LAISSEZ-FAIRECAPITALISM.COM

Non-Violent Private Property Conquering Poverty and Promoting Humane Values

 

 

 

 

America:
Once a Land of Capitalism,
Now a Land of Confusion



An attack on capitalism is an attack on the heart and soul of Christian ethics. To say “I do not support capitalism” is to say “I support the use of violence to get what I want."

"America" stands for "capitalism."
"Capitalism" means "liberty."

The whole world knows that capitalism works and socialism is a failure. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the breakup of the Soviet Union shout this truth across the globe.

  • Capitalist countries are free and prosperous,
  • Socialist countries are enslaved and impoverished.

And yet, virtually everyone in the United States has been trained in government schools and by a government-dominated media to believe that socialism is better than capitalism, and that no economy can succeed without some socialism.

This is what makes this campaign so controversial: we are working to eliminate all socialism and establish pure "laissez-faire" capitalism.

Why is Capitalism Hated?

Most Americans over 50 were taught that “capitalism” was better than “socialism,” and that America was “capitalist.” More recently, “capitalism” has fallen out of favor. The ostensibly conservative Richard Nixon[3] famously quipped, “We are all Keynesians now,” by which he meant, nobody is a “capitalist” anymore.[4] Few people today are willing to identify themselves as defenders of capitalism. Capitalism is not trendy in our day. A self-identified “socialist” is far more likely to get a teaching position at a major university than one who openly defends “laissez-faire capitalism,” ceteris paribus.

In the last few years I have been studying capitalism in more detail, by reading the works of those who defend it most passionately. This study has been an eye-opening experience. I believe “capitalism,” rightly understood, is more compatible with Christianity than socialism in any degree.

That little phrase “rightly understood” is the whole enchilada.

The story is told of the six blind men who offered descriptions of an elephant. Each was viewing only a part of the animal, one feeling the trunk, another the tail, another the huge legs, etc., and their varied descriptions of “an elephant” reflected their limited investigation.

Most descriptions of “capitalism” (particularly by those who attack it) are as far from reliable as those of the blind men. More ironically, the blind critics of capitalism are not only viewing only a part of the economic animal, but they are actually describing themselves, with one socialist critic of “capitalism” describing his own leg, another socialist critic of “capitalism” describing his own ear, etc. In other words, most criticisms of “capitalism” are criticisms of policies which are completely un-capitalistic, or they are pointing to problems created by socialism, not capitalism.

The name “capitalism” was coined by Karl Marx, a vehement opponent of capitalism. Capitalists have adopted Marx’s term as their own (without accepting Marx’s content, of course). One of the most comprehensive defenses of capitalism is George Reisman’s treatise on Capitalism.[5] It is a huge book, but easy reading, and full of insights. I would now put him among my top ten favorite writers.

After a good deal of study, I offer this definition of capitalism:

Capitalism is a social system based on
the rejection of the initiation of force or violence against others.

This definition will surprise many who attack capitalism. Ask a critic of capitalism to define “capitalism” and the critic’s definition will not even be close to this definition[7]. Nevertheless, I do not know a single self-described defender of capitalism who would disagree with this definition. In fact, most would agree it gets to the very heart and soul of the dispute between capitalism and socialism. For the benefit of those who doubt, I would be happy to supply the quotations and footnotes from the writings of self-conscious defenders of capitalism to buttress my claim. The quotes would be many and lengthy. I would quote Ayn Rand,[8] George Reisman, Milton Friedman,[9] Ludwig von Mises,[10] F.A. Hayek,[11] and many other defenders of capitalism.

As an example, the Libertarian Party, unquestionably the political party most vigorously committed to capitalism, requires its members to sign this pledge in order to join the party:

I do not believe in or advocate
the initiation of force

as a means of achieving political or social goals
.

That is the full extent of the Libertarian Party membership pledge. It is widely viewed as the sine qua non of libertarianism. It is often referred to by defenders of capitalism as “the principle of non-aggression.”[13]  (Of course, anyone can vote Libertarian, without taking "the Pledge.")

This is not just an abstract academic debate. Socialism rationalizes violence. Socialism has meant slavery and death to hundreds of millions of human beings. Too many on the left who claim to be for peace defend The Welfare State (welfare socialism), which turns out to be window-dressing for The Warfare State. To oppose capitalism is to oppose the only economic system that repudiates the initiation of all violence. To wrongly define capitalism as a system that “exploits” the poor or in some other way initiates force against others is to pull the plug on an effective force for peace.

