Saturday, November 10, 2007

Capitalism denigrated by the usual suspects

The alternative to private ownership is state ownership or communism (or socialism as defined by Mises). And you’d think by now it would be obvious to all but the most fanatic socialist that capitalism has a far, far better track record than the alternative in terms of improving peoples’ lives around the world. In fact, using the word ‘better’ in this context is inappropriate - the socialist record is uniformly dismal.

Yet, unfortunately, many people who ought to know better, since their own lucrative incomes derive from the capitalist system, routinely denigrate capitalism by equating it with greed, crime, corruption and worse. In his column yesterday William Watson quipped:
Peter Foster’s column today pursues a similar theme, this time using the new Denzel Washington flick "American Gangster" as a case in point. While the movie itself makes odious equations between gangster criminality and capitalism the reviewers are just as bad or worse. Mr. Foster reviews the reviews from more than dozen mainstream newspapers and journals in the USA and UK including the New Yorker, Guardian, Chicago Sun-Times, People, etc. All of them draw the same offensive comparisons - criminality = capitalism.
My own two cents: These film-makers and critics seem not to notice that American gangsters carry out their criminal operations in much the same way that Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Saddam and every other statist totalitarian gangster did/does. They control their turf ruthlessly, brook no dissent, no opposition and demand the absolute loyalty of their underlings on penalty of murder or worse. In a socialist totalitarian system, private criminality cannot readily compete with the state because it is ruthlessly put down - no competition allowed. The baddest ass in town is the state. The fact that American criminals operate within a capitalist system and so adopt its trappings and use it to their benefit is not an indictment of capitalism but of criminality. As Mr. Foster put it:
Western media twits ought to know better but, sadly, they don’t. This is yet one more instance of ongoing western"liberal" reflexive self-loathing - attacking western civilization as the root of all modern evil. The opposite is far closer to the truth.
That criminals might use business methods is no more an indictment of capitalism than the experiments of Joseph Mengele were an indictment of science.
Capitalism is not a perfect system, but ... if it is sloppily considered the bedmate of crime, what chance does it have against the Naomi bin Ladens of this dangerous world?

This insult to the Invisible Hand is served up with a liberal helping of Black History Month-style condescension.
What is more disturbing is that so many reviewers have accepted the notion that ... capitalism and gangster-ism are pretty much joined at the hip.

"Two words bring roughly equal discomfort in polite Canadian conversation:
pedophile and capitalist."

capitalism: economic system characterized by private ownership of property,
production of goods for private profit, and the institution of bank credit. (The
Columbia Encyclopedia). See

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