6.7.13. Human Right #2: Right to Physical and Mental Health

2. An Equal Health Right that provides all essentials to building strong physical embodiments, insuring vitality and well-being along with clarity of intellect, emotional balance and physical stability.

darfur

Anti-Abortion activists often refer themselves as members of the “Right-To-Life” campaign. It’s a bit of a misnomer, since they really should be called the party of the “Right-to-be-Born.” I don’t have a problem with considering the right of a fetus to allowed to be born, IF the world they are going to be born into the jaws of a nightmare that we laughingly call “civilization.” The fact is that the “right-to-life” movement cares way too much what happens to the fetus before birth than to what happens to it after it’s born. For most fetuses that will be born into this world, birth  is probably the worst thing that can happen to an incipient life-form. Most infants – many millions of them – will be born into an impoverished hell that they will never be able to recover from. Many will have nothing but pain, starvation, war, a wrecked environment and insane human beings to deal with before they die an undignified death, never knowing a single comfort that we in the First World take for granted every day. The “Right-To-Lifers” really couldn’t care less; many have told me that it isn’t God’s Will that so many suffer, but that it’s due to Satanic influences and Mankind’s “fallen nature” that so much suffering exists for these little ones. If that is the case (and I’m kind of in agreement with the “fallen nature” aspect – humanity has forever been a pretty brutal and vicious piece of work on this planet), if such suffering and pain is awaiting so many new beings coming into this world and you realize how fucked up things are, why would you campaign for the “right” of these future persons to be born on such a world?

Wouldn’t it make more sense to be all about standing up for the unborn if the world was first a proper place to begin a life? Has anyone ever interviewed a fetus before it was born and asked if it’s okay being born in a dirty hovel in a Darfur refugee camp where it can expect of life filled with no education to speak of, no access to healthcare, nothing but violence, water and food shortages, abuse and exploitation to look forward to? Put yourself in those shoes. Does that sound like an entrée  you’d want to order from the Menu of Life? Does that sound like the kind of fate you would want for your child? People who wring their hands about the shame and desolation of abortion (which may very well be a mercy considering what is in store for most children coming into this world) are so involved with their own minds and inner conflicts that they fail to see what they are really advocating. It is unfortunate for them that they never considered what would be in the best interests of newborn beings would align with the best interests of everybody else. That means providing a decent place for children to be born into – a place where they can grow in strength and honor, within a potential just waiting to burst forth onto this plane of existence, freed from crippling psychological issues that maim and destroys their character before they even have a chance in this world. What greater sin could there be to be given the gift of life and have that gift of a newborn turned to such a shameful thing just because we refused to rise above our disgraceful, paranoid natures, where the “right-to-life” is merely a “right-to-wrong” the truly innocent. Human Right #2 would be so easy to give to all of us, and it would finally bring forth a world that would be an honored destination for any newborn.

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Fear of Equal Money, Part 1. 03/22/2013

Would the Equal Money System confiscate personal wealth?

If history shows anything, it is that there’s no better way to justify relations founded on violence, to make such relations seem moral, than by reframing them in the language of debt – above all, because it immediately makes it seem that it’s the victim who’s doing something wrong.

-David Graeber

This question appeared on the Quora board and I was asked to answer it.  It was asked by “anon user,” the now – infamous paid internet troll who suffered a massive literary beatdown at the hands of Sunette Spies (see previous post). I wasn’t going to answer it at first, but upon reflection, why the hell not? Others (without an axe to grind or a paycheck to collect) probably ask the same question. So I won’t acknowledge the p.i.t. on Quora, but I will answer it here (and dare anon user to play his game in my back yard).

Pretending that this question comes from genuine curiosity, I will say that I do not know everything that will happen with the installation of an Equal Money System. I do foresee it being installed in successive stages, over a period of many years, maybe decades, I don’t know. The current system would not accept such a shock if EMS were to be delivered all at once. But I want to discuss the overarching concern embedded within the question: “what will happen to my personal wealth?”

 This is part and parcel of the fear of loss attached to a change from the current economic system. A system where the winner takes all, and is perfectly represented in the image below:

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Within this equation the question must be asked, what if your personal wealth directly contributed to the suffering of countless others? I won’t even apply any rationality or morality to the question, because it’s been exploited to death. And the cheap trick about morality and rationality is that one can set up a premise based on any foundation along a causal chain of events and attach any moral or rational “cover” or significance that can prove or justify anything, no matter cruel or unjust. MY personal wealth is to be considered the most important thing in my life because I have given it so much value that it justifies everything I had to do to get it and keep it. I’ve given so much to this that I have identified this value as myself. So the fear of my wealth being “confiscated” is really the existential fear of having my valued personality taken away from me.”

