- Capitalism and Alternatives -


Posted by: DrCruel on March 23, 1999 at 11:29:13:

In Reply to: what the hell??? posted by R. Jenkins on March 22, 1999 at 19:16:37:

To be fair to Lark, I see the general nature of his point. The best grounds to understand the objection to capitalism, one must accept that money translates into power. In effect, someone who amasses hoards of wealth is not doing so to increase his standard of living, but after a certain point, is engaging in power politics. The purpose of wealth, say, afte a billion dollars or so is to supercede the common law. Even multimillionaires are more or less considered above the simple strictures of the average man. But it is the billionaire individual or corporation that is a power in their own right, a new aristocracy above the confines of the state. Thus the animosity directed towards the 'multinational', a political entity whose name itself puts it above the ethnicity or the tribe.

The capitalist might counter that the dollar itself is a vote of sorts, that rewards these people with vast wealth in return for prosperity and technological prowess. The problem comes when this wealth is translated into absolute power, a rulership of capital that puts the corporate interests above that of the community. These 'votes' hardly translate into a democratic system of governance, which is likely what the objection that Rand had to democratic rule sprung from. It is this 'aristocracy of wealth' that Lark, I presume, is objecting to.

Now, being a reader of Burnham, I am not necessarily against an 'aristocracy' (and the managing experts they employ), so long as they rule well. I understand, however, that such a system certainly leads to a curtailment of freedom, and so the point is taken. The paid laborer, trained to fit a specific niche in a capitalist economic system, is hardly as 'free' as a bushman on the veldt. He does, however, have available to himself options that the bushman can only dream of. The modern man trades personal freedom for increased personal efficacy, which is after all what civilization is all about.

As to criticizing 'selfishness', I would think that in the sense that Rand meant it, i.e. an insistence on a reasoned objective, rather than one that is 'felt', I would think it unjustified. The person not interested in the health of others frequently dies from plague. Interest in collective issues benefits everyone, and is a selfish concern in its own right. I hardly think that the cause for criticism.

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