This article is excerpted from chapter 20 “Toward The Establishment of Laissez-Faire Capitalism” from George Reisman’s Capitalism: A Treatise On Economics (1996). See the Amazon.com author’s page for additional titles by Dr. Reisman.
Every supporter of capitalism should take heart. All across the world, socialism is now in visible retreat and outright collapse. Its supporters are in a state of intellectual disintegration, turning en masse against science, technology, and reason, as they magnify the evidence of their own intellectual incompetence into a distrust of the human intellect as such. Having for generations pompously proclaimed the possibility of their rationally planning every detail of human life–at the point of a gun and at the price of everyone else’s planning and self-interest–and somehow thereby achieving a utopia, they now begin to see the devastation they have caused, and, their dream in ruins, they sink to the level of superstitious primitives, living in fear of the intellect and of its products science and technology. In a word, they have become “environmentalists.” Safety to them now appears to lie in whatever is not man-made–in whatever is “natural,” viz., tested by millions of years of blind evolution.
In these circumstances, even though the world may appear to be continuing to rush on, irresistibly, to a new Dark Age, surprisingly little is needed to bring about the most radical reversal of the political currents. Just one or two victories won in the name of explicit procapitalist principle is all that is required. One or two such victories would prove that there were no irresistible currents of doom. They would serve to galvanize large numbers of people to further action, in the knowledge that rational efforts in the realm of political action actually work.
At the moment, a promising candidate for such a reversal of the currents is the defeat of efforts to establish socialized medicine in the United States, by means of showing that the actual solution for the problem of soaring medical costs is the elimination of government intervention into medicine and the corresponding widening of the zone of economic freedom in medicine. All of the necessary intellectual ammunition is present to do this–that is, all of the objective facts and logical arguments are on the side of the supporters of capitalism. At the same time, with the collapse of socialism across the world, the advocates of socialized medicine have completely lost their intellectual base. Objectively, they are men without logical arguments and without an intellectual home. They are riding on nothing but inertia. On the basis of the fundamentals of the situation, there is no doubt but that they can be stopped.
Perhaps the supporters of capitalism are still too few and for the most part still insufficiently prepared intellectually to win this battle. If so, there will be numerous future occasions on which they can turn the tide. They have only to learn how to articulate their case–that is, to become intellectuals who thoroughly understand economic theory and political philosophy, and enough of more fundamental philosophy to uphold the value of human reason. If enough of them do this, their cause will be irresistible. It will be as the waves of the ocean acting on a foundation made of sand. Inevitably and irresistibly the sand is washed away and the foundation undermined. “Sand” is all that remains of the intellectual foundations of socialism and the opposition to capitalism. Let the advocates of capitalism proceed in the knowledge not only that socialism is dead, but also that what the world still needs to learn is why capitalism deserves to live.
Copyright 1996 George Reisman. All rights reserved. The encyclopedic Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics is a required reference for every Capitalist’s library. Reisman’s treatise is now available in two volumes: Volume I (focuses on microeconomic issues) and Volume II (focuses on macroeconomic issues).
Articles in this Series
- Toward the Establishment of Laissez-Faire Capitalism (Part 1 of 10)
- Privatization of Property: Importance of Fighting on Basis of Principles (Part 2 of 10)
- The Freedom of Production and Trade Under Capitalism (Part 3 of 10)
- Capitalism and the Abolition of the Welfare State (Part 4 of 10)
- Abolition of Income and Inheritance Taxes Under Capitalism (Part 5 of 10)
- Establishment of Gold as Money (Part 6 of 10)
- A Pro-Capitalist Foreign Policy (Part 7 of 10)
- Separation of State from Education, Science, and Religion (Part 8 of 10)
- A General Campaign at the Local Level for Laissez-Faire Capitalism (Part 9 of 10)
- The Outlook for the Future of Capitalism (Part 10 of 10)
- See above, pp. 19-21.
- Along these lines, see also below, pp. 987-988.
- On these last points, see above, pp. 286-290 and 316-317. See also above, p. 668.
- On the nature of the process of capital accumulation and economic progress, see above, pp. 622-636, especially p. 627.
- At the same time, of course, it should be explained how the fall in wage rates that the freedom of competition would cause in the face of unemployment, would tend not to lower but to raise real wage rates. On this point, see above, pp. 584-585.
- See above, pp. 384-385, which explain why government intervention is a leading cause of homelessness. See also above, pp. 202-203.
- For a full discussion of the government’s responsibility for the crisis in medical care, and how a free market in medical care would solve all aspects of the problem, see George Reisman, The Real Right to Medical Care Versus Socialized Medicine (Laguna Hills, Calif.: The Jefferson School of Philosophy, Economics, and Psychology, 1994.)
- For an example of an appropriate compromise concerning the Food and Drug Administration, see below, p. 987.
- On this point, see above, pp. 655-660.
- Strictly speaking, individuals are presently eligible to receive social security retirement benefits beginning at age 62. This should be eliminated with the rise in the minimum eligibility age to 70.
- I estimate this to be the case on the basis of data available from the U.S. government. See, for example, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Social Security Administration, Social Security Bulletin Annual Statistical Supplement 1989, p. 163.
- A number of states are already making efforts to deny additional aid to mothers who give birth to children while on the welfare rolls. See Los Angeles Times, April 30, 1994, p. A14.
- It is implicit in previous analysis in this book that the abolition of prounion legislation along with minimum-wage legislation, would make possible the employment of unskilled workers with a lesser fall in wage rates than would be the case without the abolition of prounion legislation. On this point, see above, pp. 659-660.
- See New York Times, national ed., January 14, 1994, p. A12.
- A kindred policy is already being practiced to some extent by the federal government in the form of job “buyouts.” Under this arrangement, the government pays an individual up to $25,000 to retire early. See Washington Post, October 28, 1993, p. A21; ibid., August 22, 1994, p. D2.
- Under the present program of job buyouts, the period of disqualification for new government employment appears to be only two years. See ibid., October 28, 1993, p. A 21.
- On the subject of taxes and the demand for labor, see above, pp. 648-650.
- See above, pp. 584-585. See also above, pp. 648-650.
- See above, pp. 634-636.
- See above, pp. 622-642.
- See above, pp. 308-310 and 622-642.
- For elaboration of this point, see above, pp. 829-831.
- Concerning the necessity of using silver as money, see above, pp. 958-959.
- I am indebted to von Mises for this observation, which he made on occasion in his seminar.
- Cf. Ayn Rand, “Collectivized Rights,” in Ayn Rand, The Virtue of Selfishness (New York: New American Library, 1964) pp. 135-143. Cf. also, the U.S. Declaration of Independence.
- See above, pp. 322-323 and 362-363.
- See above, pp. 234-237.
- On this subject, see above, pp. 362-363. See also above, pp. 634-636.
- See above, pp. 322-323 and 351-354.
- See above, the discussions of unilateral free trade on pp. 190-191 and 535-536.
- Cf. Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged (New York: Random House, 1957) pp. 1023-1024.
- See above, pp. 76-115 passim. See also Ayn Rand, The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution (New York: New American Library, 1971.)
- See above, pp. 99-101.
- See above, pp. 977-978.
- The abolition of rent control should take place all at once, as soon as possible. For the reasons, see above, pp. 252-254. See also pp. 250-252 and 182-183.
- See above, p. 252.
- On this subject, see above, pp. 78-80.
38. See above, pp. 148-150 and 378-380. See also George Reisman, The Real Right to Medical Care Versus Socialized Medicine