Gian Piero de Bellis
On the Social Sciences as Social Scam and the Social Scientists as Social Scoundrels
Straitjackets and Superstitions of the Statist Age
|"There is no nonsense so arrant that it cannot be made the creed of the vast majority by adequate governmental action."
(Bertrand Russell, An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish, 1943)
The unsavoury agents of social life (^)
Under the denomination of social agents, operating within the category of the social sciences, we include, in a broad sense, a series of active participants (major and minor) of social life, including the 'mass-men' with their attitudes and convictions about mass-society.
The attitudes and convictions produced at the centre (by the professional social scientists) and taken up at the periphery (by the 'mass-men') tend, generally, to assume as a natural occurrence the conservation and perpetuation of existing ways of life and social relations, apart from purely incremental quantitative changes (i.e. more of the same).
superficial update in the vocabulary and armoury of the social
scientists cannot hide the fact that they (and their mass audience) still
hold ideas that, far away from being eternal pillars of human wisdom and
social enlightenment, simply belong to a feudal past. The core of these
ideas lies in the conviction of the absolute necessity of power (control)
and obedience (subordination) as the source and guide of (almost) any social
On the basis of these ideas many agents of social life have made their material fortune (or what they think is a successful life) and many others have engendered their voluntary servitude (or what they think is the unavoidable destiny in life).
Let us examine very briefly some of these unsavoury agents of social life.
The Byzantine lawyer
The complexity (e.g. variety) of human intercourse has been further complicated (i.e. confused) by the existence of hundreds of thousands of laws and legal dispositions that presume to rule any and every aspect of people's lives. The lawyer is the main agent presiding over this morass of legal immorality (lack of "mores"). This is the historical result of communities being expropriated of their capability/responsibility of self-regulation through moral customs ("mores") emerging from extensive interactions and rational reflections on the outcomes of those interactions. In our times, the norms are the packaged product of powerful lobbies assisted by paid professionals, all vying for the favour of the rulers (the law makers). The Byzantine lawyers, as the core members or the servile appendages of the ruling elite, are the shopkeepers in this bazaar of trafficking in articles of law for power and patronage.
The dismal economist
Economics has been called, for apparently very different reasons, the "dismal science" (Thomas Carlyle, 1849), but it would have been more appropriate to use that adjective to qualify economists, that is as dismal scientists. Most of them are nothing more than the priests of Mammon (money) and the servant of Leviathan (state power). In order to become popular and successful they threw overboard many bold and effective ideas (e.g. Gresham's warnings on the monopolistic issue of means of payment, or Ricardo's views on international trade) and adopted concepts and practices in tune with the wishes of their state masters (e.g. central banking and state monopoly on currencies, trade protectionism). The phenomenal growth in their number, their ubiquitous presence (in national and international organizations) and the incredibly poor, if not disastrous, results achieved by following their advice in full, should warn everybody that, even if intellectual prostitution pays (up to a point and for a while), the long term consequences are catastrophic for the mind and for the soul (not to mention the pockets) of the common person. Wherever the standard of living has improved, we should cheer scientists, technologists, entrepreneurs and workers, but boo the economists.
The charlatan psychologist
Following the secularization of individual life and the popularization of psychoanalysis amongst the masses, the psychologist has taken the role that was once played by the confessor within a Church. In modern times the function of the psychologist has become even more manipulative than that of the priest of bygone ages. The first step in the manipulative process is to make the individual accept reality (any reality) or, in other words, to accommodate reality into his own life and to adjust to it. However, it is not sufficient to accept a reality dominated by Big Brother. The task of the psychologically adjusted human being is to love Big Brother and to be grateful for what Big Brother does for him. To this end the mass of psychologists operate as best they can for an increasing number of people, employing a full repertory of psychological and pharmacological tools. In most cases this happens courtesy of the Big Brother itself (operating under the deceitful label of Ministry of Health), of which many psychologists are faithful servants and silent agents.
The platitudinous journalist
The journalist is the undisputed king of mass indoctrination. It should not be taken as disrespectful of the profession to remind that Mussolini and Goebbels are amongst those who practiced the trade and who taught many useful tricks, the first of which being that a large dose of nationalism (jingoism) and national pride is a sure recipe for success and wide (national) readership. The basic dish of most journalists is a soup made out of highly conventional stereotypes associated with explanations that might be totally false but must be absolutely plausible, all seasoned with some sensationalist pepper. The journalists are those who try to present the same old story as an absolute novelty and when a real novelty appears on the scene they fail to notice it, or they treat it as the same old story. The gullible readers trust without questioning the journalists' mix of conventionalism and sensationalism and spread it through social intercourse, making the soup more and more acceptable in direct relation to the number of people who (are ready and willing to) taste and digest it. And so the chain of mass gullibility extends and grows, sometimes artfully steered by state power (through spin doctors), or directly propped up by it (through state subsidies to daily papers, like in Italy).
The manipulative teacher
The platitudinous jingoistic journalist is likely to succeed especially because the manipulation of the reader started in his infancy, via state schools. The teacher is the first professional ring of a chain of superstitions that, in due course, will tighten the brain of the human being in a sort of a mental straitjacket. The naive teacher is convinced that he/she is involved in the noble mission of transmitting knowledge; in reality he is just instilling conformism to obsolete ideas and practices that are functional to the same power (the state) who controls and administers education through the manipulative teacher. Accepting this imbroglio the teacher puts himself in a position of serious breach of trust insofar as he gives to young pupils the impression that he is presenting universal knowledge while he is only or mainly transmitting notions selected and accepted by the nation state. In this way he undermines/compromises the development of critical and creative faculties in individuals who are not able yet to judge by themselves the worth of what they are learning or not yet quite capable of embarking on alternative learning experiences.
|"... modern schoolteachers, divinely inspired and sanctioned by the State ... will necessarily become, some without realizing it, some fully aware of it, the propagandists of the doctrine of the sacrifice of the people to the power of the State and to the advantage of its privileged strata."
(Mikhail Bakunin, Dieu et l'état, 1882)
What did you learn in school today
Dear little boy of mine?
What did you learn in school today
Dear little boy of mine?
I learned our government must be strong
It's always right and never wrong
Our leaders are the finest men
That's why we elect them again and again
And that's what I learned in school today,
That's what I learned in school.
The obtuse bureaucrat
The mass society of our age can be characterized as a state-dominated society whose central figure is the obtuse bureaucrat, officiously performing the task of preserving and applying rules, no matter how idiotic and irrational they are. Bureaucrats and bureaucratic mentality can be found (in constant increase) in every aspect of social life of the last one hundred years or more and in many social figures (i.e. the bureaucratic party member, the bureaucratic trade-unionist, the bureaucratic social worker, the bureaucratic manager, etc.). The rise to dominance of the state is, in actual fact, the rise to dominance everywhere of petty and powerful bureaucrats. They are the expression and the propagators of a way of thinking and behaving that has infected all social life and has downgraded the human being to the level of a dependent and duped mass-moron.
|"... from the middle of the nineteenth century onward, the workers of Central and Western Europe had rapidly developed their own organizations, parties, trade unions, produced their own leaders and, above all, their own bureaucracy - men with iron wills and wooden heads."
(Arthur Koestler, The Yogi and the Commissar, 1945)
The cause and effect of the existence of all those unsavoury agents of social life is the formation and consolidation of the mass-moron. In the course of the last centuries the common human being has fallen out of the frying pan of Church tutelage and into the roasting fire of State dominance, remaining an eternal under-age, immature child, afraid of taking autonomous decisions and the full responsibility for his actions. In too many cases he has consented (consciously or unconsciously) being a pawn in the hands of the unsavoury agents of social life previously listed and, in that role, he has become a supine believer/transmitter of social myths and so a component of the social sciences factory of mystifications.
|"... the "mass-man" sees in the State an anonymous power, and, since he himself feels anonymous like a crowd - he thinks that the State is part of him. Suppose that in the public life of a country a difficulty, a conflict or a problem arises: the "mass-man" will be inclined to demand that the State intervenes, that the State takes over directly the task of solving it, using its gigantic and mighty means.
This is the major danger that menaces civilization: the statification of life, the interventionism of the State, the absorption by the State of all social spontaneity; in other words, the erasure of the historical spontaneity that, after all, supports, feeds and propels human destinies."
(José Ortega Y Gasset, La Rebelión de las Masas, 1937)
The unwarranted equations of social discourse (^)
The agents of social life have been able to carry on with their idiotic views and insipid behaviour also because, in the course of time, a series of absurd assumptions have been made or have been accepted by them, thus becoming basic axioms of social discourse.
They are the articles of faith of the statist ideology, elaborated and supported by the social scientists, held and believed more strongly than the precepts of any religious catechism, because they have enjoyed a more massive and intensive propaganda and so have been even more deeply and unconsciously internalized.
