« on: February 07, 2007, 10:47:47 pm »
Communism is the death of the soul. It is the organization of total conformity - in short, of tyranny - and it is committed to making tyranny universal.
- Adlai E. Stevenson
Capitalism has destroyed our belief in any effective power but that of self interest backed by force.
- George Bernard Shaw
Under capitalism man exploits man; under socialism the reverse is true
- Polish proverb
In 1806, Hegel commented on Napoleon's victory at the Battle of Jena, calling it the "End of History", as the revolutionary forces of France smashed the Prussians, ushering in a new political order. In 1917, as the Bolsheviks fought throughout Russia, they proclaimed the first state in the world based on the theories of Karl Marx, the start of the end of History. In 1989, a State Department official going by the name of Francis Fukuyama claimed the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and the broken Communist control of the USSR also meant the end of History.
It took a long time, but finally the majority of the world came to the conclusion that there was something basic in Communism, as with Fascism and Nazism, that led inexorably towards murder, terror and state repression. That the ideology was itself flawed and led to such terrible ends was finally realized after almost 80 years of self-deception on behalf of much of the Left.
However, it has not yet been widely realized that the same problem is now implanted in free market capitalism as well. This is the problem of inevitable progress towards a goal which cannot be improved on, towards ending History and creating a Utopian world order based on the chosen philosophy. The end of History means that the perfect ideological system has been discovered and all that is left is to let this idea dominate the globe.
Starting to see the similarities?
The problem is that there are a whole host of people who don't seem to share this view. Fukuyama called them "those mired in History", a polite way of saying backward savages, it seems. The posited totality and clarity of the argument simply does not hold up against the rest of the world. And therein, the problems start.
Nietzsche was right, God is dead, at least in the realm of ideology (despite some spasms in the Middle East and the USA, which mostly seem to be to keep the proles in line). In his place however, has been erected the Temple of Man, where it is promised Heaven will be recreated on earth. Nothing has changed in 2000 years of history, the ideas change their cloaks but their aims remain the same. Mankind has a purpose, a set start, an aim and final end, where a Utopia will be for the faithful and every evil is justified in working to that end.
The modern disciples of Adam Smith and David Ricardo have taken the most apocalyptic, messianic and prophetical predictions of those philosophers and spun them out of all proportion. They are the modern revolutionaries, despite already holding most of the world's power, they seek to rework the entire globe in their image, much like Lenin and Stalin did.
Seeing this as the highest stage mankind could hope to obtain, they feel it is their divine duty to spread the word, by the force of the sword, if necessary. For all its pretensions to personal freedom and individuality, the "free market" will be enforced from the top down, it will be thrust upon the masses as the supreme gift these disciples could give. Therein lies another problem, that viewing it from such a collectivist point of view invariably means the individual can be discounted, removed or destroyed for the greater good.
The Free Market becomes the new arbiter of good and evil, an all powerful and judgemental deity who does not take into account morals, only the greater economic good. Good comes to be defined by those who shove share prices and profit margins ever higher, in short those who obtain economic power. A philosophy based on pure power as the sole determinant of morals is inherently nihilistic, and such nihilism leads to state terror and repression. When there is no evil, except that which leads to loss of production, you are in the same place as a worker in the USSR 20 years ago. Your individuality is reduced to what material worth you can produce and anything else is irrelevant. The absolute freedom of that modern day capitalists preach is nothing more than the destruction of justice, because that freedom leads to the rule of the strong over the weak without check or balance.
When this is realized, it is easy to understand why ex-Marxists have turned to fanatical NeoConservativism or twelfth century style Catholicism, as in reality the changes are superficial and regardless of the message, the basic ideas and goals remain. It also shows why western governments are now turning towards authoritarianism and why those most outspoken in their capitalist sentiments have no compunction about working with dictators like General Pinochet, , the Chinese é─˙Communisté─¨ Party and Kazakhstan.
What's really ironic however, is that these groups may be in fact doing Marx's work without realizing it. Marx had noted a series of crises in capitalism in his time, crises which he felt would lead to the overthrow of the political-economic system. This didn't happen because most states incorporated some centralized controls which held these in check. By removing then, the free market disciples are becoming another suicide cult, yet again emulating its philosophical parentage.
Until then, like its relatives, it will remain one small group of men murdering, lying and stealing from others, ostensibly for their own good.