MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Posts Tagged ‘resentment’

Why the New Paradigm Was Inevitable – Doug Casey’s International Man

Posted by M. C. on February 9, 2021

Prosperity, Wealth Disparity, Resentment, Collectivism

https://internationalman.com/articles/why-the-new-paradigm-was-inevitable/

by Jeff Thomas

Just as people go through a lifespan that consists of different stages, so empires tend to follow a pattern of stages.

They tend to start off slowly, making progress as a result of industriousness, understanding that progress is dependent upon hard work and an entrepreneurial spirit.

This is important to understand, as it’s the one essential in the growth of a nation. No nation becomes an empire through complacency or a lack of productivity. Welfare states do not become empires, although most empires end up as welfare states.

So, if that’s the case, what is the progression? And more importantly, what does this mean, considering the dramatic changes that are now unfolding in much of the world?

Prosperity

As stated, prosperity is created through a strong work ethic and an entrepreneurial spirit throughout a significant portion of the population. This is what brings about wealth creation – a condition in which people invest their time and money in a business enterprise that reaps profit. The profit is then re-invested to expand upon that success.

In the early stages of prosperity, those who create the wealth are revered, as the goods and services they create benefit all, even those who may be less ambitious or less imaginative and may never become business leaders themselves.

But inevitably, there will be those who seek to prosper to the exclusion of others. This trend was seen around 1900 in the US – a time when the country’s wealthiest entrepreneurs figured out that, if they banded together, they could buy both political parties. That would mean that, regardless of which party held power, the government could be counted on to pass laws that would protect their monopolies and make success increasingly more difficult for the competition.

Wealth Disparity

Of course, the objective of this would be that there would be a small number of individuals and corporations at the very top, who would be in a position to split up the pie amongst themselves and throw the crumbs to those beneath them.

Over time, this would lead to those at the very top becoming inordinately wealthy, well beyond what would be normal for their level of investment. And very few new individuals and corporations would be able to break into this cabal. Only those who could add to the size of the pie would be allowed in.

Resentment

Not surprisingly, this, over time, would lead to resentment amongst those who were left out of the loop. When this became generational, with minimal change, the “greedy rich” would become the most hated segment of the population.

Those who come to understand that they will never be able to advance to the top layer would come to regard themselves as “disenfranchised.”

This in turn results, eventually, in the awareness that the “little man” represents the majority of voters, which is then capitalized upon by opportunistic political candidates.

Increasingly, there are cries by political hopefuls for the one percent to be taxed. With every election these promises are renewed. And each time out, greater demands are made by the politicians.

Of course, the one percent are already running the show on both sides of the aisle and can make sure that they are taxed very little, if at all. But someone must be made to cough up, so politicians go after the middle class, taxing them increasingly until, after decades of increases, they are squeezed to the limit.

As Vladimir Lenin said, “The way to crush the bourgeoisie is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation.”

At this point the wealth disparity is at a peak and the resentment turns to anger. Those, who for decades have been promised a “fair share,” realise that they have instead been sold out.

And here’s where it gets interesting.

Traditionally, once the population became resentful enough that the system was in jeopardy, those few who comprised the ruling elite were likely to essentially say, “Let them eat cake.” This, ultimately, would lead to their downfall.

But today, we have the illusion of democracy, which allows for a different paradigm.

Collectivism

From the time of the French Revolution onward, we have had the construct of collectivism to work with.

Rather than defy the little man, defeat him by being seen to agree with him.

Create political figures who call out for a re-engineering of society: “An equal outcome for all. Take the wealth from the wealthy who stole it and give it back to the little man.”

Such platitudes sell well when resentment has hit its peak.

But the secret benefit for the ruling elite is that the new breed of politician works for the one percent, just as politicians always have.

And collectivism benefits the one percent even more than any free-market system could. Under it, the little man is not raised up, as promised. Instead, the middle class is beaten down to the same level as the little man, creating uniform poverty.