These basic axioms or unquestioned convictions are here called the unwarranted equations of social discourse because they attribute some specific (unwarranted) meaning to a series of terms in order to demean them in a way that is congenial (intellectually and practically) to the ruling elite (i.e. state power).
The main unwarranted equations are the following ones.
Self interest = selfishness
The main trait characterizing the way society is organised and ruled by the state power is the fear of individuality and the fight against the individual. The dominant trend of social life under statism has been the push toward massification and the concomitant pull away from, and fight against, individualization.
There is a reason for it. The uniformity achieved through massification could better justify the existence of a general interest, above and against the interests, qualified as particular or private, of individuals.
Once reality has been portrayed in such a way, the ruling elite
(any ruling elite, be it the Church hierarchy in the past or
the state rulers in the present) can present itself as the defender and
the protector of the general interest (presumed as always good) against
the personal interest (presumed as always deleterious).
Why on earth the members of the ruling elite (chosen by destiny or elected by the people) should be the only ones exempt from the alleged moral disease of looking at their own interest in preference to caring for everybody else's interest, is something that has almost never been examined and explained by any social scientist, especially in recent times.
However, putting that question aside, even a cursory analysis
of the matter should persuade us that most individual interests
are not at all in opposition to each other, otherwise most
forms of social intercourse, like cultural and economic exchanges, would
not take place.
Moreover, if a recommendable common interest exists (i.e. an interest shared by everybody) it consists precisely in the freedom of everybody to advance their personal interests. This formulation/solution of the matter logically excludes anything that conflicts with (blocks/damages) the universal individual freedom of looking after one's personal interests.
As a matter of fact, to care (and be able to
care) for one's own interests represents one of the recurrent
ethical principles from Aristotle to Spinoza and down to Erich Fromm.
|"The more each person strives and is able to seek his own profit, that is to say, to preserve his being, the more virtue does he possess; on the other hand, in so far as each person neglects his own profit, that is to say, neglects to preserve his own being, is he impotent"
(Spinoza, Ethics, 1677, IV, Prop. 20.)
In short, to have equated the activity of individuals promoting their self-interest with viciousness and insensitivity to the interest of other people is one of the most sly and wicked postulations ever made by the social scientists.
|"Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live. It is asking others to live as one wishes to live."
(Oscar Wilde, The Soul of Man under Socialism, 1891)
The logical and practical consequences of this equation are even more reproachable, considering that it leads, as a forgone general conclusion and not as a matter of inquiry, to the intrinsic irreconcilability between interests and so the permanent unavoidable opposition between human beings.
All these assumptions are at the basis of the ideology of "homo homini lupus" and the supreme justifications for the existence of a monopolistic totalitarian power like the state. If a social scientist wants to keep spreading fear and suspicion he has to do nothing more than uphold these stereotyped views without any qualification that would severely restrict their validity and applicability.
Personality = identity
The continuous loss of individuality, promoted by some social scientists as a sign of modernization, and the rise of uniformity within a mass society, have resulted in the widespread use by the same social scientists of the term 'identity' in place of the classic concept of personality.
If we consider the etymological root of the word identity (idem = the same or, identitas = sameness) it is quite evident that it should have never been applied to any human being, whose personality should not only be considered as unique but in continuous evolution.
Nevertheless, the social scientists not only have not raised any critical objection to the equation personality = identity, but have openly accepted and even praised it.
This is all more absurd with reference to the personality of an individual because it is like stating that:
- the individual is identical to himself (a meaningless statement)
- the individual is unchanging over time (a false statement).
What this unwarranted equation highlights is, then, the abandonment of the true concept of personality as individuality and of personality development as individualization. Their place has then been taken, in the discourses of the social scientists, by identity (the homogenized being) and identification (the supervised being).
In actual fact these two words (identity and identification) are more in tune with expressions like national identity (i.e. the adoption/imposition of the same cultural myths and modes) and identity cards (i.e. the introduction/imposition of restrictions to the freedom of movement) than with a scientific discourse concerning the distinctive evolving traits of the human being.
scientists, by using extensively the word 'identity' instead
of the more appropriate term 'personality', reveal clearly not only their
adhesion/submission to the ideology of statism, but also how they see the
human being and which role they assign to him or her, namely that of an
interchangeable cog in a machine or an abstract symbol in an equation,
to be manipulated as it seems convenient to the state alchemists of the
Equity = equality
In a mass society made of (supposedly) identical human beings, equity, that is fairness of behaviour towards each other, is considered equivalent to equality.
Clearly this would be the case, and equality would be indeed like equity (and so the most desirable solution), provided that we really dealt with identical (or highly similar) people, in identical (or highly similar) circumstances; for instance, workers singles and in the same age group, performing exactly the same tasks, producing exactly the same output and receiving exactly the same pay.
However, this is an absurd and idiotic assumption, far away from reality, if applied on a large scale, because not only are we all different in many respects related to sex, age, physical strength, interests, dispositions, and so on, but we live and operate in different and changing conditions that demand for different ways, forms and levels of intervention, satisfaction, compensation or whatever else.
|"There is nothing more unfair than sharing things out in equal parts amongst human beings who are not equal."
(The children of the school of Barbiana, Tuscany, 1967)
What the advocates of social equality really want to implement, even if they would be the firsts to deny it, is a sort of "barracks communism" where each one receives the same ration and must feel content just for the fact that no one has been treated differently.
This is the usual idiotic attitude of prehistoric social scientists for whom common egalitarian starvation should be preferable to unequally filled bellies.
Moreover, it must be said that the supposed equalitarian
distribution of resources advocated by so-called progressive
social scientists has the funny habit of magically transforming itself,
rather sooner than later, in such a way that the declaration "all beings are equal" has to be supplemented by the gloss "but some beings are more equal than others."
In the end, the real equality that the social scientists support and convey to the common people is the fact that all of them must be equally subject to and, we should add, equally defenceless in front of, state power.
Anarchy = disorder
Anarchy means essentially the opposition to a domineering power and the absence of a monopolistic centre of direction, legislating for everybody on everything. It certainly does not mean what the state oriented social scientists want us to believe, that is the rejection of any authority and the disrespect for any rule.
In fact the anarchist recognizes and willingly accepts the authority of those rich in knowledge and wisdom and is willing to follow voluntarily their advice.
|"I bow before the authority of special men because it is imposed on me by my own reason. I am conscious of my own inability to grasp, in all its detail, and positive developments, any very large portion of human knowledge. The greatest intelligence would not be equal to a comprehension of the whole. Thence results, for science as well as for industry, the necessity of the division and association of labour. I receive and I give - such is human life. Each directs and is directed in his turn. Therefore there is no fixed and constant authority, but a continual exchange of mutual, temporary, and, above all, voluntary authority and subordination."
(Mikhail Bakunin, Dieu et l'état, 1882)
What the anarchist does not accept is the imposition on everybody of rules manufactured for their own convenience by a clique of arrogant and ignorant people that simply happen to be in power thanks to illusory promises, dishonest favours and corruptive bribes.
The image of anarchy as the reign of disorder and brutality is a convenient one, made up by state propagandists who depict in sensational and over-censorious terms a small number of acts of violent rebellion committed in the past by some anarchists against a few rulers and, on the basis of them, condemn the whole conception and the whole movement.
The reality is that anarchy, far from being a state of general disorder, is a very advanced process of dynamical order, brought about by individuals who have reached a high level of humanity (freedom, development, knowledge).
|"Even the theoretical anarchist, whose philosophy commits him to the idea that state or government control is an unmitigated evil, believes that with the abolition of the political state other forms of social control would operate: indeed, his opposition to governmental regulation springs from his belief that other and to him more normal modes of control would operate with abolition of the state."
(John Dewey, Experience and Education, 1938)
To be proficient in the practice of anarchy requires possessing the humility and the awareness to recognize the need for a constant apprenticeship in the art of living.
In common parlance it should be appropriate to talk of ascending towards anarchy (i.e. to an ever more accomplished order via self-rule) and descending into state tyranny (i.e. to fall under the dominance of one tyrant, of many tyrants or even of a majority acting as tyrant like in a representative democracy).
Well-Being = well-fare
In the age of statistics and state-provided services, social scientists represent the well-being of individuals through the use of figures in national accounts.
How well individuals fare is indicated, according to social scientists, by whether the numbers show a growth in the quantifiable indexes (production, employment, income, services, etc.).
The use of mathematical symbols gives an aura of unquestionable objectivity and precision to this entire exercise of collection, elaboration and presentation of data.
Unfortunately, the content and quality of the statistical indexes are not subjected to critical analysis by most social scientists, happy to repeat procedures of data manipulation that have been performed by previous scholars and are eagerly accepted in academic and political circles.
