The ideas and “fundamentals” each of us believe and hold are the places some of the most epic battles have been waged in history. There have been countless losses and victories; so many that I am unsure who is winning at this point. The battle is not lost by any means, but winning is not in sight either. I’m talking about all the Fundamentals and Ideas that stem from the Truth that is Christ. This includes Physics, Economics, Engineering, Theology, Philosophy, Sociology and all others. Do I know what the truth is in each of those fields? Hah, of course not. No one does, that’s why the battle are so epic. If anyone knows a good book on the subject of “idea wars” I’d be interested to hear about it. Or if it doesn’t exist, that could be a good project to work on from an Austrian economic viewpoint (and you must have a viewpoint, history is too subjective and complex to not have a bias or viewpoint from which to analyze)
I’ve discussed a book called Ideas Have Consequences before, and its main premise of the book is obvious in its title. The book does an excellent job of showing that the ideas and fundamentals we all hold dear have steep consequences. Those consequences can be good for us and humanity, or detrimental to us and humanity. Often times we ignore the consequences of our ideas and just look at the consequences of our actions. Probably because it is so much easier. Ideas are difficult to analyze, difficult to realize, and difficult to hold firm in belief; at least until you fully understand and fully partake in it. Once an Idea takes root and flowers, then it isn’t so difficult. I discussed this a little bit in a prior post, look for the paragraph about sin, law and freedom. But ideas taking root and flowing is a key component we should strive for, most of us never seek to fully understand our ideas such that they flower, much less even root. I think that’s why people see so much hypocrisy everywhere, we all see the ideas people seem to hold and then their actions against it.
Their were a few quotes from a recent book I read called They Thought They Were Free, the Germans 1933-45 by Milton Mayer and a German Philologist who was a colleague of the books who author lived through and later regretted the actions he and his country took had some incredible insights. Here are two insights that are relevant to our discussion.
“And on top of that were the demands in the community, the things in which one had to, was ‘expected to’ participate that had not been there or had not been important before. It was all rigmarole, of course, but it consumed all one’s energies, coming on top of the work one really wanted to do. You can see how easy it was, then, not to think about fundamental things. One had no time”
“Nazism gave us some dreadful, fundamental things to think about – we were decent people – and kept us so busy with continuous changes and ‘crises’ and so fascinated, yes, fascinated, by the machinations of the ‘national enemies,’ without and within that we had no time to think about these dreadful things that were growing, little by little, all around us. Unconsciously, I suppose, we were grateful. Who wants to think?”
The Philologist discusses some key components about how we realize our ideas and fundamentals. We need time to do so. I suppose that’s a reason that many ancient philosophers thought that if you could not work and just ‘think’, that would be a fantastic use of your time despite being poor. However, luckily in today’s age we have the ability work and think; more so than probably any time in history (excepting maybe a few decades here and there of prosperity in various countries). This is primarily due to the onset of Capitalism, or at least some vague, perverted forms of it; but enough so that we have been able to reduce our work hours, increase our leisure hours, and still have a profitable existence. One which can, and should, include thinking. It is difficult, and as the Philologist stated, “Who wants to think?”
Granted, I’m using the Philologist’s quotes with a reference to our current time, but it is worth noting the context he was using it in. He was using ideas and time in context to Nazi Germany. Stating, in essence, “that if only we had taken the time to think – if only we were given time to evaluate where our ideas would take us – but we had no time.” That of course, was one of the reasons the Nazi regime did as well as it did. It was able to get’s is methods through, make people more busy yet feel more prosperous. To encourage them to be blissfully ignorant of what was really going on. Not all Germans of course, but you don’t need all. You just need the masses. No one cares about the rest, who do take time to realize what is happening. We need to take time. We can’t be like the masses who remain blissfully ignorant and uncaring, and yet sometimes even I feel that I am in many regards.
Determining your personal ideas and fundamentals is an incredibly rewarding and consuming experience. I’ve been working on it over the past few years, and will probably continue to work on it for the remainder of my life. One of the laws that I’ve examined has been the Non-Aggression Principle and how it relates to Christ’s Second Great Commandment (Love thy brother). I actually think they can be shown to be one and the same, just coming at it from different directions. One logical, one social. One to base a deductive science upon, one to easier compare your personal actions too. Both lead to freedom.
Again, Ideas take time. Thinking takes time. In today’s world of more leisure time than most periods of history, we also seem to have less time. It is critically important though that we continue to carve out time for our own ideas and for personal growth. What ideas do you have that you would like to expand, or maybe spend some time on if only we had time?
This post is a continuation of a long series of commentary on quotes pulled from They Thought They Were Free, the Germans 1933-45 by Milton Mayer. The book itself is home to a lot of revelations to the nature of people and I do recommend reading it. To see the short review of the book itself please click this link, to see other commentary click this link.