Against God and Socialism (repeat) 15

This article in praise of Capitalism was first posted in 2011. We reproduce it now because our recent post Communism is secular Christianity (January 14, 2015) reminded us of it

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It is human nature to be selfish. If we weren’t selfish we wouldn’t survive. If we didn’t eat when we were hungry, warm ourselves when we were cold, seek cures for our illnesses, defend ourselves (and our children and our life-sustaining property), we’d die out pretty damn quick. Or rather, we would never have come into existence as a species at all.

We are most of us capable of sympathy with others, and we often willingly give away a thing we own to another person. Some are altruistic. A few will even give up their lives to save the lives of others. Nevertheless, we are all naturally and necessarily selfish.

Christianity and Communism require human nature to change. As it can’t, Christianity’s commandments to love our enemies and forgive those who do us harm turn many a person of good will and high aspiration into a hypocrite if not a corpse. Communist theorists have never settled the question of whether human nature must change so that the Revolution can take place, or whether the Revolution must take place in order for human nature to change. Of course it will never change, but there’s no stopping the collectivist dolts arguing about it.

Capitalism works well because it is in tune with our nature. Adam Smith called it “the natural order of liberty”. Everyone selfishly desires to provide for his needs. To pay for what he wants from others – services and goods – he has to provide something that others will pay him for. Millions do it, and the result is prosperity. Capitalism is an abstract machine most beautiful to behold in the wonder of its workings. When individuals have the incentive to achieve, acquire, and enjoy something for themselves, they’ll go to great lengths to afford it. They’ll compete with each other to provide what others want, toil to make it the better product, and set the price of it lower. The best is made available at the least cost. Everyone is both a taker and a giver, and everyone benefits. True, not everyone’s effort always succeeds, but nothing stops anyone from trying again.

Of course capitalism isn’t a remedy for every ill and discontent. But a capitalist society offers the best chance to an individual to make the best of his condition – being alive – which presents him with a tough challenge – to stay alive for a few score years, and make those years as good as his energy, cunning, and adaptability to conditions outside of his control (plus his statistically likely share of luck), can help them to be.

In a capitalist society no one has a fixed place, whether below, in the middle, or on top. A person can rise, sink, or stay. A truly capitalist society is necessarily a free society in which no one is prevented, by some ruler or ruling clique, from bettering his lot, striving, succeeding, or failing.

Capitalism is the enemy of that God of whom all the children in the British Empire used to sing at morning prayers in school assemblies before the Second World War:

All things bright and beautiful,

All creatures great and small;

All things wise and wonderful,

The Lord God made them all. …

The rich man in his castle,

The poor man at his gate,

He made them high and lowly,

He ordered their estate.

The children were being taught to be content with everything as it was, trusting that God the ruler up there, all wise, permanent and unchallengeable had ordained how everyone had his fixed place and should stay in it, and because He had ordained it, it must be perfect. The recognition that such a God was an indefensible authoritarian, a whim-driven cosmic dictator, an unjust and arrogant tyrant, came – perhaps unconsciously – to the choosers of Anglican hymns only after a few of the earth’s dictators had been trounced in a prolonged and terrible blood-letting.

But then Socialists took over from God. They decided what was best for humanity. They established the Welfare State. No rich men in castles, no poor men at gates. The State would provide every citizen with depressing accommodation, dull food, health care if he were judged worthy of being kept alive, indoctrination in schools. Though the Socialist State is a slave society, the citizens are not called slaves but Social Security Recipients, National Health Patients, Students, Workers. The belief of their rulers is that they’ll be content because the State provides them with “everything”; they’ll be grateful for the food however poor, the unit in the tower block however depressing, the bed in the hospital however filthy, the indoctrination however boring. The great thing about it, to the collectivist mind, is they won’t have to strive to keep alive. And no one will have cause to pity or envy anyone else, since no one will have less or worse, or more or better – except of course the rulers up there, all wise, permanent and unchallengeable who ordain that everyone else has his fixed place. They reserve plenty, choice, comfort, luxury, information, and power to themselves.

The recognition that such a State is counter to the human instinct for freedom – call it “selfishness “ if you will – should have come to every sane adult the world over when the Soviet Empire crashed. The idea of Socialism should have died then. But if it did, it was only for a short time. Like the Christian God, it rose again, and lives now in the White House, an administration indefensibly authoritarian, whim-driven, unjust, and arrogant.

