Fear of Equality, Part 2. 03/03/2013

survival

People fear equality because we fear each other within the competition of survival

The Belief that Man (and Earthly existence) is Inherently Evil (Original Sin doctrine).

This notion was codified in the West by Augustine of Hippo and was expanded upon by Christian theologians through the centuries and accepted as a “truth” ever since. The opinion of Augustine was that human sexual desire was the engine that made Man into a depraved, immoral and hopelessly sinful creature that needed the salvific  intervention of Jesus Christ to be saved from eternal damnation in Hell. In this teaching Augustine traced the fallen state of Man to the Fall of Adam and Eve after they “sinned” against God in the Garden of Eden. [1]

Running along this cultural stream is another complimentary or competing idea that the evil in the world is necessary because of the existence of Free Will in humans, which allows and justifies evil within a scheme of metaphysics that claims salvation comes in choosing the good over the evil, thus following the example of Jesus Christ and earning one’s way to Heaven.

Due to our so-called “fallen nature” combined with “free will,” Man is thus free to commit any act he wishes, regardless of the consequences an act may have on one’s self or others. People are intimately aware of their own inner demons and destructive impulses, so we are certain others are aware of theirs and our own, as well. The question is always present when we enter into any relationship – who can be trusted?

Equality is feared because somehow there exists a belief that such a state will increase MORE suffering and misery for people  in the world. The person I encountered in the previous blog on PolicyMic held such ideas. Mr. Green stated;

Once perfect equality is achieved it will soon dissolve by human nature and talent within hours, to maintain equality for a longer period requires totalitarian force and oppression while leveling down the lifestyle of some to starvation poverty of others. Your equality comes down to petulance of wanting others to suffer, somehow your hatred of those wealthier then you will be abated when this occurs? What will you an internet user do when your opulent lifestyle needs leveling down too?

Reading between the lines reveals a nightmare for those who fear Equality as an existential, authoritarian and human destructive force where freedom of choice, and more frightening, loss of privilege will wipe out human initiative, and more important, degrade the current lifestyle of those who now benefit from inequality within the system today. This fear of degradation of the current lifestyle is the major concern here, although it seems to float upon Green’s subconscious. I don’t know if he aware of the ramifications or the implications he’s made in this comment.

Why does Equality conjure up in the mind of such frightening images of nameless, existential ” totalitarian force and oppression?” Because we are so distrustful and fearful of each other, we consider ourselves so depraved and hopelessly evil, that this belief has become hard – wired into our brains: Equality can only be achieved through militaristic and draconian measures.

By the way, the same can be said to accurately describe the current Capitalist State. Competition (over diminishing resources) is seen as the smarter choice than cooperation. Logically, one could map out the consequences of the destructiveness and  irrationality of this kind of thinking. However, it is more important to maintain the status quo of near-immediate gratification for those who can afford this, and so the consequences must always remain incoherent, unexpressed and exist in some untouched future for others to deal with. Equality is a direct threat to the status quo and will be pushed back, not through superior logic or intellectual power, but through emotional expressions of greed, fear of loss, hatred and mistrust of Man against Man. When John Mackey complains that Capitalism has been under unjustified attack by intellectuals, his response is likewise a feeble emotional romanticism of a mythical Capitalism that is making the world a better place for everyone. This form of Capitalism obviously only exists within his mind, and yet, because he has systematic value (wealth), he’s going to influence others to adopt his religion of “compassionate” Capitalism. It is unfortunate, and another obstacle to overcome as we spread our ideas of Equal Money and Equality to the world.

NEXT: FEAR OF EQUALITY, PART 3: The Myth of Liberty

NOTE

[1] Augustine based his teaching on his interpretation of Paul’s Letter to the Romans 5:12-21

Fear of Equality, Part 1. 03/02/2013

inequality

Part 1. Why People Fear Equality

I have just participated in an Internet dialogue on the PolicyMic site, where I occasionally leave comments that support ideas of equality and bullshit removal.

I had quite an interesting exchange with a defender of Capitalism that was fascinating. This person was adamant in his characterization and defense of Capitalism as a promoter of “freedom” and “liberty.” Through our exchange it became clear that he experienced a very strong reaction to the notion of Equality.

What kickstarted this whole shebang were three points made by Whole Food’s CEO, John Mackey that needed to be challenged:

“The problem is not that there is an unequal distribution of wealth in the world. The problem is that there is an unequal distribution of capitalism.”

