Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Disrespect, Capitalism, and Honey Bees

By Littlefish

I just had the pleasure of reading some thoughts from a gentleman my sister recently met. He was very forthcoming with his beliefs and I found it quite interesting. I must thank him for helping me distill a thought I have been working on for a long time. He was discussing how mutual respect is what is missing from our society and then extrapolated that to condemn our capitalist system as exploitive and disrespectful, and how true disrespect was assuming that one person has power over another person, and that one person knows better what the other person needs.

I wish I could find the right way, the perfect words to explain the reality. I fully agree, it is very disrespectful to assume that you or anyone else knows better what someone else’s life might need. That is very very true. But I am eternally confused as to why so many people, typically on the left of the political landscape, then take that truth and apply it to capitalism. If you want an example of pure disrespect of people’s individual rights, if you want to see pure narcissistic contempt for people ‘less than’ the elite, if you want to study how through the ages of man, people have been subjugated by those that feel they ‘know better’, the proper place to look is to the left. This current administration is an excellent example, but Wilson and FDR, are even better examples because they were actually successful in their narcissistic attempts to ‘better peoples lives’ in their own image.

Since the times of the Kings and the Kahns till the communists, and in many lands today run by dictatorship, it is precisely the liberal socialist style agenda that claims intellectual superiority over the common man, and subjugates the common man to live under what the elites in power claim to be in the common man’s best interest.

Capitalism has been the only socio-economic system that eliminated the power position of the elites and allowed the common man to take control of his or her own destiny.

It is scary though I suppose, and maybe that is why so many people refuse to see this reality. Once you are responsible for yourself… you are responsible for yourself! Fail? That was all you. But fear of the unknown is what allowed so many centuries of centralized leadership. People shouldn’t focus on how scary it is to fail, but how exuberant of a life one lives when they try, fail and eventually succeed.

The real interesting part about the “capitalism is slavery” argument, is that people seem very confused about history when discussing ‘the new way’ or ‘the old way’. Many people on the left ardently argue that we need to move forward, into a future where we are a perfect socialist system, but they completely ignore that the socialist style system they are trumpeting is older than any government. Collectivist feudalism is no goal, it is actually capitalism that set man free from bondage. Capitalism is actually the new and promising way. We can study hundreds, nay, thousands of years of centralized planning. We have little more than two centuries of capitalism as a social construct to analyze.

That being said, I would like to expand on this concept in a more natural way. Capitalism is not only the most respectful, fair and non-enslaving system to ever exist, it is actually the most natural and organic economic structure ever implemented. The cycles of nature them selves are capitalistic. All elements of nature work to support each other without ever sitting down and discussing how it is going to be structured. It is all entirely voluntary trade, just like capitalism. The bees don’t demand the flowers provide pollen, the flowers and bees have a voluntary relationship. Just like capitalism. Now, if you are just going to skim over that concept and complain about it, instead of considering its weight, I would like to add, yes, the bees themselves do act in a socialized manner, but, and this is a big but, the bees can function that way because they have a single goal. The entire population is focused on just one goal. This is never true of humans. Maybe in times of national unity we have similar notions on a certain subject, but at any given time, there are as many goals as there are people. The only way to allow those people to achieve their goals is to allow them to interact with each other voluntarily. Capitalism.

So interesting to me to hear people discuss capitalism like it is some evil construct, especially by people very interested in the natural course of the world, when capitalism is actually the only natural state of an economy, and the only respectful way for each person to strive to achieve their goals.

Now, I recognize that many will argue and point out the flaws and catastrophies brought about by capitalism. I will have to agree on certain counts, although I will usually point out the subversive socialist government program that skewed the natural playing field and caused a perverse incentive to alter the otherwise natural course of capitalism. But beyond that, it is important to remember, that nature itself is flawed and allows for catastrophy in many ways. It is even part of the natural cleansing process of the earth’s systems to clear away with catasrophy. My point being, no economic system is perfect and will ever protect every single element of the system. The lion must eat. The river must flood. That is not disrespectful or unfair, it is the natural course. What is disrespectful and ‘unfair’ is someone standing up and declaring that they know best when the lion should eat and how deep the river should rise.

