Monday, October 17, 2016

A Means of Control

jayhanson |  A feeling arose in the Renaissance -- and crystallized by the seventeenth century -- that moralizing and preaching religious doctrine could no longer be trusted to restrain the destructive passions of men. [[2]]  A new means of control had to be found:

"Peasant rebellions were not exceptional events.  They erupted so frequently in the course of these four centuries that they may be said to have been as common in this agrarian society as factory strikes would be in the industrial world.  In southwestern France alone, some 450 rebellions occurred between 1590 and 1715.  No region of Western Europe was exempted from this pattern of chronic violence.  The fear of sedition was always present in the minds of those who ruled.  It was a corrective, a salutary fear -- since only the threat of insurrection could act as a check against unlimited exactions." [[3]]

Bernard Mandeville (1670?-1733) suggested that a society based on the deadliest of the seven deadly sins [[4]] -- "avarice" -- would create common Machiavellian interests and suppress irrational passions.  Mandeville’s ideal society was one where the unwitting cooperation of individuals, each working for his or her own interest, would result in the greatest benefit to society at large.  Mandeville anticipated laissez-faire economic theory, which promoted self-interest, competition, and little government interference in the workings of the economy.
The utopian agenda of economic liberalism to set up a self-regulating market system was fully realized in the American political model -- one dollar, one vote:
"In 1884, one of the wealthiest men of his time, Henry B. Payne, wanted to become the next United States senator from Ohio. Payne's son Oliver, the treasurer of Standard Oil, did his best to help.  Just before the election for Ohio’s seat, son Oliver "sat at a desk in a Columbus hotel with a stack of bills in front of him, paying for the votes of the state legislators," who then elected U.S. senators." [[5]]

The most important function of a market system is its political function. [[6]]  The market system serves as a stealth political system to foster rational thought, universal values based on calculation, and world peace based on self-interest.  Great idea!  But despite good intentions, inherently defective economic methodology has led to two world wars with millions killed:
"By the end of the seventies the free trade episode (1846-79) was at an end; the actual use of the gold standard by Germany marked the beginnings of an era of protectionism and colonial expansion…  the symptoms of the dissolution of the existing forms of world economy -- colonial rivalry and competition for exotic markets -- became acute.  The ability of haute finance to avert the spread of wars was diminishing rapidly…  For another seven years peace dragged on but it was only a question of time before the dissolution of nineteenth century economic organization would bring the Hundred Years' Peace to a close." [p. 19]
"The origins of the cataclysm lay in the utopian endeavor of economic liberalism to set up a self-regulating market system." [p. 29] [[7]]

Today, this same flawed economic methodology is being taught to students all over the world and is leading to a new generation of world wars with billions killed.