We civilised people can hardly imagine what life would be like without private property. And yet, animals and primitive humans had no private property. The whole earth belonged equally to all. Or more precisely, humans belonged to the earth, in the same way that children belong to their mother.
Of course, each tribe claimed proprietorship over its territory. And if a person made a tool or a weapon, that tool became his property. So the idea of private ownership was not totally alien to primitive people. But private property played only a very small role in their lives. The land and the produce thereof, which no human had made, could not be owned by any one person to the exclusion of others. Everybody had the right to go where they pleased and take from nature what they wanted. There were no fences and no trespassing, and of course, theft was practically nonexistent.
But as soon as people took up farming, private property took on major importance. With farming, every good thing is scarce and hard to come by. And when things are scarce, it is hard to be generous. Those who did not want to help with the work on the farm were no longer welcome to share in the produce thereof. No, the people who did the sowing and reaping insisted on also doing the eating. The earth, which had until then been everybody's common property, became divided into small pieces, one for each person and his family. Fences were built, and anyone who intruded on another's land was considered a trespasser.
We said earlier that bad childraising methods destroy love between humans. But so does private property. The great majority of disputes between people involve private property. To draw up property lines is like the drawing up of battle lines in preparation for war, namely the global war over private property which started when the first person fenced off a piece of land and said "this is mine". The war of private property, once started, has continued unabated ever since. And it is a deadly war. To evict a person from his private property is equivalent to killing him, because without his piece of land (assuming he cannot sell his labour) he has no livelihood. Bankruptcy, or economic death, leads to real death. Fear of bankruptcy causes civilised people to cling to their little bits of property like drowning people cling to straws. Moral considerations and kindness to others are brushed aside as everybody try to increase their wealth at the expense of everybody else. People think that with increased wealth they can distance themselves from bankruptcy. But that is not so. Indeed, the richer we are, the more reason we have to worry. The old story of the sword of Damocles illustrates this. Damocles, a poor man, thought that rich people must be very happy because they had so much wealth. Dionysius, a king, heard these complaints and decided to teach Damocles a lesson. He invited Damocles to a sumptuous feast, and Damocles ate and drank and enjoyed himself, until the king pointed to a sharp sword that was suspended by a single hair directly over Damocles' head. In this way, the king meant to show Damocles how insecure life is for the rich.
In nature, everybody was rich because everybody in effect owned the whole earth. And yet, everyone was perfectly secure. There was no one to envy us our ownership of the earth or try to take it from us.
But with private property, every person we meet is a competitive enemy waiting to pounce on us and take our property. A life that depends on private property is always insecure. Of course, if there was a law that guaranteed every person an exactly equal share of the world's wealth, this insecurity could be minimised. But there is no such law. Instead, there is a "free-for-all", in which each person owns whatever he can grab for himself. There is no limit to how much a person can own, nor is it a crime to dispossess others. The strong and clever grab more, while the weak have less. In theory, it would be possible for one person to own the whole world and dispossess everyone else.
When humans own and trade property or labour, they have more power over each other than what is natural. Employers can hire or fire workers at a whim, while workers can strike and plunge the employer into ruin. People literally hold each other's lives in their hands. Love and trust are destroyed and fear and hate takes over as people hold the equivalent of loaded guns to each other's heads. Humans cannot live happily with such insecurity. Each person craves the same security that primitive people and animals enjoyed. We want to own the whole earth, just like our primitive ancestors did. But instead of abolishing private property and returning to common ownership of the earth, civilised humans cannot seem to think beyond the institution of private property. They assume that every piece of property can only have one owner. This means that the war over private property can only have one ultimate winner, namely he who dispossesses everyone else and ends up owning the whole earth. But even then, that person cannot feel secure, because no matter how much he owns, it is only by the consent of everybody else that he owns anything at all. Should his fellow humans get together and ignore his property rights, those rights would vanish like a puff of smoke into thin air. The earth would still remain, but his ownership of it, being nothing more than an imaginary construct in the minds of human beings, would be gone. It is a fallacy to think that we can find security by amassing ever more private property. Yet people keep trying. We seem to have a greed that is absolutely insatiable. Very few rich persons ever say, "I have enough". Even those who have sufficient to feed and clothe and house themselves a million times over still hunger for more. The science of economics, which of course is nothing more than the science of the war over private property, is defined as the problem of how to distribute finite resources among infinite wants. Animals in nature do not have infinite wants. They only want enough food for the day, plus a reasonable assurance of enough for all their future days. Nature provided that assurance. But in a system of private property, there can be no such assurance. Civilised humans do not exhibit infinite greed for services like public libraries, which are provided for free by the Government. We do not rush to the library and grab all we can before someone else does. No, we use these services sensibly, taking only what we need and leaving the rest for others and for the future. We are happy to own these services in common with all our fellow humans. But when it comes to private wealth, we suddenly develop infinite greed. This infinite greed should really be counted as one of those mental illnesses of civilisation which are so common that we no longer think of them as illnesses at all, but as perfectly normal parts of human nature.
Private property, and the war over it, is the cornerstone and essence of the economic system that we call Capitalism. In Capitalism, each person is an independent economic unit who has the right to own property and to trade it with other independent economic units. And if we have no property, we can sell our labour. The whole world is a "free market". This free market is a theoretical place that exists wherever buyers and sellers come together for purposes of trade. Every person can move about in the free market place as he pleases, just like animals freely move about in nature. And just as animals must live or die by their own survival skills, so in Capitalism, each person lives or dies depending on his negotiation skills. Those with good trading skills make a profit, while the rest go bankrupt.
Everybody is free to negotiate terms of trade as they wish, but once we have agreed on terms of trade, a contract is made, and we must honour it. We cannot change our mind later. Of course, any contract based on deception is null and void. If a seller tells a lie and says that a pot has no cracks, and the buyer later finds that it does, the buyer is entitled to get his money back. To be legally binding, a contract has to be based on an open and honest "meeting of minds". However, merely omitting to mention an item of information that the buyer did not ask for is not necessarily deception. In Capitalism, each person must look after his own interests, and no one is responsible for anyone's welfare except his own.
Free market Capitalism is also known as "laissez-faire" Capitalism. This is a French term meaning something like "let it be", or "let it do what it wants". In laissez-faire Capitalism, the Government is not allowed to restrict trading hours or regulate prices or forbid the sale of any goods. Any individual can offer to buy or sell anything at any time and at whatever price he wants. The Government must not interfere with the free play of market forces. The only role that a Capitalist Government has is to maintain a military force for the national defense, as well as a police force and a court system to control crime and enforce contracts.
Economists speak of a "perfect market place". In the perfect market place, each person is assumed to act perfectly rationally and perfectly selfishly. Every buyer who wants to buy something always searches the whole world to find the lowest price, and similarly, each seller searches the whole world for the buyer willing to pay the highest price.
In other words, in the perfect marketplace, everybody is omniscient. This has the effect that the price of every goods will be exactly the same throughout the whole market place. Every variation in price is instantly transmitted throughout the whole market place. There will be no person who through ignorance sells too cheaply or buys too dearly. Thus, in a perfect market place, it is impossible to make a profit by speculation, that is, buying cheaply from one fool and selling dearly to another fool.
It is said that in a free market, prices are determined by supply and demand. High supply and low demand means low prices, while low supply and high demand means high prices. However, in the perfect market place, things do not quite work that way. No, every person is not only omniscient: he is also omnipotent, or skilled in every trade. More, natural resources are always adequate to meet the needs of every manufacturer. This means that, if a demand for any goods appears, supply will always rise to fully satisfy that demand. Nothing is ever in short supply. In these circumstances, prices are not determined by supply and demand, but by the amount of labour needed to produce any given type of goods. If it takes one hour to make a pair of shoes, and two hours to weave a basket, then the price of shoes and baskets will adjust themselves so that one basket will always be traded for two pairs of shoes. People will always trade equal amounts of labour. No one is going to sell something that took him two hours to make in return for something that someone else took only one hour to make. If sellers of shoes want two hours of someone else's labour in return for one hour of their own, then everyone who wants a pair of shoes, being skilled in every trade, will make their own shoes instead of buying from those greedy shoemakers.
When we say that price is determined by the amount of labour needed to produce a goods, we of course refer only actual productive labour. The work of searching the market place for a buyer, or protecting our property from thieves, is not considered productive labour. These activities add nothing to the value of our goods as seen by other people. Protecting our property from thieves and finding buyers is merely the natural and inevitable consequence of owning property. It is work we do for ourselves, at our own expense.
