Rebirth of Reason

War for Men's Minds

by Manfred F. Schieder

   There’s a whole range of explanations and comments to this question on the Internet (for example, at Google’s “Why do people hate Capitalism?), but I will add my bit to the fray by quoting philosopher Ayn Rand, who gave a full analysis of what triggers this specific hatred.

   The major part of the population, almost the whole of mankind, still lives in the social as well as mental conditioning that we inherited from our very, very early ancestors, a type of society and behavior that is typical of all pre-human species, composed of a ruler and his coterie, who determines what must be done, what is allowed or forbidden to do, and a mass of underlings that follow this kind of social structure, for, should they not do so, they would immediately be considered as reactionary and dangerous and treated accordingly.

   Capitalism follows a completely different philosophical, moral and also political and social basis. Thus, it is viewed as suspect and, of course, dangerous, a fact that shouldn’t surprise, for it directly confronts and challenges the system existing since millions of years, forcing it to recognize its defeat.

   This evidently blocks every possible kindness from the rulers toward it, and, besides, unleashes the general population’s rejection, for they have grown accustomed to the existing situation, taken the best advantages from it for their personal benefit, and, thus, distrust even the slightest change. On top of it Capitalism doesn’t signify a slight but a total change of the existing conditions.

   This is the way of evolution, a fact that requires a thoroughgoing explanation, from which a clear statement results in connection with the rejection produced among the population.

   Such a complete explanation makes it necessary to look back to a far past, as it connects to our evolutionary early stages and the related mental perception. The resulting impression is fear from the unknown, for if there ever existed something that can be called revolutionary, it’s everything related with Capitalism. It’s the very foundation of a new species.

   Mankind is itself now in the final phase of a time of transition that started some 350 year ago. While Ludwig von Mises reminds us that we live continuously in a state of transition (which the evolution of species, to which the human development is part, proves) there are still some fundamental times that enhance the rungs of change, for example the time of the Renaissance, the moment when the Western world started to distance itself from the superstitions and mysticism developed at the childhood of the species. The Renaissance, whose denomination couldn’t be avoided neither by religion nor rulers, is a clear example of it. It is the time when mankind’s rebirth took place.

   Among the evolution of species mankind is a final product, THE final product as such, the moment when the automatic evolutionary process reached the climax of its development, the point at which auto-evolution couldn’t reach any higher state. The further process of development was delivered to mankind itself, a fact for which the development of robotics and Information Technology (IT) provides a clear insight. The automatic evolutionary process had reached a product that included the capacity to think, the human mind, and its required tools: an upright posture, grasping tools (Hands), the capacity to communicate verbally (Speech and language) and its automatic addition: drawing and symbols, numbers and counting. Any further evolution of these tools is part of human self-development. But this was to take millions of years. Besides all this and as an automatic takeover, mankind had automatically taken up the social behavior of the instinctive, irrational acting species from which it had evolved during the early stages of evolution: the herd instinct, characterized by a ruler, his gang and the mass of underlings.

   At the beginning this didn’t disturb the development of the new species, for mentally it had barely a higher level than all the other primates from which it came. Thus, it would have been most difficult to recognize any humanness in those members of the new species existing 5 million years ago. Only fossils dating back 4.5 million years can be recognized as future “humans”. The very oldest of them were found in East- and South Africa. They were denominated Ardipithecus and Australopithecus. Lucy-Girl can hardly be described as a female beauty. Further million years went by, until 1.6 million years ago the first “Homo erectus” could be recognized. He differentiated himself from his earlier ancestors because he already used fire and developed a rudimentary tool production, among which there is a simple wedge stone that allows to dissect the prey. Even early mass production can be recognized at this stage, for whole stone tool production sites have been found.

   For a description of mankind’s further evolution it’s best to refer to specialized books, such as Isaac Asimov’s “The Wellsprings of Life”, and “The New Intelligent Man’s Guide to Science.”

   A thinking brain has a never ending thirst for knowledge, which, in turn, drives us further into deeper understanding. Not unexpectedly, will such a brain, in its earliest stages, develop the most unbelievable “explanations,” which will be taken by the rulers and their clans to raise their power over the herd, thus becoming religion. “Trees and Weather ghosts” later become gods and their promoters reach power by issuing certain rules of behavior (Morals) that are favorable to the rulers and are spread by using the most terrible methods to subdue those unwilling to obey (Inquisition, etc.) and the sparking of wars. The belief that belief is something different from superstition, is the worst superstition of all, stated Karlheinz Deschner, whose political views I don’t share at all, in his treatises of religion.