Under any socialist style system, like the one we struggle to succeed under here in the United States, there is little that is voluntary. Socialists and the liberals who pretend not to be socialists, don’t believe in voluntary trade, they believe they know better how the exchanges should occur. That, my friend, is disrespectful.


  1. Littlefish:

    You write: "Capitalism has been the only socio-economic system that eliminated the power position of the elites and allowed the common man to take control of his or her own destiny." I am at a loss to explain how someone of your intelligence (and as is shown by the high quality of your writing) can maintain in this day and age that capitalism has freed the common man from being controlled by elites! I will begin with my own situation: I work in private industry, for a large corporation. I would rate my chance of being laid off during the next year at 50/50 -- an educated guess. If I am laid off, the decision will have been made by people whose names and positions in the corporation I do not know. There will be no court of appeal; I will not be able to argue that I am useful enough to the corporation to retain. I will not have a chance to bargain with my employers about wages or conditions of work. I will be out. My household income will go from typically middle class to zero. And give the market for people who do what I do, and my age (60), I know I may never get a comparable job again in my life. All this I will experience at the hands of a faceless bureaucratic elite -- the one that is running the corporation that I work for -- which is, as corporations go, good to its employees.

    The other great example of elitism at work is, of course, the investment community on Wall Street that speculated irresponsibly in mortgage backed investment vehicles and landed us in the current recession, whose ambition to turn into a depression is only too obvious.

    I'm a Catholic and I believe in the dogma of original sin, and in its consequence, that people abuse power. This certainly holds true for government power, but it holds equally true for the immense concentrations of power that unregulated capitalism spawns. It is not an adequate response to this latter fact to say that, "Sure, capitalism has flaws -- but even nature has flaws ... etc." The current recession need not have happened. It happened only because we believed the power is dangerous only in the hands of the government, and that all other forms of power are benign and will work for the right without supervision. We need to bring a little more realism to our analysis of the problem of power, which will bedevil us until the lights go out.

  2. Dear Ms Belle,

    Regarding this statement of yours: "Capitalism has been the only socio-economic system that eliminated the power position of the elites and allowed the common man to take control of his or her own destiny.. . . Capitalism is not only the most respectful, fair and non-enslaving system to ever exist, it is actually the most natural and organic economic structure ever implemented."

    Would you say that the private markets of the US that dealt with buying and selling of human beings and enslaving them -- a constitutional and capitalist practice that took place in this country before the brutal, but necessary intervention of government -- was "non-enslaving?"

    Would you say that unchecked "free market capitalism" operated in the best interests of "the common man" when it eliminated all competition in the late 19th century and permitted the rise of business monopolies that paid "common men" 50 cents a day, perpetuated unsafe working conditions, and(quite the opposite of your assertion) established a class of robber baron elite?

    What power, OTHER THAN the power of government, could end the first system of capitalist enslavement? Likewise, what power, OTHER THAN government, could destroy the system of servitude and shame for "the common man" that was produced by uncontrolled, unregulated mega-businesses?

    I note in that post from which I quoted your words, your propensity to apply hastily the label "socialist" to liberalism. It is an easy catch-all label that ignores the broad constitutional duties that YOU and I have under our constitutional purpose, "to promote the general welfare" of our people. Most importantly, I re-emphasize the tendency of the right to force everything that is liberal into the distorted label of "socialism." It is a gross simplification that avoids the constitutional foundations of traditional American liberalism.


  3. I curious why you think it is primarily on the left were you find those who feel they "know better" how others should live.

    Are those who insist they "know better" than to allow gays and lesbians from marrying those they love primarily on the left? How about those that feel they know better than to respect the Constitutional rights of a Muslim to build a community center anywhere near the 9/11 site? Not to mention the whole pro-life/pro-choice debate which is about one group saying they know better than women what choices they should make about unwanted pregnancies.

    Yes, it may have been someone on the left who came up with the silly idea of banning French fries in restaurants. But the idea of telling others how they should live is hardly a leftest trait.

    When the TP accuses Obama of trying to take away our freedoms, they should be specific about which freedoms they're actually trying to take away.


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