I used to think that my free-market laissez-faire capitalist instincts and beliefs were rock solid. I also used to think that an economic system founded on the idea of an uncoerced exchange of goods, money, and services was the best way to deal with the omnipresent problem of scarcity – that there just isn’t enough of what everyone wants or needs to go around.
One of this past weekend’s most-trending hashtags changed all that: #ResistCapitalism
When I got my economics degree (a million years ago), it was steeped in a HEAVY solution of classical liberal theory. It resulted in forming m opinion that the fairest and most incentive-focused way for poverty to be avoided and for human happiness to flourish is to allow individuals to be able to choose what was best for themselves and for whom they were responsible.
One of my favorite quotes was from “The Wealth of Nations,” written by a dead white guy, Adam Smith:
“It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages.”
The idea is that the myriad of products available to me at my local grocer is not due to the purveyor’s concern about my well-being or as a charitable endeavor to establish selflessness. It is because they are trying to provide for their own enterprise and loved ones. They have to satisfy my needs and wants, in order to induce me to part with my dearly-earned money, in order to satisfy their own.
In one of my classes, we watched (and LOVED) an exchange between Milton Friedman and Phil Donahue, where the issue of greed was addressed. Friedman said this:
“In the only cases in which the masses have escaped from the kind of grinding poverty you’re talking about, the only cases in recorded history, are where they have had capitalism and largely free trade. If you want to know where the masses are worse off, worst off, it’s exactly in the kinds of societies that depart from that. So that the record of history is absolutely crystal clear, that there is no alternative way so far discovered of improving the lot of the ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by the free-enterprise system.”
The point Friedman was making boiled down to the idea that freedom yields creativity, productivity, and wealth. The critical component being that individuals should be allowed to pursue what they think is best for them, with minimal interference, and to identify that as “greed” is mistaken and wrongheaded.
On my social media pages, I would share memes like these:
These silly notions are now in the rearview. I had no idea just how evil and destructive capitalism has been. It didn’t take much, but a handful of insightful tweets of wisdom totally changed my worldview.
#ResistCapitalism was a global event (and if something is global, it must be good):
— Reddit Anarchism (@redditanarchism) April 8, 2016
I did NOT realize that being a capitalist means that I should want workers to not have nice things:
— björko sydickalist (@breatheher_) January 10, 2016
Capitalism is weak and would die if not for those supporting its insubstantial pillars:
They wouldn't put so many barriers and countermeasures in place if capitalism wasn't fragile enough to be destroyed. #ResistCapitalism
— PARTISANNEXTDOOR (@BlackAutonomist) April 8, 2016
Slavery and exploitation are fundamental:
April 9th Twitter Storm using the hashtag: #ResistCapitalism
We know the accumulation of wealth was built on black/brown genocide
— Ayaï (@Sigu_Yai) April 8, 2016
#ResistCapitalism’s heroes are SO COOL:
— Citizen Mark Eden ☭ (@KCommieMO) April 8, 2016
People are only capitalists because they were brainwashed by the system:
— kaycee. (@fuckaycee) April 8, 2016
There would be more free time AND innovation without it:
Remember capitalism didn't make ur iPhone, labor did. We #ResistCapitalism so the builders of modernity reap the benefits of modernity!
— #ResistCapitalism (@ResistCptalism) April 9, 2016
The rich get rich by taking wealth from the poor:
— benny (@bendykoval) April 9, 2016
You’re convinced now, too, right?
Thank you for reading and please share!