The American Revolution – The Birth of Institutional Neutrality

The following is a selection from a book in progress on the history of humanity from the perspective of synergic science. This is the first post of the Human History Series.

Timothy Wilken

Adversity dominated human life at the time of the American Revolution in 1776. Slavery, indentured service, serfdom, and child labor were all common. Most humans suffered from overwork and underpay. Life was hard and then you died. Most of America’s early immigrants were fleeing Europe to escape the loss from Adversity.

Neutral mechanisms had emerged in the old world. Trade began with the inception of Civilization in 3500 BC. The Phoenicians invented money in 1500 BC. Barter and local markets were a common. However, more modern mechanisms of Neutrality were just emerging, as Hazel Henderson explains:

Until the sixteenth century the notion of purely economic phenomena, isolated from the fabric of life, did not exist. Nor was there a national system of markets. That, too, is a relatively recent phenomena which originated in seventeenth century England.

Of course markets have existed since the dawn of Civilization, but they were based on barter, not cash, and so they were bound to be local.”

However, the presence of neutral mechanisms do not make a neutral world, human economics and politics were heavily dominated by Adversity in the eighteenth century.

By 1776, one group of humans had their fill of Adversity and the worst of times. They felt the same as all other humans when it came to losing. They didn’t like it. All humans seek to avoid the loss. How do I protect myself from injury. How do I protect myself from being robbed or cheated? And, what about crime and war? All living systems seek to avoid loss. Loss is inevitable in the adversary world. If humanity was to learn to avoid loss, things would have to change.

This would require a new way of thinking. Earlier in The Science section, I discussed Knowing, Nature, Universe, and the ‘laws’ of Nature. It may not have been apparent to the reader that these subjects can have an effect on the everyday lives of humans, they can as Cosmologist, Timothy Ferris explains:

One can, of course, ask what difference cosmology makes to our everyday lives. The answer to this question, oddly enough, is that it seems to matter a lot. For some reason ­and nobody seems to know just why ­virtually every human society, from ancient Egyptians to Native Americans to the residents of just about every towering city and tiny village today, has developed models of the universe and explanations of how it came into being. And these models influence our thinking in ways that are not always readily apparent.

One product of the interaction between cosmology and daily life is the Declaration of Independence. Impressed by the elegant, clockwork precision of planetary motions revealed in Newton’s laws, Western thinkers of a liberal bent dismissed God from his old role of personal intervention­ since his services were no longer required to move the planets around­ while retaining the concept of God as Creator of the universe. Having done so, they increasingly turned their attention to the study of nature as a way of appreciating God’s marvelous design. From this concentration on natural law it was a short step to John Locke’s assertion that there are also natural laws that address human beings and their governance. The thrust of these laws is, as Locke put it, that ìthe natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man, but to have only the laws of Nature for his rule.” By the late eighteenth century Locke’s ideas were so much in the air as be echoed by Thomas Jefferson in the first sentence of the Declaration of Independence: When Jefferson wrote of ìthe separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle” a people, he meant that human equality and the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are natural laws, based in nature as are Newton’s laws of gravity.”

Thus a new way of thinking set the stage for the birth of the human Neutrality. But, recall that Neutrality can only work when there are unlimited resources. The plants have an unlimited supply of sunlight. As solar collectors, they are the truly independent form of life. Independence requires unlimited resources.

For Neutrality to work for humans, there must also be unlimited resources.

The American colonists were in the right place at the right time. The right place was the empty continent of North America. With the opening of the Americas to European immigration, millions of acres of arable land and forests, filled with abundant water in millions of steams, rivers, and lakes and stocked with uncountable numbers of wildlife were available for the taking. This was further enriched with enormous reserves of iron, coal, copper, aluminum, zinc, lead, gold, silver, oil, and much more. The right time was 1776, by then the collective power of Humanity’s Time-binding had discovered, invented, and developed the tools and know-how that created the mechanism of the Agricultural, Industrial, and Transportational Revolutions.

The level of knowledge and technology available to the American colonists coupled with enormous North American reserves, provided them with cheap land, cheap food, cheap power, and cheap transportation and would bring an end to scarcity for those humans fortunate enough to reside in the new world. Conditions were perfect for the success of human Neutrality.