For almost all the people belonging to those circles, economic
growth is always good. It follows that the increase in the
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) becomes the overall aim that guides the socio-economic
life of everybody and the surest indicator of personal well-being.
Well-being is equated to well-fare, that is to how well one fares over time in terms of increase in production and consumption, irrespective of what is produced/consumed and how much is already produced/consumed, and assessing all of this in relation to the effective needs.
That this equation (personal well-being = material well-fare) is not at all appropriate, especially when most people in a community have already reached a fully satisfactory standard of living (level of production and consumption), had already been pointed out by John Stuart Mill with reference to England in the middle of the XIX century.
|"I cannot [therefore] regard the stationary state of capital and wealth with the unaffected aversion so generally manifested towards it by political economists of the old school."
"It is scarcely necessary to remark that a stationary condition of capital and population implies no stationary state of human improvement. There would be as much scope as ever for all kinds of mental culture, and moral and social progress; so much room for improving the Art of Living, and much more likelihood of its being improved, when minds ceased to be engrossed by the art of getting on."
(John Stuart Mill, Principles of Political Economy, 1848)
We should add that not only is the increase in the figure of the GDP no longer, in advanced economies, a sign of well-being, but it is the exact opposite: an indication of an excessive exploitation and a criminal squandering of resources, like the sickening overfeeding and overeating of obese people.
Moreover, the mechanism of the welfare state that has been set up and has spread out on the basis of a continuous increase in material production, is impoverishing the cultural and moral essence of too many human beings, trapping them in an unhealthy dependency that is the very opposite of personal well-being.
Morality = legality
In the mass society made of 'mass-men', what is acceptable behaviour is something defined by professional paid experts (jurists, psychologists, economists, etc.), voted for by professional paid lawmakers and sanctioned by professional paid magistrates.
Under statism, law-making is a big business affecting big businesses, worthy of the expenditure of big money and energy by big lobbies. It should then not come as a surprise that this huge apparatus employed for influencing, producing and implementing rules of conduct valid for everybody within a specific territory has relegated morality (i.e. the mores of the people and their long formation and deep internalization) to the basement replacing it with legality (i.e. the laws of the state and their opportunistic production and shallow acceptance).
More and more social scientists and
political commentators approve or disapprove of something
(e.g. immigration, work, trade, etc.) on the basis of whether it is legal
or illegal (i.e. controlled and sanctioned by the state) without paying
any attention to the morality or immorality of the matter. If it is legal
it is, by definition, right and good. In a world that has experienced laws
promoting slavery, racial extermination, religious discrimination, exploitation
and displacement of minorities, imperialism and warmongering, besides many
other criminal state exploits, this attitude is sickening.
The existence of laws regulating every aspect of life is considered so important by contemporary intellectuals and academics that they lobby their MPs for the introduction of this or that piece of legislation, as if moral behaviour could be built automatically and artificially on the basis of some articles of law.
If that were true, the Constitution introduced in the Soviet Union under Stalin, reputed to be one of the most advanced and progressive ever adopted, would have disposed, sooner or later, of any injustice and atrocity.
And yet, in spite of a plethora of national and international laws, injustices and atrocities not only mounted to impressive height under Stalin's Constitution, but still take place nowadays everywhere, mostly under and through the apparatus of the states and their "wondrous" laws (read, for confirmation of this fact, any report by Amnesty International).
It is only when state rulers pass a certain limit, committing
repeated crimes against humanity (genocides, mass deportations,
tortures) that many human beings realize that state legality
is not at all a replacement for human morality but it might even be its
most devious obstacle and enemy.
In any case, even in presence of the grossest immorality, some legal expert or political adviser will find an escape route or a distracting trick, justifying every depraved action with some legal cavil or hiding it behind the usual cloud of legal jargon.
|"Summum ius, summa iniuria"
"The application of the supreme law can represent the implementation of the greatest injustice."
(Cicero, De Officiis I-10-33, 44 B.C.)
Society = state
The pinnacle of the unwarranted equations is reached by the social scientists with the identification of society with the state.
The conviction of their identity is instilled at an early age in children's minds through state schooling and is stressed over and over again, during the entire course of people's lives, by every teacher, lecturer, journalist, until it becomes a forgone mental association, unquestioned and unquestionable.
This equation of identity is historically untenable because the state is a relatively quite recent entity, appearing on the scene during the last few centuries, while societies exist from time immemorial, everywhere people came into contact with each other and interacted repeatedly.
objection some social scientists reply (1) that for state they
mean any power of regulating social life, and (2) that no social organization
can exist without it. The current regulating power is the state (or the
international system of states). Every human being is part of a society
in so far as he/she is a state subject. And so, it follows according to
this reasoning, that state and society are one and the same phenomenon.
The argument holds if we accept some hidden premises leading to quite unpleasant conclusions for many fully developed human beings, such as:
- the absolute and eternal necessity of an external power of regulation (the bureaucratic state);
- the concentration of the power of regulation in one single domineering entity (the central state);
- the automatic ascription of every individual under one specific regulating power (the territorial state).
None of these premises is valid universally and unequivocally. Increasingly, they do not even represent current empirical reality.
To highlight only one fact, the existence of virtual communities in hyperspace is already smashing to pieces the presumption by the social scientists of assigning every human being to a social box and every box to a territorial state power.
|"Society is merely the name for a number of individuals connected by interaction."
(Georg Simmel, Grundfragen der Soziologie, 1917)
So, not only is the identification of the society with the state more untenable than ever, but also the identification of a human being with one (and only one) specific society and culture is improper and crumbling fast.
Nevertheless, for reasons due mainly to his ideological formation and economic dependency, almost every social scientist must keep upholding the equation society = state. Only in this way can he assuage his conscience, making himself believe that he is a decent progressive individual at the service of his fellow human beings, i.e. of society, while he is, in fact, the intellectual prisoner of the current power or, in other words, the paid servant and puppet of the state.
The shaky foundations of social theory (^)
Social scientists, especially those who are keen on repeating ideas elaborated in the past more than testing and superseding them whenever no longer suitable or found wanting, have the habit of relying almost exclusively on popularisers and second-hand sources.
The likely results of this practice are a continual simplification of past formulations up to the point of distortion or utter stultification.
Because this type of social scientist exists in very large numbers, current social theory is on very shaky foundations, and the social practice that should feed social theory is generally non-existent.
The most common blunders of popular social scientists are the following:
Social scientists, especially those who are keen on courting popularity, are strongly attracted to plausible explanations and plausible solutions.
Given the fact that the carrying out of a series of demanding or radical experiments is not current and widespread practice in the social sciences, the social scientists are most likely to fall back on past accepted theories still widely popular.
Unfortunately for them, social life presents, besides some unchanging basic aspects, also a stream of new problems that require new solutions.
Sometimes these solutions are not so easy to grasp but emerge
from what is called "counterintuitive logic," that is from ideas and practices contrary to what plausibility and common sense would indicate.
A similar approach to solving a problem can be found in the medical sciences when the protection from a virus is achieved not by totally isolating a person from it but by inoculating the individual with very small doses of the germ.
Another serious drawback of plausibilism is that some very
credible solutions advocated by the social scientists quite
often originate "unintended consequences" that compound the problem instead of solving it. This is quite evident, for instance, in most monetary aid for development which, far from promoting development, makes dependency on aid (and so non-development) even more acute and persistent.
Once introduced and accepted for a long while and by a large number of people, plausible explanations and plausible solutions are not likely to be questioned even in the face of poor or negative results. They become deeply consolidated and internalized attitudes.
To doubt them would involve recognizing that the familiar assumptions on which those explanations and solutions are based might be wrong. This would require a change of paradigm which, for most academics, is too disconcerting, laborious and painful a move to accept.
For this reason
they try, at all costs, to uphold those assumptions that, in
due course, become stereotypes (i.e. cherished frozen images and categories)
in the theoretical and practical armoury of the social scientists.
That armoury has by now become full of familiar concepts (e.g. left-right, public-private, capitalism-socialism, etc.) which, very often, have lost their scientific (i.e. cognitive) value but are, nevertheless, still used extensively and protractedly.
Naturally, wide recurrent use makes those terms even more familiar and popular and this blocks not only any questioning about their actual validity but also as to whether the attributed meaning is the same for different people, or even if they have any meaning left in depicting different realities.
|"If you use ready-made phrases, you not only don't have to hunt about for words; you also don't have to bother with the rhythms of your sentences since these phrases are generally so arranged as to be more or less euphonious."
"When one watches some tired hack on the platform mechanically repeating the familiar phrases - bestial atrocities, iron heel, bloodstained tyranny, free peoples of the world, stand shoulder to shoulder - one often has a curious feeling that one is not watching a live human being but some kind of a dummy: a feeling which suddenly becomes stronger at moments when the light catches the speaker's spectacles and turns them into blank discs which seem to have no eyes behind them."
