Thursday, April 29, 2010

My Ignorant “Fascism” Rant

“…could we please not exploit the emotional elements of words like fascism and slavery? I find it an insult to think that I could be manipulated in any such way. I find it very hard to believe that intelligent grown men such as you seem to be drawn into your own somewhat childish conspiracy theories.”

This was written to me (and a friend) in an email by a progressive who took issue with a statement I made that progressives are leading us on a path toward fascism. This rebuttal was also made by an educated man who wants you to think that he is taking the intellectual high road, that he does not jump to conclusions and resort to conspiracy theories, that he is too high minded to stoop to the use of emotional phrases in order to scare and manipulate people (progressives never do that). Indeed, I must be a pretty ignorant person to be ranting the way I am.

This progressive thinks that his criticism exposes me and my friend as uncouth and ignorant, conspiracy theorists without intellectual training who merely jump to conclusions for the sake of insulting our opponents, but who have no education and no credibility. Anyone who argues that progressives are shadow fascists is a person not welcomed into intellectual discussions among the elite who know better. So anyone in the Tea Parties should be dismissed out of hand because they claim that fascism is the system of our government. What ignorant dolts we are.

But are the warnings that fascism is coming really the rantings of an ignorant person? Or are they a warning based on solid historical analysis that identifies the fundamental premises of the progressives and the movement of ideas through out history? In fact, philosophical analysis, if done properly can teach us alot and can help us avoid the mistakes of the past. What about intelligent books such as “Liberal Fascism” by Jonah Goldberg or the classic scholarly work, “The Ominous Parallels” by Dr. Leonard Peikoff? In fact, scholars were warning about our fascist tendencies even during the early Roosevelt Presidency (a time when progressives were praising fascism) and some very intelligent economists, such as Ludwig von Mises and others, had said as much in their writings decades ago. Why do the progressives want to get rid of this “fascist” charge?

Certainly, the word is charged emotionally. When you hear the word “fascist”, you think of Adolph Hitler and his genocides, you think of Mussolini and his fascist dictatorship and the atrocities committed during World War II. You think of other dictatorships such as in Spain, Iraq, Cuba and Venezuela and you think about a group of people that historians have made, because they rightly deserved it, into the most evil and hateful men in history. Don’t you even think about connecting these men to today’s progressives who only want to establish a fair balance between economic regulations and freedom. Nope, that’s not them.

But some progressives are ignorant of history themselves. They don't understand their own place in the past, their own contributions to the decline of liberty. They think that progressivism is just as good as Americanism, in fact, better, more intelligent, more scientific and more benign than those who somehow still think that capitalism is the best system for people. They are brilliant, intelligent people who somehow have never noticed that at one time progressives fostered some of the most heinous ideas. Euthanasia, eugenics and racial purity are progressive ideas that history has forced them to disavow. Progressives could not be about that. They just want to make society better and they have intelligent ways to do that. Well, we'll get to that.

In fact, I’ve been called ignorant so many times for bringing up the words fascist and Hitler that you’d think there is a method to the criticism. It is part of the Alinsky strategy of ridiculing one’s opponent. If you can convince people that an opponent is hateful, racist, evil, vengeful…any of the terrible things that ignorant people do, well, then you’ve eliminated what may otherwise be a strong opponent.

So, let’s look at history. I will try to condense many centuries of thought and debate into just a few words so we can see the essentials and come to an understanding of why the charge of “fascist” against the progressives is indeed, a valid one made by intelligent people who just happen to understand history.

The overall goal of progressives has been to establish government control over society where the government regulates all private and business activity for the sake of “the common good.” Some more honest progressives of the past have thought that government could indefinitely maintain a balance between private and public interests and that this system does not have to lead to dictatorship...even though, because of those evil men, it has led to dictatorship in the past. Though this progressive goal of a mixed economy is often tinged with kind words about doing good for people who otherwise would die, the basic premise of the progressives is the false view that capitalism is ineffective at solving “social” problems, that capitalism, being based on private self-interest, is not able to advance collective interests. We can discuss these issues forever but the basic truth is that, no matter how nice they appear to be, all progressives believe that capitalism fails, that it is exploitive, that it cannot meet the needs of people, and that profit is evil, or at the very least, it needs to be regulated for the sake of the greater good. I, and many others, have elsewhere taken on the fallacies and lies that these views represent. What is important here is that progressives and their coercive measures against private individuals fall within the general principle of “statism”; the idea that the state is the principal component of society that should regulate private activities for the sake of the “public good.”

The rationale for the takeover of private activity was first propagated by some ancient Greeks. The Greeks held that democracy was ineffective during war and that a strong central control was necessary to get a city through an emergency of this kind. This required the establishment of a “tyrant” (who controlled everything) and the suspension of all freedoms until the war had been won. At that point, the city could once again reestablish democratic rule. This is the genesis of our modern day “tyrannies”.

Yet, even some of the Greeks wondered why people wanted to return to democracy when the “tyranny” had been so efficient. Couldn’t a tyranny work during peacetime? In fact, Plato’s recommended “Republic” was a tyranny of the philosophers where the most intelligent men controlled and planned all elements of society in order to advance a common and greater good. Plato’s ideas were forged out of the anger and despair he felt over seeing his beloved mentor and teacher Socrates drink the hemlock at the behest of “the people” who voted that he should die. Plato’s work has served as a blueprint for dictatorships ever since it was written so many centuries ago.

Later, as time went on, through the influence of philosophers such as Hegel and Nietzsche among others, the idea that dictatorship might be a better way of solving social problems during peace time began to gain support. In order to advance this idea, the supporters of “tyranny” began to attack democratic rule as inefficient and wasteful and they idealized the strong leaders who possessed a unique speaking ability that motivated large numbers of people to work together for collective goals. The idea of “collective goals” was a myth, of course. There is no such thing as a collective, there are only individuals. Collectivism always requires that force (or ostracism) be imposed upon people who refuse to go along. But this didn’t matter to the collectivists who saw the idea as a way of corralling human beings and forcing them to work toward what they considered to be the good (which many times was nothing more than their personal enrichment).

The result was the idea that “power” in the hands of a few was the most efficient way to advance civilization. It was thought that powerful leaders had the knowledge and the courage necessary to identify the “social” goals upon which a society should be based. An outgrowth of these ideas was the establishment of social systems called dictatorships. At one time, the term “dictatorship” was considered the latest trend, a new advanced way to get things done in a world with so many problems. This was not too long ago. Of course, it doesn't take a scholar to realize what the people had talked themselves into; they opened the door for scoundrels like Hitler and Mussolini who pretended to be those "strong men".

Because of the arguments of the philosophers about the value of a “dictatorship”, the bulk of university scholars, intellectuals and even the masters of the arts became vocal supporters of dictatorship. A tremendous propaganda machine was built up that made this movement toward a more powerful government inevitable. This was the birth of the progressive movement. All the greatest minds were talking of the glorious future that could be had if the progressives could just get rid of the inefficient ideas of the past such as individual rights, capitalism, profit, etc. and mimick the political ideas of Mussolini and other brilliant leaders from Europe.

Throughout the various periods of progressive propaganda, parliamentary societies loosely based upon democratic controls over power, began to be criticized as weak and ineffectual. They could not accomplish the lofty goals that were possible under tyrannies, it was thought. The progressives argued that selfishness had been let loose by democratic governments; the good of society as a whole was being ignored for the sake of “petty” profits.

