Chapter 10: The Capital Men
Footnote: The Cancer of Capitalism
Cancer is a horrible multiplicity of diseases. In the wealthy West, one in three people get it; one in five die from it. At first sight, a comparison with capitalism seems emotive. But an examination of the ways in which each one works shows the comparison to be disturbingly systematic.
The Laws of Physics
To the best of scientific knowledge, everything in the known universe is constrained by the laws of physics. Galaxies, stars, solar systems, planets, molecules, atoms, particles and force fields - all obey the laws of physics. It is their unconditional obedience to the laws of physics that empowers them to form a working universe.
The laws of physics cause the elements of the universe to interact with each other in a fractal way. In other words, each object - or concentration of energy - in the universe interacts with every other, but only strongly with its immediate neighbours. And for the most part, only these strong interactions are significant.
The very nature and character of the laws of physics and their associated universal constants are such that these interactions are benign. They ensure that the universe as a whole works constructively and - for all practical purposes - sustainably.
The workings of life, society and economics are also constrained by the laws of physics. However, life-forms, societies and economies will not operate as sustainable systems under the laws of physics alone. In each case, the laws of physics must be further constrained by an additional system-specific set of rules and procedures.
In each kind of life-form, these additional rules and procedures are its genome. A life-form's genome is stored in DNA molecules and expedited by active mechanisms within each of its cells. In a society, these additional rules and procedures are the essence of the human conscience, made manifest as a system of law. In an economy, these additional rules and procedures are those by which goods and services are exchanged.
These additional rules and procedures cause the elements of the life-form, society or economy to interact with each other in a fractal way. In other words, each cell, person or business in the life-form, society or economy interacts with every other, but only strongly with its immediate neighbours. And again, for the most part, only these strong interactions are significant.
The very nature and character of these additional rules and procedures must be such that the interactions they promote and permit are always benign. They must ensure that the life-form, society or economy as a whole works constructively and sustainably. To do this, the rules and procedures must contain inherent knowledge of the big picture: not just of the immediate surroundings of its respective cell, person or business.
The cell must know about - and behave in such a way as promotes and sustains the overall function of - the human being of which it is a very small part. The person must know about - and behave in such a way as promotes and sustains the overall function of - the society of which he is a very small part. The business must know about - and behave in such a way as promotes and sustains the overall function of - the economy of which it is a very small part.
In a healthy body, each cell forms a necessary part and performs a necessary function for the body as a whole. Each of a community of cells, forming a particular organ or part of the body, grows to its required size and then stops. If a cell is damaged, it is rejected. Then a healthy cell divides and the two then grow to the same size as all their peers. They thus maintain the organ of which they are a part at its proper size, shape, consistency and functionality.
The growth and functionality of each cell is ordered by instructions contained in the cell's own internal copy of its host life-form's genome. Which of the myriad functions of the body this particular cell performs is determined by signalling chemicals in the cell's immediate environment causing the relevant parts of the program stored in the genome to be switched on, leaving the non-relevant parts switched off.
Macroscopic View Required
In order to fulfil a constructive role for its host life-form, the internal programming of a healthy cell's genome must contain intelligence regarding the nature and needs of its host life-form - which in turn requires intelligence regarding the life-form's external environment from which it derives its needs.
But the macroscopic domain of the life-form and its external environment is beyond the sensory reach of an individual cell. It simply has no means of seeing this wider world. So it cannot import intelligence from the macroscopic domain of its host life-form and the world beyond.
If a cell had the internal means of constructively modifying or extending its genome programming, it could only possibly do so in the light of inputs available to it from its immediate microscopic surroundings. It could never modify its internal copy of its host's genome with functional enhancements pertaining to its host as an operational macro-system. The functionality required to support the macroscopic operation of the host life-form must therefore have been coded into the genome by some external means.
Nature's Control Program
But a cell has no known mechanism for constructively modifying its internal program. The only way a cell's genome copy can be modified is by selective destruction. So all modifications to a cell's internal program must always be functionally diminutive.
There is of course an almost limitless scope for individual variants of the human life-form. But this is effected by switching on or off pre-existing sections of active code within the host genome: not by creating new segments of active code, or by modifying existing ones.
This leaves only one way that I can see for active code to be added to what already exists within the genome. That is for a mechanism to exist that can translate newly formed neural network structures in the brain into additional segments of DNA code. Since the genome is made up of a 4-base representative code rather than any form of analogue, new information would necessarily have to undergo a translation or encoding process before it could be integrated into the genome.
