Skip to comments.Why Is Capitalism So Unpopular?
Posted on 09/07/2009 9:31:43 AM PDT by lbryce
Henry Hazlitt once said that good ideas have to be relearned every generation. Among the intellectuals of our time, capitalism is wildly unpopular. This in spite of the fact that it is the only social system that has permitted prosperity and flourishing.
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.)
(Excerpt) Read more at mises.org ...
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 !!!
I don't believe it's every generation. More like every three. Depression era grandparents have largely passed way, and taken much wisdom with them. Their parents rebelled against them--stupidly. Then they had kids, who now have kids. Those kids will be similar to depression era grandparents before it's all said and done. And so on.
As for the rest, the reason intellectuals hate capitalism is simple. It's rebellion against Nature. Capitalism is natural. Any deviation from capitalism is imposed on man in some form of tyranny, well-meaning or otherwise.
To me, the hippie/left culture is a rebellion against death, against Nature. They simply cannot accept life on its own terms--hence, they wage war against inequality, against war, against climate change. Look at the natural world. It is filled with violence, war, death, and cataclism. It's just the way it is. They think they can perfect life. They are wrong.
Also, they do it to get chicks. They can't do sports, they aren't good looking, or fun to be around, so they go for nerdy chicks by being intellectual radicals. It all boils down to the basics in the end.
The epitome of pride is to say you know God's creation as God knoes His creation.
Actually, if you look at voting history, the boomers voted GOP at a higher rate than the Depression/GI Generation. I can’t believe how many folks I meet who fall for LIBERAL Tom Brokaw’s “Greatest Generation” propaganda.
Your guess of Americans is wildly optimistic. There are probably 200 million ordinary Chinese who love capitalism and probably just as many citizens of the rest of Asia and Africa. Why? Because many of these folks are peasants and working-class who have seen their lives improved throught their own hard work. In the past, my most productive employees were studious kids from Nigeria, India, Ethiopia and Korea. Not only did they work overtime, but several started their own businesses with family members.
Many Europeans and Americans are constantly looking for an entitlement or susidy while professing to be capitalists. So that’s why I don’t believe your 150 million number. As others stated above, I’m surprised it’s popular anywhere, given the constant propaganda.
Has our country gotten better or worse since the boomers?
I’m thinking about the GOPers that the boomers must have voted for....Nixon, Reagan, Bush1, Bush2. Hmm, I guess one out of four ain’t bad?
Why is Capitalism so unpopular?
The easy answer that is always ignored and looked down upon and which is the single reason people grow to hate capitalism... STOPPING SENSE! (lack thereof)
The single thing as far as I know which is not taught in any university business curriculum. How much is enough? At what point does an individual come to know they have “Won the game” and its time to either quit or just not take any more and do what they enjoy doing for the simple pleasure of doing it?
Put 100 people in a sealed room.. there is a table which seats 10. The only rule is that you MUST have a seat at the table in order to eat. Ten people in the group will fight their way to the table, and the rest will come crawling to the table starving and be kicked away. That mentality is the downfall of Capitalism. It is the stuff revolutions are made of. It is the reason that ultimately the “Barbarians” will storm the gates of the walled communities.
Could it be the reason for the proverb about the rich man, the camel and the needle??
Does not matter what side of the political aisle they are on they never seem to know when to stop. Seems the more money and power people have.. the less they THINK they have. Seems to me the liberal elite are worse offenders than us conservatives.
My motto has always been... “There is only one reason to work and that is to make enough money so you don’t have to”
Capitalism is without doubt the best system there is...but us capitalists continue to ignore the lessons of history and shoot ourselves in the foot every time.
I am betting Zero or his ilk would never have even gotten near the White House... if only for a little “Stopping Sense”
Speaking as a late boomer, I say worse. I hate what the leftist boomers have done to this country over the past 50 years.
Our Senators and Representatives give government contracts to their family members companies or friends or what ever betters them.
It is on going exchange of favors in our legislative bodies. In obscured ways and means, of course.
God help us in our day, in Jesus name I pray. Amen.
Cultural rot? Well, when my grandparents were growing up in Jersey City, you had open prostitution and widespread illegal gambling. Political corruption was just as bad as it is today.
Another big difference is the fall of the WASP elite, which had more of an emotional/cultural stake in the nation then that which replaced them. Of course, such folks didn't much care for my ancestors (the restrictions on immigration passed in the 1920s EXPLICITLY targeted eastern and southern Europeans), but at least they didn't seek to actively undermine national identity and security.
