THE Global Justice Movement Website

THE Global Justice Movement Website
This is the "Global Justice Movement" (dot org) we refer to in the title of this blog.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Rise of Socialism

In theory, there is no reason why anyone with a financially feasible capital project cannot participate in the process of money creation by entering into a contract.  In practice, however, money creation is reserved to those who are already wealthy.  This is because they control collateral, the universal means for securing against financial risk.

Hugo Grotius (1583-1645)
With economic growth and development tied one way or another to existing accumulations of wealth, by definition a monopoly of the wealthy, as commerce and industry started to expand in the fifteenth century, the rich became richer, and the poor became poorer.  This is because access to the means to acquire capital ownership became increasingly restricted, whether by occupying waste land and making it productive, or obtaining financing to enter trade or commerce.
After the Reformation, the new conditions, innovative philosophy, and the stresses that resulted caused a social and intellectual sea change.  Hugo Grotius’s innovations in the theory of natural law in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries to support the Divine Right of Kings that made the Will everything were matched by an evolution in political and economic theory that also shifted the focus from God to man.  As George Sabine explained,
The dissolution of traditional institutions and the economic pressure which it engendered were facts and not theories.  Hobbes’s logic turned egoism into a postulate for a social philosophy, but the conditions which made individualism an unescapable point of view existed in their own right.  The belief that social and political institutions are justified only because they protect individual interests and maintain individual rights emerged under the pressure of circumstances which first became effective in England in the mid-seventeenth century but which also persisted and became more effective during the two centuries following.  (George H. Sabine, A History of Political Theory, Third Edition. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1961, 477.)
Thus, the idea that society only exists due to its utility in protecting and maintaining individual interests and rights, displaced the Aristotelian principle that man is a political animal, naturally organizing and carrying out the business of living within the pólis.  Since rights are only effective when there is a social order, this led inevitably to the idea that individual rights derive from the abstraction of humanity, and are not inherent in each human person by nature.
The State is a "Mortall God"
The State or community, not God, becomes the ultimate arbiter.  Those who control the State — those who have power — are thereby permitted to decide who has rights and is therefore a person; law is will (lex voluntas) and might makes right.
Lack of access to money and credit — the principal means of acquiring and possessing capital — thereby changed the character of demands to abolish private property from religious alone, to religious, economic, and political.  Private property being a natural right, a change in fundamental economic and political institutions also requires a change in religion, which (if orthodox) conforms to the natural law.
All laws were originally construed as divine and thus unalterable.  When the Greeks developed the idea of an unchanging divine law separate from, but reflected in changeable human law, they also raised the question as to whether divine law, too, could be changed.
If divine law is based on God’s perfect and therefore unchanging Nature, the answer is no.  If, however, divine law is based on God’s Will, changeable and subject to fallible human interpretation, the answer is yes.
That is why the question concerning the primacy of the Intellect or the Will consumed medieval philosophers.  How one answered it, whether the Intellect (reason) or the Will (faith) was preeminent, determined one’s theories of God and man, as well as one’s views of religious, civil, and domestic society and the role of each.
Any effort to change the fundamental rights of the natural law, whether life, liberty, or private property, therefore requires an alteration in the concept of natural law from unchanging to changeable.  This in turn requires a transformation of religious doctrine to put changeable man at the center instead of unchanging God — which was precisely the development seen in seventeenth century England.
It also explains why socialism prior to 1848 and the publication of The Communist Manifesto that signaled the rise of scientific socialism almost invariably relied on religious justifications, albeit based on a new concept of religion.  The changes demanded in political and economic philosophy necessarily involved fundamental changes not only in specific religious doctrines, but in the idea of doctrine as an unchanging principle, to something alterable at will.