   But superstition contains, already due to the chaotic explanations it contains, large amounts of contradictions, which soon raised in the mind of the cleverest the conviction that far easier, natural explications had to exist to explain the events happening in nature. Even though it was dangerous to develop such a conviction and make it public (Remember Copernicus), the mind craves for clear explanations, clear answers, which, in turn, lead to the attainment of further discoveries and inventions that promote the advancement of mankind.

   The Renaissance is the penultimate turning point in mankind’s history. Sluggishly at the beginning, but then with increasing speed, knowledge about us human beings, nature and the whole universe, the place where our existence takes place, developed. Even the social system inherited from our far, far away ancestors, was questioned, specifically in 1623 by Governor Bradford in the at that time British colony of Virginia in the later becoming United States of America. The Puritans living there strictly obeyed the instruction of “From each in accordance with his capacity, to each in accordance with his needs,” a dictum later taken up by communism. But this premise only produced hunger and, thus, misery, since the capable soon noticed that they were exploited by the incapable, thus deciding to add himself to the incompetent and work as little as possible.

   The “moral” premise itself – the basis of altruism, the obligation to live for the next of kin – is the secular expression of the biblical Sermon of the Mount and further related religious commands. Horrified by the terrible conditions that these rules produced among the inhabitants, led Bradford to set the social structure inherited by Nature aside and try something up to then unknown. Since under the existing conditions people died anyway like flies, he decided that a one year test couldn’t yield any worse results. Bradford decided to allow each one to care only for himself. Unexpectedly for the inhabitants, the new way of life produced excellent results. Death rate decreased and the general wellbeing increased continuously, for the capable had a full intention to gain from what they produced, while the parasites suddenly found themselves in the situation of having to work to sustain themselves.

   A given idea can be common to several people. During Bradford’s century, philosopher Locke (1632 – 1704) developed the same idea in his works and Adam Smith evolved it in his economic treatise “The Wealth of Nations,” published the year when America’s Founding Fathers (Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, etc.) incorporated the principle to the Declaration of Independence of the new nation, Jefferson adding to it the right to the pursuit of happiness, an even up to now utterly new aim.

   Marx, who later on would call it Capitalism, disproved the validity of his own effort to foster and permanently anchor the existing collectivism when he described Capitalism’s success in his “Communist Manifesto”: “The bourgeoisie (the term used for capitalists, as opposed to proletarians who are laborers), by the rapid improvement of all Instruments of production, by the immensely facilitated means of communication, draws all, even the most backward nations into civilization. The cheap prices of its commodities are the heavy artillery with which it batters down all Chinese walls, with which it forces the underdeveloped nations' intensely obstinate hatred of foreigners to capitulate… [Capitalism] has created enormous cities ... and has thus rescued a considerable part of the population from the idiocy of rural lite… The bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarcely one hundred years, has created more massive and more colossal productive forces than have all preceding generations together… In the same proportion as the bourgeoisie, i.e. capital, is developed, in the same proportion is the proletariat, the modern working class, developed.”

   It’s quite understandable that rulers and their clique, all of them parasites, hadn’t the slightest intention to give up their privileged positions. On the contrary, they resorted to anything available to extend it and painted a frightening picture of hunger and misery to the ignorant population if it departed from its rulers. The not less shocked intellectuals, the main part of which received their incomes from the rulers (Kant, for example, was an employee of the King of Prussia) gathered against the new system to defend the one existing, which guaranteed their personal earnings. A close ally seconded them: the general population’s hatred against the wealthy and the upper classes. For an example, think of the “Jus prima noctis,” that allowed the rulers and their gang the “first night” with the brides-to-be. The at that time existing feudalism, whose “modern” structure still prevails, was based on the ruling authorities who considered themselves to be entitled to allow whatever benefited them, while all else was prohibited. All this tore the subjects asunder between their unwillingness against the rulers and their fright from the new. An excellent description of these circumstances and facts can be read in Ayn Rand’s “For the New Intellectual” in her book of the same name.

   What the general population forgot was the fact that new wealthy people existed whose works were raising the living standard of the lower masses. Even Marx, himself a parasite that lived off the sustenance provided by industrialist Frederic Engels, had to acknowledge this.

   It can’t be denied that the industrialists, the businessmen, weren’t very fussy about their workforce, and history gives sufficient proof of this. But here the conditions existing at that time must be taken into consideration. Slavery was still in full use and only eliminated in 1833 in the British Empire.

