"When you accept money in payment for your effort, you do so only on the conviction that you will exchange it for the product of the effort of others. It is not the moochers or the looters who give value to money. Not an ocean of tears nor all the guns in the world can transform those pieces of paper in your wallet into the bread you will need to survive tomorrow. Those pieces of paper which should have been gold, are a token of honor -- your claim upon the energy of the men who produce. Your wallet is your statement of hope that somewhere in the world around you there are men who will not default on that moral principle which is the root of money." ~ Ayn Rand
Even though collectivists recently have had a few drawbacks and have been defeated in some areas, they have gained control of philosophy in society. Our world is falling prey to the terrors following collectivism and mysticism. This is what people in the future will call the Endarkening: the destructive era following the productive centuries of Enlightenment and Industrialization.
Thanks to the liberation of science and reason from the collective chains of religion and oppression through the Enlightenment in the 17th and 18th century, Western society rose from a 'first wave' of collectivism to greatness. With reason taking mysticism's place in the mind of the common man (as well as in philosophy, science and other places), the masses were no longer fully controllable by the kings, princes, lords and bishops. Reason made extreme scientific advances possible where before only emotion-based subjection to others was possible.
Also, the liberation of the mind from the chains of collectivism meant the power of the individual was unleashed. Instead of believing himself to be a robot or slave to destiny (or god's or a king's will), the individual could cause change and progress in his or her own life. With the discovery of reason, the powers and possibilities of the individual were soon discovered, and thus incentive was bound to replace punishment in many areas as the driving force.
The identification of reason made possible science and economic growth. With reason came equality and individualism through every individual's equal right to himself and his mind. Individualism, the sovereign individual and individual rights set the creative and productive powers of the mind free.
The scientific study of observable facts of nature made industry possible, thereby bringing millions out of poverty and despair. Through industrialization, mass production and capitalism, the proletarian working class, as described by Karl Marx, gained property and formed a new, wealthier and healthier working class, or made efforts to reach and become middle class.
The philosophy of reason and the new wealth brought about by science, technology and capitalism led to the abolishing of the oppressive monarchical and church rule, and put the state under the control of the masses in 'democracy.' The introduction of mass democracy and voting procedures to chain the powers of the state was, however, a total failure, and the cause of a 'second wave' of collectivism in Western society. The votes of the great uneducated masses outnumbered by many the votes of the enlightened and educated ' mass democracy turned on its inventors and became the 'dictatorship of the poor' anticipated by Aristotle.
The powers of the state were thus hijacked by the ignorant and uneducated masses, and the state was turned into a wealth-redistributing, rather than wealth-protecting, giant. The terrible powers of government and the state were unleashed, and the most productive individuals yet again chained ' to the fiction of a common good or collective interest.
The ideals of the Enlightenment were consequently abandoned in the name of ignorant collective greed. The washing out of reason as a basis for science and life has continued in Western society in the mid 19th century, comprehensively endorsed by the ever-growing state and supported by the prophets of collectivism.
Through the modern state, the parasitic masses were able to consume whatever wealth was produced, constantly inflicting more chains upon the ever-decreasing number of wealth-producers in the marketplace. Capitalism was exploited yet held at short leash, and scientific achievements were to a great extent nationalized throughout the West. The parasitic society began slowly suffocating itself in an ignorant attempt to 'liberate' the masses from productive efforts and the means for scientific breakthroughs.
The modern mass democracy had a stranglehold on capitalism, constantly tightening the grip, causing mass suffering through recessions, depressions, and even wars. The inability of political means to take the former role of capitalism (i.e. wealth production) and reason (i.e. the philosophical basis of achievement and invention) yet increased the effect of the economic decline.
The chaotic status of the Western democracies in the beginning and first half of the 20th century called for the re-opening of markets for competition and private actors. An international agency was even formed to dismantle the trade barriers between states set up during this period, which compared to the Enlightenment is a kind of 'Endarkening.'
The reemergence of capitalism, even though only to a very limited extent, slowed down the growth of state powers. The voluntary, incentive-driven mutual agreements in capitalism could put spontaneous restrictions on state powers and the economic growth through deregulation and limited incentives to interfere in the marketplace.
A full-scale re-introduction of capitalism in the markets in Western society could very well have rejected large parts of the state and re-introduced the ideals of the Enlightenment. This did however not happen; the welfare-warfare state is ever increasing in size and power and is even exported from the West to countries in the Middle and Far East .
The Endarkening in economic and political matters was caused by a few corrupted individuals' commitment to the collectivist and mystic (counter-reason) philosophy, which through centuries provided this kind of people with power over their fellow men. The dismantling of the ideals of the Enlightenment through mass democracy and state capitalism, market regulation, and welfare programs reached philosophy, science, and academic education in the mid-20th century, and is now commencing at full speed.
As the incentive structures in the market economy are undermined, the former self-reliant individuals in society lose hope and bow to power. The process is completed through teaching the philosophy of hopelessness: There is no truth, no reality, no existence. Reason, logic, and science are all subject to the 'law' of relativity and such 'structures' are but products of imperfect individuals and the fiction of a 'mind.'
This is an era darker than the Middle Ages, dismantling the ideals which were the very foundation of progress, technology, and wealth. It is an endarkening era, where political powers grow at the cost of progress, and destruction at the cost of achievement. Let's hope we can yet again embrace the thought of man as a heroic being, where the mind is our only limitation in creating a better world.