A Little Black Walnut Tree–‘Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal’

My wife and I transplanted a Black Walnut tree in our yard during August of 2012 knowing that the little tree would struggle.  August is a bad time of year in Ohio to move any kind of living thing that grows in the soil, but to compound matters there was a drought in August that year which meant we had to constantly water it.  Then just six weeks later, the tree had already been looking withered when it suffered through the first frost of the year.  Looking at the bits of ice accumulated on the tiny stump of a tree, I thought that was the end of its life.  The little budding leaves shriveled up and fell off within days.  All through October, November and December I looked at the little stump for a sign of life but there wasn’t any.  So the plan was that we’d dig it back up in the spring and find a replacement.  But as March came, then April I held out hope that the little tree would show some sign of life.  Then, in the fourth week of April, little buds sprang out at the base of the tree.  It was trying to grow again.

About the time that I was watching this tree I was reading Ayn Rand’s Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal on my front porch.  I immediately drew a metaphoric parallel between capitalism represented by the little tree and the cruel nasty world that was trying to kill it represented by socialism.  I thought of socialism because we had to remove the tree from where it was growing naturally as I was worried about mowing over it with the lawn mower.  Landscaped yards always remind me of socialism as they are planned associations of plants in relationships concocted by the owner of a property that may not naturally be compatible.  We had moved the tree to save the tree which brought to my mind George W. Bush’s famous socialist quote “I had to abandon free market principles in order to save the free market.”  If I had not removed the tree, it would have died.  But why did I have to move the tree—because I desired that my landscaping look a certain way.  It wasn’t the poor little tree’s fault; it was just trying to live where a seed had fallen.  As the dictator of my property, I can decide what lives and dies.  My plants do not have freedom from me.  They are completely reliant upon my compassion to keep them alive or to kill them at my discretion.  That is why landscaping to me always reminds me of a planned society resembling socialism.

I tend to let things grow where they want to as much as possible, as they do in nature.  I don’t like to tamper and trim too much unnecessarily, because I like the plants on my property to know that they have a certain amount of freedom to do as they please, and that I will let them.  That also tends to be my leadership tendency when I have to lead others; I let them do their thing as much as possible as long as it doesn’t violate my overall vision.  But the vision is always mine, and if something or someone gets in the way of that vision, they get cut down ruthlessly.  That is the way of nature.

But that is not how it is supposed to be in a free country with free people.   The government is not the people’s gardeners.  The government is not supposed to transplant trees, cut the grass, and plant flowers just because they think such arrangements look pretty, or are pleasant esthetically.  The government is not supposed to move businesses around, tamper with people’s cultures for bloc voting advantage, or pick winners and losers in enterprise.  They are not supposed to be involved in health care, otherwise known as the watering of the population, but should allow growth to occur as robust and dynamic as the economy and the minds of the people can allow.  The populations of earth should be allowed to grow to the highest trees of the California Redwoods as opposed to the well manicured trees of a football stadium, where the building is more emphasized visually than the plant growth of the landscaping.

These are the problems that are tackled and solved in Ayn Rand’s classic book about the philosophy of an economy which make excellent arguments in favor of capitalism.  Reading the book felt like discovering an old archeological relic which held the keys to solving most of society’s problems, and finding such material after it had been buried away from man’s eyes for generations.  Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal is a remarkable book written from essays first published in The Objectivist magazine during the 1960s.  Capitalism is The Unknown Ideal because it never really had a chance to get off the ground in America, where the Ideal was invented.  The result to America and to the world has been explosive economic growth that gave every individual operating under capitalism the opportunity to live and thrive based on their own ambitions.

Yet every statist oriented government in the world, which has dominated the human mind for millennia fear capitalism the way a panicky home owner worries that the grass of their well manicured lawns are growing too robust.  For the property owner, it is generally accepted that the trees and every blade of grass on a property are the possessions of the owner.  Governments, princes, princesses, monarchs of every kind, dictators, even United States presidents believe in their heart of hearts that people belong to the “leaders” of a culture in the same way that plant life on a property belongs to the owners and this is the cause of statist governments which find capitalism repulsive.