Mussolini was considered a genius because he came up with an entirely new way to create efficiencies in society. In early propaganda, fascism was the coming new way. The progressives argued that it would be so efficient that it would replace capitalism. It would, they thought, create a society that was even more efficient because it would eliminate the elements of capitalism that were wasteful. Mussolini was a master at “making the trains run on time”. How did he do it? By means of establishing government bureaucracies of very "competent" men who made sure “social” goals had precedence for all individuals and businesses.

A strong leader like Mussolini was a man who could excite the passions of the people and, by decree and regulation, ensure that businesses were making good products that the government approved. In short, a fascist system is one where private property is in the hands of the business owners but is regulated by the government, presumably to ensure that such property (factories and machines) is used to advance the goals of the collective as defined by the leader.

Capitalism on the other hand, was seen as a system of waste and fraud. Businessmen, it was thought, only cared about profit. They were considered to be scoundrels who did not care about quality…they were just out for the buck, and they didn’t care about the greater good, about social goals, about ensuring that the people were well served. Because capitalists took profits, those profits were considered wasteful and it was thought the government could better use those profits to establish social services rather than have that money spent by the lustful and materialistic tycoons.

As it turned out the lofty goals of the dictators turned into the need for total power. In order to accomplish the common good they had to ridicule, disenfranchise and murder those who would oppose them; and they had to control the means of production in order to build the armaments necessary to gain new territories; in order to “save” the people against its enemies. And the economic decline caused by their regulations became so obvious that they had to propagandize even more violently against capitalism in order to cover their own tracks – it was not long before prosecutions, imprisonment and purges became necessary. The idea that only a dictator could run an efficient peace time society became the idea that only a dictator could eliminate the so-called enemies that were thwarting progress – including internal enemies. Throughout this period, there was near unanimous support for fascism among intellectuals and journalists. They argued that before the dictator could establish universal medical care, income re-distribution, an improvement of the race, and other benefits, the masses had to dutifully sacrifice for the nation in war.

The crowning monument to dictatorship was the 20th Century where millions of people were killed because, presumably, they did not adequately contribute to the goals of the collective. After this bloodbath, the progressives scurried into the depths and waited. Over time, they emerged with new colors (blue instead of red), but without changing a single basic premise. They still believed capitalism was evil, but they stopped overtly challenging it; they chose to seek “a balance” between private interests and public interests. They still believed in collectivism, but talked only about “the people”, the tribe, the group, etc. They still believed in a strong central control, but only discussed democratic action to achieve a better future. They still believed in a strong leader and focused their efforts on “Presidential Power”. They still hated individual rights but started talking about entitlements paid for by the government (the taxpayer). And instead of advocating violent revolution, they became "liberals", people who worked within the system to bring about the same goals as violent revolution, eventual, incrementally instituted, collective action (dictatorship). The progressives grew more powerful merely by changing their language, eliminating the use of their old propaganda terms, and by divorcing themselves from all the negatives associated with their now dead child, dictatorship. And, in an even more brazen twist, they began calling their political enemies “fascists”. Yes, they are so intelligent that they must call their opponents by the very name that they once considered to be the beacon of a shiny bright future for man.

Today’s progressives are operating within the tradition of this movement toward a more powerful government. Over a century ago, many progressives bought into the ideas that promoted fascism. Where Mussolini, through masterful political moves, gained control of the means of production, today the progressives engage in masterful political moves such as backroom meetings, political payoffs, promises of jobs, bashing capitalism and shakedowns of businessmen. Although they’ve educated many Americans to think that fascism was about racism and accomplishing evil intentions through treachery and force, at one time they praised Mussolini’s fascism and sold it to people as a great idea. In America, some progressives even praised Hitler before his military violations and his genocide were known about.

What was so good about fascism that it would make early progressives call it their own? Why did they once use language that glorified dictatorship, collectivism, statism and other coercive “isms” in the past…and why do they now refuse to use those words to describe themselves? They still believe that you can establish a just society by means of force imposed on individuals. They still think that collectivism and re-distribution of income are the only ways to foster the collective goals that have never been accomplished by their coercive means. In their very small minds, they do not realize that their intentions can never be accomplished by the means they advocate. They have lost the connection between their thoughts and reality. But more importantly, they believe in fascist ideas because they know (consciously or sub-consciously) that coercion is the only way that they can gain control of peoples' lives, the only way that they can establish their dictatorship. They’ve just don’t call it dictatorship; they call it "democracy".

Today, what was once fascism is now “the government/business alliance” that is being fostered, promoted, and put into place by progressives. All current government takeovers and bailouts are derivatives of this fascist principle. Cap and Trade, Health Care, the automotive takeover, financial regulations, card check, extra-constitutional czars...all of these moves by the current administration are government control and management over private businesses; fascism. The fact is, today’s progressives believe in the same body of fundamental ideas as the fascists, the same goals, the same methods and the same anti-capitalism as Mussolini and his fascists. Except today they don’t call it fascism. They call it service to society.

They call it “change”.

Of course, many progressives today, consider themselves much more refined and educated than men in the past and they tell us they understand that dictatorship can lead to wars and genocide and they assure us that they are not at all in favor of such un-civilized behavior. Draw a conclusion about anything and they'll ask you for the study that proves it and since there is no study, just your considered and educated judgment, well, they're too educated to ever draw their own conclusions. Hume has told them there is no connection between fact and judgment. It's all a matter of consensus and there is no consensus among progressive intellectuals that fascism is related to progressivism. Today progressivism is not about fascism, they tell us gently. It is about striking a balance (emphasis on “balance”) between private action and public action, establishing a fair mix of interventionist policies and free markets that can be maintained indefinitely without ever plunging society into the depths of barbarism and plunder and murder – not ever again. They are really just good guys trying to make things better. Don't you feel better?

Fascism hidden beneath protestations of love for mankind is still fascism by any other name. And fascism has always had one fatal problem. It has never and will never work. Fascism is the refuge of the pragmatist, the progressive and the neo-conservative who all claim to be after the “common good” but who practice methods that achieve destruction. The economic controls fostered by fascism distort the operations of otherwise free markets. These distortions cause economic pain to people and these problems necessitate more controls to fix the problems created by previous controls. Fascists seldom remove controls…they always increase controls that, with each iteration, become more powerful and more onerous over time. At the end of the fascist state is economic collapse and, you guessed it, dictatorship.

Why is this so? A fascist state, like that which we have today, as it destroys more freedom incrementally, drags society into increased levels of immorality, hatred of values, envy, group warfare (as different groups vie to be favored by government), graft, corruption, racism, theft, shakedowns, bailouts, czars with extra-constitutional powers, until, like the Roman Empire, the productive people are gone. Society becomes a mixture of those who live in poverty with the leaders who live in opulence (remember the dark ages that followed the collapse of Rome). Do you wonder why Mussolini was hanged by the very same people who once worshipped his magnificent charismatic control over them?

So, the question to ask is, are the people who warn us that we are on a road to fascism, really just a bunch of uneducated idiots who use such charges for emotional political effect? Or are they screaming out that disaster is coming if we continue on the same path as the fascists in the past?

What do you think?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Tea Party Protesters – the Left’s New Inferior “Race”

Why does the Left hate the Tea Party protesters? Why do they call these protesters fascists, racists, violent people and tea baggers (a sexual slur)? How is it that they are able to get away with these spurious insults when, in another time and place, they would be the first to protest such insults made by others? I think it is very simple. The Left is using the same thought process against Tea Partiers that racists use against other groups. Notice, I did not call the left racist. I am not “name-calling”. I said they are using the same thought process as racism. Let me explain.

