Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Ugly Buildings, Money, and Family


A while back somebody commented on FaceBook about a photo of a building illustrating an article on something-or-other.  After commenting on the silliness of whatever it was housed in the building (hence the photo of the building as the headquarters of some lunacy or other), someone added, “And why do buildings have to be so ugly?”

The End of Civilization as We Know It.
We didn’t have anything to say about the subject under discussion, but we do know a little about why buildings are so ugly, and how it ties in with the whole End-of-Civilization-As-We-Know-It schtick of which we’ve commented several times on this blog.

Gropius
Ugly Buildings As They Are Built came out of the “Bauhaus Movement” in Weimar in Germany in the 1920s.  Blame Walter Gropius, the lynchpin of the movement, and one-third of the husbands of Alma Maria Schindler Mahler Gropius Werfel (1879-1964).

Bauhaus Cozy
After seeing them, you might be tempted to call it the “Bow-Wow House Movement,” except that no self-respecting dog would voluntarily live in something like that.  No, they prefer your bed, and waking you up in the middle of the night after either rolling in manure or frightening a skunk.  Or giving you a present of what you’ve always wanted: a half-decayed rat or rabbit corpse.  A rotting squirrel carcass will do in a pinch.

The idea of the Bauhaus was to reinvent civilization.  This was the also the period when Georg Friedrich Knapp’s ideas of money were influencing John Maynard Keynes after being rejected by Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht in Germany.  Knapp’s idea was that money “is peculiarly a creation of the State,” as Keynes put it.

Taxation for social purposes.
“Peculiar” is right.  According to Knapp (and Keynes) the State creates all money by emitting bills of credit and spends it into circulation.  If the economy needs more money, the State spends more money, i.e., creates more government debt.  If there is too much money floating around, the State taxes it away.

Don’t worry about the size of the national debt.  That’s only money we owe ourselves, so it doesn’t mean anything.  (And if you believe that, we’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn you might be interested in buying — we can let you have it cheap.  You’ll get rich off the tolls.)

Machine for living.
Anyway, Knapp and Keynes gave us “Modern Monetary Theory” and unrepayable government debt, just as the Bauhaus gave us . . . whatever the heck those things are.  The basic idea is that a house or other building is a “machine for living,” just as the State is a machine for governing; man is made for the State (or the building), rather than the State (or the building) for man.

How does this tie in to the Family?  We were hoping you’d ask.  Just as architecture had to be redesigned to make buildings State-controlled “machines for living,” and money and credit had to be redesigned to make the currency a machine for State control of the economy, the Family had to be redesigned to make it an arm of the State.

All three of these are only possible when individuals and families lack capital ownership, and thus power to resist butt-ugly architecture, worthless currency, and State-control of the Family.  If people had an adequate and secure income from capital ownership, they could have buildings that look the way they (and not some government bureaucrat) want them to look, have an asset-backed money supply, and live the way they want without being dictated to by the State — or those who control the State for their own benefit.

Dan'l Webster
That’s why we’re part of a coalition to get power back into the hands of individuals and families and give them control over their own lives and liberties without being dependent on anyone or anything else.  Since, as Daniel Webster said, “Power naturally and necessarily follows property,” it is essential that individuals, and (especially) families own a meaningful capital stake, sufficient to generate an adequate and secure income without the interference or control of a State bureaucracy or capitalist élite.  As Pope Leo XIII said,

“[M]an not only should possess the fruits of the earth, but also the very soil, inasmuch as from the produce of the earth he has to lay by provision for the future. Man's needs do not die out, but forever recur; although satisfied today, they demand fresh supplies for tomorrow. Nature accordingly must have given to man a source that is stable and remaining always with him, from which he might look to draw continual supplies. And this stable condition of things he finds solely in the earth and its fruits. There is no need to bring in the State. Man precedes the State, and possesses, prior to the formation of any State, the right of providing for the substance of his body.”  (Rerum Novarum, § 7.)

Leo XIII, a social justice — not socialist — pope.
Land (“the very soil”), of course, is only one form of capital, and is obviously used here as an example, not a restriction.  If someone can be productive using capital other than land, there is nothing in this passage that precludes that — as Leo XIII had made clear a bit earlier when he said that “ownership” consists of the right to control and enjoy the fruits of what is owned:

“[I]t is precisely in such power of disposal that ownership obtains, whether the property consist of land or chattels. Socialists, therefore, by endeavoring to transfer the possessions of individuals to the community at large, strike at the interests of every wage-earner, since they would deprive him of the liberty of disposing of his wages, and thereby of all hope and possibility of increasing his resources and of bettering his condition in life.”  (Rerum Novarum, § 5.)

Think (or thwim) logically.
In case you were wondering, a “chattel” is non-land personal property.  So Leo XIII said that both the inalienable right to be an owner and the socially determined rights of ownership apply to land and non-land . . . which pretty much sums up everything: the universe is divided into “A” and “Not-A” (it’s a logic thing).

The question becomes how we are supposed to make it possible for individuals and families to have ownership of capital without redefining “ownership” or redistributing what already belongs to others.  That’s what the Just Third Way is about, and why we want to present the ideas at the upcoming World Meeting of Families in September — and why you might want to support our “Five for the Family” campaign.

#30#

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