PHILOSOPHY PATHWAYS ISSN 2043-0728
Issue number 68 5th October 2003
I. 'Dehumanisation of Humanity: Capitalist Period -- Colonisation'
by Munayem Mayenin
II. 'More in the On-Going Discussion of Social Contracts: Reply to
Tony Flood' by Stuart Burns
III. 'Abolition versus Redistribution: A Summary Reply to Stuart Burns'
by Tony Flood
The launch of the new Pathways electronic newsletter is just one month away. The title of the newsletter will be 'Philosophy for Business'. Themes will include:
Is business ethics possible? Idea of a code of conduct Industrial democracy Responsibility for the environment Globalization and monopoly Tax avoidance * Whistle blowing
Just in time to prick our consciences, Munayem Mayenin from Bangladesh in a deeply felt piece reminds us of the human misery brought about by the 'capitalist monsterfly'.
Stuart Burns and Anthony Flood conclude their long discussion prompted by Professor Jonathan Wolff's article, 'Four Forms of Redistribution'.
I. 'DEHUMANISATION OF HUMANITY: CAPITALIST PERIOD -- COLONISATION'
BY MUNAYMEM MAYENIN
Capitalism! Oh capitalism! Money! Oh money! The God, the goddesses and gods of the modern world is nothing but money! And finally we made it our living and mission to play this monopoly game, but this is not on the board but in real life! Instead of living a life, leading a life, breathing life we have been made Normals so that we measure our lives "with a coffee spoon" -- such a trifling and flimsy thing our lives have become! Capitalism made us sing and live by the divine rule: "value for the money". The capitalist society has trained us to believe and trust and act that everything has a price which can be bargained and nothing has value at all except money! We waste our whole life to earn money! No one in their right mind spends their whole life playing monopoly games on the board buying and selling Baker Street properties or the Old Kent Road shop or paper money, yet we all are doing the very same thing with all our life and energy. But the question is for what? Money! What is money! Why is money! Who is it for! Everybody wants this thing, however, nobody stands and asks, does anybody really need money?
The couple are now awaiting the call of the final inspector at their home but they spent and suffered and have not at all lived for buying their house, the house, which was X Pounds and they paid it back in 35 years with an interest of 50 times X! And guess what happened: they even did not know this simple fact that still they did not own that house. Until the last day the house belonged to the bank and all along it was the property of the crown! However, the crown has given permission to the people, who need to make money to make money by giving out a mortgage on that property. Here we go again! Making money! But that elderly couple! Go to them and they would not have any of it! They were virtually slaves of the Bank for all their life. After paying the mortgage they had hardly any other money left to enjoy life! They did not put on their heating properly and stayed in cold! They did not take baths properly in order to save on water bills. They did not buy good clothes or even good food. They tried to eat cheap food with less quality! They were mean and acted and behaved meanly with their family, friends and neighbours because of money! They lived and aspired to be selfish! They wanted to go and see a musical or go on holiday or eat out at a fancy restaurant sometimes. They did none of it! However, they paid bills. All their lives they continued like good boys and girls to pay their bills on time as they did not want to have bad credit history! Now where is the life for them! Where is humanity in it! What is natural about this! That applies to every single one of us!
Let us look, see, feel, taste, hear and touch capitalism and try to understand it and establish how it has effectively put up all sort of barriers to human progress in every possible sense of the word!
Feudal society was based on power and as it continued expanding its power base and culture, things moved so fast and deep that it could not cope with the system and structure it developed. Its own success brought about its obvious end. When feudal society became colonial in nature and went out to get the world out there and acquire all the land there was to acquire and all the slaves to be tied to land as an extended part of it and still unable to touch the land in any way, they began to find out that it was not just the land that could get them power! There were other things that would bring them more money and there came trade, commerce and business. That is where it began to shape up. More looting of wealth took place of colonial countries coupled with taxes from land and other ways and means. The more money and wealth came back to the mother country, the faster the change began to take place. After all, all the colonialist big names and boys went out to get access to wealth and power because of the fact that they had not been able to get it back home. They went about seeking their fortunes! And once those fortune seekers had got hold of the fortunes they were not going to enjoy it over there! There would not have been much fun in doing that unless you have shown to the folks back home that you had made it and that you are as powerful as them and you would want to be included in the power club. Moreover, it was time to turn the table and get ahead in the game, as the Powerfuls back home could not compete against you as you found out about the land of silver or the valley of gold or the country of liquid gold or the land of diamond and spices etc etc.