This requires that the translation mechanism have prior knowledge of how to select which new analogue information should be stored and how to express it in terms of this 4-base symbolic language. Furthermore, in order to integrate new code into what already exists within the genome, the translation mechanism would have to be capable of reading-in the existing genome and understanding what each part meant and to what it pertained. Otherwise it would not know where or how to insert the additions. The modified genome would then have to be planted in a sperm or egg cell to be passed onto the next generation where the modifications and additions would become effective. I am not aware that science has ever discovered such a translation mechanism.
This all begs the question as to how all this symbolically encoded information got into the genome in the first place without an externally supplied encoding dictionary. What is clear is that under what has been discovered so far, all modifications to active code within a cell's copy of its host's genome can only be as a result of selective destruction.
A Faulty Program
Each cell's DNA molecules each contains the rules and procedures for building and operating the entire life-form. These molecules are a physical recording medium and can be physically damaged. They can be attacked by rogue chemicals. Parts of them can be punched out by the impact of high speed particles or high energy radiation.
This happens all the time but in most instances no harm occurs. Chances are that the part of the DNA molecule damaged is in the majority portion that current scientific knowledge sees as redundant. Even if a valid part of the genome were damaged, it would most likely be a part pertaining to functions not applicable to the specialised nature of this particular cell. Occasionally and inevitably however, an active part of the genome gets damaged. Even so, the cell would in most cases simply stop working altogether. It would then be seen as dead by its peers, rejected, then replaced by the division of an adjacent peer.
Very occasionally, though, when the DNA molecule gets damaged by a cosmic ray or rogue chemical, it still remains functional. For instance, the part that gets damaged could be limited to the small area containing the negative feedback function that tells the cell when to stop growing. The cell will then carry on growing indefinitely, limited only by the availability of materials and fuel.
This is an example of cancer. The growth limitation function in a cell's genome copy gets damaged. As a result, the cell grows to a grotesque size. It divides, passing the corrupt rules and procedures in its damaged genome on to its progeny. They then grow and divide. They invade each other's space and tangle round each other. They form an ever-growing abomination with no regard for the specified size, shape or function of the organ of which they are supposed to be a part.
The cancer cell's program thus lacks a fundamental quality possessed by the program inside a healthy cell. It has lost all notions of social responsibility. It is entirely self-seeking, caring nothing for its peers or the vital function it is supposed to help fulfil for its host life-form. Instead of forming all or part of the organ they are supposed to, cancer cells form a dysfunctional mass, each cell serving no higher purpose than to preserve and further its own existence. Each cell then unilaterally grows without limit, maximising its own immediate short-term gain - ignorant that by so doing it is killing its host and thereby sowing the seeds of its own destruction.
A Social Analogue
Like the body, social and economic systems are a hybrid between structured systems on the one hand, and complex dynamical (or fluid) systems on the other hand. There is, however, one essential difference. The active elements within cells are simple biological mechanisms: people (the active elements within the cells of society) are sentient beings. Cells are expendable: people aren't.
Just as the nuclear elements of each cell have an internal copy of the host life-form's genome, so every human being needs within him a social conscience. Like the genome, the human social conscience must embody rules and procedures that cause all human interactions to work for and protect the common good of society. However, this alone is not enough. Because people are not expendable, the rules and procedures of the social conscience must also guarantee the well-being and protection of each individual.
And it does. Everybody's natural conscience tells him that he should love his neighbour as himself. If each had the inward determination and strength to fulfil the obligations of his natural conscience, and if mankind as a whole then implemented the essence of this conscience into an egalitarian political manifesto, then people could live peacefully and abundantly in natural communities, even without a legal infrastructure.
Each socio-economic cell - based on the extended nuclear family - would grow to its appropriate size and then stop. Collectively and co-operatively, these cells would form a benign functional organ - a natural community - within human society. Society would then be a global complex dynamical system of interacting natural communities, whose behaviour would be bound by a benign strange attractor.
A Damaged Conscience
Each person's natural conscience contains the protocols for building and operating an entire benign society. It is held and preserved within the person's brain. Like the DNA molecule in a cell, the human brain is physical and can be physically damaged. It can be damaged by lack of oxygen during birth, genetic abnormalities and perhaps a host of other things.
