Brad Miller

Anti-Capitalist Mentality – Why do so many people hate capitalism?

In Advocates of Liberty, True nature of the State on September 7, 2011 at 4:37 pm

It’s hard to watch the news today and miss the myriad of Politicians, Pundits, and Professors espousing their hatred for Capitalism. But why in the world do they hate it so much?

And more importanlty how can there be so many ordinary individuals who also loathe the economic system based on private property rights and individual liberty?

That is the question that we need to answer today.

Fortunatley someone has already provided the answer for us. Our job is to relay his answer to the millions who still embrace the “Anti-Capitalist Mentality”.

Ludgwig von Mises the Austrian Economist and champion of Liberty gives us his brilliant answer to the question “Why do so many people Hate Capitalism?” in his essay  “The Anti-Capitalist Mentality’. Originally published in 1956 it is still  relevant today as we see so many politicians in power seeking to replace the private property model of Capitalism with the State ownership model of Collectivism.

Most people who Hate Capitalism hate how others have succeeded because of it. They despise the fact that:

“The profit system makes those men prosper who have succeeded in filling the wants of the people in the best possible and cheapest way. Wealth can be acquired only by serving the consumers.”

Because they feel like they are the true “Literary, Intellectual and Cultural Nobility” they should be the one’s prospering instead of those serving the masses.

“It has, they say (Capitalism), “atomized” society, dissolved its “organic” subdivisions into “amorphous” masses. The “much too many” are now supreme, and their mean materialism has superseded the noble standards of ages gone by. Money is king. Quite worthless people enjoy riches and abundance, while meritorious and wor-thy people go empty-handed.”

But waht can those who feel slighted by the Capitalist system do to remedy their situation as a “victim”?

“The entrepreneurs and capitalists owe their wealth to the people who patronize their businesses.”

They can’t go to the entrepreneur and capitalsits (even though that is happening more and more).

The control of the material means of production is a social function, subject to the confirmation or revocation by the sovereign consumers. This is what the modern concept of freedom means. Every adult is free to fashion his life according to his own plans. He is not forced to live according to the plan of a planning authority enforcing its unique plan by the police, i.e., the social apparatus of compulsion and coercion. What restricts the individual’s freedom is not other people’s violence or threat of violence, but the physiological structure of his body and the inescapable na-ture-given scarcity of the factors of production.”

But those who hate captialism and want to substitute their own  economic system for it, take their case to the masse. Their pitch is that they could enjoy a higher standard of living if it weren’t for the greedy capitalist who exploit them.  The planners and collectivists prey on the unviersal truth that:

“as soon as some of his wishes are satisfied, new wishes spring up. Such is human nature.”

Even though most Americans enjoy a standard of living far behond that of anyone who has ever lived on Earth, idndividuals naturally want more. This is derided by most as “mass consumption” and disparag it as a  great evil.  But as Mises points out  this endless  search to satisfy desires is not our problem.

” This lust is precisely the impulse which leads man on the way toward economic betterment. To content oneself with what one has already got or can easily get, and to abstain apathetically from any attempts to improve one’s own material conditions, is not a virtue.  Man’s most characteristic mark is that he never ceases in endeavors to advance his well-being by purposive activity.”

The problem is not that people want to satisfy more and more desires. The problem arises when they choose the wrong means to do so. This is where the politicians, pundits and professors gladly peddle their brand of State Controlled Economic System. So the people:

“… fall prey to spurious ideolies”… and then …They advocate measures which are bound to result finally in general impoverishment, in the disintegration of social cooperation under the principle of the division of labor, and in a return to barbarism.”

This is the condition in which we are living under today. The politicians, pundits and professors jealous of the wealth of those who have served their fellow man in the best most efficient way have convinced a majority of the population that they have been exploited and deserve more. All the masses  have to do is to allow them to “modify” capitalism to ensure they get what is rightfully theirs.

