Coffee Commentary #1 Orwellian Nightmare or American Dream?

Coffee Commentary #1 Orwellian Nightmare or American Dream?

cuppa

Why do people all say they want to see change in the world around them?

So they don’t have to change themselves.

http://mixlr.com/darryl-thomas/showreel/orwellian-nightmare-or-american-dream-4/

Fear of Equality, Part 12: The Swindle of Fulfillment

Henry A. Giroux on Zombie Politics, November 22, 2013

A Dangerous Idea: Economic Determinism

The American Dream. Perhaps best exemplified within the immortal trope of, “all men are created equal and that they are endowed with certain unalienable rights, among which are life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.” The Classical Liberal conceits of freedom, liberty, equality and opportunity have been erected, transmitted and successfully absorbed into the mass consciousness of Americans for centuries now, and even though upward social mobility has never been more impossible to attain than it is currently, many Americans still hold on to this patriotic and sentimental idea –  even in the face of an undeniable economic determinism that dictates every facet of a person’s life.

What do I mean by, “economic determinism?” Well, economic determinism is the doctrine that states all cultural, social, political and intellectual activities are a product of economic organization of society. Originally, the term was coined by Karl Marx (1818-1893) to describe what he saw as a process of social phenomena having its roots within the relations of production.

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.

The elephant in the room is this clause;

they enter into definite relations that are indispensable and independent of their will;

The relations of production can easily be understood as the relationships of the platform of capital that connects with all the various segments of society. Marx attempted to explain capitalism as he understood it – as the systems of relationships with the members of society. However, many of Marx’s contemporaries sneered at the theory of economic determinism, thinking it as a clumsy, intellectually suspect social model. Marx and Engels were seemingly embarrassed and frustrated by the acceptance of the theory by certain Marxist factions, although Engels conceded there was a place for discussing the concept more in – depth that had been possible. [1]

The critical theorist brain trust (Horkheimer, Adorno, Marcuse and many others) was set up in Germany during the 1920s as a Marxist research institute to study and examination of various social issues from a Marxist perspective, also rejected ED as too plain and vulgar an explanation of the increasingly unfolding complexity of the relationships with the various systems at play in society. 

The mind loves complexity, you see. That’s why we have lawyers. But don’t follow the diversion.

I have a sneaking suspicion that when such a concept like economic determinism is laid so plainly, so bare, there is a visceral, instinctive, reactive desire to enter a state of cognitive dissonance. To deny the truth. To hold on what one believed in the face of overwhelming evidence that such beliefs no longer serve their purpose. That may explain an element of the resistance shown by the intelligentsia to give the concept of economic determinism full consideration. However, as a workable social theory economic determinism may have been resisted because of its loaded potential as a dangerous idea.

Perhaps the most dangerous point within the theory of economic determinism is that it leaves no room for the operation of Free Will, one of the most cherished of all Classical Liberal ideals. It is believed that all are born with Free Will, but in the real word, only a few possess enough wealth to afford to use it. If Free Will can be invalidated by economic determinism, Capitalism loses its greatest theoretical weapon in justifying the ethic of enlightened Individual self-interest. Such an idea may lead to questioning the fundamental point of why such a system where one has to pay others money for the right (or is it privilege?) to survive, is preferable to any other system that isn’t based on competition and power over others. Maybe questioning the system could lead to considering another system where the answer presented is yet another dangerous idea, and one just as simple.

That answer exists on the other side of fear, that answer is as simple as the question. The answer is economic equality. Only the lack of collective will make it such a seemingly impossible feat to attain.

But what about issues of culture, the markets, the ecology, politics, psychology, economic hegemony and ownership of resources? Surely all these factors can’t be reduced to a simple explanation that all relationships in capitalism is based on the social platform of consumers and consumption? Economic determinism still is a useful tool in explaining to others the Matrix – like, camouflaged system of enslavement and exploitation that people have accepted as “the norm.” And not only as the norm, but a normalcy that one feels an explicable loyalty towards an abusive, economic authoritarian system.

Professor Henry A. Giroux calls this phenomena, “the swindle of fulfillment,” So what is the swindle? That society has been given a set of quaint, romantic values to identify itself with as the overarching self – definition its members must embody and transmit to all others, which is the principal role of the individual to exists as consumer and the commoditized. All relationships are based on one aspect: one’s relationship and access to money. The social elite has successfully hijacked and redefined these terms, and has employed them to further entrench and consolidate its power over all others, and in doing so, robbed democracy, liberty and freedom of their meanings and replaced it with fraudulent and abusive, pathological ideals, all the while overseeing the erosion of expectations, common sense and the obliteration of the social safety net in order to hand that common institution over to the privateers.

