Thursday, December 15, 2011

In Defense of Capitalism

Corporatism or Cronyism Isn’t Capitalism

By de Andréa

As “Occupy Wall Street” and anti-capitalism protests gain popularity as the culprit in the ensuing financial collapse and unemployment issue, it is ignorance of just what capitalism is, and more importunately is not, that fuels the ongoing protest. Ignorance is why the bad guys don’t get caught.

Corporatism and its resulting Cronyism are an invention of the Federal Government for the purpose of taxing profits, for the redistribution of wealth and securing dependency of the masses. Corporations, although used in the capitalistic infrastructure, was a tax on the evil profits, the cash-cow invented by the government to finance the growth of big government and the social dependency of the common people.

The truth is - that capitalism is the greatest socio-economic system in human history, because it’s so ‘moral’ and so ‘productive’ - the two features so essential to human survival. It’s moral because it enshrines and fosters rationality and self-interest, the two key virtues we all must consciously adopt and practice if we’re to pursue and attain life and love, health and wealth, adventure and inspiration. It produces not only material-economic abundance but it produces both the aesthetic and sometimes not so moral values seen in the arts and entertainment.

But what is capitalism, exactly? How do we know it when we see it or have it -- or when we haven’t, or don’t?

These aren’t easily-answered questions. Even though everyone has benefited from capitalism, for more than a century it has had more critics than champions. The ‘controlling elitist critics’ have given biased or a bigoted portrayal of what they project is a demonic system. These critics despise capitalism’s Biblical root ethic (self-interest and responsibility) as “evil”, then blithely spin the truth, and report the system harms human beings or sabotages societal peace and prosperity. Anti-capitalist prejudice has been perpetuated for decades by elitist parents, teachers, and preachers alike. They claim that to benefit yourself (egoism) is bad, but to hypocritically benefit and serve others, especially if it is forced at our own expense or sacrifice (altruism, or “other-ism”) is good – that it’s better to give than receive, to be our “brother’s keeper,” to serve or suffer rather than profit or enjoy. If these are such good virtues, and they are, then why must they be perpetuated and mandated, forced or controlled by government?

In truth, capitalism, “the free society”, means people trade value-for-value to mutually beneficial gain. And thereby one can attain the wealth to voluntarily give to others and be ones brother’s keeper as God blesses us. While the socialistic philosophy is that the government is at the center of wealth and ‘it’ is the god that supplies all of our needs.

Historically, capitalism is only about 250 years old – a mere flick of the clock hand relative to mankind’s total time on earth so far (roughly 6000 years, and less than 4000 years in the Americas). Capitalism arose during the Renaissance (1500s-1600s) and the Enlightenment period (1700s), which entailed a re-birth of reason, self-confidence, culture, and commerce – in short, the pursuit of one’s own personal happiness. This was in sharp contrast to what had preceded it for a millennium of superstition, ignorance, oppression, torture, and economic poverty, imposed by church and state alike, amid religious Medievalism and the Dark Ages.

Capitalism has been co-extant with the Scientific Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, and the Political Revolution, the last of which was realized in the U.S. Constitution (1787), which soon also abolished the archaic belief of slavery, a carryover from the oppression of government controlled socialism.

The question of “what is capitalism,” exactly – and likewise, regarding its main rivals, what is “statism,” “socialism,” “social democracy,” “Communism,” “Fascism,” or “Corporatism” – shouldn’t be a matter of mere semantics. These are real political systems affecting real people, whether for good or ill. Political systems are free, un-free and oppressive, or mixed. We cannot legitimately make up terms or equivocate (i.e., switch meanings from one argument to the next, to evade or twist the logic) about these political systems.

We do need however to look down the road we have now embarked on, to see just where it leads. Our once free capitalistic economy has now become a mix of mandated socialism and a not so true free enterprise system that made this country great for everyone, even those that chose not to participate. And as we mistakenly blame Capitalism for our woes, we will shed our freedom and prosperity for oppressive Social Communism where everyone is supposedly equal, equally oppressed, and dependently poor.