Has our questioner ever considered to what extent the personal wealth of those who have to be stripped of all worth, economic or otherwise, to line the pockets of those in command of the system? [1] I really doubt anyone has. Because if one had even first considered the inner dimensions of such a question, it would have failed to leap from one’s mind. Then again, it could be the rank ignorance of an appalling nature. In America we have wealth “confiscated” by others every day in the form of banking fees, interest and other charges and subsidies commonly known as “corporate welfare.” That last item “confiscated” the wealth of US Citizens to the tune of $100 billion dollars in 2012. [2] The questioner may not be aware of such confiscations of wealth currently at work in Capitalism, but more likely, the question was merely a cynical trap to engage in pointless troll dickholery, which I mean to say, it may be a good question, but considering the source, it is only a question presented with a dubious malice submerged within a veneer of civility.

Critics uniformly draw lazy comparisons between Equal Money  and Communism, and often with a weak command of either subject. Of course, we have already diagramed that fear of Equality will cause one to succumb to unreasonableness – and even hostility – when presented with the notion of economic egalitarianism, and at the same time, fall into silent denial over the fact that the current system has taken so much more than Equality ever could.

Fear of Equal Money is a fear that radiates from a center of unenlightened self-interest, a sense of entitlement and a perverse need to justify the unjustifiable. Remember, it was less than a century and a half ago that human slavery  – the legal, religious and economic confiscation of a colonized people’s treasure of blood, labor and tears was abolished. And it took a bloody civil war and a 150 years of lynchings and disenfranchisement since then to nearly settle the question. Nor does the question even begin to explain,  acknowledge or bemoan the attempted extermination and confiscation of land of the Indigenous Peoples in the United States. Yet, any talk of “reparations” sends these Randian Individualists into paroxysms of rage. They will archly reply that they shouldn’t be held accountable for the sins committed in past centuries, yet they will be slow – or unwilling – to forswear any wealth or advantage gained by those same sins. This is what I meant by the “cheap trick of rationality.”

So, back to the question – I simply do not know the answer, because that chapter in human affairs is still to be written. Whatever happens will be agreed upon democratically, which would be the best method to set up the EMS. There will undoubtedly be a transition phase – and many people will be surprised how relatively easy it all could be done. But any discussion about the redistribution of wealth should not be made within cynical, jaded and lazy comparisons of what has happened in the past, but with due consideration of what is best for all. Which leaves me with a question for the critics of Equal Money: What would be better for everyone than having everyone’s basic needs in the world taken care of?

NOTES

[1]  For some perspective how the US government has colluded with the US banking system in taking public money to give to the banks, please read Ellen Brown’s excellent Internet article for Global Research, “Financial Meltdown: The Greatest Transfer of Wealth in History; How to Reverse the Tide and Democratize the US Monetary System.

[2] From the Libertarian Cato Institute report, a think tank as neoliberal as they come; Corporate Welfare in the Federal Budget .

Fear of Equality, Part 6. 03/15/2013

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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, every life is in harmony with Nature, since it is such as Nature’s laws have caused it to be; but in another sense a human life is only in harmony with Nature when the individual will is directed to ends which are among those of Nature. Virtue consists in “living in agreement with Nature.” (Zeno, 4th Century, BCE).

It was the Stoics who are credited in formalizing the theory of Natural Law, where they believed that certain insights existed behind the natural order that could be ascertained through the application of reason and logic. This ancient Greek school of philosophy founded at Athens by Zeno (c. 300 BCE). According to Zeno’s teaching, the Universe is based on laws of the fiery mind of God. The Universe actually IS “God.”  It is the highest virtue (or moral good) that is based on knowledge, and that the wise live in harmony with the divine Reason that governs nature (because “God” IS Nature), and since life on Earth can cause various, detrimental episodes, to be indifferent to the reversal of fortunes that result in success and failure is “virtue.”

Principles of Natural Law have been embedded into Western philosophical thought and accorded a special universal significance, since it has been viewed as a basis for ethical human interaction. Natural law is seen as a “special” branch of  the legal system, especially in the Western tradition  because of its reductive relationship to the natural world from which these universal principles were derived. In other words, it was believed that there was some kind of rational, comprehensible system that exists behind the natural world.

Darwin, Hebert Spencer and others used the Natural Law conceptual framework to build their systems of evolutionary change in biology and sociology. Over time Natural Selection came to be equated with “survival of the fittest,” the Capitalist Law of the Jungle where the only morality could be found in competition, adaptability to the environment and specialization.

During the Middle Ages Thomas Aquinas, the great Christian Church theologian, appealed to Natural Law principles when he proposed that proof of the existence of God did not require faith or belief, but only through the  rational exercise of the reasoning mind.

In the 16th Century, the Dutch jurist, Hugo Grotius, asserted that nations and individuals were subject to natural law principles. Grotius wrote that the laws of men should be in accordance with natural law principles. Grotius and other like-thinking writers and philosophers of the period in the 16th and 17th Centuries used natural law propositions that helped topple the feudal system in Europe by pointing out that the feudal system was in opposition to the universal principles of Nature (and by extension, “God.”). Natural Law precepts helped shape important historical events and documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Rights of Man documents of te French Revolution, and formed a major stream of thought within the philosophy of Classical Liberalism, Capitalism and religion and science.

By the time we get to Herbert Spencer’s “survival of the fittest” and Charles Darwin’s “natural selection” verbiage in the 19th Century, natural law had become the theological system of Capitalism. The Law of the Jungle and the law of  laissez-faire Capitalism, where the winner takes all, are one and the same. There was nothing “immoral” about a lion killing and eating a gazelle as it was just fulfilling its role as part of the natural world of survival within a certain environment. Same with allowing the exploitation of segments of society and allowing the poor to starve and die; no immorality there, for if the weak are unfit to survive, the law will remove them from this reality. It is simply science. It’s nothing personal.

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?

Orders of Equality and the Limits Imposed by “Liberty”

For example, justice is considered to mean equality, It does mean equality, but equality for those who are equal, and not for all. (Aristotle)

Since nature does not endow all men with equal beauty or equal intelligence, and the faculty of volition leads men to make different choices, the egalitarians propose to abolish the “unfairness” of nature and of volition, and to establish universal equality in fact—in defiance of facts. Since the Law of Identity is impervious to human manipulation, it is the Law of Causality that they struggle to abrogate. Since personal attributes or virtues cannot be “redistributed,” they seek to deprive men of their consequences—of the rewards, the benefits, the achievements created by personal attributes and virtues. It is not equality before the law that they seek, but inequality: the establishment of an inverted social pyramid, with a new aristocracy on top—the aristocracy of non-value. (Ayn Rand, The Return of the Primitive)

The arguments against Equality are based in essentialism [1] and limitation. The first argument goes like this: people are inherently un-equal, blessed or cursed with different strengths and weaknesses that yield different results of success and failure in life. To award Equality to all is to reward failure. It is against the Law of the Jungle, Natural Selection and “survival of the fittest.” The Natural Law argument is also one that is embedded through the Classical Liberalism conceits of “Individualism,” “free will” and “Liberty,” not to mention the biggest conceit of all: competition. While the other items are vague, shapeless and subject to multiple interpretations, everyone understands competition.[2] And everyone understands that a Capitalism without competition ceases to be Capitalism. Removing competition removes motivation to participate in Capitalism (so it is believed). And what is feared is the collapse of the entire system due to non – participation. Equality in this way is seen as a subversion to the Natural Order, which leads to the next point.

The Limitation argument is also based on Classical Liberal philosophy, economics and even science. As we have seen in the previous blogs, there’s an inherent, irrational fear that (1) Equality is impossible due to the evil, selfish nature of humanity, and (2) Equality can only be imposed through Draconian, authoritarian means. It is believed that your money must be taken away from you and redistributed to others “who don’t deserve it.” In Capitalism, and this is a point Capitalists are loathe to admit on moral grounds, it is acceptable for a person or group of people to exploit others for profit. The initial economic surge of Capitalism was generated by the harnessing of slave labor and exploitation of the working class. People actually died for the right of working a 40 hour week (Less than 100 years ago, it was common for a factory worker to toil 16 hours a day in dangerous, life – threatening conditions. One can see how Capitalism would have liked to treat its workers). The Limitation of Liberty is the limitation of the liberal’s right to choose to exploit another for profit. (When speaking of “liberal” in this context, I’m referring to the classical economic dimension of the term, not the political definition. Thus, all Capitalists are ‘liberal’ in that Capitalism is a liberal economic system).