The Tyranny of an Idea: The Validity of the Middle Class

In an earlier blog I noted Kenneth Rexroth’s observation for the necessity of a nationalist “social lie” that advances the vested interests of the elites at the cost of everyone else. If, as a nation, people start questioning the lie, then perhaps the truth may emerge and make itself known. However, the ruling elites have done their job of social conditioning so extremely well, it is all too easy to understand how they have been able to deploy their ideological weaponry to convince an economically vulnerable and gullible public to not only vote against their chief public interests, but to support such measures out of a theological – like commitment to self-defeating ideologies, values, beliefs religious and political principles that are managed, manipulated and controlled through patriotic or religious sentimentality and cultural media conditioning.

In order for such a morally and ethically twisted system to retain its validity among the members of society, the ideology must be successfully sold to the populace. Part of that conditioning is generally accepted understanding by everyone that each one of us occupies a specific placement within this system, or Heaven help you, outside of it (And woe to those who are outside the system or fails to wear the signature of the Beast. Weeping and gnashing of teeth awaits).

One of the most successful of these ideologies that has benefited the social elites is the myth of the existence, sanctity and value of the American Middle Class, which exists as a metaphysically charged utopia within the minds of those who identify with its values, achievements and aspirations. As Howard Zinn points out, the Middle Class exists as an economic buffer or wedge between the elites and the impoverished. It also serves as a sentimental cultural set piece for the members of society to identify with, aspire to and maintain its place with American society.

Of course, there are various layers within this mythic class structure.  Somewhere between what I call the “safe” Middle Class, or those that have a dependable, secure access to income – and the working poor who mainly consist of the service sector is the layer of those that may live in the same neighborhoods as the safe Middle Class, but are desperately treading water. The anxiety of the Middle Class is broadcasted daily in the media with endless stories projecting the fears and doubts about its “shrinking.” This fear is massaged, nourished and broadcasted via the media to keep the populace anxious, for it is a well – known principle in advertising to “turn up the pain” to get the required response from those who are being sold. All advertising aims at maximizing discontent and demoralizing the individual/consumer with visions of social conflict amid reduced expectations and fear of losing out.

How skillful to tax the middle class to pay for the relief of the poor, building resentment on top of humiliation! How adroit to bus poor black youngsters into poor white neighborhoods, in a violent exchange of impoverished schools, while the schools of the rich remain untouched and the wealth of the nation, doled out carefully where children need free milk, is drained for billion-dollar aircraft carriers. How ingenious to meet the demands of blacks and women for equality by giving them small special benefits, and setting them in competition with everyone else for jobs made scares by an irrational, wasteful system. How wise to turn the fear and anger of the majority toward a class of criminals bred – by economic inequity – faster than they can be put away, deflecting attention from the huge thefts of national resources carried out within the law by men in executive offices.”

― Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States: 1492 – Present

Isn’t it funny how the politicians always talk about how great the middle class is, and yet the Middle Class is understood by everyone in America to be an endangered species? Isn’t it hilarious that the politicians sell so skillfully the bit about how ardent they are in pursuing the “national interests” as if all American Citizens held the same value as those who sit in the seats of real power in this country? Obviously, the anxiety that is palpable within the Middle Class exists as an unspoken, existential fear that as a group, there is no access or influence it can muster against those sitting in the seats of power. There can only be a grudging, resentful hope that the Middle Class won’t be sacrificed upon the crucible of neoliberal agenda. For the Middle Class there can only be the unrelenting churn of helplessness as they are chained to the deck chairs of a slowly sinking economic state of affairs.

It will never occur to them, until they are in danger of losing everything, to ask why should there even BE a “Middle Class,” never mind whether it should be something worth aspiring to or keep it around while ignoring its own certain and approaching death as it encounters the mother of all economic icebergs. It will never occur to them that the illusion of attaining the American Dream keeps the social and economic injustices firmly in place. As the neoliberal agenda marches onwards to total economic domination over every aspect of life, fear of equality will continued to milked for all its worth by the masters of deception and given to masses to drink, enabling the terrible truth to continue to be hidden in plain sight.