Capitalism has been blamed for the Great depression of the thirties and the Recession of 2007-2009 and for the financial crisis and bailouts of 2008, but it is not “capitalism” but the mixed economy of Statism, Corporatism, and ‘elitist Cronyism’ that caused the failure.

We’ve had corporatism in the U.S. for roughly the past century disguised as capitalism, and it’s getting worse over time; it’s also the system we’ve seen in Europe since at least the time of Germany’s Otto von Bismarck, who launched the womb-to-tomb welfare state in the 1870s. In the interim, of course, Europe also imposed communism, socialism, and fascism. The result, we know, was mass murder, world war, and the continent-wide destruction of wealth.

Capitalism’s greatest intellectual champion, Ayn Rand (1905-1982), once defined it as “a social system based on the recognition of freedom, individual rights, including property rights, in which all property is privately owned.” This recognition of genuine rights (not “rights” to force others to get us what we wish) is all-crucial and it has a distinctive moral foundation, according to Rand: “The recognition of individual rights entails the banishment of physical force from human relationships: fundamentally, rights can only be violated by means of force. In a capitalist society, no man or group may initiate the use of physical force against others. The only function of the government, in such a society, is the task of protecting man’s rights, i.e., the task of protecting him from physical force. The government acts as the agent of man’s right of self-defense, and may use force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use; thus the government is the means of placing the retaliatory use of force under objective control. The moral justification of capitalism does not lie in the altruist claim that it represents the best way to achieve “the common good.” It is true that capitalism does—if that catch-phrase has any meaning—but this is merely a secondary consequence. The moral justification of capitalism lies in the fact that it is the only system consonant with man’s rational nature, that it protects man’s survival qua man, and that its ruling principle is justice.”

Elaborating, Rand explained in Capitalism The Unknown Ideal (1966) that historically, politically, economically, and morally, capitalism was the superior socio-economic system, yet also how, for decades, its achievements and virtues had been hidden and buried deliberately by those wannabe power hungry dictators in an avalanche of prejudice, distortion, and falsehood. Rand argued that capitalism is’ a moral ideal, but unlike most Idealistic theories and philosophies it was made real, and to the greatest extent, in America in the 19th century, especially during the Gilded Age (1865-1890). Thus she called the U.S. “the greatest, the noblest and, in its original founding principles, the only moral country in the history of the world.”

Most people today can’t even fathom (let alone endorse or advocate) a government that’s strictly limited to protecting each person’s right to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. They assume a government must be controlled by some pressure group or another, in a “zero-sum game” of unavoidable exploitation – that “power” is ubiquitous and ineradicable, while the only question is who wields the big stick and who wins and who loses.

According to French economist and philosopher Fredrick Bastiat “The only purpose of law and government in a free sociality is to protect the rights of its people.”

They say “timocracy” is rule by the military for the sole benefit of the military, that “plutocracy” is rule by the rich for the sole sake of the rich, that “socialism” is rule by labor for the sake only of labor, that “capitalism” is rule by capitalists (or Wall Street bankers) for the singular benefit of capitalists, and that “democracy” is rule by people (i.e., the majority) at the expense of the minority. While this may be true to one extent or the other, notice, by this bizarre approach – with its hidden premise that there can be no harmony of interests among people – that no space is permitted for a political system of liberty, justice and equality (for all) before the law. Why not? Call such a system what you will (semantics aren’t the issue), yet ask: why isn’t this one of the possible systems to choose from? Why is it not an option? Indeed, given what we know from history and human nature, why isn’t it the only system worth adopting? Because capitalism means that there is no-one at the helm, no-one in control but God, that’s why. And today’s political “thinkers” can only imagine a system controlled by a government that is in turn controlled by one distinct group or another, which then by force, systematically oppresses its rivals.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Capitalism is a direct result of freedom. The freedom to pursue the direction of ones own life, whether good or bad, wealth or wanton, happiness or loss. Moreover, the destruction of capitalism will directly result in the destruction of freedom, and the destruction of independence. As the opposite of independence is dependence, the opposite of the freedom of capitalism is the oppression of socialism.

Think about it the next time you vote for a government entitlement or handout.

A free lunch is few and far between and only leaves a bad taste in your mouth…

de Andréa