Chapter 10, New Vistas
Ideas have wings. There is no transportation problem in the export of an idea, and one may give an idea without losing it. Both the giver and the receiver are benefited if the idea is sound. Let us give the peoples of the world an idea, a liberating idea, a constructive idea that involves no sacrifice on our part and no obligation or embarrassment on the part of others.
The social interest is served by the abolition of boundaries. Just as it is imprudent for the family to strive for self sufficiency and deny itself the advantage of specialization and exchange, so it is adverse to the social interest to be walled about by political boundaries. Yet this adverse condition grows with the ever-increasing number of nations, each of which strives for self-sufficiency, balking the economic law of inter-dependence.
The comparative success of the American federation of states is due largely to its denial of nationalism to the individual states. None of the states of this union has the power to set up trade barriers, make war or operate a separate monetary system. But for this curbing of nationalism, America would be another Europe. If the forty-eight states were independent nations, each would undertake to be self-sufficient, thus countering the advantages of specialization and, through the war-making power, burdening itself with costly military establishments. The example of the United States demonstrates that the less nationalism over a given area, the better for the citizens thereof.
While the United States has continuously extended the area of non-nationalism from the original thirteen states to the present forty-eight, the rest of the world has been giving birth to separate national states, setting up more barriers to free intercourse. Each war brings new splinter states. The "secret" of the success of the American federation has apparently been kept from our statesmen. They hail the birth of each new nation as a manifestation of self-determinism and democracy. Nonetheless they object to such separation in the realm of the United States, as was amply demonstrated by the Civil War.
Independence, in politics, means the right of politicians to bracket a portion of society under their exclusive governorship. These "independent" peoples are walled about against intercourse with the rest of society, and denied self determination within their own realm. All of us are prisoners of some state to which, we are told, we must give fealty under a private brand of patriotism.
Nationalism means separatism, while all human urges, conscious and unconscious, are toward union. Federation of states is impossible because of the jealousy of the politicians who govern the several states. Nor would it serve the social end of self determinism if it were possible, since the ideal of self determinism must be pursued in nonpolitical ways. The authentic approach to realizing man's dream of world union is through the vehicle of a nonpolitical monetary system.
We are approaching the universal collapse of the political monetary system. With such collapse will come revolutions, unless an alternative monetary system shall first come into existence. A true monetary system could avert the chaos and forestall revolution, thereby preserving the existing national states even while gradually rendering them harmless. For the political monetary system is the principal instrument of state separatism. Once it is gone, all other interferences with production and exchange will recede. Denied power over the economy through their respective monetary systems, the states will be obliged to abandon their paternalistic pose and stand before the people in their true light, as dependents without productive powers, and utterly devoid of any powers of largess. The trend of human affairs will then be as irresistibly toward individualism and self determination as the present trend is toward socialism and domination by the state. The tide will have set strongly toward union and away from economic separation.
Social, political and economic schemes in great variety have been dreamed by dreamers who fitted men into the mosaic of their vision. Seldom ever has it been proposed, through an empirical system that each man dream his own dream and let the pattern of society work itself out.
Happiness is the objective of every life, but the word happiness cannot be defined except concretely, and then only by the one who is to experience it. Even if it were possible to give to any man or system dictatorial powers, and they were exerted ever so benevolently, they still could not bring happiness, because no mind outside the individual can conceive happiness for him. The concept and the indulgence are inseparable.
It is a concept of most profound implications to envision each individual as the architect of his own happiness and the builder of it. This is the ideal that the valun system projects. The life which it contemplates is individualism triumphant. Of course, the valun system or its equivalent would operate in a world of tangibles, and it is not suggested that happiness is made up only of material things. But so far as material things or their creation can bring happiness, a true monetary system is the tool of attainment.
Since no social order has heretofore been predicated upon the principle of a nonpolitical monetary system, it follows that its promulgation will require a revolution in thought and action and that it will be many years before its full implications can be comprehended. We can be sure, however, that if man holds to the old concept that the power over the issuance of money lies in some external entity, he will curb his progress. When he asserts that the creation of money is within his own powers, he will surmount the last major barrier to self advancement and a limitless horizon will open before him.
End of the Flight From Inflation book. Next are the Selected Essays 1936 to 1950