It is a fact that the current economic system in America is causing a growing crisis in democracy. As the Middle Class evaporates into the steam of cultural amnesia, so follows democracy, or what passes for democracy, with it. In its place awaits total economic domination of the neoliberal program. It doesn’t take much to overcome the fear of equality. It only takes the will to do so.

 

Fear of Equality, Part 13. Money and the Death of Democracy

 

NOTE

[1] “Marx and I are ourselves partly to blame for the fact that the younger people sometimes lay more stress on the economic side than is due to it. We had to theoretical the main principle vis-a-vis our adversaries, who denied it, and we had not always the time, the place or the opportunity to give their due to the other elements involved in the interaction. But when it came to presenting a section of history, that is, to making a practical application, it was a different matter and there no error was permissible. Unfortunately, however, it happens only too often that people think they have fully understood a new theory and can apply it without more ado from the moment they have assimilated its main principles, and even those not always correctly. And I cannot exempt many of the more recent “Marxists” from this reproach, for the most amazing rubbish has been produced in this quarter, too. (Engels) Letter to J. Bloch, 21 September 1890

 

FEAR OF EQUALITY, PART 11. Our Enemy, the State

Alfred Jay Nock: Equality is an “utterly untenable popular perversion”
Alfred Jay Nock: Equality is an “utterly untenable popular perversion.”

The modern conservative movement, specifically its libertarianneoliberal wing, has its modern-day pop stars, grand masters and philosophical pillars who have formed and provided clear direction and shape to its doctrines and beliefs. Some of them are more wellknown than others. William F. Buckley, Jr., Ayn Rand, Murray Rothbard, Lew Rockwell, Ron Paul, Hayek and von Mises, et cetera. Some of these libertarian pillars originate from the more obscure past, yet still casts an influential shadow well into the 21st century. Alfred Jay Nock may not be as well-known today as he was during the middle of the 20th century, but his influence was profound during his lifetime as an author, social critic, educational theorist and anarcho-capitalist, and his thought has become embedded into the philosophical DNA of the modern libertarian-neoliberal movement.

While I find the collective brain trust of conservatism and neoliberalism (let’s dispense with the term “libertarian,” since its aims, definition and direction have been absorbed completely and successfully by the neoliberal project) somewhat wearisome and intellectually dishonest, one is bound to find points that are interesting and worthy of discussion. And that can be said of Nock’s views, of which many points are debatable, are at least coherent and soberminded. In particular, his biting critique of the academic system as it existed during his lifetime deserves to be considered here.

 Nock’s Theory of Education

Nock published his book A Theory of Education in the United States because he was troubled by the inadequacies of the educational system he observed as it existed in the 1930s. Nock had problems with the premise that the educational system presented to society. “Bring your children,” he claimed the system promised, “and we will put them through this process under the sanction of an egalitarian and democratic theory. It did not work.”

For Nock, there were very striking reasons why he considered the educational system to be a failure. (Remember, the era when he made his observations occurred in the 1920s1940s). The major fails appeared on the fault line of unsupported and illconceived premises based on sentimentality and poorly defined and confusing terms of art (more on this later). Nock identified three points of failure.

 The first point was the theory of equality. “All children,” the system told society,should be able to be educated equally.” Nock claimed this theory failed because reality suggests otherwise. [1]

Depending on class, environment and quality of teaching and parenting, it is inconceivable that a child in the impoverished Deep South (for instance) could acquire the same quality of education as a child blessed to be born into the moneyed coastal elite. Obviously, there are differences between academic achievements between schools, let alone within a room of students, as some of them will learn at a greater rate than others. Nock says that this inequality among the populace did not go unnoticed by the Founding Fathers. In fact, Nock, who studied the life of Thomas Jefferson, claimed that according to Jefferson’s written letters, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence was very concerned how to manage the educational talent in the several states and came up with an academic scheme that today sounds fantastical and a bit demented by today’s standards. [2]

Nock says that educational equality was obviously never taken seriously, least of all by the elites that owned the country. Thus, the theory that all children are able to be educated equally is based on a false definition of egalitarianism that is based on a mythic and cultural sentimentality. When class and money are concerned, the myth of educational equality is further decimated. Nock correctly observed that education was clearly a class prerogativea privilege afforded by class and wealth.

The second point of failure that Nock observed was the myth of Democracy. To begin with, Nock had serious problems with democracy, period. In an article entitled, The Criminality of the State published in 1939, Nock cried,

““Democratic State practice is nothing more or less than State practice. It does not differ from Marxist State practice, Fascist State practice, or any other. Here is the Golden Rule of sound citizenship, the first and greatest lesson in the study of politics: you get the same order of criminality from any State to which you give power to exercise it; and whatever power you give the State to do things for you carries with it the equivalent power to do things to you.”

