Capitalism or Liberty?

Capitalism or Liberty? No, Silverwolf is not positing them as opposites. He is asking, rather, whether, when we speak in favor of Capitalism, we are speaking in favor of a mere economic system, or something much greater and more profound: Human Liberty? Silverwolf would put it to you that we speak of the latter, of Liberty, when we use the word Capitalism, and Liberty implies a lot more than just using precious metals for trade, and having a body of economic laws to prosecute fraud and other property crimes (including physical assault). Liberty implies a certain moral quality, the moral quality of Freedom, which is indicated by a person using their capital to further their value hierarchy.

Now it is very common to use the term “revolutionary” to describe the Marxian view of economics. Marxists, Socialists, and Communists supposedly want a “revolution”, but that revolution is always put in purely economic terms. Any “revolution” within the skin, or the person’s psyche, is completely ignored, and it is always presumed that this will naturally flow once the “worker” is “liberated” from the evil “expropriator”, the employer.  Never a mention that perhaps the employer was himself once a poor worker who, through dint of hard work and frugality over decades, managed to accrue the capital to buy the machinery and be able to hire personnel and give them a living wage, while the personnel never had to save a nickel, or invest a week of life to suddenly have a chance to gain a sustaining income. Never a mention that the worker may be a greedy individual by nature, while the employer may be an extraordinarily generous and altruistic person. These facts are always overlooked by the Communist.

But to return to the main point, the Socialists are commonly held to be the “revolutionaries”, while Capitalists, in general, are held to want to maintain the status quo. Cries of “anarchy” and “all property to the people” naturally strike fear into the hearts of bankers and savers alike. And so, Capitalists are usually held to be “conservatives”.

But now along comes Ron Paul and his “Revolution”, the doctrine of a radical free-market Capitalism that sweeps aside every vestige of the many Keynesian “safeguards” that have come to burthen the American capitalist system. But, in  point of fact, these “safeguards” have kept America from becoming a truly revolutionary capitalist society, a condition that applied before and after the Civil War in large swathes of America, but at a time when Capitalism was still hampered by the technological primitiveness of mankind. Capitalism needed both the radical free-market, and the transistor and the computer chip, to finally be able to offer Mankind a life of limitless Freedom and Liberty when compared to any other comparable period in human history. So, in one sense, the American continent has never really had Capitalism in what Silverwolf considers the most profound and depthful meaning of that word. The Federal Reserve Act had imposed Socialism on America long before the computer liberated the wildest possibilities of Capitalism (though it’s mechanical effect is having a mechanically-atrophying effect on the human psyche).

Now the Keynesian gauntlet has once again been slapped broadside against the face of the radical, free-market Capitalists like Ron Paul, and all who understand his economic profundity, and the Collectivists are riding high the  feeble wave of their election by probably less than 25% of all living Americans. That is one of the tragedies of Democracy, when there is either no Constitution, as in most of the world, or where the Constitution is ignored, as here in America. Democracy will vote the country into bankruptcy, as the havenots, dependent on the Socialist state for their sustenance, outvote the haves who provide the taxes that pay for the sustenance. As socialism grows, more and more havenots crowd onto the welfare roles, and as societies producers become less and less, and the incentive to produce becomes less and less, less and less is produced and prices rise, causing more and more to crowd onto the welfare roles, but with added urgency. Suddenly, to be on the welfare roles is paramount for social survival, while to be a productive producer is to be punished, so the result is inevitable. This was one of the great insights of von Mises and Hayek:  Socialism must eventually self-destruct, even though it start from a tiny seed, and take fourscore years to grow into an economy-wrecking noxious weed.

But the question remains, If Communism is merely an economic revolution, what is a Capitalist revolution if not a similar economic revolution, but in a completely opposite polar direction? And what are the differences between these two so-called revolutions?

Paramount amongst the differences is the moral issue. Socialism and Communism believe the end justifies the means. The wealthy may be legally robbed, in order to further the aims of the Benthamites who believe in “the greatest good for the greatest number”. Obviously, such a doctrine permits  the murder, or expropriation of a small minority, by a vast majority.  It permitted the euthanasia of “mental incompetents” under Hitler, the first group attacked by the Nazis, before the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Two groups the general populace could care less about, especially at a time when eugenicists were pushing sterilization, and even euthanasia.

