Thursday, March 3, 2016

Do We Need the Rich?, I: Be Reasonable

Socialists and capitalists both claim that “the rich are different” — to which the proper Just Third Way response is (with apologies to Papa), “Yes.  They have more money.”  Or, actually, they have more access to money and credit for the proper purposes.
F. Scott Fitzgerald: "The rich are different."
What the socialists and capitalists mean, of course, is that the rich are inherently different . . . which contradicts the most fundamental principle of reason, which for some reason doesn’t seem to bother either socialists or capitalists.
The most fundamental principle of reason?  Yes, the “principle of identity”: that which is true is as true, and is true in the same way, as everything else that is true.
Thus, if that entity over there is a human being, it is as fully human, and is human in the same way, as every other human.  Whatever it is that defines a human being as a human being is an inherent part of every human being, or “truth” has no real meaning.  Truth becomes whatever you can force someone to accept, regardless of its objective existence, everything becomes relative.  Might makes right.
One obvious conclusion to this sort of sloppy thinking never seems to be raised — something for which we can blame modern Academia and its hysterical rejection of the basic principles of reason in pursuit of jobs, political correctness, and money.  That is, if the rich are inherently different just because they are rich (an “ad hominem circumstantial” argument, by the way, and thus a logical fallacy in and of itself), then, logically, the poor are also inherently different — think about it.
"Papa" Hemmingway: "Yes: they have more money!"
We necessarily conclude that if everyone is inherently different on the basis of each one’s social, economic, or political status, there is reason to believe that skin color, ethnicity, mental capacity, height, and other physical characteristics are an even better indication that each “human being” is inherently different.  After all, a rich person can become poor, and a poor person can become rich, but a white person can’t become yellow or black, or a yellow or black person become white, nor can you add one cubit to your stature, or one hour to your life.
“Wealthism” (to coin a word) inevitably turns into racism of one form or another, whether you believe wealth is a good thing, or a bad thing.  In the framework dictated by wealthism, there is no commonality among people, nothing that defines a human being as a human being.
What happens when external characteristics, some even ephemeral (such as wealth), determine whether or not someone is considered fully human or is/isn’t human in the “right” way?  For starters, socialists blame the rich for being rich, and for their presumed differentness from the poor . . . as if poor people can’t be just as greedy and rapacious as rich people (albeit less successful at it), while capitalists blame the poor for being poor, as if rich people can’t be just as lazy and shiftless as poor people (only better able to hide the consequences).
Both sides miss the point.  If the rich are inherently different from the poor, and vice versa, why should either group give a rodent’s rump about the other?  Wealthism justifies treating members of the other group — or the entire group — as your legitimate prey.  They aren’t human, or are human in a different way than “we” are, so anything is justified, whether allowing the poor to starve, or redistributing the wealth of the rich.  After all (as Msgr. Ronald Knox characterized this belief system), the ungodly — or the unwealthy or un-anything else that makes others different from “us” — have no rights.
Obviously that’s wrong, as basic common sense — our reason — tells us.  What happens, however, when we abandon reason, and go with unsupported faith — in anything?
We’ll look at that on Monday.


Dcn. Joseph B. Gorini said...

Are you referring to "difference", as being partly or totally unlike in nature, or in form, or in quality?

Michael D. Greaney said...

Only in "form," that is, amount or quantity. One cent is "money" in exactly the same way as a million dollars is "money." The fact that the latter is 100,000,000 times more in quantity does not change either the cent's or the million dollars' "moneyness." That being the case, the $99,999,999.99 difference is — with respect to the mere fact of its being money — irrelevant. A person two feet high is as fully human, and human in the same way, as one eight feet high.