I no longer try to tell beginners the whole truth. But it’s not because I want to keep it a secret. I’d prefer to tell the whole truth, and I’ve certainly tried to. But most beginners don’t understand it and don’t want to hear it — not yet, anyway. The deeper part of the truth is too different from what they’ve been told all their lives. It’s not just the answers that are unfamiliar: Even the questions are unfamiliar; even the vocabulary is unfamiliar. So I’m becoming a two-level dispenser of secret wisdom.
What I’ll tell beginners is that capitalism is the cause of all our troubles. That’s something they’ve heard before. Whether they agree with me or not, at least they think that they know what I’m talking about. It’s a place to start.
If they seem interested, I’ll explain how
capitalism causes alienation, bullying, violence, wars, inequality, poverty, plutocracy, corruption, and global warming. If it is continued, it will cause the collapse of the ecosystem and the death of us all.
But I won’t try to define capitalism. I’ll let them believe whatever they already believe about that. I won’t compare the different kinds of capitalism, and try to tell them that one kind is better than another. They’ll probably believe that private property is okay if distributed more equitably; and if that’s what they believe, I won’t argue about it. If they ask about socialism, I’ll tell them there are many different kinds, and if necessary I’ll give a few of the different definitions, but I’ll try to avoid going into further detail. (Different self-described socialists have different definitions, and many of them think they have the only “correct” definition.)
At some point, though, some people show that they’re ready for deeper knowledge. For instance, they may ask
“but what about the USSR? They didn’t have capitalism, but they had problems too”
or they may say
“some of these problems, such as war, are older than capitalism.”
When I hear that, or any other indication that they’re ready for more advanced teachings, I’ll say,
“oh, I was simplifying when I said that the problem was just capitalism. Really the problem is hierarchy and property, two institutions on which our “civilizations” have been based for 12,000 years. If we could but awaken to see the world as it really is, and throw off the shackles of hierarchy and property, we’d enter a new age of peace and love, an utterly different and better world, a heaven on earth.”
And I’ll reach into an inner pocket of my coat and pull out a copy of one of my leaflets about hierarchy and property.
That’s as far as my own knowledge has yet gone. I look forward to the day when I attain a still higher understanding. But in the meantime, either of the first two levels — blaming capitalism, or blaming hierarchy and property — gives a fairly good analysis. Let’s keep working on ending capitalism, hierarchy, property.
2022 March 21, version 2.08. (Original 2018 March.)