A moral case for capitalism

"It is the only social system that leaves one free to pursue - and achieve - one's own happiness."


Reality is that which exists. It is the standard of the true, false, and arbitrary. Things are what they are, independent of our or anyone else’s feelings, ideas, wishes, desires, and emotions.

Reason is one’s only means of understanding reality by conceptually identifying and integrating the facts of reality as perceived by one’s senses. To act rationally is to base one’s ideas, principles, and conclusions solely on the facts in a logical (non-contradictory) manner.

There is no such entity as the social or collective mind. The act of thinking is an individual process. An individual can learn from and communicate with others. To do so, however, one must still grasp the facts of reality with one’s mind to make it knowledge. Others may physically act for someone, but no one can intellectually grasp facts for them. The individual mind is sovereign.

Survival for human beings is not automatic. Unlike other organisms—bacteria, elephants or apes—humans must alter their environment to survive. One must use their reason to rearrange the objects in their environment to create the values—shelter, food, books, energy, medicine—one requires to survive. Whether one is alone on a desert island or living in modern society, the individual must think rationally—and act productively if life is one’s goal.

Thanks to specialization under the division of labor, one can gain immense values by living with others in a proper society—namely knowledge and trade (in physical and spiritual values). Such a society operates under the moral doctrine of individualism—where each individual is regarded as an end to oneself, and not as a slave for the ends of others.

Given that reason is one’s means of knowing reality, that reason is the attribute of the individual, and that the individual must produce the values one needs to survive, in a proper society the individual needs to be left free to think and free to act on that thinking.

“A right is a moral principle defining an individual’s freedom of action in a social context.” Freedom of action does not mean freedom to act by permission, which may be revoked at a dictator’s, or a democratic mob’s, whim, but the freedom to act as an absolute—by right.

The fundamental right is the right to life, from which all other rights (liberty, property, the pursuit of happiness, etc.) are but applications. The right to life means that your life belongs to you alone. And you are free to do what you wish with your life, so long as you do not violate the rights of others.

There is no such thing as the right to enslave (“the right to violate rights”). No one has the right to force others to give them food, health care, insurance, education, a house, or to force them to give up their property (wealth, money) to obtain these values. One may produce them, or acquire them by reason (trade or persuasion), but never by threatening force or coercion.

Rights are inalienable—they may not be morally infringed upon. A thief may rob you, but morally he is in the wrong, and you are in the right.

The only obligation one’s rights impose on others is for them to leave you alone—free to act within your sphere of rights. By doing so the doctrine of individual rights subordinates society to moral law—might to right.

There are only two ways individuals may deal with each other: By reason—speech, persuasion—or by physical force—physical blows, fraud. Only by the use of force can one be: prevented from speaking, robbed, or murdered; that is, stopped from acting by one’s mind, rendering it useless as a means of survival.

The use of force, in and of itself, is not evil; but, to start force is. As force renders one’s mind useless as a means of survival—one has the right to use force to defend and retaliate against those who first start the use of force.

Man’s state in nature, where all are allowed complete discretion in the use of force, according to the “laws of the jungle,” is anarchy—perpetual civil war and gang warfare. To place the retaliatory use of force under objective legal control, the individuals that make up society delegate to government, their right to defend and retaliate against those who initiate force.

As no individual, in his or her private capacity as a citizen, may morally start force against others, neither may one, in one’s public capacity as a state official, initiate force either. All powers of the state are delegated to it by the people, and as no person has “the right to violate rights” (a contradiction in terms), neither does the state.

To ensure that no despot or tyrannical majority may usurp the powers of government to use force, and turn its political machinery upon any of its citizens, every aspect of government action is governed by a body of integrated, codified, and non-contradictory laws.

A proper constitution—the supreme law of a society—is a citizen’s protection against public officials who seek to imitate the criminal’s methods—the initiation physical force.

In a proper society, the law has one purpose: to protect individual rights. Each individual lives free under law by inalienable right so long as he respects the equal rights of others.

Such laws hold the individual innocent until proven guilty in a court of law before an impartial judge (“rule of law”), as opposed to guilty until “proven” innocent to the whims of a dictating bureaucrat (“rule of man”).

The actions of government officials should be regulated in minute detail with no room for arbitrary discretion as the government carries the legal power to use force. It is the government official that operates by permission, and it is the private individual that lives by right.

In order to protect rights, a government consists fundamentally of three things: an armed forces—to protect against foreign invaders, a police force—to protect against domestic criminals, and a court system—to settle disputes that arise, enforce contracts, and to punish criminals, according to objectively predefined laws based on the principle of individual rights.

Can you imagine what would be the result of a society where the initiation of force is banned from all relationships? It would not make every person moral, nor would it prevent every injustice. But, think what it could do?

It would result in a society of goodwill and benevolence, where each person sees his neighbor not as part of a gang ready to rob him, but as a potential trader, from which one can gain material and spiritual values, to mutual benefit.

A society where a life of imaginable wealth, is not just a possibility, but a reality—for everyone who is willing to think—where anyone can rise as a high as their will and ability may take them.

A society where each individual is judged not by their group affiliation (race, gender, religion, age, etc.), but by the content of their character—as an individual.

A society where each person can worship their god (or free to not believe in god), in their way.

A society where education is not a state-schooled brainwashing but becomes a mind-expanding experience.

A society of free-thinking and free-acting individuals, and not a society of one “collective mind,” ruled by a despot who has monopolized the title of the “voice of the people.”

And in time, a society of persons living in harmony with reality, guided by the process of reason. This is what is possible in a society based on the sacred principle of individual rights.

Capitalism is the progressive ideal because it is the only social system that leaves one free to pursue—and achieve—one’s own happiness. Capitalism is the ethical ideal because it is the only social system that leaves human beings free to be moral—to live by the use of their mind. Capitalism is the objective ideal—because it is the only system that is true, both in moral theory and in economic practice.

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Topics: Capitalism , Reality , Knowledge , Social , Injustice
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