(George Orwell, Politics and the English Language, 1946)
Simplistic representations and explanations of reality demand a simple (preferably single) cause behind most social facts.
This spares the social scientist from engaging in what is called field work but is, actually, nothing other than the carrying out of a series of observations and experiments that should be part and parcel of every serious research project.
Instead, the mechanical mind of the social scientist, similar to the infantile mind, builds up causal relations without verifying properly if we are in presence of purely recurrent correlations.
Another forgone assumption of the mechanical mind concerns the undue acceptance of one predominant cause supposed to (inevitably) determine the final outcome.
For the social scientists it would be too distressing
to envisage a multilayer open system of causes and effects
that act one on top of the other, each one becoming cause and effect in
To acknowledge the existence of such a complex reality would be tragic for the role and function of the social scientist. It would practically mean admitting that there are no simple top-down mechanical solutions that he can put forward, to be implemented by operating pulleys and levers according to detailed instructions, in order to infallibly achieve the desired result.
The common recommendation or preoccupation of the mechanical mind when confronted with any political or social problem is always to highlight the economic motive, presumed to drive, inexorably, the behaviour of all social actors.
This is like giving the classical advice "cherchez la femme" to every detective on the scene of any type of crime.
The economic explanation of social facts, which characterizes many social scientists as a conditioned reflex, is erroneously thought to be part of the Marxian way of interpreting history, but is, in fact, a gross misunderstanding of his views. For Marx, the material driving force shaping social relations in the course of history is technology and not economics or economic greed.
The interpretation and explanation of every historical
occurrence in terms of economic forces or economic calculus
reduces everything and everybody to the level of shopkeepers or calculating
It is true that the intellectual capabilities of many historical actors (politicians, generals, high bureaucrats, etc.) are not superior to that of a dull shop assistant or greedy cashier but this does not mean that their decisions are based only on strict economic calculation of gains and losses. Ideological myths, religious faiths, considerations of power and prestige, desire for adventure and fear of risks, these are more likely motivators than any economic calculus, whose data are quite often uncertain, at best, at the start of a process of decisions.
Nevertheless, the economic explanation, being the simplest
and the most understandable in a world deemed to be characterized
by scarcity up to the Industrial Revolution, is still pre-eminent
even if it doesn't fit the facts (as in the case of many political decisions
concerning wars and imperialistic adventures).
But this is a very minor inconvenience considering that fitting the facts is not a strong point of many theoretical explanations in the social sciences.
The use of dialecticism by many social scientists could appear as an antidote to mechanicism.
The fact is that the dialectic adopted is not the Socratic one of trying to reach the truth by carefully examining and debating competing positions. It is the Hegelian one of thesis-antithesis-synthesis employed in the most banal and artificial way.
In the passage from Socrates to Hegel, open and honest dialogue as a tool for seeking the truth has been replaced by closed dogmatic polarizations leading to the imposition, in the final stance, of one preconceived view.
Furthermore, dialectics has been used to convey all sorts
of pseudo-intellectual acrobatics (i.e. pure and plain nonsense).
Examples of this are the statements that competition breeds monopolies (and so competition has been restricted or even abolished and national monopolies have promptly emerged) or that the concentration of all power in the hands of the state rulers is the necessary step towards universal emancipation, implying that from total enslavement should arise full liberation.
All this has nothing to do with "counterintuitive logic." In dialectical terms it is called the negation of the negation but it should be vulgarly better qualified as the crop of the crap.
|"For us, the 'dialectical method' is either a mess of platitudes, a way of doubletalk, a pretentious obscurantism - or all three."
(Charles Wright Mills, The Marxists, 1962)
The grey world of the social scientists made up of platitudes and stereotypes is also peppered by sensationalism, generally in the form of conspiracy theories or the syndrome of the hidden agency.
Sensationalism is more the work of journalists than of academics but, from time to time, there appear essays with sensational titles (like "The End of History" or "The Clash of Civilizations") that are presented as sensational historical contributions, meant precisely to create sensations.
Furthermore, some social scientists support, openly
or implicitly, the conviction, stimulated and strengthened
by popular press and TV, that we are all dominated by almost invincible
powers far bigger than us (the big multinationals, the secret service,
etc.) doing and undoing our lives according to their plans and under the
shrouds of mystery.
Sensationalism is a way of explaining facts that relies on and leads to a miserable mixture of (self) protective and (self) justificatory attitudes. The general result of sensationalism is:
- to humble and belittle the human being, pitying or patronizing him;
- to heighten and magnify the importance of power, attributing to it incredible strength or capabilities, for good or bad.
This popular conviction is a very persistent one. It withstands unscathed clear counter-examples like the bashing and humbling of international organizations (e.g. the WTO) and multinational corporations (e.g. McDonald's) by groups of protesters and boycotters; or the falling of the Berlin wall and the dissolution of the supposedly mighty Soviet empire.
These are all historical occurrences that the sensationalist social scientists should have forecast if they were less preoccupied with confirming their preconceptions in support of current powers and more intent on observing, with a perceptive critical mind, what is actually happening around them.
The most dangerous and, nevertheless, most common bungle committed by the social scientists is that of hypostatisation, that is, to attribute materiality and personality to conceptual abstractions.
This shows how much contemporary social scientists are still influenced by tribal animism and the creed in transubstantiation, which might be acceptable or justifiable in the realm of spiritual faith but not in that of scientific inquiry, where they generate all sorts of vicious and absurd consequences
|"The worst enemy of clear thinking is the propensity to hypostatize, i.e. to ascribe substance or real existence to mental constructs or concepts."
"Hypostatization is not merely an epistemological fallacy and not only misleads the search for knowledge. In the so-called social sciences it more often than not serves definite political aspirations in claiming for the collective as such a higher dignity than for the individual or even ascribing real existence only to the collective and denying the existence of the individual, calling it a mere abstraction."
(Ludwig von Mises, The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science, 1962)
Treating mental constructs as if they were real/material entities is a fallacy that has become so entrenched and widespread in every social discourse that we do not even notice it anymore.
As a matter of fact we perpetuate and diffuse this fallacy, employing it extensively in our daily conversations because this is the way we have been taught at school from an early age. We talk about Britain, France and Italy as if they were real persons; we refer to society as if it existed above and beyond the relations between individuals; and we have created the category of the public interest as if something of that sort could be conceivable on its own, totally different or even opposed to the interest of each and everyone.
The problem does not reside in using (consciously
and appropriately) abstract concepts as generalizations of
specific empirical realities or as symbols of psychological feelings, but
in believing in the existence of mythical entities endowed with their own
personality and an autonomous will to act (the nation will intervene, the
market is greedy, the city is cruel, etc.).
|"The following is the beginning of the preamble to the French Constitution of 1848:
'France has constituted itself a Republic for the purpose of raising all the citizens to an ever-increasing degree of morality, enlightenment, and well-being.'
Thus it is France, or an abstraction, which is to raise the French to morality, well-being, etc. Is it not by yielding to this strange delusion that we are led to expect everything from an energy not our own? Is it not giving out that there is, independently of the French, a virtuous, enlightened, and rich being, who can and will bestow upon them its benefits? Is not this supposing, and certainly very gratuitously, that there are between France and the French - between the simple, abridged, and abstract denomination of all the individualities, and these individualities themselves - relations as of father to son, tutor to pupil, professor to schoolboy?"
(Frédéric Bastiat, The State, 1848)
|"We are continually confusing the label with the non-verbal object, and so giving a spurious validity to the word, as something alive and barking in its own right. When this tendency to identify expands from dogs to higher abstractions such as 'liberty,' 'justice,' 'the eternal,' and imputes living, breathing entity to them, almost nobody knows what anybody else means. If we are conscious of abstracting, well and good, we can handle these high terms as an expert tamer handles a lion. If we are not conscious of doing so, we are extremely likely to get into difficulties."
(Stuart Chase, The Tyranny of Words, 1938)
The capital myths of social doctrine (^)
The human being is a creative mythmaker, especially when he is unable to offer a rational explanation for the occurrence of a phenomenon.
This is, actually, an interesting and clever strategy because it removes uncertainties and doubts that might cause anxieties.
This strategy has been used, in the past, in the explanation of physical phenomena, by attributing to Gods or to some mysterious entities the power to generate events.
It has worked right up to the time when human beings have succeeded, through observation, experimentation and reflection, in providing more and more accurate and effective answers to a growing number of earthly occurrences.
However, there remains a cognitive area where myths, that is beliefs that have no foundation on facts, still persist and abound.
This area is the preserve of the so-called social sciences where the social scientists are either unwilling or unable to face reality and so take refuge in myths received by past generations and transmit them to future ones.
Let us examine some of the most common myths.
