Saturday, February 13, 2010

Anti-capitalism - the Evil Idea Part 2

In a previous post entitled “Anti-capitalism - the Evil Idea” I reported on my trip to Washington DC on September 12th, 2009 and discussed the anti-capitalist views of many young people in the universities. I discussed a group of young men who were protesting our protest by wearing business suits and chanting "Capitalism works...for us." Below is a comment that I received regarding this post.

Adriano wrote:
“The anti-thesis you build in this essay is false. Anti-capitalists aren't protesting small businesses or the use-value of products and services, i.e. the Real Economy you and your family belong to. They are protesting the wild speculation and unregulated risk that takes place on Wall Street, where the wealthiest 1%, insulated by their accumulated wealth, gamble with the livelihoods of the workers and consumers that made them rich in the first place. (Please note that progressives and leftists were protesting the business practices of the World Banking system a decade before the Tea Party woke up and smelled the coffee.)

I celebrate the risk you took to establish your own small business. It should be noted that progressives have always supported loans and government help to small businesses, in addition to supporting things like a minimum wage and anti-trust laws, which are, in effect, limitations placed upon the freedom of the market designed to minimize exploitation.

Anti-capitalists don't hate the real value markets create in the world. They hate the fake bubbles of speculation and temporary growth that allow the richest 1% to line their pockets, shelter that money off-shore, and run for the hills when the walls come crashing in. Anti-capitalists don't hate creativity and profit. They hate the ABUSES of capitalism.

Capitalism must be regulated in order to function properly. Enron and Madoff prove this. Capitalism is not the same thing as freedom. And, as China proves, capitalism is not inherently democratic. Capitalism is not life.

You are right that capitalism was a great thing and it built this country. But you can't possibly believe that the correct destiny for capitalism in America was to bring us to a situation where 90% of wealth is controlled by 1% of the citizens! Capitalism has no intrinsic stopgaps against abuse or disaster. It functions according to Creative Destruction. Great if you're creating something. Not so great if you are being destroyed. Shouldn't government protect its citizens from being destroyed? If hundreds of people lose their jobs at Enron because of the bosses' "creative" and foolhardy and criminal behavior, did those people DESERVE to lose their jobs? Why shouldn't a civilization provide protection to those made vulnerable by disaster and criminal mischief?

Are you against the minimum wage? Medicare? Social Security?”

I will respond to this comment in two separate blog posts. The first will contain my general observations on it. In the second, I will answer point-by-point.

Part 1:

Thank you for proving my point. As I mentioned in my original post, the enemy of freedom is the educational system that is teaching our youth that capitalism is evil. One way it does this is by calling “oligarchy” and “fascism” by the name of capitalism. This lie is intended to convince people like yourself that capitalism does not work and that it is about exploitation and theft. It also extricates progressives from being blamed for the very problems they create.

Almost everything you say about "the wild speculation and unregulated risk that takes place on Wall Street" is true but you don't seem to recognize that your statement is not true of capitalism. Fake bubbles, speculation based on insider knowledge or illegal manipulation, and the resulting temporary growth are caused by government intervention into the economy, not capitalism. They are the products of fascism.

Perhaps you don’t understand what fascism is and, like many progressives, you feel a twinge of anger when someone brings up the accusation of fascism. The term “fascism” refers to an economic system. It is more than just a feature of totalitarian systems like those of Hitler and Mussolini. Fascism is a system that allows private property to exist but expects companies to do what the government mandates.

The effort by dishonest companies to purchase protection from government is not a function of capitalism. It is a function of oligarchic fascism. The practices of capturing markets, bribing politicians, creating regulations that harm competitors are activities engaged in by oligarchs in a fascist system, not capitalists. And, though you claim to disagree with them, these practices are facilitated by the very progressives in government that you seem to admire.

You also don't seem to understand what capitalism is. Capitalism is made up of voluntary transactions ruled by the independent judgments of producers and traders. Contrary to the leftist lies, capitalism does not raise prices or exploit people. Capitalism, if it is left free, lowers prices and improves peoples’ lives. This is because capitalism is freedom.

