“Give a Man a Fish, and You Feed Him for a Day. Teach a Man To Fish, and You Feed Him for a Lifetime”

I am sure you have heard this proverb many times. The proverb uses fish to stand for all food. It could be rephrased as: “Give a man some food and you will feed him for a day. Teach him to get his own food, and he will be fed for a lifetime.” The idea is to make a person self-sufficient.

However, the proverb presupposes two things. First, that you are allowed to fish in a particular place for free. But this is not true in places such as Illinois (where I live). I am allowed to fish only if I purchase a fishing license. Second, this assumes that there are fish in the water where I wish to fish. But given our ecological policies, there may not be any fish to fish for; or, they may be diseased and inedible.

Generalizing, in order to get food on your own, you must have free access to subsistence land. For the time being, there are indigenous stateless people who do have some limited free access; the rest of us who live in States, have to purchase or rent such subsistence land.

Two Foundations of Capitalism

Capitalism is best understood as a method to create a pool of people who must work to survive (proletarians). This method — carried out by the State in the form of laws — is twofold: (1) forbid free access to subsistence land, (2) introduce a property tax. [The British in Africa called it a “hut tax.”]

The consequence is that even after buying a property and getting rid of a mortgage on the property, no one can live on such a property for free because there is a rent to be paid to the government — a property tax.

I came across an interesting article explaining the origin of property taxes:

Alana Semuels, “The Feudal Origins of America’s Most-Hated Tax,” The Atlantic, August 24, 2016.

Her source of information seems to be:

Jonathan R. T. Hughes, The Governmental Habit Redux: Economic Control from Colonial Times to the Present, 1991.

Can a log-cabin be built in one day?

I read about the Harmonists (aka Rappists), who made their final move to Economy, which today is called Ambridge, Pa. on the Ohio River about 15 miles northwest of Pittsburgh. There is preserved some of the old Harmonist village, including the house of George Rapp, their founder and leader. Anyway, what struck me was the claim that they build log-houses at the rate of one a day! Is this possible? Watch the video clips below.

In 1824 they removed once more. They sold the town of Harmony and twenty thousand acres of land to Robert Owen, who settled upon it his New Lanark colony when he took possession. Owen paid one hundred and fifty thousand dollars not nearly the value of the property, it is said; but the Harmonists had suffered from fever and ague and unpleasant neighbors, and were determined to remove. They then bought the property they still hold at Economy, and in 1825 removed to this their new and final home. One of the older members told me that the first detachment which came up from Indiana consisted of ninety men , mechanics and farmers; and these “made the work fly.” They laid out the town,cleared the timber from the streets and house places ; and during some time completed a log-house every day. Many of these log-cabins are still standing, but are no longer used as residences. The first church, now used as a storehouse, was a log-house of uncommonly large dimensions. (Charles Nordhoff (1830-1901), The communistic societies of the United States, 1875, pp. 76-77)

Ohio Amish Barn Raising – May 13th, 2014 in 3 Minutes and 30 seconds

[Movie] Witness (1985) – ‘Building the Barn’ scene

Capitalism is the cause of Poverty

Watch the following clip in which Milton Friedman addresses the problem of poverty in the United States.

My response:

If Marshall Sahlins is correct about hunter/gatherers forming the original “affluent” society, then poverty must surely be some kind of departure from the hunter/gatherer society. [I include horticulturists and herders.]

There are three characteristics which such primitive or “savage” societies have. The first is that everyone has a free access to subsistence land (socialism). The second is that they form small egalitarian democratic groups (anarchism). The third is that they share freely, and are prone to gift giving (communism).

Today (Dec. 3, 2020), someone posted on Facebook the following story, which for me illustrates the communism of hunter-gatherers:

“The anthropologist invited children from an African tribe to play a game. He placed a basket of fruit next to the tree and announced to the children, “The first of you to run to the tree will get all these sweet fruits.” When he motioned for the children to start the race, they clasped their hands tightly and ran all together, and then all sat together and enjoyed the delicious fruit.

The astonished anthropologist asked the children why they all ran together, because each of them could enjoy the fruit for themselves? To which the children replied: “Obonato”. Is it possible for one to be happy if everyone else is sad? “Obonato” in their language means: “I exist because we exist.””

Peter Joseph has characterized poverty as a deprivation of each of these. The first he calls “absolute poverty.” The second he calls “relative poverty.” The third he calls “poverty of the spirit.” [Peter Joseph, The New Human Rights Movement, 2017, pp. 157-59.]

The fundamental one is the deprivation of people of a free access to subsistence land [absolute poverty].

This deprivation — as Franz Oppenheimer has convincingly shown — can occur only through conquest. The conquest results in class divisions between the conquerors and the conquered, which morphs into the governors and the governed, the masters and the slaves, the landlords and the serfs, and now into a tripart system of the governors, the employers, and the employees.

All these systems i.e., slavery, feudalism, and capitalism, have one thing in common: forbidding a free access to subsistence land.

Milton Friedman has claimed that capitalism has been responsible for reducing poverty. If Friedman were conscious of the fact that capitalism requires a mass of proletarians (these are people who do not have a free access to land and subsistence) — something created by the laws of a centralized State — then the fact that some proletarians are given wages by the same system which deprived them of subsistence to begin with, then the situation has the form of taking everything from you, and then returning some of it back to you.

In other words, capitalism creates a proletariat and then takes some of them out of the created poverty by employing them.

See also: Andrew Chrucky, Milton Friedman’s Hidden Anarchism in Capitalism and Freedom, Aug. 8, 2008.

The Dilemma of Evil

I can understand and sympathize with either the judgment that Joe Biden is the lesser of the two evils or the judgment that Donald Trump is the lesser of the two evils. In other words, I and such people are in agreement that both Joe Biden and Donald Trump are evil. But if someone does not understand or agree that both are evil, then I consider such a person a fool.

It is abundantly clear that both the Democratic and the Republican Parties represent the interests of the rich. And this message was superbly expressed by Chris Hedges (see below):