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Feb-16-2013 09:50printcomments

The Genesis of America's Savage Winner-Take-All Society

Even if you're comfortable, you're not one of the "winners". You've just been lucky enough to find a perch in the expanding monarchical/serf society. Economic security? You could be decimated in a nanosecond! Think of those "rich people" who had millions invested with Bernie Madoff and who were suddenly impoverished. It can happen to you without warning.



(CALGARY, Alberta) - “Capitalism is the best system ever devised,” said former President George W. Bush, speaking to the right-wing Manhattan Institute. But, capitalism is a winner-take-all system and how it was “devised” is a heretofore uncolligated horror story.

Charles Darwin saw that at all levels of animal existence there were predators and prey. But he also saw contradictions: horses forming protective rings to guard against predators, wolves cooperating in packs, birds helping each other at the nest, fallow deer marching in unison to cross a river and vampire bats. Vampire bats share blood, mouth to mouth, with less successful members of the colony after a night’s hunt so that at sunrise, no one hangs himself up hungry.

A dramatic recent example was of a pod of 12 dolphins who worked together to aid and support a dying companion. They swam together and went beneath her to form what looked like a “life raft” to keep her above the surface. Karen McComb at the University of Sussex in Brighton said: “It does look like quite a sophisticated way of keeping the companion up in the water. It makes a lot of sense in a highly intelligent and social animal for there to be support of an injured animal.”(See the story and video here)

Looked at from this point of view mutual aid and cooperation are everywhere in the animal kingdom:

...except among humans in an American capitalist culture!

I present North Carolina as a prime exhibit. Republican lawmakers, in an effort to reduce state debt, have cut unemployment benefits by 35%, from $535 to $350/week, cut the period to collect from 26 weeks to between 12 and twenty weeks, and tightened requirements to qualify. The state has the nation’s fifth-highest unemployment rate, at 9.2 percent, compared with the national average of 7.9 percent. There is a jobs crisis--about three unemployed workers for every job. The law also disqualifies 170,000 unemployed people--39 percent of the 438,000 jobless--from federal emergency extended benefits because it reduces the number of weeks people can receive benefits to below 26—the federal minimum. Governor Pat McCrory is expected to sign the bill.

North Carolina is following the lead of seven other states, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri and South Carolina. But, according to the National Employment Law Project, an employment-rights advocacy group, North Carolina’s cuts would be the “harshest yet,”, since the reduction in benefits is greater than in the other states.

The point here is that millions of people are destined to increased suffering—and their children to reduced life chances— through no fault of their own, but instead as an edict of capitalism. North Carolina is obviously not a state influenced by vampire bats or dolphins.

Capitalism is not a natural human phenomenon—or even animal phenomenon. It has been imposed on society by the rich industrialists of the 19th century to promote and augment their pathological need for power and accumulation. Here’s how it happened.

That mankind was part of the animal kingdom was not in dispute. But it was the rich and powerful men in society and their sycophantic minions who co-opted Darwin’s ideas to justify their greed and domination of society through a philosophy that came to be called Social Darwinism.

The poor were the “unfit” and must not be helped because aiding them goes against nature and natural law. In the human struggle for existence, wealth signified success.

If Charles Darwin were appear in today’s society he would vigorously appose what is being done in his name. He said:

I do not believe that human nature is fundamentally selfish, such that genuine altruism and morality become illusions. I do not believe that human nature can be explained entirely in terms of genetic evolution, such that it was set in stone during the Stone Age. I regard human evolution as a rapid and ongoing process, made possible by mechanisms loosely described as cultural, which means that human nature will never be set in stone, for better or for worse.

Herbert Spencer, the19th century “father” of sociology, opposed public aid to the poor:

If they are sufficiently complete to live, they do live, and it is well they should live. If they are not sufficiently complete to live, they die, and it is best they should die.

