Fear of Equality, Part 10. The Theology of Capitalism

give til it hurtz

In the last blog I looked very briefly at the work of Max Weber, principally his landmark thesis, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.  Weber makes a lot of claims and most of them resonate with those who see capitalism as the most logical system of social organization the world has ever seen. The pursuit of profit, according to Weber, isn’t simply a means to an end, it is the end unto itself. Profit is the reward for entering the system and taking advantage of one’s opportunity. In fact, the Holy Book encourages pursuit of profit, and in a New Testament parable, the lesson in profit-making is frightfully clear. [1] If you do not create a profit what you do have will be taken away and given to one who possess more with the added punishment of being cast outside of the system, into the darkness and presumably, outside of the Living Light of God. Biblical passages such as these are set in opposition against those like, “You can’t both serve God or money,” and the verse in Mark 10:25: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God,” Jesus’ punchline delivered after he instructs the rich man to give all his possessions to the poor.

Thus, again according to Weber, one of the signs of favor that God bestowed on His chosen ones was prosperity. Weber actually wondered whether a feedback loop was occurring where the spirit of Capitalism was affecting religious beliefs and religious beliefs affecting Capitalism. These days, where the accumulation of wealth occurs at a unfathimable pace and Christianity’s waning influence over the cultural landscape, people don’t seem to defend the theology of Capitalism as fervently as they did in the past. They almost seem too embarrassed to even attempt a defense. I find this fascinating because Capitalism is perfectly set up to be an economic theology that is self-contained within its inner logic and rationale. This may indicate an estrangement between the religious belief systems of the 19th century era and the turn to postspirituality in the existential 21st century. Or it may simply be another case of cultural amnesia, that blank void of forgetfulness at the center of our national history where all shared cultural memories fade into oblivion. Weber did predict, however, that the logic of the spirit of Capitalism would lead to alienation and a loss of faith. [2]

But getting back to the point: the theology of Capitalism fulfills a vital service for the continued exploitation and subjugation of humanity, at least in America. It gives form, shape, direction and most important – a moral justification for continuing economic and political inequality. Any talk about income equality can only be seen as heresy and apostasy against the morality of enlightened self-interest. Its catechism can be described as followed -

What is God? MONEY.

The Son of God? THE INDIVIDUAL.

The Holy Spirit? ALL THE THINGS MONEY CAN BUY FROM THE BANKS AND CORPORATIONS.

Places of Worship? THE MALL

The Antichrist? THE EVIL COLLECTIVE, OFTEN CONFLATED WITH THE COMMIES, PINKOS, SOCIALISTS, THE STATE, ETC. BASICALLY ANYTHING THAT INTERFERES WITH THE UNLIMITED PURSUIT OF WEALTH.

The Profits… err, I mean PROPHETS? AYN RAND, HAYEK, MISES, ROTHBARD, FRIEDMAN, ORAL ROBERTS, CREFLO DOLLAR, REVEREND IKE, JIM BAKER, BENNY HINN (And a million others)…et al.

The Gospel? ATLAS SHRUGGED, THE SECRET, The PROSPERITY GOSPEL and its cousin, THE LAW OF ATTRACTION.

The “Prosperity Gospel” championed by many of the names above is ironically (perhaps) most accepted by the poor and lower classes in America. They are also the least educated, as well, which sets them up for living their lives hoping and praying that one day the LORD will grant them a winning lottery ticket or something that will lift them out of their financial bad money hell. After all, God wants YOU to be financially blessed and prosperous. You just have to figure out on your own how you are going to do that in a system that only acknowledges the digits in your bank account. IF you are fortunate enough to have one, that is.

