Saul, Socrates, Plato and Disparity
rather than address any specific post on the capitalism debate, it is my
intention to provide a different slant to the discussion by introducing john
ralston saul's thoughts from his book "the unconscious civilization". as
usual i have lent the book to a friend so the points are not directly
referenced, and this means they are being intermingled with my own thoughts
on the topic.
1. saul divides society on the basis of the greek philosophers socrates and
2. socrates represents the humanists. those who work for the greater good
through education and civic service. the orientation or bias would be
3. plato represents the systems people. those who seek control through
hierarchical structures. both capitalism, socialism and communism would all
fall within this group as would totalitarian regimes and feudal societies.
the real power today though is held by what saul calls the neo-corporates
which in essence are the old corporates. the neo-corporates now transcend
national boundaries and only 4 countries are now bigger than the largest of
4. there are no countries that are pure capitalism or pure
communism/socialism per se. all countries are essentially hybrids of market
based (capitalism) or central government based (communism/socialism). the
point though is that the neo-corporates and more importantly their
controllers now dictate to the governments and may well even select them!
this then raises the question that if this is the case how could you call
any country politically democratic?
5. what the discussion has so far has basically been dealing with is theory.
in reality the neo-corporates are vacuuming the guts out of the community.
this is very obvious in rural australia were i live. the reported profits of
neo-corporates are a farce and we are only seeing the very beginning of its
unveiling. neo-corporates do not deduct the costs of their environmental
damage and are in denial about welfare and health responsibilities to their
employees (ceo's exempt).
6. capitalism uses money as the predominant means to get people to do tasks.
position in the hierarchy plays a secondary role (at least on the surface).
communism on the other hand places more significance on hierarchical
position and less on money. in essence both money and hierarchical position
are the instruments used to manipulate one individual over another.
7. it remains to be seen if capitalism is the best system. when the full
cost of capitalism is realised i would suggest that that will be its demise.
consider these figures: total world debt 400 trillion dollars being serviced
by a world gdp (income) of 40 trillion dollars. profit is most likely only 4
trillion dollars at best and this does not include environmental costs!!!
follow the money and it becomes apparent that the world is ruled by an
8. disparity between the elite and the general population is the usual
catalyst for revolution and usually this comes with a high price in life
(eg. american civil war, french revolution and ww11). the usa now has 18% of
its population living below the poverty line. remember rodney king and the
riots that display of justice invoked? the issue we are alluding to here is
far greater than racial injustice. is it any wonder the current
administration needs this war on terror? how much do you think disparity
played a part in creating this conflict?
so given the above what do we do? the most important issue in my mind is not
the system but the disparity created by those who control the system. if the
system promotes those who are the most ruthless and greed orientated then
humanistic values are not going to be promoted. this one point goes a long
way to explaining the degradation in society. free speech and access to
information and knowledge are essential tools for the humanists. the
corporatisation of our educational facilities are subtly eroding this
freedom. this is the reason why saul advocates that the economists must be
thrown off the university campus. further he suggests that as economists are
systems people they can not be considered as thinkers.
well pretty radical thinking by mr. saul but history has had its share of
nero's. do we have another nero in our midst? is it just me that sees a
cycle in the rising of the humanists raising issues such as antiwar
protests, environmental, welfare and social justice issues. as these issues
start to gain momentum another terrorist incident occurs. if we ask the
rational question of who wins and loses by these events the question for me
anyway quickly becomes rhetorical.
i leave you with one last story that i found truly amazing. this was told by
the head of the psychology department in our social psychology lecture and
was told to her by a visiting south african psychologist. apparently in
south africa it has been decided by the black government that in order to
get to the truth they will no longer seek justice for the atrocities
committed by the apartheid government. seems to me to be an ascension of a
ps i do admit to a degree of bias due to my families on going battle with a
multinational oil company. their practices provide no doubt in my mind that
they lack both the ethical and moral fiber for the power and influence they