You also neglect the fact that the young people I discussed in my original post were protesting, not only capitalism but Tea Party protesters made up, in part, of people from small business America with whom you claim to have no problem. Had the young men wanted to protest Wall Street elites with special privileges, then they were at the wrong event. There were no Wall Street elites at this event.

A major disagreement I have with the young men who were protesting our protest was with the statment they made that “Capitalism works…for us”, which means that only the rich benefit from capitalism. Progressives think there is no answer to the complaint that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer in capitalism. The truth is that in a capitalist system, the rich get poorer and the poor get richer. The stories of individual accomplishment and success even under today’s mixed capitalism show a clear advance of poor people who educate themselves, gain job experience and move up into the middle and upper classes through hard work, diligence and honesty. That is the legacy of capitalism; not the corruption you ascribe to it.

A very perceptive observation on our problems as a nation was offered by Thomas Sowell: "Chief Justice John Marshall said that the power to tax is the power to destroy. The power of arbitrary regulation is the power to extort - just as is the power to put the burden of proof (in court cases) on the accused."(1)

I think this statement speaks to the corruption to which progressives are a party. This speaks to the wisdom of the Constitution in protecting rights, limiting the government's power and establishing the burden of proof principle in court cases. If you look across the spectrum of political action today, violating the Constitution causes the various problems of our nation.

More importantly, our young people don't know that civilization cannot exist without certain principles such as property rights, the right to the pursuit of happiness and individual rights. They've been taught that these old ideas are not cool anymore; that the "new" ideas of the progressives, which are actually older than the ideas of the Constitution, are going to make things better.

Further, they've never been taught to understand another principle: cause and effect. They think you can use a gun to force people to do what is right (they call this democracy); and that this act will actually produce good results. They approve of government's goal to provide expensive benefits, neglect the fact that someone (a productive person) has to be forced to pay for those benefits, ignore the fact that re-distribution violates property rights and causes productive citizens to suffer, pretend that their parents just don't understand; and because their teachers have told them so, they think that only they are wise enough to understand what our nation needs. The real tragedy is that no one has taught them to critically analyze whether good intentions can actually be accomplished by coercive means. When they discuss corruption, they are taught that it is caused by laissez faire and free market greed rather than the very people who are educating them.

What causes our young people to be fooled by progressive intellectuals? It is the oldest trick in the book, not some new idea, not some convoluted and voluminous explanation about some ficticious superstructure, not some advanced process of thought that only university professers can understand; what causes it is the false idea that forced altruism and self-sacrifice can actually make things better. They’ve been duped by the left’s equivalent of the charlatan preacher who promises to help people but merely skims the donations for himself.

In a previous post, “The Tea Party Movement and Education”, I wrote:

“The progressives have been running our educational system for decades. In this climate, the idea of citizenship has been joined with the philosophy of self-sacrifice; with the principles and ideas of the Founders totally ignored and/or denigrated. The anti-capitalism of the writers of our textbooks, not to mention their philosophical influences from such thinkers as Hume, Kant and Dewey have served to create a citizenry that is barely able to mount an opposition to the progressive agenda. The progressives have "un-educated" our children and the door is now open for dictatorship. This situation must be corrected.”

As a progressive, you’ve put yourself in a very precarious position. You are supporting the very people on Wall Street you claim to be against. You seem to be oblivious to the fact that progressives favored the bailouts of the very “wealthiest 1%, insulated by their accumulated wealth”. The corrupt Wall Street oligarchs that were bailed out did not just coincidentally donate to Barack Obama and other progressives, they fully expected payback. The oligarchs and the government are doing these things out in the open today (in my generation, they would have been exposed and jailed for their scandalous behavior). Now few people notice the corruption and there is virtually no opposition from young people who are the future.

As happened in countries like the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, once the principle of "the end justifies the means" takes full control of society, once the citizens stay silent and fear opposing the corruption; once that situation arrives, our young people of today who will then be in charge, will wonder how they lost it.

They will not know.

(1) Intellectuals and Society, Thomas Sowell, Basic Books

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