One of the things we’ve noticed about people who call themselves capitalists or socialists is that far too often those who advocate or defend a system seem to have trouble defining it consistently, and sometimes at all. It calls to mind what Alexis de Tocqueville said about socialism during the 1848 Revolution in France:
From the 25th of February onwards, a thousand strange systems came issuing pell-mell from the minds of innovators, and spread among the troubled minds of the crowd. . . . These theories were of very varied natures, often opposed and sometimes hostile to one another; but all of them, aiming lower than the government and striving to reach society itself, on which government rests, adopted the common name of Socialism.
Socialism will always remain the essential characteristic and the most redoubtable remembrance of the Revolution of February. The Republic will only appear to the on-looker to have come upon the scene as a means not as an end. (Alexis de Tocqueville, The Recollections of Alexis de Tocqueville. Cleveland, Ohio: The World Publishing Company, 1959, 78-79.)
As a result, many people today may not know what socialism is, but they know they want it. Of course, many people today also want capitalism, although they don’t know what capitalism is, either. At the same time, the number of Millennials who often have no real expectation of becoming capitalists are tending to socialism. We found dozens (okay, thousands) of articles about how Millennials have given up on capitalism and are turning to socialism. Not surprisingly for those aware of the link between socialism and esotericism and modernism, a lot of them are also turning to astrology and the Occult, often with little to no understanding of what they’ve gotten themselves into.
This is actually nothing new. It results from a combination of economic and social insecurity accompanied by a decay of traditional institutions, a process that in its present phase has been going on for two-hundred years or so. It was triggered by three revolutions: 1) the Financial Revolution, epitomized by the establishment of the Bank of England in 1694, 2) the Political Revolution, seen in the polar opposites (in terms of the meaning of “liberal democracy” each embodied) of the American and French Revolutions, and 3) the Industrial Revolution. These were not isolated revolutions. The Financial Revolution made the Industrial Revolution possible, but — in a very real sense — made the Political Revolution necessary.
This is because the concentration of economic power made possible by the productiveness of machinery compared to human labor meant that the political power of the ordinary person was eroded in direct proportion to the decline in the economic power of human labor. In 1776 Adam Smith could theorize in The Wealth of Nations that, regardless of the degree of capital ownership of the wealthy (“capital” including land and technology), the goods of the Earth would always be equitably divided because even the richest and most selfish individual could not satisfy even the most rapacious and greedy desires without employing the poor.
Smith, of course, simply didn’t reckon on just how much more productive capital is than labor, so that the rich who owned capital were able to satisfy outrageous desires by employing fewer and fewer people, and finally — as computers and robots became reality — without any people at all. As a result, the more that could be produced by technology, the less ordinary people could produce and obtain “their share.” The rich got richer, and the poor became destitute.
Clearly something new was needed, and a number of thinkers thought they had the answer. Since the old institutions had failed, it was time to abolish organized religion, traditional political forms, and even marriage and family. This required that fundamental concepts of society that had been accepted for thousands of years — generally known as the natural law — had to go. In their place was whatever scheme someone thought would work better than what had been worked out for thousands of years.
With very few exceptions, the first socialists laid out programs that differed only in details, regardless how viciously some of them might attack the others as prophets of false religions . . . did we mention that socialism was first proposed as a replacement not of capitalism (that actually came a little later), but of Christianity, especially that of the Catholic Church? In addition, they also called for the abolition of private property, and often of marriage and family.
Robert Owen, the noted capitalist-socialist, for example, outraged Americans when on July 4, 1826, the fiftieth anniversary of American independence, he gave a speech in New Harmony, Indiana (where he had established his utopian community) calling for the abolition of private property, organized religion, and marriage and family. Owen called it his “Declaration of Mental Independence,” undermining everything in the original Declaration of Independence. Ironically, both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died the very day Owen gave his speech, within a few hours of one another.
Where before the general code of human behavior had been determined by what human reason and experience told people what was good, the new principle was that the end — whatever it is — justifies the means. It therefore becomes completely understandable that so many people today turn to socialism so readily. They feel powerless and need to feel in control of their lives again, and they do that in the time-honored fashion of attaching yourself to the most powerful individual or group around, in this instance, the State that will take care of everything . . . until it can’t.
Of course, a much better solution would be to return power to people, but that can only be done by making it possible for ordinary people who have no power to have the property that will vest them with power. To do this, we propose a “Capital Homestead Act” that will make it possible for everyone to become a capital owner and to have power over their own lives once again.