The midwives of human Neutrality were to be two Englishmen. Thomas Paine much influenced by the writings of John Locke was living in colonial America when he published a small pamphlet entitled Common Sense on January 10th, 1776.

Thomas Paine

In the pamphlet, Paine told the people that they were free and independent with unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. He told the people that they were smart and quite capable of taking care of themselves without the need for a King.

Thomas Paine told our ancestors that Kings had no right­, divine or otherwise, ­to rule free and independent people. He told them that as free and independent people they had no need for a King to tell them what to do, and then tax them heavily for the privilege.

Paine’s writings invited the American colonists to withdraw from the game of Adversity. His words would be formative in the creation of the Declaration of Independence and in igniting the American Revolution.

Simultaneously, the other midwife of Neutrality, Englishman Adam Smith published an economic treatise entitled The Wealth of Nations. In which he wrote ìthe propensity to truck, barter, and exchange one thing for another is an intrinsic characteristic of human nature”. Smith also observed that the expansion of commerce is a critical component of the process of modernization. The creation of the new national system of markets brought with it an opportunity for expansion of commerce. According to Smith, a country that trades internationally should specialize in producing only those goods in which it has an absolute advantage, ­that is, those goods it can produce more cheaply than can its trading partners. The country can then export a portion of those goods and, in turn, import goods that its trading partners produce more cheaply.

Adam Smith

Smith envisioned an economy based on scientific objectivity with fair trade between free and independent men, ­self-sufficient men. Free and independent men with the right to private ownership of property were essential to Smith’s doctrine.

Smith went on to assert ìthat government regulation is justified only to the extent necessary to ensure free markets, because the national advantage represents the sum total of individual advantages, and national well-being is best served by allowing all individuals complete freedom to pursue their economic interests”. This was known as the laissez-faire economic doctrine, ­letting businesses make their own decisions without government interference. Smith argued for limited government­ except for the functions of defense, justice, and certain public works, the state should refrain from interfering with the economic life of the nation. Economic Neutrality was to be the basis of fair and just society. Neutrality would give every free and independent man the opportunity for great economic success, and successful citizens would make a successful nation.

Another important feature of Smith’s new economics was the automatic balancing effect of supply and demand by the ìinvisible hand”. Free and independent sellers would seek to create those products wherein they held the absolute advantage­, those products that they could create and offer for sale at a price lower than their competition’s. And free and independent buyers would seek out and buy the products they needed at the best possible price. This process would produce an automatic balancing of supply and demand. The new economy would be automatically organized by free and independent men simply seeking their own interests as if guided by an invisible hand.

Neutrality focuses on freedom from loss­ protecting free men and their property. The driving force behind this transition from Adversity to Neutrality was to avoid loss. The new values of the American colonists were neutral values. Free and independent citizens relating to each other as equals. All citizens were prohibited from hurting other free and independent citizens. The mechanism of neutral relationship was a free and fair market with the honest exchange of merchandise of good value at a fair price. The market place is where the bartering takes place to insure that the exchange is fair–­to insure that the price is not too high or too low–­to insure that neither party loses.

Neutrality was a great advance over Adversity. The prohibition of losing makes neutral organizations much more effective than adversary organizations. The Time-binding power of humanity is unleashed. Humans using neutral organization are much more successful than those using adversarial organization. Human needs and wants are many and diverse, and no single individual could hope to supply all these needs and wants. Only the great market can supply the many and diverse needs and wants of humanity, thus satisfying the human need for interdependence.

Humans participate in the great market as independent producers and independent consumers. Each neutral citizen is individually responsible for purchasing their own needs and wants. Thus human Neutrality brings two great advantages over Adversity–­freedom from loss and interdependence. The great market provides neutral interdependence and neutral interdependence provides great advantage over adversary dependence. However, neutral interdependence is not the same as synergic interdependence. The differences will be discussed later in the book.

