Welcome to the Jungle

All posts from here on out will start with some kind old rock hit (not really). I’m working on an article on the difference between the State and the market, what’s their nature, ends, tools, and what makes them act so differently. In the meantime I thought I would I share this quote from Rothbard’s Power and Market: Government and the Economy:

“The free market, in fact, is precisely the diametric opposite of the “jungle” society. The jungle is characterized by the war of all against all. One man gains only at the expense of another, by seizure of the latter’s property. With all on a subsistence level, there is a true struggle for survival, with the stronger force crushing the weaker. In the free market, on the other hand, one man gains only through serving another, though he may also retire into self-sufficient production at a primitive level if he so desires. It is precisely through the peaceful co-operation of the market that all men gain through the development of the division of labor and capital investment. To apply the principle of the “survival of the fittest” to both the jungle and the market is to ignore the basic question: Fitness for what? The “fit” in the jungle are those most adept at the exercise of brute force. The “fit” on the market are those most adept in the service of society. The jungle is a brutish place where some seize from others and all live at the starvation level; the market is a peaceful and productive place where all serve themselves and others at the same time and live at infinitely higher levels of consumption. On the market, the charitable can provide aid, a luxury that cannot exist in the jungle. The free market, therefore, transmutes the jungle’s destructive competition for meager subsistence into a peaceful co-operative competition in the service of one’s self and others. In the jungle, some gain only at the expense of others. On the market, everyone gains. It is the market—the contractual society—that wrests order out of chaos, that subdues nature and eradicates the jungle, that permits the “weak” to live productively, or out of gifts from production, in a regal style compared to the life of the “strong” in the jungle. Furthermore, the market, by raising living standards, permits man the leisure to cultivate the very qualities of civilization that distinguish him from the brutes. It is precisely statism that is bringing back the rule of the jungle—bringing back conflict, disharmony, caste struggle, conquest and the war of all against all, and general poverty. In place of the peaceful “struggle” of competition in mutual service, statism substitutes calculational chaos and the death-struggle of Social Darwinist competition for political privilege and for limited subsistence.” (Power and Market, 270)

It is no surprise that the progressive era of 1890-1920 was a hot bed of social Darwinism, eugenics, and racism. The Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) has recently done an article on the racist eugenic beginnings of the minimum wage.[1] Royal Meeker (Woodrow Wilson’s commissioner of labor) argued in 1910 “It is much better to enact a minimum-wage law even if it deprives these unfortunates of work. Better that the state should support the inefficient wholly and prevent the multiplication of the breed than subsidize incompetence and unthrift, enabling them to bring forth more of their kind.” Rich whites on the north east coast understood raising the minimum wage as part of a eugenics strategy to prevent uneducated blacks from entering the labor force and therefore bringing “isolation, sterilization, and extermination of non-privileged populations.” Princeton economic historian Thomas Leonard notes in Journal of Economic Perspectives that this was also the period that the U.S. Government “amended the Constitution to institute a personal income tax, created the Federal Reserve, applied antitrust laws, restricted immigration and began regulation of food and drug safety. State governments, where the reform impulse was stronger still, regulated working conditions, banned child labor, instituted “mothers’ pensions,” capped working hours and set minimum wages.”[2]

The New Republic (a vanguard of progressive ideology still today) wrote in a 1916 editorial that “Imbecility breeds imbecility as certainly as white hens breed white chickens; and under laissez-faire [capitalism] imbecility is given full chance to breed, and does so in fact at a rate far superior to that of able stocks.” Apparently progressives understood that it was the free market that allowed for an equal playing field and enrichment for all of society, and they despised it. In those days it was the theological liberals and progressives who war-mongered (though The New Republic sure beat the war drum before the invasion of Iraq) and called for socialism, humanitarian wars, and praising communism. It is communism and socialism that is the true materialism. Is it any wonder then that these have been the most secular-atheists cultures and harbor such hostility towards Christianity? It is the inappropriate use of the State’s monopoly on force that always leads to parasitic predation, plunder, and oppression of the weak.

[1] http://fee.org/freeman/detail/the-eugenics-plot-of-the-minimum-wage

[2] http://www.princeton.edu/~tleonard/papers/retrospectives.pdf


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