About This Blog

Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) was the greatest economist of my time. His greatest works can be accessed here at no charge.

Mises believed that property, freedom and peace are and should be the hallmarks of a satisfying and prosperous society. I agree. Mises proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the prospect for general and individual prosperity is maximized, indeed, is only possible, if the principle of private property reigns supreme. What's yours is yours. What's mine is mine. When the line between yours and mine is smudged, the door to conflict opens. Without freedom (individual liberty of action) the principle of private property is neutered and the free market, which is the child of property and freedom and the mother of prosperity and satisfaction, cannot exist. Peace is the goal of a prosperous and satisfying society of free individuals, not peace which is purchased by submission to the enemies of property and freedom, but peace which results from the unyielding defense of these principles against all who challenge them.

In this blog I measure American society against the metrics of property, freedom and peace.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Are You An Actor Or A Tool?

The scalding Herman Cain is receiving by the likes of Al Sharpton, both Jesse Jacksons, MSNBC hosts and black academics is indicative of the age in which we live.  According to these commentators, Cain is an “unauthentic” black man, untrue to his race, a “tool” of the white establishment.  Such blatant and raw racism has deep roots.

Since the beginning of human history there has been a Great Divide in human thought. One school insists that man is a tool of his hard-wired nature, i.e., head size and shape, face configuration, skin color, genealogy, status in society and environmental circumstances. These factors determine how all men think and function. Some are born to be workers, others soldiers, philosophers, landowners, kings and queens. The former are tools of the later to be used to establish a properly ordered society on earth, but essentially all are tools of God or the natural universe. I’ll call this school the "Toolists."

The second school insists that man guides himself by means of his reason, i.e., the way he thinks about himself, others and the world around him. The essential belief of this school is that all men with a working brain have the power to reason and the power to apprehend reality. They can use this power and knowledge to rise above their natural and social circumstances. Thus, any man has the potential to be a great man, to be wise, innovative and moral. I’ll call this school the "Actists."

The Toolist mindset embraces the idea that each man is pre-destined to his position and accomplishments. The idea of human free will is absurd. Each man must function according to his kind. He doesn’t think; he behaves. Any run-of-the-mill phrenologist can divine the proper function of a man by astutely studying his physical characteristics. A man who behaves contrary to his proper place in nature and society is an anomaly that must be corrected by re-education and force, if necessary. It is essential to the proper, natural order that a man be put in touch with his fated self, his rightful destiny.

The Actist embraces the idea of acting man, a free-thinking, purposeful individual who attempts to achieve his dreams by setting his mind to the task. The Actist believes in free will. He believes that so long as a man’s mind is adequate to the task and his actions conform to reality any man can rise above the station in life he was born into. Because reality is harsh, the Actist understands success cannot be assured.

Toolists tend toward hierarchical and dictatorial social arrangements: societies organized by class and caste in which all are trained to view their fellow men in these terms. Since rigid rules and management are necessary to coerce individuals into their proper place in society, property is a social concept and is owned by all jointly. Those at the top of the hierarchy decide how this common property will be distributed and used. Thus, all in society will have their needs fulfilled and in turn society, which is more valuable than the individual, will flourish.

Actists tend toward free, open societies which protect the liberty of individual men to find their own happiness in life as dictated by their own reason. When leaders are required, they are promoted by the consent of all. Property is privately owned by each man who produced it or traded for it. Thus, individuals in society accrue property and happiness in accordance with their own preferred labors and mutually established exchange relationships.

What has all this to do with Herman Cain and the state of culture and politics in America today?

Prior to the founding of America, all societies were Toolist. America broke that mold. Americans were overwhelmingly Actists. As a result, American society and culture thrived for centuries. Although some Toolists lived in America, sought to gain political power and attempted to change American culture and society, the Actist philosophy prevailed by overwhelmingly majority.

Consequently, common men, empowered with the freedom to fend for themselves and the right to own and exchange property, attained a level of prosperity formerly enjoyed only by Toolists in the European upper and ruling classes. America quickly became the envy of common men the world over.

Gradually, however, the Actist fervor in America waned and the Toolist influence waxed. Why? Because Toolists had wormed their way into positions of power and influence by criticizing the “gap” between rich and poor in America. Actist industrialists were rich far beyond the means of the Actist common man.

Actist writers responded by explaining that in the Actist system of the capitalist free market the consumer is sovereign, and that those producers who best anticipate and supply the demands of the consumer reap huge rewards. This fact is elemental and understood by all who exchange their goods and services on the free market.

Though true, these Actist arguments fell on deaf ears. Whole generations of immigrant families began taking their newfound prosperity for granted. They began to view wealth in Toolist terms, as property owned in common by all. They lost tract of the fact that it was the Actist concept of private property that enabled Americans to produce wealth in abundance in the first place.

They also began to think of themselves in Toolist terms, as members of the “worker” caste, denied their fair share by the “bourgeoisie” caste in industry and government. They took to the streets and clamored for “social justice,” which means ridding the country of Actists and installing like-minded Toolist leaders into their proper positions of authority.

Gradually, the capitalist marketplace, which was never truly free of Toolist meddling, was greatly corrupted by Toolist government interventions. The “free” market became a place of privilege and power rather than accomplishment and competition. Favored businesses were coddled and protected. Disfavored enterprises were hampered or destroyed.

As a result, the majority of Americans was easily influenced by the arguments of the Toolists and began to regard capitalism and the “free” market as intrinsically corrupt and unfair. Foolishly, they elected Toolists and sent them to Washington to correct these intrinsic wrongs. They didn't stop to realize that it was Toolist interventions in the market that created these wrongs in the first place.

Today Actists are a dying lot. Toolists are entrenched in business, the media, academia and politics. Herman Cain’s skin is black. His nose is flat. His genealogy is slavery. He grew up poor in a bad neighborhood.

Therefore, it is obvious to all Toolists that Herman Cain is and should be a member of the Negro/worker caste. Thus, he should be campaigning for social justice, income redistribution and Toolist politicians. Herman Cain is simply an anomaly, a traitor to his race and caste, a tool of his bourgeois, Tea Party brainwashers.

Sadly, it is impossible for modern, American Toolists to see Herman Cain in any other light.

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