Thursday, May 26, 2016

Intelligence and Socialism by Gustave Le Bon 1899

Intelligence and Socialism by Gustave Le Bon 1899

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Gustave Le Bon was a French social psychologist, sociologist, anthropologist, inventor, and amateur physicist. He is best known for his 1895 work The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind. His writings incorporate theories of national traits, racial and male superiority, herd behavior and crowd psychology.

Practically the Socialists recognise but two sources of wealth—capital and labour, and all their demands are directed against the part, according to them too great, which is assumed by capital. Being unable to deny the necessity of capital in modern industry, they dream of the suppression of the capitalists.

But besides capital and labour there is a third source of wealth—intelligence, which the Socialists usually consider to be of but little value. None the less its action is predominating, and for this reason we shall commence our investigation with a consideration of its functions.

In the dawn of civilisation intellectual capacity played a part scarcely superior to that of manual labour, but with the progress of industry and the sciences its part finally became so preponderant that its importance cannot now be exaggerated. The toil of the obscure labourer is of profit only to himself, while the works of intelligence enrich the whole of humanity. A Socialist recently assured the Chamber of Deputies that "there are no such men as are in human reality the human equivalent of a hundred thousand men." It is easy to reply to him that in less than a century we can cite, from Stephenson to Pasteur, a whole aristocracy of inventors, each one of which is worth far more than a hundred thousand men, not only by the theoretical value of his discoveries, but by reason of the wealth which his inventions have poured into the world, and the benefits which every worker has derived from them. If on the last Day of Judgment the works of men are weighed at their true worth, how immense will prove the weight of the works of these mighty geniuses! It is to them, thanks to their discoveries, that is due the greater part of the capital existing in the world. The English economist Mallock has reckoned that one-third of the present revenue of England may be imputed to the capacity of a small elite, which by itself produces far more than all the rest of the population.

The Socialists of every school are loathe to admit the importance of intellectual superiority. Their high priest Marx understands by the term work nothing but manual labour, and relegates the spirit of invention, capacity, and direction, which has nevertheless transformed the world, to a second place.

This hatred of intelligence on the part of the Socialists is well founded, for it is precisely this intelligence that will prove the eternal obstacle on which all their ideas of equality will shatter themselves. Let us suppose that by a measure analogous to the Edict of Nantes—a measure which the Socialists, were they the masters, would very soon be driven to enforce—all the intellectual superiority of Europe—all the scientists, artists, great manufacturers, inventors, skilled workmen, and so forth, were expelled from civilised countries, and obliged to take refuge in a narrow territory at present almost uninhabited—Iceland, for example. Let us further suppose that they departed without a halfpenny of capital. It is nevertheless impossible to doubt that this country, barren as it is supposed to be, would soon quickly become the first country in the world for civilisation and wealth. This wealth would soon be such that the exiles would be able to maintain a powerful army of mercenaries, and would have nothing to fear from any side. I do not think that such a hypothesis is altogether impossible of realisation in the future.

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