Consider what real racism consists of. Racism is the idea that individuals with certain physical characteristics also contain “racial characteristics” such as ignorance, stupidity or inferiority. It is the practice of assigning negative “markers” to groups of people that are seen as threats or otherwise hated.

Racism is a type of discrimination that has exactly the same motive and result as does the attitude of the left toward the Tea Party people. To the leftists, the Tea Party people are the new inferior "breed", the people who deserve ridicule and exclusion from society because they are a threat to the "Master" establishment. Their collective markers are the characteristics that the leftists invent in order to insult them; such as uneducated, Astroturf, racist, bigots, etc. Indeed, the left’s discrimination toward the Tea Party protesters has the same motive, the same method, the same hatred, the same unfairness, the same collectivism, the same insults and the same results...which are isolation, unpopularity and exclusion: in a word, it is the same thought process as racism.

What is the connection between racist Dixiecrats and today’s left? Both groups think in terms of collectives, not individuals. The only difference between the two is that the hated collective for the left, the new hated “race” is made up of individuals in the Tea Party Movement.

In ridiculing the Tea Party Movement, the left is looking for a scapegoat to blame for its own mistakes. Leftists today lead a very precarious existence for several reasons. Their government solutions are not working. The jobs bill has failed, the American people do not support the Health Care bill, and their poll numbers keep going down…but worst of all those Tea Party people keep raising issues for which the left has no answer. Tea Partiers tell us that the left does not deserve the moral upper hand that it assumes for itself. The Tea Partiers say that the left’s coercive activities violate the Constitution. Such criticisms are so alien to their thought process and, frankly, they didn’t expect to be opposed on such grounds. So they call such arguments reactionary, fascist and right wing.

But that doesn’t help their insecurity. The Tea Party people won't stop saying that it was the progressives who caused the financial collapse, not capitalism. They say that socialism has failed due to the Community Reinvestment Act (that caused faulty loans to be approved) and the Federal Reserve (that caused the housing bubble). In fact, the Tea Party people insist that the sub prime financial debacle was a direct result of the left’s re-distribution schemes not the fault of a free market.

But there is a more important issue that encourages massive discrimination against people in the Tea Party Movement. It is not only that the Tea Party people stand opposed to the loss of their individual rights, certainly this is true, but consider the tremendous amount of power and money that the progressives and their oligarchic friends stand to lose if they are defeated politically. Though they know they will rule over a diminished economy, it is still a huge economy made up of some of the most talented and productive people in the world – and what is most disheartening for the left is that those very productive people are, in large measure, in the Tea Party...and they don't like the idea of being enslaved.

Think about how this complicates their new form of “political” profiling (as opposed to racial profiling) and how they define the enemies of society; not only does the American public not want the left's massive programs that are intended to benefit and enrich politicians and oligarchs; but the left has spent decades of taxpayer money concocting huge problems such as CO2 emissions, insurance company profits and financial “greed” in order to ‘sell’ their re-distribution scams; not only have they invested huge sums of their own money (that they made from selling short in the stock market) but they've also invested stolen money from government grants and other boondoggles, and, after all of that investment, they may not be able to enrich themselves after all. Can you feel the anger building?

If anything will generate hate among looters and plunderers it is the tremendous problem created when the very productive people who are being looted do not buy into the “sacrifice” scam. This means huge losses to the leftists. Do you wonder why they are passing their legislation in spite of the opposition of the American people? Do you wonder why they are verbally attacking the Tea Parties? They must engage in massive amounts of vitriol and hatred because there is too much on the line…so much that, well, there are going to be some very unhappy "investors" if the leftist schemes fail - people who don’t like to be disappointed, if you know what I mean.

So, like the Dixiecrats of the old south who once hated and ridiculed Blacks, the left must now accuse the Tea Parties of corrupting social cohesion, because for them it is true, the society they need, a society ripe for exploitation, may not actually be so ripe for exploitation. Those pesky Tea Party people have stood up against their plundering of the American economy.

So now you understand why the left doesn’t argue on issues but instead attacks the opposition with meaningless and pointless insults. That’s all they know because they’ve lost the mantle of morality long ago. Their highest level of morality is plotted across a negative scale consisting of a community organizer who teaches them to use ridicule against their enemies and that the end (theft) justifies the means (corruption); and a politician who schemes against productive businesses for a campaign contribution; or of a union organizer whose thuggish tactics force people to join unions so he can continue to plunder his depleted pension plan; or of a hedge fund manager who organizes a timely flight from the stock market in order to steal the savings of the American people.

I'm certain that I will be accused of gross unfairness in criticizing the corruption of the left while ignoring the "good things" they are trying to do. Some of this criticism will come from the "moderates" of today who think Obama is nothing more than a good guy trying to do the right thing. I think these people have their heads in the sand and, for that very reason, they are the most intolerant of all when it comes to the Tea Parties. These are the "fair minded" people who are "too busy" to pay attention to what is happening in our country and because so they don't know the difference between a Karl Marx and a Thomas Jefferson (and they don't want to know), or a Van Jones and a Glenn Beck; they see the issues as an argument between extreme personalities and nothing more. They think the Tea Party people are too concerned about what Rush Limbaugh says (who is not a Tea Party member) or they think our problem is that we spend too much time watching Fox News. For these people the problems in our nation are caused by people who just "hate" the President, not because he is a radical bent on total domination of their lives but because he is a Democrat (or black). They are missing the point.

They can't conceive of the idea that some Americans oppose the President, not out of hate, but because they understand that re-distribution does not work and never has worked in history. In fact, the true "moderate" today is the person who stands against everything Obama does. This is because everything he does is re-distribution and it is his policies that are at the extreme. There is no malice in recognizing that, and no radicalism, except in the sense that radical thinking is thinking in terms of fundamentals.

I've written before about the fact that the people to whom money is re-distributed by government never spend that money as sensibly as the person who first earns it. And quite often, the earners save that money so it can be invested in businesses and create jobs while government recipients merely spend it on consumption. The same principle applies to the oligarchs who steal the taxpayer's money through the various government/business alliances of the politicians. That money, obtained by corrupt means, will most often be invested in poorly managed factories, hiring unconcerned employees, producing poor quality products that no one wants.

So when someone thinks that the progressives are merely trying to make things better, they betray the fact that they don't think; they are their own worst enemies because they are unable to recognize the fallacies inherent in re-distribution schemes. A good example would be someone who says he has a solution to the financial crisis. We should make banks pay some of their profits into a program that gives loans to poor people so they can buy homes. This would help people and improve the economy says the advocate of this scheme. Yet, he ignores the fact that this program caused the financial meltdown in the first place and doing more of it would not improve things but make things worse. The idea of taking money from the owners of productive companies is a violation of their rights and it gives money to people who feel entitled to it but don't have the pride of having earned it. This is the immorality that Obama supporters completely overlook.

Progressives have only one solution to our nation's problems: make productive people pay so others may benefit...and this is the very sort of "solution" that never works - and it causes our nation's problems. It is this sort of solution, and many more like it proposed by the Obama administration (financial regulation, Cap and Trade, Health Care, and more) that are bringing about the biggest looting spree in the history of our country. The real solution offered by the Tea Parties is to stop all of this foolish spending and let the people solve the nation's problems through trade and good business practices. So who's the radical? Who's looking out for the nation? The Tea Party protesters whose opinions the leftists want to silence and ignore.

The Tea Party protesters are being discriminated against unfairly because they are standing on the ramparts to fight for their freedom. These courageous people are the left's new "inferior race" that won't be shoved to the back of the bus by hateful verbal thugs.

What the progressives have failed to understand is that in a free society, every person is an individual and he cannot be looted if he and many others stand up for individual rights. What the left fails to understand is that an educated citizenry is the last stand against thievery and plunder; the Tea Parties are the last hope for civilization.

Will you join us?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Is there a Trojan Horse in the Tea Party Movement?

I’ve enjoyed reading the books of Thomas Sowell for many years. I became aware of him in the late ‘70s when he burst onto the intellectual scene with amazing analyses of economic trends. His defense of free markets is laudable and he has made many unique and perceptive points. Most recently he has written books that have been critical of intellectuals. I just finished his new book that brought home to me the problem for conservatives and, especially, why they have found themselves on the losing end of the political debate.

The book, entitled “Intellectuals and Society” is an excellent examination of progressive intellectuals’ inability to bridge the gap between their elitist ideas and reality. The first few chapters of the book give an excellent overview of the problems that progressive intellectuals create. According to Professor Sowell, intellectuals are wrong about social solutions because they come at problems from a limited elitist perspective that represents only a small percentage of the total knowledge available in society at large.

I find Doctor Sowell’s criticism to be excellent when it comes to analyzing the precarious position of intellectuals who are steeped in specialized knowledge but who have little understanding of the real world. Yet his argument fell apart for me when he compared today’s progressives with today’s conservatives.

“This vision of society, in which there are many “problems” to be “solved” by applying the ideas of morally anointed intellectual elites is by no means the only vision, however much that vision may be prevalent among today’s intellectuals. A conflicting vision has co-existed for centuries—a vision in which the inherent flaws of human beings are the fundamental problem and social contrivances are simply imperfect means of trying to cope with that problem—these imperfections themselves being products of the inherent shortcomings of human beings.”[1]

Professor Sowell takes for himself the position of the conflicting vision. His is “...the tragic vision of the human condition that is very different from the vision of the anointed.”[2] And, indeed, he joins a long tradition of philosophers and intellectuals who have shared that vision of human beings that are inherently flawed. Unfortunately, this vision includes that of the progressives.

You have to ask yourself what is the point of taking the position that man is inherently flawed? Why would conservatives want to start with this premise? And more importantly, why do they think that this position provides a better argument for limited government and capitalism?

As a former Catholic, I am familiar with this view. Man is a sinner who would wreak havoc if left to his own “selfish” devices. His only moral constraint is that given to him by God and the church. According to this view, man must follow the Ten Commandments handed down to him by God through Moses. If men do not follow God’s Commandments, God will punish them on this earth and after death. Men will only do right because of fear of God’s wrath.

Sowell asserts that the vision of contemporary intellectuals (progressives) today is based on an ages old view that sees problems as an outgrowth of social institutions. “In this vision, oppression, poverty, injustice and war are all products of existing institutions—problems whose solutions require changing those institutions, which in turn require changing the ideas behind those institutions.”[3] Is Professor Sowell saying that progressives are wrong because they are right about our social institutions? Are we to assume that progressives’ criticisms of institutions such as capitalism and the church are valid? Is he perhaps giving them too much credit?

In fact, progressives today threaten to destroy the most advanced, the most just and the most affluent civilization in the history of the world because the solutions offered by progressives for the problems of capitalism and the church involve collective coercive remedies that enslave individuals. These solutions are offered because progressives also see man as flawed and incapable of being moral.

Whether you receive your view of man’s nature from Hobbes or Hume, you cannot derive the principles of a free society and the anti-principles of a slave society from the same source, from the view that man is imperfect. The logic of ideas in practice is inexorable; you cannot get around it. If the conservatives and the progressives both have the same basic view of man, the result will be the same.

Yet, the question regarding man’s nature is the foundation upon which all human action must be based. The answer to that question indicates not only how intellectuals think men will act but how governments will treat them. Does man have rights? Is he to be a slave to the needs of others? These questions are important. The only difference between conservatives and progressives is not that progressives see certain institutions as needing change and that conservatives do not; the vital question is "from where does man derive his mandate for moral action?" Political debates and revolutionary change are not about merely changing institutions; they are about understanding man's nature and dealing with him accordingly.

When Barack Obama says he believes in service to the community, working for and dying for others, the conservatives can only say, ‘so do we’. They may counter the progressives with arguments for faith, hope and charity, but the progressives also talk about faith, hope and charity. The dilemma for the conservatives is that they are on the same side as the progressives.  They both advocate altruism as their fundamental principle. They have failed to recognize that man’s true nature is not that he is imperfect but that he is a creature of reason, a creature perfectly suited for survival and success. The result: the conservatives have nothing to offer against the views of the progressives.

To continue with Doctor Sowell, “In the tragic vision, barbarism is always waiting in the wings and civilization is simply “a thin crust over a volcano.” (This quote is from Havelock Ellis. The full statement is “All civilization has from time to time become a thin crust over a volcano of revolution.”) The metaphor, “a thin crust over a volcano” used to describe the position of civilization versus barbarism is illustrious of the problem that conservatives create for themselves. If civilization is truly a thin crust over a volcano, then what is the point of trying to create a better society? Eventually, the volcano will erupt (into revolution) and destroy that thin layer. If this is our choice, then why should we continue living on that thin crust? Better red than dead. This argument is a prescription for nihilism.

Unfortunately, this is the false alternative that conservatives create for themselves. A “thin crust” versus an inevitable explosion is hardly a choice. When they create such false alternatives based on non-essentials, they end up rationalizing false views and eventually they take the same side as the other haters of man, the progressives. To place one’s enemies, the enemies of freedom, in the position of “a volcano”, means you know they will win.

Is civilization truly “a thin crust over a volcano”? Or are the principles of a proper society based upon something more fundamental in man's nature that must be recognized and accommodated by government; facts and principles that endure and never explode. Shouldn’t we instead strive for a vision of man that will acknowledge his value and thereby help in the creation of a bulwark against the explosion of violence and barbarism? I submit that this bulwark is what the Founders of our nation attempted to create and their vision of man was not at all “tragic”.

“In the tragic vision, social contrivances seek to restrict behavior that leads to unhappiness, even though these restrictions themselves cause a certain amount of unhappiness. It is a vision of trade-offs, rather than solutions, and a vision of wisdom distilled from the experiences of the many rather than the brilliance of a few.”[4]

This means that civilization is nothing more than “social contrivances” designed to restrict immoral living in order to make a trade-off, to create a balance between immorality (selfishness) and self-sacrifice (the good). What is being traded here is your decision to be productive in return for the government getting a piece of your production. Your punishment for committing the crime of surviving is that you have to pay people who cannot survive. Remember, this is the conservative view. And, to prove it, notice that the desire of President Obama to “re-distribute” wealth is considered by the conservatives to be “the brilliance of a few”.

And to prove that they have no understanding of their own position, Doctor Sowell says, “The conflict between these two visions goes back for centuries. Those with the tragic vision and those with the vision of the anointed do not simply happen to differ on a range of policy issues. They necessarily differ, because they are talking about very different worlds which exist inside their minds. Moreover, they are talking about different creatures who inhabit that world, even though both call these creatures human beings, for the nature of those human beings is also fundamentally different as seen in the two visions.”[5]

Professor Sowell does not seem to recognize that both philosophical skeptics and conservative philosophers such as Hobbes and Burke saw man in essentially the same way. They both saw man as incapable of understanding reality, in other words, as imperfect. How can the same basic view of man lead to two different solutions in politics? They can't; progressivism and conservatism are two contrary ideas based on the same premise that will inevitably lead to the same result: enslavement. And this is the danger of accepting the stated goal of conservatives (limited government) without identifying their contradictory premise (that man is flawed) and its inevitable consequence.

