Sunday, February 15, 2009

Thinking For Ourselves

Recently, I heard some comments that made me feel a little cold inside. I would like to share them with you here, as well as my own personal feelings related to what was said.

Conventional wisdom once said that it is the victors that write the history books. The implication being, of course, that our knowledge of history has sometimes been skewed by the writers. In the old days, the historians were hired by those in power, kings and such, and thus reflected the official stance. We are all quite aware of the practice among the Egyptians whereby the incoming ruler would have all monuments to, and in some cases all mention of, their predecessors, destroyed to remove all memory of the individual from history. This granted a sense of importance to the new ruler, and gave his word a sense of finality. At the very least, there were no historical records left behind to cause the people to doubt his declarations or claims to power.

Today, we face a different scenario: our enemies are rewriting our histories right under our noses, and teaching fabrications to our children, supporting these new claims with repackaged definitions. The very Socialists who would be victors over Capitalism and all things American now own the very unions that employ and direct our teachers, and many of our judges and politicians. Our children are learning a distorted history, supported by newfangled definitions that have been applied to familiar terms, so as to mean two entirely different things to the old generation and the new. This enables the reeducation (i.e., indoctrination) of our youth without raising eyebrows.

Case in point: the definition of Capitalism. One of the comments I heard was that Capitalism became defined when Socialism came on the scene, and gets its name from the fact that it is the means whereby one individual , or group of individuals, capitalizes on another individual, or group of individuals. In other words, Capitalism, according to this definition, is basically a form of slavery or oppression where the rich man keeps the poor man down by taking advantage of him. The person that made this comment is a current Political Science major in college, and no doubt learned this erroneous definition there.

To begin with, this definition comes directly from the annals of Marxism. In Karl Marx's Manifesto, he attempted to explain every ill of the world as a result of the evils of Capitalism. Avoiding lengthy explanations, suffice to say that this is simply untrue. (For such a "lengthy explanation," please borrow W. Cleon Skousen's The Naked Communist, from your local library. You won't regret it.)

Skousen, and a great many others, define Capitalism as the "freedom to try, freedom to buy, freedom to sell, and freedom to fail." This explains why so many Conservative Americans are opposed to Mr. Obama's bailouts and stimuli: these businesses are being saved from their own failures and subsequent freedoms to try and buy and sell and fail are being taken away from us, and from our children and grandchildren.

For a more in-depth explanation, however, I have chosen to quote directly from

"Capitalism" is conventionally defined along economic terms such as the following:

An economic system in which the means of production and distribution are privately or corporately owned and development is proportionate to the accumulation and reinvestment of profits gained in a free market.

This is an example of a definition by non-essentials. An essential definition of capitalism is a political definition:

Capitalism is a social system based on the principle of individual rights.

In order to have an economic system in which "production and distribution are privately or corporately owned", you must have individual rights and specifically property rights. The only way to have an economic system fitting the first definition is to have a political system fitting the second definition. The first is an implication of the second. Because the second, political, definition is fundamental and the cause of the first, it is the more useful definition and is preferable...

It is important to define "Capitalism" correctly because a proper definition is a prerequisite to a proper defense. Capitalism is the only moral political system because it is the only system dedicated to the protection of rights, which is a requirement for human survival and flourishing. This is the only proper role of a government.

According to

The etymology of the word capital reveals roots in the trade and ownership of animals. The Latin root of the word capital is capitalis, from the proto-Indo-European kaput, which means "head", this being how wealth was measured. The more heads of cattle, the better. The terms chattel (meaning goods, animals, or slaves) and even cattle itself also derive from this same origin.

The lexical connections between animal trade and economics can also be seen in the names of many currencies and words about money: fee (faihu), rupee (rupya), buck (a deerskin), pecuniary (pecu), stock (livestock), and peso (pecu or pashu) all derive from animal-trade origins.

The first use of the word "capitalism" in English is by Thackeray in 1854, by which he meant having ownership of capital. In 1867 Proudhon used the term "capitalist" to refer to owners of capital, and Marx and Engels refer to the "Capitalist production system" and in Das Kapital to "Kapitalist", "capitalist" (meaning a private owner of capital)...

Under the Marxist theory of ideology, a dominant economic class is believed to have its own ideology serving its class interests.