Now wealth and money poured into the mother country and we see that what happened in European countries in those days was that Capitalism had got hold of its first capital enhanced. The robbery of own nationals created capital but not yet enough to create a structural change However, soon the money started to roll in from the colonies -- a huge lot of money and the outlook was more than promising of it increasing and continuing. Colonisation ensured that the capital is now big enough to start a revolution of industry, trade and commerce. The whole industrial revolution the way we are taught is nothing but a period of the capital of colonisation being invested to establish the infrastructure of the social, political and economic system to sustain the capitalist expansion and establish and take power to such a point of sophistication that power and the exercise of it reaches almost an art form. Whatever little humanity still remained in society as a die hard residue, capitalism declared public genocide towards. Having completed the industrial revolution and the necessary other relevant changes, power had been made the monarch well or more than well established on his throne, although the power players and the Powerfuls had to be renamed or rearranged so that the balance was still in favour of the Powerfuls and the maintenance of power.
If one looks at various European countries one cannot help but notice that the countries with most established feudal system went outwards and tried to colonise other parts of the world and establish colonies. Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal etc. -- every country tried their hands on colonisation. However, the rate and degree of success depended on how advanced their existing system was and how effective, efficient and resilient it was in terms of being able to implement, enhance, maintain and support rapid change in order to support the colonisation forces abroad. The British went all the way so they could declare that the sun does not set in their empire. It did not because Britain could do the things just mentioned better than any other competitors in the game. However, although all the players acted individually having their own best interests at heart, they did not forget to follow the big brother rules that adhere to the NATO principle that says basically if one is down everyone must act in support of the them! They maintained that to the best of their ability. They never liked this sort of exercise, they hated it and all Powerfuls hate it even more so now. Regardless, they had to in order to maintain, gain and keep order and control.
The so-called Renaissance had a big impetus this colonisation process. The renaissance began the process of learning and acquiring new areas of knowledge and skills that were to come handy in going out on expedition to grab lands. Because of that they needed science, they needed technology and technical ability and expertise and they needed mathematics. They needed to understand and be able to deal with a lot of difficult and dangerous issues that would come before them.
They needed to be able to make and read maps, navigate ships, work and remain healthy in sea voyages, learn different languages, build huge ships and other materials and so on an so forth. In effect the colonisation process is the biggest ever capitalist project, that came out of feudal system but gave birth to capitalism. One could almost feel tempted to say the colonisation process was the cocoon that gave birth to a monsterfly. And the system then had to develop and support that monsterfly to stay alive and healthy, grow and reproduce fast and effectively. This was not going to lay eggs but spread golden silk, diamond emerald and golden eggs for the Powerfuls.
Let us concentrate on changes it brought about in the political, economic and social structures of society. It brought about a system of society that was completely and utterly based on money. Wealth was power. Anything and everything that could be transformed into commodities that could be sold and made a profit becomes wealth and measured in money, which in turn acts as the barometer of power identifying the perimeter of status.
Thus the divine principle of capitalism was that anything and everything in this universe could be sold and made a profit out of and if that was the case then one can own it.
Capitalism thus established itself on the foundation of power, which nourishes itself on owning, winning, pride, hatred, resentment, fear and competition, all of which are and can be measured in money. This is the capitalism's Bible, which would start as saying: Anything and everything in this universe is hereby proclaimed to be owned, bought and sold for making a profit in the measure of money!
Colonisation is the period of metamorphosis of feudalism, in which the beast of power went out to become reborn in a totally new shape without losing its fundamental nature, born again to be called capitalism. It needed the money, the power to begin the industrial revolution in order to restructure the systems and apparatus to establish even wider, deeper, broader and sophisticated dominance, control and ruthless dehumanisation of humanity.
