Economic Rationales For A Tyranny of Sociopaths
A monumental transition happened when the subjects of feudal monarchies in Europe and its colonies were “liberated,” as we would say, by the capitalistic democracies that replaced them. These revolutions were enabled by the return of pagan humanism, and by the invocation of the individual’s worth.
Previously, under theocracies, Europeans valued themselves mainly in relation to a divine lawgiver. There were sinners and sons of gods, heretics and messiahs or prophets. Above all, people themselves to be subject to some higher power.
Then the Catholic insiders wrestled with the naturalistic humanism that was implicit in the surviving texts from the old Greco-Roman cultures. And the scales fell from the peasants’ eyes as the Protestants revolted against the Church hegemony which had proved itself to be irredeemable in its Albigensian crusade against the more Christ-like Cathars.
With this rise of skepticism, Europeans came to see themselves as valuable, instead, because of their bare humanity, their inherent strengths as relatively rational, autonomous, and creative mammals. They were persons, not slaves of nature or of supernature.
Philosophers and scientists turned to the task of explaining every corner of the world that had been overlooked or whitewashed by dogmatic Christendom. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, classical economists, for example, such as Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, David Ricardo, and John Stuart Mill took up the projects of analyzing and celebrating the merits of the new kind of economy, which was capitalism.
Feudalism was a top-down, governmentally controlled system. This was replaced by mercantilism, by the imperial, military, protectionist struggle to control the world’s resources such as by dominating shipping lanes and imposing tariffs on imports.
Capitalism was a progressive, bottom-up system that seemed to favour the majority, not just the wealthy upper class. The idea was to take away the decision-making power of fallible, often corrupted elites, and to hand that power to the competition between workers and businesses, and between buyers and…