Monday, July 17, 2017

Tony Wikrent — R.L. Bruckberger on American School Economist Henry C. Carey

The concept of the struggle for power over nature as the goal of mankind can hardly be called original. But where Carey was so characteristically American was in his insistence that this association of men's strength and power had a more distant, loftier aim, a more imperative goal than that of mere power over nature. "The ultimate object of all human effort," wrote Carey, in a truly remarkable statement, "[is] the production of the being known as Man capable of the highest aspirations."
Here Carey took a decisive step of his own. Nowhere in the theoreticians of the capitalist school, nowhere in Marx and Lenin, can any such words as these be found. Basically, all that concerned Carey was man, and the process whereby man becomes more and more civilized. What Carey sought to create, beyond a theory of political economy, was a theory of civilization itself. For him, man was not only greater than the whole of nature, but even above the victory he won over it. With this victory civilization began, but it still had far, far indeed to go. It still faced the obligation to fulfill man's "highest aspirations."
….Carey very clearly saw that neither all the victories over nature nor all the wealth accumulated by toil can avail, unless those victories and that wealth are then put to man's service, for him to use for his own, his human aims. Just as the nature of man is above that of the beasts, so his highest aspirations and his ultimate ends transcend the realm of the material. Man is more important, he has more intrinsic value, than the whole of nature, more even than his dominion over nature, more than society. Carey was a true Jeffersonian. — Raymond Léopold Bruckberger, Image of America (p. 156-165) 
Good read.

real economics
R.L. Bruckberger on American School Economist Henry C. Carey
Tony Wikrent

3 comments:

jrbarch said...

It was a good read. “Lift the eyes to the self”.

I think human beings will eventually come to understand that they are a part of Nature. Little children play with toy cars and guns and dolls, and grow up to play with real cars and guns and dolls. We come into this world and we are conditioned by the world and take up its aims and pursuits, as though they are our own. But society is a human play, drama, enactment. We do not understand what Nature has in mind for us. That the human personality is a vehicle for consciousness, and that the evolution of the personality is preparation for consciousness. It is only in the human being, that self-knowledge can dawn and rise. That there may be consciousness in this Universe (Rishis), as far evolved from Man as the streetlamps to the stars. And that the role of consciousness in Nature, for the human being, is only just beginning. After 200,000 years on the road – what do we want? Do we even know, who we are? What we are?

There is something so beautiful inside of a human being; people cry with joy when they uncover it. Hear it, feel it; then see it face to impervious face. It doesn’t belong to any church, creed, ideology or dogma. It has no ‘societal’ goals (it is not a child). It just IS, and is the Life of the inner world - of Nature. It’s energy drives everything on to its own fulfilment.

Calgacus said...

The ultimate object of all human effort," wrote Carey, in a truly remarkable statement, "[is] the production of the being known as Man capable of the highest aspirations."

Nowhere in the theoreticians of the capitalist school, nowhere in Marx and Lenin, can any such words as these be found.

Dunno exactly who he means by the capitalist school, but Bruckberger is just wrong about not finding such words in Marx & Lenin. (often quoting their teacher Hegel).

It is a safe bet that if anyone says "You can't find X in the works of Y" - that Y said X very clearly, probably many times & often enough, X is a key theme in Y's thought. :-)

Tom Hickey said...

Dunno exactly who he means by the capitalist school, but Bruckberger is just wrong about not finding such words in Marx & Lenin. (often quoting their teacher Hegel).

Agree. I had the same thought while reading it.