In Capitalism, private profit is the highest good. Everything a person does is aimed at increasing his bank balance, or in other words, his capital. A good Capitalist reinvests all the profit he can spare into his business activities. He expands his business so that it can generate ever greater profit in ever shorter time. Good Capitalists do not accumulate wealth with the purpose of using it for some non-Capitalistic purpose. No, in Capitalism, wealth is an end in itself. Of course, our greed for wealth is fueled by our desire to provide for our own survival needs. But a good business man does not waste money on luxurious living. No, he lives as frugally as possible so that he will have more capital to invest in his business.
Capitalist ideology is based on the "theory of social Darwinism", which is the brainchild of Herbert Spencer. He reasoned that only a society in which humans are free to compete can advance towards higher good. Initially, everybody will compete against everybody else, but soon they will join together into cooperative groups, and these groups will get bigger and fewer, until eventually all humans are joined into a single group, whereupon selfishness becomes equivalent to altruism. Spencer believed that socialism was inferior to Capitalism, because socialism would only create a static "ant society" that could never progress towards true higher good.
The economist John Maynard Keynes saw self-interest as a far more powerful motivator than altruism. Instead of hindering selfishness, which is impossible anyway, we should channel this powerful force and use it for good. Keynes dreamed of a greed-powered Paradise, a world in which production methods would be perfected until everything that humans wanted would be produced in unlimited quantities, and no one had to live in poverty any more. This earthly Paradise would never be achieved if we waited for weak and impotent altruism to do it. No, the natural selfishness of individuals and their greed for private wealth was the only force strong enough to carry us towards this goal.
Of course, Keynes did not believe that greed was a good thing. On the contrary, he wrote that "avarice is a vice, usury is a misdemeanour, and the love of money is detestable". However, he added, "we must pretend to ourselves and to every one that fair is foul and foul is fair; for foul is useful and fair is not. Avarice and usury and precaution must be our gods for a little longer still. For only they can lead us out of the tunnel of economic necessity into the daylight".
The Scottish economist Adam Smith, another believer in Capitalism, put forward the concept of the "invisible hand". When the Government keeps its hands off economic policy, and every individual pursues his own selfish interest, this means that society will grow and change in a total absence of any overall planning or direction from human intelligence. Into this vacuum, Adam Smith's "invisible hand" will then step in and supposedly ensure that everything works out for the ultimate good of all.
CAPITALISM AND CIVILISATION
In Europe, humans began by living in nature, and went from that to slave societies like ancient Greece and Rome. This was followed by Feudal society, then there was a brief period of Mercantilism, before humans finally arrived at modern Capitalism, which is the society we live in today.
Is there a common thread running through this whole history of societal evolution? We think there is. In Salvation Science, we shall say that Capitalism is "pure civilisation", and that primitive life is "pure nature". And all those other types of society are intermediate stages between these two extremes. Slave societies, Feudalism, and Mercantilism are neither wholly nature nor wholly civilisation, but a mixture of both.
Let us examine this assertion in more detail. The essential elements of Capitalism are private property and trading. Both of these elements were absent in nature. The world was not divided up into little pieces of private property. Instead, everybody owned everything in common. Nor was there any trading. People did not buy and sell goods, they shared it. The war over private property had not even been heard of at all.
Then private property and trading appeared. Even in prehistory, as soon as humans started manufacturing the first simple stone tools, the institution of private property was born. He who had made a tool was considered its owner. And as soon as people had private property, they began to trade. Someone who had made a stone tool might exchange it for a spear. But primitive people were not overly concerned with making a profit out of their trading. They were not greedy for bargains. No, their main concern was to maintain good relations with their fellow humans. Thus, they preferred to give and share rather than buy and sell. But insofar as they did trade, it seems reasonable to assume that they traded roughly equal amounts of labour.
Here, the war over private property had begun, albeit in a very mild, good-natured form. It was not yet a war of life and death, but more a harmless game played between people who still loved each other.
However, the whole history of civilisation is the history of how trading and private property have progressively replaced sharing and common property. The war over private property soon intensified and became a matter of life and death. When people began farming, land ceased to be common property and became private property. The same happened to the produce of the land. Also, each person had to accumulate many more tools and implements, all of which were private property as well. And because all goods were scarce, making a profit from trading became more important than maintaining good relations. Indeed, when slavery began, the institution of private property was even extended over human beings. A slave is a person who not only has no right to own property, but indeed, does not even own himself. He is a "living tool" owned by others, and he can be bought and sold like any other property.
The ancient Greeks invented money, which is an abstract unit of exchange. A special class of merchants also arose, that is, people who did not produce anything, but who made a living entirely by buying and selling. These traders, however, were considered hardly better than thieves. Aristotle wrote that wealth obtained by trading was "unnatural", in contrast to "natural" wealth which was obtained by productive labour. But the most despicable trade of all was to deal purely in money, that is, to lend money and charge interest. At this time, the sin of usury meant any charging of interest whatsoever. Today, it means only the charging of excessive interest.
Then came Feudal society, in which trading and private property were lifted to new levels. In Venice and other Mediaeval trade centers, modern banking and book-keeping were developed. Trade became respectable, and lending money against interest was no longer considered usurious. Success in business came to be seen as a sign of the grace of God.
And yet, we still had not arrived at pure Capitalism. Slavery was still practiced, in the sense that serfs were held virtual prisoners on the land of their feudal lords, and had no right to trade. Also, wealth was used for purposes other than to create more wealth. It was used for luxurious living by the kings and lords, or for religious edifices like cathedrals or great works of art. Feudal society was rigidly organised into a kind of pyramidal structure with God and the kings and lords at the top, and serfs and vassals at the bottom. In this, we recognise, in a rigid and authoritarian form, a reflection of the order of nature and its belief that humans should serve a higher good.
But these remnants of primitive society were soon to be swept away. Following the collapse of Feudal society, there followed a brief period known as Mercantilism, or "Merchant Capitalism". Traders were given new freedoms to buy and sell in the free market place, and many of them amassed huge fortunes from trade in spices and other exotic products from far-away places. But producers were still held in virtual slavery and in bondage to their lords.
Then came modern Industrial Capitalism, in which everyone, including producers and labourers, were freed from Feudal bondage and permitted to buy and sell their goods or labour in the free market place. Slavery was abolished, and every individual became a free and equal economic unit with the right to own property and trade it. The old idea of servitude to God or the nation was also done away with. Each person was permitted to be totally selfish, and to pursue his own private profit without any requirement to care for anything or anyone else. Wealth was no longer used for cathedrals or monuments in honour of higher good. No, wealth was now used solely for creating more wealth. Money had become the highest good, and laissez-faire Capitalism had arrived. The war over private property had completely supplanted all other concerns. No longer were humans interested in keeping their place in the natural order, or worshipping God, or honouring tradition, or respecting their parents, or caring for each other. No, winning the war of private property became all that mattered. The gloves were off, and the last shreds of love and respect for higher good had been thrown aside. All remnants of nature had been eliminated, and civilisation in pure form had arrived at last.
Laissez-faire Capitalism then ruled the world until some nations decided to resurrect primitive values. Thus, in Communism, private property is abolished, and all citizens own the farms and factories in common and share the produce thereof. Fascism is yet another kind of retreat from pure Capitalism. Private property and trading continue, but the Government assumes authoritarian control over them, so that the economic interest of the individual is subjugated to the good of the nation. In Fascism, of course, the "good of the nation" usually means either to use the army to protect the rich from the anger of poor people, or else it means to turn the nation into a war machine, bent on world conquest.
Today, Communism and Fascism have both faded from the scene, and Capitalism is left as the world's dominant economic system. But it is not pure Capitalism as before. Instead we have the so-called "mixed economy", or as it is also known, Welfare Capitalism. Private individuals are still free to pursue profit, but Governments are permitted to interfere with market forces in order to stabilise the economy, to enforce environmental responsibility, and to redistribute some of the wealth from rich people to poor people in the form of welfare payments like old age pensions and unemployment support. Thus, in Welfare Capitalism, we have backed away somewhat from the doctrine of total non-responsibility and resurrected the primitive idea of subservience to a higher good. But that does not change our basic idea that Capitalism is "pure civilisation", and primitive society is "pure nature", and all other intermediary forms of society are admixtures of these two extremes.
CAPITALISM AND THE BEAST
Having found that Capitalism is synonymous with civilisation, let us now ask whether Capitalism is a good process or an evil process. Or in other words, is Capitalism part of the Church of God, or is it part of the Beast?
We would suspect that Capitalism is part of the Beast, but now we want to prove it conclusively. To do that, we need criteria that will help us determine whether any process is part of the Church or the Beast. Then we can compare Capitalism to those criteria and see how it measures up.
Now, Salvation Science provides us with the criteria we need. We already looked at the attributes of the Beast, and we found that it is evil, hating, immoral, unjust, merciless, foolish, profane, and a liar. Furthermore, the Beast has the attribute that it is inspired by Satan.
