonbelievers, all while declaring with perfect certainty the perfect benevolence of their god. The violence continues to this day.
All of this has happened because most people don’t require their beliefs to be supported by physical evidence. But does society look at these atrocities and cry out in horror at the potential of human cognition to be so blind and gullible to be able to commit such acts? Do people engage in deep self-reflection to consider their reasons for believing what they do? No, they still proclaim that it is right to believe things without evidence, and they call it the virtue of faith. They dismiss every single religious crime in history as being caused by insane or misguided people, and continue to preach that everyone should believe even harder in the “right” way. The ability to think rationally is the first thing religion takes from people, and it is the first thing they must regain.
Again, religion is the same problem as culture, but it goes a step further—and is much more dangerous—because it appears to be supported by a greater and unsurpassable power. When people are considering their values, culture offers what others have defined to be desirable, and religion offers something to be taken as unquestionably desirable. When people are looking for meaning and support in life, culture offers validation, purpose, comfort, and camaraderie through the approval of others, and religion offers the same through the approval of supernatural forces. People that conform to or deviate from cultural norms receive secular praise or sanctions. People that conform to or deviate from religious requirements (supposedly) get blessings or punishments that go beyond the grave!
When the enforcement of cultural values is oppressive, it is only worse when taken to the level of religion. With the sense of automatic purpose they have from their faith, religious people seek to enforce their baseless morality with little sympathy for individual rights. They take away their neighbors’ liberties according to the standards of a force which they can’t show to exist. They teach their own children it is a worthy cause to die for a system of beliefs based on nothing (except “faith”). They seek to impose on others values and taboos which are unnecessary and irrational, often through coercion. They perpetuate a practice that routinely robs people of their life, liberty, enjoyment, humanity, and thought.
Many would like to argue that even if religions are not true, they are justified by various benefits such as spiritual support in times of need, rules of living that help society, and friendship among believers. All of these advantages are superficial. If a religion is not actually real (meaning its premise about the existence of a supernatural force is false), then any comfort it provides is caused by nothing outside the believer’s own mind. Believers mislabel internal strength as external strength and believe they are weaker than they actually are. If a religion is not actually real, the morality based on it is not necessarily reasonable for people to live by. If a religion is not actually real, it creates an unnecessary identity barrier among people. Furthermore, given that most people believe in one religion that forbids all others, they should all at least be outraged at the injustices caused by billions of other people living, spreading, and enforcing terrible lies!
Living with Others
Besides arguing for the right of individuals to have their own values and against the right of culture and religion to enforce morality, I have said very little about how people should actually behave. If there was only one person in the world, ethics would be pretty easy. That person could simply do whatever he thought would make life best to him and there would be no other sentient life to judge his actions and respond to them. But when other people exist, things become more complicated. The consequences of our actions depend strongly on how other people act as well. There are billions of people in the world. How should we act among others to make things go well to us?
If some strangers were playing soccer and their ball was kicked out of bounds towards you, you’d throw it back. Why? It is little bother to you, compared to if they had to chase after the ball, and in the same situation you would like them to do the same for you. It is unlikely that even a total egoist would refuse, because life would be more difficult to him if people did not perform such courtesies. Reciprocity is a system in which people behave in certain ways and expect like responses. If everyone performs such small favors, everyone will overall gain more benefit with less effort. If everyone did what was best to them in the short term, everyone would lose in the long term.
Throughout most human civilizations, there have been ethical teachings about reciprocity. Many of them rely on some variation of the rule “treat others as you would like to be treated.” While this is a good rule in many situations, it is also full of problems. Who counts as others? Other humans? Why not animals? What if there is a large difference in the way you and the other person wants to be treated? What if there is a large difference in the way you and the other person deserve to be treated? Should a person refuse the notion of retribution and give aid to those that continually try to destroy him? It is better to treat others how they deserve to be treated and in ways that conform to beneficial systems of reciprocity. To undermine the structures of justice and reciprocity is to put the world in a chaos in which people do not receive what they deserve, which only causes people to stop working for merit or accomplishments.
When many people live in a community, it is often necessary for there to be a person or group with the authority and responsibility to act in accordance with what is best to the community they represent. It is good and essential for a government to enforce justice, maintain safety for its citizens against external harm, and protect the political freedoms of its citizens. It is not the role of a government to own its citizens. It is not the role of a government to control how people think and believe something. It is not the role of a government to make people behave a certain way if they are not harming others. It is not the role of a government to treat people as groups instead of individuals. It is not the role of a government to take what someone has earned and give it to someone who has not earned it.
My mind and body belong to myself. I do not accept the ownership of my life by others. My thoughts and actions are not subject to the demands of any person, city, family, religion, ethnic group, society, or even the entire human population. If they think my life belongs to them, they may all try to claim it, but I would never consciously accept their ownership, and I would always fight them at any cost. Furthermore, I accept all of my successes and failures, I refuse to accept the successes and failures of others, and I choose how I am represented by others. I do not view another individual’s actions as a reflection on me based on race, nationality, or any other grouping category.
Censorship is the control of information, and it should not exist in a society in which people expect to know the truth about their government and decide values for themselves. A government that does not fully disclose its methods is keeping secrets from its citizens and is therefore trying to rule without their approval. (This does not apply to censorship for the sake of public security or personal privacy.) Another type of censorship is the control of media for the purpose of blocking content deemed morally objectionable. Nobody has the right to tell you what you must value, so nobody has the right to tell you what you must believe is moral or not. Nobody has the right to tell you there are images or sounds so objectionable that you should not be permitted to see or hear them. This is only society forcing you to accept their point of view, which you don’t necessarily hold. A government is supposed to protect its citizens’ interests. My interests don’t include being told what I can and can’t say, see, or think.
Equality at Birth:
Under Individual Valuism, newborns have earned nothing and they owe nothing. They do not deserve to inherit accomplishments or guilt of others based on a genetic link. Consider that on any given day, a child is born in one part of the world and another child is born in another part of the world. What is the difference in the two? Are they born knowing the lives of their different ancestors? As they come out of their mothers, do they differ in their beliefs because of who their parents are, or are they without knowledge of the external world?
People are born with the genetics of their ancestors, but not the lives of their ancestors. The daughter born to a movie star can have her mother’s beauty, but not her experience in front of a camera. The son born to a sports champion can inherit his father’s trophies, but not his accomplishments on the field. The daughter of a senator can automatically have her mother’s political connections, but not her political beliefs. The son of a murderer can be born with his father’s eye color, but not his father’s culpability.
Not surprisingly, culture and religion have it wrong again. A boy could be born to a queen and another boy born to a slave. Neither boy has merited a different position from the other, but culture declares one a prince and the other a slave. Many major religions declare that all people are born with some responsibility for crimes of the past, which is made possible through some imagined hereditary essence transmission or reincarnation. They have a deeply flawed view of the contents of infants’ minds and the concept of responsibility. More examples exist all around us. A child born to a historically oppressed group “feels” the pain of “his people’s” past, as if he has experienced injustices that happened decades ago more than other children his age. Some people think they are obligated to fulfill contracts made by their parents, as if an agreement can be hereditary. Some people who have lived their entire lives separated from the area of their culture’s original country say they miss their homeland, as if they have a spiritual connection to a geographic location because they have a genetic connection to the people that do or used to live there. Many people bask in the triumphs of people sharing their sex, race, nationality, or creed, as if people sharing such qualities also share a mind. Some children brag about their parents’ status, as if they have earned the accomplishments of another individual.
Two more examples have further implications: Many governments reserve the right to impress young men in their jurisdiction into military service, as if being born in a certain country obligates one to serve it. Many parents claim the right to regulate what their children can see or learn, as if they own their children’s minds because they gave birth to them. By what right does a condition of birth permit someone to have such a level of control over another? There can be no right to the life a person in this way; it is only slavery. Yet people all over the world push newborns into automatically being a part of a family, religion, culture, status group, etc. with automatic identities and duties. Then they are surprised when a child becomes angry and bitter, even violent, towards others. “Shocking! How dare he reject being told who his is and how he should value, and lash out accordingly! He must be crazy! He needs to be controlled more!” It happens everywhere. “I don’t understand why my teenager is always angry and depressed. I restrict her freedom like I own her, and I tell her sexuality is evil like I’m supposed to. I guess they’re just moody at that age.”
While I believe that nobody should be born with external advantages or disadvantages over another, the equality should end there. Those that are smart can use their gifts to solve problems and make the world a better place to them and others. Those that are athletic can get a professional sports contract. Those that work hard can persevere to do almost anything. Everyone deserves to be able to use their potential to make a magnificent life for themselves. But whatever they do with their life, it’s their life, and they deserve to control what they earn no matter if they earn it largely through hard work or natural talent. If they can’t, they are a slave, and have the right to reciprocate by any means they see appropriate.
The Economy, like government, is a vital societal institution. It is needed to manage resources and interactions among people for the processes of production to satisfy human needs and wants. Also like government, when applied incorrectly, it is a force of oppression instead of justice. A good starting point in identifying a proper economic system is identifying the desired results:
There are obviously parts of this list that are open to interpretation, such as what constitutes a “deserving person,” what trading practices are dishonest, and how much pollution is acceptable. With any reasonable interpretation, anyone can see how bad the world would be without the items on this list. Without (1), people would not work (in order to deserve sustenance and more) because they would see little connection between production and gain. Without (2), things would not be fit for use, actions would be inefficient, and complex machinery could not function. Without (3), the economy would be opposed to the concept of goodness because it would limit the possibility for someone to make existence better. Without (4), systems of reciprocation would be corrupt and cease to function. Without (5), there would be no consideration for truth or justice. Without (6), there would be wastefulness and the possibility of resources being depleted. Without (7), there would be terrible effects on human health and the environment.
Now, identify what does and does not contribute to these effects. One thing necessary is a capable government to enforce justice, responsibility, proper resource use, and pollution standards. For the rest, it is best for individuals to be able to have private control of property and their work. Without private control over property, it would be possible for a person to not be able to invent without the permission of others. Without control over their production, people do not work very hard because their output has little effect on their benefit. In summary, there should be a market economy with minimal government taxation to primarily safeguard justice, individual rights, safety, and the environment.
I will also mention a subject that has immensely influenced the lives of billions of people in the past and present: the issue of capitalism versus communism (and levels in between.) Without exception, any system in which an authority takes the earnings of one person and gives it to another in the interest of forced equality is a system of theft. However, the collectivists have one legitimate complaint: it is wrong that wealth can be inherited. I previously said that it is wrong that the son of a queen is a prince while the son of a slave is a slave, since newborns have done nothing to merit such positions. Both children were born without consciousness of the external world, including whatever their ancestors have done right and wrong, so it is not fair that one is given the right to control a country while the other is bound to lifetime servitude. What is the difference between the prince/slave example and inheriting wealth? There is none. This should have been the focus of the early communists. They had no rightful grievance against those that have obtained their means of production through work and ability, but against those that were simply given a greater means of production from birth.
It is my hope that others, in reading this, will come to know the same peace I have. It is the peace that comes with awareness and self-worth. It is the peace that comes with knowing value, purpose, and identity. It is the peace that comes with knowing what is right no matter who agrees or disagrees. It is the peace that comes with knowing how to make life go well without appealing to magic. There are billions of people that are separated from this kind of peace. All they need is knowledge. They need to understand that value and purpose do not exist somewhere in space apart from people; they cannot exist apart from a consciousness. They need to understand that culture and its supernatural counterpart religion are nothing more than systems of rules that often do not correspond to positive results in the universe. All they need is realization.