Selfish human nature with its instinct for liberty, its impelling desire to possess what is good for it materially and mentally, is the force that can and must defeat it.

  • Hidden Author

    But wasn’t the motive of the hymn about the rich man in his castle and the poor man in his gate to combat the socialists working to level people’s incomes? Or at least to refute the Cromwell-era millenarian sects that were proto-socialists (the Diggers, the Levellers)? Even if the concept behind the hymn was evil, we shouldn’t deny that the hymn was from an anti-socialist viewpoint rather than a socialist viewpoint.

    • Yes, Hidden Author. It was. I do not say it was in support of socialism or levelling. Far from it. It was in praise of the closed society. The most closed, the feudal society. (And of creationism.) Feudalism was no better than Socialism. The open society (which is to say the capitalist society, the very opposite of George Soros’s application of the phrase, though he pretends to be an admirer of Karl Popper who I think invented it!) is the one in which people are mobile – upwardly and downwardly.

      • Hidden Author

        Originally the feudalists were the conservatives and the capitalists were the liberals. But when the capitalists won, only to be tormented by socialists who promised the poor that they could have even more social mobility if they killed the rich and looted their property, a faction of capitalists responded by amplifying their defense of inequality with rhetoric similar to feudal conservatives. That’s why classical liberals are now called conservatives.

    • Don L

      The italicized words in the poem above, including the words castle and poor man, constitute the 3rd verse, of seven verses, in Cecil Frances Alexander’s 1848 poem “All Things Bright and Beutiful”. This 3rd verse was removed, haven’t found the exacct date, before 1911 as it was deemed to endorse the class system. As composed, the poem doesn’t seem to have either a pro socialist or an anti-socialist perspective. Indeed, the term socialism was just coined a few years prior in France and Marx’s works were many years in the future. The poem was purely a god is great idiocy and reflected her family’s military and royalist background – class ranking – and her anglican religious experiences…this is how it is…don’t complain it’s god’s design. At some point, however, a political meaning was obviously attributed to this 3rd verse. And, I would suggest, it’s removal from the poem was a pro socialist endeavor.

      I can see how it could be used, as propaganda, by those seeking to maintain a class structure…the status quo. Those seeking to keep a class structure were. however, typically anti-capitalism. Capitalism, (mass production aimed at satifying consumers) had greater impact tearing classes apart: The poor man can become a king (checkout the TV series Mr Selfridge).

  • Don L

    A Quick aside:

    “We are most of us capable of sympathy with others, and we often willingly give away a thing we own to another person. Some are altruistic. A few will even give up their lives to save the lives of others. Nevertheless, we are all naturally and necessarily selfish.” — I understand the intent of this paragraph is to recognize sympathy and the willingness to die for another sans an explation that fits “selfish” so altruism is introduced. I diagree. Being selfish is to make value judgements as to what is in one’s interest. The higher the value assigned, the greater the behavioral or emotional response. When people are valued, sympathy for someone’s tragedy is felt. A loved one, family member or comrade-in-arm, the highest values external values, one has no hesitancy to lay down one’s life: “I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t act”.

    The Austrian School of economics is predicated on the idea that human beings act to satisfy their self interests. This creates problems for the hardcore theist Austrian School economists. Hunter Lewis and Harry C. Veryser are two such published Austrian economists who, like the others, do illogical mental dances whereas they cannot understand the selfish motivation concept, especially concerning atheists: a selfish person would never die or even care about another so god must be involved is the premise and conclusion. Fortunately, notwithstanding their selfish need to justify altruism, their works do provide insight and advance free market capitalism

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    This is a wonderful article. It captures Ludwig von Mises axiom: Socialism fails because it is based on the emotional SHOULD. Capitalism succeeds because it embraces the reality of IS.

    The United States federal republic’s compulsory school system has never been able to eradicate the lines “It’s a free country” and “You can be anything you want.”. This ingrained idea that America is the home of the free and land of the brave may be the saving spirit. Compulsory schoolers, however, have been able to inculcate victims, villians and heroes into the culture over 100 years…always the villians are business and the wealthy and the hero is always government and the public servant politicians. The victims are whatever group of people the politicians need votes from. Many more years of this progressive corrupted school system and a tipping point will have been passed.

