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Happiness instead of capital and spirituality

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Model of an Optimal State

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Introduction for the american readers

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness”

The Declaration of Independence

The above-mentioned requirement of the United States Declaration of Independence is the basis for the development of modern civilization. Indeed, the happiness of people, the main components of which are life, freedom and safety, is the purpose of the existence of this civilization. As a result, the United States, both at the beginning of its history and now, embodies, in an overall balance of advantages and disadvantages, the best way of life on this Earth. Essentially the same goals, although in different wording (only without a reference to the Creator), were taken as the basis of the Marxist-Leninist ideology. However, unfortunately, the “principles and forms of organization of power” both in the United States and even more so in the countries that have tried to put Marxism-Leninism into practice, provide the required life, freedom and safety, and ultimately happiness quite incompletely. It is hindered by bringing to the fore not the very goals of the State’s existence, but certain specific mechanisms for achieving these goals. Instead of happiness, many leading politicians proclaim capital and spirituality as the foundation of the State. Capital and spiritually are used in that capacity in all countries; however, in the democratic states, capital is given the priority, whereas in the authoritarian countries, it’s spirituality that reigns supreme.

The concept of capital is not identical to property. The property can be used to meet personal needs or to carry out business activities. Capital is associated only with entrepreneurship, and it is actually the foundation of the modern economy. However, in the public consciousness, these two concepts are usually confused, which is used to present capital to the people under the guise of property. Therefore, to give priority to the concept of ownership is unacceptable. In addition, Marx criticized the use of capital under the nineteenth century conditions. Much in his reasoning on this issue has failed by the twenty-first century. But the main thing remains true – capital meets the needs of its owners, but it is not aimed at satisfying the interests of the rest of society. Although, without being aimed at this, it indirectly ensures these interests, and that is why the capitalist system functions. But it does not always meet those interests and by far not all of them, which is why a need to replace capitalism with another, better system has emerged.

Spirituality in the early stages of human development was the only mechanism of inducing people to behave properly. In order for it to be embraced, people were told that it had been given by the Creator or some other higher power. Some components of spirituality, including those mentioned above in the Declaration of Independence, are now perceived by people as self-evident truths. Regarding some other components of spirituality, certain people have doubts whether they really come from the Creator or from people who have taken the right to speak on behalf of the Creator. Later, as human consciousness evolved, people gained the ability to separate one from the other and to determine the acceptability of a particular way of life in society based not on references to the Creator, but on reasonable arguments. Nevertheless, spirituality continues to be introduced into people’s consciousness by irrational methods. In different societies it has different content, in some ways really necessary and in some ways harmful, but irrationality does not allow us to separate in its content the necessary parts from unnecessary or even harmful ones.

On the basis of the above-mentioned, the institutions of capital and spirituality should be subjected to critical analysis and, if possible, replaced by other mechanisms that allow to make people happy directly and therefore more fully, at any rate, without causing harm. This is what this book is about.

The considerations presented in the book are largely based on my, mostly published, proposals for “perestroika” of the former USSR – “perestroika” in a direction diametrically opposite to what M. S. Gorbachev and his comrades did, which led to the replacement, in the successor states to the USSR, of the Party bureaucracy power by the domination of outright criminal world. I have assumed and still assume that the October Revolution in Russia, along with the well-known negative consequences, has contributed many useful aspects to the world development, which should be restored. Including the use of certain socialist model elements in the U.S., which now finds itself in a situation of deep internal rift. To bridge it, abandoning the bugaboo terms is necessary, whether it is “socialism” or, conversely, “racism”. It is necessary to approach all the issues in a purely pragmatic way. That is what I am trying to suggest.

In this book I also drew from my experience in the last period of my life in the State of Israel. I am a Jew, and I am proud of it. Being a Jew by nationality, I am certainly not a Judaist by faith. I do not know what Higher Power rules this world. However, I do know that this world deserves a better fate, and I try to the best of my power to contribute towards it, but my power is running out. That is why this book does not include everything that I would have written in my prime. Please forgive me for that. But I hope that this compact presentation of my conceptual idea will be useful for politicians and ordinary citizens who vest power in politicians.

