Friday, May 29, 2015

Capitalism, Tradition, and Spiritual Capital

In my previous post, I discussed how capitalism, by its very definition design, is more sustainable than socialism. In criticism from socialists and statists, there’s this conception and idea that capitalism is destructive for the environment, destructive for society, and destructive in general to everything because of “exploitation by the bourgeoisie”, the “profit motive”, and other similar nonsense. The socialist argument continues that the reason for this is because of the profit motive and nothing telling people not to destroy things. Of course, this is all just nonsense.

Even in capitalist thought, there are structures that govern society like tradition (ex. entire Austrian School) which most of the left (by left, I mean socialistic left based in Marxist thought) basically sets up as a strawman to attack based on faulty assumptions that allow these groups a sense of moral superiority. In the modern sense of the word religion, we think of centralized organizational structures primarily designed to structure society in such a manner as to protect a certain region from geopolitical threats (most versions of Islam and Christianity today). However, this has not been the case historically. These structures develop over time as ways to prevent environmental degradation, reduce social costs of various activities, and other reasons (that I think are spiritual as well, but don’t have to be for the argument I’m making). Actually, religion developed as rituals where deities were created later to consolidate those rituals. Note that ALL traditional religions emphasize environmental degradation as one of the worst vices: as a crime against God’s creation.
Note: This idea of paganism vs monotheism is really retarded if spoken in terms of belief. All religions are fundamentally monotheistic where pagan religions differentiate between a god and God (notice the capital G). The difference comes because theology in polytheism is decentralized while it is centralized in monotheism. Pagans in most places did not leave any books and the only polytheistic religion with books, that I know of, is Hinduism where the primary scriptures are almost entirely--if not entirely--metaphysical.

As I’ve discussed before, capital is any input in production that’s not land (natural resources) or labor. Therefore, we must also consider spiritual capital as an input in production. Most socialists and statists would respond that how does religion add value to society or to capitalist economic systems if religion is the reason for war. Of course, religion is not the cause of war; war is completely natural and occurs over a genuine conflict of interest arising between two parties and the sinew of war is usually (almost always) not money, but this is a different topic for a different day that I will probably write a post on later.

With regards to tradition in society, many would say that it’s “irrational” because religion is about “belief” and that these things aren’t true. They usually cite some biological evolutionary theory and use naïve Darwinism to support their point. The first point of contention would be that there’s a fundamental difference between the physical manifestation of a biological process vs the birth of our spiritual consciousness, but I don’t even need that fundamental truth to prove my point. All that’s necessary to prove my point is the simple fact that there’s a difference between knowledge of an underlying action, concept, or idea (or whatever else you can think of) vs our RESPONSE to the underlying action, concept, idea, etc..

For example, let’s take the simple idea of avoiding debt. I could avoid debt because I know that large amounts of debt can divert my entire income towards debt servicing costs, force my forecasts of the future to be exactly correct, and could potentially face underwater balance sheets if my assets were to fall. I could also avoid debt in the name of God. Either way, there would be no difference in my RESPONSE to shifts in my balance sheet. On the other scenario where I use some form of naïve rationalism to claim that large amounts of debt will be profitable because I can buy illiquid, risky assets on leverage and sell them a year later for a higher price because it’s “rational” since it can lead me to more profits if I’m correct. Obviously, following some blind interdict with little downside (that offers me CONVEXITY) in the name of God is the better option.

What I’m emphasizing is that there’s a fundamental difference between knowledge of some event or idea vs our RESPONSE to some underlying idea, event, etc.. In other words, controlling our response (or a system’s response) to some underlying variable is FAR MORE important than the underlying variable itself. Similarly, tradition and religion allow us to benefit from various heuristics reached via bottom-up experimentation and tinkering that have withstood the test of time. Basically, it’s far more rational to follow traditional religion than to go completely without it.

With that being said, am I arguing for a literal teaching of religious texts as the word of God? Hell no. In the case of Christianity, the Bible was compiled under the reign of the Roman emperor Constantine which was >300 years after the death of Christ. The idea that all the teachings of Christ and only the teachings of Christ were contained in the modern translations of the Bible is literally dumbfounded and retarded. Similarly, the rise of Islam came about with an Arab empire that stretched from the Middle East to, at its height, modern-day Spain in harsh terrain where other peoples were more savage than the ones in question. Again, taking the Qur’an as the literal word of God is retarded (and most Muslims do not actually think the Qur’an is the literal word of God). In the case of Hindu scriptures, the primary topic is about metaphysical principles (Hindu theology is decentralized).

I’m gonna reemphasize the point that the traditional aspects of religion are extremely important for a society. All religions come from the same underlying principles and are rooted in metaphysics although the particulars of each tradition are different. I’d like to add that the particulars must be different for each of these traditions because of the different geographical roots. For example, the diverse Indian subcontinent requires very different traditions than the Latin Christianity that rose to power from its center in the Mediterranean which must necessarily be different from the Islam that was built around the Arab world. However, the underlying principles are fundamentally the same--see the work of Carl Jung, Rene Guenon, and many others).

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