“Capitalism Is Right Because It Helps The Most People!”
This is a common defense of capitalism that you might hear in the “marketplace of ideas”. I’m here to make the case that this is the wrong way, and even an immoral way, to defend capitalism. Existence, Reason, And Ethics is the way to go.
When one defends capitalism by the sake that it “helps the most people”, the ethics of Altruism are given moral ground. Utilitarianism becomes the assumed moral premise.
The Socialists and Nihilists of today have won the culture war, because they have asserted 3 things: Existence, Reason, And Ethics.
Existence: There is no reality.
Reason: You can’t really know anything.
Ethics: You must sacrifice yourself to the collective, or to your emotions.
I’m here to talk about how to win that ground back. I’m here to defend capitalism the way capitalism necessitates it’s defense.
If what “helps the most people” is where we draw morality from, this raises a few questions. How is it objectively decided that “the most people” were helped? And, how far can the line be pushed before something is objectively wrong, even if it “helps” the most people?
How to Objectively Show “the most people” Were Helped:
Let’s address this question first, as it really is the most important. It reveals a philosophical question deep at the heart of metaphysics and epistemology. The question is “how do we know what is real?” If there is no such thing as objective, existential truth, then there is no real way to know anything. Again, if there is no way to be certain in ones mind of anything, then there is no real way to know anything.
This is the claim of the “academics” of today. The nihilists: “Well, you can’t really know anything” To which I respond, “And how can you know that your statement then is true?”
To know if “the most people” were helped, we must be certain of 2 things. That existence exists, A is A; and that the mind is a competent tool to know reality. Existence, Reason, And Ethics.
Once we are certain of these 2 things, we can then attempt to calculate if the most people were actually helped. Not incidentally, this leads us to our 2nd question.
How far can the line be pushed before something is Objectively wrong, even if it “helps” the most people?
There is a joke that goes “9 out of 10 people enjoy gang rape”.
You understand how this ties back to “helping the most people” “sacrificing yourself to the collective, or to your emotions”.
For the rapists, they have sacrificed themselves to their emotions, abandoning rationality. And for the rapee, they have been sacrificed to the collective. A disturbing but relevant comparison.
Let’s get back to what we were talking about earlier.
Existence, Reason, And Ethics.
You’ll notice Objectivists come back to these pillars quite often.
That’s because these are the pillars of that which is objectively true. Capitalism is merely the proper expression of Existence, Reason, and Ethics at work in the world. Free men, using their minds to deal with rational self interest, peacefully with one another.
“The action required to sustain human life is primarily intellectual: everything man needs has to be discovered by his mind and produced by his effort. Production is the application of reason to the problem of survival . . . .
Since knowledge, thinking, and rational action are properties of the individual, since the choice to exercise his rational faculty or not depends on the individual, man’s survival requires that those who think be free of the interference of those who don’t. Since men are neither omniscient nor infallible, they must be free to agree or disagree, to cooperate or to pursue their own independent course, each according to his own rational judgment. Freedom is the fundamental requirement of man’s mind.” – Ayn Rand
Every action a man takes is a choice between moving toward prolonging his life, liberty, and property, or reducing it. Flourishing life, or destroying life.
Life. Liberty. And Property.
It is true that Capitalism, as a practice, will bring about the most material good for the most people.
However, the moral defense for Capitalism is that it is moral. Proper. And, in fact, REQUIRED FOR LIFE, for a human to act rationally selfish. To, pursue his rational self interest in all areas of life. Dealing with fellow humans in voluntary trade, recognizing the objective truth that exists.
A is A.
You can read more from Jordan Matthew on Think liberty here.