[Editor: This is a chapter from Australianism (1954) by John Fisher.]
In order to bring about the desired re-organisation of human affairs, the supreme need is for every individual to picture in his mind the kind of leisured life he would like to lead in a beautiful home setting. Nearly all the heaped constructions of capitalism are unnecessary to real human progress and are an insult to the thwarted aspirations of creative beings. The individual must fill his mind with positive, constructive plans for the original things he would like to do in a new world. The joys of creation can only be experienced individually, and are never bestowed by the possession of a sum of money. Spending a lifetime accumulating money removes the joy from most of it.
No person has ever given up a project for want of brains, but only through lack of patience, money, materials, equipment, or time. Brain power is restricted only by restricted creative facilities. Capitalist society is not organised for progress, but only for circulating money, and individual ingenuity is repressed to serve the restricting needs of investment-security and long-established commercial follies. The dominant picture in the minds of all people should be of a spacious life lived in a home of beauty, with ample access to all creative requirements, such as community workshops, libraries, playing-fields and natural resources. By filling his mind with all that which is splendid, the ordinary citizen can strengthen his own intellect and self-confidence.
Skilful people can easily grow more than half their food under existing social conditions, and this self-sufficiency should be extended on an individual and co-operative basis. Money speaks all languages only in a primitive world, but “know-how” is the wealth of a scientific society. Skills are best transmitted and developed upon the basis of a constructive and stimulating home-life which offers absolute creative freedom together with access to the highest authorities in every branch of learning. A tragic effect of the separation of man from the source of his livelihood is the hungry wanderings of the unemployed homeless, in time of depression, when a full stomach is so easily assured with so little effort in a civilised home. Human ignorance has caused drinking, gambling and commuting to usurp the little time that is needed to maintain a home-garden.
It is important for all to realise fully the extent of the psychological confusion existing throughout the world to-day. The needs of the civilised individual, as set out in Table 3, PP. 17, are all that is needed to guarantee absolute material security from the cradle to the grave, plus the kind of creative stimulus that nurtures the world’s greatest adventurers. If people grew up in such an environment, they would inherit a masterly outlook on the world and the enlightened desire to fulfil their natural destinies. Mankind would then be, in fact, the “lord of the earth.”
A self-disciplined relaxation of all the primitive tensions which possess men’s minds to-day must occur, for they are the result of the inhuman capitalist craving for money. Intelligent people, by merely recognising the negative, restricting nature of the conditioning process imposed upon their minds by civilisation can, in one stroke of self-enightenment, replace it by a natural and serene wisdom. Through conscious resolution alone can men achieve the self-control which will permit them to understand themselves and their fellows, and to master their environment
The unnatural craving for money throughout civilisation leads to the degradation of all that is worthy in human relationships, and strengthens primitive passions. When it is suggested that, in the realm of economic activity, people should ignore money and merely secure directly all their personal requirements, the first reaction is one of incredulity, because all social relationships are poisoned by the primitive falsehoods upon which civilisation is constructed. Brought up in an environment of material abundance and intellectual ferment, people would not be dominated by greed but would naturally pursue the myriad non-oppressive tasks that challenge the creative instincts. When all men value each other as fellow-crusaders in the conquest of human destiny, they will search instead for all that is noble in human nature, in order that they themselves may derive maximum benefit from it. The intellectual qualities fostered by a loyalty to eternal values inspire all that is admirable in human endeavour.
Undue complexity besets reformers whenever social problems are approached from the economic standpoint, because the leisured, secure, constructive and spontaneous way of life is itself the final goal; it must not be sold for money but simply enjoyed. The new way of life can never be rewarded by money, for real happiness is a purely spiritual attainment. The economic approach in all matters of working hours, holidays, social services, subsidies, etc., accepts the falsehoods upon which industrial civilisation is constructed, accepts the stupidity of allowing money to stand between the community and the environment it must utilise. It prevents men from seeing their lives as a single enriching pilgrimage on the road to eternity, and shatters the community into conflicting and frustrated pressure-groups.
The masterful individual must become the key symbol in all social thinking. The individual is fundamental throughout history and all other institutions should be designed, modified, or rejected, to serve his requirements.
Retailers are applauded for seeking more “freedom” by attaching themselves for longer periods to the distributing system. Education inflicts upon most people the ambition to manipulate, which becomes the measure of human achievement. A slight effort of self-control will permit all people to co-operate in bringing the ideal economic system into being, and all activity should be viewed with the discrimination suggested by Table 1, PP. 7. Proprietors should consult one another in order to avoid duplication, and keep ever before them the vision of a secure society grouped about the soil, with the stimulating adventures of an expanding horizon a daily experience, not a dream of the remote future. Human ingenuity might invest every occupation, however humble, with a glamor equalling that of the Barber of Seville. The revolution will be entirely a masterpiece of the human imagination.
Most of the vocations of civilisation are an unnecessary degradation of human nobility, although throughout them all, are individuals who are aware of their frustrations, their undeveloped faculties and talents, and of the exquisite works they might produce if they were allowed to nourish their minds as nature intended. Throughout society are fine skills awaiting more worthy outlet, further cultivation, and application in healing the spiritually-stunted prisoners of civilisation. Real individual enrichment can never be promoted by monetary lures, but only the pursuit of happiness, which is its own priceless reward.
Having convinced himself of the importance of his three daily meals in achieving security, the intelligent man, wherever he lives, will direct his attention to the cultivation of the soil for the purpose of producing as many of his own needs as is possible, in co-operation with his friends. Many adaptable and simple machines have been devised to meet the requirements of intelligent people, but can only be used to best advantage in an enlightened community. If a respect of natural law existed throughout society, then at every level of activity the desired movements would automatically occur, along the lines suggested in Table 2, PP. 13.
