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.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Great Divide And Herman Cain

The daily insults Herman Cain suffers from the likes of Al Sharpton, both Jesse Jacksons, MSNBC hosts and academics, both white and black, is indicative of American society today. According to these commentators, Cain is an “unauthentic” black man, untrue to his race, a naive “tool” of the white establishment. Such raw racism has deep roots in human thought.

Since the beginning of history there has been a Great Divide in human thought. One school insists that man is a passive slave to his social environment and his hard-wired nature. This slavery to class and kind is clearly evident in a man’s head size and shape, the configuration of his face, the color of his skin and the circumstance of his birth, social and economic status.

According to this school, an accident of birth determines a man’s class and kind and causes a man to think and relate to others in society in a certain way.  Whether individuals become manual workers, artisans, soldiers, landowners, patricians, philosophers, queens or kings, it is the accident of birth that forever ties them to others of their own class and kind. An apt label for members of this school of thought might be “Passivists.”

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 functioning brain have the power to reason and the power to apprehend reality. They are able to use this power and knowledge to form social ties and relationships with any individual of their choice regardless of supposed class and kind.  "Activist" seems a fitting label for this school of thought.

To the Passivist mindset the concept of human free will is absurd. Each man must necessarily function according to his class and kind. He doesn’t think; he behaves or is manipulated. Any run-of-the-mill phrenologist can study a man’s physical characteristics and divine a man’s proper class and kind and, thus, how that man should properly think and behave. A man who thinks or behaves contrary to his class and kind is an anomaly that must be corrected, by shame or, if necessary, coercion.

The Activist 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 Activist believes in free will. He believes that any man has the potential to be a great man, to be wise, innovative and moral.

Passivists necessarily believe in a hierarchical social arrangement of society because it is inevitable that individuals stray from their proper class and that a righteous ruler is needed to forcefully reorient them. Passivists preach human equality and democracy. However, by equality they mean equality within class and kind, and by democracy they mean the right to select a favored one from members of the ruling class.

Property in the Passivist society is "public," which means jointly owned by all, but controlled and distributed by those at the top of the hierarchy. Thus, it is the societal hierarchy that both determines the needs of the lower classes and distributes property to properly satisfy those needs. Society fends for individuals and is vastly more important than individuals.

Activists tend toward free, open societies which protect the liberty of individual men to form their own associations and find their own happiness. When leaders are required, any man in society is eligible to be selected with 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 desires, labor, ambition and exchange associations. The life of each individual man is ultimately valued more than society.

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 Passivist. America broke that mold. Americans were overwhelmingly Activist. As a classless society, American culture thrived for centuries.

Yes, in the past some Passivists have lived in America, have sought to gain political power and have attempted to change American culture and society to conform to the Passivist school of thought. However, the Activist philosophy prevailed by overwhelmingly majority.

Consequently, individual Americans, 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 Europeans in the Passivist upper and ruling classes. America quickly became the envy of individual men of alleged lower class birth the world over.

Gradually, however, the Activist fervor in America waned and the Passivist influence waxed. Why? Because Passivists had wormed their way into positions of power and influence in American society: government, business, the news media, schools and churches. These Passivists criticized the "gap" between rich and poor individuals in America. They were not offended by this disparity in wealth per se. They were offended that this disparity was created spontaneously by Activist individuals participating in a free market rather than in a calculated manner by a proper social hierarchy in accordance with Passivist principles.

Activist writers responded by explaining that in the capitalist free market the demands of Activist participants are sovereign, and those producers that best anticipate and satisfy these demands reap huge rewards.  This fact is elemental and well known by all who exchange their goods and services in the free market.

Although these Activist arguments were true, they fell on deaf ears. Whole generations of American families began taking their newfound prosperity for granted. They bought into the Passivist argument that property should be public and politically distributed. They lost tract of the fact that it was the Activist concept of private property and spontaneous market distribution that enabled Americans to grow prosperous in the first place.

More and more Americans even began to define themselves in Passivist terms, as members of a worker class or a middle class or an immigrant class or a racial class or a gender class or an age class -- in each case a class which is denied its rightful fair share of wealth or privilege by a selfish Activist governing class.

These Passivists took to the streets and clamored for “social justice,” which means ridding the country of the Activist government and installing the Passivist hierarchy in its proper position of authority.

In due course the capitalist marketplace, which was never truly free of Passivist meddling, was greatly corrupted by Passivist government intervention. Rather than a place wherein individual traders freely exchange goods and services for better or worse, the “free” market became a place of privilege and power dominated by those favored and coddled by the Passivist hierarchy. Disfavored enterprises were hampered by regulation or driven out of business.

As a result, Americans came to believe that capitalism and its free market are intrinsically corrupt and unfair concepts. Foolishly, they dispatched more Passivist politicians to Washington to correct this perceived corruption and unfairness. They didn't stop to realize that it was Passivist intervention in the free market that created these wrongs in the first place.

Today Activists are a dying lot. Passivists are entrenched. Herman Cain’s skin is black. His nose is flat. His genealogy is slavery. He grew up poor in a bad neighborhood. Therefore, Herman Cain is and properly should be affiliated with the Negro/worker class. He should properly be campaigning for social justice, income redistribution and the established, Passivist hierarchy. As any, self-respecting Passivist can see, Herman Cain is simply an anomaly, a traitor to his race and class, a tool of his selfish, white, Tea Party handlers.

Given the historical Great Divide in human thought, should we be shocked or surprised that today American Passivists are unable to see Herman Cain in any other light?


LD Jackson said...

For Herman Cain to be viewed as anything but a traitor to the black establishment would not fit their narrative. It is a sad truth that they really do not want to see a black conservative succeed in America. If that happens, it takes the punch out of their punch line.

Sherman Broder said...

So true.

I think the same applies to conservative women, like Palin. The latest canard is that Cain is too uninformed (Reagan stupid?) to be President!