    Realisticlly, and as a matter of practicality, presenting the correct idea of selfishness as the means to get out from under this socialist yoke will backfire. The church has been conditioning and indoctrinating far too long to take on both challenges, government and church, simultaneously. I think leaving it at limited government, equitable taxation and free markets as the goal is sufficient without muddying up the water.

    The articles littany of what the nanny state will provide was excellent. Those who have rerad my posts before know about my favorite sci-fi book from 1893: “Pictures of a Socialistic Future” by Eugen Richter. Thirty years before any country adopted a socialist government, Richter foresaw the horror. The USSR proved the vision. Get the book FREE here (eBook or PDF): http://mises.org/library/pictures-socialistic-future-0

    • liz

      We may already be past the tipping point – I hope not. Read that pda book – really good!
      I’ve always thought “selfishness” was an unfortunate choice of words by Rand, because of the negative connotations associated with it. “Rational self interest” is not only free of that baggage, but self explanatory.

      • Don L

        LOL. I know. But, a rose is a rose is a rose.

        The Richter book was amazing to think he envisioned it. Then again…he was one of the ones who was already grasping the laws of economics which, not predict as in soothsaying, but knew rthe outcome. Like 2+2=s 4. You intervene in the markets, this IS what happens.

        Austrian economics is often called a theory. If it’s proven correct time after time…it is no longer theoretical. It is more an explanation or description of economics wherewith & by laws of cause and effect can be discerned. And, these observable and deduced, overtime proven, laws reveal that free market capitalism is irrefutably the best political economy for a society. All other schools of economic thought are in fact theories which have proven to fail when actually adopted and implemented in the real world.

        Anyway, It is a good and amzing read as is “Organized Crime” by DiLorenzo; which I know you’ve already read — responding to your other reply.

        Later

  • liz

    I find it utterly incomprehensible how Socialism can still be accepted by so many people as a legitimate theory, not only after its tragic failures in practice, but just in the obvious flaws of the theory itself, such as: who in their right mind would trust an all powerful government to benevolently act in their best interests? Babes in toyland?

    • Don L

      It’s an education (compulsory schooling) system that fosters lies. No class ever teaches that the economy is totally planned. No, we are taught it is a free market system. Sometimes they call it a ‘mixed economy wherein the free market part always needs to be reigned in…there is no mixed economy…it’s actually fascism…pretend free markets.

      People hear about poverty or hunger or any manner of economic tragedies and their emotions fall right into “SHOULD” thinking. They don’t know what free market capitalism is so they go along with the BS programs. The worst of it is that they have also been taught to ignore, even be repulsed by, economics. After all, the lie goes, the economy is so large and complex, that only experts can manage it.

      Had I not taken up stock trading and had a curiosity to revist the idea of economics, I hated it in school (it’s intended that way) I would not have stumbled onto Austrian economics. Fortunately more and more people are. The question, is it fast enough. Former Texas Gov Perry adopted Austrian economics. He even mentioned a few times on TV that he believed the worls would soon discover that Ludwig von Mises was the greatest economist of all time. I hope so.

      Interest grows because, under his governership TX added more jobs during this current, and ongoing, Great Recession than all other states combined!!! Rand Paul too advocates Austrian School economics. More hare…less tutle as towards it’s acceptance universally.

      • liz

        That’s exactly what they design education for now – to obscure and confuse, not educate. We’re now reaping the predictable and tragic results of that, embodied in our own government run disaster.

        • Don L

          HI Liz,

          What’s scary, those now certified, and you must be certified, as teachers are so indoctinated and conditioned…they actually believe, as a basic value, the tripe they push.

          Obama, Deblazio (the NYC mayor) and other city leaders actually close down private schools that kids truly achieve in because they aren’t union schools. It’s criminal as far as I’m concerned.

          Ah, I’m preaching to the choir…you already know all this.

          • liz

            Yes, criminal, as is the entire state of politics – Organized Crime!

    • REALBEING

      “I find it utterly incomprehensible how Socialism can still be accepted by so many people as a legitimate theory,”

      Ultimately, it is an “escape” from a person living their own life, IMHO. The price is an existence under someone else’s control.

      • liz

        Just like religion, which makes sense, since it was derived from religion.

        • REALBEING

          Most non-thinkers wish for something other than they experience, never understanding that they could’ve exerted themselves, changing the scenario going on in their head.

          Instead, they unconsciously abdicate their authority to some outside entity.

          This is why we have a boom going on with Socialism and Religion.