Skip to comments.Why Is Capitalism So Unpopular?
Posted on 09/07/2009 9:31:43 AM PDT by lbryce
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Why they continue to oppose the free market in the face of such evidence is a matter of debate. Some have argued that intellectuals dislike capitalism because they feel it doesn't offer them just rewards for their labors. Indeed, academic books do not sell particularly well, and it is easy for the dedicated scholar to feel a degree of envy when he sees "lesser" minds like John Grisham or J.K. Rowling bringing in boatloads of money for writing relatively straightforward fiction. (And that is to say nothing of professional athletes or, those most foul of professional villains, corporate CEOs.)
I think there may be a more straightforward explanation that plays a role in their dismissal of capitalism. To a "man of system," to borrow Adam Smith's terminology, capitalism just isn't that exciting. Participants in the market economy are wholly beholden to consumer wants. The academics envision a grand world, where Great Men fight Great Wars, periodically inventing Great Things or developing Great Ideas. Instead, the market provides us with incremental processes, which expend enormous piles of resources, in a quest to make better Triscuits. It is hardly the stuff of high drama, to say nothing of Great History.
Under capitalism, the common man does not need an intellectual vanguard or a group of virtuous surrogates to make his decisions for him or to defend him against the rapacity of his fellows. He can do just fine without our help, thank you very much, and would be much obliged if we would go back to our ivory towers and leave him alone.
The idea that great statesmen are not needed to say nothing about being wanted can no doubt be galling to many who decry capitalism for its excesses. For the people who derive their self-worth from being paternalistic, this is a sorry state of affairs indeed.
According to the do-gooders whom Adam Smith called "men of system," the average person is like a piece on a chessboard, to be arranged at the whim of a super-virtuous planner. The planner, who ignores the fact that each of the pieces has (as Smith put it) its own "principles of motion," does his best to orchestrate a game according to his own rules. Dissenters are not tolerated.
Yet people are not chess pieces, to be moved around at will. They are living, breathing, acting, thinking, rational beings with rights and dignity. Respect for their humanity rules out interventions by do-gooders, no matter what their intentions. The result of denying people their fundamental freedoms can be terrible, as the horrors of humanity's 20th-century experiments with collectivism have shown.
The systemic failure of collectivist states demonstrates to us that the problem is not just that a Great Man with a Great Vision hasn't taken control. There is in fact a fundamental knowledge problem at stake. Here is Smith again:
The statesman who should attempt to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals would not only load himself with a most unnecessary attention, but assume an authority which could safely be trusted, not only to no single person, but to no council or senate whatever, and which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it.
The unfettered market does not have much to offer the grand social visionary. It shows that his schemes are quite literally impossible, because he has no specific faculty which clearly demonstrates that we should trust him "to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals." In the absence of market prices or supernatural insight, our surrogate statesman has no standards by which to evaluate which patterns of capitals will most effectively satisfy human wants.
Thomas Carlyle famously called economics a "dismal science" because of economists' opposition to racism and slavery. Many mistakenly believe that it was called a "dismal science" because of the implications of Thomas Malthus's model, which said that in the presence of a fixed factor of production, human reproduction would outstrip our ability to produce food. I submit that still others view economics as a dismal science because it gives the lie to the grand schemes of the men of system.
Those who plan grand schemes are wrong when they assume that, in the absence of such plans, chaos, disorder, and misery must set in. I agree with Walter Block, who often argues that the order produced by the unfettered market economy is indeed a thing of beauty. This order is not, however, a machine to be tinkered with or fine tuned. It is an array of social relationships, which are of a literally incomprehensible complexity. And yet, when free people are left to their own devices, order emerges.
The fundamental problem with government intervention is not that our leaders lack sufficient wisdom to guide the global economy. The fundamental problem is that such wisdom is impossible. The science of human action has very clear implications about what can, in fact, be known, and it therefore places very sharp limits on the potential wisdom of the man of system. Radical schemes aiming at creating utopia are doomed to failure or worse and this is indeed disheartening for the critical idealist.
Yes, some might look down upon capitalism because it is at its heart about the search for a better, cheaper Triscuit rather than "nobler things." But it delivers the goods, and it does so in abundance. Interventionist alternatives do not.
Art Carden is assistant professor of economics and business at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee and an adjunct fellow with the Oakland, Californiabased Independent Institute. He was a summer research fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute in 2003 and a visiting research fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research in June, 2008. =====================================================================================================================================
Brilliant, profoundly thoughtful assessment, analysis of the pathological dementia that is the liberal mind. Eerie how this echoes all that is wrong, misguided, about the Obama Administration.
theres 6 billion people on earth and I’m guestimating that theres only 200 million that support capitalism, 150 million in the US
Was not the word “capitalism” invented by Marx?
I prefer the words “freedom of the person and his property.”
“The fundamental problem with government intervention is not that our leaders lack sufficient wisdom to guide the global economy. The fundamental problem is that such wisdom is impossible. The science of human action has very clear implications about what can, in fact, be known, and it therefore places very sharp limits on the potential wisdom of the man of system. Radical schemes aiming at creating utopia are doomed to failure or worse and this is indeed disheartening for the critical idealist.”
Obama proves this to be CORRECT!
|The statesman who should attempt to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals would not only load himself with a most unnecessary attention, but assume an authority which could safely be trusted, not only to no single person, but to no council or senate whatever, and which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it.
Yes. Capitalism is a pejorative word coined by the enemies of freedom. The choice is always: Freedom or Slavery. And it doesn’t matter what percentage of people think Slavery is right. It isn’t.
I think it was, probably as an epithet.
Amazing << Hear this. Feel this, and tell me that this isn't music.
Only one side can win..
There is a spectrum, with a totally free market on one end, and a government-planned economy on the other. Most economies, the US included, are somewhere in the middle.
A planned economy has attraction for intellectuals and others with the arrogance to think that they would be members of the planning class.
An intellectual is somebody who has enough "verbal intelligence" to impress others with his articulate arguments. He is not necessarily somebody who could actually make it as an entrepreneur in the market-world. Nor are his articulate arguments necessarily correct -- for him to be a successful intellectual, they just need to appear to be correct, enough to persuade an audience.
But in a planned economy, his articulate arguments could be enough to impress a bureaucrat sufficiently for him to be hired to express his opinions.
Why Is Capitalism So Unpopular?
one simple reason....the forgotten 10th commandment.
Because it’s based on merit and requires hard work?
Together, these delusions serve as the foundational axioms of the totalitarian fallacy.
Most intellectuals have never had to meet a payroll. This doesnt help the situation.
And of course Point 3 stands in contradiction to Point 1, thus invalidating there assumptions. Now, they admit to operating off of “lies”.
Why is capitalism unpopular?
Because working appears to be harder than stealing.
C'mon, now ... give it up all you ftiggin' capitalist pigs !!!
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