This period must be understood in this light. Look at the European countries and one would be able to see clearly how France, Germany, Italy, Britain and other countries got their infrastructures built and paid for by the wealth and money generated by legal, illegal and paralegal ways and means. Look at British cities, the roads, the highways, the waterways, the industries, the buildings and whole economic, political and social structures were built so enormously with such grandeur! Where did that money come from! Why do we not build buildings like that any more! Why do we see the millennium dome being built in tarpaulin and not like the Greenwich Maritime Museum or Tower of London? Why do we not build anything like the city of London anymore? Why do we have idiotic, doll-house like cheap buildings that look naked and bare, like London's Canary Wharf and other ugly looking glass buildings! Because we have no majestic colonial income coming in! At the same time we no longer have the feudal aesthetic sense towards arts. We cannot do things without money being the driving force. We have to now build depending on how much tax we are prepared to pay after paying all the bills! That is why we do not and cannot build those wonderful big buildings, like the House of Commons! That applies to all the major capitalist countries!
Without colonial expansion from the feudal time we would have no industrial revolution and without the revolution we would have no capitalism. Although we are using the term revolution this must be made clear that it was in no way a revolution as we do not think that it had changed the nature of society fundamentally. How is so? Because it was not about eliminating power and establishing a state of liberty or anything near to that, rather it was about enhancing the power structures and upgrading it. Thus in real sense of the word it was not and could not have been a revolution. We are using the term as this has been widely used and understood en masse. Thus we must conclude that the industrial revolution prepared the feudal world to wake up for capitalism and prepared the values, systems, apparatus and infrastructures for capitalism to begin pounding on humanity and begin a continuous, sustained and monstrous process of dehumanisation of humanity.
Capitalism was about to lift off! It was about to declare the authority and reach of power not just over humans and lands but to extend it even to space. The whole universe was to be of something that can be controlled and made a commodity, out of which more money and thus power can and will be generated.
Now we must look at what this means for people and the society as a whole! Capitalism's driving force was to make money and that means there were no boundaries of values. Make money and make a profit because only these two things will get you power and ability to manipulate. Capitalism thus fostered and nurtured a monsterfly in all aspiring bourgeoisie who were out to get more money! Huge projects began to take place, huge industries were making the sky black and towers and more towers began to cover the horizon. People had been physically uprooted from their communities, societies, environment, families, friends, villages, identities and even memories because they could not eat unless they go out to the huge cities and sell themselves and begin to work. That process, for the first time with complete precision and certainty effectively eliminated, uprooted, and disconnected humans from whatever was remaining in them to be humans! They rushed to the brick built cities with smoke and fumes and tars and alcohol! Society in real terms began to die, communities began to dry up, localities and human relationships begin to die away! Friendships, family values, sense of brotherhood and community began to dry up.
In the cities, people were nothing but exploited workers, slaves for a wage! They are not related! They did not know each other! They lived in brick beehives, next to each other without knowing each other! They were put in accommodation that was suitable for rats or cockroaches! It was as if on this earth there was no space! That was why they built thousands of tiny flats and made millions of souls live together whilst they could not be farther apart! They just slept there! They had no feelings or connection to the people sleeping in other brick boxes! Capitalism had to do that because it wanted to declassify humans, dehumanise humans so that no two humans are the same! Individualism ensured that everyone hates each other and everyone has a reason not to feel connected or associated to anybody else! They go to work and work they did together, but that was what they had to do! They got paid and they had to go and get drunk! How could they not do that! They had no home! They had no families! They had no nature or environment! They had no society! They had no communities! They did not know the place they live in and there were no incentives for them to feel inclined to try and get to know this place! Capitalism had to do that! It needed people and a lot of them together to make things, manufacture things so that they are commodities and then only then these could be sold! Most importantly that was cheaper! That was value for money! Put millions of people in a tiny place like London and you save billions of pounds! You can build few hospitals and still have all these people queuing at these hospitals! You can do things much cheaper! Moreover, it would cost you less in transporting them quickly and effectively and you can get everybody to work right in time!
That created the huge capitalist cities that are nothing but soulless brick jungles with dehumanised humans occupying the beehives and living a hell of a life! They are nothing but slaves! They are scared and terrified! They are tired and exhausted! They are ill and depressed and mentally ill! And yet they are utterly selfish in their thinking, as they can not be otherwise! In this system you must try your best to look after yourselves, as if you do not you are dead!
