Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Is Capitalism Evil? Part 4

Several common economic fallacies are constantly broadcast around the world. The goals of these fallacies are to denigrate, defeat and destroy capitalism. I mentioned four of these fallacies in the first post under this title. In this post, I will be discussing the following fallacy:

Fallacy 3. Capitalism is Imperialistic and warlike

Perhaps the one myth that is most often repeated by Marxists and Islamic fascists is that America is an imperialist nation bent on conquest of other lands. This criticism was often used by the Soviets against America when they, the Soviets, wanted to conquer more territory and expand their coercive influence around the world. Jihadists complain that America steals the oil under their feet and corrupts the sacred land that Allah had forbidden to infidels.

The idea that capitalism needs markets to conquer and resources to steal is one of the three major charges against it: war, racism and poverty, words that populate signs at anti-capitalist demonstrations along with the words: “Destroy capitalism”. Indeed, capitalism’s supposed war-like nature seems logical for those who think that capitalism is an outgrowth of jungle warfare. Yet, few stop to question whether it is true. A careful study of history reveals that America, when it was more capitalist than today, started few wars and the wars in which it did participate were wars of liberation from fascist dictatorships. These wars were started by dictatorships in order to gain liebensraum (Living space) that required the enslavement of entire nations.

The kinds of societies that start wars are not capitalist but dictatorships that see their people as the property of the state. Capitalism on the other hand sees people as traders and customers and would rather convince them of the quality of their products rather than hold them up for ransom.

The commonly accepted fallacy that socialist countries are more efficient and economically superior to capitalism relieves the socialist of having to prove the question. It also adds propaganda strength to the idea that socialism is the morally superior system. Whenever you can tag capitalism with war mongering and poverty, you have a powerful argument for a system (namely socialism) that is supposed to be peaceful and affluent.

But for many people, just taking it for granted that socialism is superior won’t work. For those in the Tea Party movement, capitalism has proven to be the superior economic system as well as the system that creates more well-being for people. And America (the supposedly capitalist country), is consistently the one country that has won wars started by dictatorships. It has also thwarted the advances of sundry brutal dictators in Cuba, Iraq and many other countries, not for the sake of conquest but for the sake of freedom.

Today, the charge that capitalism has failed (and it is time, again, to try socialism) is merely the last argument of a bankrupt view that government force can actually make things better. Virtually all failures attributed to capitalism (economic bubbles, unemployment, recession and depression, the sub-prime housing collapse, TARP, FANNIE MAE and FREDDIE MAC) are children of socialist policies.

Around the world, you hear few voices repeating the truth that socialism has failed. Yet the evidence keeps mounting. Any policy that has anything to do with socialism is failing; deficit spending, stimulus spending, massive government borrowing, government regulations, re-distribution of income, high taxes, green bailouts, any bailouts, universal medical coverage, welfare...all of these socialist policies are failing.

In spite of the failure of communism and the Soviet system, the Soviet argument that America is a predatory, war-mongering nation has stuck even though the aggressive Soviet Empire was the actual imperialist. Is the USA really an Imperialist country as Ron Paul says? Do we have a desire to conquer other nations?

Definitions of Imperialism have broadened over the decades because progressives need to concoct American guilt to teach our children. Ideas such as economic imperialism and cultural imperialism are joined with military conquest to create a broader historical base from which to excoriate American power. However, such arguments are mere rationalizations designed to hide the true Imperialism of America’s opponents (made up of fascists and communists as well as Muslim extremists who seek a caliphate). America has fought these interests and thwarted their efforts in various parts of the world. So in order to avoid being drawn into false charges about American interests around the world, we’ll look at the real definitions of Imperialism.

The Consolidated-Webster Comprehensive Dictionary, published in 1957 defines the term “Imperial” as

“Pertaining to an Empire or an Emperor; pertaining to supreme authority or anyone who wields it; sovereign, supreme, suitable for an Emperor .”

The term Imperialism means “state or authority; the spirit of empire.” An Imperialist is “one favourable to empire or imperial government.”

These definitions say nothing about culture or economics. They strictly refer to political and military dominance of one nation over another. For instance, and more to the point, an imperialist country cannot merely be a larger country that trades with a smaller country. That is called a trading partner. Nor could it be a friendly nation with a superior philosophy or better government. That would be an ally. Nor is the appreciation of one country’s culture by another proof of imperialism. That’s a nation with good blue jeans and great movies.

An Imperialist nation dominates another, writes the laws, manages the courts and otherwise rules over the conquered people in every way. The distinguishing characteristics of an empire are military and political domination. And, more to the point, the fact that a given culture or economic system influences a country is not an indication that these elements were imposed by force or that they constitute imperialism.

When modern intellectuals attempt to broaden the definition of imperialism to include cultural and economic influences, they seek to define the United States as imperialistic. Although there have been instances where U.S. policy tended toward the acquisition of new territories, one cannot say that the U.S.A. is a fundamentally imperialist nation.

The USA is powerful enough to conquer big parts of the world – but it chooses not to do so. It is a country founded by free sovereign people organized into free sovereign states dedicated to the concept of individual rights. It fought for freedom against an empire. It is a nation that has liberated people. It has fought menacing and evil dictators, displaced them and helped their peoples create sovereign states that most have welcomed.

An argument can be made that even the efforts to gain new territories by the U.S.A. were not empire-building. There are many aspects of American foreign policy that were engaged, not to build an empire but to extend freedom to more people.

Certainly, among our Presidents there were contradictions and opinions contrary to our Founding principles. Yet, in spite of this, America is unique because it has the ability to correct its own mistakes through a wiser public that declares a desire for change at the voting booth. Few empires have had this ability.

Free countries tend to pursue peace and trade with other nations not empire. In addition, economic expansion by America takes place in the private economy independent of the government and under contract not compulsion. Only a collectivist interpretation of history could claim that America, an individualist nation, is an empire.

Yet, because America is one of the largest industrial nations in the world, and because of the desire of many dictators to loot American companies overseas, it is sometimes necessary for the American government to act against them. It is even sometimes necessary for America to ensure that “friendly” governments are in place in order to protect enterprise and freedom. A policy of encouraging freedom and republican forms of governments becomes necessary, not because America seeks to expand territory, but because it seeks to protect freedom as a matter of self-interest. The necessity of these actions, in whatever form, should be blamed on the dictators and brutal monsters who seek to use treachery and murder as means for acquiring power. Virtually every accusation of American Imperialism is made by people holding imperialist intentions against American companies. These “enemies of America” are the sundry dictators and coercive governments that want to seize the machines and equipment brought to their country by Americans. America is an exporter and a defender of economic freedom, not an empire.

America has liberated more people from dictators than any other nation on earth and only an anti-American bias would interpret American actions as Imperialism. Dictator after dictator has fallen to the liberating efforts of American soldiers, many of whom were young men who died fighting to bring freedom to other nations. America, in defending American corporations against looting dictators, is also defending the jobs and incomes of countless non-Americans around the world. More to the point, those individuals working in American companies overseas seek better lives and American free enterprise makes that possible. They are not the slaves of American imperial power.

Yet, there are those who want to destroy America because they have accepted the notion that America pursues an Imperialist foreign policy. When you see their angry faces in demonstrations and on college campuses, you are seeing the faces of ignorance. I find it strange that young people must go to college today in order to become more stupid. Only an ascetic view of morality and a Marxist intellectual base would attempt such a phony charge against America.

So if America is not an imperialist nation, why do so many people want to kill us?

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