Let us examine each of these Beastly attributes and see whether they are also attributes of Capitalism. We shall begin with justice.
To determine whether Capitalism is just or not, we first need a definition of justice. To be fair to Capitalism, we must use a definition of justice that Capitalism itself can agree with. Earlier, we said that in the perfect market place, every person always gets the correct market value for his goods, and that the value of different kinds of goods is determined by the amount of productive labour that goes into producing them, so that equal amounts of labour are always traded. This seems just and reasonable. But does Capitalism adhere to its own standard of justice? In asking this, we are not so much asking whether every individual is always honest, which of course they are not. No, we are asking whether or not there is injustice built into the system itself, so that some people are allowed by law to get away with unjust trading.
Let us say that Peter has worked and accumulated $100. With this money, he buys $50 worth of tools and $50 worth of timber. Then Peter hires Joe to work for him. Using the $50 worth of timber, Joe makes, let us say, a table. Then Peter sells that table to Andrew for $200. Now Peter has to pay Joe for the labour that Joe provided. But how much was that labour worth? It was worth the price the table sold for, minus the cost of raw materials needed to make it. In other words, Joe's labour was worth $200 - $50 = $150. So Peter gives Joe $150.
Now let us see what everybody has ended up with. Joe provided $150 worth of labour and was paid $150. So far, everything is perfectly just. Andrew paid $200 and got a $200 table. Again, justice has been maintained. And as for Peter, he still has his $50 worth of tools, plus the $50 left over after selling the table for $200 and giving Joe $150. In other words, he still has the $100 he started out with. Again, this is perfectly just and fair. Note that, in hiring Joe and in selling the table, Peter did not do any productive work. All he did was to watch over his property and do trading. And we said that in Capitalism, this is not counted as productive work; it is only the natural consequence of owning property.
In the hypothetical situation we described above, perfect justice has been maintained. But real Capitalism does not work like that. Peter could never make a living buying raw materials and hiring labour and selling the products, because none of that is productive labour. To survive, Peter would have to actually do some productive labour himself. Yet in actual practice, factory owners who do no productive labour nevertheless manage to make huge profits. How do they do that? Do they buy the raw materials for less than they are worth? No, because the suppliers of those raw materials would go out of business. Do they then sell the products for more than their correct market value? In the main, no, because if a thing is overpriced, people will either make it themselves, or buy it elsewhere, or do without.
The only remaining possibility, then, is that labourers are not paid the full value of their labour. And in real Capitalism, that is usually what happens. Those who make a living by selling their labour are usually those who have the least trading skill and cannot accumulate property. And because they have the least trading skill, they are the easiest to exploit.
The value of labour has two components: a subsistence component, and a surplus component. The subsistence component is the minimum work a labourer must do to provide for his own basic survival needs, so that he can live to work another day. But having done that minimum labour, he still has some time left before the end of the day. And if he spends that time doing extra work, he obtains what Karl Marx called the surplus component of labour. Since the labourer did the work, that surplus is rightfully his to do with what he pleases. If he does extra labour each day and saves all the surplus, he can accumulate quite a lot of wealth over the years.
But in real Capitalism, wages usually tend to settle around subsistence level. The employer pays his labourers the subsistence component and keeps the surplus for himself. This is how factory owners make a profit. They steal the surplus value from their workers.
This is clearly unjust. The labourer has been denied his rights as a free and equal person in the free market place. Instead he is reduced to a "wage slave". A slave is a person who cannot keep what he produces, but has it taken from him and is given only just enough to survive on. In practice, this is the situation that almost every wage earner in a Capitalist society finds himself in. Every worker knows that, with the wages he is paid, he can never purchase from his employer all that he produces, even when the cost of raw materials are taken into account. Clearly, wages do not reflect the full value of labour. If Capitalism adhered to its own standard of justice as we explained earlier, then each person would have wealth equal to the productive labour he has done, minus what he has consumed to keep himself alive. No one would be able to get rich from another person's hard work. It is only because Capitalism is unjust that factory owners can get rich without doing productive work. All that the factory owner does is to buy machines and raw materials, and to hire labourers and watch that they do their work and do not steal from him. And then the factory owner sells the products. All this is admittedly work, but it is not productive work, since it adds nothing to the value of the goods produced. It is merely the natural consequence of owning property, and the factory owner cannot expect others to pay him for it. But the factory owner not only expects to be paid for it, he does not even have to do it himself. He can hire a manager to do all the buying and selling, as well as all the hiring and policing of labour, and then the factory owner can go away and live a life of total inactivity while money pours into his bank account.
Of course, the factory owner presumably did do some productive work once. He worked to accumulate the initial capital with which he set up his factory. And the value of that is his rightful property. But all the wealth produced by the factory beyond that initial capital belongs to others. There is no justice in factory owners living in idleness on the fruits of other people's labour.
Primitive people let nature do all the work for them, and they merely took the finished products. Civilised people dream of one day building robot factories that produce everything humans need, and then make the products available to everybody free of charge. But the factory owner in today's Capitalist system has achieved precisely this, except that it is not nature or automated robots that produce for him, but living humans. The factory is a wealth-producing organism that consumes part of its produce to sustain itself, and gives all the surplus to the factory owner. Indeed, if the factory owner reinvests part of the surplus and so expands his business, then the wealth he receives will increase exponentially. He can end up with an income large enough to feed millions of people without doing the productive work of even a single person.
This is how real Capitalism is unjust. It is a form of institutionalised thievery. We have exploiters and exploited, we have slaves and slave-owners. Or, in the words of Karl Marx, we have bourgeoisie and proletariat. Or, in moral language, robbers and victims. Jawaharlal Nehru said that "a person who does not work at all gets the surplus while the hard worker often gets no part of it...it is because of this stupid arrangement that there are so many poor people in the world". Abraham Lincoln said that "labour is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labour, and could never have existed if labour had not first existed". Karl Marx put it more bluntly: "Capital is dead labour that, vampire-like, lives only by sucking living labour, and lives the more, the more is suck".
Being unjust, Capitalism is also immoral. After all, morality means looking after the good of the whole world. But Capitalism preaches the doctrine of non-responsibility towards all but self. Capitalists often say, "we are running a business, not a charity". This is clearly the very essence of immorality. If Capitalism really rewarded moral value, then Jesus Christ should have been a billionaire, while many a greedy businessman should have nothing but slime and filth to eat. But Capitalism does the opposite of this, and is therefore immoral.
Yes, but, defenders of Capitalism are known to say, not caring for others is the best way to care for them. If we show moral kindness, we make others weak and dependent. But if we are selfish, we make them strong and capable, and this is, ultimately, the greater kindness. Therefore, being immoral is actually more moral than being moral.
This kind of reasoning, if followed to its logical conclusion, says that because our heart and our lungs depend on each other, they make each other weak and dependent. To make them strong and independent, we must divide every human being into separate organs, and then we must chop these organs into tiny pieces, until nothing is left but a soup of separate, randomised matter particles. Only in that way, according to this absurd logic, can we make ourselves strong and get rid of all the mutual dependency that weakens us.
But to make a process non-existent can hardly be said to strengthen it. A non-existent process is as weak and impotent as it can possibly be. If we want stronger processes, we should go the other way. We should make cooperation and mutual dependency work more efficiently. And this is equivalent to making processes more moral. It is immorality, not morality, that weakens processes.
Of course, moral love does not mean that we should do for processes what they ought to do for themselves. We should most certainly equip processes to survive on their own. But helping others to be strong and independent is different from using and exploiting them. Capitalists, by reducing workers to wage slavery, do not make them strong and independent. On the contrary, workers becomes more weak and helpless and dependent in order that the Capitalists can exploit them more effectively. Nor is advertising meant to help consumers make informed and sensible purchase decisions. On the contrary, modern advertising is designed to weaken the intelligence and turn humans into brainless, greedy consumers that can be easily manipulated.
Indeed, if morality is equivalent to independence, then Capitalists are less moral than the workers they exploit. Workers do productive work and support themselves. They are therefore independent. But Capitalists do not do productive work. Instead they live by stealing from those who do. Clearly, Capitalists are more dependent than workers.
Some supporters of Capitalism say that the rich are moral because they share their wealth with the poor. They speak of the so-called "trickle-down effect". When rich people get richer, the poor supposedly also get richer, just like a dog that is lying at his master's feet and eating the crumbs that fall from his table. When the master is poor, the crumbs are small, and the dog starves. But when the master gets rich, the crumbs get bigger, and the dog eats well.
The truth is, however, that rich people are never careless with their money in the sense of allowing crumbs to go astray. No millionaire lets hundred dollar bills fall from his pockets to be picked up by the poor. On the contrary, rich people hire accountants to keep track of every cent. The trickle-down effect is really nothing but a myth. For decades, the poor have waited for wealth to trickle down to them. But it has not happened. Instead of trickling down, wealth always moves up. It is produced by the poor and appropriated by the rich. And the gap between the rich and the poor is increasing. While rich people today are richer than ever, there are now also more poor people living below basic subsistence than there has ever been.
