Theories, he felt, are "instruments" that humans use to solve problems and should be judged in terms of their "cash value" or practical consequences for human conduct.
Many communities around the world, suffering the consequences of enforced reorganization of their worlds to fit the requirements of capitalism, are in various stages of disintegration - victims of the globalizing forces of international capitalism. As claimed, the imposition of economic organization and activity on the rest of the world by Western nations is not new.
A 1975 Congressional investigation into CIA covert activities uncovered evidence, for example, of a clandestine U.S.-sponsored propaganda campaign designed to discredit Sukarno by circulating accusations of sexual improprieties to news media throughout the world. By the time of the bloody anticommunist purge, Sukarno was on his way out. Gen. Suharto was installed in March of 1967 as interim president.
The Islamic State's horrific attacks in Paris provide a stark reminder that Western powers cannot contain - let alone insulate themselves from - the unintended consequences of their interventions in the Middle East. The unraveling of Syria, Iraq, and Libya, together with the civil war that is tearing Yemen apart, have created vast killing fields, generated waves of refugees, and spawned Islamist militants who will remain a threat to international security for years to come. And the West has had more than a little to do with it.
A 2016 report on 'policies involving long-range armed drones' spelled out current practice by United States 'special forces' engaged in this extra-legal murder of 'enemy targets' around the world. The report, troublingly, does not question the morality or potentially disastrous long-term consequences of such activity, it merely argues for increasing clarity in strike policies. It concludes:
Vast amounts of 'aid money' have been spent in other communities assisting them to develop capitalist institutions and practices. Development experts, trained in Western universities, have dedicated their lives to improving the lot of 'under-developed' and 'less-developed' communities . Yet, the consequences of all the dedication, effort and resources committed to 'Third World development' seem to have produced very mixed results around the world.
"The pragmatic method," says James, "tries to interpret each notion (concept) by tracing its respective practical consequences." The value of concepts whose practical consequences have not yet been experienced scientifically, depends upon the will.
For example, the question of the existence of God is reduced to the following: "What would be the practical consequences if we believed that matter produces all things, or if we believed that God exists and that the world is the work of His providence?" In the first hypothesis, James observes, the world would appear deeply enshrouded in the coldness of death; in the second hypothesis the world appears solid, warm,, full of real meaning.
One of the unfortunate consequences of the 'trickle down' policies of Third World Development projects and programs and the 'globalization' activities of the past 50 years has been that high-status people in many Third World communities have had the material requirements of their positions greatly inflated by the massive injection of capital into their countries.
The consequence of a belief in progress ... is that time ceases to be morally neutral ... there is, at the very least, some predisposition to tie up past with bad (in one word: backward), and future with good (progressive).
(Gellner 1978, p. 3)
All the presumptions of the past concerning the nature and purpose of natural laws remained intact. It seemed absurd to question the Summum Bonum consequences of employing them in furthering human control of the material world . By conforming to and employing the principles being uncovered in daily life, human beings could look forward to living in the best of all possible worlds.
But for the peculiar consequences of the dispossession of small landholders and the consequent undermining of small business through much of Britain, capitalism might well have faltered in the 18th century, another 'blind alley' of history . Those who held the purse-strings of Britain, in their self-interested drive to accumulate property and wealth, not only dispossessed 'the poor', they threatened the livelihoods and wellbeing of less affluent members of the middle ranks. Less wealthy households and individuals, who held to the same understandings and were motivated by much the same impulses as the financiers, stock-holders and large property owners, were being threatened by their activities with both social ruin and material destitution.
In reaction to this, Luther, Calvin and other protest leaders of the 16th century emphasized the importance of civil law and order, and required their followers to live closely regulated lives. Nonetheless, the evils of the centuries were commonly believed to be a consequence of this lawless strain in extreme forms of Protestantism.