So if you mine this equation for any logic, you can only come up with this: at least within Capitalism, Liberty sets limits on equality because Liberty is inherently inequitable, the argument being, “Surely one wouldn’t allow everyone to study at Harvard, would they? It wouldn’t be fair to those who actually can afford it or have the educational level to study there.” There has to be obstacles and impediments in place (like access to money and connections) or else the value of Harvard is rendered spoiled. This value is tied to what we cherish and despise – the life and death principles of success and failure.

We are now moving into another murky territory. The value of a Harvard education is analogous to the value of Capitalism.

NEXT: The Value of Inequality

NOTES

[1] Essentialism is the philosophical belief that things have a set of characteristics that make them what they are (their essence), and that the task of science and philosophy is their discovery and expression; the doctrine that essence is prior to existence.

[2] This is why a result of a tie or draw in a soccer match infuriates American sports fans. There should always be a winner who takes all.

Fear of Equality, Part 4 03/10/2013

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The United States is the Darwinist capital of the capitalist world. A head afraid is a head haunted. A head haunted is a head hunted. Run for your life. Run from the guillotine to a head hunter who saves your head and raises your salary—so you’ll be caught in the red of the fishmarket buying gadgets to distract your fragile imagination that is cut in the red market of blood—running and escaping—running again—changing your resume to update the fear you feel of being unemployed tomorrow—in the streets—and from there to welfare—and from there to begging. – Giannina Braschi, “United States of Banana,” AmazonCrossing, 2011.

Survival of the Fittest

There is one error in Braschi’s otherwise excellent undressing of the Capitalist system in the USA, and that is the allusion that Darwin and the term “survival of the fittest” are connected. The two items are, but more through myth and misconception than in reality. The term, “survival of the fittest” actually originated with a Liberal philosopher named Herbert Spencer in a work he published as “Principles of Biology” in 1864 after he read Darwin’s “On the Origin of the Species.” [1] Since the mid – 1860’s, opponents and proponents of Capitalism have used the terms “Darwinism” and “survival of the fittest” as simple metaphoric codes to express complicated, intertwined  sociological, political and economical realities. In the process, their meanings has been defaced and distorted, producing further misconceptions are misunderstandings that have darkened and fudged any kind of  accurate analysis of our current problems.

But how was “survival of the fittest” originally used, what has it become to signify and is there anything that can be learned from a correct and clear understanding of the concept.

The Original Conception

As I’ve just mentioned, the phrase “Survival of the Fittest” was coined by Herbert Spencer in 1864 after reading Darwin’s On the Origin of the Species. Spencer was a social scientist  with a liberal utilitarian bent who was influenced by the social evolutionary theories of Auguste Comte. The popular belief among these early social scientists was that societies tended to evolved from simple, primitive, superstitious states into more complex, sophisticated, enlightened civilizations. It should be remembered that the md-1800’s saw the Industrial Revolution bring rapid social, technological and economic changes to the developing countries in Europe and America. In the eyes of everyone, society was changing. The mechanical, much more efficient and robust, was replacing the natural, and this was seen as progress.

Different social theories on the significance of this “progression” abounded. Spencer was concerned with moral aspects of society which informed his utilitarian theories. A liberal first and a utilitarian second, Spencer believed that the greatest good for the greatest amount of people in society was subservient to the moral superiority of the rights of the Individual, for society exists for the benefit of the Individual, not the Individual for Society and the Individual should not be restricted or regulated by social institutions. It is somewhat surprising to read what Spencer had to say about what “survival of the fittest.” As a good liberal, he had a basic mistrust of government intervention:

“Thus by survival of the fittest, the militant type of society becomes characterized by profound confidence in the governing power, joined with a loyalty causing submission to it in all matters whatever.” [2]

What this sounds like is Spencer predicting that the more complex society becomes, the more dependent it becomes upon government which will be more concerned with maintaining than the best interests of the people, which becomes reliant on whatever their governments give them. This sounds quite different from the common understanding of this phrase (which we will get to momentarily).

However, Spencer was not above heartlessness when it came to the plight of the poor. The great industrialist Andrew Carnegie who was an ardent follower of Spencer’s works, was reportedly appalled at Spencer’s perspective that there was no moral difficulty in allowing the poor to die since, according to Spencer, they were ill-equipped to compete in the ruthless Capitalist arena (Carnegie was born into terrible poverty). And competition, according to Spencer, was a “Law” of the Natural World, thus it was neither good or bad, just a reality in existence. So much for the so-called “morality” and altruism of the Spencer’s Liberal Enlightenment.

The Evolution of a Theory

Not surprisingly, the two theories which were conceived by Spencer and Darwin eventually borrowed from and fed each other until most people took them to mean virtually the same thing. We know that Spencer published his social evolutionary theories years before Darwin’s Origin of the Species appeared, and that Spencer was intrigued by Darwin’s theory of natural selection, seeing it as a confirmation of his thesis of social evolution through struggle and competition. Darwin’s natural selection theory did not have the benefit of being informed by genetics, the significance s of which would only be discovered at the beginning of the 20th Century. Natural selection proposed that it was the adaptive nature of an organism to its environment that allowed it to survive and produce offspring. While Spencer took Darwin’s “natural selection” as vindication of his thesis that social evolution evolved from struggle, conflict and competition, he seemingly ignored Darwin’s point of the adaptable relationship the organism maintains throughout its evolutionary path, and was content to be a leading light that allowed the Victorian – era Capitalists to rest assuredly that if the Law of Nature was with them, who or what could be against them?

As a good Liberal philosopher, Spencer parrots the official Liberal line:

“Every man has freedom to do all that he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any other man.”

Which would be a fantastic thing if freedom actually existed between men. However, with the emphasis on competition, struggle and conflict, the Capitalist system of economic Darwinism (where the wealthy dominate, subjugate and demonize the poor) guarantees to never, ever allow any type of freedom in the relationships between men to exist, mainly because of the Fear of Equality, which is in essence, the fear of the Group.

The war against the Group is based on fear, and the weapon used against the Group is fantasy. It is the worse kind of fantasy to assert one can speak intelligently of rights and freedom out of one side of their mouth while speaking of social Darwinism of survival of the fittest out of the other. It suggests a mental instability. There is no balance in the scales nor is there an acknowledgement of what everybody knows; the playing field is uneven and most of us will never have a chance to live like the very wealthy lives. While most people accept this as a fact of life, we also accept that survival of the fittest is much like a rigged game in a casino. Or the stock market. The only “freedom” available to people is the amount of freedom that can be bought. If everyone truly had “equal freedom,” human relationships would change and competition between groups would no longer exist. Talk of “freedom” would no longer exist because in its place would stand Equality. A lot of fear must be removed from the definition of Equality first. One way of releasing the fear of Equality is to understand how little we know about principles of “freedom” and other values in our lives and how that ignorance has allowed us to be controlled and manipulated into mistaking falsehood for something real.

NEXT: The Trinity of Fears

NOTES

[1]  Spencer wrote: “This survival of the fittest, which I have here sought to express in mechanical terms, is that which Mr. Darwin has called ‘natural selection,’ or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life.” HERBERT SPENCER, THE PRINCIPLES OF BIOLOGY 444 (Univ. Press of the Pac. 2002).

[2] Herbert Spencer; Truxton Beale (1916), The Man Versus the State: A Collection of Essays,

Fear of Equality, Part 3 03/06/2013

without_liberty_there_is_no_freedom_hat-p148906861491224575en7ph_216

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

NOTES

[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.

 

2013/02/18 Does Capitalism have a “Branding Problem?”

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John Mackey: Cheerleader of Conscious Consumptionism

In an article by Joel Griffith which is smattered across the conservative-libertarian Internet ghettos, the founder of Whole Foods, John Mackey recently delivered the keynote address at the “International Students for Liberty Conference” in Washington D.C. this past weekend. If I may quote from Griffith’s article:

Mackey stressed that capitalism has the power to eradicate poverty in the next century, expressed concern over capitalism’s “branding problem,” and maintained that “self-interest” alone is an insufficient moral foundation for the system. The themes presented by Mackey closely followed the premises of his new book, Conscious Capitalism.

To which I say, “Really?”

To my way of thinking, which may be faulty, it seems to me that what could have happened was most likely to happen. Which is to say that if Capitalism has the power to “eradicate poverty,” what gives us any reason to believe it will eradicate it in the future? The problem with Mackey’s equation is that he should already know that the essence of Capitalism is amoral, so claiming that any “moral foundation” – let alone being “insufficient” is also quite intellectually dishonest. Capitalism is based on the Law of Competition and Domination. It’s claimed that “voluntary exchange” exists at the core, but in practice, Capitalism is a stateless, amoral force that dominates and totalizes the lives of everyone on the planet – whether they choose to “voluntarily participate” with other capitalists or not (which ultimately means you are then cast outside the system). Numbers can be wrangled to mislead and distort the reality of any situation. While it is true that there is more “wealth” in the world, it is also true that the gap between abject poverty and immense wealth has never been wider.

If I may quote from Grtiffith’s article once more:

Mackey’s analysis re-framed the issue of income inequality. Proponents of government control often point to wealth disparity as a social evil resulting from capitalism. However, Mackey noted that since capitalism’s development just over 200 years ago, overall global per capita prosperity has increased 10x. In nations which have embraced capitalism, the jump in prosperity is even more fantastic—35x in Japan, 100x in the United States, and 200x in South Korea. As Mackey stated, “Capitalism is ending poverty on planet earth. The problem is not that there is an unequal distribution of wealth in the world. The problem is that there is an unequal distribution of capitalism.”

This kind of breezy oversimplification of the horrors inflicted by Capitalist system is typical for those who have managed to make the system work for them. It is true that there has been an overall rise in the standard of living spread about the nations of the world over the past 200 years. There has also been many wars which were fed, aided and abetted by Capitalist profiteering interests during that time as well, along with great removals and confiscations of the natural resources by the First World from weaker nations who didn’t have armies to defend themselves. The Enlightenment, and its children Reason and Capitalism, has both failed humanity, for they are both responsible for billions of people on this planet suffering through hunger, poverty, sickness and war. Freedom, choice and “liberty” has been reduced to commodities that only a few can purchase. Oppression has hardened and become more intractable than ever. Control over the masses via the military and media is nearly complete. And yet, we can find people like John Mackey who can breathlessly gush about how Capitalism was good to him, therefore it must be good for everyone. Quoting from Griffith’s piece again:

According to Mackey, “capitalism has a serious branding problem … the recent recession was … blamed on greedy financial corporations, deregulation, and capitalism — market failures — rather than on bad government regulations and monetary policies — government failures.” And Mackey doesn’t believe we can count on the media and educators to address this misperception. As he states, “Business has been hated by the intellectuals and elites for all time.”

Okay. So let’s blame the government instead. It’s sad to see, but instructive to note the petulance and blame-gaming Mackey engages here, like any fanatical Ayn Randbot regurgitating the libertarian strawman of the success-hating hoard of the dirty mob.  Why is it so hard for these neoliberal corporatists to admit and own that they are responsible for the problems and mistakes they cause? Really?  “Business has been hated by the intellectuals and elites for all time?”  This Does Mackey believe that spouting oversimplified inanities makes such statements true? I’m no big fan of intellectualism, but it the fact is that there is a historical record that plainly shows Capitalism being touted, promoted and even loved by the greatest intellectuals and elites in Western civilization. [1]

So, in regards to John Mackey’s assertion that Capitalism has a “branding problem,” well, hell yes, it does. It’s a brand that stands for crushing oppression, deprivation and the closing of the democratic process… for starters. Capitalism represents a living force that is anti-life and the unyielding muscle behind amoral self-interest. Mackey, for all his light-hearted, simplistic dissembling, cannot overcome reality.

Note

[1] Mackey is probably concerned that the principles of Capitalism do not stand up well to intellectual analysis. For every assertion such as Milton Friedmen’s, “History suggests that capitalism is a necessary condition for political freedom,” there’s a counter argument that suggests otherwise, such as the quote from Bertrand Russell: “Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate.”

2012 Mayan Prophecy Endtimes. Day 21 and Counting!

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3 weeks until the End of the World. Are you busy getting your affairs in order? Have you spent all your money or are you hoping that maybe, just maybe, the people who claimed that the Mayans foretold the end of the world on Dec. 12, 2012, were WRONG? We couldn’t be that lucky, could we? No, our fate is sealed. There will be an astronomic event that will be our doom that Solstice morning. Oh, blessed are they that wait for the coming of Space Brothers on that propitious day! Our troubles will finally be over, once and for  all. And the best part is that we never had to take responsibility for ourselves and for our world. Intervention is our Holy Savior. Amen.