While preparing and consolidating the formation of the modern state, people (rulers and subjects) have produced epic sagas, that is fantastic narratives about their struggles for independence and emancipation.
To this end, facts have been embellished and objectives have been portrayed so that the establishment of every national state has appeared as an episode not only of a people's liberation (from a foreign or alien power) but also as part of the emancipation of the entire human race.
have, then, the American myth of the founding fathers of
the nation, those who wrote the Declaration of Independence (1776) stating
solemnly "all men are created equal ... with certain unalienable Rights, ... among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." At the time when these words were penned, the man who contributed most to the drafting of the Declaration, Thomas Jefferson, was the proud owner of five thousand slaves in his estate at Monticello (Virginia).
As for the freedom of speech, trade, and so on, it didn't take many years for the new Federal State to start coercing individuals and interfering with their liberties.
Already in 1798, the Congress had introduced "sedition laws" that made it a crime to speak and write against the Government, the Congress or the President.
In 1821 a Congressional Report was already advocating the introduction of tariffs to protect the industrialists; and, since then, every so often, effective trade barriers have been put in place in the mythical land of free trade.
Other practices that, to a critical eye, should have, long since, deeply undermined the cherished myth of the American Revolution are:
- the introduction, inside the country, of the "spoils system" also known as "patronage system," meaning that the representatives elected to state office feel entitled to grab and distribute to their associates and supporters relevant quotas of the resources belonging to the community;
- the assumption, towards the outside world, of an imperialistic attitude and posture, as soon as the ex-colony moved from being a political underdog to becoming a new bulldog on the world scene.
Notwithstanding these and other deeds, inconsistent with the original message, the mythology of a New World of Freedom and Happiness is, in some respects, still in the minds of many people, duly cultivated by every successive generation of Americans.
The same could be said about the myth of the French Revolution. This is heralded as the revolution that put an end to feudalism and propelled the world into the contemporary era dominated by enlightenment and rationalism.
The actual fact is that, after a few months of revolutionary struggle and moral fervour, the French Revolution became a struggle for state power between various illiberal groups in comparison with whom the absolutism of King Louis XVI can be considered as mild and ineffective paternalism.
The French Revolution, whatever the state-oriented historians might say, does not mark the passage from feudalism to the bourgeois society but the transformation of feudalism into statism, that is to a centralized and bureaucratically organized feudalism on a larger scale, under the insignia of the "despotism of liberty". With Robespierre, Saint Just and, later on, their successor Napoleon Bonaparte, people experienced not much "bourgeois" liberty but plenty of state despotism.
|"The modern radical is a Centralist, Statist and rabid Jacobin."
(Piotr Kropotkin, The State. Its historic role, 1897)
Another powerful epic myth was that of the Russian Revolution, the so-called socialist revolution that was meant to build the New Man and the New Society, overcoming any exploitation and inequality. Nothing of that sort ever started to materialize in Russia after the Revolution.
Nevertheless, adventurous journalists (like John Reed) and a cohort of armchair social scientists and hopeful social activists eagerly spread the myth of the Proletarian Revolution and of its prophets.
Needless to say, from the start, the myth was no more founded on real Marxist theory than it reflected the realities of life after the Revolution.
As for its prophets and leaders, Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin and his successors, they were much more authoritarian and effective in their murderous activities (over 60 million people killed under state communist Russia during the 1917-1987 period) that the weak Nicholas II or any previous autocrat had ever been, Ivan the Terrible included.
We could continue with other myths related to the struggles for freedom and independence that have led to the establishment of new states, and we would discover the same pattern: the struggle soon lost any idealistic afflatus for individual emancipation and became a crude fight for state power resulting in millions of deaths (for instance, between 65 and 75 million people killed under Comrade Mao in state communist China).
And yet, thanks to the writings of national historians, and other social scientists siding with the new power, it continued, in spite of all betrayals and atrocities, to be celebrated as a luminous example of the genius of a people in its quest for liberty and progress.
As part of the epos (epic myths) made up and promoted by national social scientists, national heroes have been manufactured or entire groups of people have become heroes endowed with superhuman qualities and attributed with or destined for glorious missions.
With reference to national heroes, it is appropriate to remark that they are considered so only because their side has eventually won; because of that, their violent actions have received celebration instead of reprobation. If things had turned out differently they would have been forgotten or even cursed.
In fact, the person that one side considers a martyr or a freedom fighter is likely to be seen, by the other side, as a dangerous troublemaker or even a terrorist.
During the XX century, especially under the influence of Marx, many social scientists (historians, sociologists, etc.) have been very keen on attributing the qualities of heroes to entire groups considered as homogeneous social classes (bourgeoisie, proletariat).
For example, according to Marx and Engels, a group of people called "the bourgeoisie" acted as a prodigious class which "accomplished wonders far surpassing Egyptian pyramids, Roman aqueducts, and Gothic cathedrals." (Karl Marx-Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto, 1848).
In their view, this extraordinary class would be superseded by another class, the proletariat, assigned to an even higher mission and destined for even higher accomplishments.
However, if we stick to historical facts we discover that, already in the Middle Ages, the bourgeoisie (that is the productive class living in the towns or burghs) had ceased to be such a marvellous progressive class and was mainly preoccupied with introducing restrictions to the freedom of production (e.g. limiting the opening of new workshops) and trade (e.g. controlling the access of goods from the countryside).
With reference to
the progressive role that the industrial bourgeoisie (the economically
productive class) is alleged, by many historians, to have played in the
French Revolution, it is sufficient to say that most of the members of
the Third Estate (578 in all) were either landowners holding venal offices
or people from liberal professions (of whom 180 were lawyers). Even Robespierre,
through his full name, Maximilien-François-Marie-Isidore de Robespierre,
betrays his family origin from the local gentry of Arras and with his profession
of lawyer reveals the origin of his legalistic and formalistic mentality.
These were the real actors and the real beneficiaries of the revolution, not a revolution of the bourgeoisie but of the bureaucracy led by lawyers. It was they who did climb the ladder of power of the new state as rulers and high officers, at the centre (Paris) and in the periphery (Departments).
The bourgeoisie was not even the engine of the Industrial Revolution in England, unless we include under that label people and inventors from every walk of life such as Arkwright the barber (utilization of the water-frame in the cotton industry), Watt the watchmaker (invention of the steam-engine) and a multitude of rural labourers that contributed, with their energy and creativity, to the setting up of many industries and to the implementation of many mechanical improvements.
An important role was also played by the large landowners who introduced in their estates all sorts of technical innovations and contributed, with the increase in rural production, to the Agricultural Revolution that preceded and promoted the Industrial Revolution. And, last but not least, we have the artisans and holders of small parcels of land who would constitute, in due course, the bulk of the industrialists in England.
In short, in each case we find real people from various stations in life and not much trace of a mythical group or of a mythical class.
A similar argument could be put forward concerning the proletariat, a powerful mythical invention, for the most part, of a creative mind (Marx) and of his industrialist friend (Engels).
To dismiss the concept of proletariat does not mean to cancel the existence of millions of industrial workers but only to stress the fact that, by using that concept, we accept putting under the same label individuals who came from different cultural backgrounds, had different personal experiences and were likely to follow different paths in life (e.g. remaining forever in the same working position or emerging as specialized technicians or even becoming small and large entrepreneurs).
In actual fact, many who could have been the proletariat's best representatives (if it had existed as a fixed class) soon changed their status to become scientists (Faraday), writers (D. H. Lawrence), industrialists and bankers (Carnegie), in other words anything but proletarians.
Moreover, others who remained within the range of the so-called proletariat (i.e. industrial manual workers) became more and more intent on blocking any technological improvement that might compromise their economic position (even if it might improve the conditions of many others) rather than on fulfilling their supposedly revolutionary progressive mission.
|"The American Trade Unions are more than anything else the collective expression of the particularistic interests of the skilled workers and so their crushing demanded by the industrialists has a 'progressive' aspect."
(Antonio Gramsci, Americanism and Fordism, 1929-1935)
For these reasons it is difficult to accept, as a valid cognitive tool, the belief in the existence of a homogeneous class called proletariat. It is also unwise, from the point of view of the individual, to assign to any indistinct category (or class) of producers the mission of transforming society for the best (ourselves included). And finally, it is an historical blunder to confer this task to a group of people many of whom are even worried about changing their way of working for fear of losing their job or being downgraded in their profession, replaced by a machine or by more productive/progressive methods.
This blunder of colossal dimensions could also be a convenient deliberate deception, considering that most advocates of the proletariat were not themselves proletarians, but kept using the concept, which made them appear socially progressive, mainly in order to fulfil their aspirations to political power and prestige.
Invented heroes are complemented by made-up saints.
Saints are those who do no wrong, suffer deprivations and injustices not of their own making, and so their behaviour cannot be put under severe scrutiny or even criticized because this would be tantamount to cynicism or utter blasphemy. To the hearts and minds of the social scientists, who have replaced catholic and protestant priests as the new moral voice, the poor and the downtrodden have become the new saints, for whom they feel obliged to be the advocates and spokespersons.
The poor are mainly those
living in underdeveloped countries that used to be called,
generally and for simplicity's sake, the Third World.
The downtrodden are mainly those living in developed countries who did not succeed professionally and personally, are poorly educated, often out of work and living on state benefits.
The fact that the social scientists align themselves, for the most part, on the side of the weakest individuals of world societies is certainly not to be criticized, even from a scientific point of view. Science is the activity of finding and solving problems, and the existence of people living in appalling social environments or subject to harsh living conditions should certainly attract the interest and motivate the intervention of the social scientists.
But the way this is currently done is wholly unscientific.
The people of the Third World, for instance, are treated
as a homogeneous mass, without clear differentiation between
conditions and cultures, and between rulers and ruled. All of them are
assumed to have been, some time in the past, exploited and expropriated
of their resources by the First World (Europe). This is presented as the
main reason for the wealth of the North and the poverty of the South of
This picture does not allow for even a hint of critical analysis or tentative explanation of why certain populations have allowed themselves to be so easily conquered and subjected. As for the causal link between the wealth of the North and the poverty of the South, it completely overlooks the fact that some of the most prosperous peoples of Europe either never had colonies (e.g. the Swiss, the Scandinavians) or lost their colonies very soon (the Germans).
The same simplistic and biased approach is applied also to the long post-independence period when, especially in Africa, indigenous state corruption replaced exogenous state imposition.
|"It is manifestly not European domination which created poverty, technical backwardness, over-population, or habits of despotism in Asia and Africa - it is these rather which made possible European rule overseas; and it is not the departure of European rulers - after so brief a dominion - which will change the nature of these territories, transform their poverty into wealth, or suddenly create probity in judges, moderation and public spirit in statesmen, or honesty in public servants."
(Elie Kedourie, Nationalism, 1960)
A lack of critical analysis has led most social scientists, in particular economists, to advance appalling proposals for the promotion of a dynamic of development, namely external economic aid and internal state planning, as if development could ever be an externally sponsored and state concocted affair.
These nonsensical proposals of contemporary social scientists are on the same level as some idiotic views put forward by previous social scientists, namely:
- that imperialism was driven mainly, if not exclusively, by economic motives; in reality many financiers lost money in the colonies after being asked by the politicians to invest there in the name of a mythical national interest.
- that the industrial capitalists were making huge profits by exporting capital from Europe and exploiting cheap labour in the colonies; in reality practically none of them set up industries in the colonies except in the case of goods that had to be extracted locally (i.e. mining).
- that the imperialistic drive of the capitalists was aimed at finding new markets for their industrial goods; in reality the purchasing power of local people in the colonies was practically nil and so was their role as consumers of industrial products.
- that the gains obtained by a commerce based on unequal terms of exchange have been fabulous; in reality the trade between the First and the Third World was almost inexistent or very limited, and is comparatively small even nowadays.
|"In fact, the French financiers were forced to invest in Morocco much against their will, in order to prepare the way for French political control. They knew they would lose their money, and they did. But Morocco became a French protectorate."
"... there was little correspondence between the areas of capitalist investment and political annexation."
"Their [i.e. the imperialists'] measuring-stick was Power, not Profit. When they disputed over tropical African territory or scrambled for railway concessions in China, their aim was to strengthen their respective empires, not to benefit the financiers of the City. Hobson showed that Imperialism did not pay the nation. With longer experience, we can even say that it does not pay the investors."
(A. J. P. Taylor, Economic Imperialism, 1952)
|"... it would seem that nations still obey their passions far more readily than their interests. Their interests serve them, at most, as rationalizations for their passions; they put forward their interests in order to be able to give reasons for satisfying their passions."
(Sigmund Freud, Thoughts for the Times on War and Death, 1915)
But now the chickens have come home to roost because many well-fed social scientists in the so-called civilized West, in presence of a push towards economic liberalization and a consequent growth in world commerce in which the people of the Third World are beginning to take part, accuse them of economic dumping and ask for state protection and the introduction of trade barriers.
The poor are no longer saints once they start emerging from their conditions of subsidised poverty and passive expectation of a bowl of rice or a cheque from the rich or from the department of social security.
All this reveals the basically dishonest attitude of many social scientists who declare themselves advocates and supporters of the poor and downtrodden as long as they remain in their place, i.e. poor and downtrodden.
The behaviour of the social scientists towards those people
is, then, one of disgusting paternalism. It has worked so
far with devastating consequences in moral terms because, unfortunately,
it has succeeded in keeping most of the presumed "saints" in a condition of weakness, making them the perfect morons, continuously asking and waiting for help and assistance.
But things are changing, and the prospect that the "saints" might one day, very soon, emancipate themselves is a gloomy one for many economists working in the Third World, for many social workers operating in the First World and for all the social scientists who have made their fortunes lecturing and writing popular books about the poor and the downtrodden.
The social scientists, while raising some groups of people to the position of saints (the good) have also relegated others to the role of demons (the bad). The fact that we could all be good or bad in different circumstances and roles is not even taken into consideration by the mechanical and simplistic mind of the social scientists.
Given the importance that social scientists attribute to the economic factor, and given that they are, essentially, intellectuals with a national culture and a national audience, it is quite easy to guess who are the targets of their condemnations, the demons to which they impute all wrongdoing.
We could divide the pretended demons into two stereotyped categories:
- The doers. Under this category we put all the entrepreneurs/innovators, especially those who, being successful, have reached a position of considerable wealth, without political favouritism and economic protectionism. It seems to be a quasi congenital attitude of the social scientists, especially those in the teaching profession, to be envious of those who have succeeded in practical economic endeavours, showing uncommon resilience and the capability of taking risks that any person who prefers talking rather than doing would find intolerable. To these intellectuals rightly applies the sarcastic remark of Bernard Shaw "He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches." (Maxims for Revolutionists, 1903). To which we might add that the teaching imparted by those who cannot, contains, very often, a large dose of contempt or an air of superiority towards those who can. At the top of the list of doers as demons we find the multinationals. To the eyes of the national intellectuals they combine the vulgarity of their aim, economic profit, with the original sin of being foreign, that is not nationally rooted. The multinationals seem to have, in a certain respect, taken on the disparaged role that was attributed in the past to the Jews as cosmopolitan entities that do not fit in the brave world of mass societies dominated by nation states.
- The aliens. After the tragedy of the Holocaust and the establishment of the State of Israel to which many Jews repaired, it became unacceptable, at least in the West, to depict the Jews as demons. The focus moved to other categories considered aliens to so-called Western society. During the period of the Cold War the demons were the communists or the capitalists according to which state power the intellectuals were obedient to. Many intellectuals built their fortunes proclaiming their allegiance to one or other camp, until the evaporation and disappearance of the so-called communist states. More recently, intellectuals have replaced the Cold War with the Clash of Civilizations and have invented a new demon in the form of the Muslim world, packaging under the same label and attributing the same views to more than 1 billion people. This is the umpteenth example of the totally unscientific grossness and intellectual dishonesty of the social scientists in employing misleading categories.
The perpetuation of the demon-myth performs for the state the same function that it did when the Church was the supreme power: to instil fear in order to obtain submission. The foreboding words of the Church hierarchy: "Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus" [Outside the Church there is no Salvation] have become, according to the sinister preaching of the social scientists of the statist era: "Outside the State there is no Security."
The French Revolution put on its banners the motto Liberté - Egalité - Fraternité, which has been taken up, at least in principle, as guiding values of social life by most civilized people.
In the course of time and in direct relation to the ever growing access to positions of state power of new social figures such as lawyers and petty intellectuals, that motto seems to have been replaced by a new one based on the principles of Unité - Identité - Securité.
These principles have become the new dogmas of the popular intellectuals, eagerly supported and spread by popular journalists and accepted without objection by the mass-man.
Let us examine briefly the content of these new guiding dogmas.
Unity = perpetuation of the status quo = the compact herd
One of the main fears of the social scientists is the break up of national unity. Balkanization is a relatively recent word invented by historians with the aim of scaring people about an uncertain and hostile future, in which the political geography of the world is characterized by the existence of many small units. For the most ambitious of the social scientists this might represent the end of grand designs, grand plans and especially grand opportunities for employment and earning.
Unity is favoured by the social scientists also because it might require their (paid) assistance in the integration (read: manipulation) of minorities into the common stream of conventional (national) thinking and behaving.
The dogma of Unity, for which all the minorities have paid a very dear price, leads to the second dogma.
