Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Selling out

“What’s wrong with the world?” ask so many people.  “How come capitalism is losing the battle?” they cry. Capitalism has been slowly strangled over the last century, and the strangling has only accelerated in this one.  But capitalism is not being destroyed by its enemies (they have no ideas with which to do that)but – in compromise after compromise; in sell-out after sell-out; in apology after apology – by its so called friends.

Pistorius-snip The simple answer to why capitalism has been destroyed can be seen in something as prosaic as the almost tribal reaction here at this site to Libz’ Mt Albert candidate Julian Pistorius from people who are supposedly capitalism’s friends.  They suggest “Capitalism” is a swear word.  That freedom is  not for everyone.  That talking about ideas is just “trotting out old clunkers to prove we’re well read.” That speaking the truth will “lose more votes than it wins” – that it is too “divisive.”

It is responses like these “that are the answer to any question about why and how capitalism was killed”;  killed by this craven, crawling attitude to speaking your mind, to never saying as much as you know, to never defending what you actually believe – and it’s there in spades too in both of the commenters’ mainstream so-called capitalist candidates at this election.

You might call it incipient political correctness, but the attitude I identify here is actually the source of that particular weakness.

If you want to see why capitalism was given up by its so-called defenders, you can see it in microcosm in these examples, just as you saw it writ large all through the last century and through this one.  To, um “roll out Rand” again, as she said the worst defenders of capitalism are its so called supporters in business and in the “conservative” movement who seek to apologise for capitalism’s virtues, while adopting collectivism’s vices.  If there is one thing on which the “liberal” opponents of capitalism could always rely, it was the eagerness of their opponents to adopt the “liberal” position as their own (see for a recent example our current Prime Minister).  As Rand says, “this is the answer to any question about how and why capitalism was destroyed” by its supporters:

  1. Abysmal anti-intellectualism – contempt for ideas, theories, thought, abstract knowledge; no concept that it is ideas that move the world; the “huffy” attitude” about so called “realism” and “practicality.”
  2. Abject “Social Metaphysics” (i.e., substituting what other people think of you with the facts of reality) – the acceptance of any given status quo as “reality,” the willingness to adjust to it without any questions about who or what has brought it about . . .
  3. Abject terror – the unwillingness to conceive that the so-called political “reality” is evil, is ruled by and aimed at evil goals (the terror of the so-called “public interest”-advocate caught in a corner).
  4. Underlying cynicism – the concrete-bound, short-range “successes” as the only actual “reality”; the abstract and long-range as “complex” and “subtle”; the invariable addition of “the public interest” or “service to others” or the like to any statement involving self-interest and individual rights.

This, she says, “presents the essence of the kind of soul that would have, and has, turned young people to socialism.”  This is the soul of a pro-business “intellectual.”  This is how an enemy so weak (socialism and “liberalism”) has destroyed capitalism.

This is what must be changed.

If there was as much support from so-called pro-business “intellectuals” to move the debate, to identify (and defend) the fundamental issues involved, to change the status quo – to change the culture’s dominant ideas – as there is for selling out, then capitalism would never have been in danger.

NB: The four points above are adapted from some marginal comments by Ayn Rand appearing in Ayn Rand’s Marginalia, pg. 211-12.


  1. One other possible explanation for why "capitalism has been destroyed" is that its detractors use everything at their disposal to attack it, while its supporters either feel guilty for being capitalists, or are too damn bloody-minded to get off their high horses and do anything practical to defend it.

    "We love always getting no votes" they say, because at least we were right and didn't sell out. And we're going to keep doing it this way until it suddenly magically works, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

  2. How about, the real capitalists are busy making money and enjoying themselves to bother wasting time "defending" capitalism from these intellectual pipsqueaks who don't matter?

  3. I just don't think it's a vote winner to put "support capitalism" on a brochure. But then, if Labour put "support socialism" on their brochure, I would think the same. Both illicit a WTF reaction in voters that is not good for a campaign. Of course, both are honest, but that doesn't make it good PR either way.

  4. For those who don't want to hide their support for free minds and free markets (capitalism), join us at a supporters and activists brunch before we get out on the streets on Saturday morning.

  5. Anon, you said that How about, the real capitalists are busy making money and enjoying themselves to bother wasting time "defending" capitalism from these intellectual pipsqueaks who don't matter?That's a daft comment. Had that been the case in the US when its founding fathers were drafting its constitution, then the US wouldn't be wealthy as it is today, would it? Capitalism has to be entrenched in the system to be able to allow those who want to create wealth to do so.

    How many millionaires and capitalists who made their wealth in Cuba?

  6. okay, rather than "support capitalism", howsabout "support free enterprise"?

  7. Whiggie [Blair] nails it.

    Herein lies the greater problem with the objectivist libertarians - Julian's garrulous post demonstrates how the Libz have a total lack of empathy with us ordinary folk on the street. For the objectivist Libz, resonating with most voters by simply articulating a policy of self-reliance, personal dignity and responsibility is just too hard. Instead let's self-indulge in meaningless pseudo-intellectual waffle ! Way to go Libz !

  8. You can say we are bloody-minded and don't get any votes, but at least you can't say we have ever misled voters.

    People who vote for us know exactly what our principles are, no fluffiness.