Capitalism is a religion, yes. And like all religions on the planet, there exists within it an existential pathological dimension as well. While Religions of all varieties claim to be the worship of a supernatural power that controls, orders and gives meaning and direction for human lives, all of them are quite guilty of doing more harm than good for human beings in the world. Fear of Equality endorses the theology of Capitalism because it provides a moral and rational framework to justify continuing exploitation, injustice and profiteering at the expense of humanity at large.  It reduces, retards, contains and corrals creative and critical thinking that can lead to dangerous questioning of the system, of our own possibilities and potentials of human growth on a worldwide scale.  Turned inside out, the theology of capitalism reveals itself to be a dry, waterless canal filled with the dusty bones and wretched remains of countless lives who never had a chance at attaining a dignified life. Ask them how it felt being a worthless slave cast into the outer darkness, where there is the weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Ask them if the religion of Capitalism was worth the sacrifice.

Ask yourself.

 

 

NOTES

[1]  A peculiar passage from Matthew and a similar account in Luke places these words into the mouth of Jesus. “13 “Therefore stay alert, because you do not know the day or the hour. 14 For it is like a man going on a journey, who summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The one who had received five talents went off right away and put his money to work270 and gained five more. 17 In the same way, the one who had two gained two more. 18 But the one who had received one talent went out and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money in it. 19 After a long time, the master of those slaves came and settled his accounts with them. 20 The one who had received the five talents came and brought five more, saying, ‘Sir, you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’ 21 His master answered, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You have been faithful in a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 The one with the two talents also came and said, ‘Sir, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more.’ 23 His master answered, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You have been faithful with a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 Then the one who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Sir, I knew that you were a hard man, harvesting where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered, ‘Evil and lazy slave! So you knew that I harvest where I didn’t sow and gather where I didn’t scatter? 27 Then you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received my money back with interest! 28 Therefore take the talent from him and give it to the one who has ten. 29 For the one who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough. But the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 30 And throw that worthless slave into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’” (Matthew 25:13-30).

[2] The exploitation of the working class led to the worker’s alienation as the increasing bureaucratic apparatus with its hierarchy of command and its impersonality sought to regulate and standardize behavior. Weber called this state, the “iron cage.” No one knows who will live in this cage in the future, or whether at the end of this tremendous development, entirely new prophets will arise, or there will be a great rebirth of old ideas and ideals, or, if neither, mechanized petrification, embellished with a sort of convulsive self-importance. For of the fast stage of this cultural development, it might well be truly said: “Specialists without spirit, sensualists without heart; this nullity imagines that it has attained a level of civilization never before achieved.” Weber, Max. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Los Angeles, CA: RoxburyPublishing, 1998.

Fear of Equality Part 9. Escape from the Collective

 

Milton Friedman. Grins and shrugs.

Milton Friedman. Grins and shrugs.

 

Milton Friedman once gave a Speech in Harlem in 1978. It is one of the worst speeches I’ve ever had to listen to. The speech is entitled, “The Escape from Collectivism. You can watch it here on YouTube. Milton Friedman asks, “Why is it that the role of government has been increasing when it comes to education?” Friedman goes on to state that since the 19th century there has been a shift in perspective with society; from a 19th century belief that the ideal individual was self-reliant and self-responsible, and totally owned his trajectory towards success or failure.

The role of the government back then (according Friedman) “was to provide maximum opportunity for the “Individual to express and develop their values and capacities.”

Friedman mockingly and dismissively regards that the modern view holds that the Individual was “an innocent puppet” beset by social forces beyond his control. According to Friedman, this puppet wasn’t responsible for his unfortunate station in life – society was. The ultimate unit in society was the “collective” – not the Individual.

Friedman further says that those 19th century schools did achieve the same goals of the19th century government: making people “responsible for their own development and learning.”

In the 20th century, again according to Friedman, the concept changed – the schools were a reflection of society’s values and interest that should be imposed upon the child. Schools sought to get the child out of the clutches of “the ignorant and unsophisticated parents and not the hands of educational experts.

Friedman complains: it’s the very concept of collectivism that alienates the individual and robs the individual of self -respect, removes from the individual feelings of importance and significance. “The whole justification for governmental public schooling was in order to provide a common framework so you can have citizens who can exist together in a single, free, democratic society.”

Golly, that sounds nice. Nevertheless, I wondered if the statement was true, so I decided to investigate the matter best I could.