   The so-called guilds operated as representatives of the entrepreneurs, issuing the license for businessmen to perform their industry and trade. The new businessmen even found advantages in the established social system, this refraining them from any intention to change it, and this convinced the general population that the “Manchester-Capitalism” wasn’t working to their benefit. But in this respect they made a fundamental mistake, for wellbeing was creeping on unnoticed roads even into the lowest worker’s corners.

As mentioned, neither at those times nor nowadays does the majority of the entrepreneurs hold a kind heart for the workers. Businessmen have their own interests, which Capitalism, as we will see, fully backs-up, for this system proceeds on a fundamentally different basis, where only the capable are valid, this in turn producing a healthy competition, since it even moves the less capable to steadily increase their knowledge and dexterity, a fact that continuously heightens the general wellbeing. The mere fact of being alive is the fact that obliges everybody to better his capacities. This is a law of human existence. In his book “Human Action” Ludwig von Mises, one of the main founders of the so-called “Austrian School, of Economy,” i.e. Capitalism (for their main thinkers were of Austrian origin), described these facts as follows: “The rich, the owners of the already operating plants, have no particular class interest in the maintenance of free competition. They are opposed to confiscation and expropriation of their fortunes, but their vested interests are rather in favor of measures preventing newcomers from challenging their position. Those fighting for free enterprise and free competition do not defend the interests of those rich today. They want a free hand left to unknown men who will be the entrepreneurs of tomorrow and whose ingenuity will make the life of coming generations more agreeable. They want the way left open to further economic improvements. They are the spokesmen of progress.”

   Does this turn the so-called “Manchester businessmen” into bad boys with a cold head for their workers, as they are usually described nowadays? Only when we compare them with currently existing standards, can’t it be denied. But the past presents a thoroughly different picture.

   For example: Was child labor damnable? Only against modern standards, for even betterment takes time. In those days it couldn’t be termed terrible, for the as by intellectuals as romantically idyllic perceived country life, from which many laborers proceeded, could by no means be considered idyllic, since it was filthy and sickening. Peasants lived in hunger, were continuously subject to deadly diseases and worked from the earliest dawn to the most advanced dusk. By the time the first photographs of peasantry appeared, they sent a shiver of horror and deception through the rungs of the cultivated. Peasants and their families didn’t leave the farms to experience worse in the factory halls, but to reach betterment. For the first time in their meagre lives where children fed with milk and good food. Even this was already progress. The so often praised country life was clear and adequately described by Frances Hodgson Burnett in her novel “Little Lord Fountleroy” and depicted in its movie. At those times simple people fed like animals (there’s no better way to describe it) from troughs carved into the surface of a table, until Josiah Wedgewood produced the first useful ceramic plates at a cheap price for the common people, a tableware that even today enjoys wide acceptance: the simple white plate decorated with the wheat ear. Wedgewood didn’t produce it for love of kin but for the sheer egoistic reason to earn money so as to reach a better life himself. For the driving motives of Capitalism are different from those that so-called people-loving-socialists would wish. It’s Capitalism’s secondary effects that spread wellbeing, not the eventual “kindness” of businessmen.

   Improvement was now reaching the poorest part of the population, but, of course, this didn’t satisfy intellectuals such as Ruskin and Dickens, who popularized their hatred against the new entrepreneurs who had discovered that also common people make up an important market.

   As mentioned before and just as Bradford had discovered earlier, they were not acting out of charity, out of altruism, but following the rules of egoism, the exact opposite to the established morals. This guiding rule wasn’t specifically noticed at that time. It was new and corresponded to a way of life that was now on the road to a definitive separation from all lower species. It would still take a century to be clearly notices and it would require the brain of a female genius to be described.

   The fact had already been mentioned by Adam Smith, though he himself still belonged to the old ethics and wasn’t aware of the impossibility of a return to the past. “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we obtain our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages,” he wrote in his book “The Wealth of Nations”.

   Such a different understanding of life also requires a different ethic, one definitively opposed to the existing one. Due to this is altruism a total stranger to Capitalism. And precisely due to it is it attacked by all those who favor an impossible return to the past, the time when altruism guaranteed the sustenance of the parasites, whatever name they may have had: Thomas More, Campanella, Rousseau, Saint Just, Robespierre, Comte, Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao and the religions, whatever denomination they may be.

   Capitalism is based on each one’s egoism, the desire of everyone to reach his own advance, personal improvement, higher living standard. The new morals demand only the personal, peaceful and productive engagement and forbid both the sustenance at the expense of his next of kin as well as the beginning of every act of violence against him. The basic rule is anchored on the trader’s principle: “A trader is a man who earns what he gets and does not give or take the undeserved. A trader does not ask to be paid for his failures, nor does he ask to be loved for his flaws. A trader does not squander his body as fodder or his soul as alms. Just as he does not give his work except in trade for material values, so he does not give the values of his spirit—his love, his friendship, his esteem—except in payment and in trade for human virtues, in payment for his own selfish pleasure, which he receives from men he can respect. The mystic parasites who have, throughout the ages, reviled the traders and held them in contempt, while honoring the beggars and the looters, have known the secret motive of their sneers: a trader is the entity they dread—a man of justice,” wrote Ayn Rand in her Magnum Opus “Atlas Shrugged”.

   This is the reason why parasites praise the biblical scene of Jesus flogging the traders from the steps of the Palace of Uselessness, the temple. For the trader is the symbol of human productivity, not of the parasites.

   To set Capitalism together to the morals promoted by religions is, thus, totally wrong. Ayn Rand saw this clearly and distinctly, which is the reason why she is hated by all Socialists and promoters of collectivism.

   Thus, she sent in 1946 a letter to Leonard Read, the founder of the conservative (i.e. partially favoring free markets while still adhering to the religious morals) Foundation of Economic Education:

   “You imply that the cause of the world’s troubles lies solely in the people’s ignorance of economics and that the way to cure the world is to teach it the proper economic knowledge. This is not true – therefore your program will not work. You cannot hope to effect a cure by starting with a wrong diagnosis.

   “The root of the whole modern disaster is philosophical and moral. People are not embracing collectivism because they have accepted bad economics. They are accepting bad economics because they have embraced collectivism. You cannot reverse cause and effect. And you cannot destroy the cause by fighting the effect. That is as futile as trying to eliminate the symptoms of a disease without attacking its germs.

   “Marxist (collectivist) economics have been blasted, refuted and discredited quite thoroughly. Capitalist (or individualist) economics have never been refuted. Yet people go right on accepting Marxism. If you look into the matter closely, you will see that most people know in a vague, uneasy way, that Marxist economics are screwy. Yet this does not stop them from advocating the same Marxist economics. Why?

   “The reason is that economics have the same place in relation to the whole of a society’s life as economic problems have in the life of a single individual. A man does not exist merely in order to earn a living; he earns a living in order to exist. His economic activities are the means to an end; the kind of life he wants to lead, the kind of purpose he wants to achieve with the money he earns determines what work he chooses to do and whether he chooses to work at all. A man completely devoid of purpose (whether it be ambition, career, family or anything) stops functioning in the economic sense. That is when he turns into a bum in the gutter. Economic activity per se has never been anybody’s end or motive power. And don’t think any kind of law of self-preservation would work here – that a man would want to produce merely in order to eat. He won’t. For self-preservation to assert itself, there must be some reason for the self to wish to be preserved. Whatever a man has accepted, consciously or unconsciously, through routine or through choice as the purpose of his life – that will determine his economic activity.

   “And the same holds true of society and of men’s convictions about a proper economics of society. That which society accepts as its purpose and ideal (or to be exact, that which men think society should accept as its purpose and ideal) determines the kind of economics men will advocate and attempt to practice; since economics are only the means to an end.

   “When the social goal chosen is by its very nature impossible and unworkable (such as collectivism), it is useless to point out to people that the means they’ve chosen to achieve it are unworkable. Such means go with such a goal; there are no others. You cannot make men abandon the means until you have persuaded them to abandon the goal.

   “Now the choice of a personal purpose or of a social ideal is a matter of philosophy and moral theory. That is why, if one wishes to cure a dying world, one has to start with moral and philosophical principles. Nothing less will do.

   “The moral and social ideal preached by everybody today (and by the conservatives louder than all) is the ideal of collectivism. Men are told that man exists only in order to serve others; that the “common good” is man’s only proper aim in life and his sole justification for existence; that man is his brother’s keeper; that everybody owes everybody a living; that everybody is responsible for everybody’s welfare; and that the poor are the primary concern of society, its holy shrine, the god whom all must serve.

   “THIS is the moral premise accepted by most people today, of all classes, all stages of education and all political parties.

   “How are you going to sell capitalist economics to go with that? How are you going to get them to accept as moral, proper and desirable such conceptions as personal ambition, economic competition, the profit motive and private property?

   “It can’t be done. Their moral ideal has defined these conceptions as evil and immoral. So modern men are consistent about it. Our “common gooder conservatives” are not. It’s one or the other.

