The issues in this section are not exclusively those of Communist, socialist and capitalist "systems," but are inherent in all government control of economics. For when it was said "We are all socialists nowadays" as if it were a modern trend, the statement overlooked that we have been socialists since Sumer or since the first tribal sharing of well being or adversity. However, the economic aspects of social organization become increasingly important, since, with the control of war, and the extension of law and order, the population and cultural selections which operated on biological grounds operate increasingly through economics. Economics is a persisting expression of the reality principle, to which both individuals and nations still have to adjust.
Economic law is thus a branch of natural law; but, as asserted earlier, economics is still definitely an immature branch of natural science, the predictive and insightful development of which will come only when it is recognized as the "exchange behavior" branch of general social psychology. However, the fact that economic mechanisms have been important in shaping culture, and are closely bound to cultural and even spiritual values well outside what is usually thought of as economics has been recognized by imaginative thinkers down the ages: Aristotle, Fei-Tzu, More, Bacon, Adam Smith, Mill and Marx. For it deals with what are essentially energy exchanges in individual and group psycho-dynamics and is thus at the heart of those problems of group viability with which morality is concerned.
The new issues to be examined concern primarily (a) the motivating effects of economics as they affect the values of the individual and the cultural vigor of the group, and (b) the genetic causes and effects of economic behavior. Our treatment of the latter will be more extended, but only for the reason that it is completely neglected by economic theory and practical economic politics. The behaviors which bear on these issues are those of wage-determination, the use of capital, taxation, inheritance of property, unemployment and medical insurance, and the regulation of business enterprise and worker migration. At the risk of some awkwardness in cutting across organic connections we have to deal with general questions of values in economic organization in this chapter and with the actual machinery of social action in the opening of Chapter 8.
Let us consider first the arguments of capitalism on our "right" and Communism on our "left".
The former claims that free-enterprise (a) produces a better natural adaptation of supply to demand; (b) produces stronger motivation, especially in the managerial group on whose resourcefulness the economy disproportionately depends, and (c) ensures greater individual liberty, politically and culturally, because a man with money of his own is more free to disagree with officialdom. In a fully state-controlled economy the dissident is free only to starve.
The latter claims that (a) the government elite knows better than the average man, brainwashed by advertising, what goods and services should be supported (the scientist or cultural leader in England or America has to admit that Communism does not allow prize fighters, movie stars, or banjo-twangers to take such a fantastic bite from the public purse; to limelight at the expense of more serious enterprises; or to take higher status in public valuation); (b) that the motivation of competitive gain may produce excessive concern with material production, at the cost of a well-rounded cultural development of the individual, and that (c) the inheritance of private wealth is an injustice, in that it has no relation to the inheriting individual's contribution to society.
To define some boundary conditions for comments on the above let us recognize that (a) by the practical nature of things only a city or national government, and not private enterprise, can build side-walks, organize sewage systems or guide national defense; (b) certain final integrations among industrial enterprises, e.g., the avoidance of monopolistic powers by either management or workers, have to be carried out by and for the group as a whole, by its appointed government; (c) that the old socialist slogan, of Jaures and others, "To each according to his needs; from each according to his capacities" is nonsense, since "needs" are boundless. It has, indeed, been abandoned in Communist countries, where the wage differential according to demonstrated "capacities" is almost as great as elsewhere. However, there remains in most socialism a relative leaning toward "leveling," up and down; (d) that there is evidence of a strong innate need in man to possess what he possesses. This last conclusion can be supported by the experimental dynamic calculus on the one hand, and by the ethological observations, such as those of Ardrey in The Territorial Imperative, where the possession of land, wife or husband, and much else, is shown to be an instinctual condition of security. Since we have argued, in the "masochistic reserve" and "cultural pressure" principles above that some persistent frustrations may issue in greater creativity, the fact that man is happier with rights to possession is not a final argument for it. One can see in Russia, for example, some drive springing from the restless unease of non-possession. If a research outcome may be guessed, however, it would be that both personal creativity and social evolution will prove to be aided by the independence and growth of individuality and enterprise which a right to individual possessions confers.
