Tuesday, August 19, 2014

SYSTEMS MATTER Part 5: Investigation into Free Enterprise

Founder, Project C.U.R.E.
Author, The Happiest Man in the World: Life Lessons from a Cultural Economist


In the year 1776, a unique serendipity occurred that eventually affected the cultural economics of the world. The unusual occasion, however, could never have taken place had King John not signed the Magna Carta at Runnymede, England, in 1215. That proclamation of emancipation for the first time established a constitutional underpinning that the power of the king could be limited by a written document. Historically, that agreement became the cornerstone of freedom and the main line of liberty against arbitrary and unjust treatment of the citizens of a nation state.

In 1776, Thomas Jefferson articulated the Declaration of Independence expressing the general thinking and desires of his countrymen. There would be a new nation formed upon the vision of the Magna Carta, established on the principle that every person is entitled to pursue his or her own values.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights: that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”(1)
The other component of that 1776 serendipity was the economic masterpiece that was published in Great Britain March 9 of that same year. Adam Smith was a brilliant and energetic professor well trained in the early concepts of economics. Smith was intrigued as he pragmatically viewed the cultures and economics of the different nations of the world. I like to think of Adam Smith as the first ever cultural economist. He was not only concerned about the charts and matrices of the discipline of economics, but was also concerned about people, jobs, human desires, motivations, factories, and systems.

Adam Smith’s intellectual curiosity drove him to seek the answer to a fascinating cultural economic question, Why are some countries rich and other countries poor? He was willing to travel and simply observe and research and then compile and report. He did not just sit back and conjecture or speculate. He did not simply rely on the jaded propaganda of the politicians. He was not trying to figure out an economic and political scheme to control the world.

Smith was not coming from a position, as was Karl Marx, where he felt his true calling in life was to debunk, destroy, and overturn the world as he had found it. Neither was he coming from a position like that of Vladimir Lenin, where he was driven to follow a different path. That path had led Lenin on a sick and vindictive payback scheme for the Czar’s hanging of his brother for the attempted assassination plot. Lenin had vowed to totally destroy, through a Marxist-style uprising, every vestige of Russia’s culture and economic system through total revolution. Adam Smith simply wanted to find out and report the answer as to why some countries were rich and some were poor.

In 1776, Adam Smith’s findings were published in his book An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. That book established the Scotsman, Adam Smith, as the father of modern economics. He felt that “The theory that can absorb the greatest number of facts, and persist in doing so, generation after generation, through all changes of opinion and detail, is the one that must rule all observation.”(2)

From their experiences and observations, Adam Smith and Thomas Jefferson were each aware that concentrated government power could be a great danger to the ordinary man. They saw the protection of the citizen from the tyranny of the government as a necessary and perpetual need. Adam Smith observed that “Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice: all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things.”(3)

Based on Smith’s observations regarding the role of government in the affairs of a nation, he concluded that it was “first, the duty of protecting the society from the violence and invasion of other independent societies; second, the duty of protecting, as far as possible, every member of the society from the injustice or oppression of every other member of it, or the duty of establishing an exact administration of justice; and, third, the duty to erecting and maintaining certain public works and certain public institutions, which it can never be for the interest of any individual, or small number of individuals, to erect and maintain: because the profit could never repay the expense to any individual or small number of individuals, though it may frequently do much more than repay it to the great society.”(4)

So, in the nations that were viewed as better off, the functions of the governments were intentionally more restricted to protecting the civilians from enemies from without, protecting the civilians from each other from within, and establishing and maintaining certain public works that could not be offered by limited individuals.

Other principles that emerged from Smith’s observations and recorded in his book were:
  • The basic assumption that the prime psychological drive in man as an economic being is the drive of self-interest
  • He assumes the existence of a natural order in the universe which makes all the individual strivings for self-interest add up to the social good
  • The best program is to leave the economic process severely alone (non-intervention)

One more helpful insight that is gleaned from Smith’s report in the Wealth of Nations is that his definition of real wealth is the annual produce of the land and labor of the society. In other words, he sees production, or the ability to produce income, or the per capita income of a nation, as the determination of the true wealth of that nation. A nation that can produce high levels of income is wealthy. One that is capable of only low levels of income is poor.

But what is it that allows a nation to create a high level of income? Smith declares that the answer to that question is a simple one. The key to a wealthy nation is a productive nation. A productive nation is based on an economic system of individual freedom. The key lies in a system of free enterprise.