Identity = conformity to the status quo = the undifferentiated herd
As previously pointed out, the social scientists are very fond of the word "identity," which has totally replaced the term "personality." According to the Webster dictionary, the first definition of identity (1a) is: "a sameness of essential or generic character in different examples or instances." The attribution to individuals of the word identity by the social scientists reveals their conception of the human being as a purely mass phenomenon (a serial object or a statistical figure) who remains the same throughout his life, after the initial period of state school indoctrination. To change and to differentiate might result in the introduction of elements of uncertainty and risk, and this could compromise the achievement of the third dogma.
Security = protection of the status quo = the sheltered herd
For the mass morons moulded by the ideas and visions promoted by the mass social scientists, a state of security is considered of paramount importance. We are not discounting the value of relative personal security but only stressing that it should not be pursued in opposition to other values (freedom, justice, comfort, etc.). Moreover, what is puzzling, if not disturbing, in this search for security is the fact that, according to the views propagated by the political and social scientists, not only should it come from outside the control of the single individual but, incredibly, from the organization that, through wars, has done more than any other in the course of history to compromise security and destroy the lives and resources of millions of people. For those who, manipulated by the sirens of the social scientists, have not yet grasped which organization we are referring to, it is necessary to name it: the state
|"The psychic task which a person can and must set for himself, is not to feel secure, but to be able to tolerate insecurity without panic and undue fear."
"Life, in its mental and spiritual aspects, is by necessity insecure and uncertain. There is certainty only about the fact that we are born and that we shall die."
"Free man is by necessity insecure; thinking man by necessity uncertain."
(Erich Fromm, The Sane Society, 1956)
Before the consolidation of the national central state, with its eyes everywhere and its hands in every pocket, there existed a wealth of associations and friendly societies that composed what is generally known as civil society.
The state has succeeded in disbanding most of them, taking over their roles and functions. Now there is only, on one side, the atomized and homogenized individual and, on the other side, the mighty state. The equality so celebrated by contemporary social scientists is nothing other than the equal helplessness and defencelessness of every common human being in the face of the state.
This generalized condition of personal impotence is fertile ground for the breeding of all sorts of suspicions between one individual and another.
The dictum "homo homini lupus" has eventually become if not a reality at least a constant warning and preoccupation in the minds of many people in the era of statism.
The warning has been subtly articulated by the social scientists and spread, either openly or furtively, in various ways, according to their ideological inclinations. In their books and newspapers articles they generally convey to the people the following messages:
- Beware of each other but trust only the state authority
- Beware of a foreign state authority but trust only your national state authority
- Beware of some would-be national state authority (i.e. the opposition) that wants to replace the current government but trust only your legitimate national state authority (i.e. the government) or vice versa.
All this appears to be as the abominable turning upside down, by the social scientists, of a two thousand year old teaching of Christ: Who is not against us is with us. This is a rational universal principle arising out of love and acceptance of everybody.
The political and social scientists, especially those (and there are many) who abide by the defence of the so-called national interest and are suspicious of any change of position or move for the better on the part of other people, have put forward a revised version of that principle: Who is not with us is against us. This is an appalling slogan based on conformism and violence towards everybody not on our side, or anybody who is unwilling to celebrate how 'grand' (i.e. bullish) and 'good' (i.e. arrogant) we are.
The spread of suspicions about everybody's intentions that is typical of power (as opposed to the trust that emanates from personal moral authority or authoritative knowledge) is softened and made acceptable by the spread of illusions about the reality of power and of the social realm in which individuals act and interact.
The social scientists, unable to understand and represent reality in its true essence and dynamics, are equally unable to advance proposals that are other than illusory solutions.
They play the role of illusionists, repeating magic words and magic formulas that belong to the past and were intended for bygone realities.
And yet, most contemporary social scientists keep relying on those mantras without making the slightest mental effort to analyse their present meaning and ascertain their effective usability (besides benumbing the mind as propaganda).
For instance, democracy means, literally, power of the people, but the fact of being allowed, every four or five years, to decide who will be the future masters (and not succeeding even in that unless the voter is on the side of the majority) is something that no true political scientist, in full possession of his rational capabilities, should characterize as power of the people.
And certainly not in the present century, with all the technological advances that we witness and enjoy, which are putting in the hands of the individual much more power (of information, communication, movement) than any deceitful political rite.
|"The democratic doctrine is a productive source of ideology to which the mind willingly turns in order to give a veil of tolerance and apparent consentaneity to the harshest institutions of state coercion, which derives from the will to power of the strong over the masses."
(Enrico Leone, Theory of Politics. 1931)
|"All voting is a sort of gaming, like checkers or backgammon, with a slight moral tinge to it, a playing with right and wrong, with moral questions; and betting naturally accompanies it. The character of the voters is not staked. I cast my vote, perchance, as I think right; but I am not vitally concerned that that right should prevail. I am willing to leave it to the majority. Its obligation, therefore, never exceeds that of expediency. Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority."
(Henry David Thoreau, On the Duty of Civil Disobedience, 1849)
In order to justify the holding of this illusion, many social scientists and, following on from them, many ordinary people, repeat the famous statement of Winston Churchill: "It has been said that Democracy is the worst form of government except all those others that have been tried from time to time." (Speech in the House of Commons, November 1947) Unfortunately, Churchill didn't add "so far"; by doing so, he would have spared us a lot of idiotic myths about democracy.
However, if the social scientists had examined the statement carefully, they would have noticed that, what Churchill's statement says is that democracy is
a. only one of the many forms of government so far invented
b. a bad form of government
c. acceptable just because the other forms current during his lifetime were even worse.
So, to hear the social scientists reiterating the same maxim after more than 50 years after it was originally formulated should be a matter of deep concern for all creative and progressive individuals.
In fact, it means that in the past people were clever enough to introduce improved forms of social organization but now we are totally incapable or incapacitated from doing so because, according to our present democratic rulers and their intellectual servants, we have reached, with democracy, the pinnacle of achievement.
This is not only a very preposterous idea but also a very depressing one, considering the gross shortcomings of representative democracy.
With reference to other illusory realities like capitalism
and the free market, any honest social scientists should
have remarked long ago that, even in the heyday of so-called industrial
capitalism, the free market was more an ideal than a reality. The ideal
was eventually crushed and production and trade fell under the control
of the state.
To keep branding "capitalism" and "free market" an economic system so extensively directed (i.e. distorted and messed up) by the state is not only ludicrous but intellectually disgraceful because it spreads illusion and confusion under the cloak of authoritative discourse.
If by capitalism the social scientists intend to refer to an economic system where people strive to make money by producing and trading, this is something that has always existed, long before the word capitalism was invented.
This would be a very idiotic use of the term "capitalism" and should bring scorn on any social scientist that would use it in such a stupid way.
However, most social scientists are famous for using words with ambiguous or intentionally obfuscated meaning in order to make people believe in a certain reality characterized by certain features that, on closer examination, are only manufactured illusions.
|"The words democracy, socialism, freedom, patriotic, realistic, justice, have each of them several different meanings which cannot be reconciled with one another."
"Words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way."
"Other words used in variable meanings, in most cases more or less dishonestly, are: class, totalitarian, science, progressive, reactionary, bourgeois, equality."
(George Orwell, Politics and the English Language, 1946)
One of the biggest illusions manufactured by the social scientists is related to the use of funds compulsorily collected by the state through taxation.
The social scientists have spread the myth that paying taxes is a moral due through which we contribute to the advancement of the general well-being. This is, by the way, a very convenient myth for many of them because, out of taxation they get their salary.
In actual fact, historically, taxation was introduced in order to pay for wars. The receipt of funds from the public proved to be such a good move for the political rulers that taxes have remained even in time of peace and now they are used for feeding a large bureaucracy, supporting and silencing a large "lumpenproletariat" (the recipients of state welfare) and buying the favours of large chunks of public opinion through the allocation of funds. All this, as well as still financing wars, even if they are now called interventions for the spreading of democracy.
In short, the resources raised through compulsory taxation
are generally used for repressive, parasitic or manipulative
purposes inside and outside the country.
And taxation needs to be compulsory not because, otherwise, people would not contribute to the common good (they do it extensively through all sorts of charitable organizations and events); but because no one, in his right mind, would give money to an institution like the state with such an appalling record for squandering resources or for using them in such destructive ways.
In general, the illusions concocted by the social scientists relate, directly or indirectly, to the role and function of the state. The main objective of too many social scientists is either to embellish the role of the state and to protect the institution from criticism, inventing all sorts of justifications and scapegoats.
That is why all the myths previously highlighted converge and lead straight to the super-myth of every popular social discourse: the myth of the state.
The super myth of the social present: the state (^)
The social scientists, be they of the so-called conservative or so-called progressive type, are all united by a common super-myth: the myth of the state.
The state is assumed by (almost) all social scientists to be the indispensable/irreplaceable engine of all social life.
