Kalos III. Pre-kalotic regimes and capitalism

Types of Regimes

Man has experienced and altered systems of government for as long as he has existed. No system has been satisfactory for long. Invention proceeds, but trouble marches apace. Every decade witnesses serious violence in most systems, and the rape of personal rights and freedom practically everywhere. Yet man works like Sisyphus, forever pushing his rock up the mountain only to see it fall.Governments were not invented for the good of man. They are natural things, which means they are both good and evil. Systems of government have been magical concoctions and cancers - a debris of power, greed and lust floating upon the primitive nightmares of the human race. They have at the same time been the normal means of coping with problems beyond the scope of personal abilities.

Even though we can now see a future that is dazzling and poignantly happy in prospect, we need to realize how intelligent we must become to escape the curse of Sisyphus. We are still where Ralph Waldo Emerson put us, over a century ago:

We think our civilization is near its meridian, but we are yet only at the cock-crowing and the morning star. In our barbarous society the influence of character is in its infancy. As a political power, as the rightful lord who is to tumble all rulers from their chairs, its presence is hardly yet suspected.[1]

He spoke largely of America, but we can speak thus of all the regimes of this world. We need activists persons of republican and Kalotic character, tutors everywhere.

To talk of political systems requires naming them. A 2500-year-old classification calls systems of government by the names of "democracy, aristocracy, and monarchy." This is about as useful today as dividing the elements of physics into earth, air, fire and water.

There is a partial validity in Herbert Spencer's division of societies into "industrial and military," and in Karl Marx' "feudal, bourgeois and socialist" as well as Gaetano Mosca's "feudal, liberal, and bureaucratic." Marx and Mosca are in agreement, actually (both are correct, too, in relation to socialist-bureaucracy as the final stage of the three.) Modern scholars have used these, and added other terms: "authoritarian," "traditional." Some have used "free and totalitarian," especially if they are government propagandists.

All classifications have their uses and abuses. But in reforming the behavior of states and groups, the major shaft of analysis has to be their characteristic drive. What force infuses and suffuses them? What is their dynamic tendency? where are they headed?

Our goal is Kalotic Revolution; improvement on any considerable scale is impossible without modeling society after some large objectives bearing upon the lives of its people. Man requires an adequate material base for existence (emos), a fullness of opportunity and spirit (pneumos), and a regular legal order (dikeos). We sum them up in the term, Kalos. These needs must be found through large-scale and rapid change of revolutionary proportions, by means which, if not violent, must be forceful.

In the end, a Kalocracy is what is sought - a regime driven throughout by an effective desire to bring emos, pneumos, dikeos to its own people; and to the people of the world, their primary goods. Kalocracy, then, must be that regime predisposed toward both the good toparchy, or local order, and the good cosmarchy, or world order; It is a regime whose hallmark is the controlled acceleration of basic social change, that is, Kalotic Revolution.

Most states of today are dystrocracies, that is, misorganized for modernity from the viewpoint both of the inhabitants and of the outside world.[2] Distinguishable from dystrocracies are many countries whose regimes have some special drive that is ungovernable thus far, but that removes them from the materially hopeless position of the dystrocracy. These are the force-dominated state, the stratocracy; the dogmatically-ordered state, the taxocracy; and the wealth-consumption dominated state, the plutocracy; These four types of regime, each in its own way outrageously incompetent by Kalotic standards, have to be reorganized and brought in relation to one another.

To a large degree every country is a dystrocracy: the U.S.A., although a prominent plutocracy, is also a dystrocracy, whose principal problem is the mismanagement of its wealth.

The drive to consume

Plutocracies are regimes dominated by the urge to acquire and spend wealth. They may not in fact succeed and may not provide a kalotic life, any more than a dystrocratic country does. Yet, whether we speak of the luxuriating Central European countries before World War I, or of Western Europe, the U.S.A., and Japan today, what engages us is the immense energy and ability going into the accumulation and disposal of goods. It is what impressed Karl Marx also a hundred years ago, and the process has gone on unabated. Modifications have been introduced: the character of property, of occupations, of services, and of relations with other regimes have changed; but the drive to wealth is incessant and piles up consumer goods into silos, warehouses and stores that dwarf the grandest monuments of the ancient world.

Some say that this aggrandizement of commodities has occurred because of the underlying principle of laissez-faire, but we must not overlook the propensity of the bourgeoisie, as Marx said, to call upon state intervention when its interests required.

S.M. Lipset, sociologist turned historian for the occasion, has made quite clear the continuous and manifold activity of the state during the peak period of laissez-faire ideology in America.[3] The First New Nation was definitely not a hands-off nation. In fact, never was the primacy of politics over economics surrendered;[4] politics went underground and the underground river hummed an economic tune.

Recent times speak more emphatically. Typical was the partial nationalization of Italian industry in the 1930's by Mussolini, which Norman Kogan calls:

socialization of the losses (viz.failing industry) with the full and enthusiastic support of the private industrialists and bankers, who were saved at the expense of the taxpayers. The Fascist Government followed the policy of retaining the firms's old corporate identity, their old management, and their old policies.[5]

Politics is by no means capable of subjection to a narrow economic ideology. The political system incorporates and reissues the economic dogma in its own ways. Thus, although a people also possesses other motives, the wealth-producing drive carries all manner of impedimenta, whether hurtful or helpful to the poor or to other lands, down its rushing stream-bed like so many bits of twig and leaf. Taxocracies are exclusive; stratocracies are pugnacious; plutocracies thrive upon one another and upon dystrocracies.

So effective have been partial applications of the principles of science to the production and distribution of goods for mass markets that the mainstream of plutocratic societies has grown more and more swollen, while taxocratic ideologies and policies have sought to dry up "free enterprise." And to science must be added the private motivation.[6] 

Unexpected changes in capitalism

No one today is waiting for capitalism (an old-fashioned and largely inapplicable term given the economic system of plutocracy) to fail because of monopoly, business depressions, the creation of class conflicts, and the grinding down of the poor. On the contrary, in all of these respects, plutocracy is much changed today and therefore stronger than it was a century ago. Only by employing new and fanciful standards of what, for instance, is "poor," or of what is "exploitation," can plutocracy be claimed to be as bad as it ever was.

Indeed, while there were many intimations of the real problems of plutocracy many years ago, they were deemphasized by the taxocrats. For instance, numerous critics lamented the noise, ugliness, the alienation of man from his crafts, and urban crowding of the machine age, but they were regarded as queer, conservative and irrelevant.[7] The main attack and defense took place on the front of government versus private ownership of means of production.

Relations between rich and poor in today's plutocracies are not generally hostile. This fact, strange to the 19th century and up to World War II, is accounted for in large part because of the decline in morale of the rich as rich and of the poor as poor - in other words, the decline of class morale. More characteristic of today's plutocracies is the absence of life goals among both rich and poor, producing a classless society in a grand irony. Both work towards immediate material goals, without natural enthusiasm or vision.

The basic problem in this country today is political confusion. People don't know who their enemies are; they don't know who their friends are. They don't know whether to be afraid of the right or of the left. They don't know whether they themselves belong on the right or on the left.

So writes Eldridge Cleaver, who was himself left and right in the 360° War.[8] He is no economist, but the confusion he speaks of pervades economic affairs.

Notes IV.

1. "Politics," in Works, Vol. I,p.217.[Back]

2. Cf. Samuel Huntington, The Political Order in Changing Societies (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1968); Edward Shils, "Political Development in the New States," comparative Studies in Society and History (1960), p.279; and D. C. McClelland, The Achieving Society (Princeton; Van Nostrand, 1961). [Back]

3. New York: Basic Books, 1963.[Back]

4. Sebastian de Grazia, The Political Community (Chicago: U. of Chicago Press, 1948).[Back]

5. The Government of Italy, p. 133. On America, cf. e.g., A. W. McDonald and A.W. McCoy, "Pan Am: Victory Through Air Power," Hard Times || 62 (January 26, 1970), pp. 1-4, tracing various airline-government mutual aid techniques. [Back]

6. This "private" motivation is often also "altruistic." As Kenneth Boulding said well, "There is nothing in the institution to prevent everyone in a market economy from being-actutated by the loftiest altruism. It may be true that the institutions of the market economy do not by themselves generate altruism, and it is probable that altruism is generated in the home, church and school rather than in the bank or the counting house. It is also true that prisons are poor generators of altruism!" The Organizational Revolution (New York: Harper, 1953, p.252 See also H. van der Haas, The Enterprise in Transition: An analysis of European and American Practice (London: Tavistock, 1967), e.g., Chapter 17on "transition from the concept of economic man to the concept of pluralistic motivation.The Soviet advisers were trying in 1969 to get the Egyptian government to relax its laws in order to permit part-time farming and marketing . [Back]

7. See Benjamin Lippincott's Victorian Critics of Democracy (Minneapolis: U. of Minnesota Press1938.)[Back]

10. Post-Prison Writings and Speeches (New York: Randon House, 1969.[Back]