The people fail to see that they are “soveriegn” under Capitalism and need no one to “advocate” for them in order to prosper all they have to do is serve their fellow man better than others currently do.

“What makes a man more or less prosperous is not the evaluation of his contribution from any “absolute” principle of justice, but evaluation on the part of his fellowmen who exclu-sively apply the yardstick of their own personal wants, desires and ends.”

This too is an insult to the self proclaimed “supermen”.  The Politicians, pundits, and professors  hate that the masses, the ignorant unwashed “vote” to determine who succeeds or fails in the Free Market. The Planners want to control the economic destiny of the masses to secure theirs.

“It is precisely this that the democratic system of the market means. The consumers are supreme—i.e., sovereign. They want to be satisfied.”

Those who hate Capitalism hate it becasue they are arrogant enough that they think they know best how other men should live. Captialism is the economic system based upon priveate property which has led to the expolosion of the human population and is responsible for you and I to be here on Earth. It is the only economic system on Earth that has led to the “mass production” and mass production of goods which has steadily improved the living standards of millions of people. Those who hate Captitalism should as Voltaire wrote “Tend your own garden” first.

“To the grumbler who complains about the unfairness of the market system only one piece of advice can be given: If you want to acquire wealth, then try to satisfy the public by offering them something that is cheaper or which they like better”.

 In a Capitalist system those who fail or don’t achieve what they want have no one to blame but themselves. On the Free Market everyone is free to unseat those with established market share. All you have to do is provide a better product at a cheaper price.

Here (under Capitalism) everybody’s station in life depends on his own doing. Everybody whose ambitions have not been fully gratified knows very well that he has missed chances, that he has been tried and found wanting by his fellowman.

And instead of “From Each according to his abiltiy to each according to his need”  which is the Collectivist guiding principle.

The guiding principle of Capitalism is” To Each according to his accomplishments”.

The Capitalist principle is one that doesn’t require the services of the Collectivist Planners whose only product is “planning for others”.

“The price and market system of capitalism is such a society in which merit and achievements determine a man’s success or failure.”

That is why the siren song  of collectivism is so hard to resist. The planners gain power and status as they institute their plans, the “masses” get to blame their failings on others and both use the lethal power of the State to appropriate the property of  Capitalists and Entrepreneurs. The successful are punished and the unproductive are rewarded.

But the collectivists are not the only one’s who are to blame. Those who love liberty but fail to bravely and persistently expose the ideology of “slavery” are also to blame. If Lenin and Marx’s Collectivism were torn apart immediatley and  repeatedly and with more “eloquence” we may live in a different world today. Instead of the Welfare/Warfare State we would be living in a true Free Market Society.

Mises also spoke of the dangers of the “stealth collectivist”. These are the politicians and pundits who support collectivist ideas like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the entire Welfare System.

 “These individuals are aiming at is communism without those inherent and necessary features of communism which are still unpalatable to Americans”.

But as Ayn Rand wrote in the introduction to “Anthem”, those who share the “Anti-Capitalist Mentality” will reap what they own.

“They expect when they find themselves in a world of bloody ruins and concentration camps, to escape responsibility by wailing: But I didnt mean this!”

Collectivism always leads down the Road to Serfdom.  And becasue of this:

“Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders; no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way out for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore, everyone, in his own interests, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle. None can stand aside with unconcern; the interests of everyone hang on the result. Whether he chooses or not, every man is drawn into the great historical struggle, the decisive battle into which our epoch has plunged us.”  Mises

And as Henry Hazlitt used to tell those who didn’t understand why the collectivist creed was winning out over Liberty, he would tell them “We Haven’t been good enough”. It is our task to be better writers, speakers and communictors than those who share the “Anti-Capitalist Mentality”. That is the only way to reverse the course of Collectivism across the world.

It’s good to remember the words of Bastiat as well:

“The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is not to be skillfully attacked but to be ineptly defended.”

We are the defenders of Liberty and Liberty is under attack.

And That’s My take



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