Indeed, the serendipity that came together in the year 1776 initiated a glorious experiment in economic and cultural freedom that has expanded the hopes, dreams, and expectations of the pragmatic and spiritual world of culture and economics. What now should we do with this system . . . with this dream?

Next Week: SYSTEMS MATTER: Part 6: A Productive Nation
 
(Research ideas from Dr. Jackson’s new writing project on Cultural Economics)

© Dr. James W. Jackson   
Permissions granted by Winston-Crown Publishing House
  
www.jameswjackson.com

Dr. James W. Jackson often describes himself as "The Happiest Man in the World." A successful businessman, award-winning author and humanitarian, Jackson is also a renowned Cultural Economist and international consultant, helping organizations and governments to apply sound economic principals to the transformation of culture so that everyone is "better off."

As the founder of Project C.U.R.E., Dr. Jackson traveled to more than one hundred fifty countries assessing healthcare facilities, meeting with government leaders and "delivering health and hope" in the form of medical supplies and equipment to the world's most needy people. Literally thousands of people are alive today as a direct result of the tireless efforts of Project C.U.R.E.'s staff, volunteers and Dr. Jackson. 

To contact Dr. Jackson, or to book him for an interview or speaking engagement: press@winstoncrown.com

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

SYSTEMS MATTER Part 4: MARX, COMMUNISM, and CULTURAL ECONOMICS

Founder, Project C.U.R.E.
Author, The Happiest Man in the World: Life Lessons from a Cultural Economist


Before we move forward, I would like for us to realistically consider the radical transformation that took place in Russia as a result of Lenin’s Bolshevik revolution. In previous articles we have made the statement that all transformation takes place at the intersection of culture and economics.

It is difficult for us to comprehend what actually happened when Lenin uncompromisingly pushed for the communist agenda of totally smashing the entire culture of Russia. It was total revolution, the destruction of all systems, a declaration of complete and new ownership of all assets, all accumulation, and all wealth and value. It was an unchallenged authority with full power that would determine what each individual would access, consume, possess, or utilize. That power would determine where the individuals would live, what they would eat, the clothes they would wear, what they would read, and even what they would think or talk about.

In prior discussions we have addressed the economic components of land, labor, capital, and the entrepreneur. All of the land and production of Russia was no longer allowed to be held or even influenced by any such things as market factors or individuals. All actions of labor and work would be directed ultimately by the politburo. All capital, including personal property, all livestock, all machinery, all furniture or utensils of work would be owned, possessed, and managed by the elite politburo. As for the entrepreneur . . . there would be no such thing.

On the cultural side of the matrix, traditions would be abolished. Those institutions that carried forward those traditions would no longer legally exist. The family would be restructured and the individual would be melded into the seamless whole of the communist party.

When I think about the profound and primal transformation that took place at the very announcement of Lenin– when he declared that the Soviet government under the direction of himself, the politburo, and the enforcing management of the soldiers, the peasants and the workers– I am reminded of the scene from the film Dr. Zhivago.

When Dr. Zhivago returned to his home in Moscow, from having been conscripted to treat the wounded and medically needy of the Red Army, he was met by a houseful of newly entitled citizens who now had equal possession and management of what had formerly been his family’s home. Zhivago, his wife, and her parents had been relegated to a very small area for their living quarters. The new inhabitants were even going to hold court when they discovered that the doctor was going to use some of the wood that he had formerly owned to burn in the small stove. No longer was the wood his, neither was the stove his, nor the house!

I have tried to picture in my mind and vicariously experience with my emotions the impact of that day of announcement. The Russian economy and culture bear the stripes of inefficiency, shortage, and lost opportunity to this day.

The Chinese, in the aftermath of their Cultural Revolution and bout with communism, have been forging ahead trying to rediscover the secrets to efficiency and abundance. Russia continues to reject the phenomenon of efficient production and abundance. When it runs out of the supply it has taken from the czars, stolen from its close neighbors, or pillaged from all the old members of the former Soviet Federation, President Putin can only resort to the one strategy Russia knows for accumulation of wealth: theft by appropriation, or simply, theft.

When you don’t produce things then you must resort to taking wealth by stealing. Russia is once more embarking on the old strategy of stealing through the practice of expansionism. They must now have, again, the wealth of Ukraine.