I have written this book in Russian, the only language I know. The Russian-language edition was published in Russia. This English-language edition includes some changes and additions that take into account the situation in the United States, a nation that continues to be a beacon for the whole world. First of all, I try to show that individualism, which includes individual freedom and individual initiative and which has been the main difference between the United States and the rest of the world since its founding, can be implemented not only on a purely capitalist basis. It can be implemented even more effectively, on a socialist basis. Certainly not the socialism, with implementation of which all of us are familiar, but a different model that takes into account the past mistakes.

The need for profound changes becomes even clearer when assessing the dramatic elections in the United States in 2020. The main conclusion is that the country is split into two radically different political camps, neither of which has a clear majority. This significantly worsens the country’s overall situation and the effectiveness of the state. In order to unite the U.S., both parties need to be consistent in their policies and, while emphasizing the differences, recognize some of what their opponents stand for as useful.

The Democrats have completely failed to take into account the changes in the World situation and in the minds of the masses, which I called the Trumpification of the World in my Facebook post after the election of Donald Trump (see appendix 3). The aggressive behavior of Trump supporters to the point of taking over the Capitol is outrageous in itself, but it is a reflection of real problems in American, and not only American, society that the Democrats have not sufficiently considered. They could have put in the center of their fight against the systemic racism against African Americans the real issues – taking care of their social needs, especially with regard to health care, and employment (basically supporting the Trump administration’s efforts towards providing them with jobs). It has been shown that resolving these issues helps to take the specific African Americans out of the criminal environment and make them an integral part of American society. Instead, however, the Democrats first emphasized their sympathy for criminals (albeit black) who died as a result of resisting the police (even if the police officers used excessive force): even the main campaign convention began with mourning for George Floyd. It was only after a while that the riots and pogroms by the “mourners” were condemned. One of the Trumpification consequences, however, was a shift in public consciousness toward harsher treatment of criminals, as a result of which many of the Democratic Party’s voters turned away from it, and America’s going generally blue, that had been expected, never happened. On the other hand, instead of explaining to the voters that the ideology of socialism itself, as opposed to its practical embodiment, has much to offer, George Biden responded to Trump’s shouting about Democrats’ socialism by denying any connection to socialism of his justified calls for providing the citizens with guaranteed social benefits and even managed in the second debate with Trump to deny his own vice-presidential candidate’s remarks. Such a blurring of their proper positions led indeed to the fact that the support of Democrats was not at all what they had hoped for.

For their part, Republicans, whose ideology is based on individualism, should also neither dismiss the possibility of individualism dominating also within the socialist socio-economic model, nor use the word “socialism” as a swear word, but look closely at its possibilities. And above all, in the name of the firm implementation of the principle of individualism, we must refuse to impose on people who do not wish to follow religious guidelines to obey these guidelines, in the matter of abortions and on other issues. Bearing in mind that the desire to get rid of the religious hegemony that prevailed in the Old World was one of the main reasons for establishing the New World.

Such a correction of party positions would lead to the restoration of the unity of American society on the basis of a new consensus on a number of crucial ideological issues, and the differences between the parties would be defined already within the framework of this new consensus. If this is accomplished, the United States will strengthen its shaken position as the flagship of the entire civilized world and provide the world with a new impetus. This book may clarify what such impetus will be.

Ashkelon, Israel, January 2021

What’s to blame and what to do about it?

Sad music wails,

I am not deluded,

When mediocrity prevails,

Fascist rule is not excluded.

(I. Guberman)

In establishing what is wrong with the world, the country, the city, the business, the family, it is customary to begin with identifying who is to blame for the trouble and shortcomings, and based on this seek what should be done to correct the situation. This postulate also underlies the famous thesis of the “Communist Manifesto” stating that the entire history of mankind has been a history of class struggle. Others spoke of a struggle for the triumph of God or race, but as a rule the first step was proclaiming the annihilation of the enemy. In reality, it is not primarily the individuals and their associations, which only represent the existing systems, that need to be targeted. We must first of all look for the wrongs of these very systems and suggest the ways to fix them. This is what we will talk about.

French President Emmanuel Macron said that democracy is out of fashion and capitalism has gone mad, so we have to look for new solutions. This has been clear for a long time. Such as the incompetence of the electorate and the electoral processes being prone to manipulation, as well as the capitalism’s inability to solve in principle the basic social problems of modern society. The fact that it had been publicly said by one of the world leaders was the only new thing about it. Thereafter, the truth of this statement was confirmed by events in the world in the context of the coronavirus epidemic.

This evidently leads to the need for a fundamentally new solution to the world’s problems. I have already proposed such a solution in the form of a specific system. Now, in light of the new reality, this system should be made even more consistent and explicit.

The system I propose did not emerge out of nowhere. Marx has already predicted the collapse of bourgeois democracy and suggested an alternative – the dictatorship of the proletariat. But the practical attempt to implement such an alternative has fallen short from the very beginning, as free-market apologist Ayn Rand convincingly demonstrated in her first novel, We the Living. After Trotsky, as described in G. Grigorov memoirs Turns of Fate and Despotism, refused to lead the coup suggested to him by the military leader Muralov and others, the transformation of the USSR into a near-Hitlerian, and after Stalin into a “moderate-fascist” version of the Russian Empire has begun. And further on, the rule of Stalin and his successors clearly demonstrated the ineffectiveness, degenerating into inhumanity, of real socialism. But the resulting, in the words of former U.S. Ambassador to the U.S.S.R. G. Kennan, “hysterical manifestation of anti-communism” was “due to the failure to distinguish between the undoubtedly progressive social doctrine, on the one hand, and the alien to us political machine that abused and appropriated the slogans of socialism, on the other”. The senselessness of the indiscriminate denial of socialism was confirmed by practice: the kind of capitalism that Ayn Rand campaigned for in her book Atlas Shrugged has also failed and threatens the very existence of the civilization. This is what the Rothschild clan’s ex-French president had to admit, and which was shown by the destruction of the world economy in the context of the coronavirus epidemic – in such a way that this destruction made people’s lives worse considerably more than the epidemic itself. But it would also be wrong to explain the failure of “real socialism”, in legal terms, by the excessive act of an accomplice only. There were great many such accomplices, none of whom had a satisfactory result. Therefore, it is necessary to acknowledge the existence of deep-seated defects not only in the capitalist system, but also in the socialist system. So it became necessary to develop a new system that would combine the advantages of capitalism and socialism and discard their defects. Such a system could be called SOCIAL INDIVIDUALISM (for more details, see my book in Russian Social Individualism – Moscow, LitRes, 2018).

The need to develop specifically such a system was understood even on the eve of World War II by the great Robert A. Heinlein. In his visionary novel “For Us the Living”, he formulated the basic premise of the American Constitution of 2028 that he conceived: “No law shall forbid the performance of any act, which does not damage the physical or economic welfare of any other person. No act shall constitute a violation of a law valid under this provision unless there is such damage, or immediate present danger of such damage resulting from that act.”

First of all, this means that the state will not impose any morality on its citizens. Neither religious postulates, nor the “moral code of the builders of communism”. Such a state would not engage in the education of its citizens at all. It would leave people free to be whatever bastards they want, as long as their bastard nature does not induce them to cause harm to the “physical or economic welfare of any other person”. If that very bastard character is mitigated by the fear of retribution for breaking the law, that would suffice in Heinlein’s state. Another thing is that a vile character can make life difficult for the individual himself in the society. The awareness of such complications can facilitate a change of character, but certainly not the “education of the new man” by the state. For, according to R. Heinlein, there is “grisly unconscious symbiosis between the underworld and the organized churches – for the greatest bulwark of the underworld were always the moral creeds of the churches”.