Following Spencer, John D. Rockefeller said to an adult Sunday School class:

The growth of a large business is merely survival of the fittest. The American Beauty rose can be produced in the splendour and fragrance which cheer its beholder only by sacrificing the early buds which grow up around it. This is not an evil tendency in business. It is merely the working out of a law of nature and a law of God.

The most influential social Darwinist was the late 19th century Yale professor William Graham Sumner who defended great wealth, saying that

Millionaires are a product of natural selection, acting on the whole body of men to pick out those who can meet the requirement of certain work to be done. It is because they are thus selected that wealth-—both their own and that entrusted to them-—aggregates under their hands….They may fairly be regarded as the naturally selected agents of society for certain work. They get high wages and live in luxury, but the bargain is a good one for society. There is the intensest competition for their place and occupation. This assures that all who are competent for this function will be employed in it, so that the cost of it will be reduced to the lowest terms.

Thus today’s billionaires must be an even greater good for society. Hedge fund manager John Paulson made billions betting against the U. S. housing market. Wrote Linda McQuaig in The Trouble With Billionaires, Paulson

figured out how to make money betting that the millions of people signing up for mortgages they could only dream of actually affording would soon start defaulting. When they did, Paulson was there, watching money flood into his hedge fund….In 2007 he personally pocketed $3.7 billion, giving him the record—perhaps of all time—for financially profiting from the misery of others.

Not only should the poor be denied aid, but fiddling with the economy was also verboten. Joseph Schumpeter, one of the most influential economists of the 20th century, commenting on the Great Depression wrote:

our analysis leads us to believe that recovery is sound only if it comes of itself. For any revival which is merely due to artificial stimulus leaves part of the work of depressions undone and adds, to an undigested remnant of maladjustment, new maladjustments of its own.

Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon advised President Hoover to

liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmers, liquidate real estate [which] will purge the rottenness out of the system. High costs of living and high living will come down. People will work harder, live a more moral life. Values will be adjusted and enterprising people will pick up the wrecks from less competent people.

Lester Ward, the first president of the American Sociological Society, was not fooled by the veneer of pseudoscience supporting the Social Darwinist sham:

The fundamental principle of biology is natural selection, that of sociology is artificial selection. The survival of the fittest is simply survival of the strong, which implies and would be better called the destruction of the weak. If nature progresses through the destruction of the weak, man progresses through protection of the weak.

Sumner had published a book in 1883, What Social Classes Owe Each Other, and Ward, in reviewing it, understood exactly how humanity’s misframing of the social world had occurred.

The whole book is based on the fundamental error that the favours of this world are distributed entirely according to merit. Poverty is only a proof of indolence and vice. Wealth simply shows the industry and virtue of the possessors. The very most is made of Malthusianism, and human activities are degraded to a complete level with those of animals.

It is normal for human beings to be competitive. The usual outcome is that, because of natural differences, some people will do better than others—whether it be academic or scientific standing, musical accomplishment, novel or poetry writing, sports or business success. All these strivings can make valuable contributions to the betterment of society.

I am no longer going to use the term “Darwinian capitalism” because it is an insult to Darwin’s name and beliefs. In fact, we can’t really use “animal capitalism” because animals in nature don’t even act like most capitalists. But, under predatory capitalism, which defines our society. everyone is subjected to rapacious competition which results in a savage society and a race to the bottom.

Capitalism is also a divide and conquer system. For you to win, others must lose. This worked in the 18th century. If you arrived at a valley and someone else was already there, you just moved on. Now all the land and resources are claimed by those living and being born in our society can be a handicap if the family you’re born into are not already owners.

A lay definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results. By this definition, we live in an insane society—insane world, in fact—which is clearly, by any interpretation, destroying the very environment on which we rely for life itself and the future lives of our children, grandchildren, on into the future.

American culture is clearly insane as we continue to use and reuse the same techniques and processes of predatory capitalism, naively expecting the world to somehow get better.