I recall riding in an automobile near Sinuiju City on one of my trips to North Korea. As I viewed the countryside quilted with rice paddies and rectangular concrete communist housing units, I was plagued by a menacing thought. Finally, I decided to risk asking one of the communist leaders in the car this probing question:

“This is beautiful land for agriculture. I would suppose that before the Marxist revolution it had been owned continuously by four or five generations of families in succession. What was the response of the families who had owned the land for so long when Great Leader Kim Il Sung announced that they no longer owned the land, tore down their homes and dwellings, and insisted that everyone move into the rectangular concrete buildings?”

“Oh, it was a wonderful day,” was their scripted reply. “Dr. Jackson, there is no way you can understand how eager everyone was to respond to Great Leader’s glorious announcement that now no one owned anything, but everyone owned everything. From that day on Great Leader Kim Il Sung would personally take care of all of our needs. No one would be in want of anything. They were all so happy to move into their new homes with others who would be tending the communal rice fields together with them.”

I quietly continued my research over the years and discovered that the problem of surrendering the family inheritance was simply solved by graciously allowing the family members to hint at an attitude of protest only once. They were murdered. At that point the rice production strangely fed a higher percentage of the population than before. As the years have gone by the sad truth is that the population has decreased but the production has dwindled until there is not enough rice produced to even feed the hungry population, to say nothing of having any excess to sell to eager international buyers. Systems matter!

Next week, SYSTEMS MATTER Part 5: Investigating Free Enterprise.

          (Research ideas from Dr. Jackson’s new writing project on Cultural Economics)

© Dr. James W. Jackson   
Permissions granted by Winston-Crown Publishing House
  

Dr. James W. Jackson often describes himself as "The Happiest Man in the World." A successful businessman, award-winning author and humanitarian, Jackson is also a renowned Cultural Economist and international consultant, helping organizations and governments to apply sound economic principals to the transformation of culture so that everyone is "better off."

As the founder of Project C.U.R.E., Dr. Jackson traveled to more than one hundred fifty countries assessing healthcare facilities, meeting with government leaders and "delivering health and hope" in the form of medical supplies and equipment to the world's most needy people. Literally thousands of people are alive today as a direct result of the tireless efforts of Project C.U.R.E.'s staff, volunteers and Dr. Jackson. 

To contact Dr. Jackson, or to book him for an interview or speaking engagement: press@winstoncrown.com

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

SYSTEMS MATTER Part 3: From Theory into History

Founder, Project C.U.R.E.
Author, The Happiest Man in the World: Life Lessons from a Cultural Economist



In this intriguing saga of cultural economics and social systems one more player needs to be introduced. Vladimir Lenin was the founder of the Russian Communist Party, the Leader of the Bolshevik Revolution, and architect of the first ever Soviet state. Had it not been for Vladimir Lenin, it is very probable that the theoretical writings of Marx and Engles would have remained as interesting conjecture and late night reading material. But it must also be said that without the systemized writings of Marx and Engles, Lenin would not have had the articulated basis for his brash and flawed experiment of organized communism.

The name Lenin was an alias. He was born Vladimir Llyich Ulyanov in 1870, three years after Marx had written Das Kapital. The oppression of the Russian culture had radicalized the entire Ulyanov family, and all eventually became involved in acts of revolution. Vladimir’s oldest brother Alexander was hanged for participation in a terrorist bomb attack in an attempt to assassinate the Czar, Alexander III. His brother’s execution is considered the tipping point for Vladimir’s overwhelming determination to succeed in his lifelong revolutionary exploits.

A picture entitled We Will Follow a Different Path portrays Lenin and his mother grieving over Alexander’s hanging, and for Vladimir that meant absolutely embracing the Marxist approach for total revolution and communism. It was Lenin who translated the writings of Marx and Engles into the Russian language. In 1889 Lenin declared himself a Marxist communist and said, “Give us an organization of revolutionaries and we will overthrow Russia.”(1)

Marx and Engles, as well as Lenin, saw the wealth and opulence of the Czars and the bourgeoisie class in Russia and Europe as an “object” or a thing. They truly believed that if the proletariat would finally become poor enough and hungry enough they would rise up en masse against the wealthy, plunder the riches, grab the golden egg of the Czars, and once and for all eliminate the upper class. Then they would be free to take their newly acquired goods, redistribute them amongst the proletariat, and they would all live happily ever after.