He confirms this by the practice prevalent in U.S. in the 1930’s, when criminals” were anxious to have blue laws on the books as long as they were not enforced. Illicitness was the thing that made most of their stock in trade valuable, and they knew it.” This was also the reason why “…in every large American city, the gangsters and the preachers, each for his own purpose, supported and elected the same candidates… Sometimes the concatenation is very involved, but in every case you will find at the end the churches attempting to use the state to coerce the citizen into complying with a creed which the churches have been unsuccessful in persuading the citizen to accept without coercion. Wherever that occurs you have a condition which inevitably results in the breeding of a powerful underworld which will seize the local government, and frequently, through control of local political machines, seize state and national governments as well.” And the fact that in today’s Israel the most hardened criminals are brought to trial with a kippah on their heads clearly confirms Heinlein’s conclusion. As does the situation in the former Soviet Union: when Stalinism under the guise of Marxism-Leninism played the role of religion, the bandits were “close” to power, in contrast to the “political criminals” who opposed the regime.

This does not mean a totally negative attitude toward religion. In the early stages of human development, when the general level of knowledge was low, religious attitudes, which were presented as having a divine origin, suppressed barbarism in human relations and contributed to the establishment of at least some order. But times are changing, and religious organizations are increasingly playing a negative role. Although some positive elements in terms of preaching to do good remain, they can be replaced by rational education and, at the same time, by eliminating the damage caused by religious institutes.

The experience of “building communism” clearly showed that using state levers, as before religious levers, to “educate the new man” was counterproductive. As soon as people began to be evaluated by party organizations and labor collectives, not by their actual labor achievements, but by their “moral character,” the proclaimed principle of the socialist state “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his work” was violated. As a result, people felt the obvious injustice of the whole system, which freed them from the need to act justly themselves, which in turn led to widespread deviation from both proclaimed moral requirements and the demands of the law, ultimately leading to the collapse of the entire system.

The collapse accelerated precisely when the command and administration system that formed the backbone of socialism began to transfer real powers to labor collectives within which everything was decided absolutely by personal relationships based on the observance of group morality. The first scientific study, which I actually supervised, concerning sociological problems of production brigades at the Shchelkovsky Pumping Plant in Moscow Region in 1968, showed that the alleged advantage of granting rights to such brigades was in fact an absolute nonsense, because workers distributed wages equally, without any connection with the real achievements of each – “so not to offend anyone”. I must confess that I, and probably others who came to similar conclusions, did not try to emphasize them, because it undermined the slogans of the CPSU (Communist Party of The Soviet Union). And any speeches against the general line not only had no chance of success, but were fraught with danger for their authors. Later, however, a group of comrades submitted to K. U. Chernenko, General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee, my proposal to include in the CPSU Program an item on combating groupocracy (my term), which was the basis of the corruption that increasingly flourished in Soviet society and eventually ruined it. K. U. Chernenko included this clause in the draft of the Program, but he was already suffering from the consequences of fish poisoning after eating a fish given to him as a “gift” by Soviet Minister of Internal Affairs V. V. Fedorchuk, and after a while he passed away. The new General Secretary M. S. Gorbachev deleted it…

More generally, what is needed is a departure in principle from the standards of behavior that have spilled over from tsarist Russia into the pseudo-socialist Soviet Union and also proved characteristic of Hitler’s Germany. In the remarkable preface to Sebastian Haffner’s book, The Meaning of Hitler. Politics of Crime (Anmerkungen zu Hitler), the translator Nikita Eliseev writes: “I swear, if schools in Russia still teach “Taras Bulba”, then after the passionate monologue of the son-killer Taras, I would advise teachers to acquaint teenagers with this text (from another book by S. Haffner, Defying Hitler (Geschichte eines Deutschen), (this is about Hitler’s “military training camps” – Evgeniy Belilovsky) “It is indubitable that a certain kind of happiness thrives in such camps, it is the happiness of comradeship. It was a pleasure to go for a cross-country run together in the morning, and then to go naked into the communal hot showers together, to share the parcels that one or other received from home, to share too the responsibility for misdemeanors that one of your comrades had committed, to help and support one another in a thousand little ways. We trusted one another without reserve in all the actions of the day, and had boyish battles and fights. We were all the same. We floated in a great comforting stream of mutual reliance and gruff familiarity… I, for my part, do not wish to deny it. And yet I know for certain, and emphatically assert, that this very comradeship can become the means for the most terrible dehumanization – and that it has become just that in the hands of the Nazis”. This happened because, according to S. Haffner,

“Comradeship is part of war. Like alcohol, it is one of the great comforters and helpers for people who have to live under unbearable, inhuman conditions… If it is separated from these, if it is exercised only for pleasure and intoxication, for its own sake, it becomes a vice. It makes no difference that it brings a certain happiness. It corrupts and depraves men like no alcohol or opium. It makes them unfit for normal, responsible civilian life”.

