Three Cheers For Capitalism

Anatole Kaletsky has a great tribute to capitalism in the Times of London. He quite correctly point out that on May Day – a day traditionally associated with Marxism – that capitalism has done more for workers worldwide than Marxism or socialism ever has. A few selections:

Today is May 1, the International Day of Labour. It seems appropriate, therefore, to devote this column to the triumph of global capitalism. For if there is one social principle on which all economists, historians and politicians must now surely agree, it is that capitalism has done more than any other human construct to benefit working people around the world.

Even if there were room for argument about the benefits of free trade and free markets to workers in advanced industrial countries — and there really cannot be, if we compare what has happened to ordinary people’s lives in Western and Eastern Europe, not to mention in North and South Korea, during the 50 years since the Second World War — the principle that global capitalism is the most benign and successful of all human creations would be firmly established by the social progress in China since its integration into the global economy.

Kaletsky is right. In the world, the societies that are successful are uniformly capitalist. Socialist states are worse off, and states that embraced communism or kleptocracy are falling apart. If socialist system were so wonderful to workers one wouldn’t see mass migrations from countries that are socialist or communist to ones that are capitalist. Kaletsky goes on to bring up another very astute point:

As I listened to the politicians, international officials and "civil society" pressure groups represented in Paris, it struck me that, while opposition to the global capitalist system is widespread, nobody has anything remotely resembling a constructive alternative to propose.

Everything about the present state of the world appeared to be unsustainable or unbalanced or unjust — and most of the anomalies appeared to centre on the US.

Indeed many of the groups calling for "justice" are groups that openly praise states like Cuba – states for whom "justice" comes in the form of dictates from tyrants and the barrel of a gun. The anti-capitalist movement is a movement that seeks to destroy, not create. It argues constantly about the evils of capitalism, talks of oppression, but not once does it create a better alternative except in the vaguest of platitudes.

It is absolutely evident that history bears out that the rise in capitalism correlates directly with the rise of freedom. For all those who rail against "lawless capitalism" the past fifty years of history has seen the fall of the Soviet bloc, the victory of free markets across the globe, and the continuing stratospheric rise of American economic power. Those factors all point to one inescapable conclusion: capitalism is the system that provides the best life for the most people.

One thought on “Three Cheers For Capitalism

  1. Neither pre-revolutionary France nor pre-revolutionary Russia were anything even resembling capitalist. They were at best oligarchies in which the people had little to no economic freedom. Moreover, these societies quickly found that giving the government the right to decide what was a "fair" or "equitable" amount of resources for each person was the best way to engender tyranny.

    All one has to do is look at the most successful countries on Earth. Every single one offers high levels of economic freedom to its citizens. Recent history has shown that things are moving away from socialism and attempts to "manage" or "control" the market through economic management. The ideas of Keynes have given way to the understanding that markets are shaped by people from the ground up and cannot be forced to comply to some arbitrary standard from the top down.

    Even states that have tried to find a "Third Way" between capitalism and socialism are finding that such an approach is unsustainable. Blair kept most of Thatcher’s liberalization policies intact. France and Germany are finding that attempts to create a welfare state are incompatible with maintaining competitiveness in the world markets. (Which is why both countries are watching as unemployment skyrockets while taxes continue to rise.)

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