Furthermore, Nock added these disdainful words, “Democracy is animated by a hatred of elitist authority.” In regard to the previous point about educational equality, Nock incorrectly surmises that democracy “it must aim at no ideas above those of the average man.” I am tempted to consider this quote a bit of a rhetorical flourish, but Nock isn’t usually taken to make statements he doesn’t wholeheartedly believe. Nock believed that the democratic state was at war with itself and against the individual.

Nock refers to and holds the view that has been shared by the elite from the beginning that the masses are merely self-serving idiots in need of guidance from the more intellectually advanced minority. Greek intellectual tradition of Western civilization has this ruling class template embedded in its core logicso embedded it is ubiquitous and taken for granted.[3], The result is a society at war with itself, engaging within a dynamic struggle between opposing currents of an internal conflict and anxiety within society.

The middle class anxietywhich is always fearful of sinking into poverty, mistrust, loathes and actively hates the ruling elites that offer the masses sustenance. This guidance more often than not metamorphosed into outright enslavement and exploitation of the masses.

This failure of democracy is linked to the previous point of educational equalityfor Nock, it is a false premise that education can be applied democraticallyin other wordsin equality. Democracy is a fiction, according to Nock, and does not in fact, exist on any level except through a cultural narrative based on sentimentality and confused language, which results in counterfeit versions of equality, democracy and literacy.

Nock stresses that this confusion of terms has also been laden with sentimental notions and specious logic, producing imitation (and devalued) definitions of equality, democracy and literacy. The masses become victimized by a predatory monetary system that is linked to a tyranny of ideas about equality and democracywhile remaining perversely loyal to the inequitable system that has enslaved and disempowered them. This misplaced cultural loyalty ironically closes down any attempt to adjust and abolish the current system. In this way, Nock feared democratic states were destined to authoritarianism.

The third point of failure was that it was assumed that what was considered best for the child was best for the country, and that a literate society was the goal for a highly functional state. However, the mass of society over time became more illiterate and less able to process information.

It is telling that thiscritique Nock made in the 1940s is still applicable today, as literacy rates continue to fall well into the 21st century. The promise of creating an informed literate class failed. Obviously, the educational system failed to create a literate citizenry. Nock observed that the crucial distinction between education and training had evaporated, and the assumption that all children could be educated equally was a mistaken one, as Nock considered the mass of humanity as “barbarians” unworthy and incapable of bettering their intellectual powers. Nock referred to the elite capable of superior mental ability as the “Remnant,” and Nock placed his faith in that small group since it was his opinion that this elite was largely responsible for the advancements made in any society. What could one really expect from a barbarian?

Nock concluded at the end of A Theory of Education, that although he was stridently opposed to statecontrolled compulsory education, he allowed that most people are able to be trained to perform various vocational tasks, but like his hero, Thomas Jefferson, only a few could be of real service for the country due to their superior intellect and power of thought. It was in this intellectual elite that Nock placed his hopes, as it was his view that the course of the country’s destiny was shaped and directed not by the barbarian masses, but by this superior intellectual elite.

Society’s Lies

Within the arena of human relationships, humanity has devised two strategies to address the human being’s need for survival: that is labor in exchange for labor, and appropriating the labor from others through force or exploitation.

One of the major influences on Nock’s world view was the social critic and anarchist, Franz Oppenheimer, who was of the opinion that the State engaged in wholesale robbery. Nock wholeheartedly shared this view as well [4]. It is unclear whether Nock shared Oppenheimer’s view that Capitalism’s exercise in exploitation was the key for generating the State’s wealth, but it is known that Nock held a generally favorable view of capitalism.