Yes, but other Capitalists claim that they trade morally. That is, they do not think of their own profit alone. Instead, they conduct their trade in such a way that everybody benefits.
Not even a great defender of Capitalism like Adam Smith was fooled by this argument. "I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good", he wrote(17). "It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self-interest".
We have established that Capitalism is unjust and immoral. Nor is it wise or merciful either. If Capitalists were merciful, they would not drive so many poor people into starvation. And if Capitalists were wise, they would work for the Salvation of the Universe instead of their own immediate, selfish profit. They would lay up Heavenly wealth and not earthly wealth. And Capitalists are not only foolish themselves, but they teach foolishness to others as well. By advertising, they train consumers to be unwise in their spending habits and to desire immediate, earthly gratification. This is the opposite of wisdom.
Capitalism is also a liar. The trickle-down effect is one lie. Salespeople are often professional liars. Shoddy goods masquerading as good quality are lies. And advertising is riddled with lies as well. Only the threat of heavy fines prevent direct, Machiavellian lies. But even so, subtle, indirect lying is widely practiced in the advertising industry. The whole truth about a product is never revealed. We may be told that a certain brand of tyres is cheap, but we are not told that this brand wears out quickly, and that in the long run it is cheaper to buy a more expensive brand. Indeed, facts in general are becoming increasingly scarce in modern advertising. Instead of telling us facts, advertisers are more intent on creating an "image" around a product. They no longer sell products, they sell dreams. An alluring fantasy world is created, inhabited by perfect people who never seem to have problems or shortcomings, and the suggestion is made that, if we only buy the product, we will become like those people. These suggestions are, of course, lies.
The whole Capitalist system is riddled with other lies and inconsistencies as well. For example, the concept of a "greed-powered Paradise" is a clear contradiction in terms. E. F. Schumacher wrote(18) that "it is...chimerical to build peace on...the systematic cultivation of greed and envy, the very forces that drive men into conflict". The pretense by rich people that they are poor, or that they are workers, or that they cannot afford to pay decent wages, are other lies. Then there is the lie that we are free because we have a "free market". In theory everybody is supposed to be equal in this free market, but in practice, a rich and powerful minority are in control while the majority are trapped in underpaid, mundane jobs where they have very little freedom. In theory, anybody can become a brain surgeon or a president, but in practice, those well paid and prestigious jobs are reserved for a small privileged minority, while everybody else is told that their failure to rise up in the world is due to their own personal shortcomings and not any fault of the system. The truth is that only primitive people were really free and equal in the proper sense of the word. Ordinary people in civilised society are held prisoners in offices and factories, and are told they are "free" because they can choose between ten different brands of toothpaste. Real freedom is impossible with private property. We are held in bondage by our dependence on our little bits of private property. As William James said, "lives based on having are less free than lives based on doing or on being".
Capitalism is also profane, that is, "excluded from the temple". In the Paradise that God made for Adam and Eve, there was no private property or trading, nor did anyone work for wages. It is only after Adam and Eve were evicted that these basic elements of Capitalism appeared. The Bible does not say directly that private property or trading is evil. But at the same time, it is clear that God does not approve of them. He does not want Capitalism inside the temple. Jesus Christ drove the moneychangers and traders out of the temple, saying "make not my Father's house an house of merchandise" (John 2:16). The Bible also tells us that "the love of money is the root of all evil" (I Timothy 6:10). Money is the essence of the whole concept of private property, and does not belong in the Church. We "cannot serve God and mammon" (Matthew 6:24). The word "mammon" is Aramaic for earthly wealth. To serve God is impossible if we are concerned with earthly wealth, because these two aims contradict each other. John Maynard Keynes said that, although greed for money is despicable, Capitalists must "pretend that fair is foul and foul is fair". But the Bible warns, "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" (Isaiah 5:20). "The pursuit of money leads a man astray" (Ecclesiasticus 31:5), and "They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction...but thou, O man of God, flee these things, and follow after righteousness" (I Timothy 6:9-11).
Of course, God has given humans the freedom to choose between good and evil, and if humans choose Capitalism, God allows them to have it. He even tells us to trade fairly and not steal from each other. This means that sellers must use a "just weight" (Proverbs 11:1), and that employers must not steal surplus value from their labourers (Job 24:11, Isaiah 65:22). In other words, God demands a "perfect market place". But He would much prefer it if we gave up trading and private property altogether and shared the earth in true love. If we did that, then Capitalism would cease to exist. If everybody was charitable and gave to the poor, Capitalism would vanish into thin air. Jesus Christ operated no businesses, nor owned any property or engaged in trading. Instead He told people, "Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on...Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns: yet your Heavenly Father feedeth them...and why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin; and yet, I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field...shall He not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?" (Matthew 6:25-30).
What is Jesus Christ saying here? That we should live like the birds and the flowers, letting nature feed us and care for us, exactly like animals and primitive humans. He is saying that we should give up private property and trading and all civilised scrounging for a living. We should walk naked, in the natural beauty that God gave us, and own the whole world in common, and do away with Capitalism altogether.
We have seen that Capitalism is like the Beast in that it is unjust, immoral, foolish, merciless, profane, and a liar. And just like the Beast, Capitalism is also evil. To be evil means to worship false gods and to blaspheme against the real God. It means to deny that Salvation is possible, and to do nothing to attain it. It means to obstruct and ridicule all that is good, and to glory in and facilitate what is evil. It means to sow discord and conflict, to corrupt the world, and lead it into destruction. Being evil also means to tempt processes away from the path of Salvation by means of their desire for short term, earthly gains.
Does Capitalism do all these things? Yes; for a start, it denies God and Salvation. "Heavenly treasure" never appears in the accounting books of any company. They are only interested in earthly wealth, and if God gets in the way, God is swept aside. In Capitalism, money is god. Capitalism commits the sin of idolatry; it worships a false god.
Now what about obstructing and ridiculing good and encouraging evil? As we know, there are evil humans who do these things. But how are they connected with Capitalist society?
Basically, they are in charge of it. A humourist said that "a criminal is a person with predatory instincts who has not sufficient capital to form a corporation". There is much truth behind this joke. Crime and business differ only in that one is legal and the other is not. In essence, they are the same kind of activity. In ancient Greece, the god of thieves was also the god of traders and merchants. Crime, it is said, is the natural extension of business. The doctrine of non-responsibility to all but self is essentially criminal. Charles Birch remarked(19) that "the individual who pollutes the air with his factory and the kid who slashes the seats of the railway carriage both represent the same thing. They do not care about each other or their nation or the world".
Rosenberg (1957) found that people who choose to work in advertising, public relations, business, finance, and sales promotion -- in other words, in occupations that are at the very center of the war over private property -- had the lowest faith in the goodness of human nature. They also scored high in aggressiveness and in desire for personal success, and they cared little about what others thought of them. In other words, these people have sociopathic tendencies, which is synonymous with criminal tendencies. They are uncaring and exploitative and competitive and selfish.
Rosenberg also found that people who had a high faith in human goodness, who were sociable and compliant, and did care what others thought of them, tended to go into occupations like social work, teaching, science, and so on. These occupations are more remote from Capitalism. They require us to help others and work for the good of the world as a whole.
Clearly, then, in a Capitalist society, the criminal element is in charge. Of course, by this we mean only the more intelligent part of the criminal element. The rough, unshaven, uneducated type of criminal still ends up in jail, and it is only the educated, intelligent, well groomed ones that rise in the corporate ranks and practice their criminal activities within the protection of the law. They are like wolves in sheep's' clothing, like sharks in fine suits that drive Rolls Royces and sip martinis at board meetings.
Clearly, in elevating criminals to society's highest positions, Capitalism encourages evil. In a Capitalist society, every evil that can be done will be done. If one entrepreneur is prevented by moral scruples from selling drugs to school children or nuclear bombs to tyrants, some other entrepreneur will do it instead. Making laws against any objectionable kind of trade does not stop it. It only drives it underground. There is not only a worldwide illegal trade in drugs and weapons, but also in child slavery. Desperately poor parents sell their children into prostitution, while kidnappers scour the countryside, stealing children and selling them to brothels. There is no evil trade that Capitalism will not descend to. Consider, for example, the worldwide shortage of body parts for transplant operations. A lucrative illegal trade in body parts has appeared. Humans are killed for organs, while hospitals steal body parts from their patients without consent. Indeed, children are even bred for no other purpose than to be slaughtered and dismembered, and their body parts sold on the black market.