Rightly understood, then, an attack on capitalism is an attack on the heart and soul of Christian ethics. To say “I am not a capitalist” is to say “I support the use of violence to get what I want.”

Again, this is based on the definition of capitalism offered by the most scholarly defenders of capitalism, not those who attack it.

Find someone who is called a "capitalist" who uses the violence and coercion of the State to crush his competitors and exploit the poor, and you have found someone that every self-identified defender of capitalism would say is not a "capitalist."

This is the issue: Is there any human activity that is more efficiently carried out under threats of violence and force than under liberty?
  • Is it the case that human beings cannot be trusted to produce milk and bread for the children unless they are threatened with prison terms by "the government?"
  • Is it really true that Americans cannot manufacture and distribute computers, clothing, housing, groceries, without "the government?"

America became the most admired nation on earth because it stood for the proposition that capitalism (liberty) succeeds and socialism fails.

Throughout this website we have discussed over 200 areas of human endeavor where it is often alleged that Americans could not succeed without government regulation. But all you have to do is look at the things you have and enjoy, compare your life with that of most people living in socialist countries, and ask, "If the federal government were to be abolished, would entrepreneurs and businessmen make sure that I had access to the best quality at the lowest price?"

If you answer no -- for example,

"No, businessmen are greedy and immoral and would only manufacture shoes of low quality and sell them at rip-off prices, unless bureaucrats were regulating them,"

and you added,

"And consumers are stupid, and would always buy low quality at a high price and wouldn't care for their family unless federal bureaucrats were making sure families paid attention to the most important things."

-- then you have a religious faith in the State and its regulators, and believe that when greedy businessmen and stupid consumers are elected to government positions by their greedy and stupid peers, these newly-elected human beings suddenly lose their greed and stupidity and become altruistic and intelligent overseers of others. "Statism" is a religious belief in the depravity of human beings and faith in the sanctified State.

History tells us that where there is "Liberty Under God," you and I will work hard, with creativity and integrity, to provide goods and services which benefit the lives of others. We will find ways to produce better goods than our competitor and will bend over backwards to do so at a lower cost. In our efforts to get the business of others, we will improve the lives of our customers, because we know that where there is liberty, our customers have the freedom to shop elsewhere, and other Americans have the freedom to start a business which will sell what consumers demand.

History proves that capitalism works and socialism fails. The great economists have explained why:

  • Ludwig von Mises, Human Action, Yale Univ. Press, 1949, 885pp. + index
  • George Reisman, Capitalism, Ottawa, IL: Jameson Books, 1998, 998pp. + index
  • Thomas Sowell, Knowledge and Decisions, NY: Basic Books, 1980, 383pp. + index

Mises in particular, and his Nobel Prize-winning student, F. A. Hayek, conclusively proved that without the price mechanism of the free market, socialist planners can never allocate resources in the most efficient manner. Mises’ work has never been refuted:

Kevin Craig accepts as a matter of unchanging economic law the fundamental inefficiency of centralized government planning over free market decision-making. The reader can turn to the bibliography below for a nearly complete defense of the concept.


Some Fundamental Insights Into the Benevolent Nature of Capitalism


If socialism is a violation of basic economic laws, then our concept of "the government" must be repudiated. The key to a well-governed society is "Liberty Under God," not "the government." The key to prosperity is capitalism, not socialism. Every action of "the government" is the imposition of socialism. We must eliminate every trace of socialism from America.

Socialism is immoral.


But what about crime?

OK, you concede, capitalism builds better and cheaper cars than the Kremlin. But what about crime? If we abolish the government, crime will break out and capitalism will collapse into "anarchy" (chaos).

This too is statism.

This is the belief that you and I are basically criminals in waiting, and only politicians can be trusted to keep us in line. Of course, you and I and other criminals in waiting are the ones who will "vote" for these sanctified and benevolent overseers, who will keep us from acting out our criminal proclivities. Although in every other area of our lives we are "depraved," when we vote we are wise and community-oriented. Once criminals like you and I "vote" for our fellow criminals, they become sanctified protectors of law and order and keep us from our depraved ways.

If you own a business, you cannot be trusted to hire a security agency to guard your store. Your insurance agency isn't smart enough to tell you to hire a protection service in order to continue your insurance coverage. And I must be forced to pay for your security service with "taxes," because I am too greedy and you are too stupid to make sure your business is safe.

