Omar Khayyám’s Equation for Human Perfection

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God created the human species such that it is not possible for it to survive and reach perfection unless it is through reciprocity, assistance, and help. Until food, clothes, and a home that are the essentials of life are not prepared, the possibility of the attainment of perfection does not exist. -Omar Khayyám (Ḍarūrat al-taḍād fi’l-‘ālam wa’l-jabr wa’l-baqā‘, 143).

Recently a colleague of mine spoke to me about her criteria for dating men. “I don’t date guys who don’t have a car or don’t have a job.”The next moment she seemed to looked at me as if  she just said could be something that as a guy, I could have taken personally. But I agreed with her. “Why should you hitch your dreams to some broke-ass piece of shit?” Now I don’t have anything personally against broke-ass pieces of shit, in fact, I’ve been one myself a few moments in life, but it has to be said, being broke is a tremendous pain in the … well, ass. My statement seemed to startle her. Perhaps she hadn’t expected me to utter such an inelegant spew, so maybe that’s why she gasped. Maybe she was taken aback that I agreed with her criteria of dating. Having a standard isn’t so bad, but a lady who dates unemployed men is just asking for problems. But this conversation led me back to consider the notion of economic determinism that I have muled over recently, along with new insight of more of this subject’s dimensions.

Here was a young lady who was basing her potential relationships specifically on the ability of a guy who had a job (access to money) and transportation (a necessary instrument in regularly attaining access to money). Undoubtedly this criteria for a relationship is intimately linked to security and stability. And like everything else in this world, security and stability costs money.

 

Omar Khayyám was a Persian mathematician, astrologer, theologian, philosopher and poet – among other things, who died in 1131 CE. Perhaps it was through his mastery as a mathematician that he was able to work out the above equation of which relationship – values  need between people need to be in place to create Heaven on Earth. We have all recognized which essentials of life are the most important to us, because we know that if we were forced to survive without the benefit of money, making it through a day is a hellish struggle. It doesn’t take much imagination to place yourself in the shoes of a homeless person, or a child factory worker sewing cheap garments for brutal hours and little pay, or as a someone who can’t afford to pay a hospital bill after a catastrophic illness.  Buying your right to survive, or rather, possessing the absolute necessities of life is determined by one very important thing: one’s access and relationship to money.

Determinism is the claim that all events have an antecedent condition, which can be expressed in mathematical or natural law and contrasted with the claim of “free will.” In the metaphysical context the spiritual dimension of determinism has been expressed as “Divine Law” or predestination. In economic terms, Karl Marx [1] and Frederich Engels formulated the social theory of economic determinism, which they never explicitly stated, but touched upon it and implied its existence throughout various arguments and analyses of their studies between the state and its economic superstructure.[2]  These arguments led their followers to the reductionist claim that all relationships in society are based on economics. This claim was one from which Engels quickly backed away, as he despaired that was misused by others who didn’t  fully understand its nuances and complexity.  Perhaps this is true. But I believe that it is also very easy to see and understand that the claim of economic determinism can explain why the reality of economic inequality exists within a society which promotes the discredited fantasies of “equal opportunity” and economic justice. In the 21st Century, capitalism is now under neoliberal control where the State and corporate interests of the elites are one. And from this, all relationships in society are determined by the amount of money one has in their control.

It is a truism that environment, and more importantly, one’s connections and relationships with key figures has a telling influence in determining the likelihood of one’s success or failure within society. Obviously the odds of leading a successful life are increased with one’s successful relationship and access to money – the advantages that are baked into the lives of those who can afford superior education, diet and living situations go a long way in determining how well one can exist within the world economic system. But what can this all mean to those who have lived for and believed in the American Dream  who see that dream whither before their eyes?