As Winston Churchill stated, “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”

Therefore, it should come as no surprise to us that, when an empire such as the US begins to unravel, the ruling elite who actually own the country are ready and eager to create a transition that will appear to benefit the little man but will, instead, enslave him to a greater degree than he ever could have imagined.

So, it should come as no surprise to us that in recent months, the US has witnessed a carefully orchestrated drama in which the poster boy for the greedy rich – the US president – goes down in flames.

And the heroes of the play appear centre stage, providing a litany of collectivist promises that will bring cheers from the populace.

And so the trap is sprung. A totalitarian future disguised as a panacea.

As P.T. Barnum said, “There’s a sucker born every minute,” and there is no greater sucker than a voter who actually believes that there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. His vain hope is that, even though every collectivist government in history has failed to deliver on its promises and has, instead, resulted in uniform misery, this time it will be different, and the new government will deliver on the now-hackneyed empty promises.

The new paradigm was as inevitable as it will be long-lived and ultimately destructive.

Editor’s Note: Misguided economic ideas are advancing rapidly in the US. In all likelihood, the public will vote itself more and more “free stuff” until it causes an economic crisis.

That’s precisely why bestselling author Doug Casey and his colleagues just released an urgent new PDF report that explains what could come next and what you can do about it. Click here to download it now.

Be seeing you

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Why Do So Many Intellectuals Hate Free Markets? | Mises Institute

Posted by M. C. on August 25, 2020

The key to the hostility of intellectuals to capitalism is the expansion of education, particularly higher education.12 This creates unemployment, or underemployment, of the university-schooled classes; many become “psychically unemployable in manual occupations without necessarily acquiring employability in, say, professional work.” The tenuous social position of these intellectuals breeds discontent and resentment, which are often rationalized as objective social criticism. This emotional malaise, Schumpeter asserts,

https://mises.org/library/why-do-so-many-intellectuals-hate-free-markets

Ralph Raico

[This article is excerpted from chapter 3 of Classical Liberalism and the Austrian School. Footnote numbering differs from the original.]

Hayek on the Intellectuals and Socialism

F.A. Hayek was acutely concerned with our problem, since he, too, was wholly convinced of the importance of the intellectuals: “They are the organs which modern society has developed for spreading knowledge and ideas,” he declares in his essay “The Intellectuals and Socialism” (Hayek 1967). The intellectuals—whom Hayek characterizes as “the professional secondhand dealers in ideas”1—exercise their power through their domination of public opinion: “There is little that the ordinary man of today learns about events or ideas except through the medium of this class.” Among other things, they often virtually manufacture professional reputations in the minds of the general population; and through their domination of the news media, they color and shape the information that people in each country have of events and trends in foreign nations. Once an idea is adopted by the intellectuals, its acceptance by the masses is “almost automatic and irresistible.” Ultimately, the intellectuals are the legislators of mankind (178–80, 182).

With all this, Hayek’s view of the intellectuals is flatteringly benign: their ideas are determined by and large by “honest convictions and good intentions” (184).2 In “The Intellectuals and Socialism,” Hayek does mention in passing the intellectuals’ egalitarian bias; the analysis, however, is basically in terms of their “scientism.” With his characteristic emphasis on epistemology, Hayek sees the revolt against the market economy as stemming from the methodological errors he identified and investigated at length in his brilliant study of the rise of French positivism, The Counter-Revolution of Science (1955).

Thus, in Hayek’s view, the chief influence on the intellectuals has been the example of the natural sciences and their applications. As man has come to understand and then control the forces of nature, intellectuals have grown infatuated with the idea that an analogous mastery of social forces could produce similar benefits for mankind. They are under the sway of “such beliefs as that deliberate control or conscious organization is also in social affairs always superior to the results of spontaneous processes which are not directed by a human mind, or that any order based on a plan beforehand must be better than one formed by the balancing of opposing forces” (186–87). Hayek even makes the following astonishing statement (187):

That, with the application of engineering techniques, the direction of all forms of human activity according to a single coherent plan should prove to be as successful in society as it has been in innumerable engineering tasks is too plausible a conclusion not to seduce most of those who are elated by the achievements of the natural sciences. It must indeed be admitted both that it would require powerful arguments to counter the strong presumption in favor of such a conclusion and that these arguments have not yet been adequately stated….The argument will not lose its force until it has been conclusively shown why what has proved so eminently successful in producing advances in so many fields should have limits to its usefulness and become positively harmful if extended beyond those limits.

It is exceedingly difficult to follow Hayek’s reasoning here. He appears to be saying that because the natural sciences have made great advances and because innumerable particular engineering projects have succeeded, it is quite understandable that many intellectuals should conclude that “the direction of all forms of human activity according to a single coherent plan” will be similarly successful.

But, in the first place, the advances of the natural sciences were not brought about in accordance with any overall central plan; rather, they were the product of many separate decentralized but coordinated researchers (produced analogously in some respects to the market process; see Baker 1945 and Polanyi 19513). Second, from the fact that many particular engineering projects have succeeded it does not follow that a single vast engineering project, one subsuming all particular projects, is likely to succeed; nor does it seem likely that most people will find such a claim plausible.

Why, then, is it natural, or logical, or easily comprehensible that intellectuals should reason from the triumphs of decentralized scientific research and of individual engineering projects to the success of a plan undertaking to direct “all forms of human activity”?4

In his review of Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom, Joseph Schumpeter (1946: 269) remarks that Hayek was “polite to a fault” towards his opponents, in that he hardly ever attributed to them “anything beyond intellectual error.” But not all the points that must be made can be made without more “plain speaking,” Schumpeter declares.5

Schumpeter here implies an important distinction. Civility in debate, including the formal presumption of good faith on the part of one’s adversaries, is always in order. But there is also a place for the attempt to explain the attitudes, for instance, of anti-market intellectuals (a form of the sociology of knowledge). In this endeavor, “politeness” is not precisely what is most called for. As regards the positivist intellectuals who argued from the successes of natural science to the need for central planning: it may well be that this false inference was no simple intellectual error, but was facilitated by their prejudices and resentments, or perhaps their own will to power.6

In any case, Hayek’s gentlemanly deference to anti-market intellectuals can sometimes be downright misleading. Consider his statement (1967: 193):

Orthodoxy of any kind, any pretense that a system of ideas is final and must be unquestioningly accepted as a whole, is the one view which of necessity antagonizes all intellectuals, whatever their views on particular issues.

This, of a category of persons that in the twentieth century has notoriously included thousands of prominent apologists for Soviet Communism in all western countries, is indeed politeness “to a fault.”7 There was, after all, good reason, as late as the 1950s, for Raymond Aron (1957) to have written on The Opium of the Intellectuals and for H.B. Acton (1955) to have entitled what is probably the best philosophical critique of Marxism-Leninism The Illusion of the Epoch.8

Nor was Communism the only nefarious orthodoxy to claim the loyalty of numerous intellectuals, as is shown by the cases of Martin Heidegger, Robert Brasillach, Giovanni Gentile, Ezra Pound, and many others. For a less complimentary but more realistic view of the integrity of modern intellectuals we may turn to the memoirs of the German historian Golo Mann (1991: 534), who quotes from his diary of 1933: “18 May. [Josef] Goebbels in front of a writers’ meeting in the Hotel Kaiserhof: ‘We [Nazis] have been reproached with not being concerned with the intellectuals. That was not necessary for us. We knew quite well: if we first have power, then the intellectuals will come on their own.’ Thunderous applause—from the intellectuals.”9

Schumpeter on the Intellectual Proletariat

In chiding Hayek, Schumpeter suggested (1946: 269) that he might have learned a useful lesson from Karl Marx. Schumpeter’s own interpretation reflects his lifelong engagement with Marxism. Like Marx, he offered a highly pessimistic prognosis for the capitalist system, though for mainly different reasons (1950: 131–45). But while Schumpeter holds that intellectuals will play a key role in capitalism’s demise, he in no way relies on the scenario set forth in the Communist Manifesto.