Point #1.Here we lookat the assertion that there was a shared social value which arose in the 19th century in which “the ideal individual was totally responsible for his achievements and shortcomings in his life.”

Let’s see if this sweeping generalization holds water, shall we? We have plenty of information about the times of the 19th century and America’s national and international policies, social order, work relations and financial state. Throughout the 1800s, we would be remiss not to mention that the colonization program of North America began building all its wealth within the twin projects of genocide and slave trading. Wars fought against the indigenous people of this continent and against other nations became a deadly, recurring pattern. The War Between the States – which was initiated over conflict of expanding slavery to the western states kicked off at the height of the Industrial Revolution. There were many banking panics, scandals, grinding, unimaginable poverty and often deadly workmen strikes. Children were exploited in factories and if you weren’t a White, property – owning male, like a farmer or shipping magnate, there was often no justice or recourse available to you. Friedman’s assertion that during this era, the government’s role, “was to provide maximum opportunity” to for the “Individual to express and develop their values and capacities”, sounds silly and desperate.

The closest thing that lines up with Friedman’s claim could be the notion that was formed at the beginning of the 20th century with the arrival of the views of the social theorist, Max Weber, who authored the monumental thesis, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.” Essentially boiled down, this is the belief that hard work, faith and thriftiness led to success in one’s life. For Weber, this mindset evoked a religious morality of Capitalism. At the base of this thesis is the proposition that the Calvinist ethics inherited by Puritan and Quaker fundamentalism gave shape and direction for the religious worship of Capitalism that was woven into the social fabric of American society.

“Wealth is thus bad ethically only in so far as it is a temptation to idleness and sinful enjoyment of life, and its acquisition is bad only when it is with the purpose of later living merrily and without care. But as a performance of duty in a calling it is not only morally permissible, but actually enjoined. The parable of the servant who was rejected because he did not increase the talent which was entrusted to him seemed to say so directly. To wish to be poor was, it was often argued, the same as wishing to be unhealthy; it is objectionable as a glorification of works and derogatory to the glory of God. Especially begging, on the part of one able to work, is not only the sin of slothfulness, but a violation of the duty of brotherly love according to the Apostle’s own word. The emphasis on the ascetic importance of a fixed calling provided an ethical justification of the modern specialized division of labour. In a similar way the providential interpretation of profit-making justified the activities of the business man.” [1]

Friedman’s point that the individual was seen as a self-directive agent that succeeded or failed on his own is a squashed and mangled oversimplification, an empty assertion pressed into service to fight a pseudo-intellectual culture war on the side of the Individual against the enemy; the Collective. What remains unspoken, yet ringing loudly in that unuttered, smirky silence is the condemnation, shaming and vilification of the impoverished, disenfranchised; in other words the sinners and heretics of the Capitalist Religion. The reality contained in the historical record is much grimmer. The government has never been interested in making sure that the Individual “express and develop their values and capacities,” as Friedman inveigled, but rather it was set up to serve the elite that owned the country.[2]

Howard Zinn said it perfectly: “Those upper classes, to rule, needed to make concessions to the middle class, without damage to their own wealth or power, at the expense of slaves, Indians, and poor whites. This bought loyalty. And to bind that loyalty with something more powerful even than material advantage, the ruling group found, in the 1760s and 1770s, a wonderfully useful device. That device was the language of liberty and equality, which could unite just enough whites to fight a Revolution against England, without ending either slavery or inequality.” (Howard Zinn) A People’s History of the United States: 1492 to Present.

Point #2. What about those marvelous 19th century schools that made people “responsible for their own development and learning?” Well, not entirely true. Perhaps the universities, college were able to achieve this at some level, but America’s public school system was only put in place because of the greater needs of Industry that needed a unity of compliant workers that was distributed among all the varieties of ethnic groups that comprised the populace. Friedman’s sloppy assessment that the justification for government public schooling was, “to provide a common framework so you can have citizens who can exist together in a single, free, democratic society,” is only partially correct.

