BACK TO THE TREES WITHTHE MERCHANT BANKERS

Ayn Rand may be the most vile "philosopher" of our times but she was spot on in her understanding of the true nature of capitalism. It is animalistic.

Capitalism is a devolution. Some time between about 40000 years ago and 12000 years ago, humans stopped regarding themselves as just another animal and began to perceive themselves as a unique species capable of negotiating with nature rather than just going with its flow. This led to the invention of agriculture and civilisation. They began to regard themselves as special, distinct from other species, co-creators as well as creatures. Gradually they came to the realisation that this new status came with responsibilities. As they were still creatures and subject to creaturely impulses they formulated rules and laws that placed their responsibilities above their instincts. These rules and laws formed a central part in the formularies of their burgeoning religions and, later, in more secular, human centred philosophies. There followed thousands of years of tension between natural instinct and responsibility with belief in various gods and moral philosophies always making sure that responsibility was regarded as a better way, a more human way, of living than just animalistic self gratification.

Capitalism rejects this conceit of humankind and returns us to the pre-civilised understanding of ourselves. It makes animal instinct our driving force. We become, once again, the stone age hunter killing his prey only for himself and his immediate family. Capitalism celebrates and rewards instinct and despises codependence and financially unprofitable creativeness (which are inventions of our free will), the philosophy of life espoused in Rand's writings.

Yesterday, I posted about how capitalism influences our languages. But it is not only language that has succumbed to being dominated by capitalist philosophy. Art and other manifestations of our co-creative nature have been reduced to commodities or expressions of pure self-gratification. Most frightening of all, scientific enquiry has become almost completely a capitalist endeavour dominated by a monetarist, dog eat dog understanding of human nature. Richard Dawkins' book, "The Selfish Gene" is a prime example of how science has become infused by capitalist (Randian) philosophies. His science is good, and co-creative, we are products of evolution and this does mean that our brains are wired the same as those of all other creatures. But his conclusions deny that humankind has evolved beyond just that, they deny our co-creativeness and not only legitimise unconstrained capitalism but declare it inevitable. That Dawkins has gone on to realise for himself abundant self-gratification selling the idea of the primacy of self-gratification and campaigning against the religions that used to control our desire for self-gratification, is proof of just how connected his science is to capitalism's dehumanising agenda. That most scientists and philosophers of science now adhere to the mechanistic view of a human race without real free will is, in my opinion, the most terrifying situation that humans could possibly find themselves in. If we are machines then there is no requirement that we have to justify our actions. The only moral imperative these scientists can come up with is that the components of the machine should work in such a way that the machine continues to exist so that it can create gratification for its "fittest" parts - pure capitalism.

It doesn't have to be this way because it hasn't always been this way. Modern science came out of that great moment in human history when science and philosophy were co-creative disciplines, when our human will became freer in our time of enlightenment. Now, science has become merely functional,  a self-fulfilment of its claim that all is mechanical, almost completely devoid of imagination. This means that science is now a dead discipline existing only to assist capitalism in its task of destroying all beliefs we have in our humanity and the possibility of raising ourselves out of the inevitable by using our God-given ability to choose for ourselves and to choose in favour of the other rather than just ourselves.

Comments

BACK TO THE TREES WITHTHE MERCHANT BANKERS — 14 Comments

  1. I’m about to leave for work, so I don’t have a lot of time right now…but oh, the thoughts this triggers in my head…

  2. We also live in a universe with room for chaos theory, and the operation of chance. I’m not sure where we’re going to end up, but it’s not mechanistic, and it’s not the God who sits down before creation and makes out his little lists of who goes to heaven and who doesn’t. There’s a long way to go yet to reach any sort of consensus, and the church hasn’t really begun to respond, but there has to be a possible response.

  3. Excellent essay, MP. And so, The Church, in its wisdom, turned its priests into corporate executives, weighed down by administrative duties and infantilizing the people into consumers of religion and programs, programs, programs, with little, if any, room for the artists and poets among us. And so we will die. And so we should. And so long as we keep looking at consumerist driven ways of getting out of our fix, there will be no resurrection from this death.

    Long live God, and the artists and poets, musicians and dancers, all of us mad as hatters to think God will be allowed to prevail.

  4. Very interesting essay, MadPriest. I certainly agree with everything you said about Ayn Rand.

    You know, I think I need to go back and take another look at The Selfish Gene. It’s been a long time since it first came out. I remember at the time being rather excited about the biology of altruism. I guess that was the memorable point for me.

  5. So far it seems to me that capitalism is the worst system we’ve come up with – except for all the others. Your use of the word ‘animalistic’ as a pejorative (dog eat dog) seems unnecessary. I regard myself as an animal. I have not for a long time thought of myself as a humanist, or any kind of speciesist for that matter.

  6. My wise old rector used to say that capitalism was invented by Karl Marx, Martin Luther and John Calvin: Marx, because he said that only material things were real; and Luther: because he said only the individual was primary; and Calvin because he said all humans were depraved and needed to be defended against..

  7. I am referring to capitalism as it is now, goodfornowt. In my post yesterday I defined it as that form of capitalism brought in during the reign of Thatcher and Reagan. I would certainly regard post war English socialism and the “benevolent” conservatism of Ted Heath as being far superior to the unrestrained, “pure” capitalism of today. So I strongly disagree with your contention that it is “is the worst system we’ve come up with – except for all the others.”

    You are a speciesist because you are a vegetarian. It is a lived out statement of your belief that you are not constrained by the instincts that all other species are subject to. That you have evolved beyond the animalistic and that your moral choice is the superior way of living.

  8. Richard Dawkins’ book, “The Selfish Gene” is a prime example of how science has become infused by capitalist (Randian) philosophies.

    Going after God, to get rid of The Good. (Boo!)

  9. I’m very tired of the old trope about capitalism . . . except for all the others.

    It’s lazy. It’s selfish.

    “I got the bestest lean-to in all the shanty-town!”

    Try building a house. You really can, you know, if you stop settling for the lean-to. It’s the same garbage we get with “Well, the church is just made up of fallible humans!”

    What you’re really saying is, “I’m too comfortable to do anything about what I know is wrong.” What you really mean is, “I don’t want to change the worst parts of human (mis)behavior.”

    And I agree with MadPriest – benevolent socialism is better. Absolutely better, at least from the standpoint of anyone who embraces compassionate faith. Blaming it for human laziness, greed, and cowardice is a manifestation of that laziness, greed, and cowardice. Yes, you are an animal – an animal that can choose to alter its behavior to a higher ideal.

    Stop. Making. Excuses.

  10. Hard to know where to start. Lazy? Selfish? Aren’t we all? Animal? Certainly, though animals are not always ‘animalistic’. They can be gentle and empathetic. I have still to be convinced that there is a practical alternative to capitalism in the modern world. And another thing – according to my dictionary speciesism is ‘a belief of humans that all other species of animals are inferior and may therefore be used for human benefit without regard to the suffering inflicted’. I am not a speciesist.

  11. I would go further and say that most species of non-human animals are far less animalistic than most capitalists. Most will only consume what they need to survive and stockpile only what they need to survive. Many share within their own community and far more equitably then any fat cat capitalist will nowadays. Capitalists are animals who have replaced fighting for mating rights with fighting to gain luxuries. As a successful stag denies the possibility of mating to non-successful stags, capitalists deny necessary wealth to other humans.

  12. Instinct is not greater than the ability to overcome instinct.

    I don’t “buy” the “aren’t we all” garbage, either. Of course we are. If you’re not a Christian, that’s fine to just embrace that, if you are a Christian, you are called to overcome it.

    Stop. Making. Excuses.