Human beings are more than animals. As Darwin saw evolution: “I see no possible means of drawing the line and saying, here you must stop.” A more appropriate philosophy was from Goethe in the 18th century: “Man is an animal, an animal with a difference, singled out for higher things”.

Animals do not walk on the moon; live in earth orbiting space stations; live extended lives because of heart and other organ transplants, miracle drugs and on and on… Human beings are animals plus!—cosmic beings of intellect, vision and spirit.

What’s holding humanity back from transcendental progress is a lack of a greater awareness of the anti-human paradigm under which we live today . That lack of awareness is why, under so-called democracy, people can generally be counted on to vote against their own best interests. Look to the Red States.

To understand how capitalism works and why so few people actively doubt or question it, I paraphrase Abe Lincoln:

Enough of the people are fooled all of the time.

Reversing this status quo is where the rejuvenation of public education and democracy are essential. But don’t look to Texas, the largest school district in the country for hope. The Texas Republican Party put this in its platform last summer:

Knowledge-Based Education – We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.

The future of America has never looked dimmer.

This is your challenge. The world cannot get better for your children as long as you remain gulled. Now you know the story. It’s up to you.

Good luck to us all.

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Daniel Johnson is a born and raised Calgarian. He is currently working on a book The Occupy Wall Street User Manual which is scheduled for publication in spring 2013 by Polymath Press In 1990 he published his first (and so far, only) book: Practical History: A guide to Will and Ariel Durant’s “The Story of Civilization” (Polymath Press, Calgary) Newly appointed as the Deputy Executive Editor in August 2011, he has been writing exclusively for Salem-News.com since March 2009 and, as of summer 2012, has published more than 210 stories. View articles written by Daniel Johnson




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Anonymous February 18, 2013 3:33 pm (Pacific time)

Ralph an interesting thesis, but you have badly misread the economic downturn that happened late in the Bush Administration. This downturn has been further entrenched by those economists you appear to favor. As you know, economic up/down cycles have historically become the norm in the last 150 plus years. The one in 2008 was "seeded" by people like Sec. Rubin, Barney Frank and others during the Clinton era. Please review Commercial real estate with Residential real estate markets beginning back in the mid 1990's. Commercial real estate was using sound business principals (and doing well until the bad economy slowly eroded it) while the residential market was not, e.g., they were loaning to most anyone regardless of credit history. Along comes one of those down cycles i 2008, and now coupled with the poor policies by Obama's people, and here we are, struggling. And will continue to do so as long as he remains in office. The largest tax revenue ever received by the government happened under the Bush Administration in 2006, while unemployment was quite low. The next year the dems took over congress, and the economy worsened. The above is a simplification, but that is essentially what happened. When the economy is going well our detractors usually pick something else to whine about...like cutting down old growth forests,or polar bears having to make long swims.

Ralph: This is the guy who was trying to channel Hitler at 1017am, so you know how seriously to take him. Daniel 


Ralph E. Stone February 18, 2013 1:28 pm (Pacific time)

You are quoting many from the 19th Century that seem to support your article that man has been assumed to be a beast -- a social Darwinism. (Actually, social Darwinism in many instances led to ideas of eugenics, scientific racism, imperialism, fascism, Nazism and struggle between national or racial groups.) The 19th Century was an age of the so-called robber barons, e.g., Carnegie, Mellon, Vanderbilt, Rockefeller. But this period you refer to led to the enactment of many of the anti-trust laws and the growth of the labor movement, which ultimately curbed their power. I agree that income inequality is now a problem that needs to be addressed by our society. But you only point to education and democracy as a solution. But can't democracy, education, strong enforced laws, and capitalism solve the problems in our society? If not, why not?

The primary problem,  in my view, is the assumption that human beings are animals and nothing more. Freud dominated much of the thinking of the 20th century. He said: "Man is not a being different from animals or superior to them." 