They fear an unmanaged economy because the evidence is that the growth can quickly overwhelm their property and remind them that it is the plant life that will always outlast their attention and place demands on the property owner–the leaders of statist governments.  The growth of such plant life always threaten to overtake government which is what they fear most, so they diligently cut back any sign of extensive growth like maniacs fearful of their own shadows.  Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal digs into the history of these fears and provides psychological reasoning for them in a way that is unique to this particular book.

Years ago when I studied economics at The University of Cincinnati there was not one mention of this book which had been out to the public for over 25 years at that point.  The economics professor would have had much more success as an instructor if he had not attempted to explain variations of Keynesian economics and the cause and effect of business cycles but had simply taught his class upon the contents of Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.  Those business cycles, depressions, recessions, and all economic growth are caused by statist governments tampering with the robust desire for economic activity to flourish naturally, and without restriction.  To maintain their control, governments are always cutting back on growth to satisfy their aesthetic tendencies which is the cause of most misery in economic development.

The book is incredibly well written, and easy to understand.  But its concepts are contrary to what entire generations of civilization have been taught in their public education establishments and colleges.  So most readers will go through a phase of troubled thought when reading, as they have to unlearn all the garbage that they have been taught over many years, but for the sake of review—in pulling together such remote thoughts into a single metaphor, the little Black Walnut tree and its tenacity at living reminded me of the lessons articulated in the wonderful book Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.  If every human being in the world read just this book, they would find their lives much better off.  This book is the Dead Sea Scrolls of modern economics.  Capitalism has been attacked and transplanted many times by over aggressive statist governments for many years.  It has suffered harsh winters, frosts, lack of nourishment, and abuse of many who want to kill it.  Yet, like any gardener learns when they take an extended vacation, or neglect their yard work, the grass always grows, and the trees spread out their branches.  Capitalism finds a way to grow even under the harshest governments, under the most vicious advocates of socialism.  It keeps crawling its way toward the light in spite of destructive restriction and gardeners who trim their yards to simply exert control over the plant life.  Statist governments control economic activity in the same way, they cut, trim and manipulate to satisfy their vision, not the individual desires of the people who put them into power to begin with.  This is the cause of their failure, and the reason for economic recessions.

The little Black Walnut tree for me currently is my favorite tree in my yard, because it has lived through adversity when I thought it was dead.  It is for me a symbol of the power of capitalism, to tenaciously outlast oppression and survive because of a will to live.  This is the same energy that drives every business in every strip mall, it drives the trains that run our tracks, it drives our entertainment culture, our varieties of food, and other consumable options.  On the way to my motorcycle this very morning as I was leaving my wife was planning out her day.  She was in turmoil as to whether or not to get our groceries from Costco or Wal-Mart, as both places provided unique options.  I told her to visit both, and take the best options from both places.   Thinking selfishly, I enjoy the blackberries that come from Costco.  Their supplier is very good.  But the soda prices at Wal-Mart are better, as they have my stock of Mello Yello always on supply.  This is the power of capitalism.  This is the power of economic growth–freedom of choice.  This is why the book Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal is such a fabulous book that should rest on the bedside of every household in the entire world.  It is the lost and hidden document that can solve all the world’s problems and it is a testament to the human mind to have created such a thing on printed paper.  It is The Unknown Ideal that needs to be known by every living human being for the purpose of not just freedom, but economic prosperity and the necessary step of taking the human mind away from all forms of statism to enter a new age of evolution.  It may be the most important book any reader could ever place their eyes upon.  It has given me special appreciation for my little Black Walnut tree, which now that I can leave it alone, I hope grows to 30’ in height and is filled with squirrels and birds in the not too distant future.

Rich Hoffman

166701_584023358276159_1119605693_n“If they attack first………..blast em’!”