Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Glory of Capitalism - Part Two

As promised, here’s the follow up to my post of a couple of days ago.

Monogamous marriage was developed over the course of human civilization as a means of harnessing the male sexual drive and directing it into a stable, societal good. So has the free market system (Capitalism) developed over the millennia to utilize natural human traits such a greed, materialism, competition, risk taking and self-interest as resources for productive wealth creation. Those traits are disparaged and targeted for eradication by today's "progressives”. They envision the creation of a collectivist system (the more extreme versions of which are Communism and Fascism) in which programs designed to promote the "common good" are implemented. The obvious problem with this is that the common good is determined by a group of elitists, either self appointed or empowered by a misguided, misinformed or otherwise bamboozled electorate. The results of their attempted social engineering have usually been disastrous. In Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead” her lead character, Howard Roark explains this in a seven page speech (uncharacteristically brief for Rand). In the movie version the (much abridged) Roark speech goes on for about five minutes. This excerpt provides a concise summary.

Everything we have, every great achievement has come from the independent work of some independent mind. Every horror and destruction came from attempts to force men into a herd of brainless, soulless robots, without personal rights, without personal ambition, without will, hope or dignity.

Progressives are trying to radically alter a process that has been evolving for thousands of years, much as eugenicists propose to interfere in biological evolution by creating an optimized gene pool from which superior humans can be generated. It is significant that many of those supporting eugenics are, or were prominent progressives – H.G. Wells (who coined the phrase, “Liberal Fascism” that Jonah Goldberg used as the title of his book), George Bernard Shaw, Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, Margaret Sanger (whose racism manages to be overlooked by her admirer, Hillary Clinton), John Maynard Keynes and Linus Pauling.
One item on the progressive to do list is a return to "simplicity" or a reversion to a world not so dependent on complex technology. Ironically, the "progressives" want to undo technological progress.These self proclaimed moralists would take us all back to the mid 19th century (or earlier) if they had their way. The reaction against progress is what drives much of the left's agenda, from its anti-corporate, anti-profit, anti-materialist culture to its war on the "rich" to its global warming alarmism. (One segment of the BBC documentary, “The Great Global Warming Swindle” depicts the devastation that’s being propagated by environmental activists as they try to “save the world”, striving to prevent development in poverty stricken Africa).
The free market has reached its pinnacle with American style Capitalism. Liberals claim that since poverty exists there is something inherently wrong with the mechanism that humanity has developed to manage it. But this ignores the reality that humankind began in poverty and has been gradually lifting itself out of it, despite the explosive population growth of the past two centuries. As Thomas Sowell writes in his book, “Economic Facts and Fallacies”,

Since all countries were once at least as poor as Third World countries are today, what needs to be explained is not poverty but the creation of wealth – and the things that increase or decrease the ability to create wealth.

No system is better than free market Capitalism at creating wealth. Messrs. Norberg and Buchholz attempt to convey this in their columns. They explain the source of our prosperity and how to extend it to those not yet among its beneficiaries. We need more, many more, of these sober explanations and a much larger audience to hear them. We need to forcefully counter the soothing, yet sinister rhetoric of the left.

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