In this article I attempt to examine the psychology of Laissez-Faire Capitalism, Communism, and Third Positionism. There are layers of emotional and motivational underpinnings to each movement.
First of all, there is the psychology of the movement when it’s being conceived or evaluated. This is experienced from a third-person perspective or a view from the outside.
On the other hand there is also the view from the inside. This is how the movement is experienced in practice, and necessitates a motivational fuel to keep the movement going.
“Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.” —Gordon Gecko
This quote from the 1987 movie Wall Street sums up the Laissez-Faire system’s ambitions, i.e. to harness the power of the great destroyer of societies—Greed—and use it as a driving force for moving humanity forward. In practice the strongest drive is probably not greed for material possessions, but rather a desire to climb a hierarchy or elevate in status. This desire is a potent force and truly motivates the masses.
However, the kind of society this Greed, status-grabbing, and hierarchy-climbing creates is materialistic and superficial. Moreover, Laissez-Faire ideology promotes a lack of governance which allows the nation to be pulled in haphazard directions.
Most have heard the rationale of Laissez-Faire: liberty, the “natural aristocracy”, and the “invisible hand”; but the dangers to this system are obvious. What happens when Greed breaks its harness and starts ruling society, changing the rules so that nothing is left of the original dream? The “nature” of the “natural aristocracy” becomes sociopathic, liberty becomes the liberty to consume, and the god behind the “invisible hand” becomes a demon.
The conceptional motivation of Communism is one of justice and benevolence when it is crafted by members of the upper class. However, it’s implementation must (by definition) be carried out by the proletariat and we cannot call it benevolence because one cannot be benevolent towards oneself. Therefore, the practical sentiment fueling Communism turns from justice and benevolence to justice and materialistic jealousy/hatred.
The problem with Communism is Schopenhauerian in the sense that once control is taken, its goals have been achieved and the main motivational desires for the movement have been satisfied. Justice has been served, there is no longer anyone to be jealous of or hate, and we are left with a void. All that remains is the slothful goal of the complete automation of industry.
The motivations fueling Third Positionism are difficult to define, but it might be summed up as a unified strive towards greatness. When viewed from the inside by the citizens, this becomes a desire to be a part of something greater than oneself. However, from the view of the leaders of the movement, this strive for greatness requires citizens that are up for the task. Therefore much of their concerns and efforts are put into building up the citizenry to be the best they can be.
The strive towards greatness also entails having a vision for the future. It is in this striving that the society achieves unity. The society must see itself as a whole in order to undertake these efforts and therefore mythology and explanations of why the nation exists become important.
The desires for unity and greatness are not straightforward emotions like jealousy, greed, or status-seeking. They more resemble religious feelings than anything else and one could easily mistake these desires as something contrived and unnatural. For example, it’s much easier to see the evolutionary benefits of greedy food hogging, coveting another’s possessions in order to steal them, or status-climbing for mating purposes. However, this third position desire has its place in nature.
One need not look further than the human body to see the greatness this desire for unity can supply. Each cell in our body is fairly basic and could not accomplish much on its own, but together our cells form a higher being—one even possessing its own consciousness. The cells of our body are completely selfless and willing to die for their higher purpose. It’s this kind of dedication that the third positionist strives towards. That is why the soldier is the highest ideal for the third positionist. It’s the willingness to give up your own life for the nation-organism.
Third Position societies are set up in the most effective way possible, following the rules of nature. These are different for every culture because every culture possesses its own strengths, weaknesses and desires. Survival is crucial but there is always a quest for something more.
There is a resemblance in Third Position psychology to the benevolence of communism in the sense that it wants to give something more to the citizens, but rather than give them material possessions, it wants to give them something more spiritual-meaning for existence. It invites them into a symbiotic relationship, with the government actively building up its citizenry and its citizens protecting and carrying out the will of the government. Together they create a new chapter of history, making sacrifices for something more important and lasting.
In this sense Third Position contains the ruggedness of the rugged individualist spirit promoted in Laissez-Faire, but instead of sacrificing comfort for one’s own personal gain, the sacrifice is made for something greater, so that one can strive towards immortality through one’s efforts.