Nock’s radical individualism necessarily made him a staunch anti-collectivist. In his view, the common man was too finite, flawed and stupid to create a utopia. Besides, the State was dedicated to subverting the individual’s will in service of the State, thus making the State the poorest vehicle imaginable for addressing and providing solutions for the problems in society. The State held all the cards, and revolution only offered a change of a system of oppression. Nock saw that the State manipulating public opinion through slippery, sentimental and confusing language, especially more so with the media’s power to make any statement mean anything. Others have noticed this feature in governance, although the perspectives and conclusions may pull apart different dimensions and analysis. Kenneth Rexroth claimed:

 “Since all society is organized in the interest of exploiting classes and since if men knew this they would cease to work, and society would fall apart; it has always been necessary, at least since the urban revolutions, for societies to be governed ideologically by a system of fraud.”[5]

 

Rexroth called this system of fraud, thesocial lie.” According to the Classical Liberal narrative, the “social contract” born of the period of European Enlightenment had replaced the previous world order commonly known as the “divine right of kings.” Oppenheimer (and Rexroth, for that matter) considered the social contract little more than a myth, or in Rexroth’s words, “an eighteenth-century piece of verbalism.” The status quo is maintained by the anxiety produced within these internal conflicts we mentioned earlier (the resentment, fear and loathing directed towards the elite by the masses, and the perverse loyalty felt by the populace towards the ideological narratives justifying the exploitation).

Conclusion

What Nock didn’t realize or want to realize was that his critique equally applied to capitalism as well Anti-democratic crypto-authoritarianism. One wonders how Nock would view today’s corporate welfare state and how those commercial interests have essentially become “the government,” what with the 1% controlling the levels of power in Washington D.C.

In all of his criticisms about the adversarial nature of the State, Nock failed to comment on the incursion of corporate interests into the roles of government. Perhaps the intrusion of corporatism wasn’t as widely prevalent as it appears in modern times. On one hand as a staunch defender of free-market capitalism, Nock would be quite at home with the evolution of libertarian philosophy as it reaches into the 21st century and the neoliberal agenda of privatizing the social and natural resources. However, one can make a case that Nock would be greatly dismayed at the neoliberal program of empire-building and constant military involvement into the affairs of other countries. The free market ideals that Nock held so dear have morphed into crass casino capitalism where the free market has been replaced by a stateless, global economic cryptoauthoritarianism which owes its allegiance to no one and exploits for profit entire nations and peoples. Even the privatization of the world’s water supply has been targeted as fair game.

Nock may have been a harsh critic of equality and democratic values, but in all honesty, democracy had never allowed to organize itself in a way that would benefit everyone. Allow me to speak plainly: the foundation of the American State was organized by an elite of white men who saw themselves as the owners of the country, and was not above enslaving or destroying other cultures, races and women in order to build its unimaginable wealth for itself. Since colonial times, the evolution of capitalism has resulted in the corporate interests, and the governing State becoming oneit seems incredible that Nock, with all his intellectual powers and insight, couldn’t predict this. Maybe he had an inkling. Nevertheless, he chose not to acknowledge it out of a curious case cognitive dissonance.

The State doesn’t have to be our enemy but it could be is a Living Community based on the principle of mutual consent, mutual benefit, mutual prosperity bound together by acknowledgment that all of us have an equal share in the bounty this world has to offer.

 

Fear of Equality, Part 12: The Swinde of Fulfillment

 

NOTES

[1] “They did not pretend to believe that everyone is educable, for they knew, on the contrary, that very few are educable, very few indeed. They saw this as a fact of nature, like the fact that few are six feet tall. […] They accepted the fact that there are practicable ranges of intellectual and spiritual experience which nature has opened to some and closed to others.” Nock, Memoirs of a Superfluous Man, pg. 34 (1943)

[2] Jefferson’s ideal scholastic model consisted of a group of students passing through a series of institutional gauntlets, where students are culled at specific points: those that fail to reach the highest levels of accomplishments are sent home, while the top “geniuses” are selected to move into higher classes until only a few of the top scholars remain. Sounds like a colonial academic version of American Idol, doesn’t it? According to Jefferson, “by this means, 20 of the best geniuses (in each State, mind you), shall be raked from the rubbish annually.” Yes, the Father of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas “All men are created Equal” Jefferson considered his fellow countrymen to be nothing more than human trash, at least intellectually.

[3] Socrates, Plato and Aristotle were all held anti-democratic views, and insisted that the model society would require ruling by an intellectual elite, rigid social stratification, hierarchies and various divisions of labor.

[4]There are two methods, or means, and only two, whereby man’s needs and desires can be satisfied. One is the production and exchange of wealth; this is the economic means. The other is the uncompensated appropriation of wealth produced by others; this is the political means . . . the State invariably had its origin in conquest and confiscation.  Nock, Our Enemy, The State 1935

[5] Interview with Kenneth Rexroth, from Lawrence Lipton’s The Holy Barbarians (Messner, 1959).

 

 

Fear of Equality, Part 7

Rich_poor

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.