Saturday, November 26, 2011

What We Evil Capitalists Actually Believe

Daniel Hannan (who is always delightful to read for his wit, clarity, incisiveness and unapologetic conservative convictions) has a very helpful post up called: "Memo to the Occupy protesters: here are ten things we evil capitalists really think."

I think he is right that the Occupy Wall Street folks really don't understand the capitalist position; heaven knows they caricature us continuously. So, in the interest of actual communication and dialogue, let me list his ten points. I'll just give the first sentence of each paragraph; if you are intrigued you can go to his post here and read the whole paragraph or two he gives on each point.

If the Left-leaning folks could ever bracket their massive self-righteousness and self-assurance long enough actually to listen to what we conservatives have to say, they might find fewer straw men to knock down and more moral complexity than can fit into slogans designed to be chanted by mobs. I know, it is probably a vain hope . . . sigh. But in case any open-minded people read this post, here goes:

1. Free-marketeers resent the bank bailouts.
2. What has happened since 2008 is not capitalism.
3. If you want the rich to pay more, create a flatter and simpler tax system.
4. Those of us who believe in small government are not motivated by the desire to make the rich richer.
5. We are not against equality. . . Our objection is not that egalitarianism is undesirable in itself, but that the policies required to enforce in involve a disproportionate loss of liberty and prosperity.
6. Nor, by the way, does state intervention seem to be an effective way to promote equality.
8. Capitalism, with all its imperfections, is the fairest scheme yet tried.
9. Talking of fairness, let’s remember that the word doesn’t belong to any faction.
10. Let’s not forget ethics, either. There is virtue in deciding to do the right thing, but there is no virtue in being compelled.

Read elaborations of each point here.

My guess is that most of those led astray by Marxist Utopianism either do not understand capitalism or do not wish to understand it. But simple-mindedness is no virtue in matters of morality. There is a vast difference between child-like faith, (which Jesus commended) and a childish refusal to apply one's mind to difficult problems out of a sense that solutions to the most complex of life's problems ought to be simple and obvious.

One last point: it cannot be stressed enough that the defense of capitalism is, for me and most conservatives, based in moral principles rather than a counsel of despair that simply gives up and says that the world is bad and nothing can be done to improve it. For Hannan, and most of us conservatives, the issue is which economic system leads to the most wealth for the most people, the most social equality, the most opportunities for the poor and the best standard of living for the most people. History shows that capitalism is best according to these deeply moral measures by a wide margin.

Conservatives believe that it works because it accommodates itself best to actual reality. As in experimental science, when predicted results occur as a result of an experiment that constitutes confirmation of the theory. Capitalism can be thought of as an economic theory that has be tested in the laboratory of history with excellent confirming results compared to other theories. So it works best because it is truer than the rival theories. That is what conservatives claim regardless of how viciously the propagandists impugn our motives.

No comments: