Thursday, November 5, 2009

Can Capitalism Survive

Matt McCaffrey offers here an interesting overview of Joseph Schumpeter's thesis that the success of capitalism is the very genesis of the destruction of capitalism. McCaffrey's article will be interesting to many readers of this blog, and a bit tedious to others.

I am not fond of the term "capitalism" because it carries so much negative baggage for so many people, due to their general ignorance of economics and philosophy, and due to their reliance on second- and third-hand accounts of what capitalism is and second- and third-hand accounts of why capitalism is good or bad.

For me, the very essence of capitalism is voluntary exchange. Any form of human interaction that is not mutually voluntary is immoral. That conclusion follows from the manifest immorality of compelling another human --- through force or deceit --- to the will of another human. As Kant put it, humans are ends, not means to ends.

Though shalt not compel; period. Voluntary exchange does not compel, hence, capitalism does not compel. It follows that capitalism is moral and any other form of social interaction is immoral.

Capitalism just is voluntary exchange. It is nothing more nor less. Those who oppose capitalism oppose human liberty and freedom. I propose that those who oppose human liberty and freedom are immoral, regardless of the end they hold out as the warrant for their compulsion of others.

Can voluntary exchange survive? Among us today are many working overtime to bring about the demise of voluntary exchange. Will they succeed? I propose that their temporary success will be the genesis of the survival of capitalism. I think that Schumpeter missed that idea.

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