  9. "Support free enterprise" is a much better phrase that says exactly the same thing. You want voters thinking of Kiwi battlers like themselves, not the dude on the cover of the Monopoly box.

    The comments from people who think omitting a policy equals "hiding" it clearly do not understand capitalism at all. Would you sell baked beans by telling people they make you fart? Of course not. So why sell your party by telling people you support "capitalism"?

  10. I think a more frustraing thing from an observer's point of view Luke is that for some reason you don't seem to *want* to get any votes. Why else would you go out of your way to piss people off, when you could market *the same* policies in a way that didn't.

    You say things like "This is what must be changed", knowing full well that you aren't doing a blind thing to change anything, and you squander the few chances you have to make a difference by pretending that doing anything other than being abrasive is selling out. .

  11. Blair's last comment (11.46pm) makes good sense.

    AFAIC I'll defend capitalism until the cows come home -- always have done, so no change there in spite of the anti-captialism msge being broadcast globally right now -- but "Free minds and free markets" (to quote Sally) is a cracker. It rolls off the tongue.

    In terms of attracting support for our viewpoint -- and recognising that many people come to it in steps as opposed to one fell swoop -- 'Support free enterprise' is smart thinking.

    Cheers, Blair.

  12. Whoops! And Fist. :)

  13. "Free minds and free markets" originally rolled off Lindsay Perigo's tongue if I remember rightly. "free enterprise" is good but so is using the term capitalism. Socialist propagandists will pick at the baggage any term carries and create distrust or alarm about whatever term we use. Their activists outnumber ours and are therefor more successful.
    That is because too many people who support freedom can't be bothered it seems.
    I would add that is is not true that libz mostly use abrasive language and try to piss people off.
    Have a look at the rest of Julian's brochure and the rest of the language on our internet outlets.
    And have a look at the following PC is getting.

  14. So the "collective conclusion" here is that capitalism is now a crime that dare not speak its name.

    And this is the conclusion of its so called supporters.

    No wonder it's already in chains.
    With friends like these, etc.

    I think the thesis in the main post can now be said to have been proven conclusively right here, by the attitudes displayed above.

  15. "Collective"? Urghhh.

    Count me out, Comrade! ;)

  16. "So the 'collective conclusion' here is that capitalism is now a crime that dare not speak its name."

    I'm not sure you have much justification for that claim, and there appear to be a number of people here who are being difficult just for the sake of it.

    Assertion A: The Mt Albert by election (much like most elections) is a popularity contest. Does anyone disagree?

    Assertion B: Libz would like to win the seat if possible. Do you Libz agree? From what I've seen, this is far from a foregone conclusion.

    Assertion C: If one is to win this popularity contest, one must be popular with the voters, which requires: 1 - That they know of you. 2 - That they haven't head you say anything they fundamentally disagree with, and in a few isolated cases, that you have said something they do agree with. 3 - That you are preferrable to all the other options.

    Assertion D: There are ways of communicating messages to people that will make them more receptive to the message, and there are other ways of communicating the same message that will make them less receptive. In order to win a popularity contest, you would be best to choose the first way. Anyone disagree with that?

    Assertion E: The country would be better off with more freedom and less government intervention in almost everything. Any disagreements?

    You aren't going to be able to achieve B and therefore eventually E if you choose the wrong answer to C. So why is it so difficult to get people to agree on a target outcome and the best -not to say perfect - but the *best* available way of achieving that goal. You may as well get jobs as government policy analysts if all you want to do is argue stupid details all day.

  17. Micheal Cloud, in his book "Secrets of Libertarian Persusion" points out why many of Libz actions are doomed to fail and indeed turn off potential supporters in droves...he calls it the "great libertarian macho flash"...the rude,abrasive "flash' that shocks people and makes them think Libz are cold,unfeeling arseholes.

  18. Perhaps you could give some concrete examples, James, of these alleged actions?

    And then explain in simple words how ACT's non-libertarian blancmange has achieved anything at all in advancing either freedom or capitalism.

    And how ACT people saying "Fuck 'em" about people's whose homes are about to be bulldozed against their will could NOT be seen as cold unfeeling arseholes.

    And how perhaps you don't in fact have a point at all.

  19. The book James speaks of "Micheal Clouds book "Secrets of Libertarian Persusion" Is EXCELLENT, and should be compulsory (ahem!) reading for Libertarians - It is also available as a series of tapes and I can not recommend them enough.

    TRUE! - I was not persuaded to take on board Libertarian ideas and philosophy by Lindsay perigos charm, good humour, or patience, but that does not mean to say that MORE people would agree with our ideas an philosophy more FREQUENTLY by practicing or taking on board some of the methods illustrated in this book

  20. One of my favourite sayings used when attacking the socialists is "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing time and time again mindlessly hoping for a different result."

    Well, I am sick of doing the same thing time and time again and getting the same results, so it's time to do something different.

    Here is something Rand said about a similar situation:


    "When a man, a business, or an entire society is facing bankruptcy, there are two courses that those involved can follow: they can evade the reality of their situation and act on a frantic, blind, range-of-the-moment expediency - not daring to look ahead, wishing no one would name the truth, yet desperately hoping that something will save them somehow - or they can identify the situation, check their premises, discover their hidden assets, and start rebuilding." - Ayn Rand


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