“We are living in a strange civilization. Our minds and souls are so overlaid with fear, with artificiality, that often we do not even recognize beauty. It is this fear, this lack of direct vision of truth that brings about all the disaster the world holds, and how little opportunity we give any people for casting off fear, for living simply and naturally. When they do, first of all we fear them, then we condemn them. It is only if they are great enough to outlive our condemnation that we accept them.” –Henri, Robert. Collected by Margery Ryerson. The Art Spirit. Philadelphia, 1923.
The above quote strikes deeply within my heart. I found it in the following essential book for any home library: [VandenBroeck, Goldian, ed. Less is More: An Anthology of Ancient & Modern Voices Raised in Praise of Simplicity. Foreward by E. F. Schumacher (Author of Small Is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered. 1973.). Inner Traditions: Rochester, Vermont, 1978, 1996. p. 219.].
The beauty or the fear of simplicity. How the right and left of our civilization have seemingly forever feared the beauty of simplicity!
Artist, Robert Henri’s quote resonates so strongly alongside the following quote by economist and philosopher F. A. Hayak, whose birthday (although he has long passed) was three days ago:
“There is all the difference in the world between treating people equally and attempting to make them equal. While the first is the condition of a free society, the second means as DeTocqueville describes it, ‘a new form of servitude.'” –Hayek, Freidrich August. Individualism and Economic Order. 1948.
F. A. Hayek
CRITICISM OF F. A. HAYEK:
“Your greatest danger is the probable practical failure of the application of your philosophy in the United States.” – John Maynard Keynes in a letter to Hayek. [ –Hoover, Kenneth R. Economics as Ideology. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield. 2008. p. 152.]
“In the negative part of Professor Hayek’s thesis there is a great deal of truth. It cannot be said too often – at any rate, it is not being said nearly often enough – that collectivism is not inherently democratic, but on the contrary, gives to a tyrannical minority such powers as the Spanish Inquisitors never dreamed of.” –Orwell, George. 1944. Writing in response to Hayek’s book: The Road to Serfdom (1944)”.
Author of the classic dystopian novels 1984 (1949) and Animal Farm (1945), Orwell was no fan of capitalism and yet he found it within himself to step away from partisanship to pen the above, historically-informed forewarning.
Please note Keynes’ inclusion of the word “practical.” Both the right and left have seemingly forever criticized as an impractical (and unregulated) ideal the simplicity of “treating people equally” as opposed to just making everyone equal (regulated).
One example that comes to mind is the issue of who should fund the caring of the present multitude of those who are unable to work and create income. One side argues that the government should stay out of it and that community programs should oversee the need. The other side calls this impractical because, likely, community programs won’t be able to fund or handle the load. The poor will instead get shuffled off under bridges, to the gutters and into the back alleys.
Is it a matter of practicality? Is it true that citizen-funded community programs can’t or won’t handle the load? Is a governmental equalization and regulation of incomes or subsidies the only solution?
Attempting to make people equal is collectivism, as Orwell calls it, which he then describes as “not inherently democratic” but “tyranical,” worse so even than historically imposed by the merciless Spanish Inquisitors.
Please also note how artist Robert Henri and economist F. A. Hayek seem to resonate in the above quotes. Economist Robert Maynard Keynes and artist Robert Henri, on the other hand, do not seem to me to resonate at all. Art synonymous with simplicity? Art in opposition to practicality?
How many times has a creatively-gifted student pursuing a degree in writing been told by parents that such a degree would not be practical? How many such students have listened to such regulatory and collectivist advice? Where would our world be without gifted writers on the left, the right and all points in between?
Hmmm, based on the insights from the above quote from Orwell, I wonder if he had parents like those mentioned above, and if so, chose instead to pursue his gift as a writer?
I learned from an influencial person in my life that if I place my palm against another’s and push, that is a difficult, forceful and stressful path that leads to anxiety, fear and artificiality. If I place my palm against another’s and relax, let go of pushing, then that is a stress-free way of simplicity, non-tension. A natural equality. The two palms can exist alongside without either pushing at the other, and they can get by on their own. Too simple?
Allowing people to empower themselves toward their own pursuits, allowing a free society–whether to live modestly according to one’s meager means or affluently, left or right, craftsman or entrepreneur–whatever, is the simple way of beauty–the beautiful way of simplicity. An ideal? Yes. So what. Impractical? No.
In a football game, the kicker doesn’t aim at the goal post but beyond it. He may not make 100 percent of the attempted distance, but 80 or 90 percent may put the ball over the post–a score. 100 percent is a goal likely never to be achieved. It is a utopian ideal, impractical. Don’t confuse that with a score.
The ideals of libertarianism, most fully realized in the aims of Ron Paul, are not to hit an idealistic 100 percent, I don’t believe, but to hit as close as possible. The goal is to score a realistic and beautiful win.
Of course, the kick is only as good as the kicker. Players’ records speak loudest on who to place one’s trust in.
In speaking of progressivism, the object is to progress. The art of football is to progress down the field to a score, to progress in scoring to a win and to progress in winning to take the beautiful Super Bowl. If you lose, you come back again. You make progress. The art is not, however, to progress in injuring the other team’s players to the point of taking them out of the game, or to bypass the rules.
The most obvious and current example that comes to mind is President Obama’s push to the Supreme Court of what has come to be known as “Obamacare.” By most accounts, the court (now considering the case) will ultimately block his attempt at a “score.” Why? Because it directly conflicts with our constitutional guarantees for a right to choose our individual pursuits. The president is attempting to push aside the Constitution along with all those who oppose him–to bypass the refs and the rule book. Maybe the refs will turn a blind eye, and he’ll score. Likely he won’t.
For myself, I choose not affluence but a more simple life. Who am I to shove it down my affluent neighbor’s throat that his choice is wrong, and that I aim to not only make him swallow it but to kill affluence altogether and ultimately to make her or him enjoy the experience?
Creating a “green” planet” by killing off affluence and consumption are separate concepts, to raise another example. The first is admirable for all to work towards. It takes cooperation and compromise to reign in the real dangers of out-of-control consumption.
The second is social engineering for the sake of “making people equal”–a power grab; a purely and politically partisan imposition on OUR equality through nature–“our,” meaning ALL–right and left, Black and White, male and female, gay and straight, spiritual or atheist, simple or affluent. It’s the equivalent of saying: “I’m right and you’re wrong.” “I’m smart and you’re stupid.” “I’m elite, and you’re of a lower class.” Servitude.
By the nature of equality and free will, no one person or group has a right to impose their ideals on any other person. Simple?
Don’t be afraid of overshooting the goal post and scoring the goal.