Although Marx & Friends tried diligently to create of it something sinister, the truth is that the very nature of Capitalism is the freedom of individuals to make a profit, a freedom which is denied under Socialism. This is seen as an evil by Socialist-minded individuals, because in their minds this portends class divisions. What they seem to miss, though, is that because the very nature of Capitalism depends on the efforts of each individual, and not every individual is willing to put forth the required effort to achieve success, such distinctions will naturally arise.

Claudia Rosett has this to say:

The endless fallacy of state economic planning is that greed can somehow be eliminated from human nature. The virtue of capitalism is that it takes greed into account, and puts it to good use. Free markets give people incentives to satisfy their greed by providing things that other people really want, and which they choose to buy in a process of voluntary exchange. In that system, government is supposed to exercise restraint, rather than treating taxpayers as providers of an all-you-can-eat Washington buffet.

Which brings me to my next point.

The aforementioned comment was shared in church, "mingled with scripture," and surrounded with seemingly scriptural arguments that Liberals have chosen to use frequently in the past few years, one being that wars and violence are always unjust. I am pretty sure that most Christians who read the Bible recognize the error in this ideology. In fact, C.S. Lewis warned against extreme pacifism in one of his well-loved books, Mere Christianity. Some might argue that there weren't supposed to be any more "wars in the name of religion" after Christ, but anyone who has read the Book of Mormon knows that's a lie (see Alma 46). The Lord has always allowed for the defense of "our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children." War, it seems, is justifiable when it is waged for a righteous cause, and when we are not ourselves the aggressor. The active support of our nation's military by Church leaders suggests that our prophets have seen it this way, as well.

The United States, being a nation founded on Judeo-Christian principles, has always seen fit to defend life and liberty around the world, and has never been imperialist (i.e., seeking to expand our own "empire"). The current spin, as shared by the same commenter, is that America has merely gone out and unjustly bombed our enemies, and that God would be displeased. I imagine that France, Germany, and a host of other nations who owe their current existence to us, would see it differently. I know that the popular opinion about George W. Bush includes phrases like "tyranny," but you've also got to remember that this interpretation of current events was put forth by the very same Socialist press that is currently slobbering all over Obama, the most Socialist president America has ever known. (And, by the way, anyone who knows their history knows that more people have died as a direct result of Socialist regimes in the last 150 years than all religious wars in the last 2000 years, combined. See Russia, China, Venezuela, North Korea, and so forth.)

Later-day Saints must also take into account the incidents that took place prior to Adam's placement on earth: the war in heaven, and the events leading up to it. The very arguments against Capitalist America were used against our Heavenly Father's plan. God wanted us to come to earth and have the freedom to choose for ourselves, in order to allow us to develop and grow more like Him through our choices. Satan pointed out that God's plan would allow for wars, starvation, and economic and other inequalities, and proposed to force us all to keep the commandments, allowing us all to return to our Father. What was the difference between these two ideas? In a word, freedom. Freedom to try, and freedom to fail. Freedom even to choose whether or not to try. This is at the heart of Capitalism. This is at the heart of America, and its Constitution, which the commenter claimed to respect as a document inspired of God. And yet, he urged the congregation to acknowledge that America and its Constitution are not prefect, and seemed to suggest that Socialism might offer better things, including a chance to eradicate poverty and inequality.

Brothers and Sisters, I suggest to you that, while poverty and inequality are surely evils, they are also the direct result and by-product of our Heavenly Father's plan for our salvation. We do not need to like them, indeed the Savior served the poor and urged us to do the same, in both the Bible and Book of Mormon. Still, we have been told that the poor will always be with us (see Mark 14:7). The Socialist ideal that suggests that we can do away with poverty by force is mistaken. And it is this point on which no Christian can agree with Socialism: force. Yes, we are to love and serve the poor. But, they are to earn their bread by the sweat of their brow just like the rest of us. We should be teaching them to fish, and not just giving them fishes. And we should certainly not be taking fish from the rich against their will and spreading it around to the poor. The principles of Judeo-Christianity demand that we each, in seeking to become like God, choose for ourselves to practice charity. Indeed, many people do just that, traveling to foreign countries, or working within their own, to build up communities and civilizations by training them to be self-reliant. This is what Socialism lacks: recognition of personal responsibility, which, ultimately (through the Savior), is what brings us back into the presence of our Heavenly Father (see Matthew 7:21).

Thanks for letting me rant. And, for more examples of societal failure via adherence to Satan's plan of force, see any Muslim nation on earth.

Further Reading on the Re-Definition of Words:

Further Reading on the Re-Education of our Children:

Other Recommended Reading: