Fear of Equality, Part 3 03/06/2013

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The Myth of Liberty

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

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

1. Liberty

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

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

2. The Individual and the Fear of the Group

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

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

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

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

Only the fear of the Group is real.

NEXT: The Survival of the Fittest

NOTES

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

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

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

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

 

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2012/3/31 – 2012 & UGK – Is Enlightenment Possible?

While I don’t agree with everything he said, U.G. Krishnamurti got one thing right. “Enlightenment is a thought-induced experience.”

UGK correctly demonstrates how the very idea of “Enlightenment” is contingent upon accepting the claims of the “Great Sages” without question. This is very important to understand, as the mechanism of so-called enlightenment has only come down to us through the transmission of the traditions laid down by the sages and their proponents. In other words, “Enlightenment,” like the concept of “God” or the “Divine,” is something that one never experiences without first hearing all about it from somebody else. The narrative of “enlightenment” always involves a search for a guru who has experienced it and relates the alleged state to others. If one accepts the narrative of the Buddha, one has to imagine that nobody had ever experienced “enlightenment” before. Yet, the Buddha made it his mission, claimed to achieve it, and then told everyone else about it. But UGK hits the nail on the head when he remarks in this interview that,

“…once one questions the whole idea of enlightenment, or as you put it, the concept of enlightenment,  we are questioning the teachers who have talked about it – and we have invested tremendous faith in them, so the sentiment comes into the picture, and we accept it as the gospel truth.”

According to the stories related by the Buddhists, Buddha actually achieved “enlightenment.” How he managed to convince others that he spoke the truth would be no great feat considering the way most people are willing to believe in any well – told story, the more grandiose the better. This is why religion and spirituality still reigns in a world where any evidence of the divine is completely lacking. When Nietzsche exclaimed in the 19th century that “God is dead,” it seems that he spoke only for himself and the minority of European intelligentsia who defined the role of religion as a control dynamic of the masses.
Nietzsche must’ve hoped that his view would become dominant in an empirical world of logical positivism, but could not have foreseen that the masses would  never be able to give up their sentiment attached to religion, for sentiment, through its power of emotionalism and feeling is believed to be a higher form of knowledge (a “peace that passes understanding”), that ultimately breaks down all common sense and the ability for discernment.

UGK’s contention, which is very close to my own, is that enlightenment, the “soul,” or spirit, are all inventions and projections of consciousness which demands some assurance of survival. When the interviewer asks UGK that he imagines that the body does not survive after death but he hopes that his “ability to experience” (sentience) will continue at some level after death. UGK. asks in return, “Can you experience your body while you are living now?”

Of course, Western philosophy has always taken an interest in the nature of consciousness. When the interviewer brings up the famous maxim of Descartes: “I think, therefore I am,” UKG says that Descartes asked the wrong question and references an old Indian adage:  “If you are not thinking, are you there?”

Clearly, UGK considers that consciousness and its production of analysing its understanding of experience, projections, thoughts, knowledge and emotions (etc.), creates a vicious circle of impediments to any understanding of the meaning of life.  When the interviewer expresses (almost in exasperation), “It sounds like we’re trapped,” UGK offers only that “there is no answer” to getting out of the trap. Enlightenment, or rather, the enlightenment claimed to be in the possession of  so-called spiritual masters throughout human history, has not elevated the whole of humanity one iota or solved a single problem confronting the human race. The enormous catalog of suffering, poverty, war and exploitation has grown larger with each passing century. UGK correctly surmises what enlightenment actually is: an imaginary “solution” within the metaphysics of “hope.” This leads UGK to say that there was no “answer” and “no escape” from the condition of the world, and this was his big miss. He did not see or accept his responsibility to this world or how universal equality is the answer.

It’s a pity, because UGK perhaps could have offered us even more than what he left behind.

2010/07/18 – Encounter at the Internet Cafe

As I settled in the familiarly of the uncomfortable chair for yet another session at the internet cafe, I opened my email and followed a link to a forum where academics and scholars congregate to discuss and banter about philosophy and other modes of thought. Most of what passes for discussion is usually most dreariest of scholarly sophistry and pedantry. Maybe that’s why I visit it from time to time. On this day I happened to spy a curious and quaint discussion about somebody’s grand presentation concerning the “Theory of Religion,” which apparently was an attempt to locate and categorize the common features all religions possesses. There was the predictable agreements, disagreement and intellectual snobbery in service of each one’s points of view and my eyes began to glaze over.

Marlen was sitting in her chair in front of her computer on my left. I turned to her and said in a low voice, “Man, people can sure talk a lot of shit. Just talkin’ shit, man. Especially about religion.”

“OH, DON’T LISTEN TO RELIGION,” a loud voice boomed from the person sitting to my right. I turned around to see a large, white and bespectacled South African looking at us. He spoke again, “Religion is bullshit. If you wanna know about what is going on in reality, you have to look at science and mathematics.”