The unlimited resources of an empty American continent allowed the new citizens of the United States of America the privilege of claiming independence. They were free and independent citizens. Beginning in 1776, it became possible to not play the Adversary game. Institutionalized Neutrality produced a safe haven for humans. They were free to work without fear that others would hurt them. They were free to create products or provide services and sell these in the great market for a fair price.

Neutral Values

The values of the American colonists were parallel to the laws of Neutrality. Free and independent men relating to each other as equals. Prohibited from hurting other free and independent men. The mechanism of relationship to be conducted through a free and fair market with the honest exchange of merchandise of good value at a fair price. The newly formed government of the United States was committed to fairness and justice for all its citizens. The government’s only legitimate purpose was to insure economic independence and protect individual freedom. To insure a safe and stable environment that would allow the free market to work best.

The American colonists were among the most fortunate humans who had yet lived. They were beneficiaries of a unique circumstance that would provide the conditions necessary for human Neutrality to work. The Agricultural, Industrial, and Transportational Revolutions coupled with the enormous North American reserves, provided them with cheap land, cheap food, cheap power, and cheap transportation. America would have the equivalent of unlimited resources for the next 150 years. They would be the only independent humans in the history of our world.

Time-binding was leveraged with Capitalism all through the Institution of Neutrality. It was this unique set of circumstances that would allow the American revolution to succeed. And, the result was described perhaps most elegantly by Henry Grady Weaver when he addressed these words to the Earth’s population in 1947:

Puzzling Questions of Vital concern to 2,155,000,000 Individuals

For 60 known centuries, this planet that we call Earth has been inhabited by human beings not much different from ourselves. Their desire to live has been just as strong as ours. They have had at least as much physical strength as the average person of today, and among them have been men and women of great intelligence. But down through the ages, most human beings have gone hungry, and many have always starved.

The ancient Assyrians, Persians, Egyptians, and Greeks were intelligent people; but in spite of their intelligence and their fertile lands, they were never able to get enough to eat. They often killed their babies because they couldn’t feed them.

The Roman Empire collapsed in famine. The French were dying of hunger when Thomas Jefferson was President of the United States. As late as 1856, the Irish were starving to death; and no one was particularly surprised because famines in the Old World were the rule rather than the exception. It is only within the last century that western Europeans have had enough food to keep them alive­–soup and bread in France, fish in Scandinavia, beef in England.

Hunger has always been normal. Even to this day, famine kill multitudes in China, India, Africa; and in the 1930’s, thousands upon thousands starved to death on the richest farmlands of the Soviet Union.

Down through the ages, countless millions, struggling unsuccessfully to keep bare life in wretched bodies, have died young in misery and squalor. Then suddenly, in one spot on this planet, people eat so abundantly that the pangs of hunger are forgotten.

The Questions

Why did men die of starvation for 6,000 years? Why is it that we in America have never had a famine? Why did men walk and carry goods (and other men) on their straining backs for 6,000 years­ then suddenly, on only a small part of the earth’s surface, the forces of nature are harnessed to do the bidding of the humblest citizen.

Why did families live for 6,000 years in caves and floorless hovels, without windows or chimneys ­then within a few generations, we in America take floors, rugs, chairs, tables, windows, and chimneys for granted and regard electric lights, refrigerators, running water, porcelain baths, and toilets as common necessities?

Why did men, women, and children eke out their meager existence for 6,000 years, toiling desperately from dawn to dark,­ barefoot, half-naked, unwashed, unshaved, uncombed, with lousy hair, mangy skins, and rotting teeth­ then suddenly, in one place on earth there is an abundance of such things as rayon underwear, nylon hose, shower baths, safety razors, ice cream sodas. lip-sticks, and permanent waves?

What Are the Answers?

It’s incredible, if we would but pause to reflect! Swiftly, in less than a hundred years, Americans have conquered the darkness of night­ from pine knots and candles to kerosene lamps, to gas jets; then to electric bulbs, neon lights, fluorescent tubes.

We have created wholly new and astounding defenses against weather­–from fire places to stoves, furnaces, automatic burners. insulation, air conditioning.

We are conquering pain and disease, prolonging life, and resisting death itself–­with anesthetics, surgery, sanitation, hygiene, dietetics.