The reason the conservatives use non-essentials (tragic vision versus anointed vision) in separating conservatives from progressives is that they must evade the hidden motive of the conservative vision. I doubt that Professor Sowell and other conservatives know that their argument on the issue of man’s nature is weak and I doubt that they have an ulterior motive. I think they truly want freedom, but even they cannot escape the logical consequences of their arguments. The truth is that their view of man is a false attack on him and it implies government action against him that would control his individual moral choices. The real goal of religious conservatives, since our founding as a nation, has been to make room for faith in a world that is constantly being transformed by the power of reason. Politically that goal can only be accomplished by authoritarian theocracy.

Since religious conservatives want to restrict what they consider to be immoral acts, their advocacy of capitalism necessarily leaves much to be desired. The conflict takes place when you attempt to graft the control of immoral acts (determined by God in the Bible) on a system that is based on the individual's right to decide for himself what is moral action. What the conservative considers to be immoral and selfish may actually be moral and life-serving when viewed from the perspective of the individual and his life. Where does that leave capitalism and man's rights? Economic conservatives therefore must avoid discussions of morality and stick religiously to economic statistics and the cause-and-effect consequences of central planning. It also takes some of them to pragmatism, realpolitik, neo-conservatism and, you guessed it, the inevitability of progressivism (the old "thin crust of the volcano").

In fact, the conservatives have managed to proclaim the superiority of their own stated enemies. “The two visions differ fundamentally, not only in how they see the world but also in how those who believe in these visions see themselves. If you happen to believe in free markets, judicial restraint, traditional values and other features of the tragic vision, then you are just someone who believes in free markets, judicial restraint and traditional values. There is no personal exaltation resulting from those beliefs. But to be for “social justice” and “saving the environment,” or to be “anti-war” is more than just a set of beliefs about empirical facts. This vision puts you on a higher moral plane as someone concerned and compassionate, someone who is for peace in the world, a defender of the downtrodden, and someone who wants to preserve the beauty of nature and save the planet from (pollution). In short, one vision makes you somebody special and the other vision does not. These visions are not symmetrical.”[6] In short, progressives are good and conservatives are evil. (parentheses mine)

Why aren’t conservatives good?

“They favor capitalism and self-interest”, say the progressives.

“No we don’t” say the conservatives. “We want capitalism because we believe that it is the best way to achieve “the highest good.” We're just like you.”

“How is that possible? Isn’t capitalism about greedy acquisition and theft from the poor?” ask the progressives.

“Yes, it is,” say the conservatives. “But we can control that through regulations and Antitrust. We just want to manipulate the market so it can achieve “the highest good.””

“So do we,” say the progressives. “That’s why we want to re-distribute wealth.”

“But that will create distortions in the marketplace. We don’t want any distortions, do we?”

“See,” say the progressives. "You really don’t mean what you say. You are really just working for those greedy capitalists.”

This is called “the moral argument” and it is based on the premise that all human action should be without self-interest; that it should be “for others”. The conservatives have no answer except to say they agree; they just want to accomplish social well being in a different way, a way that works.

“Trickle down,” say the progressives. “Capitalism has failed. We’ve got a better way. Let’s just take the money.”

The problem for the conservatives is that pesky little word “self-interest”. Because of their altruistic (utilitarian) premises, they just can’t get around the idea that capitalism is really about self-interest. They wish that it weren’t so.

"But the Founders established our traditions and those are good, aren't they?"

The progressives just chuckle at the hypocrisy.

Indeed, self-interest is a pretty bad motivation if you believe that man's duty is to sacrifice for others. The conservatives are stuck with the contradiction. And the dubious utilitarian argument just doesn’t seem to work when you’ve got those left-wing protesters out on the streets in front of television cameras complaining about greed and riches and theft and MONEY, even wild parties and lots of sex too. Once you lay that guilt trip on them, conservatives shut up and vote the way the progressives want.

The progressives have been successful in manipulating the conservatives into being the agents of “self-interest”. Not only have they painted the conservatives into the corner as stealthy advocates of it, but they are also the teachers who have put the proverbial dunce caps on them as well. The conservatives simply cannot get out of that corner until they learn to claim the moral high ground. They are evading the moral arguments for capitalism, the very arguments that hard working Americans in the Tea Party Movement would champion and support. These are the arguments that they need if they are to establish the moral fervor necessary to withstand the same progressive arguments that have silenced the conservatives for so long - and that make the conservatives into weaklings hardly worth getting out of bed to vote for.

How do they find that moral high ground? You might be surprised to hear that they can't do it by quoting God at every turn. No voter is going to get excited about "moral contrivances" designed to restrict immoral actions. Voters are only going to get excited about a bright new future that liberates men to solve their own problems through hard work and that protects their earnings from thieves who call themselves representatives of the people. They will only get excited about the possibility of working hard and keeping their earnings so they can benefit themselves (and their families). They need a "selfish" reason to vote.

They have to reject the view that man’s nature is part of any “tragic” vision. They must stop focusing their arguments on the idea that man is fallible, that he can only survive by sacrificing for others; they must stop implying that men will always make the wrong moral decisions and that government is there to hold him back. These arguments do not justify freedom; they justify coercion against individuals. Under this view, choosing to live, to create values, to trade values, to organize companies, to be productive, to think, to produce, to make a (huge) profit, to flourish and to enjoy life are all immoral decisions. Conservatives must learn to embrace morality by embracing the pursuit of happiness and by being guiltlessly proud of it. It is not a sin to declare that man is a creature with the ability to reason, to choose and to enjoy life.

As I wrote in my recent blog, “The Immoral Roots of Anti-capitalism”, “Altruism is not the moral base of a capitalist system. We can’t have a successful capitalist system if we just want to help people. Capitalism requires an independent mind. We must want men to be successful, we must know that it requires work, we must honor the independent mind and we must give credit where credit is due. Altruism requires a mind ruled by the edicts of superiors and it tells man that to be moral he only needs to follow the easiest path of all: the road that preaches sacrifice as virtue. Capitalism requires integrity. Altruism requires that man fight his bodily nature with his spiritual self-sacrificial code. Capitalism requires honesty. Altruism requires that one deceive one's own mind. Capitalism requires justice. Altruism requires that justice be suspended among men, that men do society's work by being unjust towards those who refuse to sacrifice. Capitalism requires productiveness. Altruism requires that the productive are not as important as those who give away the confiscated money of the productive. Capitalism requires pride. Altruism requires both humility in some men and pretentiousness in others. Capitalism requires principled action based on abstract concepts that are tied to reality. Altruism requires Kantian mush, vague, disconnected equivocation, switching contexts, unintelligibility, one reality that is inaccessible by the mind and a second mental universe that is incompetent. Capitalism is a challenge to the individual and it demands his best effort. Altruism demands only envy and hatred of capitalism.”

The Founders understood that man should be free to make a better life. They knew that he can only do so by identifying reality, understanding what is in his best interest, knowing or discovering how to achieve it and then taking action. They understood that man was good because they had themselves achieved success in life by means of study, practical action and reason. This is the source of our “rugged individualism”; the source of a unique image of a man with the self-confidence and the ability to survive in the wilderness. “Daniel Boone was a man!” This is why they based our society upon the principles of “life, liberty and the pursuit happiness”. This is why they limited the power of government to violate those rights.

The Founders understood that freedom makes possible the unhindered pursuit of values. And in order to produce values, a man must have the ability to identify what values are, what human purposes they achieve and not only how to create them but also how to price them, deliver them and discuss their features and benefits in terms of value for the purchaser. A value can only be created as an outgrowth of a rational process, a thinking process that identifies what is in the maker's and the buyer's mutual self-interest.

