Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Fwd: I don't know what capitalism is, but I think it's the enemy of all life

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Tom Woods

June 4, 2018
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Here's a real beauty, that someone in my secret Facebook group found and posted:

OK, let's go through it.

"Capitalism requires a perpetual arms race and warfare."

No, it doesn't, and it's bizarre that anyone would think it does.

War -- the systematic destruction of capital -- is the opposite of capitalism. Capitalism is based on contractual agreements that require the consent of both sides. War involves the violent, destructive imposition of one will upon another. Capitalism involves free trade. War involves blockades and the crippling of the international division of labor.

Wars are waged by states, which fund them through the nonconsensual institution of taxation. Capitalist firms would never have the ideological legitimacy to conscript the men and resources to wage war, because kids aren't programmed in school to believe that it's legitimate for corporations to tax them for the public good, etc., the way they're taught to think of the state.

Maybe the author is going for the idea that capitalism requires imperialism? But that's ridiculous. When did the fabulously wealthy countries of South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore engage in imperialism? Or for that matter Switzerland or Austria? Not to mention major powerhouses whose imperial histories lasted for only a brief moment.

Nope, the capitalist West grew rich through capitalism, not by war and imperialism.

Next: "The absence of a moral/spiritual component."

Now that's a laugh. Why isn't socialism criticized for this? The communist countries of the 20th century were officially atheist, and were based on a frankly materialist philosophy.

And who says capitalism has no moral or spiritual component? Capitalism says only that you should not initiate physical force against other people. You can't have a spiritual dimension to your life while believing in this moral value?

Not to mention: the wealth that capitalism has created for everyone -- yes, everyone: the standard of living of the poorest in market societies has exploded over the past 200 years -- is precisely what liberates people to pursue non-materialist goals.

When you're one bad harvest away from starvation, you're not really in the mood to join a book club, or take up an interest in Bach's cantatas, or study the Impressionists. But when your basic needs are taken care of, as they overwhelmingly are under capitalism (again, the statistics are everywhere), you are liberated to pursue the higher things.

"The ownership and cannibalization of our shared Mother Earth."

Cannibalization occurs precisely where there is no ownership. I'd love to hear this fellow's examples. They'll probably involve oceans and other waterways, air, endangered species, etc. All cases where government "ownership" has precluded private ownership.

Private owners have an interest in increasing the capital value of their property. That's precisely why they don't cannibalize it -- because then they'll have nothing for the future.

The state is the opposite: its caretakers stand to gain nothing from the future value of some resource, so they may as well exploit it in the present.

Ownership, as Hans Hoppe explains (and as I've explained on the Tom Woods Show), is a conflict-avoiding institution. Since we have more desires than we have goods to satisfy them, we have to establish a system whereby we do not spend our time in violent conflict over scarce goods.

Ownership is therefore at the very heart of civilization itself.

"Capitalism is the height of violence against all life."

If capitalism is "the height of violence against all life," it's sure doing a rotten job -- it's been able to support population explosions that would have led to mass death in pre-capitalist ages.

Billions of people are alive who would not have survived in the days before capitalism. And capitalism "is the height of violence against all life"?

The poster concludes by urging us to embrace the opposite of capitalism. So we should embrace the opposite of a system that has increased world per capita income by 11 times over 200 years, and which has pushed global poverty down to lower levels than ever before seen. Got it.

The opposite of capitalism is wealth destruction. It is the destruction of the international division of labor, the greatest illustration of cooperation in world history. It is
war, famine, and genocide.

I'll take capitalism, thank you.

(1) I already have tomorrow's episode of the Tom Woods Show recorded, but by Wednesday I'll have an episode on the Supreme Court decision involving the Colorado baker.

(2) Sitting outside my house the other day I made you a short video on three ways libertarians can actually earn some dough while helping each other (cue the haters who say libertarians don't help people). I suggest you watch it: http://www.happyearner.com/cantlosethisjob

Tom Woods
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