“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.
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:
- 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.”
- 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 . . .
- 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).
- 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.