Thursday, January 8, 2009

Are We Communists, Capitalists . . . or Something Else?

This is the sort of "omnibus" blog posting you put up when others have said what you wanted to say before you said it — or nearly. Yesterday we got the following unsolicited comment from a casual visitor to the CESJ web site, All spellings, spacing, and grammar have been retained exactly as in the original. The only thing deleted is the commentator's last name.
Will X wrote:

Another bogus ant-american, liberal left leaning, corrupt, socialistic web site espousing so - called economic justice.

I am sure you are being funded by corrupt Democrats(all of them, including O.B.) and the Gorge Soros types through illegal hedge funds, shadow groups from foreign counties with the intent of instilling socialistic and Muslim principles in the USA.
Norm Kurland responded:

Will, before you label us as left or right, read our commitment to free market competition, the restoration of private property rights, limited economic power of government and equal opportunity of every person to acquire private property stakes in productive technology and other wealth-producing assets. See how we define terms in our Glossary, and see how we differ from socialism and capitalism.

Will, before you label people socialistic you should read what socialists and communists actually write. Their core principle, stated clearly by Karl Marx in The Communist Manifesto, is "the abolition of private property" in the means of production, and putting politicians and bureaucrats in control over capital and earnings. We advocate the opposite: allow every citizen to become a capital owner by removing legal and financial barriers to that everyone has an equal right to acquire a private property stake and earn profits produced by one's capital assets. Are you against our goals of turning "have-nots" into "haves" without taking any property away from today's haves? We're for a peaceful Second American Revolution. We're not funded by government, George Soros or any other fat-cat, or by any foundation (except for a tiny grant we received some years ago to prepare a paper, which led to our book Capital Homesteading for Every Citizen.) Instead of calling us names, what specifically that we propose don't you like?

Norm Kurland

To this we add the commentary by Mr. Steve Roy (below), a contribution I was going to put up yesterday, but didn't get around to doing. Many people in CESJ, myself included, do not agree with Steve's understanding of Ayn Rand, but that doesn't mean she didn't say anything useful or make valuable contributions to understanding the human condition, whether or not you agree with or accept everything she said. Steve's analysis, however, is clearly based on having actually read CESJ's materials, and finding a congruence between the Just Third Way and what many would consider Rand's "ultra-capitalism."

Many far from unintelligent people, including the science fiction writer Dr. Jerry Pournelle (who equates distributism with capitalism) and, I believe, Steve (and he will correct me — politely, I know — if I am wrong in stating his position) hold that anything based on a proper respect (or nearly so) for the natural right to private property is, ipso facto, "capitalism." Less thoughtful people, such as Will X, appear to assume that if you say anything against "capitalism," you must be a socialist, a communist, or an ant[i?]-[A]merican. Unfortunately, a superficial review of CESJ's materials or other organizations involved in the Just Third Way will see a rejection of something we call "capitalism" (and, for the record, socialism), but fail to take the "short version" of our definition of "capitalism" into account:
An economic/financial system where a relatively small number of individuals own the vast bulk of capital assets, and where the majority of the population is employed at a wage and owns little or no capital.
This is the way that the socialists, who invented the term "capitalism," defined it. Inasmuch as Chesterton stated somewhere-or-other that, "if 'capitalism' means 'use of capital,' then everything is capitalism" (or words to that effect), we find it more useful to be perhaps too narrow and strict, particularly in view of the equation of "capitalism" with anything that respects private property in any degree, and employ "the Just Third Way" as possibly more descriptive.

Anyway, Steve wrote:

I don't think Ayn Rand would approve of anything other than laissez faire capitalism as the proper economic structure of a nation, but I do think something else that could stop and reverse the relentless march to collectivism in her beloved adopted country would interest her. I believe that binary economics and the Just Third Way could be that "something else."

Rand knew well the horror of collectivism, or communism, or socialism (all the same principle) because she escaped from Russia and watched with the world as the Iron Curtain descended. A friend wrote to her, asking her to tell people that the USSR was a graveyard, and that they were all dying slowly. She fought as hard as one person could to tell that story, constructing an entire philosophy, Objectivism, that was reality-based, and exposing collectivism for the horror that it was and is.

Using that philosophy, she searched for the economic system that would best support freedom and dignity for Man. She proved that only capitalism could offer that freedom and prosperity, and held that only the purest form, laissez faire capitalism, would be acceptable, because anything else would be contaminated with collectivist structures. People would then blame capitalism, when the real culprit was collectivism. (see "Capitalism, The Unknown Ideal").

Funny — that's what some people are claiming now. That the current crisis proves that capitalism is a sham, that putting the financial system under government control is the only answer.

As if enough millions haven't died already proving that to be a bloody path to hell.

As if there wasn't any other alternative, when we know damn well there is, and has been for over fifty years.