   “Here is the dilemma in which the public finds itself when listening to our conservatives: the public is told, in net effect that, collectivism is a noble, desirable ideal, but collectivist economics are impractical. In order to have a practical economy, that of capitalism, we must resign ourselves to an immoral society, that of individualism. This amounts to saying: you have a choice, you can be moral or can be practical, but you can’t be both. Given such a choice, men will always choose the moral, because it is preposterous to expect them to choose that which, by the speaker’s own assertion, is evil. Men may be mistaken about what they think is good (and how mistaken they’ve been! And what lying they indulge in to deceive themselves about it!), but they will not accept evil with full, conscious intent and by definition.

   “Nor will men accept the idea that a moral ideal is impossible, that it cannot be achieved in practice. (And they are right about that, too – it’s a thoroughly unnatural proposition.) Therefore it is absolutely useless to tell them that Marxist economics are impractical, so long as you’re also telling them in the same breath that Marxism is noble. They will merely say: “Well, if that’s the ideal, and it cannot be achieved through the economics of capitalism, to hell with the economics of capitalism! If Marxist economics do not work, we’ll find something that works. We must find it. So we’ll go on experimenting. At least Marxism tries in the right direction, while capitalism doesn’t even try to achieve the collectivist ideal. Capitalist economics do not even try to offer us a solution”. How often have you heard this last one?

   “Now the most futile and ludicrous of all stands to take on this question is the one attempted at present by most of our conservatives. It may be called the “mixed philosophy.” It’s a parallel to the theory of a “mixed economy,” just as untenable, silly and disastrous. It’s the idea that capitalism can be morally justified on a collectivist premise and defended on the grounds of the “common good.” It goes like this: “Dear pinks, our objective, like yours, is the welfare of the poor, more general wealth, and a higher standard of living for everybody – so please let us capitalists function, because the capitalist system will achieve all these objectives for you. It is in fact the only system that can achieve them.”

   “This last statement is true and has been proved and demonstrated in history, and yet it has not and will not win converts to the capitalist system. Because the above argument is self-contradictory. It is not the purpose of the capitalist system to cater to the welfare of the poor; it is not the purpose of a capitalist enterpriser to spread social benefits; an industrialist does not operate a factory for the purpose of providing jobs for his workers. A capitalist system could not function on such a premise.

The economic benefits which the whole society, including the poor, does receive from capitalism come about strictly as secondary consequences, (which is the only way any social result can come about), not as primary goals. The primary goal which makes the system work is the personal, private, individual profit motive. When that motive is declared to be immoral, the whole system becomes immoral, and the motor of the system stops dead.”

   “It’s useless to lie about the capitalist’s real and proper motive. The awful smell of hypocrisy that accompanies such a “mixed philosophy” is so obvious and so strong that it has done more to destroy capitalism than any Marxist theory ever could. It has killed all respect for capitalism. It has, without any further analysis, simply at first glance and first whiff, made capitalism appear thoroughly and totally phony.

   “Do not underestimate the common sense of the “common man” and do not blame him for ignorance. He could not, perhaps, produce a deep analysis, but he recognizes the phonies. He cannot untangle the philosophical contradiction of defending capitalism through the “common good” – but he knows it’s a phony.

   “Is there anything more offensive and preposterous than to tell an unemployed worker that the millionaire who is throwing a champagne party on his yacht is doing so only for his, the worker’s benefit, and for the common good of society? Can you really blame the worker if he then goes out and demands that the yacht be confiscated? Is it economic ignorance that makes him do so?

   “The more propaganda our conservatives spread for capitalist economics while at the same time preaching collectivism morally and philosophically, the more nails they’ll drive into capitalism’s coffin.

   “The great mistake here is in assuming that economics is a science that can be isolated from moral, philosophical and political principles, and considered as a subject in itself, without relation to them. It can’t be done.

   “(Countless books were written, showing that the collectivist economy doesn’t work nor will ever work). But all this failed to convert a single collectivist.”

   Capitalism relates fundamentally with the egoistic goals of the productive and peaceful individual, just as collectivism is based on altruism, the life for the next of kin as the basic right of the existence of the individual. Collectivism goes against the very essence of life and, thus, it can only be imposed by enslaving each one.

   Not Nietzsche, but Ayn Rand’s Objectivism is, thus, the philosophical and moral basis of Capitalism, since Nietzsche only described the position of the receiver of the sustenance from altruism, i.e. the other side of the same collectivist coin.

   Conservatives as well as collectivists defend, each of them, the wrong goals and, on top of it, starting from the wrong basis and aiming at the wrong purposes. More of this can be read in the already mentioned analysis by Ayn Rand: “For the New Intellectual.

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