Robert Hilton says: “If we assume that the laws of history are a reflection of the laws of nature, economic determinism is a very important law. Marx and Engels, among many others, deserve credit for their work in refining economic determinism into a coherent doctrine that helps all scholars explain history and political economy. Gorbachev was indeed correct that many forces precipitated Communism’s downfall, among them economic. Semi-integrated into the world capitalist-system while pursuing its own regional integration, the Communist bloc was neither Communist nor capitalist, but a mixture of an anachronistic enclave that operated very inefficiently without meeting the material needs of its people and without offering much hope for the future. Ironically, the doctrine of “Economic Determinism” explains the fall of Communism. That should give hope to those who believe in Socialism as a viable system, and it should be a source of concern for those advocating globalization. The same forces that brought down Communism are at work in any political economy that fails to serve society and fails to keep pace with change”. [1]

Returning to Khayyam’s statement, I am pleased to see such an ancient and timeless consideration about the Human Condition addressed so simply. It is clear that social unrest, inequalities and political dysfunction within and between societies is an outflow of the priority we’ve given to the negative nature of our relationships. I am pleased because it means that the world can be different, if only we would be strong enough to make it so. We have been so engrossed in our own personal project towards wealth accumulation and affluence that we’ve made it impossible to imagine that a world could be a mutually beneficial place for everyone. There are certainly enough resources to go around. We’ve all been programmed to believe that to get something for ourselves, someone has to get less. Or worse, if others couldn’t keep what they have, then they had no right to own it in the first place, and if they suffer abuse, neglect, torture or murder… well, too bad. It must be the Will of God.

My belief is that we live in a deterministic, existential universe. Therefore “free will” can only exist within a limited set of responses or “choice.” But within that limited range of human response there is a gift. We could decide to change our programming and leave the universe of competition, war and mental illness within the Zone of Survival, and aspire to the next phase of human development, which is ensuring a dignified life for everyone. That would be a profound use of our “free will” capability. The Living Wage movement is one of many attempts at awakening the world’s body politic – and will be the defining issue of the 21st Century.

Omar Khayyám’s equation for human perfection was something I tripped over while researching this article, and I’m so glad I did, because I experienced a gratification that some ancient teacher actually possessed enough practical common sense to  “get it.” And although it will take a regrettable sociopolitical cataclysmic event that will affect everyone equally so horribly that a living guaranteed income will be the only reasonable economic model to move forward with , such an idea will arrive in the fulness of time.

NOTES

[1] Economic determinism can be implicitly unearthed within careful exegesis of Karl Marx: “In the social production which men carry on, they enter into definite relations that are indispensable and independent of their will; these relations of production correspond to a definite stage of development of their material powers of production. The sum total of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society–the real foundation, on which rise legal and political superstructures and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production in material life determines the general character of the social, political and spiritual processes of life. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but, on the contrary, their social existence determines their consciousness.” A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy (Kerr, 1904), Preface, pp. 11-12.

This last sentence is crucial to understand, for what Marx is saying (and what social sciences have confirmed) is that one’s economic environment determines the nature of one’s consciousness. .Recent studies have shown, for example, that children who are raised in upper-income families have vastly larger vocabularies than children scuttling about in poverty. In the Information Age, vocabulary is everything, and offers a child much more intellectual power to understand their place while navigating through the world systems. 

[2] Hilton, Laws of History: Economic Determinism http://wais.stanford.edu/History/lawsofhistory0728.htm

“Marx’s conception of economic determinism has a number of implications for what is generally understood as “freedom of the will”; the range of possible courses of action and belief are always already suggested by the environment from which they arise and flourish, and yet the choices we make among them are always, in one way or another, influenced and directed by our values, attitudes, and beliefs. But these, in turn, are determined and directed by the contingent environment in which we find ourselves, and for Marx, that environment itself arises from general economic conditions. Generally speaking, Marx does indeed reject the traditional idealistic assertion of libertarian free will that the human agent is capable of making choices and taking action independently of any external influence.” Estelio Iglesias,
Materialism and Economic Determinism: Freedom of the Will and the Interpretation of Behavior, paper, Athene Noctua: Undergraduate Philosophy Journal, Issue No. 2 (Spring 2014) Florida Atlantic University.