Values must be proudly selfish because their creation depends upon a person’s choice, and in order for you to choose a life-enhancing value, it must first be validated by a process of reason that justifies it in terms of benefit to the life of the valuer. There is no other way to think about values. Conservatives will never argue for capitalism on this basis and this is why you see Professor Sowell attempting to explain the differences between conservatives and progressives on grounds other than an individual’s moral right to the pursuit of his own, individual happiness.

Contrast the politician of today with an architect such as Frank Lloyd Wright and you will see the difference between a valuer and a nihilist. Wright and his designs are pro-man, pro-life, pro-value. The architect expressed his love of life and of values by means of manipulating natural resources to express in his buildings a concept of priceless utility combined with ultimate beauty and the enjoyment of both. The designs of his buildings expressed so much more than just lines and corners; they expressed the beauty of nature, the organization of natural resources and the feelings of comfort and relaxation. The emphasis on values is so implicit yet so real that you must grow intellectually in order to comprehend the beauty within the mind of the architect. He brings you to a new evaluation of man and all that is possible through him. This is what America and American business is all about, this love of values, this moral high ground, not the sleazy smile of a person who has done nothing notable except write grants for non-profit (and unprofitable) organizations, write books about nothing that he has done and became famous for writing books about nothing that he has done. Contrast a Wright with an Obama and you’ll see the difference between a person who creates values and one who re-distributes them. One is a businessman who creates life as a natural outgrowth of loving life and the other creates poverty through flim flam and manipulation. One inspires the upward glance; the other inspires the glance of hatred and envy aimed at any man with a mind.

This refusal by the conservatives to defend capitalism on proper moral grounds has created a situation where there is no opposition to the progressives; and it opens the door to the vilest forms of nihilism. At every turn, President Obama destroys values. Whether it is American free enterprise, the sacredness of contract, the rewarding of failure, the bailouts, the dismissing of our allies (and especially of Israel), the hand (full of cash) extended toward dictators, unilateral nuclear disarmament, the unwillingness to take on Iran, socialized medicine, Cap and Trade, Union Card Check – everything he does destroys values.

• The President’s antipathy toward free enterprise moves businessmen to hold off investment in the future, freezes cash expenditures and destroys economic recovery.

• His violation of the Chrysler contract with investors has established the precedent that destroyed the sacredness and inviolability of contract, a pillar of all great civilizations.

• His boondoggles and “social justice” programs have taken money from the hands of honest working people, lowering their standards of living and creating poverty and hunger.

• His bailouts of banks and other companies has turned these companies into oligarchs, harmed their competitors, slowed their growth, caused them to lay off employees and spend inordinate amounts of money in campaign contributions to Democrats.

• His dismissing of our allies on various occasions will harm international cooperation for years into the future and give dictators a stronger reason to attack our troops, our citizens and our long-time friend Israel, creating a more unsafe world.

• His outreach to dictators and his bowing before potentates sends a clear signal that the United States is now under the control of a person who has offered it up as a sacrificial lamb to be bled by sundry third world non-entities.

• His unilateral canceling of the nuclear defense shield has put Poland and other former Soviet satellites inside the gun-sights of Russia and it has emboldened Iran in her pursuit of nuclear weapons.

• His “ObamaCare” program will destroy the medical profession, reduce the number of hospitals, reduce the quality of health care, put insurance companies out of business and increase costs while also raising taxes and rationing care.

• His Cap and Trade Bill will create a large oligarchy of companies that will milk money from the taxpayer to build unproductive factories, producing unwanted products, lowering energy consumption, reducing the output of other factories, destroying jobs, raising taxes and lowering our standard of living.

• Union Card Check will give unions the upper hand in shaking down businesses, destroying production, increasing graft and corruption and destroying jobs while raising wages that will put companies out of business or cause them to move to other countries.

This "victory of nihilism" that Obama has wrought is clearly the fault of conservatives who did not fight for capitalism and freedom in a way that defended the rights of Americans to live, succeed and enjoy life. It has destroyed our ability to produce abundance, but more importantly, it may have destroyed our futures. And because conservatives have too easily attempted bi-partisan cooperation with progressives for so many decades, Americans will wonder if the conservatives they elect to save our country will not merely continue to do what they’ve always done – promise smaller government but deliver bigger budgets.

In order to defend limited government, we must defend the capitalist system that is its product. In order to defend the good men who are living moral lives by being productive, we must have a different view of man, a view that sees man, not as a tragic joke who needs to be free because he is stupid - but as a healthy, strong and independent thinker who can make the right decisions about this life and actions – and who needs to be free because it is his right to use his mind. Only when we defend man’s competence, can those who advocate limited government and individual rights capture the moral high ground.

But here’s the nagging question for me and it should give those in the Tea Party Movement some thought. It is understandable that freedom of religion is a fundamental right and it should be fought for whenever it is being threatened. It is a fundamental right because a belief in religion comes from a decision made by each individual mind and, if a person chooses to believe, that right is his alone. But in making a big issue about freedom of religion in the Tea Party Movement, are we perhaps putting ourselves in danger of having religious conservatives co-opt the movement and turn it into a Trojan Horse for theocracy? Are we inadvertently making room for the kind of system that is antithetical to a free society? Is it possible that these arguments are being inserted into the Tea Party debate by those who would take over the Tea Parties and use them to create a national religion established by the government? These are important questions.

In my view, the Trojan Horse could come into the Tea Party Movement under the guise of traditional values, family values, charity and sacrifice. The emphasis on faith, hope and charity is conservatism, a veiled effort to square religious collectivism with individual freedom. The result would be the destruction of individual freedom. Religious collectivism is as great a threat to our freedoms as is progressive collectivism.

How will they do this? They will continue to argue, like many conservative speakers in the past, that our freedoms are from God (rather than leaving the individual alone to decide about the source of his freedoms). They will continue to advance issues around legislated morality rather than individual freedom and they will attempt to divert the Tea Party passion for freedom toward the conservative insistence on religion in government. Once they win politically, by associating with the success of the Tea Party Movement, there may be no opposition to the establishment of a national religion. Just like the progressives who are attempting to hide their fundamental goal which is a totalitarian society, the theocrats are hiding their fundamental goal which is a theocracy, a form of totalitarian society that was defeated by the American Revolution.

Should the Tea Party Movement make common cause with the conservative movement? I say no. The Tea Party Movement should only make common cause with individuals. It should be about what America is about; freedom for every individual; freedom of thought, speech, property, self-defense, limited government and constitutional protections. It should welcome every person regardless of color, creed or origin. We must stand on the inviolability of the individual not the collective. If individual conservatives want to change their basic principles and become champions of freedom and individual rights, that should be welcomed. They can join the Tea Party movement. But the Tea Party Movement should never allow the conservative movement to take over the debate and replace it with a veiled argument for theocracy. In addition, we should scrutinize conservative political candidates and insist on their adherence to individual rights and constitutionally protected liberties. And they should tell us what they will do specifically to change the institutions of government to reflect those principles.

I think it is critical to the success of constitutionally protected liberty that we not become champions of religious collectivism. We must honor the individual and his rights.

The Founders did not create a society that was based on the imperfectability of man. If any of them expressed that view, they were wrong. In fact, they created a society based on the Enlightenment view of man as a creature of reason and they established the governmental machinery that protected man's mind from the encroachment of unreason. They wanted to foster free expression, free thought, free choices, free markets, in short, liberty; the right of man to live as he chooses without the imposition of government – including without the imposition of a religion.

