Thursday, April 23, 2015

Capitalism Sucks

When was the last time you saw a movie where a businessman was the good guy?  (If you are one of the dozen or so people who saw the Atlas Shrugged movies, you can sit down now.)  Maybe I’m hanging out with the wrong people, but it seems to me most of my contemporaries lean anti-capitalist.  It gets even worse when I listen to younger generations.  Like our current president, it seems more fashionable in America today to admit one is a Marxist or a socialist than a capitalist.

This is no accident. 
Ask anyone who the father of communism or modern socialism is, and they will be able to name Karl Marx and explain Marxism.  Next, ask them who the father of capitalism is.  I doubt you’ll get as consistent an answer, nor even a correct one.
I contend the correct answer is again... Karl Marx.  Yes, I’m saying that Karl Marx is both the father of communism AND the father of capitalism.  In fact, Karl Marx was the guy who defined capitalism for the masses.  Marx wrote a critique of capitalism called Das Kapital.  In other words, the word most people use today when describing our economic system, “capitalism”, is actually a Marxist put-down!

Many would credit Adam Smith as the guy who had the most influence in shaping America's economy. On that I agree.  Adam Smith’s book “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations” was actually published in 1776.  That date rings a bell, no?  But the word capitalism didn't exist in Adam Smith’s day.  He never used it!    

If everyone knows what Marxism is, why doesn't everyone know what Smithism is?  Because it’s not taught.  Marxism is taught everywhere all the time.  If you want to learn about Adam Smith, you have to go looking.  If you go to Wikipedia and look up Marxism, you’ll find plenty.  If you go to Wikipedia and look up Smithism, you’ll get crickets. 

Similarly, if you go to Wikipedia and look up communism, Marxism, or socialism you’ll find exhaustive explanations.  If you look really, really, hard you might find a brief criticism near the bottom of these entries.  If you look up capitalism, you’ll find a long section titled “Criticisms of Capitalism”.  Moreover, most of the entry is laced with subtle and not so subtle digs at capitalism.  This is not surprising because the word capitalism itself is a straw-man designed to be toppled.

How about some of the more modern terms, like Supply Side Economics?  You are probably familiar with many criticisms of supply side economics.  But can you accurately define it?  Can you define its opposite, Demand Side Economics?
·         Supply side economics is the theory that people will enthusiastically SUPPLY their efforts and capital if they are free to realize the rewards.   
·         Demand side economics is the theory that people will enthusiastically DEMAND the efforts and capital of others if they are subsidized to do so.
These are opposite approaches for achieving economic goals:  Supply Side seeks to optimize overall economic vitality (Smithian).  Demand Side at times seeks to stimulate economic consumption (Keynesian stimulus), and at times to achieve egalitarianism (Marxist redistribution).

If you look up supply side economics on Wikipedia, you’ll find a thorough entry.  You’ll also find plenty of criticisms.  Look up demand side economics, and you’ll find nothing.  No definition, and certainly no criticism.  Again, the language is controlled by anti-capitalists.  (I made an attempt to define Demand Side Economics in a tongue-in-cheek cartoon a while ago:  See it here.  (language warning!))

I understand why Marxists, communists, socialists, and Keynesians use Marx’s term, capitalism, for our economic system.  What I can’t understand is why others use the term also.  

I’d love to see supporters of economic liberty use terms like Smithist, Smithism, Smithian or just plain "liberty" to describe their ideas.  Let the critics argue against economic liberty for a change!

1 comment:

  1. Let them argue against liberty -- EXACTLY!