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

 

Fear of Equal Money, Part 2. 03/24/2013

War in Iraq
Photo: Carolyn Cole

10 years ago, I recall working in a Kinko’s in Whitehall, Ohio when the war began with the news of rockets raining down in Iraq. I heard it first on the radio that we had turned on behind the counter. For months I felt uneasy about the prospect of war with Iraq, and when there was news about an anti-war protest being held in Columbus, I went down only to find nobody had bothered to show up. Some of my work colleagues accused me of “protecting the terrorists.” When I talked with my teen-aged son about the illegality of the war, he dismissed me as “giving in to the terrorists.” I kept to myself and studied the news that confirmed my suspicions that “Bush’s War” (as I called it) was being conducted for stealing Iraq’s oil. Others were saying this at the time, and I felt it was probably true. And at the same time, I experienced a gaping disconnect from my fellow citizens who were parading their “patriotism” by slapping American flag decals on their cars and whooping and hollering as if they were cheering the OSU football team in their rival match against Michigan. I felt a disgust and even a hatred against these stupid, easily – duped people, purportedly my countrymen, and wished that there could be something that would happen that would change their collective minds.

The war dragged on. The Patriot Act. Abu Ghraib. Depleted uranium. [1] WMDs that never were found. “Freedom Fries.” Blackwater. Guantanamo. Extraordinary renditions. And what “good” came out of it? Depends on what you would call, “good.”

Saddam was deposed and the invading nations colluded with the biggest oil companies to shares the spoils of Iraq’s oil reserves, namely, BP and Shell. It certainly was a “good” outcome for them.

Looking back on it now, it seems my memories about the start of Bush’s War has cooled and hardened into a dull mass of regret and shame, and the horror of what America is accountable for is difficult to hold in the mind. Some of these memories are recollections of truly the most, absurdly existential bullshit. Some of them reflect a shocking, sinister and murderous malevolence that exists somewhere within the being of every American. Its fury was born in the perceived mass humiliation of 9/11 and was artfully misdirected and manipulated into being unleashed upon 116,000 Iraqi civilians who never asked to be “liberated,” let alone liberated from their precious resources and their lives.

Will anyone accuse the American Capitalist system of illegally “confiscating” the wealth of another sovereign nation? Will anyone question the morality or justification of a course of action that was nothing if not naked fury of greedy, blood-stained hands? Will anybody ask where the trillions of dollars that exchanged hands in the war went?

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to blame others for not doing more to stop this shameful war  from happening. But I didn’t know how to deal with it. I didn’t know how to stop it. I didn’t realize until it was far too late that there was another way, a way that was paved within a society  that was honorable and just, not interested in doing the most good for the largest amount of people, but what is best for all.

I went through all that to set up this question: could something like the War in Iraq happen in an Equal Money System? This is going to sound “scary” to some folks, but when one realizes the decisions to invade another country almost never happens because of a purely politically interest. It’s a business. It’s a racket. The profit motive is front and center. The goal of EMS is to remove Capitalism’s profit motive, and replace it with a principle that is truly life – affirming and supportive to all beings, as this quest for profit is both  unnecessary and the single greatest cause of poverty and fear in the world.

NOTE

[1] A 2010 health study of Fallujah, Iraq reveals the highest rate of genetic damage in any population ever studied. Residents have high rates of cancer, birth defects and sterility from U.S. bombs that used depleted uranium and white phosphorus. Other areas of Iraq face similar health problems.

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 7

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The Value of Inequality

Equality is not truly understood because its significance is caught up within  destructive definitions which renders the definition of Equality incoherent. When people see the word, “Equality” – pictures of being corralled into internment camps, loss of individuality and having their money taken away and given to the homeless arise like hideous black goblins within their minds.