Yes, getting lots of letters behind one's name takes a lot of work - so does being a classical musician (trust me as classical vocalist on this one) - and the rewards aren't much, but, right now in history, that's not what the market will fund with ease. That doesn't make robinhoodism right and it doesn't make interference in other families affairs right either. The class on right and wrong seems to be the one part of school they skipped.
Yes, a very interesting article. Capitalism is not a problem with intellectuals in the true sciences but is particularly galling to those ‘intellectuals’ who like to deal with people in the aggregate: social ‘scientists’, politicians and political ‘scientists’, etc. These are the people who cause most of the problems in the world.
“Why Is Capitalism So Unpopular?”
For the same reason so many people disbelieve in Satan.
YES! Capitalism isn't really isn't an ism. It is just freedom and what happens in the absence of man-made isms. Isms are theoretical systems created by the mind of man. "This is the way I, in my infinite wisdom, think things should be." Free markets are what happens without the isms. It is just freedom. It is letting reality rule. Instead of trying to bend reality to our whims.
Why Is Capitalism So Unpopular?
It isn’t. Capitalism is a very popular word made up by Karl Marx to demonize “Free Enterprise”.
The reason you hear so much demonizing of “Capitalism” is that those who work don’t have the time to spout anti-Marxist rhetoric. The socialists don’t work, they exist on handouts.
“Im thinking about the GOPers that the boomers must have voted for....Nixon, Reagan, Bush1, Bush2. Hmm, I guess one out of four aint bad?”
Nixon or Hubert Humphrey
Reagan or Carter II
Bush1 or Dukakis
Bush2 or Gore
Obviously there are a lot more than that who make their living from capitalism, but don't understand the process at all; for them, the wealth around them might as well have been created by pixies and goblins. This is the base of socialist parties like the Democrats, British Labour, etc.
Many people have a pre-scientific world view where they interpret natural phenomena in terms of the actions of good and evil entities or powers.When this world view is applied to the realm of economics,they interpret economic results as being caused by the will of an arbitrary power- above all evil “big business”.And they believe that their protection depends on the good will of a bigger tougher, stronger arbitrary power- namely the government- which will act on their behalf. For people of this mentalilty,the solution to any apparent economic problem is for the government which is more powerful than the businessman, to use its power on behalf of the people.
Because capitalism was come to mean multinational corporations that have no loyalty to America.
Forty years ago, for example, a bank did not cross state lines and thus a bank was a good civic citizen of the local community. The loyalty and motivation of a local bank was not in doubt.
Only the dead have seen the end of war. Also, economic action and even political disagreement over it, is not war.
Give up the entire idea that anything ever finally resolves for ever. It is of a piece with the mistake noted in the article.
A lot of capitalists have not behaved in a way that reflects well on the system. They played Russian roulette with other people’s money through reckless investments, gorged themselves with sky-high bonuses, enoucraged irresponsible behavior from their customers, bought unsafe products from overseas at dirt cheap prices which they proceeded to jack up, and ruined several communities by closing down places of employment and building new ones in third world hellholes. Also, they often had to be bailed out by the government.
It’s correct that Capitalism is the best system, but the people who benefit most from it have played a key role in giving it a bad name.
“A lot of capitalists have not behaved in a way that reflects well on the system.”
I’m working on an article right now about this. Denny’s restaurants has been in Yreka,Ca. for decades. The families that worked there were mostly long time employees who ran the place. Last month a corporate head shows up at 3:00 pm. to inform them they were closing it down. No fore warning, nothing. The employees coming in for the night shift simply got a note on the door.
I’ll take GOP primaries for 200 Alex. The point is, Nixon sucked. Bush 1 and Bush 2 sucked. Voting GOP isn’t much to brag about. Nixon gave us welfare, the war on drugs, and eventually, Jimmah Carter. Bush 1 gave us Clinton. Bush 2 gave us Obama. Horrible presidents all.
That’s an excellent point. Capitalists have done for capitalism what Calhoun and the original “states rights” crowd did for federalism.
Actually, they do it to get guys.
Nah, all you gotta do to get homos is hang out at a rest area or a public restroom. They really don’t care about politics or anything except weiners.
one for you
“Because its based on merit and requires hard work?”
Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner! Vanna, show Tijeras_Slim what he’s won behind curtain number 3!
What happened on Wall Street used to be good for Main Street. Wall Street no longer cares what happens to Main Street.
HA...I was thinking something similar....It’s TOO HARD!!!