John Gatto, the author of the “Dumbing Down of America,” researched the origins of the federally enforced public school system and found some interesting documentation. The public school system was originally conceived:“ as a means to achieve important economic and social goals for the national character.” Gatto quotes from a document he discovered that revealed the future educational plan of the United States (this document circa 1967). Quoting Gatto:

The BEHAVIORAL TEACHER EDUCATIONAL PROJECT outlines specific teaching reforms to be forced on the country, unwillingly of course, after 1967. It also sets out, in clear language, the outlook and intent of its invisible creators. Nothing less than quoting again “the impersonal manipulation through schooling of a future America in which few will be able to maintain control over their own opinions”, an America in which (quoting again) “each individual receives at birth, a multipurpose identification number which enables employers and other controllers to keep track of their [underlings]”, (underlings is my interpretation, everything else came out of the document), “and to expose them to the directors subliminal influence of the state education department and the federal department acting through those whenever necessary,” and quoting Gatto again: “The project identified the future as one (again I’m quoting) “in which a small league would control all important matters, one in which participatory democracy would largely disappear.”Children would be made to see that their classmates, and indeed the average man or woman were so inadequate, were so irresponsible that they had to be controlled and regulated.

The pubic school system exists for one purpose only: to create a disposable class of workers that will fight over the few jobs that are left, and apparently, that’s been the goal since the beginning.

Professor Henry A. Giroux notes that the Texas GOP has a curious plank in their political platform concerning a particular problen with education. “We oppose teaching of Higher order Thinking Skills [because they] have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental control.” This concern makes total sense if one sees that acquiring the life skill of critical reasoning is “dangerous.” It is certainly unwanted. How many times do we have to say, “Thou Shalt Not Question the System?” Don’t question yourself, your place in society, your relationship to capitalism as a commoditized consumer, your political system and most important, your beliefs and opinions you received and accepted from the media. Okay? You’re just making it harder for the rest of us to go on with our tiny, inconsequential, unimaginative lives. Listen, it’s all been thought out for you. If anyone deserves a dysfunctional, decrepit and useless educational system, it’s us! Mighty Individuals “expressing our values and capabilities” in accordance with the wishes the State and Industry.

Submitted for your approval: a report issued by John D. Rockefeller General Education Board, circa 1913. Perhaps Friedman was referring to this.

“In our dreams, people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. The present education conventions of intellectual and character education fade from their minds and unhampered by tradition we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive folk. We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into men of learning or philosophers, or men of science. We have not to raise up from them authors, educators, poets or men of letters, great artists, painters, musicians, nor lawyers, doctors, statesmen, politicians, creatures of whom we (the elite?) have ample supply. The task is simple. We will organize children and teach them in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way”. [3]

Think about it: don’t you want to live your life according to an illiterate, anti-intellectual narrative that reduces for each member in society the possibilities of human and social achievement? Wouldn’t you rather base your opinions and beliefs on ignorant, emotionally charged, pseudo-intellectual soundbites that passes for “intellectual discourse” in the media? It’s in the country’s best interest that you’ve been dumbed-down and your brain rendered null and void when it comes to critical analysis of the world. The Milton Friedman’s, George Will’s and the Fox News tribes of the world are just doing their job –  to keep your expectations low and your questioning to a minimum and they are all counting on the fact that you are too wrapped up in mindless consuming and eternal bill-paying to notice how badly society is breaking down around you. Why on Earth would you want to examine the world beyond your current belief systems and rebuild language that expands and enriches meaning and possibilities for your life when you can instead easily continue to be persuaded by the same comforting half-truths and lies floating into your intellectually – enfeebled brainpan? Better to escape the evil Collective and live as a brain-dead, alienated unfulfilled yet mighty Individual.

Isn’t it?

NOTES

[1] Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. 1905, Chapter V, “Asceticism and the Spirit of Capitalism”

[2] John Jay, the very first Supreme Court Chief Justice exclaimed, ”The people who own the country ought to govern it.”