We have made stupendous attacks on space ­from ox-carts, rafts, and canoes to railroads, steamboats, street cars, subways, automobiles, trucks, busses, airplanes­ and attacks on time through telegraph, telephone, and radio.

We have moved from backbreaking drudgery into the modern age of power, substituting steam, electricity, and gasoline for the brawn of man; and today the nuclear physicist is taking over and finding ways for subduing to human uses the infinitesimally tiny atom–­tapping a new source of power so vast that it bids fair to dwarf anything that has gone before.

It is true that many of these developments originated in other countries. But new ideas are of little value in raising standards of living unless and until something is done about them. The plain fact is that we in America have outdistanced the world in extending the benefits of inventions and discoveries to the vast majority of people in all walks of life.

How Did It Happen?

Three generations­–grandfather to grandson–­have created these wonders which surpass the utmost imagining of all previous time. How did it come about? How can it be explained? Just what has been responsible for this unprecedented burst of progress, which has so quickly transformed a hostile wilderness into the most prosperous and advanced country that the world has ever known?

In America, the political-economic conditions are such to allow for the effective use of human energy. Human energy operates best under its own natural control. This is only possible with individual freedom. In America, individual freedom is the natural heritage of each living person. Freedom cannot be separated from responsibility. You are free to act as long as you do not injure someone else. In America, freedom is born in you along with life itself. It is part of life itself. No one can give it to you, nor can you give it someone else. Nor can you hold any other person responsible for your acts. Control simply can’t be separated from responsibility; control is responsibility.

To use any kind of energy effectively, it is first necessary to understand the nature of the energy and then to set up conditions that will permit it to work to the best advantage. To make the most effective use of human energy, it is necessary to reckon with the nature of man. Man is a human being and he has the powers of reason, the power of imagination, the ability to capitalize on the experiences of the past and the present as bearing on the problems of the future. He has the ability to progress and to keep on progressing.

Man has enormous powers, of unknown extent, to make new things and to change old things into new forms. He not only owns property, but he also actually creates property. In the last analysis, a thing is not property unless it is owned; and without ownership, there is little incentive to improve it.

Man is a tool maker. The introduction of tools marked the beginning of man’s progress in three important directions: 1) More effective use of energy. 2) Specialization of effort. And 3) Advances in human co-operation and improvements in living conditions, through the peaceful exchange of goods and services.

Also, the introduction of tools brought into sharper focus the importance of individual property rights. Unless a person has a chance of gaining some direct benefit from his extra efforts, there is not much inducement for him to think ahead and to make the sacrifices necessary to provide the tools of production. And without the tools of production, human beings would sink back into a state of barbarism. Today almost everyone depends for his welfare­–for his very life­–upon exchanges of ownership.

In the last analysis, all of these advantages are the natural, normal outgrowth of a political structure which unleashed the creative energies of millions of men and women by leaving them free to work out their own affairs­–not under the lash of coercive authority, but through voluntary co-operation based on enlightened self-interest and moral responsibility.

That’s why plows are now made of steel. That’s why America has led the world in production accomplishments. That’s why we’ve been able to win wars started by nations that make a regular business of fighting. That’s why we are able to feed the victims of pagan aggression.

And last but not least, that’s why the people of the United States, who occupy only 6 percent of the world’s land area and who represent less than 7 per cent of the world’s population, own:

85 per cent of the world’s automobiles
60 per cent of the life insurance policies
54 per cent of the telephones
46 per cent of the electric power capacity
35 per cent of the world’s railway mileage
30 per cent of the improved highways
92 per cent of the modern bathtubs

Before the war, Americans consumed:

75 per cent of the worlds silk
60 per cent of the world’s rubber
50 per cent of the world’s coffee
40 per cent of the world’s salt.

This leads to the conclusion that the people of the United States are exactly nine times better off than the people in the rest of the world.

The American Revolution that set men free has made the great grandchildren of the revolutionary leaders the best-fed, the best-clothed, the best housed, and the most prosperous people on the face of the globe. Many of the things that we have come to take for granted as commonplace necessities of life would have been beyond the fondest dreams of luxury-seeking kings and potentates a few years ago.