Jefferson said, “Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity (of religious thought). What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth. Let us reflect that it is inhabited by a thousand millions of people. That these profess probably a thousand different systems of religion. That ours is but one of that thousand. That if there be but one right, and ours that one, we should wish to see the 999 wandering sects gathered into the fold of truth. But against such a majority we cannot effect this by force. Reason and persuasion are the only practicable instruments. To make way for these, free enquiry must be indulged; and how can we wish others to indulge it while we refuse it ourselves.”[7] (Parentheses mine)

Many of the original settlers of our country were concerned about finding a place where they could practice their religion. Few of them were concerned about spreading their faith to other men. They had experienced too much of that imposed upon them in Europe. They wanted the freedom to experience and practice their religious principles in their own way. In fact, many of these sects saw religious faith as an individual choice to be contemplated and enjoyed individually in the wondrous and scenic nature that our new land provided. Many of them clearly understood the importance of religious tolerance. We should follow their example.

I think the insecurity of many conservatives stems from a feeling that religion will someday go away. I think they are afraid that they don’t have an argument against science and reason and they want to convince us that if religion goes away so will freedom. Many of them probably believe this. Their insistence that reason and science (secularism) will turn man into a wild wanton sinful brute is the flaw in their argument. Their belief that man cannot be good without God is intolerant and insulting to many Americans who have fought for the principle of religious freedom while also holding to their own philosophies or religions. In truth, only free men want to think the highest thoughts; they want to traverse the frontiers of the planet and the universe. If they discover God at the end, it is their right to think as they wish. If they do not, that is their right as well. In truth, only free men can be perfect and that perfection is not a threat to God.

I would like to state that I admire Thomas Sowell immensely. His defense of capitalism through these many years has undoubtedly required heroic courage and intellectual honesty considering our present political climate. He is truly an admirable man who deserves the highest praise. With that said, I think he is wrong on this crucial issue. If you believe that man is tragically imperfect, the logical conclusion is that you should not leave him free; you should restrict his freedom. And this is clearly what Doctor Sowell advocates when he says that “social contrivances seek to restrict behavior that leads to unhappiness, even though these restrictions themselves cause a certain amount of unhappiness.”

In fact, the correct view of man is that he is a perfect being, fully capable of survival and success using his own considerable and wonderful attributes. He is a creature that should be allowed to discover his perfection through his freely chosen thoughts and actions. Because man is perfect, he must be free. If there is anything in this world to "believe" in, it is the glorious possibilities of man.

Only a free man can be moral.

[1] Intellectuals and Society, Thomas Sowell, Basic Books, hardcover page 77
[2] Ibid page 77
[3] Ibid, Page 76
[4] Ibid page 78
[5] Ibid page 78
[6] Ibid page 79-80
[7] Thomas Jefferson, The Notes on Virginia

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Good versus Evil

An issue that I’ve studied a lot is the issue of how an honest person can deal with and survive in the presence of evil. I define evil as the ability and willingness of a person to do harm to other people, their minds and properties without concern for the damage done.

The average person must confront a myriad of situations that involve dealing with evil and the difficult question is how to recognize it, how to make sure you aren’t being fooled by someone who claims to be doing good but who has ulterior evil intent. That an honest person is put into a situation where he must confront evil is a travesty in itself; the best policy is to avoid it, not deal with it and let it destroy itself. But when a society is on the slippery slope toward the dominance of evil, honest people must learn to defend themselves. So, to begin, we must start with a proper foundation.

As Voltaire said about Francis Bacon when he asked how we can know a great man. His answer: "It is the man who sways our minds by the prevalence of reason and the native force of truth, not they who reduce mankind to a state of slavery by brutish force and downright violence..." The implication is that the evil person has only one goal in the final sense: to destroy or enslave people. The good person is one who adheres to reason, truth, morality.

The difference between the good and the evil represents two fundamental principles, each the direct opposite of the other. I break them down in the following way:

Life as Standard-----------------------------Death as Standard
Life-serving Values-------------------------Nihilism/Moral Equivalence
Capitalism/Limited Government------Dictatorship/Unlimited Government

Notice that each of these principles has an exact opposite. This is based on the principle of anti-thesis that takes abstract principles and defines them in terms of their contradictories.

This approach makes it possible to draw clear lines between good and evil, truth and falsehood, and eliminates the confusion created by taking a moral “middle-of-the-road”. The middle-of-the-road approach is called moral equivalence which puts us on a slippery slope (so to speak) that leads to the victory of evil. This is the position of many of the "talking heads" on television and radio who admonish people for taking a stand against the progressives; their position is that you should not judge, not question and just assume that the left is really just trying to make things better. They accuse you of "McCarthyism" "racism" or anything else they can get away with so that you feel guilty for taking a stand against government coercion. Those who favor evil, consciously or sub-consciously, want to get you on that slippery slope toward evil so you don't really know what is happening to you in terms of your integrity and moral sensibility.

I like this approach to understanding human problems because it starts with a broad abstraction that subsumes a host of other abstractions and concretes. By understanding issues in this way, you can sweep aside the ideas of those who want to confuse you about their ends and the means of accomplishing them. For instance, if you hear an argument based on nihilism, you know that its opposite must be life as the standard and therefore nihilism holds death as the standard. This enables you to eliminate the influence, in your mind, of people who are nihilists (such as George Soros, his funded organizations and other pragmatists). The same can be said of those who favor self-sacrifice. Their opposite is self-interest which explains why they are constantly criticizing capitalism, individualism, reason, etc. This puts them squarely on the side of evil though they claim to represent the good.

For those of you who think there is no harm in compromising with bad ideas or who say that you can see good in all sides, I'd like for you to consider where you stand on the chart and to what you are opposed. I'd like for you to consider that self-imposed blindness is still blindness. Any compromise with nihilism and anti-reason puts you on the side of evil. You have to decide the truth for yourself. "Whenever men expect reality to conform to their wish simply because it is their wish, they are doomed to metaphysical disappointment. This leads them to the dichotomy: my dream vs. the actual which thwarts it... "(1)

Those who would usher evil into society, those people dedicated to plundering values of all varieties, must convince the good people that their rationalizations are really aimed at the good. This is why you hear progressives in our society constantly telling you that they respect freedom and the Constitution, but they want just a little bit of force in society in order to do good. The truth is, because they advocate force as a means for accomplishing their goals, they really don’t want to do good. They want to destroy and they should be rejected out of hand.

Just look at the chart.

(1) Objectivism, The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, Leonard Peikoff

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Immoral Roots of Anti-Capitalism

Intellectuals, historians, and economists of free market persuasion have asked themselves, "Why have the historians been predominantly anti-capitalist? Why have they sought to make capitalism appear to be such an evil system when it is responsible for so much good?" Indeed, the history of economic thought is full of intellectuals that have had a selective bias against the achievements of capitalism.

While reading a book on this subject, I noticed that the writers who were trying to defend capitalism offered little argument that completely discredited the profusion of anti-capitalist viewpoints. In fact, there was almost a condescending, apologetic attitude toward men whose words were but crass virulent hatred of capitalism. The book, “Capitalism and the Historians”, although excellent in many ways, is weak in one major area: It does not adequately answer the question, "Why do historians distort the facts about capitalism's development?"