This is a fantastic example how effective of producing a mind-controlling narrative built upon the crippling definition of commonly – held beliefs leads to ignorance, resistance, self-deception and fear.

This is a curious psychological reaction based on the deep dilemmas, conflicts and contradictions that is inherent within what we call the “Human Condition.”

There have been many differing views of what the Human Condition consists of; the worldwide systems of the Social, political, economic, environmental… these are outward and external factors that help shape our identities, while the internal factors are psychological, suffused with emotions, feelings, thoughts about self and the external world – and the values we place upon these things.

When it comes to a subject like Equality, it appears that the principle is undervalued, especially within the paradigm of Capitalism. This is because Equality is seen as antithetical to Capitalism (and its perceived qualities of Liberty, Freedom and Individuality), the value of Capitalism is based on certain assumptions – and since people have become the essence of Capitalism within their minds, they are willing to defend that position no matter what.

These assumptions are based on culturally – transmitted ideas of high – minded principles that look good on paper and appear grandiose in the mind, and we have gone through many of them in this series already. But it must be understood that these ideas are but a front that stands as a buttress against these existential fears of Equality.

Nestled within the mind is the impulse that self-preservation must always come first, whether it is the identity or the body. There exists a psychological resistance to change, to question, to investigate, to excavate or examine the layers of being – and it doesn’t matter if something, like Capitalism, actually compromises the self or doesn’t ultimately makes sense. What is important and valued above everything is validating the point one has become.

So the calculus, the equation is that we have all become the fear of Equality and the value of Capitalism. To exist as Equality then one must become Equality which would cause a partial deletion of one’s accepted identity, which is terrifying to the mind, which we have also become. The fear is that in the best case scenario, Equality will fail, and in the worst case the world (and the self) would effectively cease to exist.

It appears to be a vicious circle, where one is forced to accept what one has always known, until one chooses to step outside the circle, which takes a great amount of self – belief that there exists an identity outside that circle.

A helpful analogy… Take the laptop that I am banging these messages out on. It consists of hardware and software. Used together – very effective means of communication and purpose. But without the software, without the programs – the laptop is just a hunk of metal, circuits, glass and plastic. When I’m using this word processor, I can communicate and become the program – using the computer as an interface to the outside world. But without the hardware, there is nothing to give shape and form to the medium, and I end up in the same position of uselessness.

Point: people become the programs that they have invested in and have been broadcasted to – and do not see any other way of existing. Not only that, we value what we become, and because the key programs we value are: self-preservation (hardware) and identity (software). And even if we hate ourselves (and others) and wish to destroy ourselves (or others), we still act in a way that values the negation of life and the self-consuming drive to erase our being (and others) from existence. There must be another way.

This reveals the pathological nature of the human mind – that it can place so much value, significance and  importance in a world system that is purportedly a means to ensure our survival – but in reality is actively working towards the ends of our destruction. It is like we are sailing and steering our planet into the jaws of a nightmare without any consideration or consciousness of the consequences. Not only that, but be careful if you point out these murderous, suicidal tendencies of human consciousness to others; you will be called “suicidal cult member.” And yet, we are all one collective suicidal cult members of the Church of Conscious Consumer Capitalism that is busily destroying our people, animals, plants, air and water. But if one brings that up, you’ll be labeled a “communist.” We don’t need Equality because we have the Next Big Thing that we value even more; another bright, shiny product that promises to make our lives even better! The media completely understands how to program and brainwash the human mind into accepting a cheap imitation of life while promulgating “liberty,” “lifestyles” and “freedom.”

Of course, the critics of Equality fear Equality and do not give a shit about anything else but what they can get out of their lives, which is money and the things money can buy. Oh, and making sure to defend this murderous, suicidal system against any criticism because they do not want to hear criticism of what they have in fact become. Everybody and everything else can go screw. Multiply that mindset several billion times and you should be able to see why the world is in the state it is today.

