The Last Capitalist

A site dedicated to restoring individualism in the United States of America

“Intellectual Defense of Capitalism”

Posted by jemartynowski on May 12, 2008

In his many excellent publications, Dr. Walter Williams (professor at George Mason University, writer, part-time radio talk show substitute, and my hero) defends capitalism many different ways.  Most importantly, he uses logic.  Last October he wrote an article that I enjoyed moderately at the time, but I find it more important today in defending capitalism vs. socialist ideals currently taking over our country. 

Recently, it seems that every time I get into discussions about the value of capitalism vs. socialism, the other party often admits the obvious fact that free markets are more efficient in terms of resource allocation and hence lead to greater wealth than socialism and other forms of statism (credit to Dr. Williams for that wording).  They argue that even though that is the case, in capitalism the rich just get richer and the poor are stuck.  In socialism, the go on, the people who need the resources get them.  Besides some glaring problems with those two sentences, hat Dr. Williams points out in the linked article is that these people’s moral superiority is not warranted. 

There are two statements to make if you are ever in one of these arguments that cannot be denied:

1.  Capitalism is based on voluntary peaceable relationships rather than force and coercion.  This is important because in a socialist society, this is not the case.  All decisions must be made by someone who knows best for society.  The problem here is that most everybody who defends that type of government thinks that those decisions are obvious.  They never really are.  Sure, free health care sounds good, but is it really?  Haven’t we learned about the obvious pitfalls from other countries’ mistakes?  Are you imposing on my freedoms to give those benefits to others?  Who decides that I have to give up my freedoms?  You?  The president?  Congress?  That’s bull.  I should decide when I want to give up my freedoms, peaceably and voluntarily seeing as I have not violated anyone else’s rights.  Which leads us to…

2.  Capitalism respects the sanctity of the indi­vidual.  This is the best way to put into words what capitalism really means.  Individuals, not anyone else, should decide what’s best for themselves.  The individual rights of a person should not be impaired unless he has impeded on another’s rights.

So, next time you are discussing this topic with your socialist friend(s), don’t back down when they get morally righteous on you.  If they truly cared about diversity and respecting everyone’s individuality, they cannot help but agree with you.  Nobody has the right to impede on anybody else’s rights.

4 Responses to ““Intellectual Defense of Capitalism””

  1. theraffishdandy said

    1. Capitalism is based on voluntary peaceable relationships rather than force and coercion.

    – I’d just remind you that people born into a capitalist society have no choice in the matter. There is nothing voluntary about it. In order to eat, one must engage in bartering/purchasing. Every individual within a capitalist society is coerced into becoming a cog in the wheel.

    2. Capitalism respects the sanctity of the indi­vidual.

    In order for capitalism to work, there must be ‘winners’ and ‘losers’. Socialism respects the sanctity of the human, which must always be placed above the self-interest of the individual.

  2. jemartynowski said

    People born into a capitalist society have every right to exit and go to a different place, at least in all capitalist countries there are now. The “cog in the wheel” reference insinuates that everyone is stuck in the same spot spinning around, but not going anywhere. However, that is not the case. My parents did not ever have much money, and will never be wealthy. However, I feel as if I will transform my life using my talents, gifts, or just plain hard work into something better. As a matter of fact, I would argue that in a socialist society, you are much more like a “cog in the wheel,” never having a chance to improve your lot but always spinning in place for the larger machine.

    As for your second argument, nothing could be more untrue. Peaceable, voluntary exchange eliminates that. With freedom, nobody is forced into a decision they don’t want to make. How can you be a loser if you don’t need to enter a contract you do not agree with? Also, it’s a point you can read in the linked article, but I’ll do it briefly: before capitalism, the extremely rich were so because of slavery and force. With capitalism, the extremely rich are there because they added something to society. For example, Bill Gates created something that is useful to millions of people around the world. Because of this, not force or slavery, he is immensely wealthy.

    Thanks for the comment and I accept all opposition against my thoughts. If my stance doesn’t stand up to criticism, it probably isn’t right.

  3. theraffishdandy said

    Happy to chat it over. I do take issue with the ‘they can always leave’ argument, when you’re essentially promoting capitalism as a system that provides choice the choice to leave your home isn’t really a choice at all.

    I wouldn’t really argue that most of the really rich add something to society- here in the UK the vast majority of the extremely rich were born into wealth and privelege and will pass on the same. In our capitalist society the gap between the top and bottom is wider than ever before. I don’t personally attribute this to a lack of talent, drive or desire. The competitive element of capitalism breeds exploitation and coercion- is it so much more desirable than force and slavery (which I don’t see as a by-product of Socialism at all, by the way)? I think that choosing between the two evils is like choosing the instrument of your own torture. Is this the best that we have to offer?

    Thanks for taking the time to respond. And best wishes.

  4. jemartynowski said

    Excellent points. I do agree that it is not perfect, as I recently said in a debate with someone about the negatives of capitalism. However, I believe it is the best possible system.

    The part about slavery and force wasn’t necessarily about socialism, but about what things were like before capitalism. I believe that socialism eventually forces us all to be slaves again, because we will have no choice about what to do with ourselves. Someone needs to decide what we are to do and how much we get of the resources available. I would rather have the ability to decide that than a government official.

    I understand that there are many who are born into privelege and wealth, but I don’t look down on those people. It is not their fault that their parents or grandparents were smart enough to save money for them and have something to pass on. To truly respect people’s freedom to use their resources as they wish, we have to let them give their wealth to whomever they choose.

    Whereas I don’t equate it to torture, necessarily, I do think that government is never good, but it’s necessary. So, in a sense, we should choose the least imposing possibility.

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