Here are the links to prove that this statist thinking is unrealistic:

  • Check the "Crime" article in the pull-down menu.
  • Check the "sanctions" article in the pull-down menu.
  • The Founding Fathers believed that "the government" could never be powerful enough to prevent all crime -- and we shouldn't try to make it that powerful. Read their warnings.
  • Most businesses today rely on capitalist security agencies, because socialist police forces have given up on preventing crime. They only arrest some of the criminals after the crimes have already been committed and the damage has been done. If the government were taken out of the crime-prevention business, capitalists would scatter to provide high-tech crime prevention services that would dramatically reduce crime.
  • Socialist courts have no competition, and no incentive to become increasingly just and fair. There is no reason why competing courts provided by the Free Market cannot adjudicate disputes and provide redress of injury.
  • The history of the "Lex Mercatoria" is a history of the conquest of crime by Laissez-faire Capitalism
  • Murray Rothbard has applied the ancient wisdom of the Lex Mercatoria to contemporary criminal and legal issues.

* "Laissez-faire" comes from a French phrase meaning "let us do," or "let us work" -- let us do what we do best.
  • Let Henry Ford make cars so efficiently and at such a low price that even the poor can own one.
  • Let Bill Gates make software that enables even the most machine-shy to operate a computer.
  • And let Sam Walton establish a chain of stores to sell the products of capitalists in every American town.

Socialism could never have done these things, so we say to socialists, "Laissez-faire!" [back]




Congress should
  • reject all legislation which relies on the initiation of force, coercion, or violence as a means of achieving political or social goals

Government sends the wrong message. It says "Whenever you're frustrated, and things don't go your way, you can resort to force or violence to get what you want."

  • Want to raise a little extra money, but can't persuade anyone to give you any? Put a gun to the head of the next American you see. Threaten to lock him up for a few years with pathological felons if he doesn't cough up.
  • Did someone in the next city break into your home and steal something? Drop a "smart bomb" on his home and destroy everyone in his neighborhood!
  • It's OK to violate the Eighth Commandment ("Thou shalt not steal")
  • It's OK to violate the Sixth Commandment ("Thou shalt not kill")
  • Need somebody to help you? Enslave as many people as you need!
  • Don't call it "armed robbery" -- call it "taxation."
The Libertarian Party is the party of principle. To publicly affirm what we believe -- and to ensure that our party never strays from our principles -- we ask our members to proudly sign this statement:

I do not believe in or advocate the initiation of force as a means of achieving political or social goals.

This is simply a short-hand for everything contained in "the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God." Government bureaucrats have forgotten this. Most Americans would never even think of running their businesses the way the government runs theirs.

More and more Americans are seeing that there are a thousand and one things that can be done to reduce crime and solve social problems that are peaceful and do not involve force or violence. Some ideas are found here.

This is the heart and soul of capitalism.


next: "The State" as Criminal

I appreciate your comments
Do you disagree with me?
I will thoughtfully, prayerfully, respectfully and
personally respond to your criticisms
email: comments[at]KevinCraig.US


[3] On the myth of Nixon as a conservative, see http://vftonline.org/XianAnarch/cause/bush/Nixon.html

[4] John Maynard Keynes (pronounced, “Canes”)(1883-1946) was possibly the single most influential person in transforming America from a “capitalist” “free enterprise” nation into a “mixed” socialist economy. Most Americans are completely unaware of this transformation, still vaguely believing that America is a “capitalist” nation.

[5] George Reisman, Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics, Ottawa, IL: Jameson Books, xlviii + 1046 pp, 1998. Reisman studied with Ayn Rand and Ludwig von Mises, and translated some of Mises’ works into English.

[7] Most definitions in mainstream economics texts or encyclopedias are not only inconsistent with this definition, they are nearly incomprehensible. In her essay “What is Capitalism?” Ayn Rand dissects these definitions, notably the entry from the Encyclopedia Britannica, and shows how they are not only self-contradictory, but subtly designed to advance a socialist agenda. They are not “neutral” or “objective.” See below, note 8.

[8] Ayn Rand, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, with additional articles by Nathaniel Branden, Alan Greenspan, and Robert Hessen, New York: Signet Books, 1967

[9] Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom, University of Chicago Press, 1962. Friedman was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1976.

[10] Ludwig von Mises, Human Action, Yale University Press, 1949. See also the Mises Institute, www.Mises.org

[11] Friedrich A. Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty, University of Chicago Press, 1960. Hayek was a student of Mises, and was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics in 1974.

[13] A google.com search for “capitalism” and “non-aggression” will bring up hundreds of relevant pages. http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=capitalism+non-aggression


How well do today's students understand "capitalism?" Considering that nearly half could not read the printed word "capitalism," compare them with these students from an earlier era: