We Americans think that we are free. In reality we are only free to behave like everyone else. We are forced to bother about money constantly whether we care about money or not. We think the United States is a democracy. The United States is a plutocracy! The flag stands for imperialism, political conservatism, and state religionism, no doubt because the historical Jesus carried the Stars and Stripes into Jerusalem when he established Israel as an American protectorate.
The ultimate competition is war. War usually results from conflicts arising from imperialism, which is competition for wealth on a global scale. Also, we have seen wars arise from competition among absolutist religions, which, in Western society, serve, primarily, as justifications for competition for wealth, often by distorting the messages of their major prophets. Thus, to any person who doubts the validity of the thesis advanced here, we might say, “How are we going to prevent war without eliminating competition for wealth?”
The per capita energy budget of the world is about 2 kilowatts, but Americans consume about 10 kilowatts per capita. Much of this is accounted for by the manufactured objects we buy. In order to be competitive, businessmen and industrialists are constantly urging us to buy even more. Moreover, we are easy prey. People fantasize “whoever has the most toys when he dies wins”. Consumerism, the desire to buy and sell excessive quantities of consumer goods despite the concomitant harm to the environment and the depletion of rapidly disappearing storehouses of high-grade energy, is sweeping the world. Perhaps the overthrow of the so-called communist governments in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union was due to the spread of American consumerism via television, magazines, and movies. Recently, young East Germans visited relatives in Houston. The first thing they wanted? Pump-up sneakers!
If no one had anything to gain by creating desire for material things, people would be satisfied with what can be provided in a sustainable economy. But, advertising attempts to create desire where none existed previously. It tries to identify the possession of consumer goods with successful living including access to desirable sex objects. In a non-competitionistic world, no one would have any reason to advertise or produce more of anything than people would want without external persuasion and brainwashing. In a non-competitionistic world no one would be willing to tell lies to make a profit or spread the giant lie that more is better. People who understand the real nature of global economics and ecology would be allowed to teach people to consume as little as possible, which is the only rational economic strategy.
The analysis of conspicuous consumption closely parallels the discussion above. The reader may supply it as an exercise.
When I was in high-school, I was taught that world trade could be justified by comparative advantage despite the obvious additional burden of transportation. Nowadays comparative advantage in the true sense has practically disappeared. One can make a Swiss watch anywhere. The only “comparative advantage” is having a native population that will work for pennies a day and live in unsanitary dwellings or having lax or nonexistent environmental laws. What drives international trade with no genuine comparative advantage? The desire to accumulate wealth or the desire to acquire power over another nation, cf., the Japanese attempting to “conquer” America. (After all, who could forgive the second atomic bomb!) In short – artificial economic contingency.
Perhaps it is interesting to taste French Brie (a type of cheese), but we might perfect Texan Brie or Harris County Brie. Such good health as the Chinese do enjoy is, in part, attributed to the fact that they live on local diets. This is a lifestyle we might well emulate since shipping food around the world consumes too much energy. I have heard that the average distance traveled by American food before being eaten is 2000 miles!
It seems many people are enraged because the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) devotes a small portion of its budget to works of art that offend religious sensibilities. Actually, I am offended that they fund works of art that promote religion. But, I agree with detractors of the NEA who argue that the government should not fund the arts at all – not because I am against art or the support of artists but because the funding is guaranteed to be unfair. (I have discussed what would be fair in my essay “On Honor in Science”, but it is not at all clear that these conditions for fairness could be met in the case of art where correct and incorrect are difficult, if not impossible, to judge.)
Then how is art to be funded? In my book, I stated that rich people are not qualified to judge art, nor is anyone else. If everything is free, then no one needs to support art. But what if everyone wants to be an artist. Personally, I think that would be a good thing; but, quite obviously, no one may consume an infinite supply of artistic materials. We would have to abandon multi-million-dollar movies – and good riddance. I think common sense would eventually supplant the need to ration art materials.
The Biblical account of Creation in Genesis, or both accounts, or all three accounts entail a number of logical contradictions that are difficult to explain away:
1. God made light on the first day, divided the light from the darkness, and called the light Day and the darkness Night; but he didn’t create the sun until the fourth day. Moreover, he set the sun in the heavens to light the earth. Why did he do that if he already had created Day? He made the lesser light, the moon, on the fourth day, too. Clearly, the authors of Genesis did not realize that the sun is the source of the moon’s light. Clearly, they were not divinely inspired. When I get the solution to a mathematics or physics problem by, as Donald Ludwig once called it, “divine inspiration”, I damn well expect the answer to be right.
2. God made the firmament, which he called Heaven, which divided the waters under the firmament from the waters above the firmament. This was on the second day – before the creation of the sun. The most likely explanation, based on Occam’s Razor, is that the authors of Genesis did not understand rain. Further, since Heaven is, in fact, the sky, the faithful including Jesus himself should be found there. We have explored the sky rather extensively and we have found nothing biblical.
3. On the sixth day God created mankind in one fell swoop in Genesis 1:26 and gave mankind dominion over the other creatures. (How convenient for the writers of the myth: Dominion without responsibility.) In Genesis 2:7 God made a single man and planted a garden. Why was it necessary to make the garden on or after the sixth when on the third day (Genesis 1:11,12) God had already made the vegetation? Wouldn’t it have been convenient to make the garden then? For that matter, why not make the entire earth a garden? Or is that our destiny? I certainly hope so.
I claim the creation myth in Genesis is insupportable, according to Occam’s Razor, when opposed by the hypothesis that the writers of the Bible were ordinary ignorant men with an ulterior motive, namely, the forging of a political destiny for the tribe of Israel. The story of original sin has genuine political utility as described in “On the Work Ethic”. It is as good a reason for appropriating the Myth of Genesis as any other. It is a sufficient reason. It provides a basis for artificial economic contingency, which permits the ruling class to exist with divine sanction.
I wish to quote now from Genesis 2:11,12 where the River Pison is discussed:
11 The name of the first is Pison: that is it , which compasses the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold.
12 And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium [beryl] and the onyx stone.
I don’t think much of the poetry of these passages in spite of the talent of the King James scholars; but I do find it interesting that on only page two of this edition of the Bible the authors get around to what they are really interested in according to my point of view. Regardless of what else they are interested in, the early mention of gold corroborates my theory in part. Perhaps, they should have said “and the gold of that land is God”, because that is what they and their Judeo-Christian progeny seem to worship – to this day!
So, let us suppose that Genesis is bunk. Does that prove there was no creation? Not by a long shot. Will biologists create living beings in the laboratory some day? Will consciousness be explained mechanistically? Probably not. Is evolution bunk too? Probably not. Were the English Bulldog and the English Springer Spaniel created on the fifth day? Certainly not. Have we observed evolution during our own lifetimes? Certainly, especially in microorganisms; probably in the flu virus. Is evolution completely correct and scientifically irrefutable as an explanation for the ascent of man? Certainly not. To claim that it is is to provide ammunition for the strict fundamentalist view of creation, which has as its goal the establishment of a world totalitarian theocracy as discussed in “The Separation of the State from the Christian Church”. Once Biblical Creation is established as immune from dissent, we will be having sex and taking (or not taking) drugs according to revealed doctrines of our theocratic masters. But, what’s in it for the Strict Evolutionist?
I think this brand of Scientism is much less nefarious than Creationism. After all, Strict Evolutionists want only lifelong tenure with periodic pay raises at prestigious universities – or community colleges or high schools if that’s all they can get. They wish to write peer-reviewed papers and stand as a sort of priesthood ready to comment on all sorts of issues and be respected or revered by their colleagues and the general public. They are only competing for money, power, and fame, i.e., status, which, as we continue to maintain, is destroying the world. See “On Honor in Science” and “American Myths and Higher Education”. Scientists and academicians are not as dangerous as religious fundamentalists, but they are dangerous enough to destroy the world unless they are reformed. We have already witnessed science’s great contribution, the atomic bomb. Even science’s more benign and seemingly harmless gifts may not be so harmless as was once supposed. Still science has an important and useful contribution to make, but it won’t be in the line of making weapons and consumer goods.
It is hoped that once the competitionistic motives of creationists and evolutionists no longer make sense to anyone, a reasonable theory of the origins of the universe and man might arise combining some elements of creation with elements of evolution; but one can only hope that it will not claim to know what it cannot know.
Unless one of the three moral axioms be violated, no sexual act can be bad in and of itself. One of the greatest evils perpetrated by religion is that it attempts to deny this. If one can control the sexuality of a people, the rest is easy, cf., Wilhelm Reich. (Don’t worry about Reich’s individual quirkiness. Even if he went nuts later on, he got this one right, as the reader can verify for herself, provided she can obtain a copy of the book.)
Prudishness with respect to sex, racism, acculturated preference of women for tall men over short men, improper evaluation of success in terms of acquisition of wealth, the ease with which women and sometimes men can raise their prospects in life by sexual attachment to advantaged partners (a form of prostitution and the bane of the lives of the rich), and other irrational sexual preferences inculcated by movies and commercials eager for profits result in some people not enjoying as much sex as they should. Basically, every opportunity to have sex that is missed for one reason or another is a lost sacred (logically, aesthetically, or pragmatically immune from violation) opportunity – lost forever, never to be recovered– a waste, a shame, a sin. (The idea of saving oneself for marriage is a logical absurdity.) Suppose we could cut down on these violations of decency by weeding out superstition and irrationality resulting from artificial economic contingency. Then, rape might become a thing of the past. But, clearly, coercion in sex is a violation of the Freedom Axiom and always will be.
Suppose a member of the South Texas Section of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers works for a chemical company and is directly and deliberately involved in polluting the air and I am aware of this situation by his own comments, which show, no shame or regret and which have the ring of truth to them. Suppose further that I am as active in the Section as I used to be. What do I do if this person tries to pal around with me or even invites me to a meal or to his house?
