Wednesday, February 13, 2008


"The Triumph of the Merchants" is Part 5 of Robert O. Self's book AMERICAN BABYLON. The chapter is online here.

Robert O. Self is a Professor of History at Brown University according to the Princeton University Press who published his book.

According to Self:

Jesus Christ explicitly taught that love of God is the primary commandment, and that benevolence for our fellow human beings is the the second most important commandment (Matthew 22:34-40). These two basic commandments, which Jesus said were the foundation of all the Law and of all the Prophets, are supported by the warning from the Apostle Paul that the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:9-10). Adam Smith's fundamental conclusion contradicts the commandments of Jesus and then pushes us towards the evil warned of by Paul, by making self-interest, or "love of self," the foundation of society, which today equates to the single-minded pursuit of money which is the basis of modern material gain.

Perhaps the most important influence on Adam Smith's philosophical and economic ideas were the writings of Bernard de Mandeville. Mandeville was a Dutch doctor and writer who lived (1670-1733) in London at a time when anti-Christian Enlightenment ideas were coming to the forefront and when London was quickly becoming the occult capital of the world. He was allegedly a member of the Hell-Fire Club, later led by Sir Francis Dashwood, that engaged in gluttony, drunkenness, and orgies and practiced the "Do As Thou Wilt" satanic philosophy that later inspired Aleister Crowley. Mandeville became a champion of this influential underground network of upper class hedonists through his poem The Grumbling Hive published in 1705 and released again as part of his book The Fable of the Bees in 1714. The basic point that Mandeville tries to argue for in his poem and in his book can be summed up in the short phrase: "Private vice makes public virtue."

Self doesn't make a connection to Sabbateanism, but this statement sounds very much like the philosophy of Zevi and Jacob Frank of seeking salvation through sin, or forcing God's hand to bring good out of evil, given that in Austrian Economics we already have seen the belief in an "invisible hand" that controls the outcome of men's collective actions.

Self does admit that this Adam Smith "connection with Mandeville is hotly debated and very controversial" then adds:

Author Kenneth Lux in Adam Smith's Mistake explains how Smith at first tried to repudiate Mandeville's extreme conclusions and sided with his mentor Hutcheson, but that he was also drawn to important aspects of Mandeville's ideas and ended up repackaging them in his later work The Wealth of Nations. In the end it was those ideas that ended up creating the justification for the very economic climate that Hutchison warned against...

This amounts to a major shift in philosophy from what had motivated Europe previously:

The main idea that Smith took from Mandeville was the idea that the individual's pursuit of self-interest should be regarded as the main foundation upon which society benefits as a whole. This is perhaps the central premise of The Wealth of Nations and, according to Lux, Adam Smith's greatest mistake. Prior to the Enlightenment, avarice, or greed, was viewed with contempt as one of the seven deadly sins, but Adam Smith, buttressed with the work of Mandeville, Hume and other avowed atheists, paved the way for greed to be viewed as a natural, and even as a positive thing. This change in values was perhaps one of the most important and profound changes that helped to overthrow Judeo-Christian morality as the foundation of Western society.

For a Christian, love of self and money is the mantra of the Opposition. To suggest that a Catholic priest is pushing such a philosophy via a think tank on economics which he founded is mindboggling, yet Self makes the connection between Mandeville/Smith and Austrian Economics:

The state of the world today and the primacy of the multinational corporation, based on the ultra-liberal "free trade" economic ideas that trace back to Adam Smith, owe a great deal to the twentieth century economists who have grown famous packaging and promoting this satanic system to the world. This section will highlight these economists, men such as Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich A. Hayek, Murray N. Rothbard and Milton Friedman, and it will uncover how their twisted ideas on Morality, Liberty and the purpose of Government became prominent only through concerted backing from the Anglo-American Establishment. Without Rockefeller, Wall Street and the British Oligarchy the fascist anti-human principles of extreme laissez faire advocated by these economists would have never been accepted and the world would be a much better place today.

The remainder of the chapter dissects this school of thought and deserves to be read in full. Near the end Self quotes Jeffrey Steinberg:

Von Hayek totally rejected the principle that man was created in the image of God. In fact, he traced his own philosophical roots to the early eighteenth century Satanist, Bernard Mandeville. In a lecture he delivered at the British Academy on March 23, 1966, von Hayek lauded Mandeville as a "master mind," as the inventor of modern psychology, and as the true intellectual forbearer of David Hume, Adam Smith, Jeremy Bentham, Carl Savigny and Charles Darwin.
Von Hayek argued in his Mandeville lecture that Mandeville's poem, "The Fable of the Bees," was perhaps the greatest philosophical treatise ever composed. He credited Mandeville with inspiring Adam Smith's argument for the unbridled free market.

Self tells us further:

David Peterson, in Revoking the Moral Order, focuses on the parallel conclusions drawn by Friedrich Hayek, and explains how genuine Christianity has always been the Austrian School's greatest enemy...

Quoting Peterson:

Solidarism and altruism are unequivocally the essence of a true Christian civilization. They are the cultural expression of "agape" or charity, derived from a devotion to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Austrian School philosopher praises capitalism and individual freedom because he believes they are a triumph over the ridiculous superstitions of Christianity.

Self believes that his argument brings us to the conclusion that "Perhaps now the designation of extreme laissez faire economic theory as 'satanic' is sounding much more appropriate."

He mentions the Mount Pelerin Society:

In the following years Antony Fisher and the Mont Pelerin Society would be influential in creating numerous "conservative" think tanks and organizations that promoted neo-liberal free market economic policies for the Establishment. This is a crucial point to understand: that Hayek's economic views were that of extreme liberalism. ...

...the corruption of American Conservatism was a huge success, and the neo-liberal economic agenda promoted by Hayek, Fisher and the Mont Pelerin Society expanded to include the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC in 1973, the Fraser Institute in Vancouver in 1974, the Manhattan Institute in 1977, and the Pacific Institute for Public Policy Research in San Francisco in 1978.

As we approach a presidential election in which no good choice seems at present to be emerging, we need to be aware of what lies behind the third party candidate who touts the buzz word of "freedom" which we all tune into while being a spokesman for the kind of system that Self has described.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!

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