Fear of Equality, Part 3 03/06/2013


The Myth of Liberty

Capitalism  is not only an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, and it is not only a system based on private ownership and generating profits for the “free market” and “investors.” It is actually a functioning Religion, as well.

As a Religion, Capitalism provides many of the same features and benefits any metaphysical system could conceive. It deals entirely in matters of Faith, worship and beliefs in a Supreme Being (of sorts). There are Narratives that are passed down from written books written centuries ago by Priests and Prophets, who created expansive systems of economic theologies which believers take as proof of their God’s existence and Truth of the nature of Reality. There are several main beliefs that have been given a metaphysical status within Capitalism, although we’ll only touch upon a few. It is the enduring, totalizing and ubiquitous presence of these beliefs systems that have made Capitalism so entrenched and almost impossible – to – dislodge for what it is; a pious and deadly superstition. If we look at some of the main myths of Capitalism, it will be revealed that what actually is offered as the truth are distorted and destructive definitions that has been surreptitiously uprooted and erased from their original meanings. The amazing thing is that these transformed, innovated and falsified distortions have caused these definitions to drift away and disappear from their supposedly definite significations, and nobody has seemed to notice. It is much like donkey meat being sold as 100% ground beef at the supermarket, and people not knowing or caring about the difference.

1. Liberty

Capitalism claims to promote liberty, voluntary exchange, integrity, political freedom, private property and wealth. Of these, private ownership of property and personal liberty are touted as the main benefits of Capitalism, and with it, a moralistic presumption that these things are what everyone naturally desires and are entitled to by their own self-reliance and the Grace of God. This idea, among others from classical Liberalism from intellectuals like Hobbes,  and slave – traders such as John Locke and proslavery advocate Hugo Grotius [1]. “Sovereignty,” “natural law,” and the “pursuit of happiness,” were all the rage with these philosophers, although the question of slavery was still far from settled for these purveyors of liberty. With the rise of Capitalism, there was a growing realization that realities of slavery and the ideas of liberty were causing friction and discord among the European intelligentsia. Logic, reason and common sense failed to dislodge the institution of slavery from the institution of Christianity (which tacitly supported it) and the newly – formed investor class that was beginning to amass astounding, if risky profits from the slave trade.  It took centuries and the bloody American Civil War to help settle the question for good. The definition of Liberty, always as metaphysical and philosophical term of “freedom” which never existence in palpable  physical terms on Earth, was slowly transformed within the evolution of the Capitalistic system. Although slavery was abolished, with the idea that man could not have his labor sold without his consent or payment, what now “free” to rent his labor to another for a wage, instead. This bastardization of “liberty” is today’s “freedom” to libertarians and neoliberals, who have no problem in checking their avowed respect for “voluntary exchange” and “personal integrity” at the door, or change their meanings into a gross distortion, as long as it boosts profits.

Capitalism does not promote “liberty,” but in reality, produces a crypto-authoritarian state of enslavement, alienation, endless consumption, poverty, waste and war. Why do I say “crypto-authoritarian?” Because there is no “voluntary exchange” within Capitalism. There is only voluntary servitude. If one doesn’t “voluntarily” hand over one’s body, effort, mind and time to another, that person will not have a bed to sleep or food on their table. Yet Liberty is raised to religious heights, like an invisible Supreme Being that lives in the sky that has no shape or form other than that molded by inference, wishful thinking and ignorance born from the narratives of Capitalist propaganda. Nobody wants to live without a bed or food, because there is no life outside this  system, where only the hell and gnashing of teeth of  begging, destitution and death awaits. Quite an inescapable bubble we’ve managed to create for ourselves, and yet, the belief has solidified into a substance far heavier than Mount Everest: that this is the best of all possible worlds and that Capitalism is the best of all possible systems created by Man. Well, with half of the world’s population living on less than $2 a day, you couldn’t prove this to me.

2. The Individual and the Fear of the Group

Also known as God, the Übermensch or the Exceptional Man. Here as well Capitalism elevates the Individual into metaphysical terms as a perfect expression of humanity, the idealized being that conquers and subdues all in his path. Like the petulant, disgruntled John Galt, but this Individual does not exist, much like John Galt, does not exist, but is a story of the frustrated expression of enlightened self-interest. “Men of the mind” [2], as Ayn Rand would put it, whose genius and acumen creates the gifts of the Gods for the swarming masses of humanity.

