Bread and Brains
There is a great deal of truth in the saying that man believes what he wants to believe. This is merely another way of stating a scientific axiom that man in his beliefs adopts that which affords him the greatest satisfaction with the minimum of effort. In the matter of his thinking, man, in the majority of cases, takes the line of least resistance.
The development of human mentality is precisely similar to that of the animal kingdom as a whole. The position occupied at present by the animal kingdom (including man, of course) is the outcome of countless experiences and resulting variations in the past, the elimination by death of those who failed to fit themselves to their environment, and the survival of those who, through heredity, became possessed of what has come to be called “survival value.”
So that when we speak of a man’s “intellect” we are referring to something which is the result of the existence in his past of many connections, some of which were dropped, others which persisted.
In modern times however, this “survival value,” on the mental side, is to some extent inoperative. Since man entered the phase of history known as wage-slavery, most of his thinking has been done for him. Since the greater part of his life consists of food getting and food distributing, a great part of his sense impressions will be derived from these activities, and what little thinking he does of a serious nature will be correspondingly coloured. In other words, his economic conditions will determine what he shall think.
It might be urged that the present economic condition would tend to enlighten him as to his slave position and thus bring about class-consciousness. So it does, in some cases, by its very nature; but in the majority of cases, owing to the precautionary measures taken, no serious attempt at interpretation is made. Generally speaking, the mind of man has become so accustomed to acquiescence in the belief of the necessity for obedience, that it can hardly grasp the notion of freedom as being something apart from this condition.
This conception of obedience is by no means inherent—it is a product of an environment of years of slavery acting upon an organism amenable to its influence.
There are those who, quick to recognise this “failing” (in others), dispose themselves to take the fullest advantage of it. Especially is this so where some material interest is served, such as on the field of religion, or in the schools, and in various centres of “ethical” teaching, where the resulting product is a decided asset to a system where one class is enslaved by another. Except in those cases where they are hired out for use against their own class, a worker or his children found possessing brains above a certain (low) standard is considered an impertinence. Where found, methods of adulteration are resorted to; failing this, pressure is applied to prevent contagion.
In a wage-slave society it is important that the system shall appear to have the sanction of the slaves themselves. To this end all “education” is directed. Any institution that has for its object the regulation of man’s thoughts must be under the control of the slave owners. The result is that the largest part of the mental food assimilated by man to-day is that provided by his master. By this means acquiescence has been secured.
An important contributing factor to this condition of mind is that “engine of progress”—as it is euphemistically termed— the Press. By this means people may be reached who are otherwise difficult of access.