Kitchen logic 3: A need is not a value

When the needs of a particular social group such as a state, nation, or even a supranational community are considered primary values, social unrest and poverty prevail in such a society.

You probably cannot support the above statement. But then, why not think about it again?

We find needs as primary values not only written in many contemporary constitutions, but they are even implicitly or even explicitly inscribed in many political decisions. It is pretty common to say: every individual of a given community has a right to a job, a right to adequate housing, a right to express his attitude, a right to education…

Let’s examine situations where needs are primary values by asking: who will meet those needs. There are only two possibilities for who can be responsible for fulfilling needs as rights: either the individual himself or someone else.

Collective valuers of values

If the individual himself, then … (further described). If someone else, who or what might that be? Parents? Husband or wife? Friends? It’s most likely some institution since it’s pretty embarrassing for almost all of them to burden the fulfilment of their needs to someone whose face they see every day. Relatives and friends do help each other out. But we tend to support the basic needs of minors and the disabled in the truest sense of the word. Otherwise, no one likes to depend on friends and relatives when basic needs come into play.

So that leaves institutions as intermediaries that could serve as basic needs providers. Which institutions? Private ones? If it’s a private institution (like a private business), no owner or manager of such an institution would likely hire someone just because they need a job. The person hired most likely needs a job but is hired because of the expected return in the form of products of the work done by the person hired. The reason for hiring is not to satisfy basic needs but to exchange value.

This leaves only public institutions that can satisfy basic individual needs.

Public institutions as value providers

Wow. This is precisely why we have state and state institutions, a majority now reasons: to provide basic needs and many other needs. But then, who decides whether or not a person’s need for better housing or a better job is legitimate? Who can compare the need of a single unemployed mother with children for a 50m2 apartment with the need of a young disabled couple?

If a need is a value, no arbiter can measure it objectively. It is always a group that decides, a group of individuals with their own needs. If they, as arbiters, see a need as a fundamental value, it is logical that they fulfil their own basic needs first. And they meet their needs first, too. If they don’t, they are acting against the premise that needs are primary values. Primary values should be respected. Primary values bind a group or a society together.

It follows that: If needs are primary values, those who decide which needs should be met are at the forefront of that fulfilment.

A need is not a value

A need, then, should never be a value. A need should also never become a sign of value on any societal level because it cannot be measured. A need is integral to everyone’s life, and the main feature of life is that another person cannot live it. If I can’t live your life, I can’t meet your needs. I can’t eat (fulfil a need for food) in your place. I can’t live in a house instead of you. I can’t work, express myself … instead of you. Any public institution is even less likely to live your life to meet your needs.

All who live in the dream of someone (some institution) to meet their needs are depriving themselves of life and being human. A society based on needs, any kind of needs, is, in reality, a totalitarian (collectivist) society with an elite that rules over depersonalized vegetables.


When it comes to needs and governing bodies, brains are a good example. Brains have no command centre, no elite part of the brain that rules over the rest of the “lesser” brains. Every part, every neuron is equally essential. And what makes brains powerful creatures are constant evaluations and re-evaluations of connections. Again, the evaluation is not done by a governing entity within the brain but by each neuron as connected.

Values, which are the main governing principles of any society (from family, club, state, supranational societies), should be understood as neurons within the brain. Values are not given by God or a collectivist authority. They are constantly negotiated and renegotiated between individuals. They are constantly negotiated and renegotiated in the marketplace of values (memes), just as commodities are constantly negotiated and renegotiated in markets. Just as there should be no entity that sets a price for a commodity, there should be no entity that is the sole evaluator of values. For practical purposes, we can identify individuals who professionally extract the prevailing values of individuals (this profession is called branding), but we should think of them as enablers, not evaluators. We should not think (as we unfortunately do) that they are owners of those values. They enable the real owners to understand and use their values more effectively. As soon as we start thinking of any group as evaluators of the collective values, we act like someone who would ascribe the highest and ultimate authority to the eyes because they see better than the other body parts.


Life can only be sustained in a state of constant disequilibrium, in a state of constant negotiation and renegotiation. Man is the only actor in this market of life. What is certain is that in this market, he can only exchange commodities (in the form of products and memes) to satisfy his own needs. He has to barter. No one can exchange in his place -so singular homo instead of abstract man, and homonism instead of humanism.

Andrej Drapal