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The Mentality of Merchants

(From Esoterism & Symbol, written in 1947 by R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz1)

When one beholds the emotional reactions of the animal—envy, hate, fidelity, love, joy, sadness, devotion to his master to the point of self-denial—one says that an animal sometimes seems human. This is a mistake: it is man who is still an animal. All emotional reactions are based on egoism, the first cerebral consciousness of oneself, a mirror of the object, a freed slave. From a moral point of view, these emotional reactions are natural. But only man has in him that gift allowing him to free himself from all these reactions; to attain aristocratic liberty by fusing with the Whole—love without cause, without aim, without reward, and therefore without deception. // This gift is Reason, which makes Man out of the animal; … Reason affirms in us what the brain cannot understand—a priori knowledge; Reason shows us the nobility of the useless which is beauty, pardon, faith, sacrifice: the sacred act. … (p. 48-9)

But we have prostituted this Reason and made it into a utilitarian rationalism, the mentality of merchants for whom the scales are the working tool, for whom everything has its countervalue, its counterweight, leading to equational logic, the erudite decimal system, algebra. (p. 49, emphasis added)

To base existence on work is as stupid as to found society on economic principles. Love of the task makes work joyful, and a good economic order is a secondary result. Mechanicalness, the emanation of a warped consciousness, as well as valueless money, these have been the cause and means of action for ambitious leaders to drag our world into the depths of misery. (p. 76)