This is ruthless capitalism. It created dehumanised humans! It created isolated and absolutely rootless humans! They had no connection with anything or anybody! They had families with them, who were uprooted and every single member of it was bleeding! Every singe human being was bleeding inside, they were utterly lost and vulnerable! They were no longer human! They could not share that with anybody! That was why they were very secretive. That was why they hang onto individualism too much even though it was killing them! Capitalism yet created for these humans privacy and confidentiality! Keep things to yourselves! Moreover, no one would like to show anyone if they were bleeding inside!
But they feel hatred, resentment, sense of powerlessness and a sense of purposelessness! They live in nostalgia for their lost village and their lost communities and their relationships with their neighbours and environment! People and animals! Nothing is anything anymore!
However, there was a pseudo unity between all these people who were working together in factories and industries. But they were not the same! Just because they were working at the same place with the same job did not mean that they understood that they were in the same class!
Coming back to structures, the systems and apparatus which capitalism had to create in order to establish power and order must be understood in their awesome magnitude and scopes. Everything was made almost like a huge living organism. The state was now the unquestionable legislator, even though the monarchs retained their place in some countries. The politicians came from the Powerfuls! The Government was there to ensure that laws are passed and then enforced. The police came in, much more organised and sophisticated. The army, the navy, the air force and the rest followed suit. The legal system, the courts and lawyers and the churches, temples and mosques all were there. The administration was up both in civil and military. Schools, colleges and universities too! Most importantly, the alcohol and the drugs!
The banks, the insurers, the stock exchange and the lot were in place. Nothing could be left to chance! The stakes were so high, all reasonable steps must be taken to ensure that order is not violated, the power base was not disturbed! Everything was planned and then it went out to the market and human slaves were then forced to swallow all this so that no one was able to question anything! Why did anybody ever need a passport? Why did anybody need money? Why were people still dying in hunger? Why were people still illiterate? Why did people sleep rough and why did they not have a place to live? Why were people dying without medical care? No one was able to ask these questions. Slaves do not and cannot ask questions!
In this pathway of dehumanisation people became lost. Money became the God and profit was the end game!
That was the heyday of capitalism. It had got all it needed to take off! It had absolutely everything in place to begin the reign of sophisticated terror, systematic and ruthless slaughter and continuous and monstrous centralisation of power and wealth and absolute dehumanisation of humanity.
Anything human would be challenged. It will not allow or tolerate any seed of disapproval. The universities tried to retain their academic character, which it did not at all like! It carried on trying and who has got the better hand than capitalism itself! It has got money! Education became eventually nothing but training. Train people to be able to do the tasks that the market needs. Do not train what the market does not needs. Do not train more doctors, as they do not produce money rather waste! Do not produce philosophers or teachers! Who needs them! Do produce Einstein if he can make us money!
(c) Munayem Mayenin, London 2003
[This article is a continuation of Munayem Mayenin's 'Dehumanisation of Humanity: Zero Ground', Philosophy Pathways Issue 35; 'Dehumanisation of Humanity: Slavery', Issue 45; 'Dehumanisation of Humanity: Feudal Period', Issue 50.]
II. 'MORE IN THE ON-GOING DISCUSSION OF SOCIAL CONTRACTS: REPLY TO TONY FLOOD'
BY STUART BURNS
As with the previous articles by Mr. Flood, I find that I am in full agreement with the essential principles that he presents. Although I enjoy picking through the details of his argument, I completely agree with his underlying foundation. I especially liked his lines -- "Morality is a means to the end of enabling us all to pursue good lives. A society in which some people trample with impunity on the good life-seeking efforts of others is one that diminishes the prospects of good life-achieving for all."
What disagreements we do have, it would seem to me, arise from differences in the basic premises with which we approach the topics under discussion.