Louis Kelso and Mortimer Adler worked it out in The Capitalist Manifesto (available for free at the library). I read the book in the 70's and immediately got the message, though I was totally unschooled in economics. I was elated that there was a new way, a third way, that could usher in a new era for us all. Surely the powers that be would see it. Surely they would follow up with sophisticated econometric models that would prove the validity of the theory, and apply it for the good of all.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think that 30 years later, I would bring up the topic and be regarded with totally blank stares from people who should have at least heard about Kelso and Adler. But such is the bankruptcy of the field of economics. In it's current state it is not a science — it is a witch hunt in reverse, desperately trying to muddy the waters and obscure any clear view of the third alternative, Binary Economics, or the Just Third Way. As if ignoring it would make it go away. And they almost succeeded — The Capitalist Manifesto is out of print and ignored, and Keynes still rules from beyond the grave, still poisoning us all with his fatally flawed theories.

I'll leave alone for the moment the obvious conclusion — that the people with most of the real wealth, that monopolize the ownership of the most capital, are perfectly happy that up until now, the people don't know about any of this. Too bad for them that Norm, CESJ, The Kelso Institute and all the other hardworking people in this movement refused to let the dream die. Now there is a new kind of capitalism, that robs no one, that distributes capital throughout the citizenry, that could put real purchasing power, not more debt, into the hands of all Americans and world citizens alike.

Here's an open challenge to economists everywhere — put Binary Economics on the table from now on as a valid choice for the economic structure of a nation, put in as much work proving it true or false as you do making excuses for the failures of Keynes' theories — or stop thinking of yourselves as scientists, and start thinking of yourselves as witch doctors. Because true scientists examine ALL new ideas. They LIVE to be proved wrong so the truth can finally be known. Witch doctors continue shaking old bones over the dying man, hoping that he gets better — somehow.

In Atlas Shrugged, the "men of the mind" withdraw their intelligence and effort from the world when the witch doctors and government stooges make life impossible to live with dignity. They allow the old world to collapse under it's own dead weight, and go back to the world only after the way is clear.

Maybe it's time to take a second look at that strategy.

Big Banking, we have not heard a word of apology from any of you. With the help of the dirtiest, most inhuman administration in history, you have raided the treasury — our children's future — of billions that were supposed to be put back into the economy and sat on them as "padding," refusing to lend any of it. You can't even say where some of it ended up.

Let me guess.

In my opinion, all those who participated are traitors. You mismanaged trillions knowing the government would have to bail you out, surely stuffed piles of it into off-shore shelters, and mortgaged all our futures for decades to come.

If it was done to us by a foreign country, it would be an act of war. Economic terrorism. Because it was done by Americans, to Americans, I say it is treason, and should be treated accordingly.

Norm's additional comments were:

Thanks, Steve. I too found Ayn Rand's position against statism compelling, but I found her position in defense of selfishness as a virtue morally obnoxious. Self-interest is embedded in human nature, but selfishness and greed go beyond healthy self-interest to represent gain at someone else's expense. I wish she and today's libertarians were as open-minded as you to the Kelso-Adler books. Steve, would you consider trying to open up the minds of Lew Rockwell (Lew Rockwell, ) and his Mises Foundation members to your thoughts? Rockwell and others in his libertarian network need to hear your views. Unfortunately, they seem to be blind to the systemic barriers to equal ownership opportunities and to the reason libertarians cannot connect up to most voters are wage slaves, welfare slaves and debt slaves whose lives are so desperate that they turn to the state for their economic salvation. That's why I no longer use the term "capitalism" to describe the just market system America and the world needs to avoid the totalitarian trap into which Keynesian, laissez faire and socialist economic high priests are leading us.

1 comment:

bloguista said...

Will X, stupid, read this (it´s on the website you "criticized"):

"The Communist politician perceives in Communism the personal advantage to himself which comes with the transfer of property (working control) in the means of production to the state, and the elevation of himself to a place in the management of the state. The Communist politician is thus able to epitomize in himself the kind of tyrannical capitalist Marx declaimed against, with the further opportunity for unlimited despotism that is inherent in the fusion of political power and economic power in the same hands.

Marx's failure to perceive the political significance of private property has allowed his doctrine to furnish the most perfectly designed ruse for potential tyrants that has ever been devised. In the name of benefitting society as a whole, the actual control of the capital instruments and land is placed in the hands of those wielding political power!

Marx's second great error prevented him from seeing that the ideal "classless society", of which he dreamed, is not one in which a political group in power has the function of distributing wealth. It is rather the political economy in which the individual ownership of property--particularly capital instruments--is spread over the entire population. Only such a broad distribution of private economic power can guarantee individual freedom and the power of the people as a whole to limit or turn out at will a political group in power."