Liberal Capitalism, the Capitalism of the Mises-Hayek-Rothbard-Paul tradition, believes the means must be moral to justify the ends. It is actually a moral code, and in this sense, Capitalism is actually the only moral economic code, paradoxical as that may seem in a system which specifically does NOT guarantee a minimum of food, clothes and shelter. Yet, Capitalism is probably the best way for the vast majority to secure that food, clothes and shelter, and if they have a surplus over that, if they feel so moved by their moral code, they can donate that surplus to a charity they have confidence in, which can provide those life-sustaining conditions to the destitute, or directly supply the aid themselves. In other words, donations to private welfare-charities, in a low-tax, wealthy capitalist system with wide-spread prosperity, and a general philosophy of self-help and independence, would easily cover those few individuals who, through horrendous luck, or mental insufficiency, could not support themselves. Those who could be helped back to self-sufficiency, could be helped much quicker, and with far less bureaucracy than any government agency. And, since so many Americans identify with one of the major organized religions, it would be rather easy to guide these donations to places the donor could enthusiastically support. Moreover, the religious passion and integrity(hopefully) of the volunteers and workers at these self-help aid centers, and the lack of government rules and bureaucracy, would theoretically lead to much faster results. Also, in a system with very low taxation, the incentive to work is greatly increased for the “go-getters”, while “navel-contemplators”, content with a lower material standard of living in exchange for much more leisure time, would also achieve their value hierarchy under such a capitalist system. And their lowered consumption, in turn, would put less stress and strain on the resources of the society and the earth. Silverwolf wonders why Capitalists don’t hug those who live on very marginal resources, like hobos,  since they are leaving those resources for the “go-getters” at a much lower price. The welfare system, like a mafia, buys off a large number of it’s potential opponents, turning them into staunch allies. Of course it does, because someone who can be bought is obviously a capitalist, but not a very revolutionary one.

Now, what do we mean by a “Capitalist Revolution”, and a “Capitalist Revolutionary”?

Well, first off, let’s face it. Most “Capitalists” sure don’t want a Revolution. They couldn’t give a Jefferson about Liberty, or high-fallutin terms like “the Rights of Man”. Just give “em the cash, and shut up! In fact, Capitalists tend to identify very strongly with their  bank accounts. Of course, it’s natural because, ideally, this account reflects the exact marginal productivity of the Capitalist, the amount that he has produced for society over and above the amount he has consumed of the commodities of society created by others, the goods and services he commands every day with his command currency. That’s the deal that we all make when we participate in economic society, though we are 99.9% forced to make it if we want the semblance of a normal, sane life, , whether we like it or not. (There is always the very brave option of become a hobo, a “luftmensh”, the man who lives on air.)  But, since there is a very exact justice to a purely capitalist system, most people feel it is an approximately just system, and that is one reason so many Americans support the Capitalist system, or what they call Capitalism, though it really isn’t. And this fairly pure Capitalism was the system, generally, in America prior to the creation of the Federal Reserve, and excluding the Lincoln period around the Civil War. No Federal Insurance, so you had to know your banker well, and even then, you didn’t bet the ranch on one man, but spread it around for safety. Federal Deposit Insurance meant rate whores could go with the highest rate, offered by the charlatan and shyster bankers, knowing full well the Feds would guarantee it. Likewise, the FED was given the right to counterfeit US currency, which would be a very serious crime for any individual citizen, and to control interest rates, which, with a wholly fiduciary, non-metal backed currency, is the only check on inflation. To cause inflation, if that is what it wants, all the central bank need do is to force, by fiat, the government rate well below the rate of inflation. That is what is currently happening in the US and throughout the “free” (haha) world.

So what is the “Capitalist Revolutionary”? Well, perhaps the best Silverwolf ever heard it put was not by some American steeped in Jefferson and Mises, but a New Guinean “savage” in some long ago viewed documentary. This man had been part of a “pre-historic” tribe, unfortunately or fortunately, or both, brought into contact with the modern world. Somehow, through their resources, the tribe had become prosperous, and now had lots of New Guineans Kinas. The man stood in front of the camera: “In this hand, I have my money, it is a tool which I use amongst the whitemen, but in the other hand I have our land, and our ancient ways, and that is my real wealth.”  Well, Silverwolf may be coloring the words a little, but it was something like that. This man completely understood money: a tool  to do good, and nothing beyond that. A tool to serve a religious mind, not diverted from it’s preternatural contact with nature by the toys and googaws of modern life.

