There Is No Alternative

For millennia, probably ever since the Agricultural Revolution, people have been complaining about one another’s pursuit of wealth and worldly success. All right, all right, grinding the faces of the poor for the sake of gold-plated bathtubs is indeed horrible, but wait a moment. Do we ever wax moralistic about a lamb’s wanting to eat grass, or condemn a lioness for chasing down gazelles? No, we are content to accept the “nature” (feeding and reproduction) of all species other than our own.

The difference appears to be threefold. One, we expect more from human beings than the pursuit of food and sex. Which is wishful thinking. Two, the animals do not have our so very complicated forms of feeding themselves and accumulating for the future. At any rate neither the grazers nor the predatory mammals can store more than they can eat at the moment, and enslaving others of their kind to gather their food is quite beyond them. Although it may not be quite true to say that predators never kill more than they can eat; perhaps the fox in the hen-house agrees with human plutocrats that “who dies with the most, wins”.

Three, once we invent a critique of extraction above and beyond one’s own needs, there is nothing to prevent us applying this further and further down the scale, until at the last we arrive at the equation of sinful materialism with someone else’s money. It would be amusing to watch someone try to translate that into Rabbit. “I support myself on this meadow here; but browsing that meadow there is Materialism”.

I would like to graze that patch or eat that prey myself rather than watch you do it. That we humans can express this desire as an abstract principle, the mere vocalisation of which gets us immediate self-esteem and perhaps even the esteem of others, is no doubt a side-effect of the big brains we evolved in order to screw one another over.

If this sounds like something Ayn Rand might say, well, I am wondering whether she actually had the right of it in purely descriptive terms: whether the language of redistribution does in fact boil down to “Thanks for catching that, now let me eat it instead”. The main difference between Rand and myself would then be the way in which she failed to take the final step between her ethic of selfishness and outright Gnostic misanthropy. She squared the circle by means of her aristocratic sense of being a superior variety of human. Myself, I would keep her sense of anti-materialistic dogmas applying only to the other guy’s nutrition while rejecting her megalomania.

Posted on October 8, 2010 at 17:01 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: MONKEY BUSINESS, Robber Bands Great And Small

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