[Editor: This is a chapter from Australianism (1954) by John Fisher.]
Law no. 2: The law of human activity.
A simple law which has eluded the vast majority throughout history relates the individual personality to his material environment. It states that the final form of society consists of all people providing their own needs by simple, ingenious, techniques directly from the soil.
Scientists have already achieved the transmutation of elements, so it is only a matter of time before these processes will be used by .the individual in the mastery of his environment. This law does not conflict in any way with human progress, which consists essentially in the increasing understanding of nature’s laws. Improvements in the welfare of the individual are purely the result of such increases, which should always be widely publicised for the benefit of all mankind.
Fanatics warped by the lifelong pursuit of money, however, elevate “publicity” to the status of a God, when its proper and simple purpose, in any case, should be the broadcasting of scientific facts to an enlightened and eager public, rather than conditioning it to ignore the familiar, and become enslaved to numerous childish habits called “public opinion”.
Professional advertisers use a standard blurb describing how publicity alone permits the successful utilisation of mass production. Their basic philosophy that selling is the source and aim of human progress is outmoded by recognising that individual intelligence is the more fundamental source and aim of progress. Production should not be everlastingly pursuing the inexhaustible markets which make up the advertiser’s paradise, and tend to create wasteful, abnormal, and degenerating habits, but should aim to completely fill the needs for civilised living throughout the community. As a result of the abuse of publicity, many civilised people aspire to possess a shiny motor-car or television set, and often end in sub-standard homes with undernourished children.
The primitive cultural level o£ capitalist society consists precisely in the shallowness and unbalance of its dominant ideals, which rob most of reasonable opinions. Every truly cultured person should know roughly the relative importance of all things to his welfare and that of humanity, should base his whole outlook on human, not material values. He should have uppermost in his social conscience the beautiful and complete home-life needed to nurture the complete human being and should assess all problems by their relationship to the basic human conception.
T he second law shows the direction in which all activity must evolve if progress is to occur at all levels. However, an increasing decentralisation of the instruments of production into the hands of the individual, is frequently and wrongly interpreted as successful “competition”, rather than the working of natural law.
Throughout history, in all branches of economic activity, nothing has ever been accomplished by “competition” that could not have been bettered by “co-operation”. The mechanism of “competition” can be said to take place as soon as two or more people seek to solve a problem. If these people solve the problem in a spirit of hostility towards one another, they are little better than savages. Physical competition should be kept quite separate from economic matters, in irrational activity such as sport. In economic affairs it means the rule of barbarism. “Competition” must not be used to justify freedom, which is the sacred right of every enlightened individual, and is guaranteed by an understanding of the law.
The cultivation and disemmination of ideas is the cause of human progress. The vital need for “competition” between ideas in the minds of men is allowed to increasingly complicate an economic process which instead should steadily make the individual more completely the master of his environment. The “intelligentsia” of capitalism claim that economic problems are “very complicated” because they fail to understand their own minds, whereas the man who is master of his destiny understands his own nature and seeks the overall view of human affairs enjoyed by God. The essence of all production must be extremely simple if viewed in the light of natural law.
Although the purpose of all production has always been the fundamentally simple transformation of the soil’s fruits into the hands of the individual, an unnecessary “means of exchange” is now the basis of social organisation, and the goal of most activity. Successive generations are wrongly conditioned into acceptance of various doubtful mechanisms and idols, and remain frustrated in their failure to hasten social reforms and achieve happiness. Money is power only so long as men hold it in primitive awe and refuse to recognise human intelligence as the source of human progress. The ordinary citizen will never free himself from the tyrannies of international finance while he allows money to dominate his outlook on his environment. Nowadays all people, from lords to lackeys, statesmen to spruikers, from professors to prattlers, hold the infantile belief that the production and distribution of human needs is made simpler by superimposing upon it the production and distribution of money.
The monetary assessment of human activity accepts the huge gambling industries and the other purely non-productive institutions of banking, insurance, investment, etc., resulting from human ignorance. The people who keep these institutions running have never had the chance to assess their real value, and choose a human career, due to the shortcomings of the education system.
Every place in the world that has been contaminated by the lust for money supports a degraded, hopeless, drifting class of botched personalities who lack a worthy purpose in life. They live only for easy money, racing, drink, etc., and are the human sacrifices to the graven image of “competition”, “profit-motive” and “publicity”.
The primary wish of all reasonable folk should be to rescue the material welfare of the individual from the quagmire of gambling and exploitation in which it is now lost. This can only be done through a community concept of plenty-for-all of the basic needs of food, housing, and clothing, delegating money-handling to those affairs where it cannot cause suffering. In an enlightened society education should provide the slight stimulus needed to set the human mind questing along upward paths. The inheritance of primitive living conditions seldom evokes an other than primitive response, though many muddled thinkers believe that the search for wisdom is promoted by the threat of starvation.
The real wealth of any community is the intellectual qualities and ability-to-co-operate of its citizens. When skill replaces currency as the greatest real asset in the community, then all the valuable social forces will be unleashed. The ability to utilise the environment in meeting individual and community needs will be enormously improved and more greatly respected when it is directed to the fashioning of a progressive, human and leisured way of life, rather than to collecting money.
John Fisher, Australianism, self-published: Harcourt Gardens (SA), , pages 9-12
spruiker = someone who touts (spruiks) for business; someone who advertises a business or service by shouting or loud verbalisation, especially at an entrance to a show, theatre, or place of business