[3] General Education Board, Occasional Papers, No. 1 (General Education Board, New York, 1913) page 6.

 

Fear of Equality Part 8. Don’t Question the System

Frederick_Douglass_as_a_younger_man

 

Recently I have been engaged in yet another YouTube debate with someone who is not so readily convinced that the world is ready for equality. Predictably the excuses… err, reasons given were many, but they all boiled down to a singular point: this person assumes that in order for everybody to take part in an egalitarian world, he would have to be required to give up his money or worse, suffer the fate of having his money taken away from him. I reassured him angry mobs would not be lining the streets with their palms out wanting to whet their beaks on his bank account, and I asked what was it about Capitalism that he was so interested in defending. Instead of an answer, he played this card:

“Here’s the thing, WE DON’T WANT YOUR NEW WORLD ORDER. Nothing you can propose will change our feelings on this. We are far from perfect, but we do love our country. Make fun of it all you like with your tongue in cheek “Murike” remarks. There are millions upon millions of us here in the United States alone who are telling you to take your Utopia and stick it. Now, how are you going to “re-educate” the world into your point of view without committing to the “morality of abuse” you claim to oppose? How will you force us to assimilate? Is resistance futile?
Come get some.”

By the way, this person was going on and on about the elevated sanctity of the Individual and how maintaining that specific self-identity was very important – especially when its reality can be affected by the “evil Collective,” of which he holds a deep and abiding mistrust and sees as the enemy of the Individual’s “sovereignty.” And yet he appeals to the “millions upon millions” who he claims share in his position that they will be unwilling to grant economic equality (the term he used is “Utopia”) under any circumstances. What does this show us? It could be seen as a “double-standard” where his position in his argument need to be arrayed in such a fashion that the Individual must be ever vigilant to the sinister machinations of the “Collective,” and so the Individual is accorded nearly divine status that cannot be questioned. And of course, when the fear arose within him in imagining a world where economic justice and equality were indeed given to all equally, he psychically gathered within his consciousness the opinions of “millions upon millions here in the United States” who like him, he believes, opposes economic equality. He instinctively understands that there is strength in numbers, much more than could ever be found in a single Individual. This is instructive to see because you can see here how one fails to see how they are holding opposing or conflicting views within their minds. Actually, the conflict isn’t real – as the argument can only proceed upon a logical foundation, which will change in an instant when one has to defend something that can’t be defended on moral terms. It’s intellectually dishonest, but people love to have morality on their side. That’s how they can morally justify dishonesty. You don’t expect to hear the truth, do you?

Knowing this, I asked the gentleman once again; “what is it about the current state of capitalism that you find so worthy of defending?” He hasn’t answered yet. It’s a question I’ve found very few people are willing to answer honestly, because to do so (and make sense) one has to either give up the morality point (that is, capitalism is not a moral good for everybody equally) or admit that the system is more trouble than it’s worth (for countless reasons). And beyond that, I’ve found in discussing this point that many people who are so heavily invested in having their opinion, beliefs and projections validated by others, that they will very rarely come out of the block and plainly say, “Yeah, I know capitalism exploits and kills and destroys everything on this planet. But as long as I don’t have to change or suffer, I couldn’t give a crap.” Most people will dissemble and lie and start talking gibberish, but they will never give up morality. It would be too embarrassing. They would rather hide behind the lies. They consider themselves as civilized, you see.

Fear of Equality is rooted in FEAR. I have a hard time accessing what that would feel like since I don’t have fear of equality, but I reckon on of the main sources of that fear is having one’s ideas, beliefs or self-definition invalidated through morality, reason, logic, what have you. It’s too much trouble to rebuild all that within one’s self, hell, it may be impossible. Yet, it is a fear that has resonated within the minds of those who sought to control and dominate the lives of others ever since the time of the first Master and Slave.

I was reading an account about the life of the former slave and abolitionist, Frederick Douglass. Douglass was taught the alphabet by the wife of his owner, but was soon discovered by her husband, who disapproved. Mainly, it was against the law for slaves to read. But beyond that, the husband explained to the wife that if a slave learned to read, he would soon question himself and become dissatisfied with his station in life and desire freedom. Imagine that! Here was an honest expression defending a system of exploitation on moral grounds! So much for morality, then. “Look, in order for this system to work, we need to subjugate this person, rob him of his liberty, his labor, his time and ultimately his life. Plus, he has to remain in this ignorant state unless he awakens to a possibility where he can express himself as something greater!”

Sounds familiar? It is the same argument used today to keep people in poverty and alienation. “Don’t give everybody a living income – they will question themselves, question the system and their station in life and desire freedom!”

To think that there exists a type of person who would purposely continue to exploit or to benefit from the exploitation of others is a notion that is despicable to me. Investigate the Living Income Guarantee and expand your definition in what is possible.

 

Next: Fear of Equality Part 9. Escape from the Collective

 

NOTE

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4ZLe7CcMUA&list=LL5rA6LDTwLoA1g8RePrLTJA

Demons of Folk Friday’s Tune of the Week: Gold Mine

enki

 

“Everybody says that we’re working in a Gold MIne.”

The earliest recorded notions about the existence of demons is found within the belief systems of the ancient Mesopotamian culture of Sumer (3400 B.C.). Through their myths and religious systems,  the Sumerians believed that Mankind was created to be slaves for the Gods; the Annunaki and the Igigi, the minor gods.

According to the Atra-Hasis version of the older Sumerian story, the Igigi were orignally pressed into manual labor cultivating the canals, mining for gold (the reason the gods needed gold isn’t mentioned, curiously enough) and farming. After 40 years, the Igigi grew tired of their toil and complain bitterly to the elder Gods. Enki proposes the creation of human beings (Primitive Worker) to be relieved the workload of the younger gods. After the creation of humans is accomplished, their task is set:  mining the Earth for gold. [1]

They (the Anunnaki) summoned and asked the goddess, the midwife of the gods, the wise birth giver, [saying:]
“To a creature give life, create workers!
Create a Primitive Worker,
that he may bear the yoke!
Let him bear the yoke assigned by Enlil,
Let The Worker carry the toil of the gods!” [2]

So it was written. Mankind created as a species predestined, preprogrammed and preordained as an instrument for enslavement. Looking at the world today, not much has changed. We are all born to toil, work and in exchange our labor, blood and life essence – according to one’s ability and station in life – until that life essence is extinguished forever. The toil, blood, sweat and tears has given us what? Nothing in terms of an equitable return of the effort expended. After tens of thousands of year, isn’t about time we smash this abusive template? Investigate the Living Income Guarantee proposal.

Gold Mine is this week’s Demon of Folks Friday Tune of the week. You can stream and/or download

Notes:

[1] http://www.jcu.edu/bible/200/Readings/Atrahasis.htm

[2] The Gods of Sumer were vain, petty and unpredictable. Therefore, great pains were taken to make sure that the Gods were worshipped properly with prayers and sacrifices. The life of a typical Sumerian peasant, slave or merchant could be pretty rough with crop failure, disease and natural disasters to contend with, and to make matters worse, the prospects for the afterlife were potentially more dire. According to the Sumerians, the dead descended through seven gates into the Netherworld, an infernal place of demons and monsters ruled by the Goddess of the dead, Ereshkigal, sister of Ishtar. The demons regularly pass to and fro between the upper world of the humans and the netherworld, and were colorfully described as “bitter venom from the Gods.” They were “gloomy, their shadow dark, no light is in their bodies, ever they slink along covertly, not walk upright, from their claws drips bitter gall, their footprints are evil venom.”

