Monday, February 8, 2010

Capitalism and Socialism: Warring Visions and the Path to Restoring Freedom

Capitalism and socialism cannot co-exist. Each system's underlying values are anathema to one another, and they cannot be synthesized in a pragmatic manner. The result of blending capitalism and socialism is not a "mixed" or "balanced" economy, it is a fascist economy leading to totalitarianism. Why is this?

Because capitalism is not a system in the sense that socialists conceive of it. Capitalism can be summed as follows, "Assuming private property and sound money, capitalism is the freedom of the individual to expend one's life, liberty, and property in the pursuit of self-interest; assuming also that one's actions do not infringe on the individual rights of others."

Capitalism as such is a spontaneous order, a system without guiding controls and a limited set of rules. It assumes that people's lives are their own, and their fortunes are what they can make of them.

Socialism is the antithesis of the spontaneous order of capitalism. It seeks to establish controls, regulations, and rules that manipulate individuals and employ them in the service of abstract causes and eventually the state.

The method is simple: Pitch statism, which can take on various manifestations, in terms that the audience understands or will approve of; this can be "green" energy, national pride, social or economic "justice," or even Christian morality. When the statists have the people following a given movement, which can be created, manipulated, or co-opted by the state, typically one headed by a charismatic leader, the statist then pulls a bait-and-switch using "big lies." These big lies, or as the intellectuals conceive of them, "noble lies," are made believable by rendering the individual unable to accurately conceive of objective reality.

The statist project of mass brainwashing basically entails a handful of central tenets to be put into practice.

First of all, an epistemology of subjectivism, or the idea that one's interpretation of the world is truth. This renders the individual helpless in unfamiliar situations or when faced with countervailing information or negatively stereotyped ideological adversaries to assimilate evidence that contradicts one's worldview.

Secondly, the stripping of rational faculties, such as critical thinking skills and one's ability to evaluate the world based on evidence and according to one's own judgment. This can be roughly demonstrated by proxy with plummeting mathematics and science scores in national comparative testing.

Thirdly, the big lies of the statist are reinforced through mass indoctrination, including appeal to authority ("experts") and repetition, spouted through the "public" schools, the universities, and state-run or state-manipulated media. The media includes not just news media, such as newspapers, magazines, and television news, but also numerous other aspects of culture, such as music, movies, and television series.

The ultimate goal of the statist is to persuade people when the totalitarian transformation takes place that the change that they are seeing or feeling is not real; that they are just paranoid; that those who are alarmed are ideological extremists, and so forth.

In general, there needs to be a majority of the population who are mostly in agreement with the principles animating the statists in order for a totalitarian revolution, properly speaking, to be accomplished. Otherwise, the opposition cannot be effectively marginalized. Without the widespread perception of legitimacy underwriting a nascent socialist regime's fresh hold on power, then chaos, resistance, and possibly bloodshed can cripple that regime.

Since socialism and communism tend to be unpopular when the population has experience of freedom and a stable market economy, most socialists and communists come to power after severe, prolonged periods of corruption; an endemic absence of the rule of law; economic depression; and/or war. While socialists will usually frame their power-grabs as "popular revolts," "revolutions," or "democratic" in nature, these technically entail a far greater base of mass support than is typically the case.

Barring a majority of supportive sentiment, the statists otherwise need operational control of the military, intelligence, and police forces and a largely unarmed populace to be successful in maintaining power. It is simplistic to think that superior military force can overwhelm a nation of 100 million armed Americans, for example. Overwhelming and suppressing a populace is not merely a matter of force, but the will to use that force. While pure socialists may have no problem with the mass murder of millions of freedom-loving citizens, only in extremely demoralized cultures will the military have no compunction against slaughtering their co-nationalists, though in some cases, they may even take perverse pleasure in it.

That is why in states that socialists cannot take over by force outright, as characterized above, the preparatory path to socialism is a long process that does not entail Marxist indoctrination of the masses, per se, but a demoralization process, rooted in nihilism, which can take on many forms, including: political correctness, multiculturalism, diversity, and moral and cultural relativism. These off-spring of nihilism tend to undermine the individual's sources of ideological resistance. Once the individual's mind is wiped clean of the ability to resist indoctrination or suggestion, then the statists' manipulation of his interpretation of reality can be truly effective.

The "change" in a nation's make-up usually appears to those not adequately versed in the statists' strategy and tactics as a haphazard form of massive corruption, usually justified in pragmatic terms. The transformational state usually engages in "hit-and-run" assaults on the economy, society, and national security before its opposition can catch on and then organize to put up concerted resistance to a given cause. This is why it is very important for the operative who seeks to implement organized liberty in his country to ideologically understand his enemy; only then will he be able to see the big picture and put the pieces together. In America's case, it is essential that one knows the deep underlying nature of pragmatism.

