Re: Oh, those gaussians (Was: Twin Studies)

J. R. Molloy (
Thu, 26 Aug 1999 17:43:03 -0700

From: Lee Daniel Crocker <>

>> This is only true if you're talking about capitalism in a very abstract
>> sense. Keep in mind that capitalism as we know it could not exist
>> inventions like intellectual property, contract law, the limited
>> corporation, etc. I don't see any of these things as more self-evident
>> than some socialistic notions - for instance the right of workers to form
>> unions and bargain collectively.
>Bizarre list. "Contract law" probably belongs there, but I'm inclined
>to see that as nothing more than a natural mechanism of making and
>maintaining commitments. Intellectual property and limited liability
>corporations have nothing at all to do with capitalism--many (including
>me) consider them both perversions of that ideal, and would love to
>dispense with them both. Finally, collective bargaining is not a
>socialist concept at all, but a fine capitalist one, also being nothing
>but a natural consequence of the right to make and enforce commitments.
>Sounds like your idea of what capitalism is has been instilled in your
>brain by a socialist education system :)

Knowing we probably don't want to get into a semantic or political discussion, the following definitions of | capitalism | may nonetheless suit some extropians:

Capitalism (Principle in politics) The reputation of capitalism, which was quite bad for a while, has recently been on the rise. This is no doubt due mainly to the universal failure of socialism and communism, but credit must also be given to those scholars who have emphasized that what has been traditionally lampooned as evil "capitalism" is in fact the idea of minimal government, which is better described as classical liberalism or libertarianism which is much more humanistic than the twentieth-century authoritarianism and totalitarianism that supplanted capitalism historically. However, some economists insist that capitalism is not a doctrine or theory in political philosophy in the way that Marxism is, because the free market is not an ideology but simply the economic phenomenon that occurs naturally in the absence of political control. One prominent advocate of this view is Michael Rothschild of the Bionomics Institute. [References from dialectical materialism and Social Darwinism.]

  1. What is capitalism? Laissez faire capitalism means the complete separation of economy and state, just like the separation of church and state. Capitalism is the social system based upon private ownership of the means of production which entails a completely uncontrolled and unregulated economy where all land is privately owned. But the separation of the state and the economy is not a primary, it is only an aspect of the premise that capitalism is based upon: individual rights. Capitalism is the only politico-economic system based on the doctrine of individual rights. This means that capitalism recognizes that each and every person is the owner of his own life, and has the right to live his life in any manner he chooses as long as he does not violate the rights of others.
  2. What is capitalism's essential nature? The essential nature of capitalism is social harmony through the pursuit of self-interest. Under capitalism, the individual's pursuit of his own economic self-interest simultaneously benefits the economic self-interests of all others. In allowing each individual to act unhampered by government regulations, capitalism causes wealth to be created in the most efficient manner possible which ultimately raises the standard of living, increases the economic opportunities, and makes available an ever growing supply of products for everyone. The free-market operates in such a way so that as one man creates more wealth for himself, he simultaneously creates more wealth and opportunities for everyone else, which means that as the rich become richer, the poor become richer. It must be understood that capitalism serves the economic self-interests of all, including the non-capitalists. Contrary to widely held beliefs, capitalism is not a system which exploits a large portion of society for the sake of a small minority of wealthy capitalists. Ironically, it is actually socialism that causes the systematic exploitation of labor. Since the socialist state holds a universal monopoly on labor and production, no economic incentive exists for the socialist state to provide anything more than minimum physical subsistence for the workers except to perhaps prevent riots or revolutions. Exploitation is inherent to the nature of socialism because individuals cannot live for their own sake, rather, they exist merely as means to whatever ends the socialist rulers -- the self-proclaimed spokesman of "society," may have in mind.1 (Wow! From Berzerkeley no less!)

What is capitalism? Capitalism is a social system based on the principle of (individual) rights. An advocate of such a social system is known as a capitalist.