“It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend.”
― William Blake
“You must be able to say "I understand," before you can say "I agree," or "I disagree," or "I suspend judgment.”
― Mortimer J. Adler
Dialectical AmbiguationThe foundation for any dialogue is laid by establishing basic grammar ... trust in the sanctity of a shared understanding of elemental terms. Without this trust, relationships are vulnerable to collapse when one party senses that the other is "using language" ambiguously to persuade them of something that is against their expressed position ... instead of "honoring language" and "using logic".
This is why politics is referred to as "doublespeak" ... and why all political parties and nearly all politicians embrace it as they call for loyalty ["trust me"] not logic. Meanwhile much of the public suffers from chronic uneasiness about how to take consistent stands on various subjects. But they sheepishly conceal their dialectical disability and react more or less blindly and confidently by following some "party line". Never has this been more obvious or dangerous than in the incoherent age of Trump.
The most important political occurrence of ambiguation today is the juxtaposition of the words "liberal" and "conservative" which largely exchanged meanings after they were first coined in the 19th century to describe classical economic and political ideologies ... and which are being adulterated again as those on both the political left and right are increasingly referred to as "neocons".
But regardless of how the terminology is twisted, it is becoming clear that both major political parties are now manifestations of entrenched collectivism [which includes socialism and totalitarianism ... communism and fascism ... central banking and crony capitalism]. And, for those of us who cling to individualism as the foundation for any republic [be it democratic or not], this means we are now betrayed by those we once considered allies as well as repressed by an openly declared opposition.
The Needed Disambiguation of IndividualismIn his landmark work, The Road to Serfdom, Chapter 3: "Individualism and Collectivism", F.A. Hayek positively defines individualism as a belief that
- the recognition of private property [including the ability to labor] and
- the use of voluntary exchange and principled competition among property owners,
- whenever structurally possible [ie. not structurally impossible],
- facilitate a decentralized plan by which property is continuously reallocated
- to sustain the maximum overall perception of material well-being [aka justice]
- consistent with the maximum overall perception of personal freedom [aka liberty]
- that is possible in any society.
"the owner benefits from all the useful services rendered by [it] and suffers from all the damages caused to others by its use."If we simply replace the word "damages" with "costs", we see that individualism assumes
the ability and willingness of the acting individual to receive all the benefits and bear all the costs of his actions.Thus, by negative inference, any state policies in a political economy which, by design or implication, systematically and significantly divert some of the benefits or some of the costs of individual actions away from the acting individual to others must be considered manifestations of collectivism not individualism.
Furthermore, using this definition, one may argue that state regulation, taxation and/or spending in any form are manifestations of collectivism per se. And this is true regardless of whether or not the individual regulated by or paying a tax to the state actually receives a benefit [commensurate or not] from the state.
YES ... and there is no sense in mincing words. The state can protect but can never advance individualism. The only question is to what extent and according to what principles the state will protect individualism or replace it with collectivism. In this regard, F. Bastiat in 1850 argued that
Is ALL Government Collectivism?
"[The Law] is the collective organization of the individual right to [self] defense. ... [in order] to cause justice to reign over us all.Indeed, one might argue that greed and philanthropy are the two sides of the coin of collectivism and that wherever we observe one of them at work in shaping the law, the other will be close by ... and they will be the irrefutable evidence that both the law and collectivism have run amuck.
"But, unfortunately, law by no means confines itself to its proper functions. And when it has exceeded its proper functions, it has not done so merely in some inconsequential and debatable matters. The law has gone further than this; it has acted in direct opposition to its own purpose. The law has been used to destroy its own objective: It has been applied to annihilating the justice that it was supposed to maintain; to limiting and destroying rights which its real purpose was to respect. The law has placed the collective force at the disposal of the unscrupulous who wish, without risk, to exploit the person, liberty, and property of others. It has converted plunder into a right, in order to protect plunder. And it has converted lawful defense into a crime, in order to punish lawful defense.
"How has this perversion of the law been accomplished? ... The law has been perverted by the influence of two entirely different causes: stupid greed and false philanthropy."
The line of reasoning set forth above will not surprise those who espouse socialism or communism ... indeed, they will probably agree. The objections will arise from those who claim they can advance individualism through prudent state policies ... those who call themselves "conservatives" ... but who in reality are merely practicing less obvious forms of non-individualism [aka collectivism] ... including crony capitalism, totalitarianism and fascism.
The Attempted Ambiguation of Individualism
Why do they attempt to mislead and confuse ... to make people think they are individualists when it is clear they are not? Some do it unintentionally, because they are dialectically disabled themselves and simply do not understand the logical implications of their actions. But most are motivated to do it because they [some in addition to being dialectically disabled] are possessed by one or both of Bastiat's twin demons ... stupid greed ["I am better than you"] and false philanthropy ["I know what's best for you"].
It is time to notify "conservatives" who advocate using the law without meeting the standards of [or by exceeding the limits of] the logic set out by Bastiat
- that they are advancing less obvious but equally aggressive forms of collectivism ... not individualism,
- that they do not somehow deserve the blind loyalty of authentic individualists and
- that their policies must be rigorously compared in terms of costs and benefits with those of other collectivists if intelligent choices must be made among them.
The Perversion of an Archetype: MoneyIt should be enough to put the "conservatives" on notice that they are giving individualism a bad name. But the problem goes even deeper than their shameful perversion of language to their consensual perversion of an archetype ... money.
archetype - a collectively inherited unconscious idea, pattern of thought, image, etc., universally present in individual psyches
"Being unconscious, the existence of archetypes can only be deduced indirectly by examining behavior, images, art, myths, religions, or dreams." WikipediaMoney is the most basic archetype in our collective perception and practice of economics. It stands behind everything from crude bartering to sophisticated derivatives ... from price to profit. Every precept relies on it ... every conclusion rests on it ... and every action reveals it. And when we attempt to distinguish "central planning/socialism" from "free markets/capitalism", we implicitly rely on the assumption that the fundamental difference between the two has to do with the role and behavior of money.
- Socialism empowers the state to take money from somebody and give it to somebody else.
- Capitalism ensures the individual who earns the money will decide how to spend it.
However, those who control our money understand that if they can pervert the archetype of money without us realizing it, they can effectively control us while preserving important psychological illusions about the choices we think we have when, in reality, we have no choices at all ... only uninformed acceptance of what they have chosen for themselves.
"Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws." ― Mayer Rothschild
As long as Washington enables hidden powers to pervert and plunder money, there can be no language with which and no economic archetype on which we can rely to logically distinguish
- capitalism from socialism or
- free markets from central planning.
Time to Break Off Our Illicit Affair with ConservatismBefore individualists can even hope to engage honestly and choose intelligently, we must work to
- cleanse the archetype of the money and
- restore the sanctity of the language
It is time for individualists to send their "conservative" consorts a "Dear John letter" ... and for all Americans to break off our destructive love affair with central banking.