Several of the values to which a disciplined capitalism now moves intuitively, (in contrast to the greater "rationalistic" arguments in Communism) can actually draw good support from psychological or genetic understandings. It was the habit of Wells, and other "rationalists" of his generation to say that the "capitalist system" was a misleading expression because it is actually a muddle! With more experience nowadays, of the still greater dislocation which attempted government planning can produce, we realize that the apparent confusion of private enterprise hides a more efficient natural selection, eliminating faulty businesses, than prevails in civil service organizations (which, as Parkinson, 1957, points out, are apt to judge their success by their growth in expending public money). The same picture of "confusion" as in capitalism is created by a thousand persons at a busy city crossing; but they may all be efficiently going their self-directed, group-determined ways.
The cultural value of private enterprise and wage differentials in (a) quickly adjusting production to felt needs, (b) rewarding stronger motivation in the majority of areas, and (c) separating livelihood from areas of political interference, are too well discussed elsewhere (see Friedman, 1968; Hayek, 1945, and others) to need comment here. But, again, it is the genetic implications that have been missed or avoided in most sociological discussions, so a brief setting out of the following implications is desirable:
(a) That saving, in the hope of passing on to one's children, is something that would be group-advantageous if spread to all members, rather than cut down. Leaving this task to be done by authority of the government does not amount to the same thing, since it destroys natural selection in favor of the more foresighted, and does not put the initiative in the hands of a large group of more prudent individuals. (Furthermore, governments save only as much as the average man will tolerate.)
(b) That, nevertheless, since correlation of genetic qualities, such as intelligence, in families is already getting low (0.25) by the grandchild generation, the indefinite handing on of wealth should not occur. (Note, however, that due to the assortive mating, the drop off in desirable qualities from the most gifted generation of a family must not be assumed to be as steep as in the classical model of random mating.) Indeed, through gifted families marrying gifted families, decline may be so slow that inheritance of manageable property may continue to place it in highly capable hands for about three or four generations (vide the Rockefellers, the Fords, and the Krupps). While criticizing the unlimited inheritance principle regarding individuals it is important to recognize that it applies just as strongly to institutions, which have little or no parallel biological inheritance to justify retaining capital. What is more pointless and wasteful than money tied up for centuries in institutions and foundations, e.g., for breeding dray-horses in an age of automobiles, for saying prayers for the long departed, for training children in home weaving, generations or centuries after the appropriateness has gone? In England, according to Darlington (1969, page 517), "The educational system has remained stunted, not by poverty, but by the wealth of its medieval and Catholic foundations." (See also Cattell, 1933a.) The Communist and socialist need to be reminded that in giving the property of the people to the party they are doing just the same for a soon-obsolete doctrinaire position, in a gigantic and irreparable fashion. Every family, institution, business and government needs (in some fashion to be devised by social science) to be periodically dispossessed of its capital — at least of an appreciable fraction — to see if the needs of society, and the service capacities of the institution, still justify the endowments.
(c) That there exists in differentials of earnings, if related to differences of magnitude of service to the community, a ready-made eugenic mechanism — assuming family planning properly keeps birth rates proportional to means. Acting across the full range of the community from the well-organized genius to the enemployable, this offers the most humane and flexible of practicable individual-difference natural selections. To abolish or powerfully reduce income differentials operating in these conditions is to throw away a vitally important human service of economics.
Here, as elsewhere, if we allow reduction of selection differentials within groups it will throw excessive weight on the more risky mechanisms of between-group selection. The democratic objection to government by a Communist or fascist elite has been well stated by Thomas Huxley: "It is better to go wrong in freedom, than to go right in chains." However, in the economic field, as in others, the only thing that competitively established differences are unquestionably better for is natural selection. The freely and foolishly advertisement-directed spending of democracies which we contrasted above with more government-controlled expenditure of the common "surplus" in Communism has at least the value that (with birth control and the absence of eugenically uncontrolled welfare expenditure) it offers powerful within-group selection. As to between-group selection a stupid people controlled by a wise elite would outlive an averagely intelligent democracy, and, assuming the former actually to be only one-tenth elite, this would be an overall genetic loss.
Reverting from genetic to cultural effects, which can, of course, be different in direction, one may surely note that the "removal of poverty" by forcible redistribution, by taxation — if the gross national product remains constant — is actually a spreading of poverty too thinly to be much noticed. Also one notes that the provision of full employment commonly reduces the output per worker because it involves employing the less efficient (in intelligence, regularity of appearance on the job, mistake-proneness, etc.). These losses are acceptable in terms of maintaining community morale and the individual's self-respect; but they are nevertheless chalked up somewhere in the bill of group survival, and at times of natural or military catastrophe, might reach the level of being decisive for the end of the culture.
Back to Table of Contents