For example, consider Prof. Wolff's article and the subject of "Redistribution". Mr. Flood approaches his comments with the presupposition that when Prof. Wolff or I employ the word "redistribution", we are contemplating all of the political baggage that Mr. Flood invests in the word (the necessarily coercive source of the funds being disbursed). Since "redistribution" is not in my dictionary, I can only assume that the larger scope of the concept employed by Mr. Flood must have arisen as a result of his greater familiarity with the "Redistributionist" political movement. In contrast, I approached my comments from my understanding of what Prof. Wolff wrote in his article. Prof. Wolff's article is concerned with a discussion of the social impacts of the "distribution"(sic) of funds obtained by unspecified means. I considered the problem to be the same as one faced by the managers of "The United Way" (a fully charitable source of funds). Hence our disagreement on this topic is more apparent than real.
I think something similar is taking place in the discussion that has evolved over "Social Contracts", the role of the State, and its similarity to a Condo Board. Mr. Flood approaches his comments with the presupposition that there is and can be no such thing as a "social contract". Given that premise, his arguments are well formulated and I see no flaw in them. If we start with this premise, to use the term "social contract" for what is not possible by presupposition (an implied social contract) is an obvious equivocation on the concept "contract". And given this premise, it is obvious that our elected legislators and their agents cannot, by presupposition, have any similarity in social function to a Condo Board.
I am not challenging Mr. Flood's analysis of the role of ownership, property, coercion, or the immoral position of The State when viewed from this premise. Given this key premise, I am not even disputing his criticisms of my analogies with a Condo Board. Nor am I flatly maintaining that there must be a "social contract". I am merely challenging Mr. Flood on his presumption that there is no (or cannot possibly be) a "social contract" in place. The argument that I find "unpersuasive" is not the conclusion drawn from the premise that there is no social contract. It is the argument that our social relations are not based on the existence of an actual contract, albeit one for which agreement is implicit (as demonstrated by one's voluntarily chosen place of domicile) rather than explicit.
Most current residents of Canada, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand (and others) are descendents of ancestors who explicitly chose to join a new society, chose to elect representatives from amongst themselves to make decisions for the mutual benefit of the whole group -- "to improve things". "Social Contract" is therefore not an equivocation on the meaning of "contract" if one entertains the possibility that our social relations are indeed based on a voluntarily agreed to mutual exchange of values for mutual benefit -- a contract by Mr. Flood's definition.
As I have mentioned previously, I am of two minds on the subject. On the one hand, it truly pains me to see the extent to which our respective governments have intruded into our lives, welfares, and futures. Philosophically, I find Libertarian principles a far sounder basis for social relations than any offered by other residents of the political spectrum. Since I have no more love of "The State" and its myriad intrusions into my life and welfare than does Mr. Flood, it is a counter to the Social Contract arguments that I am seeking. A reiteration of the consequences of assuming away the conclusion is not persuasive.
On the other hand, without the justification provided by a social contract all of our government structures would be morally foundationless, and there would appear to remain only immoral coercion to prevent a total collapse of our society. I don't think we could easily (if at all?) transition from where we are now to where Mr. Flood's principles would have us be. And our current democratic institutions must surely have some basis of legitimacy, else why would they be demonstrating such persistent longevity and infectious spread?
(c) Stuart Burns 2003
III. 'ABOLITION VERSUS REDISTRIBUTION: A SUMMARY REPLY TO STUART BURNS' BY TONY FLOOD
Stuart Burns expresses "full agreement with the essential principles" that inform my articles on the ethical dimensions of redistributionism. He says he "completely" agrees with my "underlying foundation," yet there are "differences in the basic premises with which we approach the topics under discussion." Unfortunately for his agreement, my principles are my basic premises.
Modern politics is essentially about the involuntary transfer of resources (or their control) from owners to nonowners. Euphemistically dubbed "redistribution," this transfer is an intrinsically unethical affair. "Property radiates... lines of demarcation that morally limit what nonowners may do. With one's own property one may do as one wishes, logically excepting interfering with another's use of his property." To discuss the ethics of the transfer mechanism apart from the ethics of the transfer itself is unreal. It is as weird as deliberating about whether to give chattel slaves the right to vote for their overseer, all the while prescinding from the issue of slavery. This was the gist of my comment on Jonathan Wolff's paper.
Mr. Burns challenges my alleged "presupposition" that "there is and can be no such thing as a 'social contract,'" even though I have repeatedly granted that one can stipulate the meaning of any term. My concern, which he mentions but does not engage, is that if contracts are enforceable, then so are "social contracts." Historically, the "social contract" gets enforced in ways inconsistent with that to which it makes analogy. The enforcement apparatus depends utterly on noncontractual taxation to fund interferences with bona fide contracts. "Redistribution schemes blur the distinction between title and possession and are therefore incoherent, for they both affirm and deny that forcible expropriation is a morally justifiable means of acquiring property." The "social contract" necessarily generates such schemes.
Now contract is not socially basic. What is socially basic, or close to basic, is the willingness to refrain from initiating force or violence against another's person or property. "Refraint," Henry Hazlitt's convenient locution, is prior to and presupposed by every contract. There is no call, however, for regarding pre-contractual refraint as itself a "contract":
"People do have moral obligations before they enter into
contracts. Each party expects that the other will abide by
the contract's terms and... not just because of their fear
of penalties. You and I cannot enter into an arrangement to
exchange titles unless each of us understands that neither
may take by force or stealth what the other one has, even
if he can. Generally, members of society share an
understanding of their moral relationship to each other as
requisite to their respective hopes of achieving a good
life. That understanding may be unarticulated or implied.
But mere understanding does not a contract make." 
If a contract presupposes a pre-contractual understanding that is itself a contract, does not the latter depend on yet another contract? If not, why not? And what about that contract? We can avoid an infinite regress of conditioned conditions that are never fulfilled if we allow that our mutual risking and exchanging of values does not require that we first do anything else like that. If one is not doing anything like that (risking and exchanging values), one is not entering into or performing a contract. And refraint is not anything like that.
In short, we should not use the same word to refer to what is conditioned and its condition. The immigrants of Mr. Burns' example entered into contracts -- period. When they presumed to bind their descendants in perpetuity, however, via the mystique of a divinely ordained State, they behaved noncontractually toward future persons who, of course, could not enter into contracts with them. These descendants, we among them, are free to repudiate that alleged bond. How we go about that may be a matter of prudence, but our right to do so is, I hope, not in question.
Mr. Burns fears that if I am right, and "all of our government structures" are revealed to be "morally foundationless" just because there is no social contract, "there would appear to remain only immoral coercion to prevent a total collapse of society." On the contrary: if I am right, then all of those structures have historically been predicated on immoral coercion, for which "social contract" is but modernity's distinctive cloak.
If the modern State "pains" Mr. Burns, he should welcome attempts to demystify and delegitimize it, just as (some of) our ancestors did chattel slavery. The latter was a much longer affair than is modern democracy, whose "persistent longevity and infectious spread" apparently impress him. The longevity and spread of Christianity and Islam, for example, may provide talking points for Christian and Muslim apologists, but have little evidentiary force beyond their respective choirs and those inclined to join them. I suggest the same holds for democratic apologetics.
What will remain after violations of liberty are cured? Nothing less than liberty itself. This includes the liberty to provide for security against those who have designs on the property of others. People will not undertake to abolish the State, however, if they have not first demystified it. They must be convinced that abolition is morally necessary, not just intelligible and morally permissible. They must also be morally willing to act on their conviction. Intellectual conversion and moral conversion must go hand-in-hand. If this exchange of views has prepared the intellectual conversion of even one reader, I will regard it as wholly justified. I reiterate my thanks to Stuart Burns for his critical efforts and to Geoffrey Klempner for publishing them and my responses.
1. Anthony Flood, "'Redistribution' as Euphemism or, Who Owns What?," Philosophy Pathways, Number 65, 24 August 2003. https:---
2. Anthony Flood, "A Comment on Professor Wolf's 'Four Forms of Redistribution,'" Philosophy Pathways, Number 53, 9 March 2003. https:---
3. Anthony Flood, "Redistributionism, Continued," Philosophy Pathways, Number 56, 20 April 2003. https:---
4. Anthony Flood, "Contracts, Coercion, and Condo Boards: A Reply to Stuart Burns," Philosophy Pathways, Number 61, 29 June 2003. https:---
(c) Anthony Flood 2003