I shun this person, who might be either a man or woman with approximately equal probability – the larger probability going to men. I limit my remarks to the bare necessities and, perhaps, I indulge myself in a few ironic comments at his expense, to humiliate him. I make sure he knows what I think and that friendship between us must be on a severely restricted basis depending absolutely on the “perfect child of God” inside him.
Now, I ask you, when a company lies on television, do employees of other companies shun its employees? Does management refuse to do business with it? Is the president thrown out of his golf club? Of course not. Why not? No one cares if others do evil? Everyone else is doing something just as bad or worse? I can’t be certain of the answer, but I know we have some heavy guilt here.
Suppose I am an engineer working for Hitachi.
We should be interested in the struggle for human rights, which have not yet been enunciated properly (certainly not by the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (See my essay on this subject) but will be outlined in detail for the reader’s consideration in my book. Human rights may be derived from the three moral axioms.
Instead, nowadays, each individual group that feels its rights have been violated has its own special interests. Sometimes these special interests conflict with one another, however this is not the major problem. The biggest drawback of the New Tribalism is that fundamentals are neglected in favor of symptoms. It is easy for the powerful ruling elite to provide temporary band-aid improvements to the superficial problems of the special interests without disturbing the cancer at the center of the social organism upon which they depend for their existence.
I have mentioned the case of Blacks who wish to become chemical engineers. If they are successful (and only a small number will be successful), they will improve their personal fortunes at the expense of others. Even the poorest people in America depend upon the exploitation of poorer nations for such prosperity as they do enjoy. Of course, having an automobile in America is not a measure of prosperity, but rather a necessary sacrifice and burden.
Women began the feminist movement decidedly on the Left hoping for equality of all people. Now they complain about the “glass ceiling”, which is preventing them from becoming the bosses of large numbers of people. The concept of boss is not compatible with equality. Without artificial economic contingency, we would have no “glass ceiling”. Economic oppression of men as well as women would be impossible.
Also, many women are pro-choice when it comes to their reproductive freedom, which, if they have more than two children, is an imposition on the freedom of others, but they fail to recognize the pharmacological freedom (medical freedom) of others, presumably because they imagine that as soon as men get high they commence beating their wives. (Let’s punish these potential criminals before they commit the crime.) I guess this is a carry-over from the days of drunken working-class husbands frustrated by a hard day in the mines or on the unemployment line.
Homosexuals are correct in demanding equal rights. Biblical morality is unreasonable and absurd and part of the reason why I disparage the Judeo-Christian tradition, but in some of their demands they tend to forget other sufferers. AIDS is a horrible disease, but the most efficient way to find a vaccine or a cure is not to pour government funds into establishment research centers. Scientists there are busy writing proposals for funding and getting their names on twenty or more research papers a year. It’s a wonder that they have any time at all to do what might be properly called research. Mostly, I imagine, they function as managers for low-paid scientific wage slaves who do the most work but have the least experience. Also, a great deal of their work is wrong and has to be discarded or published after being “cooked” – yes, faked.
It can be argued that the contemporary movie “The Crying Game” is an example of gay propaganda that completely ignores the just cause of the freedom fighters in Northern Ireland. The reader may supply the argument that discrimination against gays and British imperialism in Northern Ireland are both caused by artificial economic contingency. It is an easy case to make.
Nevertheless, I am sympathetic with homosexuals, pedophiles, and all sorts of people whose sexual preferences lie outside the accepted norm but who do not impose upon the fundamental freedoms of others. (I am not recognizing the fundamentalist’s freedom not to be offended by something that contradicts his absurd and barbaric religion.)
The New Tribalism encompasses some unlikely special interests. How about the grievances of the purveyors of outdoor advertising? Barry Klein of the Houston Property Rights Association actually claims that outdoor advertising does more good than harm. If I get a chance, I shall include my answer to him, but the reader should have no trouble supplying it. What drives him is the profit motive pure and simple. Take away artificial economic contingency and he would begin to devote his considerable talents to something useful, even if only to himself. (Chasing the buck is usually more harmful to the hustler himself than to anyone else, although I wouldn’t want to make that case to a woman whose child is starving to death.)
We all know (or should know or will know) that the rich and powerful oppress the poor and weak. Individuals by employment and welfare, nations by trade and foreign “aid”. With the collapse of many socialist bureaucracies and the fragmentation of large confederacies along ethnic lines, the time is ripe for the multinational corporations, answerable to no one, to step in and take over, concentrating the wealth and power into the hands of a few billionaires, men (and perhaps one or two women) who are destroying the earth, perhaps because they imagine their posterity will be able to escape to outer space or, more likely, because they imagine that they will be able to set everything right once they achieve absolute power. The multinational corporations do not tolerate cultural diversity nor behavioral deviance. Variation in lifestyle and independence in thought are disappearing. Dissent is powerless because it is overwhelmed by mass media, but, if it ever becomes dangerous, watch what happens!
October 3, 1994