Yes, but at least we can rest assured that our friendly neighbourhood butcher will never sell human meat in his shop. Or will he? That evil too has been done. Fritz Haarmann, a Hanover butcher, killed young people and sold the meat to unsuspecting customers. George Grossmann of Berlin did the same thing. As we can see, Capitalism rushes into every disgusting trade that we can possibly imagine. It ensures that every evil that can be done will be done.
At the same time, Capitalism paralyses our ability to do good. Love and altruism are, in a Capitalist society, equivalent to economic suicide. He who gives to the poor risks starvation himself. In primitive society, this was not the case. We could be generous without depriving ourselves. If another person was in need, sharing and giving seemed the only natural and decent thing to do. Primitive people react with incredulity when they are told that in the richest cities in the world there are people starving to death. "Why don't they go and eat with their neighbours?" they ask. Primitive humans cannot understand how a human being can starve to death in the street while thousands of wellfed people walk around him and ignore his need.
So while Capitalism opens wide the door of evil, it shuts fast the door of good. But if it prevents good people from doing good, does it at least not force them to do evil? Yes, it does. By law, everybody must take part in the war of private property. To try to live outside the free market is impossible, even if we do it without stealing. The law prevents us from going into the forest and surviving by hunting and gathering. Nor can we live like a dog in the city streets, scrounging for unwanted leftovers and sleeping in doorways, because this makes us a vagrant. Only if we get a job or start a business and purchase a house, and generally make our living in the free market, are we counted as respectable human beings.
And once we are in the market system, we have to fight for survival in the war of private property. Moral scruples reduce our competitiveness, so that we are like cripples trying to race against healthy people. Capitalism forces good people to act in ways they are ashamed to admit. We give lame excuses why we cannot give money for charitable purposes, and at supermarket sales, children can literally be trampled underfoot as adults scramble for the best bargains. Even in times of prosperity, our economic insecurity drives us into behaviour that many primitive tribes would not descend to even in the most extreme scarcity. Capitalism dulls our moral judgment so that we calmly allow millions of innocent children to starve to death in the poor countries while we spend thousands on a second car or a video or some other nonessential luxury for ourselves.
In primitive society, humans lived together in love. Primitive society is therefore like the Church. But Capitalism is like the Beast, in that it divides humans and sets them in competition against each other. Let us look at the psychology of the hatred generated by the war of private property. In 1961, Goldschmidt and Edgerton did a simple experiment in which a tribe of primitive humans were shown a picture and asked to describe what they saw. The picture in question depicted a group of people who were sitting by a riverbank fishing, while in the background, another group of people, dressed in overalls and carrying what appeared to be lunchboxes, were walking towards some buildings in the distance which might have been factories. In other words, the picture showed one group of people with jobs, and another apparently without jobs.
Now, some members of the primitive tribe had not had much to do with civilisation, but others held jobs and had been acculturated to civilised values. And the differences in their reactions to the picture were striking. Those primitive humans who had not had much to do with civilisation expressed tolerance and goodwill towards all the people in the picture. They hoped that whatever each person in the picture had chosen to do, they were happy doing it. They hoped that the fishermen enjoyed catching fish, and they hoped that the factory workers worked diligently at their jobs and afterwards could enjoy themselves too.
In contrast, those primitive people who had been acculturated to civilised values showed a marked intolerance towards the fishermen, calling them lazy, useless people who wanted everything given to them without doing anything to earn it. Contemptuous personal remarks were made about the fishermen's posture, and they were accused of trying to drag everybody down and sabotage all decent society.
Why this intolerance? The fishermen were not hurting anyone. They were minding their own business and making a perfectly legitimate living in the two million year old tradition of primitive people. Yet they were condemned for it. Here we can see how the hatred and envy generated by the war of private property distorts people's judgment. In war, it is said, the first casualty is always truth. We "demonise" each other. That is, we cease to see each other as human and come to see each other as demons instead. We no longer have true knowledge of our fellow humans. Instead, we concoct lies about them. To love others means to know them well, and when we do, we recognise them as human beings like ourselves, and we have sympathy for their struggles to survive. But the war of private property destroys love and separates humans from each other, so that we no longer know what they are like. And into this gap of ignorance, Satan inserts his lies. Our fellow humans become competitive enemies, incapable of ordinary human suffering. The only emotions we give them credit for are hatred of everything good, and infernal delight in everything evil. We "demonise" them: we see them as hateful monsters, as reptiles, or indeed, as Satan personified. This, of course, is a completely false perception of what our fellow humans really are like. It is a lie fostered by Satan to get humans to attack and destroy each other. Having lost touch with reality, we live in a nightmarish fantasy world where we battle against unreal monsters and demons, not knowing that in actuality, it is our fellow human beings that we are destroying.
The hatred of civilisation found its most exalted expression in the Satanic philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. Morality and altruism, declared Nietzsche, are weak and foolish things that no self-respecting person should descend to. Only mediocre, sheep-like people live together in collective comfort. The strong and heroic "Superman" refuses to be trampled down by the common herd. He rises above the mass of ordinary people, ruthlessly using them as stepping stones as he climbs towards complete freedom for himself. He makes himself dictator of the world and uses his power to indulge in every lustful passion, cynically exploiting the whole human race to exalt himself.
Nietzsche's philosophy, in degraded form, became the basis for Nazism and Fascism, in which we have a dictator who scorns to be democratically elected, and instead fights his way to the top. And while doing that, he earns the admiration of the masses through his superhuman powers and heroic struggles. His supporters worship him like a god and march willingly into fires of self-destruction for his sake. In Fascism, the hatred and envy of civilised people, far from being suppressed, is encouraged. The population is whipped into a war frenzy. All their hatred is then directed outward to world conquest, and inwardly against some poor, unfortunate minority group, like Jews or Gypsies or Marxists or feminists or homosexuals or vegetarians or environmentalists, or any other harmless, defenseless group that can conveniently be made into a scapegoat and blamed for all society's evils. And the process of persecuting these unfortunate innocents will supposedly cleanse the nation of all that is corrupt and degenerate. Fascism is a celebration of violence. Life, say the Fascists, is a struggle, and war is the only way to truly live.
The period that includes the two World Wars has become known as the era of Fascism. During this time, the world was plunged into an orgy of hatred and evil. Hitler's "Final Solution" to all the ills of the world was to exterminate all the Jews and Gypsies and breed a new "Master Race" of blond, blue-eyed Europeans that would rule the world for the next thousand years. And so began the Holocaust -- the mass killing of human beings in "death factories", such as the one at Auschwitz. Starved and brutalised human beings were herded into gas chambers where they were killed by the millions. The corpses were tossed into huge crematoria and burnt to a fine grey dust, which was dumped by the truckload in some nearby river. Prior to incineration, every corpse's teeth were checked for gold fillings. The Nazis collected buckets of gold in this way. The special command that carried out all these gruesome tasks, the "Sonderkommando", were themselves fed into the fires at regular intervals. The Nazis took every precaution to keep any knowledge of what they were doing from leaking out into the world.
The Holocaust must surely rank as the worst expression of the hatred and envy generated by the war of private property. Of course, everybody who embarks on a war pretends to themselves and to others that they are fighting, not over property, but over some high moral principle or other. But the fact is that, if a moral dispute is all that divides two nations, they rarely go to war. They are content merely to debate. War is only resorted to when actual wealth, like a mineral resource or a favoured trading location, enters into the dispute. Plato observed more than two thousand years ago that every war is undertaken for the acquisition of wealth. Hitler wanted "living space" for his Master Race. And the Gulf War was really about cheap oil, and not about moral principles.
After the Holocaust, psychological studies were carried out in order to better understand the reasons why humans descend to such evil. These studies reveal to us the psychology of the civilised human type versus that of primitive people. A so-called Fascist scale, or F scale, was developed to measure how receptive a person is to Fascist ideology. The person being tested is shown a series of statements that express an intolerant and prejudiced view of other people, and the more a person agrees with these statements, the more Fascist, or Authoritarian, he is. Some examples of these statements are:
"Prison is too good for sex criminals. They should be publicly whipped."
"There are two kinds of people in the world: the weak and the strong."
"No decent man can respect a woman who has had sex relations before marriage."
The Fascist or Authoritarian person who agrees with these statements typically comes from a family background which is hierarchical and exploitative, and where parental love is conditional upon good behaviour. The Fascist is emotionally repressed and cannot show his feelings spontaneously. Instead, he substitutes a kind of conventional sentimentality. He has little tolerance or compassion for human frailty. Weakness in others arouse fear and hatred. But while he is quick to condemn others for their mistakes, he is incapable of admitting his own mistakes, preferring instead to blame his faults and shortcomings on others. Fascists are also anti-intellectual. They have no patience with a long, drawn out search for truth. Ambiguity and uncertainty scares them, and they resort to quick, simple, black-and-white solutions to complex questions. They tend to be poorly educated, they put others down to raise themselves up, and they have a high degree of generalised, free-floating hostility.