None of the distinguished historians whose papers appear in the book attribute to anti-capitalist historians an evil intent. T. S. Ashton refers to "pessimistic views of the effect of industrial change" and says such historians "are not informed by any glimmering of economic sense." Another problem for Ashton is that certain commentators preferred political interpretation of an interventionist nature. He notes also the threading of "facts on a Marxist string." And finally, "The truth is (as Professor Koebner has said) that neither Marx nor Sombart (nor, for that matter, Adam Smith) had any idea of the real nature of what we call the Industrial Revolution. They overstressed the part played by science and had no conception of an economic system that develops spontaneously without the help of either the state or the philosopher. It is, however, the stress on the capitalist spirit that has, I think, done most harm, for, from being a phrase suggesting a mental or emotional attitude, it has become an impersonal, super-human force. It is no longer men and women, exercising free choice, who effect change, but capitalism or the spirit of capitalism. 'Capitalism,' says Schumpeter, 'develops rationality.' 'Capitalism exalts the monetary unit.' 'Capitalism produced the mental attitude of modern science.' 'Modern pacificism, modern international morality, modern feminism, are products of capitalism.”

Whatever this is, it is certainly not economic history. It has introduced a new mysticism into the recounting of plain facts. "What should we do with a candidate who purports to explain why the limited-liability company came into being in England in the 1850's with the following words? I quote literally from the scripture: 'Individualism was forced to give way to laissez faire as the development of capitalism found the early emergent stage of entrepreneurial capitalism a hindrance to that rational expansive development which is the very ethos of capitalism.'" Professor Ashton's solution? "But I hold strongly that the future of the subject lies in closer cooperation with the work of economists and that phrases which perhaps served a purpose a generation ago should now be discarded."

L. M. Hacker, in his address, "Anticapitalist Bias of American History," holds that it was not so much Marxist influence that led to the anti-capitalist bias in America, but American political development, primarily, "the recurring struggle between Jeffersonian and Hamiltonian ideas--that is, the creation and maintenance of a weak or a strong central authority; the intrusion of moral questions into the American public debates--slavery, women's rights, prohibition."

This explanation does not answer the question of why the supposed solutions to these matters involved an anti-capitalist bias. Why was capitalism always seen as morally wrong?

Bertrand De Jouvenal, in his "The Treatment of Capitalism by Continental Intellectuals," holds that the Western intelligensia dislike capitalism because of "a grafting of strong feeling onto a weak stem of positive knowledge." He then proceeds to discuss some ways that capitalism is "unpleasant to the intellectuals," and moves to a suggestion that social science may tell us, if it decides to look at such an issue, why the intellectuals act and think as they do. His basic argument is that the peculiar position in society held by the intellectuals could account for an anti-capitalist bias. The "market value of the intellectual's output is far below factor output."

And so it goes. You can read on and on, finding in the defenders of capitalism what appears to be an unwillingness to define the one factor, the one idea that gives rise to the hatred of capitalism. Most of the reasons given in the book are true, in a sense, and to a point, but they do not go far enough. The defenders of capitalism do not yet sufficiently understand the nature of capitalism and this makes it impossible for them to provide for it what its enemies have in profusion: a moral argument.

If one studies the arguments of capitalism's enemies throughout history, one will find, almost to a man, that they hold one philosophical viewpoint, specifically one moral premise: altruism, the idea that it is man’s duty to sacrifice for others. They sense, more than do the defenders of capitalism, that a capitalist economic system represents, for most men, an alien code and view of man. Compared to the defenders of capitalism, they know that capitalism is based on selfishness, not charity. They know that if capitalism were to remain pure, their moral code of ritualistic self-sacrifice, as well as their view of man as a helpless pawn under history's or God's or the government’s control, would hold no influence over men. If capitalism were allowed to be capitalism, in other words, if the defenders of capitalism were to defend man’s right to be moral, to live for his own sake, to be responsible for himself, proudly, passionately, with conviction and pride, the philosophies of Kant, Marx, Hegel and a host of modern offshoots, would be swept away. Men would no longer be intrigued by the ineffable, the vague and undefined, and would instead insist that ideas have a real value, a real application to their individual lives.

Once Americans begin to stand for their right to be moral; once they begin to fight against the idea that their role in society is to be dutiful sacrificial victims; once they realize that the motive and goal of the detractors of capitalism is nothing more than the destruction of freedom, which means the destruction of their right to live by means of their independent minds; once men begin to demand that government get out of their lives, only then will the progressives become part of the disastrous past that they have created.

That the defenders of capitalism do not know this is proof of the success that the altruist morality has had in keeping from men the fact that a rational, moral code of ethics is possible. The defenders of capitalism are, for the most part, altruists themselves (see the conservatives). They adhere to the ideas of altruistic self-sacrifice--so much so that it blinds them to the true nature of capitalism and forces them into the position of being condescending but cheery opponents of men who are neither condescending nor cheery in their hatred of freedom and capitalism.

Altruism is not the moral base of a capitalist system. We can’t have a successful capitalist system if we just want to help people. Capitalism requires an independent mind. We must want men to be successful, we must know that it requires work, we must honor the independent mind and we must give credit where credit is due. Altruism requires a mind ruled by the edicts of superiors and it tells man that to be moral he only needs to follow the easiest path of all: the road that preaches sacrifice as virtue.

Capitalism requires integrity. Altruism requires that man fight his bodily nature with his spiritual self-sacrificial code. Capitalism requires honesty. Altruism requires that one deceive one's own mind. Capitalism requires justice. Altruism requires that justice be suspended among men, that men do society's work by being unjust towards those who refuse to sacrifice. Capitalism requires productiveness. Altruism requires that the productive are not as important as those who give away the confiscated money of the productive. Capitalism requires pride. Altruism requires both humility in some men and pretentiousness in others. Capitalism requires principled action based on abstract concepts that are tied to reality. Altruism requires Kantian mush, vague, disconnected equivocation, switching contexts, unintelligibility, one reality that is inaccessible by the mind and a second mental universe that is incompetent. Capitalism is a challenge to the individual and it demands his best effort. Altruism demands only envy and hatred of capitalism.

Certainly, the detractors of capitalism have a massive blind spot. Their altruistic premises color their interpretation of historical facts to such a degree that they believe reality conforms to their views. But the defenders of capitalism have a more devastating yet hardly noticed, blind spot. Their evasion of the evil of altruism has kept them from discovering that capitalism is the moral system--the system to be advocated with fire and vigor and enthusiasm. It is, after all, freedom among men that makes capitalism successful. It is the possibility of moral living that makes capitalism the moral system.

It is the idea that no man should live as a serf that liberated our country and made it the most successful in the history of the planet. Freedom is what makes America a better place to live. Freedom is what makes Americans the happiest and most tolerant people on this earth. Freedom is what makes us the envy of the world. Freedom is what makes us hated, not because we are decadent, but because, as a nation, we give every citizen the possibility of creating his own happiness in his own way. We are the first nation since the Greeks that made moral living possible on earth.

The mortal enemies of freedom are those who believe that men are moral only when they perform ritual sacrifice. Freedom is the enemy of the man who believes deep down in the core of his being that if men were free, he would not be able to survive.

Are most intellectuals and economists biased against capitalism? Yes, as long as they hold that altruistic self-sacrifice is the proper morality for man and for an economic system. Are they right? No, and no amount of condescending argument that says capitalism will achieve the goals of altruists will work against intellectuals who hate themselves and men. No amount of cheery debate against people that want slavery for men will enable capitalism to win. The haters of capitalism must be exposed as haters of men and haters of freedom.

We must fight for capitalism based upon man’s right to be free, his right to property, his right to speak and think, and his right to happiness. Consequences, such as the fact that capitalism creates the most vibrant economy, are irrelevant. Capitalism is moral because only free men can be moral.