It’s remarkable how many people still think that because someone is a ‘capitalist’ that he or she is a supporter of ‘capitalism.’ But it just ain’t so.
Capitalists come in all flavors and shades of political preferences and one might be justified in saying that ‘capitalism’ is on the bottom of their preferred list. The confusion between these two terms – ‘capitalist’ and ‘capitalism’ – has caused incalculable damage to our basic understanding of a free society.
Take for example Saskatchewan Dr Francis Christian who has recently gained attention arguing that the world is currently suffering under a “tyranny of capitalism.”
The good doctor is fighting the good fight towards his goal of establishing that ‘informed consent’ be mandated in matters regarding one’s personal health. Yet he has labeled the only known social system based on consent ‘tyranny.’
In so doing, his fear that there are no good forms of government – only a choice between the “tyranny of communism” and the “tyranny of capitalism” – becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
In 1967, philosopher-novelist Ayn Rand published a series of earlier essays in a book entitled: ‘Capitalism: the unknown ideal.’ According to Rand, her book (which included articles by Nathaniel Branden, Alan Greenspan and Robert Hessen) was not intended to ‘promote’ capitalism per se, but to objectively provide a clear definition of capitalism, epistemologically determined.
“Capitalism is a social system based on the recognition of individual rights,” she concluded. “The recognition of individual rights entails the banishment of physical force from human relationships.” Above all, Rand insisted that capitalism required a full “separation of state and economics – in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church.”
Rand recognized that capitalism is not merely an economic system, but a moral one. “The moral justification of capitalism lies in the fact that it is the only system consonant with man’s rational nature… and that its ruling principle is: Justice.”
Thus in full context, capitalism is both the economic dimension of individual freedom and the only form of governance compatible with a free society. That’s because capitalism’s operative principle is consent.
Consent can only be obviated through the use of force or fraud, two actions common under all forms of tyranny. In contrast, the right to consent is critical and fundamental in a free society – a society in which government protects and defends individuals against force and fraud.
Until more people come to understand this, the ideal of capitalism will never be understood in a way that is Just Right and infinite variants of tyranny – like ‘agile government’ – will continue unabated.
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