A Very, Very Short Discourse on the Law

The foundational platform of a society is always attached to the laws and regulations that are instituted (at least theoretically) for the benefit and protection between its members. The reasons for establishing laws arose as societies developed into more complex relational systems regulating the actions of its members and enforced by the imposition of penalties. From the earliest eras of human civilization it was seen that laws were necessary structures of protection from abuse between members of the group. Not only that, certain conclusions were drawn. The observable world seemed to operate fairly predictably, and since science had not been developed, superstition and imagination were the platforms that formulated the conceptual framework to explain the natural cycles of the stars, seasons  and permanence of the world. In looking at two of the oldest and most influential societies we can see what they considered the most important aspects and concerns when it came to building a system of  laws for its citizens. We will find that certain conclusions led to specific outcomes, and since we are still living with the consequences of those ancient conclusions and find them inadequate and destructive, we need to re-imagine a new foundation for a new set of laws based not upon superstition and deceptive, imaginary concepts, but rather a moral universalism that enriches, protects and strengthens the bonds of relationships between its members.

The Vedic and Egyptian Concepts of Law and Order

We begin with a survey of the great civilizations that arose in the Indus and the Nile river valleys. It is ironic, but worthy to note, that both of these civilizations that produced and contributed so much of the cultural framework of all the civilizations that followed are hot, steaming piles of rubbish today, at least in terms of the current state of their societal status today. Both societies are now embroiled in controversies centering around long-standing divisive religious arguments that have never been resolved. India suffers from a punitive and divisive social caste system and Egypt is in the throes of a civil war between the military and various religious factions. There exists a titanic social and economic inequality between the members of both societies. This is the consequence of a social inability to deal with the issues of social balance and harmony, and reveals the dysfunctional systematic objectives that has riven the social contracts and made them untenable.

When one turns to the Vedic structures of society, we discover that there was a direct linkage between the observable patterns and rhythms of the natural world and the emerging social relations that were moderated by the priestly factions. It was under the great Sun – Eye of the sky god Varuna that the cosmic Law of the universe was said to have been established. This law was eternal and kept chaos and discord at bay. It was the same law, according to the priests, that regulated the moral relationships between the people. The priests insisted that to keep the balance of the universe in place rituals were necessary. Over time these rituals become more complex and intricate. More valuable sacrifices were instituted. Literature emerged to give guidance and rules about the proper institutions of the rituals. This gave the priests much authority and advantage over the people they allegedly served, and it also was a source of controversies when these rituals failed to produce the desired results, which over time became more clear to the people. Over many centuries the rituals began to lose their mysterious hold on the people and the power of the priests diminished, but not before they had managed to protect their social status and inoculate themselves from the lower rungs of society. Today the consequences are on the Indian subcontinent is extremely unpleasant. Recently elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi has compared the current economic state of Indian to a “dying patient.” [1] Child brides, violence against women, institutionalized poverty, widespread hunger, lack of education and opportunity; all these flow from the consequences of these fabled and utterly failed cultural constructs.

On the African continent, Egypt also enjoys a historic status as being one of the most influential and ancient civilizations in the world (over 10,000 years in the making). Science, technology and religion made its greatest advancements in this North African country that the world has ever seen. And yet, it is today a seething cauldron of misrule, social division and punitive militarianism that has gained ascendency in governance. But in the beginning, the members of the civilization of ancient Egypt was concerned with maintaining order, balance and an abiding sense of justice. And this was personified by the ancient feminine deity Ma’at.

Ma'at iconDepicted in the ancient glyphs as a winged woman shown with an ostrich feather and a set of scales, Ma’at represented balance, law, order, justice and judgment. It was believed at death, one had to pass the judgment in the Hall of Ma’at. With her ostrich feather she measured the human heart on her scale. If the heart leaned to the side of good, the soul was allowed to pass into the afterlife. If it was deemed bad, the soul was forced into eternal damnation. Thus were formed the foundations of law and order within ancient Egypt, not to mention ethics and justice. As with the example of the ancient Vedic priesthood, the order of priests in Egypt asserted that they alone were the representatives of the goddess Ma’at and were bound to keep her traditions and precepts alive for the people. Thus an intricate legal system developed along with a deep sense of morality and justice.