These words written in 1947 described the magnificent success of the United States of America. And the United States of America was not only a success, it was the greatest success in the history of humankind.

However, Weaver mistakenly gives all the credit to Institutionalized Neutrality. This is not the case. The great success of the United States of America was the result of Time-binding freed from the adversary way by Institutional Neutrality. The combination of Time-binding with Institutional Neutrality coupled with unlimited resources ­then was the force behind the American success story­–America with its free and independent citizens with their rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness would change the human world in just three generations.

With the unlimited resources of the American continent, there was great opportunity in the new United States. It was possible to start from nothing and become enormously wealthy within one’s lifetime. The history of the United States is filled with stories of rags to riches, and of self-made men.

Another marker of this change was the emergence of the modern middle class. Within Institutional Neutrality, free and independent citizens had the right to a decent education, and the right to work and earn fair wages for their work. They were entitled to make something of themselves. The great middle class was the result of this opportunity. Millions of citizens who were self-reliant, owned their own homes and automobiles, lived comfortable lives with access to most of the good things in life. And today, most Americans consider themselves to be members of the middle class.

Despite the Institutionalization of Neutrality in the United States. The Adversary mechanism was still very much present in the free world.

Capitalism was frequently influenced by adversary mechanisms. The price of a commodity was based on supply and demand. Scarcity would cause a rise in prices and adversary acts often occurred to create artificial scarcity where none really existed. Although, the focus of the free market was to establish a fair price between buyer and seller. Those selling their labor often did not receive fair pay. Capitalism was modified over many years to end the adversary excesses of child labor, 14 hour working days, company stores, and other exploitations of the working classes. Adversary excess persisted as late as 1933 when Franklin Delano Roosevelt became President of the United States. As Arthur Schlesinger explains:

Laisses-faire had undermined the temples of capitalism, thrown a quarter of labor force out of work, cut the gross national product almost in half and provoked mutterings of revolution. No one knew why things had gone wrong or how to set them right. Only communists were happy, seeing in the Great Depression decisive proof of Karl Marx’s prophecy that capitalism would be destroyed by its own contradictions.

Then F.D.R. appeared, a magnificent, serene, exhilarating personality, buoyantly embodying new ideas, new courage, new confidence in America’s ability to regain control over its future. His New Deal swiftly introduced measures for social protections, regulation and control. Laissez-faire ideologues and Roosevelt haters cried that he was putting the country on the road to communism, the only alternative permitted by the either/or creed. But Roosevelt understood that Social Security, unemployment compensation, public works, securities regulation, rural electrification, farm price supports, reciprocal-trade agreements, minimum wages and maximum hours, guarantees of collective bargaining and all the rest were saving capitalism from itself. ìThe test of our progress,” he said in his second Inaugural, ìis not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.” The job situation improved in the 1930s, aided by the Works Progress Administration, the famous WPA, with which government as employer of last resort built schools, post offices, air-fields, parks, bridges, tunnels and sewage systems; protected the environment; and fostered the arts; by the 1940 election, the anticapitalist vote, almost a million in 1932, had dwindled to 150,000.”

The government of the United States while structured to support the free market, still held its power with Adversary mechanisms. The United States co-existed with the rest of the unfree world and to protect itself relied on the adversary way. The U.S. raised the most powerful army, navy, and air force in the history of humanity. The criminal justice system was not neutral to those who broke its laws. They were incarcerated or put to death. And the United States supported itself by collecting taxes with force–­those who did not pay taxes were punished.

Institutional Neutrality is most developed in the United States. After the enormous success of the American way culminated in its victory of World War II, America’s methods were adopted by most of western civilization­–earliest by England, and France. Today the free market is present in Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and Spain with varing amounts of success. Most notably, it has been very successfully adopted in those countries, that we defeated in World War II. By destroying the adversary systems controlling Germany, Italy, and Japan, we gave them an opportunity to start over. Beginning from a much more equal status, the citizens of these defeated nations were able to exploit the mechanism of Neutrality. Similarly, we see the success of Taiwan, South Korea, and Hong Kong as later examples.