Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Falsehoods and Capitalism in America

Are We Americans Optimists? Or Suckers? - Brian Tamanaha @ Balkinization

Something similar to what Holland details in his report quoted by Tamanaha occurred during the end of the 19th century. By the 1890s it became clear to many of the middle class in countries like France, Germany or wherever there was an entrenched aristocracy, that education and talent mattered less than genetics. The successful ones came from good stock, it was believed, and one can quickly make the jump from thoughts like that to racial eugenics. That was the conclusion of one Georges Sorel, but he focused himself on matters other than pseudo-science. No, instead he went on to a far more noble task of turning Marxism from a theory of economic revolution into one of violent moral revolution. Both Lenin and Mussolini were inspired by this man's chaotic writings on the need to create a moral severance with the bloated and indulgent bourgeoisie and the upstanding laborer.
All of this occurred during the end of the century as the cultural clime of Western Europe began to fill with the idea that people's station in life was not dictated by merit but by a false nobility who lacked the physical and moral strength of the working class. I'm seeing hints of such a belief in today's media and conversations. It's more than a little scary as the last time people got all in a tiff over economic equality while confusing it with moral standing we ended up with fascistic movements of varying success (i.e. Romania's failed fascist takeover versus Germany's quite successful transition to Nazism). I do think the issue of economic inequality needs discussion but that discussion must remain distinctly separate from issues of morality and religion. I just fear that with today's GOP ideology this won't happen.
I hope people will start realizing that pure capitalism exists and functions as well as pure communism. That and the only moral rule of capitalism is you can make as much money as you want so long as you don't prevent anyone else from doing the same.

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