It was the Pharoah, or the ruler of the ancient kingdom that was responsible for maintaining balance, law and order – that is, maintaining the “Ma’at” of the country. As the “God” living on Earth, the Pharoah was not only the political leader of the nation, he or she was also the religious leader as well. As gods, they owned the lands, created the laws and engaged in maintaining the country or conducting wars against rival nations. Obviously an aristocratic elite was necessary to keep that power in the hands of a few.Predictably, the decline of the power of the Pharaohs coincided with the many military defeats at the hands of the Persians, Greeks and the Romans. And while the country always garnered great respect for its historical ancient wisdom, technology and culture, it is today a crumbling social vortex of uncertainty, violence, death and injustice.

There are consequences to establishing societies based on social inequality. They all turn into failed, authoritarian states with elites desperately clinging to power through any means necessary. This leads to questions about the possibility of laws ever being able to fulfill its role in ensuring that justice, equality or personal liberty is possible for everyone. As it stands now, laws more and more are designed and used to protect the positions and advantages of those who sit in the seats of power. A call for the re-imaging and recalibration of the meaning of law and order should be placed under discussion and examined. In the next few posts we will look at some of these points that deserve attention.

 

Notes

[1] http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/Tough-economic-decisions-ahead-PM-tells-bigwigs/articleshow/36591681.cms

 

Demons of Folk DAILY TRACK: Gambits of Deception

Today’s Demons of Folk track, “Gambits for Deception.”

Channeling the direction of the behavior of a nation’s populace is hard work, but recently revealed information from the whistleblower Edward Snowden about the NSA’s methods of mass surveillance and thought control shows the many angles of how such a venture can be accomplished. All this set to a minimal techno beat by the Demons of Folk.

Fear of Equality, Part 6. 03/15/2013

Darryl Thomas:

It has been the theories of Natural Law that has legitimized the structure of Capitalism and helped give it shape and direction. But is this linkage of Natural Law and Natural Selection able to accurately describe a rational order in this world or is it merely a theory based on a false impression of reality? What is the argument of those who fear Equality goes against the principles of Natural Law?

Originally posted on Process: 2014:

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The Natural Law Argument Against Equality

When we speak of the Fear of Equality, we notice that most opponents of Equality will use various arguments to contradict or invalidate the benefits and rewards of Equality. The most popular is the  Natural Law argument, due to its claims of representing the best features of human nature and best represents the ideals of human freedom. Above all else, Natural Law has been appealed to justify and legitimize and promote Capitalism. But does the Natural Law argument against Equality succeed in overturning the basic tenets of an egalitarian – based society?

“God is not separate from the world; He is the soul of the world, and each of us contains a part of the Divine Fire. All things are parts of one single system, which is called Nature; the individual life is good when it is in harmony with Nature. In one sense…

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Fear of Equality, Part 5. 03/12/2013

Darryl Thomas:

The fear of Equality is based on a false, mental reality that has produced severe material and physical consequences for humanity and the environment. These consequences are fast approaching the line of no return that will endanger our civilization in ways that are scarcely imaginable, most likely in permanent, unpleasant ways. We need to find a way out of this date with a dystopian destiny before that line is crossed. Perhaps, if we could finally see and understand how a community based on common sense and Equality could become a workable, comprehensible reality, we can begin to fashion an alternative that will be to the benefit of all.

Originally posted on Process: 2014:

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THE impression forces itself upon one that men measure by false standards, that everyone seeks power, success, riches for himself and admires others who attain them, while undervaluing the truly precious things in life.

Thus begins Freud in his book, Civilization and its Discontents. We can speculate some other time about what the “truly precious things in life” may be, since such things are wholly subjective and would prevent us from cleaving to the matter at hand. But Freud does reveal a tendency or a trait within human beings, that we are often given to measure our relationships, environment and thoughts by false standards, through manipulation, ignorance and wishful thinking.

This has been my thesis so far: people fear Equality because differing groups of people fear the domination or misuse by other Groups.

There can be no vast accumulation of wealth within a system of relationships of equal cooperation. There is…

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