Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Daily Snark 6/16

Every here and there, I make a point of going to The Nation's website to remind myself that statists actually mean what they say. Sometimes it is surprising to see on how much a libertarian and a statist might agree. Yesterday, they published "The End of Capitalism and the Wellspring of Radical Hope." The author points out a few things that many people do not get: capitalism is the exact opposite of "conservative." It is a dynamic force that creates a great deal of change, both in goods and in how those goods are made.

But of course, there are huge differences between his opinion and mine, almost all of which deal with ethics. The author sees capitalists as fighting "opponents." That's hardly true; capitalists are trying to sell goods to buyers. That there are other buyers means there is competition; the goal is to perform better than anyone else rather than prevent the other group from performing.

This skewed morality comes from a simple misunderstanding. He says "However lissome its face or benign its manner, capitalism compels us to be greedy, callous and petty." That's not true at all. Mankind seeks to gain what it likes no matter what the economic system is. Capitalism does not make us greedy; capitalism exists because we are greedy. Capitalism is the effect, not the cause.

Then the whole mess of an article falls apart with a screed about economic warfare and how we are all soldiers blindly ignoring casualties. Capitalism does not use violence; that is the central aspect of a true capitalist system. Ironically, it is socialism that introduces the use of force into economic decision making.

I think this best describes the folly of fighting capitalism:

No amount of goods can compensate for the damage wrought on human nature by the deliberate nurturance of our vilest qualities. The desecration of the values we claim to hold most dear is the primary reason we should want to abolish, not reinvent, capitalism.

For starters, the author makes no bones about the productivity of capitalism. Few today claim socialism would actually be more productive than capitalism. The argument now rests on the destructive force of capitalism desecrating values. What values?

No, seriously, what values is the author talking about? Capitalism requires that people be useful to others in order to gain value in trade; what, exactly, is so immoral about people striving to be more skilled in areas where skill is needed? Hard work is immoral? I'm puzzled.

I wish I could write more, but there is almost nothing to really respond to. The argument boils down to, capitalism is evil because it destroys undefined values. And this published in the flagship of the Left! If the author is so concerned about the destructive nature of capitalism and its products, let him leave them, starting with his computer.

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