Republicanism explored : What is the virtue of self-interest?

My question is if the GOP message of “empowerment” isn’t really a message of “selfishness”. I, at one time, read the Wealth of Nations and that Ayn Rand nonsense and was quite sold on the idea that people acting in their own best interest was the best thing for society. As I read it, this is the model of Republican values. But this doesn’t get us the highest form of society, get gets us a nation of free-agents united by tribal bands (perhaps this explains some of the regionalism you cite in you just-posted mail? Texans are yokels, Bostonians I know, we are good, i would help a bostonian).

The greeks had a concept called a kosmos a unified system arranged by order. The heavens were a kosmos and a polity that was a kosmos was to be pursued. While the achievement of eudamonia (i.e. the final cause of the person) in the individual was important, that individual had a sense of obligation to the polity as well. It seems to me that part of what makes the R. agenda attractive is the appeal of short-term “I gotz mine” with little drive to set the parts of the body politic in a direction to better them. Aristotle held that all organisms (and i extrapolate to all endeavour) needed to grow to survive, it seems that the R agenda promotes a shrinking into independent cells of getting mine, with only tribal associations binding them.

This isn’t empowerment, this is rotting the center out of the kosmos for the sake of selfish benefit. You may say I’m a dreamer here, but it doesn’t strike me that this is the right course of action.

The Democrats say …. * Education costs went up in the last term – but i gotz mine (and I, steven harms do) * health care costs went up – but i gotz mine (and I, steven harms do) * We should fund benefits for the public good – a car, i gotz mine! (and I, steven harms do) * Retirement – I gotz a phat 401K (and I, steven harms do) * etc.

It seems that, much like an ideal business, individuals should flourish, but in doing so something should be made for the greater good. I don’t see how you get from individual “empowerment” (in the best case, selfishness at the middle, outright misanthropy the worst) to a kosmos based society in this ethos.