This applies not only to Hitlerism, but to the Hitler-Stalinist model of socialism in general. S. Haffner recalls, “Hitler himself called it the “socialization of people. Why should we need all that – socialization of banks and factories” he had said to Rauschning. “What does it matter once I have the people firmly fitted into a discipline from which they cannot escape – we are socializing the people”. And then S. Haffner, who wrote this book during the period of mature socialism, points out: “Surely it is an interesting point that none of the present socialist states confined themselves to the socialization of the means of production. They expended a great deal of effort on also “socializing the people” in other words organizing them collectively, as far as possible, from the cradle to the grave, pressing them into a collective “socialist” way of life, “firmly fitted into a discipline from which they can no longer escape”. Further on, S. Haffner provides practical examples of the similarities between the way of life in the Third Reich and East Germany, which was part of the Soviet bloc.

S. Haffner does not stipulate it clearly enough, but it is necessary to stipulate: it is not the collectivism in general that should be condemned, but the forced collectivism, participation in the collective and submission to its will, regardless of the goal set by the collective and even more so the one set for it from above. Comradeship and collective interaction, as such, if aimed at good ends, cannot but be welcomed: man is a social being, and such comradeship is especially important amidst a common trouble: war, epidemic, etc.

However, the existence of collective associations opposing other associations and collective mutual assistance in their ranks undermines the unity of the population of any state and can become a threat to the existence of both the state and the members of these associations. It is precisely the responsibility of every Jew for every other Jew, as stipulated by Judaism, was used by the Nazis to justify the Holocaust: the criminal actions of Jewish bankers during the global economic crisis were in fact one of the causes of the tragedy of the German people, and according to the above-mentioned doctrine of Judaism all Jews had to answer for it, and they did, right up to Auschwitz. Something similar happens in the U.S. with respect to black people: they became united in their defense of “their” criminals, who are often treated too harshly by the police, sometimes killing those who show even the slightest resistance – without any condemnation of the criminals themselves; this creates an image in certain layers of society of the black population as a criminal community, which reinforces the racism which in turn motivates the unjustifiable brutality of the police – such a vicious circle. The only way out of this vicious circle is to consider people as individuals and to strongly discourage any consideration of particular group associations and the activities of those associations in defending “their own” against “outsiders.

In general terms, the main vice of all systems is the very division of humanity into large and small, groups struggling with each other, from nations and classes to teenage gangs. The United States has become the most advanced country in the world precisely because it has overcome this division to the greatest extent. But in the U.S., too, there is an increasing confrontation among different parts of society. If previously there were vestiges of slavery, then after they were successfully overcome, began a shift in the other direction – they began to establish mandatory quotas for members of certain groups, etc. However – in order to overcome discrimination, it is not necessary to provide any supposedly compensatory benefits to certain population groups, primarily on a racial and ethnical basis. Some benefits in this regard can be provided ONLY INDIVIDUALLY to those who have been deprived for one reason or another of equal opportunities, with the requirement that everyone who claims benefits must present specific evidence of this deprivation – poor financial situation of parents or other specific circumstances specified in the relevant law. Undoubtedly, statistically these advantages will be given more to persons of a certain race or nationality, but this race or nationality alone should not serve as a basis for granting advantages. It is only in this way that restorative justice does not exacerbate social rifts, as it does when advantages are accorded on the basis of race or nationality. This is the only approach to ensure the unity of entire American society, for all unjust privileges for people of a certain race or nationality create hostility among all others toward people of that race or nationality. In other words, such methods of fighting racism, quite on the contrary, stimulate racism itself. Diversity, which, along with justice and equality, is what Kamala Harris, who formulated these three demands of American nation, emphasized in her acceptance speech for the U.S. vice-presidential nomination, is necessary. But this diversity, first, must be limited to the natural humane demands of the modern world (cannibals, for example, are by no means should be welcomed) and, second, must not be accompanied by the formation of group associations which oppose other group associations or the outside world as a whole. While such associations exist, Kamala’s noble global goal cannot be implemented in principle: “A vision of our nation as a Beloved Community – where all are welcome, no matter what we look like, where we come from, or who we love. A country where we may not agree on every detail, but we are united by the fundamental belief that every human being is of infinite worth, deserving of compassion, dignity and respect.” As long as there are “insiders” and “outsiders,” it won’t happen, unfortunately, this is definitely true. This is why we should not strive in any way to take into account the interests of such group associations, as it is done in American – and not only American – politics, in accordance with Marx’s class theory (although they try to ignore it). SUCH ASSOCIATIONS MUST BE DESTROYED. This should be done, first of all, by educational methods – both within the framework of general education and by passing knowledge through the media, including speeches by political leaders. If necessary, organizational and legislative measures should be taken in order to prevent people united by racial, ethnic origin or according to other criteria from congregating in a certain area. The general strengthening of the social functions of the state, which eliminates the need to rely on the help of group mates, undoubtedly contributes to the destruction of group associations. In any case, the destruction of group associations which oppose other people must be one of the most important tasks of the state.

