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What The World Would Be Without Capitalism
4 years ago


slaverySome people say that the search for profit is abusive, heartless, evil, and so on. I’m not particularly in love with profit for its own sake (and I certainly don’t think it justifies abuse), but a reflexive condemnation of profit is deeply ignorant.

The truth is, profit killed the ancient abomination of human slavery. To eliminate the ability of people to profit would draw slavery back into the world. And we obviously don’t want that.

Here’s why:

Slavery Was an Economic System

What is not understood is that slavery was the foundation of economics in the old world – such as in Greece and Rome.

Slavery was almost entirely about surplus. (Surrounded by creative justifications, of course.) It was a type of enforced thrift.

An undeveloped man, left to himself, will spend almost all of what he earns. If he does earn some surplus, he’ll likely spend it on luxuries, frivolities, or worse. Until he develops a strong character, little of his surplus will remain for other uses.

A slave, on the other hand, never holds his earnings in his hands and therefore cannot spend them. All surplus is transferred to his or her owner. It was precisely this kind of surplus that made Rome rich.

But then Christian Europe came about. Prior to that, I cannot point to a single ancient culture that forbade the practice; it was seen as normal. So, for Europe to expel the slavery it inherited from Rome was a monumental change.

Europeans replaced slavery – slowly and because of their Christian principles, not because of a conscious plan – by doing these things:

  1. Developing personal thrift. This required a strong focus on building up virtues like temperance (self-control) and patience.
  2. Replacing the enforced surplus of slavery with profitThat is, by mixing creativity in with their commerce: innovating, inventing, and adapting to get more surplus out of commerce.

Under a new system that was eventually tagged capitalism, thrift and creativity generated surplus, and no human beings had to be enslaved.

A World Without Profit

On the other hand, we have recent examples of what happens when a culture forbids profit: the “socialist paradises” of Stalin’s USSR, Mao’s China, and the enslaved states of Eastern Europe. (Among others.)

These examples are bleak indeed, featuring the enslavement of everyone to a ruling party.

Profit provides an incentive to work, and when it is gone, not only does work suffer, but those who want to get ahead have no honest way to do it. And that drives them either to despair or to crime.

If you eliminate profit – innovative, rewarding commerce – you get slavery. The form of that slavery may vary from one case to another, but it will be slavery of some type.

This result is the same, by the way, whether the elimination of profit occurs via communism (make a profit, we shoot you) or fascism (all profit-making is taken over by friends of the state).

The core issue is surplus:

  • If surplus can be gathered by average people via honest means, slavery can be eliminated.
  • If average people are not allowed to create and hold their own surplus (surplus being skimmed off to the state and/or state partners), slavery of one sort or another will be the result.

Profit is simply a tool – a way of generating surplus without the enforced thrift of slavery.

You cannot get rid of both slavery and profit. You can eliminate whichever one you wish, but you’ll be stuck with the other.

Profit Rests on Virtues

To live in a civilization that prospers by profit, we need to move beyond gorilla-level instincts like envy. We need to develop self-control, patience, and a focus on more than just material possessions.

This post was modified from its original form on 18 Dec, 13:30

This post was modified from its original form on 18 Dec, 13:31
4 years ago

It’s a shame that the West has turned away from traditional virtues over recent centuries. If the Church that previously taught these virtues was found to be wanting, we should have replaced it with something better, rather than casting everything aside and pretending that virtues were nothing but superstition.

If we ever lose enough of our virtues, profit will lose its protections, and the ancient way of slavery will return.

What we do matters.

Paul Rosenberg

4 years ago

Rosenberg is so good and he really made some excellent points here.  What people fail to realize (Obama and company of tag-a-longs) is that with capitalisem we all gain.  If a company is profitable, the people working for that company are making a living and if they are doing this, all those that are involved in businesses that touch these people and those that subcontract to that business will prosper, too.  When people are making a decent living they spend; that means the grocery store, the clothing store, the drug store, the movie theater, and on and on all will make more money.  As we have said all along her on PD, when business is allowed to prosper they spend money, they hire more people, people then are making money and they spend that; and the chain of prosperity widens and widens.  Obama has not figured this out nor has his group of merry men and women that he keeps close.  Democrats don't seem to get it either.  It is not by raising taxes and giving entitlements that we prosper, it is by allowing businesses to keep their taxes low, regulations affordable and then they grow.

4 years ago

Thank you, Linda!   The liberals are anti capitalism and that floors me.   They want you to believe that "greed" is the reason our country is where it is today when, in fact, government subsidized programs are on steroids because the liberal White House killed the job engines in our country.     There's so much wrong in our country today and it can be attributed to the nanny state mentality.   Our young bought into it....bought everything "the first black president" said would be best for them and then the ACA reared it's ugly head doubling and tripling their healthcare costs....mandated health insurance....and they are in sticker shock.    Our country will be better off to get back to the basics.....capitalism....innovation.....companies prospering/profits....and that feeds the employees.    A successful business means successful employees who can build on their experience and then move ahead to the next level.    That playing field was smoked out by Obama.    Obama has destroyed our country.   He believes in redistributive wealth....socialism.....and the ACA, although unconstitutional, was passed and Americans are no longer buying what Obama is selling.    Just the sound of his lying voice is like fingernails on a chalkboard.  


We must continue to post the truth on Political Derby and I urge those PD members who NEVER make a comment to step forward and share your opinions because we need to get the truth out.    Today, Obama's popularity rating is 40%....he is drowning in his own lies.    It's at his feet.     We need to get our young Americans back to believing that there isn't a free ride in our country.   It's about personal responsibility.     Even the Latinos are turning their backs on Obama.    And, we all know most of them want the "free" things from the taxpayers.    Latinos seem to understand the math and they are also understanding that redistributive wealth hits their paychecks, too.

4 years ago

Sandy, excellent quotes.  Was amazed to see one from Bill Gates actually.  Surprise, surprise.

We all can look at Russia and China to see that socialism failed and that is why the swing toward capitalism in these countries.  They realize that the free enterprise system is what grows the economy; too bad that in this case Obama and company are in the dark ages; they need to brush up on the current trend of the communist countries to see they are created an epic fail as already seen in Russia and China.  But I am not sure he is capable of opening his eyes nor are those that make his decisions.

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