Monthly Archives: November 2010

Ch.5 – How Socialism Harms the Individual

(This is the fifth entry from a series of excerpts from Leonard Read’s 1964 published work “Anything That’s Peaceful”) The progressive income tax, federal urban renewal, federal aid to education, and a host of other welfare and unemployment measures are precisely what Karl Marx had in mind with his ideal for the Communist Party, “…from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” (p.57) [There] are three distinct classifications of persons involved in the social leveling process, the archetypes of which are; (1) the person with “ability,” that is, the one from whom is taken, (2) the person with “need,” that is, the one to whom someone’s else’s property is given, and (3) the person who does the taking and giving, the political Robin Hood, the authoritarian. (p.58) The saver, by pursuing his own interest, is led, regardless of intent, to equipping others for self-help. This is quite different from the Judeo-Christian concept of charity but, when it comes to helping others, savings have no equal. (p.61) The fullest possible employment of one’s faculties is what makes for strength of body, of character, of spirit, of intellect. Non-use of faculties leads to atrophy. Life’s problems – obstacles – are not without purpose. They aid the processes of self-development, as well as of selection and evolution. They demand of the individual that he gather new strength to hurdle each new obstacle. The art of becoming is composed of acts of overcoming. (p.62) Rewards not associated with one’s own effort tend to weaken the sinews which make for growth. Such rewards – handouts – remove the necessity for production and invite potential producers to remain nonproducers. In short, there is an ever-present danger that they may encourage a person to become a parasite, living off what others produce. Parasitism is not associated with man’s upgrading. (p.62) The person who attempts by force to direct or rearrange the creative activities of others is in a very real sense a slave-master. And here is the crux of it: a slave-master becomes a slave himself when he enslaves others….He can not upgrade himself while he is employing his energies to downgrade. (p.65)

Ch.4 – Socialism is Noncreative

(This is the fourth entry from a series of excerpts from Leonard Read’s 1964 published work “Anything That’s Peaceful”) Socialism takes and redistributes wealth, but it is utterly incapable of creating wealth….Socialism deemphasized self-responsibility and, thus, is contrary to my major premise which is founded on the emergence of the individual. (p.45) That inescapable fact is just as true in the United States, with it democratic socialism, as it is in Russia with its dictatorial socialism. In our own country, when we refer to the “planned economy,” we mean that wages, hours, prices, production, and exchange shall be largely determined by sate directives – and not by free response to the market decisions. Though our “welfare state” policies are currently more humane than their counterparts in Russia, socialism in both nations, whether having to do with the means or the results of production, rests on organized police force. (p.46) Man cannot feign the role of God without finally playing the devil’s part. (p.55) Man cannot use coercion for other than destructive purposes;…Raise billions by destroying freedom of choice – the socialist format – and the creative energies the funds finance will rarely serve the higher ends of life. Three men on the moon, farmers paid not to farm, flood control that floods land forever, mail delivery that bears a $3million daily deficit, the rebuilding of urban areas that the market has deserted, the financing of socialist governments the world over, are cases in point. None of these is a creative or productive endeavor in the full sense o f those terms. I began this chapter with the resolve to demonstrate that socialism depends upon and presupposes material achievements which socialism itself cannot create, that socialism is productively sterile. Bu after thinking it through, I must confess that my affirmation can be proven only to those person who see the long-range effects of present actions; and those who know that man playing God is a prime evil, an evil see that must grow to a destructive bloom however pretty I may appear in the earlier stages. (pp.55-56)

Chapter 3 – Strife As A Way Of Life

(This is the third entry from a series of excerpts from Leonard Read’s 1964 published work “Anything That’s Peaceful”) Try to think of a single instance where aggressive force – strife and violence – is morally warranted. There is none. Violence is morally insupportable! Defensive force is never an initial action. It comes into play only secondarily, that is, as the antidote to aggressive force or violence. Any individual has a moral right to defend his life, the fruits of his labor (that which sustains his life,) and his liberty – by demeanor, by persuasion, or with a club if necessary. Defensive force is morally warranted. Moral rights are exclusively the attributes of individuals. They inhere in no collective, governmental or otherwise. Thus, political officialdom, in sound theory, can have no rights of action which do not pre-exist as rights in the individuals who organize government. To argue contrarily is to construct a theory no more tenable than the Divine Right of Kings. For, if the right to government action does not originate with the organizers of said government, from whence does it come? As the individual has the moral right to defend his life and property – a right common to all individuals, a universal right – he is within his rights to delegate this right of defense to a societal organization. We have here the logical prospection for government’s limitation. It performs morally when it carries out the individual moral right of defense. It is necessary to recognize that man’s energies manifest themselves either destructively or creatively, peacefully or violently. It is the function of government to inhibit and to penalize the destructive or violent manifestations of human energy. It is a malfunction to inhibit, to penalize, to interfere in any way whatsoever with the peaceful or creative or production manifestations of human energy. To do so is clearly to aggress, that is, to take violent action. (pp.32-33) Most of us, regardless of our beliefs acquiesce immediately on receipt of the bill from the IRS. But the reason we do so is our recognition of the fact that this is an area in which freedom of choice no longer exists. (p.37) There is, however, a simple way to decide whether a governmental action is an exercise of defensive force or an exercise of aggressive or violent force: “See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what that citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.” (The Law, Frederic Bastiat) (p.42) The fact that the IRS found it expedient to make a public explanation in the face of severe criticism through out the country, merely lends credence to the fact that most people –even those who support socialistic legislation – do not know what they are doing nor did they mean to do what they did. Simply because most us meekly acquiesce, that is , uncomplainingly go along with the machinery of socialism, we tend to lose sight of the fact that it is founded o strife and violence. (p42-43)