This is the psychology of the civilised or Authoritarian human type. In contrast, the primitive or Democratic human type comes from a family background which is egalitarian and where parental love is not conditional upon good behaviour, although of course moral guidance is still given. The Democratic person can admit his mistakes and show his feelings spontaneously. Nor is he satisfied with quick and simple solutions to complex questions. Instead he takes the time to search for the real truth. Nor does he put others down or blame them for his own faults. He has compassion for the sufferings of others, and wants all humans to live together in love and harmony.
We have seen how a Capitalist society generates hatred between the people within that society. But a Capitalist society also reaches outwards to other societies, corrupting them and spreading its evil to them too. Capitalists are always on the lookout for new wealth to exploit and new people to enslave. During the Colonial era, European Capitalism embarked on journeys of exploration and discovered Africa, Asia, America, and Australia. And wherever they went, they plundered and pillaged, exploited, enslaved, and murdered. Peaceful, stable societies were reduced to chaos and poverty, and turned into suppliers of raw materials and cheap labour, and into dumping grounds for excess production to serve the needs of European Capitalists.
Today, Colonialism has supposedly ended, and the poor nations of Africa, Asia, and South America have been given their independence. And yet, exploitation continues. Being poor, the ex-colonies are vulnerable to economic domination. Rich nations have built up economic empires where the poor countries are used as suppliers of raw materials and cheap labour and as dumping grounds for excess production, exactly as during Colonialism. We live in what has been called an age of Capitalist Imperialism, or Neo-Colonialism.
The Church of God is evangelical -- it preaches the gospel to sinners. It tries to convert the heathen and make them part of the Church. The Imperialist nature of Capitalism can be considered as Satan's evangelium. No Capitalist nation leaves a vulnerable neighbour in peace. Capitalism will not rest until the whole world has been inducted into the free market and every poor person is exposed to exploitation. When a businessman visits a country that is still unspoiled by civilisation, he sees an opportunity to make profits. He sees iron and timber and other resources, and he sees peaceful and happy humans that can be turned into wage slaves and into gullible consumers.
Having corrupted the whole world, Capitalism then carries it towards destruction. The greed for immediate profit drives corporations to exploit natural resources at the fastest possible rate, with no thought for leaving something for the future, or for the pollution caused. Capitalism is destroying the earth's life support system, and when that is gone, we too must die. We can see the disaster that is happening, but we seem to be unable to halt it. Capitalism paralyses our ability to act, to do good, to cooperate against a common enemy. In a primitive community, people would simply get together and agree to stop doing whatever evil activity it is that threatens to destroy the world. But in a Capitalist society, the fear of bankruptcy paralyses our ability to act against evil. Each person is trapped in a situation of economic necessity that makes him almost wholly incapable of any behaviour other than selfish grasping for immediate profit, regardless of the harm he causes to others.
Earlier we discussed the hypothetical "all-against-all" state in which there is no cooperation, and every person is at war against every other person. In this state, the survival power of the human race is at its lowest possible, because there is in effect no human race, there are only selfish individuals. We said that human beings never actually lived in this all-against-all state. Even amoebas and insects grew out of it millions of years ago. In nature, all higher organisms have always lived in mutual cooperation.
But Capitalism has succeeded in reducing the human race to that dreaded "all-against-all" state where our survival power is as low as it can be. To destroy us, an outside power need only be a little stronger than the strongest individual. And Capitalism is the outside power that is destroying us. How strong is Capitalism? Is it stronger than the strongest individual?
Modern Capitalist society has grown into an immensely powerful monster, a "mega-machine" with a life of its own. Within this mega-machine, each human being, from the highest corporate manager or Government official to the lowest manual worker is nothing but a helpless cog, forced to do what the machine has determined he must do, regardless of how he feels about it.
Now, if all humans were to get together and destroy this evil monster, they could do so overnight. All it would take is to make laws that change our economic system into something other than Capitalism.
But the mistrust generated by civilisation makes us incapable of any such cooperation. Each person is afraid to depart from his accustomed policy of narrow self-interest in case his neighbours pounce on him and take away his property, or in case he upsets the precarious balances upon which his immediate survival depends.
How did we allow the megamachine to grow so big and powerful? Well, according to Capitalist theory, businesses are supposed to compete against each other and bring consumers lower prices. But business people do not like this arrangement. Competition means lower profit margins for every company. Each business would much rather be in a position of monopoly -- that is, they want to be the only supplier of a certain goods. In that situation, they would be able to charge what is known as a monopoly price. Monopoly price means that optimum price that will bring maximum profit. It is located somewhere between "break-even", where price only just covers the cost of production, and a price so high that no one can afford to buy the goods. Let us say that it costs a company 50 cents to make one toothbrush. If it sells them for 50 cents each, it makes no profit. If it sells them for a million dollars each, no one can afford them, and again the company makes no profit. But somewhere in between those two extremes is the monopoly price. At this point, profits are maximised. The company can milk the consumers for as much money as possible without making consumers start to think that they can live without toothbrushes.
To be able to charge monopoly prices, companies must first eliminate all competition. There are several ways of doing this. One way is for the richest company to reduce prices below break-even until all smaller competitors are driven into bankruptcy. Another is by many small companies merging into a single big company. Still another way is by "price fixing". That is, companies secretly agree to keep their prices at monopoly level and not undercut each other.
Governments do not like companies gaining monopoly power. They want companies to compete and give consumers lower prices. If all the world's businesses were to join together into a single gigantic corporation, it would have the power to literally suck the world dry of all its wealth. Therefore, Governments make laws against mergers and price fixing and predatory price cutting and so on. These laws are supposed to keep the evil monster of Capitalism fragmented, so that its power to do evil is kept within tolerable limits.
But how successful have Governments been in keeping the evil monster of Capitalism fragmented? Not very successful at all. There is a well established, world wide, unspoken conspiracy involving all the giant corporations to keep prices at monopoly level and not engage in price competition. Corporations do compete in other ways, of course. They use advertising to conquer a larger slice of the market. But they all know that, if one corporation lowers its prices, everyone else must follow suit, and the result is less profit for all.
Ordinary people think that Governments are in control of society. But the truth is that the big corporations have more power than most sovereign Governments. Most of the decisions that affect our lives are made not in parliaments, but in the boardrooms of big corporations. Many people believe that the growing power of corporations is becoming a real threat to democracy, and that if something is not done soon, we may see totalitarian Governments backed by powerful private interests ruling the world. Already there is an extremely powerful "behind the scenes" Government, made up of people whom the general public hardly know exist. This highly exclusive and almost totally impenetrable power elite is made up of big business men and their descendants. If we follow the logic of Capitalism to its ultimate conclusion, the aim of this secret power elite must be to own the whole world and dispossess every other human being on earth of all their property. All the world's police forces will then become their own private army whose duty it is to protect the property rights of the power elite.
Let us look more closely at the giant corporations that rule the world. Who or what are they, and where did they come from?
We already saw that in Capitalism, each human being is an independent economic unit with the right to own property and to trade it. If a person trades successfully, any profit he makes is his. But if he trades stupidly, he is personally liable for any debts he incurs.
The first businesses were small, and any debts incurred were usually small enough for a single individual to repay out of his personal assets. But as business operations grew larger, debts grew beyond the capability of any individual human being to repay. This is why corporations were created. A corporation is a fictitious human being, created in law, that can own property and go into debt, just like a real human being. Corporations can also buy and sell, sue or be sued, and they can be charged with crimes and tried in court. And just like real humans, they can be fined, and also imprisoned in the sense that their assets and trading rights, which constitute their body, can be frozen or suspended. Corporations can also be executed, or dissolved. Also, like real humans, corporations grow bigger by eating wealth. But unlike real people, they are immortal and do not die of old age. Unless they are dissolved, they can live on forever.
The corporation was invented to save real humans from the risk of crippling debts. If a corporation traded stupidly and incurred a large debt, the corporation was declared bankrupt and dissolved, and the debtors moved in on the corpse, that is, whatever assets were left over, and grabbed whatever they could. Meanwhile, the real humans who had operated the failed corporation walked away with their personal wealth intact.
Business people liked this arrangement much better. Businesses could now grow in size without any real humans having to risk their livelihood.
The first corporations were small, but by successful trading they grew steadily in size and power. Soon national boundaries could not contain the growing corporations. They became multinational entities, operating in many countries at once. From that, they grew into supra-national or global beings to whom national boundaries no longer meant anything. Corporations have now grown more powerful than most Governments. They have the combined intelligence and physical strength of all the real human beings and machines that work for them, and their wealth is greater than that of most nations. Today, these fictitious human beings rule the world. They, not the elected Government, determine where humans will live, what work they will do, what kind of education they will get, and what their living standard will be. Indeed, it has been said that corporations are the nations of tomorrow.