Anonymous February 18, 2013 10:17 am (Pacific time)

Socialism by itself cannot sustain aything, but when properly adapted it will compliment capitalism in the private market, not with government oversight. We need to dissolve all social programs, especially social security, food stamps, national healthcare (except for veterans). Here in America, private citizens/organization are constantly helping our fellow citizens when the need arises. It is when government begins a process of economic socialism that in time it becomes like a cancer and damages everything it supposedly tries to help/improve. The slackers simply cannot grasp the real history of the damaging effects of socialism, mainly because they have personailty disorders and want something for nothing...they create problems while actually thinking they are offering up solutions. Sick sick puppies. This is why immigration control (lock the borders down, begin a massive E-Verify program), have immediate executions for illegals at a set time if they are still here, then begin a program of Eugenics. We simply need to remove the chaff, and begin anew. Though in time "nature" will most likely intervene in some manner...diseases, space debri impacts, maybe even a nuke war...eventually there will be a re-balancing. I prefer it be hamane, thus a massive sterilization program for those who cannot adapt to our environment and prosper independently. In less than 2 generations we could have less than 100 million here in the states. Two more generations we would be colonizing space as we should have been doing decades ago. Our resources have gone to help the weak who are nothing more than muderous parasites. Hey, happy President's Day.

Republicans of America calling Adolph Hitler. Come in Adolph Hitler...


Ralph E. Stone February 18, 2013 9:02 am (Pacific time)

Actually, you should look back to Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations" for the beginnings of capitalism. He argued that rational self-interest and competition led by an "invisible hand" can frequently lead to economic prosperity. But Smith warned that a business-dominated political system would allow a conspiracy of businesses and industry against consumers, with the former scheming to influence politics and legislation. Thus, he stated that any law or regulation of commerce should be looked at favorably. In other words, private vices may be turned into public benefits, but there is a place for regulation of the marketplace.

However, the Chicago School of Economics -- adherents of Milton Friedman's economic theories -- emphasize the former part of Smith's theories, but not the latter. Its adherents can be found in the White House, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Bank. They advocate the selloff of government assets to corporations who can run them for a profit, a cut back in social programs, elimination of trade barriers, and the elimination of government regulations. In a truly free market, so their theory goes, individuals acting on their own self interest will create maximum benefits for all. In the short term and not-so-short-term, however, these policies oftentimes cause major disruptions in the marketplace. But supposedly a "market equilibrium" will be the eventual result. It is unlikely that the general populace would approve of such short-term disruptions without some economic safety nets. The Republicans are generally Friedman adherents. That's why they advocate de-regulation, which of course led to the collapse of our economy during the Bush administration.

John Maynard Keynes, on the other hand, advocated interventionist government policy, by which the government would use fiscal and monetary measures to mitigate the adverse effects of economic recessions, depressions, and booms.

In sum, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with Capitalism if it is tempered with the safeguards of government regulation.

I think what you're advocating is the taming of capitalism and reducing it to the normal, socially positive competition that exists natrurally between human beings as social creatures. 

The intrinsic wrongness of capitalism as I emphasize in my piece is that it is based on the assumption that human beings are animals and nothing more. With such an assumption in place, anything can be justified. 

The thing I've come to realize about Friedman is that he was a brilliant mathematical theorist. But people were effective zeroes in his theories. 


Amandablack February 18, 2013 1:19 am (Pacific time)

Capitalism cannot survive, as much as Socialism alone did not sustain itself. Any successful society must inject a good dose of socialism into the system, in order to be able to generate a successful society.

Hear, hear! 