Within the Capitalist  (and especially the Libertarian and anarcholibertarian) mythos, the Individual is granted an unassailable sovereignty that is unconcerned with anything that might dampen the fires of “enlightened” self – interest. This dimension of the Individual is meant to convey a political reality where the rights of the Individual is claimed to supersede the rights of the Group. When we speak of Fear of Equality we are in essence speaking about fear of the Group.  In Western Civilization, this fear has a deep philosophical undercurrent. The great Holy Trinity of Classical thought, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, were all disdainful and fearful of democracy and majority rule. They thought, and many others as well, thought that the common man was a bit too dense to allow social groups to act as a politically cohesive unit. [3]

The Individual, according the Capitalist religion, is endowed with “rights,” “free choice” and “responsibilities” that must not be thwarted by any outside agency, for the Individual must be given “personal liberty,” free from the restraints of the leeches of society.  Individual must be granted total sovereignty over their body and more importantly, over the ability to form networks, agreements and relationships. This Individual seems to have no real connection or relationships with other Individuals, and seems to exist in and as an island unto themselves, unless one enters into a “voluntary association.”  Yet, even though this Individual must enter systems of social and financial relationships which forms a “Group” that he naturally fears and despises, according to the Capitalist mythos, the Individual must be allowed the liberty to dictate what kind of relationship he wants to enter with another, as long as it does not involve stealing or forcibly harming another’s body or property.

What is interesting here is that the current system steals and harms the largest portion of human beings (Individuals as a Group) on Earth. Of course the Individual lives in fear over that the Group will some day, out of sheer, overwhelming numbers and vengeance, take his property and wealth away. Ayn Rand went so far to even deny that society (as a Group) did not exist, since it is made up by Individuals, and did not enjoy any moral claims to have rights – “rights”  could only be enjoyed by the Individual. The grafting of a moral component to the capitalist concern of self – interest was a cheap trick (who isn’t for morality?), but many have bought it. And few have questioned how is it that Capitalism (composed of one group of Individuals), as a “moral” system, holds no responsibility for the incredibly damaging effects it produces for this planet and the larger group of Individuals living on it.  “Rights,” “liberty” and “morality” are imaginary, metaphysical concepts used to justify the trap that exists as the jaws of a nightmare from which there is no escape.

Only the fear of the Group is real.

NEXT: The Survival of the Fittest


[1] Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) was immensely influential in developing the “natural law” idea that would be borrowed and expanded upon by such thinkers as Thomas Hobbes, Jean-Jaques Rousseau and Locke. Among his ideas was that is permissible for a being to enter into voluntary servitude in exchange for a stable society. Compare this with the modern libertarianism of  Robert Nozick’s notorious statement from his book, “Anarchy, State, and Utopia” (1974):  “The comparable question about an individual is whether a free system will allow him to sell himself into slavery.  I believe that it would.” While Libertarians wonder why they aren’t taken more seriously, this is precisely the reality we all find ourselves in.

[2] Ayn Rand’s hero, John Galt, who is meant to be a Capitalist “hero” in Rand’s novel, “Atlas Shrugged,” is a rather poor example of the flower of Capitalism Rand’s followers make him out to be, because the question must be asked; what self – respecting Capitalist worth his salt goes on strike against… his customers?

In a lengthy speech that drags on for dozens of pages, Galt crows, ““All the men who have vanished, the men you hated, yet dreaded to lose, it is I who have taken them away from you. Do not attempt to find us. We do not choose to be found. Do not cry that it is our duty to serve you. We do not recognize such duty. Do not cry that you need us. We do not consider need a claim. Do not cry that you own us. You don’t. Do not beg us to return. We are on strike, we, the men of the mind.”

[3] Aristotle:  “A democracy is a government in the hands of men of low birth, no property, and vulgar employments.” and “Democracy is when the indigent, and not the men of property, are the rulers.” Plato was just as scornful: “Democracy… is a charming form of government, full of variety and disorder; and dispensing a sort of equality to equals and unequals alike.” According to research by I. F. Stone in his book, The Trial of Socrates, Socrates was put to death because of his teaching of anti-democratic views to his pupils in Athens.



2010/09/09 – A Monograph in Defense of Equality Part 6

Ayn Rand: Equality and the Destruction of the Exceptional Man

There exists in the works of Ayn Rand (1905-1982) a running opinion she weaves in her best known novels about the exceptional man (usually some sort of capitalist or intellectual genius) who must contend against the pettiness, cowardice or stupidity of others who would annihilate her hero by dragging him down into depths of mind-numbing mediocrity. This stance informed Rand’s opposition to egalitarianism, which was profound and absolute. Equality was for her the end of reason and civilization, and those who advocated equality were hateful, self-loathing demons hell – bent for nothing less than the destruction of existence!

