- Capitalism and Alternatives -

I think it is extremely dubious.

Posted by: Darcy Carter ( UK ) on September 16, 1999 at 19:35:17:

In Reply to: Capitalism and Ethics posted by R Rockliff on September 14, 1999 at 20:53:30:

: This capitalist has a very strong concept of ethics. If you could show that the West only succeeded because of activities comparable to burglary, I would agree that it is an extremely odious system.

However, I do not take this as read. Indeed, I think it is extremely dubious. You must make a distinction between the old imperial regimes and the modern world. The success of the West is not based on the immoral (by today's standards) activities of the past. Britain had the largest Empire the world has ever seen but is now far less prosperous than Japan, USA or Germany, which never had Empires of note.

It is simply not feasible that the prosperity of the West is based on the nationalism and empire buiding that we have left behind as immoral. The fact is, the West was richer and more powerful than the rest of the world long before the age of Empire. Why did the British conquer India? Why was it not the other way around? Why did Spain conquer the Aztecs - why were these roles not reversed? Because present day wealth is merely a continuation of a historical trend that has seen the European peoples, blessed with the advantages of their environment and political culture handed down from the ancient world, advance ahead of other races.

This is not saying we are superior. It is merely a fact. Less powerful countries inflicted misery on their weaker neigbours - it is just that they lacked the technology to expand on such a grand scale. If the Asians or Africans had "got there first" in terms of technology, what do you think the outcome would have been? It would have been the same, merely with roles reversed. That is unless you think a black person, say, is naturally more moral than a white person?

Assuming that we can put talk of the evils of the British Empire in the 19th century behind us when talking about present day economics, that leaves the question - is it immoral to operate a capitalist system? The West enslaves no-one, does not steal resources but pays for them and, in fact, uses some of the wealth it creates in foreign aid spending. Just becuase the rest of the world has not done so well, it doesn't make wealth immoral unless we are rich because of their poverty.

I can see no concrete evisence for this. It is not the case that there is a finite pie of wealth that must suffice for the world population - with us greedily stealing more than our share. As more countries become capitalist democracies, the world's wealth increases. Indeed, poor countries need the rich, capitalist ones to trade with as they develop into more prosperous nations. If we gave up capitalism tomorrow, and fell into the poverty that has enveloped all countries who have tried socialsim,would this help the world's poor?

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