Anonymous February 17, 2013 9:59 am (Pacific time)

DJ you are evidently pretty well [uninformed] about our laws that deal with various types of economic crimes. Our prisons are full of people, and more are

in various parts of the criminal prosecution system...ranging from about to be indicted to about to be sentenced. The bigest problem we have is the financial

cronyism that is always found within the democratic party, e.g. unions and Wall Street Banks (see political donations via the F.E.C.). In fact if you do a

count of those in prison for bribery and other crimes, you will see that the democrat party member convictions out number Republicans considerably. Jesse

Jackson Jr. is a minor criminal compared to others. Of course the media makes it seem otherwise, but that's just how it is when you have a MSM that has

become another arm of the leftist party. Their time is coming, and there will be a considerable shake-up. When the Republicans [historically remarkable] took

over the House in 2010, there went the bailout money for the MSM, now they are ramping up the propaganda for the 2014 elections. It's about the money for

them, thus we have the people suffer as the Whitehouse and Senate gum up our governing process. But because of our form of government, coupled with our Bill

of Rights (and the 10th Amendment is gaining traction for many of our states) we will soon be out of this nightmare. Bad for the leftists, but their time has

come and gone, they are soon to head down the food chain. Keep in mind that Canada and the entire world depends on America, otherwise it's a worldwide

depression coming.

We shouldn't take the fact that we can keep borrowing money for granted: Because of our nation's massive debt, our entire economy hinges on our capacity to

continue to borrow almost unimaginable amounts of money to finance our deficit spending. The problem is there may simply not be enough money in the world to

keep it up much longer. According to the CBO, we'll be spending 36% of our budget on interest payments on the debt by 2030. That number is on track to hit

85% by 2050. Before we even get that far, in 2019, we'll need 19% of the rest of the world's GDP invested in U.S. Treasury securities to keep funding out

debt. Of course, that number is going nowhere but up for the foreseeable future. If it doesn't happen and our flow of cheap credit runs out, we're going to

face a fiscal Armageddon that will make the Great Depression look like a pizza party.Those on the left may not like that possible outcome, for as history

shows, the left will be blamed, and rightfully so.

And you're pretty well gulled. Why don't you go to the National Review online and waste their time? 


Anonymous February 16, 2013 7:05 pm (Pacific time)

If a better economic system worked, other countries would have enjoyed the same, if not better, success than we Americans?! So what type of system do you propose? We know those others from the past and currently, have not equalled American capitalism success. Please note we now have discovered and have retrievable energy reserves that will make us the planet's top energy producer for far into the future. Even the criminal roadblocks by Obama's EPA will be rolled over quite soon. Maybe it's our superior form of government? We provide equal opportunity for our citizens, even high school drop outs with felony records have become quite wealthy...but when those out in the weeds demand "equal outcomes"...then that's when they become exposed for just what they really are. America is always going to have detractors, and it's these people who simply fail to understand their own shortcomings, and the reasons behind their failures, so they strike out...harmlessly.

Don't blow smoke with your "equal outcomes" nonsense. Competition in human societies is natural, but predation is not. As I demonstrated in my article--at least to those who are not close-minded ideologues--capitalism is an anti-human system. Capitalism is based on the assumption that human beings are animals and only animals. If you believe that assumption, then you've been gulled. It is not an economic system but is a system of human exploitation established by the amoral Gordon Gekkos of the 19th century.  If capitalism  had a higher rate of success for its participants, it would be more acceptable. Human beings are social creatures, not predators which capitalism requires. Divide and conquer. N'est ce pas?

In fact, I recall your commenting from before and I was going to reply i n more detail, but I didn't have the time. I'm going to take this opportunity to make a few of the points I had intended.

You talked in both comments about your superior government and the best health care system. One thing I've learned after four years of studying and commenting on American culture (from a Canadian point of view) I've noticed that Americans have a tendency to claim the best and the most--even when it is demonstrably wrong. Republicans, I've noticed are not an evidence-based political movement.

For example: In your previous comment you said: "When Obamacare causes the system to become swamped, the incentives for innovation go away and the quality of care drops, your life expectancy may drop right along with it."

 Your so-called Obomacare is a pale imitation (we still have private insurance companies, but we don't put them in charge) of the highly successful and superior health care systems in Canada, the U.K., France, Germany, etc. That's one of the positive things that happens when people in a society, despite capitalism, are willing to cooperate and look after fellow citizens on a natioanal level--something Americans don't  like to do and it passeth all understanding outside the American worldview.

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