There is a new growth industry in Washington; one which will consume hundreds of millions of dollars before it has run its course, and one that is not needed. No, it is not a new government program. It is a new private sector movement to save capitalism, and it is spearheaded by the U.S. Chamber of
The Chamber has committed to raise and spend $100 million on an across-the-board effort to fortify capitalism through media and public affairs campaigns. It will be a big payday for public intellectuals who can whip up an audience about the incipient resurgence of, well, communism, socialism and maybe even monarchy.
Anyway government in general, and the administration of Barack Obama in particular, is sure to figure as the merciless opponent of capitalism, seeking to regulate it and nationalize it out of existence. Only Asia, it would seem, is immune from government’s dead hand. There, in the mythology of the times, governments work for capitalism, as with the Japanese Ministry of Trade and Industry and the global reach of China.
To be believe this you have to swallow hard and affirm that bureaucrats of Asia are oh-so-smart, while those of the United States and Europe are stupid, incompetent and out to promote failure.
The Chamber, one hastens to point out, is not the villain here; it is, if anything, the victim. A lot of Chamber members really believe that capitalism is endangered by the Obama administration and its preparedness to intrude into markets. This belief has been fed, this paranoia has been indulged by the far-right wing and its protagonists in the blogosphere and broadcasting.
The fact is that capitalism–the world of willing buyers and willing sellers–has been around since the dawn of human history. It is as natural, as native, as fundamental to human society as the quest for God or the organization of the family. Probably as old as the market itself are the rogues who distort the market for excessive gain. Christ did not throw the moneychangers out of the temple for praying too fervently. Nor did Lehman Brothers collapse because it was timid about leverage.
Equally, capitalism has had an historic problem with social justice. No less a philosopher of capital’s virtue than Irving Kristol, inventor of neo-conservatism and father of its proselytizer, Bill Kristol, has pointed out that capitalism would not find fault with slavery or worker exploitation. Other institutions must seek that rectification. In Kristol’s words, “Two cheers for capitalism.”
Capitalism’s great enemy was, of course, Karl Marx and his collaborator,
Frederick Engels (Lenin was an adapter). But after much struggle, communism, or anti-capitalism, failed abysmally. It was the worst social and economic experiment ever and its few remaining adherents, like Cuba, are themselves economic and social failures.
Daniel Yergin, author of “Commanding Heights,” makes the point that capitalism has swept away any thoughts that communism has a future. Yergin’s commanding heights are controlled by capitalist nations.
Yet the fear that the armies of controlled economies are on the march still haunts many business people, who should know better. There is plenty of irony to go around in this fight against nothing.
Health care is the Trojan horse of those who see the enemies of capitalism on the march. Ironically, it is the Chamber which has called for manufacturers to be saved from the burden of health care. It has also called for normalization of relations with Cuba and a national gasoline tax.
Capitalism is not in danger. Even Britain’s venerable Labor Party had shed most of its socialist principles to compete and win under Tony Blair. The great writer H.G.Wells, one of the fathers of science fiction (“War of the Worlds”), predicted that socialism would defeat capitalism because it was a system and capitalism was not.
Wells had it exactly wrong. Capitalism is a dynamic system and socialism or its extreme, communism, is not. –For North Star Writers Group