There, Marx and Engels (1976: 494) announced that as the final revolution approaches, a section of the “bourgeois ideologists” will go over to the side of the proletariat. These will be the ideologists “who have worked their way up to a theoretical understanding of the historical movement as a whole.”10 Such a laughably self-serving description could hardly appeal to an inveterate skeptic like Schumpeter. Instead, his “Marxism” consisted in examining capitalism as a system with certain attendant sociological traits, and exposing the class interests of the intellectuals within that system.11

Compared to previous social orders, capitalism is especially vulnerable to attack:

unlike any other type of society, capitalism inevitably and by virtue of the very logic of its civilization creates, educates, and subsidizes a vested interest in social unrest. (1950: 146)

In particular, it brings forth and nurtures a class of secular intellectuals who wield the power of words over the general mind. The capitalist wealth machine makes possible cheap books, pamphlets, newspapers, and the ever-widening public that reads them. Freedom of speech and of the press enshrined in liberal constitutions entails also “freedom to nibble at the foundations of capitalist society”—a constant gnawing away that is promoted by the critical rationalism inherent in that form of society. Moreover, in contrast to earlier regimes, a capitalist state finds it difficult, except under exceptional circumstances, to suppress dissident intellectuals: such a procedure would conflict with the general principles of the rule of law and the limits to the police power dear to the bourgeoisie itself (1950: 148–51).

The key to the hostility of intellectuals to capitalism is the expansion of education, particularly higher education.12 This creates unemployment, or underemployment, of the university-schooled classes; many become “psychically unemployable in manual occupations without necessarily acquiring employability in, say, professional work.” The tenuous social position of these intellectuals breeds discontent and resentment, which are often rationalized as objective social criticism. This emotional malaise, Schumpeter asserts,

will much more realistically account for hostility to the capitalist order than could the theory—itself a rationalization in the psychological sense—according to which the intellectual’s righteous indignation about the wrongs of capitalism simply represents the logical inference from outrageous facts… (1950: 152–53)13

A major merit of Schumpeter’s argument is that it elucidates an abiding feature of the sociology of radicalism and revolution: the hunt for government jobs. The interconnection between over-education, an expanding reservoir of unemployable intellectuals, the pressure for more bureaucratic positions, and political turmoil was a commonplace among European observers in the nineteenth century.14 In 1850, the conservative author Wilhelm Heinrich Riehl (1976: 227–38) offered a remarkable analysis, in many ways anticipating Schumpeter, of the “intellectual proletariat” (Geistesproletariat). Even then Germany was producing each year much more “intellectual product” than it could use or pay for, testifying to an “unnatural” division of national labor. This was a general phenomenon in advanced countries, Riehl maintains, resulting from the enormous industrial growth that was taking place. But the impoverished intellectual workers experience a contradiction between their income and their perceived needs, between their own haughty conception of their rightful social position and the true one, a contradiction which is far more irreconcilable than in the case of the manual laborers. Because they cannot “reform” their own meager salaries, they try to reform society. It is these intellectual proletarians who have taken the lead in social revolutionary movements in Germany. “These literati see the world’s salvation in the gospel of socialism and communism, because it contains their own salvation,” through domination of the masses.15 Later revolutionary movements, whether of the left or the right, can be understood to a large extent as the ideologically camouflaged raid on the great state employment office. Carl Levy (1987: 180) has linked the expansion of the state from the later nineteenth century on to the growth in the numbers of the university-educated, who sought government jobs and utilized positivism as a facilitating ideology. Positivism

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »