Thursday, October 29, 2015

Why Intellectuals Hate Capitalism

"Intellectuals have always disdained commerce," says Whole Foods Market co-founder John Mackey. They "have always sided with the aristocrats to maintain a society where the businesspeople were kept down." Having helped create the global grocery chain intellectuals arguably like best, Mackey has evolved into one of capitalism's most persuasive champions, making the moral, practical, and even spiritual case that free exchange ennobles all who participate.


Chiu ChunLing said...

More simply (and perhaps more intellectually) put, intellectualism is a variation of idealism, in which the fundamental basis of reality is ideals, and these ideals are accessed by some universal mind which is reflected in human minds. Intellectualism stresses the primacy of theory over other kinds of conceptual interaction between human minds and the universal mind containing the ideals which are the supposed foundation of reality. This lends itself to a fundamentally elitist view in which those who engage in study of theory are more directly connected to the universal mind which generates reality.

Capitalism, on the other hand, is a vigorously pragmatic orientation towards the production of the means of life. Pragmatism is closely allied to realism, which is the polar opposite of idealism in that it asserts that reality exists independently and minds, even of a divine character and perspective, must exist within reality. Pragmatism is not realism as such, but adopts realism as a pragmatic means of predicting the probable results of chosen actions (in an important sense, this makes pragmatism even less theoretical than realism because it takes no doctrinaire position on whether realism is correct in theory, only on whether it is pragmatic in reality).

So it isn't just envy of the greater actual influence of capitalists in society, but rather a deeper violation of their most profound beliefs as intellectuals that the study of theory makes them closer to the ultimate truth about the nature and purpose of the universe. Intellectuals find realism abhorrent enough, but they view pragmatism (especially practical rather theoretical pragmatism) as a kind of abominable heresy, an affront against their god and a deliberate inversion of their holiest rituals. It is of course grinding salt into the wound when these infidels are seen commanding vast influence over society and seducing away the faithful with their filthy riches derived by unholy practicality.

But worst of all is that capitalists demonstrate command over the natural world itself, whereas the entire point of the intellectual strain of idealism is to allow theory to control how reality functions. The cavalier dismissal of theory in favor of practicalities ought to bring down the wrath of the universal mind whence the ideals which produce reality spring, and yet every success of the capitalist makes it harder to deny that, while in theory there is no difference between theory and reality, in reality there is a big difference.

So yes, there is envy, yes, there is outrage at a heresy, but above all there is fear that intellectualism is simply wrong and their devotion to the study of theory will not bring them into communion with the universal mind after all.

Meanwhile, as Mackey mentions, the capitalists are generally too pragmatic to even realize that there is a fundamental philosophical question at stake and stick to the long-term pragmatism of free-market principles when it doesn't serve their short-term interests. But this is not a weakness of capitalism but rather a strength of the free-market system, that it allows people to be performatively pragmatic without needing to have any philosophical foundation, as long as there are principled defenders of pragmatism dedicated to maintaining the free-market itself.

But that kind of principled pragmatism requires a long-term perspective that largely depends on a serious and living belief in eternity. Mackey may not be quite on target when he talks about doing well by doing good, as if the purpose of seeking the welfare of your soul was limited to the benefits it gives you in this life. But not too many generations ago most businessmen lived with the Master's question in mind, "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"

Such religious pragmatism is fundamentally necessary to the project of protecting the system that allows even irreligious and short-sighted practical pragmatism to shape our world for the better.

PO'd American said...

Let's stop the continuance of this insanity right now. We can no longer refer to "them" as intellectuals. They are not. By definition they are pseudo-intellectuals at best and complete total asshole hypocrites at least.

David Codrea said...

Yeah, well, before we start praising the guy too much for being a champion of freedom, Google "Whole Foods gun policy."

WarriorClass III said...

Do you think even a real intellectual could compete in the free market? And for the pseudo-intellectual, the free market is sudden death. No wonder it scares them so much.

Anonymous said...

He sounds like he has read and studied Ayn Rand at least a little bit.

B Woodman

Anonymous said...

Hey "PO'd American". You left out Arrogant, Delusional and Condescending.

Anonymous said...

That is somewhat similar to the question put to Trump last night about his properties being posted no gun zones. Asked if he would "change" his policies, he said he would. One does have to wonder why he would need to if he was such a strong 2A guy as he claims.

Oops. One would have thought he would have handled that already...

But the real issue to address there is how gubmint uses its proxy - insurance companies- to "influence" the private property owners decisions. Another aspect to keep it real about is the straight up fact that the line between private and public has been intentionally blurred. It is time to be a wee more honest about that line and that blurring. (Nothing demonstrates that trouble more than guns versus cigarettes).

I caution all my brothers in arms though - we must not be caught up in following like sheep. We have to stop letting the controllers pit us against each other with their garbage. We should not take their bait. We should come together on the baseline, stand side by side, and run them over.

Gun Control itself is rooted in the bastardization of the commerce clause. Want to end the gun control canard and misnomer? Want to put meaning to the statement that it isn't about the guns it is about control? Then explain WHY it is about control, and HOW it is about control. Economic control. A detailed question and answer session with the right players about whole foods gun policy will suffice nicely if played right.

We have to start attacking the premise ans when it comes to guns - each and every gun control premise WILL come back to economics! It WILL come back to both commerce and privileges and immunities. Until we are willing to wage the fight on that level, on that field, we are only waging one battle in order to set up the next one. I for one, and I suppose I will stand alone if I must, want to WIN this war once and for all, rather than just go endlessly and aimlessly from one battle to the next.

Anonymous said...

And why are these so-called "intellectuals" called intellectuals? Because other so-called intellectuals say they are. This entire higher education thing becomes one giant circle jerk, where educated fools steeped in socialism get to pin medals on one another.

PO'd American said...

Anonymous said...
Hey "PO'd American". You left out Arrogant, Delusional and Condescending.

Yes I did, thanks for catching the omissions.

Anonymous said...

Technically they aren't intellectuals, intellectuals create something new, something no one has ever seen/heard/read before. These people are academics, they spout out stuff by wrote thereby giving people who aren't particularly well read the notion that they're intelligent. Most of them aren't, they wouldn't know an original idea if it kicked them in the nads.