In most individuals, however, no harm occurs. The human brain has far more than ample capacity for its purpose. Chances are that any damage can be circumvented to provide full functionality anyway. Occasionally and inevitably however, in some individuals a small vital part of the brain does not function as normal. In most cases, its resultant effect on behaviour would go unnoticed in today's society. But in some cases, the dysfunctional part could be that which contains the negative feedback function that tells the individual when he has enough to fulfil his needs. As a result he will strive indefinitely to acquire more possessions, influence, power, control - limited only by his means and persuasiveness.
In today's capitalist societies, such people are not merely regarded as normal: they are revered as the heroic driving forces of society. They are the entrepreneurs and capitalists.
I saw a television documentary in which it was said that as many as 1 in 200 people are psychopaths. Only a very small proportion of these fit the popular conception of the cold blooded killer or homicidal maniac. These are extremely rare. The remainder - the vast majority - are what are referred to as industrial psychopaths. The industrial psychopath is so called because rather than kill people, he ruthlessly manipulates people and engineers circumstances for his own advancement at the expense of others within the working environment of the factory or the office. And he is seemlessly adept at this. He is the covert character assassin. He is the ruthless career killer. He is not normally recognized as a psychopath. He seems quite normal. But he is different. The industrial psychopath has the ability to see from other people's points of view, but he lacks the ability to feel from other people's points of view. He does not love his neighbour as himself because he cannot love his neighbour as himself. He lacks the mental faculty that empowers normal people to feel from the points of view of others. He possesses no natural conscience.
Every normal person has the natural 'selfish' drive to seek his own needs. But once self has 'sufficient unto the day', his natural conscience stops him seeking more so others may gain their needs also. But the psychopath will keep striving to acquire more - more possessions, more power, more influence, more control. He does not have the negative feed-back brake of natural conscience. The protocols of natural conscience have been deleted from the 'genome' of his mind.
A Social Cancer
In ancient times, like everybody else, the psychopath started off in a healthy socio-economic cell - the micro-economy of his extended family. This, together with those of his neighbours, constituted a benign functional organ of society, namely a community. But because he lacked the faculty of conscience, he had no concept of the common good. His drive for self-acquisition had no restraint. He therefore strove to expand his own wealth and endeavours far out of proportion to those of his neighbours. As a result, his business became an ever-growing abomination with no regard for the specified size, shape and functionality of the community of which it was supposed to be a part.
In times past, instead of co-operating with his neighbours, the psychopath made war on them. He conquered and absorbed their land and resources. He enslaved those thus dispossessed to work for him in return for minimal subsistence. In middle times, he and his like-minded peers formed themselves into an elite clique or ruling class. They then collectively created larger and more effective hierarchical constructs of enslavement like feudal estates and kingdoms - established and sustained by rule of law. But instead of being a formal codification of the human conscience, the law of this austere hierarchical society became simply a means to facilitate and enforce the ordered and peaceful containment and exploitation of the poor by the rich, the weak by the strong, the honest by the devious - the many by the few.
In latter times, a new elite has changed the form and character of the universal construct of enslavement. It is no longer the feudal estate or kingdom. Nor is it even the modern state or regional government. It is now the far more covert and flexible limited liability company. This is a legal construct that embodies and procreates the cancerous socio-economic gene that allows - and indeed encourages - growth without limit at the expense and demise of all else.
Having no notion of social conscience, these cancerous corporate entities are totally self-seeking. They care nothing for the human resources they exploit. They care nothing for their peers. They ignore the vital functions they ought to be helping fulfil within their host society. Instead of playing a part within the community, they form a stifling dysfunctional mass that serves no higher purpose than to preserve and further their own individual existences, destroying the social fabric of any community in which they take root. Each grows without limit, maximising its own immediate short-term gain - ignorant that by so doing it is killing its host and thereby sowing the seeds of its own destruction.
Like the healthy cells of the body, the healthy endeavours of the hard-working artisan cannot stand against these unwitting giant suicide bombers of the world's economies. Like cancers of the body, they must be rooted out and destroyed before they destroy humanity. The 'genome' of the human conscience must then be 'genetically engineered' so the psychopathic defect that turns a benign individual endeavour into a malignant corporate cancer can never re-occur.
Parent Document |
©January 2002 Robert John Morton
[return to] webring