So we must learn from this Indian of the earth: to be a Capitalist Revolutionary means, inwardly, to never accumulate anything, to never own anything, to never identify oneself with ones property (except legally), to always be a start naked wolf, only covered by this nice, thick fur which our peanut diet (so rich in copper!) provides. Perhaps this is the meaning of that admonition by Yoshua ben-Yoseph, that if one would be perfect, one should sell all and give it to the poor. Perhaps the meaning of this admonition is that, psychologically, one should “sell all”, i.e. never own anything, psychologically speaking, “and give it to the poor” — realise that you’ll carry nothing to the grave, but a wornout carcass and ones good name, if one is fortunate enough to have earned one in life. Many are the glowing encomiums; few, those remembered as saints.

And, secondly, to be a “Capitalist Revolutionary” means to realise that one is not an actor, that that is a fiction, but that one is action itself, in the form of Human Life.  If this action is moral and authentic, then Capital has been raised to the level of the moral and authentic, or kept there if the Capital was earned morally (as mentioned before, through the accrual of the worker’s marginal surplus). In a sense, this is the Buddhist realization that the ego is a “humbug”, a fiction that doesn’t really exist, that is laughable, but one that we have to play along with in society if we are not to be declared certifiably insane. The man who answers the police officer, when asked to identify himself, is figured to be screwy if he replies, “I am God” or “I am the universe” or “I am Louis XIV”. But, if he answers, “I’m Joe Smith”, he’s considered sane. And he’ll be allowed to keep his bank account. And if he scowls, and yells at people, he may well become a banker, and be considered pre-eminently sane.

So, a “Capitalist Revolutionary” is Liberty Personified in the Human Form. He is action itself, nothing else, and that action must be highly moral. And Human Liberty also implies, morally speaking, that it never be used to destroy the Human Liberty of another, who has not violated ones property rights. In other words, it Respects the Other’s Liberty, if the Other Respects Our Liberty.

So the key is that a “Capitalist Revolutionary” keeps an awareness that he is just a fiction as far as his ego goes. Let’s put it this way, the only sense we have of our ego is always based on events in the past, stretching all the way back to our childhoods. We have been heavily conditioned by our pasts, whether it was a trauma we had as a child, like falling down stairs, or the trauma of yesterday, when the neighbor said something that hurt our feelings. And remembering that past, we think of ourselves as a “self”. This is a fairly widespread “mental disease”, and just being aware of it doesn’t automatically cause it to cease to function. It is an illusion created by the very natural response of memory, which obviously is a form of thought. Yet, it always involves the past, which is no longer a living thing. But,  being aware of memory’s ego-creating process constantly, can cause it to cease to function, as the Buddhists discovered. Some now achieve a similar feeling of lightness by looking at photos of the universe to start each day. But a Buddhist may scream as loud as a Baptist if he finds the bank has underpaid his interest by $40.00.

And, as far as a Capitalist Revolutionary’s possessions and collections go, Silverwolf would relate that wonderful story, buried somewhere in Dr. Johnson’s writings, where he visited one of the prominent actors of London’s stage. Thespian success had greatly increased this man’s income (and what percentage of actors, prior to the film age, ever achieved financial security through the practice of their art?), and on a tour of his London home, he avidly and enthusiastically showed Dr. Johnson the various collections of books, pictures, antiques, and momentos he had acquired. Finally,  exhausted after several hours of this, and bidding adieu at the door, Dr. Johnson left his interlocuter with the following thought, “My friend, I’m afraid you’re going to have a very hard time dying.”

Hoooooooooooooooooooooooooooowwwwwwwwww — Silverwolf


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3 Responses to “Capitalism or Liberty?”

  1. 46 Says:

    Specific Finance Information…

  2. hpx83 Says:

    You speak a beautiful language – but much of it is yet unknown to me. I’ll have to admit to an overly Randian self-education. However – instead of opposing, I will contemplate. How great would it be if we started the capitalist revolution right here, in these copper and glass cables connecting us from different sides of the world…

  3. lobobreed Says:

    hpx83 — “If we started the capitalist revolution…”? Not if. We just started it. — Silverwolf

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