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The Only Man Worth a Darn
Brian Maher

Today we abandon our focus upon the Ukraine situation. We abandon our focus upon Wall Street. We abandon our focus upon politics, mercifully.

Yet we focus — indirectly — upon them all.

That is because today we distinguish between individual man… and collective man.

For they are not the same thing.

War is the product of collective man… as is war by other means — politics.

We propose that individual man accounts for much of humanity’s flowering. And that collective man accounts for much of humanity’s withering.

That is because the individual man is the independent man. He is the free man. He is the peaceful man.

In brief, individual man is the superior man.

Individual Man Is Market Man

He chases his individual interests, at times economic in nature. Yet he understands that he must gratify his fellow man’s interests to gratify his own.

He is out not to exploit — but to cooperate.

Individual man harbors no lust to brawl for it gains him nothing. He harbors instead a recognition of the need to produce.

He understands that he must satisfy some market need — and do not forget that every market need is a human need — else he goes scratching.

Thus the market channels him in humane directions. It channels him toward peace.

And as the market channels him toward peace, it channels his neighbor toward peace. He too must produce in order that he may live.

Both recognize that they must give in order that they might get.

That is, they are both children of Adam Smith and his invisible hand.

Hence they are society’s assets.

The Golden Rule

Do you exit your door in fear your neighbor will knock you in the head… and march off with your goods?

Unless you keep your being within the City of Baltimore… you do not.

Do you fear this neighbor of yours is out for your life?

You do not — again, unless you keep your being within the City of Baltimore or some other American metropolis.

That is because you hold the Golden Rule dear — and you believe your neighbor likewise holds the Golden Rule dear.

Against these beneficial and worthwhile fellows stands collective man.

Collective man does not cherish this rule.

Not a Man but a Cog

Collective man is individual man bunched into political organization. This man identifies not as individual — but as unit member, group member.

He is a loyal member of the regiment. He marches in step — and is happy to do it.

Collective man ceases to be a man but a face.

He ceases to be an independent unit but a cog in a machine — an often lunatic machine.

Collective man does not think for himself. The group thinks for him.

That is, the man ceases to think whatsoever.

The group’s lusts become collective man’s lusts, its will becomes his will, its devils become his devils.

This is entirely alien to individual man.

Individual man, meantime, follows the eagle’s example. This man does not flock.

Thus individual man and collective man are at war.

The one hunts peace. The other hunts power.

Peace Disguised by Chaos

Have you ever witnessed New York City in rush hour?

You will observe colliding swarms of humanity on the march.

One faction marches in one direction, uptown. Another faction marches in the opposite direction, downtown.

At the same time another faction marches east. A rival faction marches west.

What results from this bedlam of clashing factions, of clashing armies? The answer is nothing.

It is — somehow — a fantastic scene of peace.

The outward delirium actually reflects a peaceful inner order.

That is because these marching and warring factions are not bunched into collective units.

They are instead bunched into individual units of one. Consider this individual…

A Miracle of Individual Man

Individual man has a job to do. He must report by 9 a.m.

Collision with a human obstruction, and brawls with him, would delay him.

The identical truth holds for his uptown or crosstown obstruction.

Each allows the other to pass free — even if one or the other must tack temporarily to port or starboard to avoid a collision.

Each fellow respects the other’s right to navigation.

This is the triumph, the miracle, of individual man.

An apparent scene of chaos in fact represents the peace of the marketplace.

Now impose a collective framework upon the scenery. Insert collective man into the fray…

Mobs on the March

You have not the spontaneous and harmonious order of individual man in action. You have instead mobs on the march. The group dynamic enters play.

The southbound mob considers the northbound mob a potential menace to its happiness.

The northbound mob considers the southbound mob a menace to its own happiness.

The other is “in the way.”

Eastbound mob, westbound mob, the identical dynamic takes life.

It is a lust for power — power over another collective.

We have previously compared individual man and collective man in the political context.

Today we do it again…

Voting in the Free Market

A Coca-Cola holds itself out before the American people.

This candidate claims to be the “real thing.” “Vote for me,” it says.

Behind another podium stands a Pepsi.

“No. Vote for me,” counters this fellow. Drink me “for the love of it.”

Each cries his case.

This fickle and capricious voter pulls the lever for Coke. Or he pulls the lever for Pepsi.

He opens his wallet for the one or the other.

Does his vote injure, usurp or ruffle the opposing voter? Does he club the other voter over the head… as he does in politics?

In no way, no shape, no form.

Live and Let Live

A voter for either beverage is a satisfied voter. Neither has any care to impose his preference upon the other… or deny him his soft drink of choice.

Multiply this one example countless times and in countless directions — and you have a picture of majestic electoral peace.

McDonald’s versus Burger King, Honda versus Ford, Nike versus Adidas, Walmart versus Target… it is all one.

A vote for any of them is peaceful as a dove. This voter on the free and open market holds no gun to the other voter’s ribs.

When he votes in politics — conversely — he does hold a gun to the other’s ribs.

He seeks to impose his preferences upon the other fellow who does not wish to be imposed upon.

To pull a lever is to pull a trigger.

Red State vs. Blue State

Chain a red-state American to a blue-state American. Force them to vote between any product on the free and open market.

The blue-state voter may razz the red-stater’s ghastly and barbarian tastes. The red-state voter may in turn razz the blue-stater’s effete and supercilious tastes.

But neither attempts to dragoon or bayonet the other. Each is free to vote his own way, as he might.

And so peace prevails between them. They embody, in this instance, individual man.

Thus free markets — authentically free markets — lack entirely the violent combats typic of collective orientation.

They are scenes of peace, tolerance… and justice.

But give them the choice of Trump versus Hillary or Trump versus Biden…

They will fall into savage combat… as the Kilkenny cats fell into savage combat.

One will win. One will lose. This is collective man at work.

Win, Win vs. Win, Lose

We must therefore conclude the free market’s voting system is vastly superior to political voting.

A vote in the marketplace is a “win, win” deal, as our co-founder Bill Bonner styles it.

What is politics then but a colossal “win, lose” deal?

Thus we speak our piece for individual man. This fellow is all right.

And collective man? This fellow is all wrong…





Brian Maher is the Daily Reckoning’s Managing Editor. Before signing on to Agora Financial, he was an independent researcher and writer who covered economics, politics and international affairs. His work has appeared in the Asia Times and other news outlets around the world. He holds a Master’s degree in Defense & Strategic Studies.

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