To them I say, take a breath and consider what Equal Money  and an Equal Money System offers. A way out of the box.

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

Fear of Equality, Part 6. 03/15/2013

8-3

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 5. 03/12/2013

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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 no rational explanation of how massive social inequality could exist within cooperative relationships within the Group. Thus, the idea of Competition, rather than cooperation, was used  to justify and protect the wealth and property of the haves from the have-nots; a framework that makes sense only within the paradigm of Capitalism.

This fear of the Group is channeled and misdirected into elevated, metaphysical conceptions as values of competition, liberty, free will and Individualism. Of these, liberty, free will and the Classical Liberal deification of the Individual are thought experiments that can only be measured and compared through the signification of vocabulary or artful terminology. Of these, only competition can be considered an event taking place in reality, since competition has very real consequences and effects that can be measured, seen and experienced. The others are mental projections that are used to justify the means and ends of competition.

Managing the Trinity of Fears

There is a Trinity of great Fears that predominately exist within human beings, and they are:

(1) knowledge that each one of us has needs that must be met in order to survive.

(2) Nobody can be trusted, and,

(3) Survival is wholly dependant on access to money or those with money.

To deal with these fears, and more importantly, matters of survival, it is believed by social scientists that early social Groups were formed within relationships of cooperation to deal collectively with the issues of survival. As Society grew more complex and advanced, competition was introduced. How did this occur? The easiest answer has to do with man’s capacity for greed and desire for power over other groups and the environment. Wars and establishing controls over groups became the accepted standards for managing people and resources. There is even a saying about the realities of war that confirms this: to the victor goes the spoils. [1] Capitalism provides the incentive to compete, survival is the motivator, the point between life and death, as well as the attainment of value through the fulfillment of desire via “winning” (acquiring property, sex or fame).  The “loser” is accorded the loss of value, since the loser’s value must be extinguished and consumed by the winner.

It was a very neat and fiendishly clever trick to convince the Group that an existential “winner – take – all” competition for survival was the best and most efficient mode of living. Yet for over 500 years, modern Capitalism has reigned as the winner over all other economic systems. But it required a lot of help from the philosophers, economists and science to do so.

Conceptions of Society

Philosophers, scientists and churchmen have all had their own ideas about forming the perfect society; The major thinkers include Plato, Augustine, Marx, Lenin, etc.. In Plato’s Republic, the cornerstone of society would be “justice.”  Plato’s perspectives were informed by his aristocratic status in Athenian society, and he had a suspicious and disapproving view of democracy, preferring his utopia to be ruled by elite philosophers.

Augustine believed that the ideal society would be one entirely devoted to Christian principles in order to gain entrance into the City of God in the hereafter. Augustine believed that if the State followed the teachings of Jesus Christ, justice and peace would ensue.

By the 18th Century, philosophers like Jean – Jacque Rousseau and others proposed that a perfect utopian state existed before being debased by European culture. Rousseau envisioned a future community that linked political “freedom” with education, but at the same time was pessimistic that self-interest could be overcome to a point that would allow such a reality to unfold.

Karl Marx proposed that “true freedom” could not be found through individual means, but only through the community. Marx’s ideal community would be a classless one of equally shared property and resources, which would only emerge after the conflicts that will cause the collapse of Capitalism.

Amazingly, small – scaled experiments of egalitarian communities were formed in Europe and America in the 19th Century by Robert Owen, Charles FourierÉtienne Cabet and others.

Despite the failure of these communities to survive, the common notions of economic and political equality would never completely be lost, although these principles would live on in diluted and distorted forms within the various stripes of socialism (which has never escaped the gravity of market capitalism, thus keeping the social inequalities in place).

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.

NEXT:The Natural Law Argument Against Equality

NOTE

[1] A peculiarly American political idiom that arose in the mid – 1800’s to describe a rewards – system that benefitted the winning candidate’s supporters with government jobs.