Marlen and I exchanged a silent look, and then I turned to my interlocutor and said, “Well, I suppose Mathematics can tell us a few things, but Mathematics and Science are quite limited in what we really know about reality.”

“Listen to me,” he said intently. I listened. “Science has proven a lot of things! A lot of things! Everything is made up of atoms. You can’t see them, but they’re there. Alright? They’re there!

Okay…

“You wanna know about the universe, it’s all about mathematics.”

“Well,” I said. “I can agree with that to a point. But who really can say what the universe is made of? Wouldn’t you say that man’s knowledge of mathematics is limited? Isn’t science just based on the limitations of knowledge within the human mind?”

“Listen to me! I saw this conversation was making him increasingly agitated. He didn’t seem dangerous, just a little excitable. Science has determined that we exist has energy. See? This energy operates as a frequency, lower vibrations at the bottom of the spectrum and higher at the top.”

“Why are you saying ‘bottom and top?’ A Frequency is just how fast a vibration is occurring.”

“Listen to me. The vibrations exist beyond the range of our hearing, right? From 9000 megahertz to 20,000, okay? Look. A radio can only pick up a certain amount of frequencies. What is beyond those frequencies is the higher planes.”

“Wait a second. Let’s go back to the science thing. And let’s use that radio as an example. Let’s use the radio as a symbol of the human mind. It can only pick up a certain range of frequencies, right? That means the scientists using this mind are only going to have a limited understanding of the universe.”

“Listen to me, that’s not right. Because consciousness can exist outside the box as well as inside.” This perked me up a bit.

I said, “So are you saying that consciousness can exist as a field that can be independent of the body?”

“Yes.”

“Okay, how do you know that?”

“Because consciousness is energy and the universe is made of energy.”

“But… are you saying that everything has a consciousness? Like this table?”

“No, a table doesn’t have consciousness. But it is made up of energy.”

“But that’s what it looks like to you. We can say anything about this reality. We can come to any kind of conclusion, can’t we? I could say the universe is made of solidified color.” I tapped the gray tabletop for emphasis.

“No! Listen to me. Energy is what the universe is made of and science has proven that.”

“That’s not true. Science doesn’t know what energy IS. Only the effects. And you haven’t been around the universe to actually know if the whole thing is made of energy. That’s just something you’ve read somewhere.”

“Listen to me. That’s not true, science does know what energy is made of. It’s made of atoms moving into other atoms.”

“No, science can only know the effects of energy. You’re wrong about that.”

“Listen to me. Energy is what this universe is made from. It is an awesome force.”

“Okay. Let’s take a car battery. You say it is made of energy.”

“Yes.”

“Well, when you leave the lights on and drain the battery, that car is not going to start.”

“No, but I’m talking about a Higher Energy.”

“O…kaaaaay.”

“This is what I was talking about. There’s a higher energy that science has proven exists.”

“What???”

“It’s been suppressed. Do you remember that movie where the dead people can speak through the static of a television?”

“Yeah, but that’s a movie. That’s just fiction.”

“No, it really happened.”

“What really happened? Dead people talking through a television?”

“It happened during the turn of the century but science suppressed it.”

“Waitaminit. You’re saying that there is scientific proof that beings from the great beyond communicated through the static of a television set?”

“Listen to me! Millions of people have reported this. Just like the NDEs. You know what an NDE is? A near death experience?”

“Yes, I know.”

“Well, there is documented evidence that all these people saw a higher realm.”

“Well, maybe they just thought they saw the same thing. I mean, we don’t really know. human consciousness could exist as on specific design. Maybe they remembered the same thing because death happens the same way and their mental processes act in the same way.”

“They don’t have mental processes. They’re dead!”

“But if they remember what happened, that’s a mental process.”

“No, they have a spirit that tells the mind what to do.”

“What???”

“The mind dies with the body. You don’t have a personality when you die, it’s gone. But your spirit tells your mind what to do and your mind tells your body what do.

“How do you know there’s a spirit? Couldn’t consciousness and spirit be the same?`”

“No, your consciousness dies when your body dies. Listen to me! They died and came back and they report something that something exists on a higher plane. I know because I am in contact with a scientist in a way that spiritualists would say…”

“Whoa, that’s a religious construct – spiritualism.”

“Listen to me. I’m just calling it that. I have a guide.”

“A guide?”

“Yes.”

“Nooo! You can’t have a guide and then say it’s not a spiritual construct you’re talking about! You’re talking spiritualism, man!”

“Listen to me! He was a scientist in his past two lives, and he tells me things.”

“Um, waitaminit. Are you saying you speak to a disembodied mind? What’s his name?”

“I don’t give him a name. He’s just my guide.”

“Your “Guide?”

“Yes, I communicate with him lots of times. But he doesn’t use words.”

“You communicate telepathically?”

“Yes.”

My troubled eyebrows lifted, and I whistled softly. “Whoa. You better not say that too loud. They may try to stick you in a mental hospital somewhere.”

Taking a half-step back he muttered, “Oh,” And from behind his dark, unblinking eyes he said, “They’ve already done that.”