Bringing you lower quality and fewer choices since the 16th Century, reads the caption to the image of capitalism. The grim image of the evils of capitalism is captured in William Blake’s evocative phrase “the dark satanic mills.” Is it true that because capitalism rests on selfishness and greed that we don’t have a heaven on earth?
In human society in all ages the number of angels devoid of any greed and selfishness is astonishingly low. Most people are self-interested at least, if not outright selfish; and most people want more of the good stuff for themselves and their loved ones, if not outright greedy. That’s the truth about the human condition. That’s what we have to work with, and bemoaning that fact, or worse ignoring that fact, is not going to help at all.
Any system that recognizes human nature to be self-interested and works with that flawed (by angelic standards, that is) stuff is likely to be better than a system that depends on angels for it to work.
The free market system of voluntary exchange and private property — a good operational definition of capitalism — is the best we can do. Can we do better? Yes, if people could be persuaded to become angels. Then of course, a system of “from each according to his need to each according to his abilities” could be better. Perhaps. But attempts at perfecting human nature is a fool’s errand. It can’t be done. They have killed untold millions when they tried it — as the bloody history of humanity attests.
Communism and socialism have great, good intentions. The outcome could also had been great if only mere humans had been made into angels. That outcome did not obtain since men are not angels, and cannot be made into angels.
Actually, if men were angels, then it does not matter what system you have — capitalism, socialism, communism, anarchy, democracy, dictatorship, whatever.
OK, here’s a brief video for your entertainment and edification. An extract from a conversation between Milton Friedman and Phil Donahue. Friedman had the enviable habit of always answering questions — even really silly questions — with a smile and gentle humor. Donahue was a good guy even though he appears to be clueless. Enjoy.