S. Haffner considers collectivism, as he understands it, a characteristic feature of socialism in general. He is mistaken in that: in the USSR, before Stalin came to absolute power, there was great diversity both in artistic creativity and in personal life (in general, the USSR that existed before Stalin and even more so the one conceived by the leaders of the revolution, was a completely different country than the USSR under Stalin). The oppression of people also takes place under capitalism. Moral principles are also proclaimed here, although they are usually implemented in practice less insistently than under real socialism. Here too the position of the individual depends not only on his contribution to the welfare of the society, but also on circumstances beyond the individual’s control – opportunities created by one’s origin and the market situation under the conditions of unpredictable chaos. Therefore, this society too is unjust, although it may be less unjust than real socialism – especially when the capitalist state becomes social to a certain degree. But nowadays, owing to the possibilities of computerization, the socialist economy can become much more efficient than the capitalist economy. When in addition to that, there is a substantially greater level of justice and the maximum insurance function of the state, providing confidence in the future, the superiority of socialism becomes absolute. But only if it is not just socialism, but social individualism which incorporates the best of capitalism and above all the individual freedom.

The vices of capitalism cannot be corrected by democratic procedures. Democracy operates on the premise that the majority of the population make decisions based on their own interests, unlike monarchies and dictatorships, where these very monarchs and dictators primarily take into account their own interests and the interests of the people on whom they rely. In practice, however, this premise turns out to be wrong, because voters, as a rule, are not competent enough to assess the real consequences of the solutions that are offered to them. They often do not even try to assess these consequences, preferring to rely on impressions made by the personalities of the candidates, also because nothing obligates the candidates to fulfill the commitments they have made and because some of the information provided to voters is obviously false, and nothing actually is done about it. In addition, a large part of the electorate has no will of their own, they blindly follow the instructions of their religious and other “spiritual leaders”. All this is described in detail in the book “21 Lessons for the 21st Century” by Y. N. Harari. This does not mean a denial of democracy in general. Power should belong to the people, but the concrete mechanism of exercising this power should ensure the satisfaction of real aspirations of the people. At the same time, it must avoid restricting the just claims of those who belong to various kinds of minorities. To this end, existing democratic procedures must be significantly improved.

In light of the above, capitalism based on democracy in its modern version is just as inadequate for the needs of the modern world as real socialism is. Everything Marx and his followers said regarding this matter remains true today. Moreover, this is even clearer now, because wild capitalism has lost the alternative that real socialism represented and is even more brazenly abusing the workers. That is why the current system like the real socialism must be opposed not just by individualism but, by social individualism which lies at the heart of the proposals put forward here.

At the same time, both the imposition of moral principles and capitalism in themselves make people’s condition much worse, but are far from being fatal. However the threat to the very existence of human civilization is posed by liberalism as part of the foundations of the free world in relation to the internal and external enemies of this free world.

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