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Capitalism: The -ism that Isn’t

Many people these days want to reject all the -isms because thy recognize how they fall short of accomplishing the ideal life. They gather all these -isms into one and throw them aside. Marxism, socialism, fascism, corporatism, communism, populism. I even saw one the other day that I had never seen before: Friedmanism, after the 20th century Nobel Prize winning economist, Milton Friedman. And even capitalism. The claim is that these -isms are all man-made and therefore must fail, ultimately.

Whether all man-made things must ultimately fail is a question worth debating, but not in this entry. A topic for some other time. In an effort to get to my point today, I will concede this argument and assume that all man-made things will ultimately fail. But not all -isms are man-made.

Men make things because it is innate in their natures to create. Part of the purpose of this life is to practice being like God. He created this world and it is a testimony of the divinity of man that he attempts to create things. Unfortunately, man creates a lot of junk, things that have a tendency to destroy other things or other men. This is why—or one reason why—man-made things must ultimately fail.

Isms are some of the most destructive things known to man. The systems created under the banner of Marxism and communism have been responsible for the bloodiest century in recorded history. Nazism, if we claim that this is not a derivative of communism, is not far behind. Economically, we see socialism rear its ugly head in a deceptive defense of so-called social justice. Its false accusations against capitalism are nothing short of appalling to me. Even men of reasonable minds seem to fall for the socialist rhetoric against capitalism. Even those who reject socialism and communism get caught up in lumping capitalism into that refuse barrel of -isms. But capitalism is the -ism that isn’t.

Capitalism is not a system, as we use the term in national economies. A system is man-made, “designed to capture the natural forces which arise when billions of individuals put their money down on a daily basis,” as quoted from a good life-long friend who is “skeptical that any such machine exists or has been dreamt up that is suited to the natural forces of the economy today.” I agree with him. Nothing man-made can effectively capture these natural forces. It is impossible. Yet, we continue to seek such a system. The answer, however, is to allow natural forces to have their day. Adam Smith called this “perfect freedom.” We subsequently call it capitalism: the freedom of individuals to choose their lives and their intercourse with others on a daily basis. Systems tend to restrict this freedom. Capitalism is the anti-system. It is the absence of system, the absence of restraint. Capitalism (perfect freedom) is achieved only when government obeys its only proper roll of protecting the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and property.


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