“Business has been hated by the intellectuals and elites for all time.”

“Profits ultimately create all growth, capital, and prosperity … Profits are created    through voluntary exchange, not through the exploitation of people.” 

These are three curious statements that could only be made in complete ignorance of the historical record, or within an air – tight fantasy land where the dreams of Ayn Rand and Ludwig von Mises reside.

If we look closely at Point 1, the assertion that the problems facing the world stem from “unequal distribution of capitalism, ” what we see here is an exercise of dissembling, although we have no evidence that Mackey actually believes this. It’s more a slogan or a sound – bite and not a guiding principle, and it certainly does not reflect the reality of the economically oppressed and exploited. I’m sure that CEOs are more concerned looking at the world through broad and “big picture” lenses, but that only makes these guys incapable of describing reality as it exists. Their words should thus be considered with suspicion.

In Point 2, Mackey offers more of the same impulse for historical fantasilization. The statement that, “business has been hated by the intellectuals and elites,” is not based on any facts, and betrays the anti-intellectualism held by defenders of capitalism. This reflexive backlash comes from the fact that Capitalism, as Karl Marx in the 19th Century and the Critical Theorists in the 20th Century proved, cannot stand for long against any sustained intellectual analysis. “Business has been hated by intellectual and elites,” is a statement so monstrously at odds with common sense, that it seems the most silly and childish of charges anyone can make. One only has to take a brief inventory on the “intellectuals” and “elites” who thought Capitalism was a fantastic idea. But because Mackey leads a health food empire, people will be influenced by this kind of empty economic jingoism.

Point 3: “…Profits are created through voluntary exchange, not through the exploitation of people.”

Wow, what a whopper. Somebody get me Tim Cook or the sweatshop responsible for my Nike’s. “Voluntary exchange,” eh? Anybody who works for a living knows that they are a few paychecks away from having to beg on the streets. One either sells their labor to another in exchange for money, or one doesn’t eat. This notion that Capitalism is based on voluntary participation is a sweet – sounding mythology that’s been built up in layers of philosophical sediment over the past 400 years. This process is too deep to cover here, but it’s instructive to note that proponents for speak glowingly about Capitalism’s “voluntary exchange” are going to distort and mangle the definition out of context to support their perspective.

For those not interested in reading the (sometimes tedious and pedantic) thread in its entirety, this is what my comment said:

“Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate.”
– Bertrand Russell

“Sweatshop workers “hoping for the best” isn’t part of the moral equation that Mackey is talking about, or is it? Mackey’s breezy, breathless oversimplifications for compassionate capitalism really is a paean for “compassionate consumptionism” without considering the anti-democratic forces that is the muscle behind unrestrained self-interest.”

This comment drew a response from Joshua Green, who said:

“The hatred implicit in your nihilistic statement is destructive Darryl, please turn from it and embrace that life can be beautiful. What Mackey and the rest of us are trying to explain is that capitalism provides creation of products of new services to build and enhance life for everyone. This means we reward builders and innovators for improving our way of life. Now not everyone can afford say the nicest I-Pad but the technology behind it and the service it provides improves our lives. For an example a restaurant nearby uses an I-Pad for its register saving them money/space on counter and allowing the customer to sign for purchases which offers security to the buyer and assurance to the company.” (Emphasis mine.)

My comment that sweatshop workers (those who are victimized and exploited by the Captains of Industry) are never considered when talk turns to how wonderful Capitalism is, was seen as “hatred” and “nihilistic” (a principle that life is meaningless). Where is the fucking compassion this guy was praising Mackey for having the vision to entertain? And isn’t it interesting that Green’s rambling response was punctuated by three specific words, “hatred,” “nihilistic” and “destructive”  – used to describe my defense for those who are the ones obviously catching hell from the stateless corporations which see no obligation to improve the lives of the slaves they work so slavishly. Mr. Green obviously does not see the projections and distorted definitions that he’s engaged with – his words are loaded with fear. This realization was very instructive to see, especially the further the discussion evolved.  The Big Fear would soon present itself, and when it did, it was not a coincidence that the discussion ended.

Next: Fear of Equality, Part 2. The Competition for Survival

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

johnmackey
John Mackey: Cheerleader of Conscious Consumptionism

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

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

To which I say, “Really?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Note

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