Nobody would be harmed if all capitalist activities ceased excepting medical and essential services, and the food industries, in which a state of emergency should be recognised, for no reasonable society should permit their involvement in gambling and exploitation. All should then co-operate in the reconstruction of industry on an efficient basis, producing scientifically to completely meet civilised needs. The community should unite in a friendly, stimulating interchange of ideas in bringing about the common ideal of a society fashioned to meet the needs of the individual. All skilled persons will find their skills automatically used to best advantage to themselves and to mankind without greater demands being made upon them than their own will to serve a great ideal. The order, reason, and beauty of all society will reflect the order, reason and beauty reigning in its inhabitants’ minds.
Society to-day is designed about the conception of man as a robot made for chasing money, and is not fashioned to serve his needs as a spiritual being. Cities should be humanised into spacious places free from squalor, where human souls may find peace, stimulus, leisure, and a life that is zestful without being overpowering, adventurous without being exhausting, a place where, in a word, man is master.
The instruments of production are at a higher stage of development to-day than ever before, making the “means of exchange” question obsolete. Every enlightened society should produce goods in order to completely meet the civilised needs of every individual. Production-for-use would vastly reduce the necessary amount of work, allowing a greatly increased indulgence in the various creative and adventurous activities demanded by the intelligent individual.
The following sets out, in order of importance, the main causes of inefficiency in the capitalist economy:
(1) Present-day activity is not grouped about the soil, and since food is by far the main item of individual consumption, an enormous waste of effort occurs in its distribution. The rural distribution of a co-operative community would permit the simple securing of most housing and furniture requirements by all, and the remaining needs of the individual should be produced by productive units established along the lines suggested in Table 2, PP. 13.
(2) Capitalist cities should be spread out into independent communities, to abolish the time and labour-wasting criss-crossing of suburban travel and transport. All people can co-operate intelligently in adjusting the localities of their employment and homes so that more time can be spent in fashioning the confident and complete home-life which might permit more holidays, more adventure, and the cultivation of skills and versatility.
(3) Unnecessary economic duplication should be eliminated.
(4) All salesmen, banking, insurance and most paper-work is unnecessary.
Many countries have benefited from the fine culture of old Europe, though there have been some filthy importations. One very unfortunate event has been the diffusion of a philosophy which places all human qualities and motives in the same category as sticks and stones, and which advocates the pillaging of men by each other in the attempt to set up a privileged, unproductive ruling class. The dependence of the working classes to-day upon trade unions and politicians hinders the efficient and leisured society that will emerge when they co-operate their efforts and skills about the soil.
A tendency of all materialistic socialist thinking is to emphasise authoritarian legislation and the administrative mechanisms it demands. Such emphasis is directed at the wrong end of human activity, and should be placed instead upon the intelligent individual and the logical community co-operation which follows the recognition of true fundamental principles. The administrative and technical skills which run industry, as distinct from the purely financial string-pullers, are perfectly capable of shaping industry to meet the best needs of the individual and of humanity, and all other practical workers can appreciate the quality and integrity of their work, for they share with them the artist’s pursuit of excellence for its own sake. Aspirants to political power, exploiters and oppressors, are frequently diverted in irrelevant argument, while practical thinkers who understand the purpose and direction of human activity are not deceived by politicians and their parasitic impositions upon the real workers of society. Reformers should advocate a full, joyous, and creative life for all, rather than poison people with the craze for money and the degrading, trivial perversions that go with it.
All politicians, trade unions, and spokesmen of the other traditional, unproductive capitalist excesses are opposed to the adoption of ideals which will make the ordinary citizen more completely the master of his own life, and so must encourage the sub-human worship of money. Since skill will be the new currency, the individual’s wealth will be seen in the beauty of his home, and in the variety and excellence of its surroundings and facilities. A moron can possess money, but only a civilised intellect can fashion a noble way of life out of the natural environment. In the new society, the status of the individual will depend upon either his practical skill, his understanding of the best social ends to pursue, or upon his ability to show his fellows how to live the good life.
It is therefore completely futile waiting for political action, for the rise of the intelligent individual means the fall of all parasitic institutions, which are not likely to commit suicide. Political institutions are already being replaced by organisations for the co-ordination and dissemination of knowledge, which alone are essential to the continuance of human progress. They should not be supported, however, by taxation imposts, but should be grouped, like all other special institutions, about the soil, taking their needs from the abundance of the community, and giving in return their best services, immune from the influence of any sectional interest.
These suggestions must be followed with courage and decision, for they herald the most world-shaking reformation in all history. War causes the instinct for bodily survival to unite large numbers of people in a common cause. The aspirations of the whole human race to immortality will unite it in a crusade for human betterment unsurpassed in human experience. Opponents to the crusade will be as ants resisting the tide, whereas imaginative workers have merely to touch the pebble which will release the avalanche.
John Fisher, Australianism, self-published: Harcourt Gardens (SA), , pages 24-29
[Editor: Changed “primitve world” to “primitive world”; “strenghtens” to “strengthens”; “should be elminated” to “should be eliminated”. The several references to “PP.” regarding single page numbers are in the original text, although normally the notation “p.” is used to refer to single page numbers, whilst the notation “pp.” is used to refer to multiple page numbers.]
The Barber of Seville = the name of three stage productions in the 18th and 19th centuries: a 1773 play by Pierre Beaumarchais (1732-1799), a French playwright; a 1782 comic opera by Giovanni Paisiello (also spelt “Paesiello”) (1740-1816), an Italian composer; an 1816 opera by Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868), an Italian composer (both of the Italian operas were adapted from the French play)