In fact, contemporary social scientists assign to the state an even bigger role than the one attributed to it in the past by the idealistic philosophers with their conception of the ethical state.
For the social scientists the state is not only the grumpy Big Brother (the rude but ever necessary protector and provider of discipline and security) but also the succouring Mother, the benevolent Father, the counselling Uncle, the inspiring Aunt, the forgiving Priest.
In other words, consciously or unconsciously, willingly or unwillingly, the state has become for the social scientists what the Church once was for its flock of believers: the earthly representative of Almighty God.
In the mythology of the social scientists the state is:
- Benevolent (the state rulers are better).
The state will not and cannot do harm to its subjects. May be a government fails and brings occasional distress to some people but the state, as the form in which the supreme general will is represented, is seen as an entity which is intrinsically good and right and inclined to act rightly for the good of its people.
- Provident (the state rulers do better).
The benevolent state, like a considerate shepherd, looks after the needs of its flock, which otherwise would be left to the inclemency of the weather (physical nature) or to the brutality of the people (human nature). In the mythical world built by some social scientists no proper social life existed before the state came to regulate it. In earlier times it was just "bellum omnium contra omnes" (the war of everybody against everybody else). But then the state appeared and it was peace on earth, or so the myth goes. A myth so powerfully held and propagated that the mythmakers can even admit the existence of exceptions (nasty states and world wars) without questioning at all the general validity of it.
- Omniscient (the state rulers know better).
In order to be fully benevolent and all-provident the state not only has to be in command of a wealth of resources, but also has to be endowed with omniscience to achieve the appropriate satisfaction of every person's every need. Nothing less will do. Believing in the omniscience of the state, social scientists assign to professionals within the state (that is to themselves) very important and powerful positions such as planning and development economists, social administrators, psychological counsellors, legal experts and so on and so forth. Unfortunately, the basic unpredictability and intractability of the human beast compromises, so they say, many of their efforts and designs. For this reason, the social scientist should not be considered responsible for what happens or does not happen in any project. Unsuccessful results are to be swept under the carpet or are presented as temporary difficulties to be dealt with through the injection of more funds and more social scientists engaged for ever bigger and more resolute interventions.
In brief, according to the super-myth fabricated by the state social servants, we should accept, without doubts or questions, a series of assumptions, each one more absurd than the other:
- that individuals are selfish but politicians are selfless;
- that state rulers and their associates act not in their own interest but for the highest interests of the highest number;
- that state professionals are magically endowed with superior knowledge and a superior capacity for taking the best decisions for the majority if not for all;
- that the common person is unable to look after his own real interests except once in every so many years when he is summoned to the poll to elect his new masters.
|"I am told that it is for my good that I am governed; now, since I give my money in order to be governed, it follows that it is for my good that I give my money, and this is possible, but it deserves, at least, to be verified.
Moreover, by the way, considering that no one can be more familiar than myself with the means to make myself happy, I find that it is strange, incomprehensible, unnatural, un-human, to dedicate oneself to the happiness of people one doesn't even know; and I declare that I have not the honour of being known by the people who govern me.
It is then right to say, from my point of view, that they are really very kind, and, frankly, a bit indiscreet, to take the trouble to look after my happiness, especially when it is by no means proved that I am not capable of pursuing and achieving it by myself."
(Anselme Belleguarrigue, 1848)
Certainly, not every social scientist joined in the formation of the super-myth. The fact remains that the (false) conviction that without the state there would be only disorder and misery exists in too many minds and it is very likely that it has been originated and spread by people (historians, journalists, political scientists, teachers, etc.) in a position of power and authority. Otherwise, we should start believing in the existence of mysterious inner voices responsible for shaping the ideas of individuals and the fate of peoples.
Without straitjackets and beyond superstitions (^)
The social scientists, for the most part at the service of the state and acting as the priests of a state religion (statism), have ossified and permeated the life of individuals and their social relations with all sorts of straitjackets and superstitions. In order to make these acceptable they have been coated with progressive words and compassionate visions.
|"... while society is getting impatient to win Freedom, the famous men who put themselves at its head, imbued with the principles of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, think only of subjecting mankind to the philanthropic despotism of their own social inventions. They desire to make mankind docilely bear, in Rousseau's phrase, the yoke of public happiness, such as they have imagined it."
(Frédéric Bastiat, The Law, 1850)
The state rulers, supported by the propaganda and the interventions of the social scientists, have set up what can be called a heinous system of Philanthropic Despotism, made up of three interconnected components:
- Mischievous pietism. The state rulers, with the help of the social scientists, have presented to a gullible audience a huge fresco of human viciousness and helplessness resulting from the basic weaknesses of human nature. Once this portrayal of reality is accepted, the social scientists, in association with state rulers, introduce themselves as the benign and progressive exception, capable of merciful compassion coupled with the necessary sternness. The supine acceptance of this belittling of human nature, rescued only by the benevolent and provident state, has resulted in the generally favourable reception, promoted and applauded by social scientists, of the welfare state.
- Corruptive paternalism. The state rulers have destroyed or absorbed all self-help associations and friendly societies formed by individuals and communities in the course of history and in their place have put, in a monopolistic position, the welfare state. The by now evident aim of the welfare state is not to help people to become independent, but to instil in them a sense of allegiance and to establish a condition of permanent subordination towards the state. In fact the so-called social security is the surest path to personal psychological insecurity and continuous dependency through loss of self-esteem and the capability for self-help.
- Murderous perfectism. For those who do not want the imposed aid and guidance of the state, that is for the so-called unruly elements (free thinkers, anarchists, cosmopolitans, eccentrics, self-reliant human beings, etc.) the state rulers (especially the "progressive" ones so much praised by "progressive" social scientists) have all sorts of ready made solutions in the form of prisons, brain conditioning, mental hospitals, concentration camps, labour camps, expulsion, ethnic cleansing right up to mass extermination. Certainly these are not the names given to those practices because it would be highly inconvenient and inappropriate. Moreover, the emphasis is put only on the proclaimed aim, that is the perfection of a crooked humanity on the road to a shining future, and not on the means that are 'unfortunately' necessary, in so many cases, for such a noble mission.
|"In our time political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible." "Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenceless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification. Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers. People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: this is called elimination of unreliable elements."
(George Orwell, Politics and the English Language, 1946)
|"Make the war more peaceful."
Statement made on 20th March 2003 by George W. Bush, the 43rd president of the USA, a graduate of Yale University (bachelor's degree in history) and the recipient of a Master in Business Administration from Harvard Business School.
"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we.
Given this appalling situation, exiting the obscurantism (straitjackets) imposed by the state and overcoming the nonsense (superstitions) spread by the social scientists is the necessary pre-condition for the furtherance of what are the essential aspects of human life: freedom, development, knowledge. To do so we need to re-examine, without the distorted lenses of statism used by state compliant social scientists, the meaning of those very concepts of freedom, development, knowledge, and their reality, beyond and without the existence of state bullies and state servants.
 Spinoza, Ethics, Dover Publications, New York, 1955
 Karl Marx, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844
 Frédéric Bastiat, The State, 1848
 Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto, Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1967
 Henry David Thoreau, On The Duty of Civil Disobedience
 Anselme Belleguarrigue, Manifeste de l'Anarchie
 Frédéric Bastiat, La loi, 1850
 Mikhail Bakunin, Dieu et l'état
see extract about "authority" at:
 Oscar Wilde, The Soul of Man under Socialism
 Piotr Kropotkin, The State. Its historic role
 Bernard Shaw, Maxims for Revolutionists
 Sigmund Freud, Thoughts for the Times on War and Death
 Georg Simmel, Grundfragen der Soziologie, in  Kurt H. Wolff, editor, The Sociology of Georg Simmel, The Free Press, New York, 1969
 Enrico Leone, Teoria della politica
 José Ortega Y Gasset, La Rebelión de las Masas, Espasa-Calpe, Madrid, 1969
 John Dewey, Experience and Education, Britannica Great Books
 Stuart Chase, The Tyranny of Words, Harcourt, Brace and World Inc., New York, 1938
 Bertrand Russell, An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish, included later in  Unpopular Essays, Routledge, London, 1984
 Arthur Koestler, The Yogi and the Commissar, Jonathan Cape, London, 1964
 George Orwell, Politics and the English Language, in Inside the Whale and Other Essays, Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1962
 A. J. P. Taylor, Economic Imperialism
 Erich Fromm, The Sane Society, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1968
 Charles Wright Mills, The Marxists, Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1971
 Ludwig von Mises, The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science, 1962
see at: http://mises.org/library/ultimate-foundation-economic-science
 Scuola di Barbiana, Lettera a una Professoressa, Libreria Editrice Fiorentina, Firenze, 1967
 Data about state democide from Prof. Rudy Rummel
[n.d.] Tom Paxton, What did you learn in school today?