In order to see the plan successfully accomplished, it was absolutely imperative that there be a total revolution, a dismantling of all systems, a declaration of new ownership of all wealth, and the announcement of a fair and equitable plan for redistribution.

In 1905, the Czar Emperor Nicholas II became embroiled in a bitter war with Japan. The Russian rag-tag army lost nearly every battle and suffered debilitating casualties. The Russian people were sick of the war and sick of the costs of the conflict that left the economy in shambles. The famine and starvation that followed drove the people to the streets in protest of the Czar’s failures and a representation formally gathered to submit petitions of protest to the Emperor. The Emperor’s soldiers summarily shot and killed the bearers of the petitions. The stage was set for a rebellion and revolution.

But the Emperor moved quickly and agreed to concessions including the creation of a people’s elected legislation assembly called the Duma. Was it possible that could have been the turning point in history as much as King John of England agreeing to the signing of the Magna Carta at Runnymede?

The Magna Carta had been in place in England and had proven to be the cornerstone of liberty, and a viable defense against arbitrary and unjust treatment of the citizens, and the framework of liberty and enterprise. Was Czar Nicholas II not moving in the same direction? Would that model not have become Russia’s correction burn and opened the door to the free world and prosperity?

We will never know. Lenin returned to Russia from self-imposed exile. He was driven by the fear that an absolutely good revolution could go to waste. He was consumed by the memory of his hanging brother and his vow of total revolution and the crushing of all existing systems by the Marxist creed.

There might never be another prime opportunity for the violent overthrow of the Russian government to take place and the Marxist/Leninist experiment of communism instituted. What a shame it would be if the Menshevik Party could settle the dispute and receive from the Czar not only a sign of willingness to a movement toward reconciliation and representative government, but openness to ideas of democracy and free market.

There was too much historic potential to lose. Marx had propounded that the total overthrow of the Czar and the confiscation and control of everything would set communism in a position to also seize full control of the world by surrounding and isolating the capitalist nations of the west and also bring them to their knees. Resistance to Lenin was from the Menshevik Party. They feared that Lenin’s plans would lead to a one man dictatorship. In response, Lenin organized a separate entity with uncompromising mandates of total revolution and control. He now appealed not only to the peasants and the workers, but especially reached out to Russia’s discouraged and disenfranchised soldiers of the Czar.

Lenin was determined to win at any cost. He implemented tactics of terror and genocide to secure his power base. He initiated Red Terror to violently wipe out all opposition within the civilian population. The unchecked war between the revolutionary Red Army and the loyalist White Army raged for another three years.

The Czar and his family were deposed in 1917. They were whisked away and assassinated without hearing or trial. Lenin then proclaimed that Russia was a Soviet government ruled directly by soldiers, peasants, and workers. The people rejoiced. Lenin had won the revolution and had established the first ever Soviet Communist State.

Vladimir Lenin suffered two strokes in 1922, thought to be the result of the doctors not being able to remove bullets that were lodged in his body following a failed assassination attempt. He died in 1924 following another stroke at the age of 53. Joseph Stalin assumed the leadership of the communist Soviet State. He proved to be even more despotic and violent in his leadership than was Lenin. But he cleverly was able to solidify the population of Russia by encouraging a cult-like atmosphere that glorified the theories and teachings of Lenin that had been based on the writings of Karl Marx and Friedrick Engles.

Next week: SYSTEMS MATTER Part 4: Marx, Communism, and Cultural Economics 
 
(Research ideas from Dr. Jackson's new writing project on Cultural Economics)


© Dr. James W. Jackson  
Permissions granted by Winston-Crown Publishing House

www.drjameswjackson.com

Dr. James W. Jackson often describes himself as "The Happiest Man in the World." A successful businessman, award-winning author and humanitarian, Jackson is also a renowned Cultural Economist and international consultant, helping organizations and governments to apply sound economic principals to the transformation of culture so that everyone is "better off."

As the founder of Project C.U.R.E., Dr. Jackson traveled to more than one hundred fifty countries assessing healthcare facilities, meeting with government leaders and "delivering health and hope" in the form of medical supplies and equipment to the world's most needy people. Literally thousands of people are alive today as a direct result of the tireless efforts of Project C.U.R.E.'s staff, volunteers and Dr. Jackson. 

To contact Dr. Jackson, or to book him for an interview or speaking engagement: press@winstoncrown.com