Capitalism, Marxism, and Too Many (of the Wrong Kind of) People
by David Sims
STEFAN Molyneux occasionally says something wise, and one quote of his I just heard is this: “Hard times build strong men. Strong men build good times. Good times breed weak men. Weak men bring hard times.”
Breaking that cycle so that men stay strong even when times are good requires preventing custom and law from being based on the illusions of “progress” that leftists like to indulge in. National Socialist Germany might have been on the right track and might have succeeded in breaking the cycle. But they never got the chance: the Marxist Jews and capitalist Jews, and those who serve them, saw to that.
Marxism classifies people based on wealth. Yes, I’m a very poor person in that sense. But I don’t ground my moral sense on what would be best for me, or for the social class in which leftists artificially group me. The poor didn’t create me, didn’t raise me, and mostly don’t even know that I exist. That I and they are, all of us, poor is a coincidence, not a tie or a cause.
I don’t approve of capitalism or Marxism, neither one. They both have failure modes, and the proponents of either ideology stubbornly decline to recognize the failures of their preferred system. Although they are opposites in some senses, they are alike in certain others: For example, both capitalism and Marxism make the measure of man a question of material wealth.
I don’t. What a man is, what he would be capable of doing given a standard level of resources, should determine how wealthy and powerful he ought to be. You’d give everyone a test (or several different tests) of their abilities and their characters, and then accord each of them as much wealth as they should have.
In capitalist societies, the existing “tests” are administered by the marketplace, but the scoring of those tests has been corrupted by the fact that inherited and other unearned wealth gives easier tests to some people than to others. Any possession of unearned wealth, however derived, makes inaccurate the testing of men’s worthiness of wealth.
As you probably know, some capitalists are very sinister devils who callously cause trouble for other people by the way they pursue wealth and power. But other capitalists, like Elon Musk, sometimes pursue larger goals that are moral in a proper sense.
The highest value in any proper moral system is survival because nothing matters to the dead and because only to something alive may anything else be good. People who practice a moral system that puts anything other than survival in first place of value will, sooner or later, encounter circumstances in which their survival is in conflict with whatever that other thing is. (It might be, say, “social justice” a.k.a. “gibs me dat.”) When that happens, those people will either abandon their improper moral system in favor of a proper one, or they will all die off, and their improper moral system will vanish along with them.
What does not exist is worthless, and what can’t exist for long probably isn’t worth much, and especially so when the reason is self-sabotage.
Leftists often say “we have way too many rich people.” Think about that for a moment. Wouldn’t it be a good thing if everyone were rich? In between where we are now, with a few rich and many poor, and where we ought to be, with everyone rich, there’s a continuum of percentages. To get from here to there involves increasing the number of rich people, not reducing the number of rich people. It isn’t possible to close the gap from 1% to 100% in a single leap, though. Nor would it be desirable: Many alive today certainly don’t deserve to — and should never be — rich.
The optimal distribution of wealth among men isn’t equality. Some men are better than others in terms of innate talent, learned skill, wisdom, and moral conduct. Where one man will do much with what he has, another man would waste it were he given it. The optimum is a marriage of wisdom and the power derived from material wealth, but the way to reach that optimum is a mystery that has so far eluded mankind. We all have pet theories about how to reach it, some of which have been disproved by historical experimentation, while some have yet to be tested. Some theories showed early promise, but were forcibly shut down by the military arms of rival theorists before they could be definitively judged.
Liberals say things like: “Charity is not sufficient. We need laws. Vast expansion of the declaration of human rights, to curtail mass violence of the powerful. Things like voting rights, income protections, minimum wages or even basic income, a right for humane medical care…”
The problem with their proposed solutions to poverty is that they won’t work. They’ve been tried and have been proved ineffective. The experiments have been done, but the leftists cherish their disproved theories so much that they refuse to discard them, regardless of their known flaws.
Human rights, so called, can involve the curtailment of other rights. An example would be the “right” of someone in a protected (or, more accurately, privileged) group to impose himself on others, e.g. to be included as a member of a club whose other members would rather not have him, or the “right” of such a person to obtain service from someone who would rather not serve him, or the “right” of such a person to use the property of someone who would rather not share with him.
The expansion of the right to vote only ensures that every vote, and every election, is decided by mediocrities and troublemakers. Intelligence follows a bell-curve distribution, and ethical standards of behavior probably do too, so the wisest choice is seldom made, and the best candidates are almost never elected (or even found). Democracy is in direct conflict with the principle that wisdom and power should be wedded. At least with dictatorships or absolute monarchs, you get a good ruler once in a while. Prosperous nations and empires have arisen in the past without any “help” from democracy, and they may do so once again.
Giving everyone the right to be serviced, regardless of their ability to pay for service, imposes a burden on others: Either the provider must work for free, or someone else must be taxed to pay the provider. As you can see, what is commonly called “social justice” is in direct conflict with plain old justice.
And minimum wage laws reduce the availability of job opportunities. Each increase in a minimum wage causes a reduction in the number of jobs. If you force employers to hire, then they’ll just get out of business because it won’t be worthwhile for them to continue doing it. Let the state take over all employment, and you’ll get another Cuba or another Soviet Union. (You won’t get an improved America.)
So it isn’t that there are too many rich people. There are too many people. Getting rid of rich people won’t make the poor richer. They’ll just lose their scapegoat, unless they continually resurrect their memories and blame “historical oppression.” There is some precedent for that.
As the population grows, at some point human quantity will rise above the sustainable level, and then some significant part of that quantity will have to go. When quantity must go, the right thing to do is strive for quality. If you must lose most of what you have, the sensible thing to do is keep what is best. If you can only save from a fire what you can grab in one minute, then you grab what is most precious.
In a lifeboat that is so overcrowded that it is in danger of sinking, resulting in the deaths of everyone aboard, who is the one person who must not under any circumstances be thrown to the sharks? The navigator. The one person who can guide the boat to the nearest port before the food and water runs out; the one person upon whom everyone else’s life depends.
Men are not equals in value. Men do not have equal rights to wealth. Men are not equally deserving of anything at all.
* * *
The more enlightened you are, the more differentiated from the inanimate universe you’re likely to be. The idea of Nirvana has always struck me as being more related to death than to life: not a thing to be desired by anyone with a sensibly Faustian outlook.
Life can be suffering, but what it more nearly constitutes is challenge. Challenges either kill you or they improve you by making you stronger, smarter, or otherwise more capable. Challenge is how Nature brings forth everything good, albeit at the price of extinction for the losers. Generally, we don’t lament the losers unless they are right before our eyes, and even then it’s usually mere virtue signaling or moral grandstanding.
If you really don’t like losers, then hasten their departure.
The past is what it is. The future is, in part, what we make of it. Therefore, value more the world in which shall live all of the thousands of generations who are yet unborn, than the circumstances of the few generations who are alive presently. Invest yourself accordingly.
* * *