Pragmatism, which can be seen as an ideological cousin of nihilism, as such is a form of corruption and a perversion of absolute moral standards of right and wrong, including those based on individual rights. Pragmatism, narrowly and philosophically speaking, gives the government carte blanche to fix any and all "problems," even those it creates, in an ad hoc fashion. It is no coincidence that Saul Alinsky conceived of himself as a "radical pragmatist." The danger of the pseudo-philosophy of pragmatism can be seen in the areas of economics and national security. Pragmatism is usually cast as short-term, expedient fixes to problems, whether those problems are endemic or transient; it is analogous to a physician treating symptoms and not the disease.

Socialists, when operating in states where their philosophy is largely unpopular with the masses, as they are able to recognize it, and where the socialists are unable to directly take over a nation using direct force, pervert the nation in several spheres: legal, governmental, educational, and cultural; until the free-market capitalist system is incrementally obliterated. This tactic can be broadly termed Fabian socialism, and includes the preferred form of statist economy, Keynesian economics.

Simply put, the series of events that government-introduced controls set off distorts the economy, which ostensibly justifies further economic intervention. After years of government meddling, the capitalist economy collapses from distortion. Most people, when put in a vulnerable position economically, trade their freedom for the fleeting economic security that the government promises to provide. The result is dependence on the government for the means of sustaining one's life; this can be assessed by a ballooning in government-funded, that is, taxpayer- or printing press-funded jobs; massive social welfare programs; and government grants and loans. A people dependent on the government cannot be free; this is the general principle underwriting much of socialist policy.

America indeed has enemies worldwide, and no sane and honest person can dismiss that fact. But the American government has used the threat of terrorism specifically to persuade Americans to accept infringements of their liberty that would otherwise be considered unacceptable. The Department of Homeland Security, domestic spying by such agencies as the NSA, and experimental technology like full-body scanners being employed by the Transportation Security Administration are piecemeal steps in the direction of a police state that patriotic Americans must not accept. Since these agencies and measures are introduced using the premise of "common sense" and pragmatism, most people see their installment as a necessary and proper defense of their lives and the lives of others. Yet it should be pointed out that the measures the government has introduced in the name of security in the United States is entirely disproportionate to the threat. The odds of being killed by a terrorist are negligible; and in general, terrorists should be fought using an offensive strategy that preserves liberty.

The socialist in a freedom-loving country proceeds by fits and starts; he pushes forth the statist agenda and retreats. Corruption of the capitalist system becomes embedded and systematized until accepted. Infringements on individual rights are justified as temporary pragmatic measures, and then permanently embodied in the system of laws. The military, intelligence, and police is expanded disproportionately to that needed to fend off the nation's adversaries, and then is turned against the people. The nation is pushed and pulled in the direction of statism, and the compromise of the current "conservative" opposition is but an inconsiderable anchor on the state's otherwise predetermined course. Not even stopping the state is sufficient to prevent the economic and social chaos impending in our nation, barring serious concerted action. Without a reverse of course, America will continue to be "transformed" into a socialist basketcase that will be the midwife of a totalitarian dictatorship.

The proper course for the conservative who does not want to inspire economic and social chaos is to first liberate as much of the market as possible; to seek out and end corruption, including subsidies and regulations; to simplify the tax code and to lower it to a minimum as an interim course on the way to near eradication; to introduce alternative currencies until the Federal Reserve is stripped of its regulatory and fiscal power and then abolished (i.e., free banking); to reduce the size and scope of the security agencies, including the disbanding of the Department of Homeland Security and the elimination of several of its agencies; to end military Keynesianism; to free Interstate commerce; to liberate alternatives to public education, to end the Department of Education, and then to abolish "free" government-run education; to repeal national power and to promote state's rights in every conceivable manner; to begin privatizing social security, until it is the responsibility of each American to prepare for one's own retirement; to deregulate the insurance market, which would bring prices down through increasing competition; essentially, what is needed is a "Fabian capitalist." in other words, a systematic incrementalist approach. While simply revolting and overthrowing the state is appealing in theory to a small minority of Americans, in practice it would lead to the kind of chaos that leads to tyrannies.

As a pro-freedom movement, the "tea party" activists need to seriously think about and debate a program that can be pitched to the citizenry as a long-term solution to restoring American greatness. It is my contention that such a program should be ideologically consistent and based on the philosophy of freedom. In this way, we will be able to conceive in our minds a systematic approach to defeating statist, totalitarian objectives.


Anonymous said...

How does a libertarian economic system lead to a "stable" economy?

Reasonsjester said...

Excellent question. The premise is that risk is diffused among the economy and therefore no overarching architecture is erected to collapse. Such institutions as the Fed create a nation-wide distortion of the economy by systematically increasing risk across the board. The easy credit leads to what is referred to as "malinvestment." The interconnected nature of the economy usually leads to an overattraction of "speculation" to one sector of the economy, such as housing. The prices in the housing market, for example, are artificially inflated; when these collapse, then it takes several sectors down with it, such as banking and investment, construction, transportation, etc. This is why artificially propping up housing prices only leads to prolonging distortion of the market and the subsidization of failure. The market needs to adjust, and this can only be performed by the government taking its hands off the controls and letting aggregate demand return to the sectors where it naturally would on its own.