“They do not want to own your fortune, they want you to lose it; they do not want to succeed, they want you to fail; they do not want to live, they want you  to die; they desire nothing, they hate existence, and they keep running, each trying not to learn that the object of his hatred is himself . . . . They are the essence of evil, they, those anti-living objects who seek, by devouring the world, to fill the selfless zero of their soul. It is not your wealth that they’re after. Theirs is a conspiracy against the mind, which means: against life and man.” [1]

Ayn Rand developed her philosophical “theory of everything” as “Objectivism,” which was for her a philosophy extolling the genius of consciousness and rational self – interest.  Her outlook was Aristotelian in essence, as Rand shared Aristotle’s opinion of the existence of only “one” dimension of reality that could be rationally explained. Rand defines man as a rational animal possessing an individual consciousness and identity. Through the use of reason this rational animal is able to perceive “identity,” “ethics,” “purpose,” “value” and “morality.” Now, all of this seems rather elementary and prosaic, but when it comes to survival and capitalism, Rand makes several shocking claims.

In terms of survival, Man is the ends that justifies itself (according to Rand). Is there room for Cooperating with others? Only if your self-interest is served by doing so. Altruism? Out of the question. Man must figure it out on his own and exist for himself in attaining his goals as the pursuit of “happiness” a point which Rand seemingly lifted from the Utilitarian thesis of the 19th century liberal John Stuart Mill. Mill, however, claimed that it was in man’s best interest to bring the greatest amount of happiness to the greatest amount of people. Rand’s version of her classical liberalism kept close to the principle: government must be constrained and only exist to protect man’s “freedom” from physical force (from the community?) This idea holds a deep suspicion, fear and enmity against the collective and the government which informs much of Rand’s works.

In terms of capitalism, Rand  claims a moral justification in line with the “rational nature” of man. She might have also meant the “rational nature of man’s consciousness,” since for Rand, the mind is the source for all rationality ad meaning. Rand often claimed that Capitalism is the system most reflective of this rational principle, as it was for her the only moral system available that could provide personal liberty to the individual.

A world that enforces Equality is perhaps the worse hell imaginable from a Randian perspective, for there is a deep desire within the neoliberal who succeeds at the game of survival, to be justly rewarded for his efforts. He is further justified in feeling superior by watching the struggles and death throes of his perceived inferiors since they must be punished for not playing the game effectively. It is only through the lens of Objectivism that Equality is seen as punishing the best and brightest (which is ridiculous, of course).

Rand certainly shared this view, as you can see in the quote at the top of this blog. Her influence among the libertarians and neoliberals remain unabated, ensuring a legion of internet objectivists who then copy and paste her findings for new generations to come.

There seems to be a qualification with the word “equality” when applied in different contexts. Nobody seems to have a problem with Equality  as – Equal Rights – under the law, although there seems to be the issue whether that form of Equality is determined more by money than any abiding, ethical principle. When it comes to money – which is apparently the value that neoliberals have placed with effort, intelligence and vision. There can be no quarter given, because it would be “unfair” to the ones who have prospered to share. They don’t see it as society being raised up to an equal starting point where everyone can be truly enjoy the “liberty” to contribute more fully… they see it as a catastrophe in which they – the exceptional, the special and the best of us, will be tied down to a torture rack of mediocrity. A hellish world where the first will be the last. The horror!

These childish, tortured fantasies and excuses can only exist in order to justify inequality, which is pitifully obvious, since most libertarians and neoliberals make no bones about how they feel on the subject. Protest as they may, they can’t overcome the common sense end result of a society liberated from  the specter of scarcity, needs and want – which would produce more exceptional people for society. Man is capable of designing a better world where equal rights extend to basic human needs being met. No one is saying that those who work harder than others won’t be allowed to “have more” if they work for it. It’s the current system which rewards exploitation – which in itself is a chief feature of Capitalism and at the same time, and which serves as a socially repressive, anti-liberty, anti-democratic and stateless force that runs counter to the basic premise of Rand’s moral rationalism; that “force” is not allowed to be used against another. It then turns out that Capitalism is the true destroyer of human value! Money is revealed to be a titanic, sizeless club that savagely beats everyone into submission, forcing their participation under pain of death. Is Capitalism really a “rational” jewel in the crown of human consciousness as Ayn Rand claims? Or is it a discredited, abusive system that common sense demands we drop and leave behind? An Equal Money system will not diminish the amount of the exceptional hero that was Ayn Rand’s ideal. It will produce so many more exceptionals, that the meaning of the word will be lost when everyone will be exceptional.


[1] Ayn Rand, “Galt’s Speech,” For the New Intellectual, the Philosophy of Ayn Rand. Signet Books. 1963