What kind of personality do these fictitious human beings have? Are they benevolent rulers who look after us and care for our welfare? Hardly. Their personality is summed up in one word: greed. They are nothing but pure, unadulterated, concentrated, selfish greed for property. According to Paul Harrison, corporations are "amoral beings...(whose) ethics are the minimum required for political survival"(20). They have no moral love, no concern for the human beings who created them. Their personality resembles most closely that of a psychopath or sociopath. As we saw earlier, sociopaths are incapable of feeling ashamed of any evil they do. Neither are they capable of loving others, although they can mimic such emotions and appear very charming if they want to. But inside they are totally selfish and see other humans as nothing but objects to be used for their own gratification. All this describes corporations exactly. And the human executives who run corporations are more or less the same. Real human sociopaths, as we know, tend to become either career criminals, or ruthless businessmen. Stupid criminals operate in ways that arouse the wrath of society, and as a result, the stupid criminal usually ends his career in jail. Clever criminals, on the other hand, rise to the highest positions in corporate organisations. They find the personality of the corporation very much to their liking, a theoretical extension and a perfection of their own ruthless selfishness. The "successful executive" has been described as "taking no prisoners, having the hands-on quality of Attila the Hun, and not suffering fools gladly -- instead shooting them on sight". This description was meant as a compliment. Of course, not all business executives are total sociopaths. Most of them have families, and they care about human beings and the world at least to some extent. But the corporation that employs them does not permit them to express their love for the world in their corporate decisions. The corporation's personality of pure greed ultimately makes all the decisions, and any executive whose moral scruples reduce the corporation's profit is sacked and replaced. People with strong morals tend to find life as corporate executives intolerable. Their conscience does not permit them to do the things that the corporation demands of them. Only those who are not overly hampered by moral scruples can survive and be happy in the corporation.
Of course, corporations strenuously deny that they have a criminal streak. And yet, they show their criminal nature by their actions. Hundreds of big corporations have been convicted of serious crime, from bribery to insider trading and illegal dumping of toxic waste. Corporations also commit assault and murder on a massive scale. When a rich country goes to war against a poor country to stop a Communist revolution, this is really the corporations using the military to kill and suppress human beings that threaten to destroy the corporations. According to Russell Mokhibar, author of "Corporate Crime And Violence", corporations also kill 28,000 people a year and injure 130,000 by selling unsafe and defective products. Another 100,000 a year also die due to unsafe working conditions. Fines and litigation arouse no moral qualms within the corporation. These are treated as just another business expense.
In all this, corporations operate like mafia bosses or like a criminal mastermind. Indeed, these fictitious sociopaths can be considered as the realisation of Nietzsche's Superman, who through ruthless and clever exploitation puts the whole world under him as he struggles for the freedom that only the perfect tyrant can enjoy.
Let us compare corporations and criminals in more detail and see if they are one and the same. We shall imagine a perfect criminal, whom we shall name Mr X. Let us say that Mr X imports drugs from overseas and sells them on the local market.
Mr X maintains a small and highly exclusive elite of key personnel who are "in the know". They help Mr X make all the important decisions, and are very richly rewarded. This powerful elite conspires to keep the identity of Mr X secret from everybody else. To the outside world, Mr X may be nothing but the head of a small tomato wholesale firm or a dealer in antiques, or some other apparently harmless person whom no one would ever suspect of being a criminal mastermind.
Mr X relays his decisions to the lower ranks through a chain of command where no one knows the person above him. Then those decisions are carried out by professional thugs who do what they are told without asking who ordered it or why. These thugs smuggle Mr X's drugs through customs, or sell them on the streets, or carry out beatings and murders ordered by Mr X. They are good at their particular task, and are paid well, but they are not "in the know". Mr X keeps them in ignorance to protect his own identity.
Then there are the addicts who buy drugs. Mr X exploits every opportunity to enlist new addicts and expand his clientele. He looks after his addicts like a smart dairy farmer looks after his best milk cows, ensuring that they get their drugs regularly and without fail. Naturally, Mr X is only interested in addicts who have enough money to pay for their drugs. Those who have no money get nothing. Nor does Mr X care where his customers get their money from, whether it be by honest work, or by street muggings or bank robbery or prostitution. Indeed, if it happens to be in Mr X's power to do so without cost to himself, he may even help his addicts obtain money so that they can buy drugs from him.
To maximise profit, Mr X sells his drugs as dearly as possible without pricing himself out of the market. He also strives to eliminate all competing drug operations and attain monopoly control. How does Mr X eliminate the competition? Only stupid criminals resort to guns and knives or engage in street battles in public view. Clever criminals like Mr X would much rather do it by price fixing, that is, by unspoken agreements with other drug bosses to keep prices high.
And finally, there are the overseas producers at the bottom of Mr X's criminal organisation. They are the underpaid workers in some far-away poor country who grow and harvest the drugs. These people are driven like slaves and are given only subsistence wages, if even that.
Naturally, Mr X must keep his criminal activities secret from the police. But by successful trading, he can become so rich that he ends up owning virtually the whole nation. And since wealth equals political power, Mr X can then become the nation's most powerful ruler. He can bribe police officers and judges to make them do what he wants, and blackmail and murder them if they refuse. Indeed, if he is smart enough, he will get himself elected into Government and change the law so as to make his criminal activities easier to carry out. With enough political power, he can even make drug dealing legal. The nation's police force will then protect his drug dealing instead of trying to hinder it, and the nation's military force will help him in case his poor, underpaid drug growers overseas become rebellious and want higher wages, or in case the Government of that poor country tries to eliminate drug growing within its boundaries.
If the public disapproves of what Mr X is doing, he can hide his identity behind a popularly elected Government which tells the public what it wants to hear in order to get elected, and once in power, does whatever Mr X bribes and blackmails it to do. This popularly elected Government gets the blame for the evil that Mr X is doing, and is voted out at the next election, while Mr X, the real culprit, remains to manipulate the next Government.
But Mr X's ultimate desire is to persuade the public that his drug dealing is moral and desirable. If he can do that, then he can dispense with secrecy and do his drug dealing openly in full public view. He will become dictator of the world, admired by the masses and hailed as society's greatest hero. Like Nietzsche's Superman, Mr X will then have achieved perfect freedom. He can do whatever he wants, and no one can stop him.
This is how the perfect criminal would operate. And the giant corporations are exactly the same. Corporations maintain a highly exclusive elite of powerful executives who are "in the know". They make all the important decisions, and they are typically rewarded with six-figure salaries.
Then there are the lesser executives and professionals who are paid well, but are not "in the know". This includes personnel and production managers, accountants, engineers, and other highly skilled people without which the corporation could not operate.
Let us also not forget the products that corporations sell. These products are often very much like drugs. They are designed for surface glamour, and sold via psychological advertising that does its best to persuade us that if we buy the product, our problems will vanish and life will become like a beautiful dream.
Also, like Mr X, corporations maintain an army of addicts. As consumers in modern society, people act very much like addicts. An addiction is something we do over and over again in order to take our mind away from our problems, to avoid having to think and feel and know ourselves as we truly are. And most of our consumption is like that. To keep us addicted, corporations spare no expense to ensure that we get our "drugs" regularly and never get an opportunity to discover that we can live quite happily without those drugs. And since corporations have the political power to determine our wages, they also ensure that we are paid enough to be able to afford their products. Also, like Mr X, corporations collaborate secretly to keep prices at monopoly level. That is, the price is set as high as it can go without becoming unaffordable and causing people to stop buying the product. And finally, like Mr X, corporations also exploit cheap labour in poor nations for most or all of the actual production of goods.
Corporations have become powerful enough to take control of the Government, and they have had laws passed to make their criminal activities legal. More, they are doing their best to convince the general public that their trading is moral and desirable and motivated by love for human beings. But in this, they have been only partially successful. Many people do indeed see corporations as good, moral institutions, more or less in the same category as churches or scout groups. And yet, a 1989 poll found that around half of all adult Americans believe that, to increase profit, corporations will happily destroy the environment, endanger public health, and sell unsafe and inferior products at inflated prices. Only 8% thought that corporations would not do these things. Clearly, corporations have not quite managed to fool the public with their pretense of being moral and caring. For this reason, corporations cannot operate openly in full public view. They maintain secrecy and are content, for the time being, to form an invisible behind-the-scenes Government. Politicians are paid lavish bribes for doing what the corporations want, and the public blames the Government and votes it out at the next election, while the corporations, who have the real power, remain to bribe and manipulate the next Government.