Chapter 2 – The American Setting: Past and Present

Someone once said: It isn’t that Christianity has been tried and found wanting; it has been tried and found difficult – and abandoned. Perhaps the same running away from righteousness is responsible for freedom’s plight for, plainly, the American people are becoming more and more afraid of and are running away from – abandoning – their very own freedom revolution. Freedom, it seems to me, is of two broad types, psychological and sociological. The psychological – perhaps the most important of the two, but not the major concern of this book – has to do with man freeing himself form his own superstitions, myths, fears, imperfections, ignorance. This, of course, is a never-ending task to which we should give a high priority. The sociological aspect of freedom, on the other hand, has to do with man imposing his will by force on other men. It is unfortunate that we need to spend any time on this part of the problem, for it calls for combating a situation that should not be. (p.10) My theme is that any of one of us has a moral right to inhibit the destructive actions of another or others, and, by the same token, we have a right to organize (government) to accomplish this universal right to life, livelihood, liberty. But no living person or any combination of persons, regardless of how organized, has a moral right forcibly to direct and control the peaceful, creative, productive actions of another or others. (p.11) The Constitution and the Bill of Rights. These were essentially a series of prohibitions – prohibitions not against the people but against the political arrangement the people, from their Old World experience, had learned to fear, namely, overextended government. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights more severely limited government than government had ever before been limited. There were benefits that flowed from this limitation of the state. The first benefit…was that individuals did not turn to government for security, welfare, or prosperity because government was so limited that it had little on hand to dispense; nor did its limited power permit taking from some citizens and giving to others. To what or to whom do people turn for security, welfare, and prosperity when government is not available to them? They turn to where they should turn – to themselves. (p.14) A second benefit that flowed from this severe limitation of government: When government is limited to inhibiting the destructive actions of men, when it sticks to its sole competency of keeping the peace and invoking a common justice, then there is no organized force standing against the peaceful, productive, creative actions of citizens. As a consequence of this limitation, there was a freeing, a releasing of creative energy, on a scale unheard of before. We must everlastingly keep in mind that its roots (the explosive growth of America) were in the revolutionary concept that the Creator, not the state, is the endower of man’s rights. (p.15) Reflect on one of the manifestations of the original structure: each individual having freedom of choice as to how he disposes of his own income. Measure the loss in this freedom of choice (ie: taxes) and you measure the gain of socialism. (p.16) One need not be much of an economist to realize that when the money volume is expanded, everything else being equal, the value of the monetary unit declines: prices rise. (p.19) Inflation is the fiscal concomitant of socialism or the welfare state or state interventionism. (p.20) I have contended that socialism can be financed only by inflation which is an expansion of money volume – with a consequent price rise as money value declines. (p.21) The integrity of the medium of exchange (money) has to be presupposed to assume that a division-of-labor economy can function for any sustained period of time. (p.24) As a reliance on political authoritarianism advances, a faith in free men suffers erosion and, finally, obliteration. It would seem to follow that there is no remedy for our current devolution except as a faith in free men be restored. The evolution of such a faith, I suspect, will rest as much on an unbelief in authoritarianism as on a belief of what can be wrought by voluntarism. (p.28)

Anything That’s Peaceful Chpt. 1

Leonard Reed wrote “ANYTHING THAT’S PEACEFUL” in 1964 and like the other readings I have asked folks to discuss via my monthly economics book study, specifically THE LAW by Bastiat and THE PENSION IDEA by Poirot, the underlying theme continues to be about the INDIVIDUAL. When one is left to pursue life unfettered, unrestrained, totally responsible for self, then we will have true freedom and growth and, hence, economic stability…after all, we are discussing how one achieves economic freedom. As such, while I can editorialize on so many points, I have found power in simply pulling excerpts directly from the book….which is its own form of editorializing anyway.  The following few points come from Chapter 1 – A Break with the Prevailing Faith. The way to give truth a hand is to pursue a do-it-yourself policy. Each must do his own seeking and revealing. Such success as one experiences will uncover and attract all the useful, helpful, sympathetic teammates one’s pursuit deserves. (p.2) Our time, as did Galileo’s, witnesses an enormous intolerance toward ideas which challenge the prevailing faith, that faith today being collectivism – world wide….they have become actually antagonistic to, and afraid of identification with, free market, private property, limited government principles. (p.3) If I am not mistaken, several rare, incorruptible oversouls have passed my way during these last three decades. For one thing, they were different. But it cannot be said that they stood out from the rest of us for, to borrow a phrase from a Chinese sage, they all operated in “creative quietness.” While not standing out, they were outstanding – that is, their positions were always dictated by what they believed to be right. This was their integrity. They consistently, everlastingly sought for the right. This was their intelligence. Furthermore, their integrity and intelligence imparted to them a wisdom few ever attain: a sense of being men, not gods, and, as a consequence, an awareness of their inability to run the lives of others. This was their humility. Lastly, the never did to others that which they would not have others do to them. This was their justice. Truth will out, with enough of these incorruptible souls! (pp.6-7) Let there be no organized restraint against anything but fraud, violence, misrepresentations, predation;…limit society’s agency of organized force – government – to juridical and policing functions, tabulating the do-nots and prescribing the penalties against unpeaceful actions; let the government do this and leave all else to the free, unfettered market! (p.7) Leonard concludes Chapter 1 by defining his underlying assumptions which I have taken the liberty to re-word: 1. There is a God (Leonard calls Him “Infinite Consciousness”) 2. I can learn , grow, refine, expand, improve, enhance 3. There is more than this temporal space and time therefore I am to spend my time seeking alignment/nearness to Him, the “Infinite Consciousness.” If you would like to get involved in this book study and in our live discussions in Dallas, please visit www.financialepiphany.com the click on the CALENDAR tab for details. I will write tomorrow on what Leonard has to say in Chapter 2.

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