It occurs to me that most people think North America is already Capitalist. The perpetrators of that little slight-of-hand are many, but mostly the blame is with intellectuals, politicians, and the media, who are advancing an agenda. In fact, what we have today in North America is a mixed economy. It’s impossible to quantify, but just to throw a number out there, I’ll say North America is 50/50, capitalism and socialism. Antitrust, bailouts, the enormous entitlement and welfare states, and the pervasive intervention in the lives of individuals, the denial of individual rights, are all un-Capitalistic and anti-freedom on a fundamental level.
After watching a video of John Stossel and David Boaz from the Cato Insitute at a Students For Liberty Q&A at George Washington University, I’m pleased to see 500 Libertarians all in one place, and more pleased that they seem to be extremely well-informed.
But I’d like to present an argument that Rand made against Libertarianism, and the Libertarian political party of the 70’s.
First, though, for everyone still inside the matrix: If you support Liberalism, you support force-backed plunder. There is no two ways about it. It may not be full blown communism, but it is based upon the same destructive ideas, and no amount of government plunder, for any reason, is moral — yes, even to help the poor.
If you support Conservatism, you support oppressive social authoritarianism(and force-backed plunder but traditionally to a lesser degree). There is no way around that. Arbitrary social “rules” in the name of some “good” chosen for someone else is authoritarian and anti-freedom. The drug war, for example. Or laws against prostitution.
The reason for this note, however, is to address Libertarians. If you support Liberty, based on the ineffectiveness of big government and statism, centrally-planned economies, etc, OR based on the economic up-side of free markets, you may be failing to grasp the real problem. Efficacy arguments have never stood up to altruist morality arguments, and there’s no reason to believe they ever will. In fact, the economic argument is so one-sided, so clearly on the side of freedom and Capitalism that it’s not really a debate. The other side — the moral argument — is where the war is won or lost. And the moral argument is not even being fought, it’s been conceded to the left. The altruist and collectivist morality of the culture literally ensures that we will continue on the same trend as the last 100 years — towards the left, towards statism.
Indeed the only proper defense of freedom, and Capitalism, is a moral defense — laissez-faire Capitalism is proper to human beings, because everything else is slavery, in the true sense of the word. It is not enough to show that Capitalism improves everyone’s standard of living, or creates an environment for business, religions, races, and all social groups to co-exist peacefully, or any number of the other great things Capitalism does — those things are historically, factually and demonstrably true, however they do not make a proper defense of laissez-faire Capitalism. Why?? They are an argument, sure, but they are not the argument. They are corollary arguments, but they are secondary.
Material gain is not an effective defense and those arguments have always failed against the inhuman “morality” of altruism and collectivism, as they have in the past, and as they still do today(slowly but surely, we move ever more to the left). People want to do what they think is right — if they’re convinced that self-interest and profit are immoral, and “evil”… convincing them that Capitalism achieves self-interest and profit better than socialism or communism, is actually counter-productive. The real debate is whether or not self-interest(what markets are based on — trade is, for both parties, based on self-interested gain) is moral or immoral. Proponents of Capitalism must make the argument that self-interest is moral — and it is — because people don’t vote their pocketbooks. They vote their conscience, because they want to be moral. The problem is, they’ve been convinced of a backward, anti-life, upside down morality, one that says it is immoral to live for your own sake.
These points addressing Libertarians are perhaps more important than the ones directed at Liberals and Conservatives, because as Rand said, Capitalists supporting freedom because it “works,” may actually do more damage to the cause of freedom than the worst big-government liberals, or the most socially authoritarian conservatives, because they fail to defend freedom properly — they undermine the real justification for a free society, which is that a free society is the only moral society.
Non Libertarians: I don’t mean to say that it is a bad idea to hear out the the arguments for the “effectiveness” of laissez-faire Capitalism(Capitalism is: the absolute separation of economics and state, like the separation of church and state), because those ideas are true, and can be persuasive, and they demonstrate an important fact: that the moral is the practical — however these ideas have never been enough against the destructive and irrational altruist morality presented by Marx, by the bible, by the left, by virtually everyone — even many Libertarians.