As we can see, corporations operate in every way like criminals. We humans have created these fictional human beings, and we have given them a sociopathic personality of pure selfish greed, devoid of all love and incapable of any moral qualms. Then we have set these fictional monsters loose on society. They are now rushing around the world, destroying and plundering and murdering and pillaging for all they are worth, exploiting real human beings in their efforts to amass as much wealth as possible. These fictional human beings collaborate and conspire against real humans, using bribery and lies and subversion. They use our own police and military to keep us in subjection. And we real humans cower in terror before these terrible tyrants we have made. We are their slaves, getting up every morning and going to our jobs in offices and factories. And the peculiar thing about these monsters is that they do not even exist, except in our minds. They are fictions, they are purely theoretical entities created in law. If we real humans cooperated against them, we could destroy them in two seconds. A simple change in our laws, and corporations would vanish into nothingness and be gone. But we cannot seem to do that. We have imagined a ghost, and thinking it is real, we let it run our lives. We allow nonexistent criminals to exploit and rob and cheat us and drive us to slaughter like cattle.
The Bible tells us that if we worship God, He will make us strong. "Five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight" (Leviticus 26:8). But if we worship a false god, "they that hate you shall reign over you; and ye shall flee when none pursueth you" (Leviticus 26:17).
Even now, it is not necessarily too late to destroy the corporations. If ordinary people stage protests and pressure Governments, they can still oust the secret power elites that are trying to take over the world. However, a feeling of political apathy has overtaken most people. The world's evils seem too big to fight against. Big business also soothes us with advertising campaigns that assure us that corporations care about people, and that the future of the world is in good hands. People are more than willing to be lulled by false promises that all is well. Meanwhile, the corporations feed upon the apathy and ignorance of ordinary people, growing ever stronger and more difficult to destroy.
We have seen that Capitalism is unjust, immoral, foolish, merciless, hating, evil, and a liar. In other words, it is like the Beast. But the Beast also has the attribute that it is inspired by Satan. Is Capitalism the same?
Adam Smith spoke of an "invisible hand". When every individual pursues his own private profit, and market forces are left totally unregulated, Adam Smith's "invisible hand" steps in and guides Capitalism towards its ultimate end.
Now, whose is this invisible hand? Is it God's or Satan's? Clearly it is Satan's, because "invisible" here means nonexistent. If the hand of God was in charge, we would be living under His moral law. We would cooperate for the common good instead of each chasing after his own individual profit. We would love each other, not compete against each other. In the Bible, when the Hand of God appears, it is never to relieve humans of the necessity to be moral and altruistic, but on the contrary, to teach and enforce moral laws. For example, it was the "finger of God" that inscribed the Ten Commandments on stone tablets on top of Mount Sinai.
The invisible hand of Capitalism, meanwhile, rules with the opposite of moral wisdom. Charles Birch, looking at the injustice, environmental destruction, and general chaos wrought by Capitalism, called the world "an awful accident"(20). He added that "no one could have designed the world that way. It is undesigned". The invisible hand that guides Capitalism can be clearly identified by its fingerprints -- immorality, chaos, hatred, envy, and so on -- as the hand of Satan that leads us to destruction.
We have seen that Capitalism has all the attributes of the Beast. And yet, every Beast has within it the seeds of a new Church. No process is evil in the absolute sense. Rather, all processes are relatively good or evil, depending on point of view. Thus, compared to a stage of Evolution lower than Capitalism, Capitalism would be a Church. But compared to primitive society, Capitalism is clearly a Beast. In dividing humans and setting them in competition against each other, Capitalism did what entropy or immorality does. That is, it caused an organised process to disintegrate into separate parts that destroy each other. The ultimate aim of Capitalism is to destroy humans until nothing is left but separate matter particles. As far as the progress of the Universe is concerned, Capitalism is a step backward, a descent into evil. It was not Evolution or Jesus Christ that made humans go from primitive society to Capitalist society. It was Antievolution, or as it is otherwise known, the Antichrist.
The Bible describes how the Antichrist or false prophet will appear and deceive large numbers of people, and how these people will worship the Beast that leads them to destruction. All this describes modern society exactly. People today worship Capitalism, mistaking it for a saviour that will free us from poverty and misery. In the Bible, the Beast rises up from the sea in the "last days" so that everyone can see him. There is much symbolic truth in this. In all previous forms of civilisation, Capitalism hid its true nature behind a veil of religious goodness. It was not yet pure Capitalism. Only in modern times has Capitalism "risen from the sea" -- it had divested itself of all pretense of religious goodness and appears at last in its true form. In a famous passage of the Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx said this very thing. Capitalism has "pitilessly torn asunder" all the old values and "left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous cash payment. It has drowned", he goes on, "the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour...in the icy water of egotistical calculation...in one word, for exploitation veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation".
The Bible tells us that the Beast has seven hideous heads, each inscribed with a blasphemy against God. What might be these blasphemies? One is probably Nietzsche's assertion that "God is dead". Another may be Karl Marx' own statement that "religion is the opium of the people". There is also the absurd idea of John Maynard Keynes that "fair is foul and foul is fair". We might also mention the assertion by the shady financier Gordon Gecko in "Wall Street" that "greed is good". Other well known blasphemies is the Platonic belief that matter is evil, or the old doctrine of individualistic morality, or the false belief that God does not need human intelligence to save the world.
CAPITALISM AND LEARNING
Earlier we said that humans developed learning in order to destroy the Beast of civilisation, or as it is otherwise known, the Capitalist economic system. But the Beast has managed to turn the tables on us, and is using our learning to destroy us instead. The Beast has taken our science and created a vast, evil technology that corrupts humans, pollutes nature, and threatens to destroy the world. While humans deny God any benefit of their science, they willingly give it all to Satan. As a result, the Beast of civilisation now has the subtlety of psychology and the power of nuclear bombs. We assume without thinking that the kind of technology developed by Capitalism is the only technology possible. And we say that when companies develop cars and televisions and refrigerators and new kinds of plastics and so on, they are advancing human learning.
But this is not really true. We found earlier that civilisation does not produce learning. And now that we have defined civilisation as synonymous with Capitalism, that has not changed. We should distinguish between pure science on the one hand, and technology or applied science on the other. Pure science is what scientists do when they investigate the mysteries of the Universe and discover new truths. Applied science, meanwhile, is what engineers do when they take the truths discovered by pure scientists and put them to use. For example, pure science discovered quantum theory. Applied science then used quantum theory to develop the transistor.
Now, pure science was developed by great geniuses like Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein and so on, as well as by many lesser known scientists. These people were not driven by greed for profit. No, they were searchers after the truth. They loved knowledge, not money.
But Capitalists are driven by desire for money. They have never discovered any new scientific truths. They only take the truths discovered by the lovers of knowledge, and use those truths in their pursuit of money. Thomas Alva Edison, the greatest of the so called "lone inventors", was not a so-called pure scientist. He discovered no new scientific theories. Indeed, he himself admitted that he was not trying to advance pure science. Instead he used science to invent salable products. As well as being an inventor, he was also an astute businessman who set up many companies to market his inventions.
Today, product research is no longer done by "lone inventors" like Edison. Instead it is done by the research departments of large corporations. And it is popularly believed that these research departments are busy advancing science and delving into the mysteries of the Universe. But this is not the case. Their real interest is profit. Vance Packard tells us(22) that engineers in these research departments complain of being "little more than push-buttons for the sales department". He also quotes the Consumers' Union as saying that "a good deal of what is called product research today actually is a sales promotion expenditure". Corporations are not interested in advancing science or technology. No, their interest is profit. To that end, they are busy creating an illusion of technological advance in the mind of the consumer. New car models are constantly being released, and each one is advertised as a major technological breakthrough. But in fact it is usually only the same old car with a new body design. Far from being better than their predecessors, these cars are often in fact worse. The American Automobile Association found(23) that car makers grossly neglect safety for the sake of body glamour. Dexter Masters said that "when design is tied to sales rather than to product function...there are certain almost inevitable results: a tendency to the use of inferior materials: shortcuts in the time necessary for sound product development: and a neglect of quality and adequate inspection". The Beast of Capitalism is not interested in the truth, but only in deceiving us with an appearance of it. And consumers pay dearly for this appearance. One study found that model changes in the car industry added 25% to the cost of cars, and increased the U.S. Gross national product by 2.5%! This is a staggering waste of wealth, used only to produce "salable appearance". It has been estimated that if cars were produced and distributed as cheaply as possible but still with attention to high quality, we could have cars at one quarter of the cost we pay now.
As we can see, the Beast of Capitalism produces nothing that we can call real learning. It produces only illusion, falsehood, surface glamour, deception, and ignorance. Real learning is still being produced by pure scientists whose interest is in truth rather than monetary profit.