Today, more than at any time previously, Westerners are justifying a move toward collectivist thinking with the phrase, “Capitalism has failed.”
In response to this, conservative thinkers offer a mindless, knee-jerk reaction that collectivism has also had a dismal record of performance. Neither group tends to gain any ground with the other group, but over time, the West is moving inexorably in the collectivist direction.
As I see it, liberals are putting forward what appears on the surface to be a legitimate criticism, and conservatives are countering it with the apology that, yes, capitalism is failing, but collectivism is worse.
Unfortunately, what we’re seeing here is not classical logic, as Aristotle would have endorsed, but emotionalism that ignores the principles of logic.
If we’re to follow the rules of logical discussion, we begin with the statement that capitalism has failed and, instead of treating it as a given, we examine whether the statement is correct. Only if it proves correct can we build further suppositions upon it.
Whenever I’m confronted with this now oft-stated comment, my first question to the person offering it is, “Have you ever lived in a capitalist country?” That is, “Have you ever lived in a country in which, during your lifetime, a free-market system dominated?”
Most people seem initially confused by this question, as they’re residents of either a European country or a North American country and operate under the assumption that the system in which they live is a capitalist one.
So, let’s examine that assumption.
A capitalist, or “free market,” system is one in which the prices of goods and services are determined by consumers and the open market, in which the laws and forces of supply and demand are free from any intervention by a government, price-setting monopoly, or other authority.
Today, none of the major (larger) countries in what was once referred to as the “free world” bear any resemblance to this definition. Each of these countries is rife with laws, regulations, and a plethora of regulatory bodies whose very purpose is to restrict the freedom of voluntary commerce. Every year, more laws are passed to restrict free enterprise even more.
Equally as bad is the fact that, in these same countries, large corporations have become so powerful that, by contributing equally to the campaigns of each major political party, they’re able to demand rewards following the elections, that not only guarantee them funds from the public coffers, but protect them against any possible prosecution as a result of this form of bribery.
There’s a word for this form of governance, and it’s fascism.