Leitmotif

Reason as the Leading Motive

Free Speech and Capitalism

Posted by Jerry on May 11, 2007

Recently, I highlighted an insightful interview with Dr. Onkar Ghate, Dean at the Ayn Rand Institute, which was published in The Undercurrent Newsletter.

 

I wish to refer to that interview once again here in order to draw attention to another interesting derivation from the principle of free speech as identified by Ayn Rand and elucidated by Dr. Ghate.

 

Note how Dr. Ghate highlights the necessary connection between and the unity of the mind and the body vis-à-vis the right to liberty.

 

Dr. Ghate states that the spiritual expression of the right to liberty is the freedom of thought, and its material expression is the freedom of speech, that is, the right to put ones thoughts and ideas into words or deeds.

 

Note also the crucial connection between freedom of thought and the need for survival. In order to survive, man has to use his mind–his capacity to reason. The mind seeks to gain knowledge in order to apply that knowledge to the problem of survival. For example, to eat, man must first know how to obtain food without unnecessarily endangering his own life.

 

Thus, man must be free to obtain the requisite knowledge, be free to think and devise new solutions based on previous knowledge, be free to apply the knowledge in material terms, and be free to reap the benefits of his knowledge.

 

Now, the interesting and logical derivation from all of the above is political-economic system of Capitalism. Capitalism is the political and economic expression of the freedom of thought in the realm of material and economic production. It is the only moral and efficient system that allows man to think freely in the market, create material expressions of those thoughts and ideas, and bring those ideas as well as the material expressions to compete in the marketplace without coercion.

 

Insofar as a nation’s economic system tends towards freedom, liberalization, and the free market, it enjoys the benefits of free men applying their ideas and thoughts freely into economic action to solve the problem of survival and prosper–this is freedom of speech in the economic context.

 

As evidence of this, observe the rapidly growing economies of China and India. Both countries only recently moved towards some semblance of a free market system in its economic sphere; China began the process in the early 1980s, and India, in the early 1990s. Both countries are still unfree and controlled societies in all other respects. Despite their socialist and collectivist cultures, both countries are now enjoying tremendous growth from the economic achievements of western markets and companies investing in their countries and from their own move towards deregulating their economic systems.

 

The point here is that capitalism is not only the most efficient system of wealth-creation, it is also the only moral system that remains consistent with fundamental human rights. Freedom of speech, thought, and action in the economic sphere is the system of capitalism. In other words, to compromise on laissez-faire capitalism is to also compromise on human rights.

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14 Responses to “Free Speech and Capitalism”

  1. David Kendall said

    Capitalism:

    Capitalists extract unpaid labor from workers.

    This is where the “system” of capitalism begins — resulting in immeasurable dividends for less than one-percent of the human population — yielding superfluous consumerism, abject poverty, wide-spread starvation, uncontrollable disease due to unaffordable health-care, illiteracy, under-education, unemployment, under-employment, and commodification of people in a dysfunctional “job market” that forces people to compete against each other for mere “survival” even in affluent societies, global warming, income inequality, and many other societal “benefits” for the remaining 99-percent of the overall population.

    There. Now work the puzzle.

  2. Ergo said

    Hi David.

    Come live in India–or better still, live in Cambodia–the most non-capitalist place in the world. I suspect you might enjoy yourself.

    Moreover, if you think that less than 1% of the people are the only ones enjoying “immeasureable dividends”–and by that, I suspect you refer to the rich Americans–then you will have to soon change your statistic. Quite rapidly, every society that has moved towards a capitalist system is joining in inflating your “1%” statistic. Observe China and India, the most populous countries in the world. Many in these countries are already enjoying the “immeasureble dividends” brought about by their governments’ move towards free market systems. Insofar as a society establishes such a system, they happen to join the number of people enjoying the “immeasureable dividends.”

    Hence, “1%” appears to be a rather obsolete statistical representation; and even if it currently is the case, do you really think that everyone has the right to be as rich as Bill Gates or the top 1% of the people? And on what grounds do you claim that people’s incomes should be generally along the same levels? Are we all intellectually and skillfully endowed at the same levels?

    With regard to environmental pollution, I’ll refer you to my posts on Environmentalism in the category of the same name.

    Further, do take my recommendation to live in India or Cambodia seriously–I really think you will also love to breathe the air here, and enjoy its surroundings.

  3. David Kendall said

    You are correct, Ergo. “1%” is an obsolete statistic. Rather, “.01%” is probably more accurate figure, according to Jack Rasmus, author of “The Trillion Dollar Income Shift” and “The War At Home”. Likewise, J.W. Smith, author of “Economic Democracy”, estimates less than 500 people possess more wealth than half of the earth’s population, as the wealth of 1/2 of 1-percent of the United States population roughly equal that of the lower 90-percent.

    Do I think everyone has the right to be as rich as Bill Gates? Absolutely not. In fact, Bill Gates has no business hoarding (monopolizing) that much wealth, when millions of others are starving, diseased, and homeless. No one person on this planet is “worth” that much more than any other person. The only means of accumulating that much wealth is by siphoning it from the innovation and productivity of others, and the only excuse for hoarding that much wealth is to maintain financial and political leverage over them.

    Do I think Bill Gates should share his wealth with the rest of the world? Hell no. I think Bill Gates is premium example of the wreckage and injustice that capitalism and corporate imperialism have wrought. If the world hasn’t yet discovered how to prevent travesties like Bill Gates, then Bill Gates isn’t rich enough yet. More power to him. And more power to you, Ergo.

    Incidentally, thanks for the invitation to India, but I’ll pass. We’ve got enough Fascism right here in the United States. I doubt that I would find your variety any more appealing.

  4. D.J.R. said

    In response to David Kendall, “Do I think everyone has the right to be as rich as Bill Gates? Absolutely not. In fact, Bill Gates has no business hoarding (monopolizing) that much wealth, when millions of others are starving, diseased, and homeless. No one person on this planet is “worth” that much more than any other person. The only means of accumulating that much wealth is by siphoning it from the innovation and productivity of others, and the only excuse for hoarding that much wealth is to maintain financial and political leverage over them.”

    Haha of course capitalist fortunes produced by the human mind are how men acquire dominance over others, Why history is rife with examples like Mao….wait….Well there’s always Hitler….no wait he wasn’t a rich industrialist either. Oh I know Stalin….wait no not him….Kim Jong Ill? I remember how Rockefeller dominated our nation and enslaved….no wait that didn’t happen. Jeez…tough to come up with an example for David’s proposition. Edison I’m sure the light bulb caused him to…..? Well crap. Ohh I know Pol Pot….no French chefs don’t make to much. Ergo you got anything to support his proposition? I wonder why capitalist nations are called exploiters when they produce most of the worlds wealth, you would think socialists states would produce the most since one is exploited….wait that’s not true either!! Darn it why won’t reality conform to my world view!

  5. D.J.R. said

    “I wonder why capitalist nations are called exploiters when they produce most of the worlds wealth, you would think socialists states would produce the most since one is exploited….wait that’s not true either!! Darn it why won’t reality conform to my world view!”

    Made a boo boo, meant “you would think socialists states would produce the most since -no one- is exploited…”

  6. rambodoc said

    And your comments were very good, DJR!

  7. D.J.R. said

    Replying to Rambodoc, “And your comments were very good, DJR!”

    Haha thanks for the compliment, but I would argue more likely his comments are terrible. Not to berate anyone on Motif’s site but I think that’s an objectively tenable position. Consider for instance David Kendall’s “No one person on this planet is “worth” that much more than any other person.” I would ask anyone who thinks that to replace his mother or loved one with a murderer or allow his child to be kidnapped and replaced with someone else. That should instantly clear up whether another human is worth more than another. A person who asserts no one is worth much more than another asserts that humans have no way to be worth anything. If he owned a company and replaced a skilled worker with someone without skill he wouldn’t be able to figure out why his company collapsed into tremendous debt via inefficiency because they guys he changed around were “worth” the same.

    Also note his use of the word wealth, like Bill Gate’s has some sort of McScrugge (yeah probably spelled it wrong but you know the old duck with monocle and top hat) with a gold coin swimming pool. As if he’s never heard of the term “investment capital” to paraphrase Inspector “”the goods are here” comes to mind”” not realizing that a lot of Gate’s capital is probably tied up in productive ventures (not to mention charitable ones), ask him who’s going to feed everyone after Gate’s wealth is divided among everyone equally and they run out (run out since none are invested in productive capital ventures), since those who can’t feed themselves obviously aren’t productive enough to do it, or their goods are confiscated by actual exploiters i.e. dictators, bandits, etc. the same banditry I assume David advocates since no one apparently has the right to any wealth, how are you going to take my wealth without force I wonder? Clearly the advanced operating systems and wide spread use of the computer (thanks to Gate’s DOS operating system allowing word processing, data base and spreadsheet programs to become easily accessible) is a destructive exploitive tool for him to gain power, else why would David be using it 😉

  8. Ergo said

    You’ve made some good points DJR. Thanks. (Although, I think Bill from Microsoft likes to spell his last name with an “s”. 🙂

  9. Imperial-centers-of-capital do not “produce most of the world’s wealth”. They merely collect it — by military force, and unequal trade policy. From the other side of the same coin, there is no need to confiscate unearned “wealth” from you by force, since it doesn’t belong to you in the first place. Rather, it was extorted from the innovations and productivity of others.

    Meanwhile, the infinite potential (power) of that innovation and productivity remains in the natural possession of the original owners, not the collectors of finite surplus. So once again, until primary producers wake up to the fact, and begin to act in their own behalf, more power to ya. As long as they aren’t taking action, you aren’t rich enough, and they haven’t starved enough.

    So keep workin’ the puzzle.

  10. D.J.R. said

    Haha, in response to David Kendall, “Imperial-centers-of-capital do not “produce most of the world’s wealth”. They merely collect it — by military force, and unequal trade policy.” I can’t remember the last time we abducted a skyscraper by force. There is no such thing as an “unequal” trade. If you could arbitrarily declare that any trade is unequal because you “feel” someone is cheated no one can truly own anything without your permission, who is more in a position to determine whether a trade is equal, the people actually making a deal honestly or some dime store dictator waiting to tell someone their being evil according to their arbitrary whim? How do you define trade? In any sort of transaction humans freely exchange goods their agreement is based on uncoerced action. So how could I have “stolen” something from them? I suppose you’ll also explain why we have the most patents, I assume it is also because we managed to psychically steal their thoughts using physical force too. “until primary producers wake up to the fact, and begin to act in their own behalf” The only way they could do that is in an uncoercable environment for tree trade between humans who do not initiate force, as long as you can declare goods “stolen” or trades “unequal” because you see the most profitable nation on Earth continue to produce prosperity and therefore conclude that it must have “stolen” it, without even telling us how it would have been impossible for us to do it on our own. “Meanwhile, the infinite potential (power) of that innovation and productivity remains in the natural possession of the original owners” Even if they sell their patent freely? “…and they haven’t starved enough.” Yes I’m certain the United States and its unlimited capacity to produce food, because we stole modern machinery from deep within the continent of Africa, is the reason we are stealing the food out of their mouths. *rolls eyes* It couldn’t be that dictators just steal their food to feed their soldiers or anything. Wait that’s exactly what it is. “So keep workin’ the puzzle.” The only thing that puzzles me is how you manage to feed yourself in the morning knowing that that food was stolen from someone and you are benefiting from their plight, as well as using the technology of a computer that was is built on stolen patents…I’m sorry guys I had to stop I think I’m laughing a bit too hard about his ideology about now. Kendall do whatever you believe is necessary to bring about your Utopia, just don’t think we won’t be ready for you.

  11. Ergo said

    I suppose India and China are now becoming global stealers of wealth as well. Then, slowly, as more and more nations become economically free, they too will be stealing from other nations. Soon, we’ll all be stealing wealth!

    (Are we equivocating “stealing” with “trading”?)

  12. In response to Ergo — good job.

    Economic freedom is the most worthwhile target for any nation. There can be no political freedom without economic freedom. The United States finally won its economic freedom from British imperialism in the War of 1812 — and then forfeited the same, a century later, in the course of two World Wars. Somehow “America” emerged a sovereign super-power (by arbitrary default, more than anything else) as other nations bankrupted themselves over the course of those same conflicts.

    And what a terrific mess has come as a result? Read the daily headlines (for the past hundred years), and judge for yourself. Good lord.

    I have no argument with the recent economic “independence” of China, India, or any other nation. In fact, I cheer your success. Good job. “More power to ya”, as I’ve already stated. If the United States is stupid enough to export all its jobs and financial capital to other nations in return for little or nothing, then it deserves the economic crises that will inevitably result. Lord knows, arrogant “Americans” are due for a good old-fashioned ass-kicking. Might teach ’em a lesson. Might wake ’em up. Who knows? Unfortunately, it might just piss ’em off, and then Lord knows what will happen.

    But I also stand firmly against the inherent tendencies of capitalism to exploit human lives for the sake of profit — regardless of which country (people) is the exploiter or which is the exploited.

    Meanwhile: “Are we equivocating ‘stealing’ with ‘trading'”?

    If you know anything at all about the history or your own country (India), you know very well this can be true. It’s called “Imperialism” (the flip side of “colonialism” and/or “slavery”), which now rules more of the world than ever before in an on-going quest for corporate profit and power. But economic independence (freedom) does not necessitate the subjugation of one group of people by another. Rather, D.J.R’s “Utopia” is coming home to roost, as “We The People” finally begin to discover the economic efficiency that results from regional democratic cooperation.

    This movement does seem slow, indeed. But it’s also been said: “The best things are worth waiting for”. Likewise, I believe the best things are worth working for. The trick is to find ways (and reasons) to work together toward common goals, rather than picking arguments and conflicts in defense of selfish aims.

    “A tree is known by its fruit”. (We can do it)

    Cheers.

  13. Ergo said

    DK said: In response to Ergo — good job.

    I was lampooning your view. If you think I did a good job of it, then thank you. 🙂

    DK said: Economic freedom is the most worthwhile target for any nation. There can be no political freedom without economic freedom. The United States finally won its economic freedom from British imperialism in the War of 1812 — and then forfeited the same, a century later, in the course of two World Wars. Somehow “America” emerged a sovereign super-power (by arbitrary default, more than anything else) as other nations bankrupted themselves over the course of those same conflicts.

    You have confused cause and effect in this context. In contrast to your view, actually there can be no economic freedom without political freedom. First, a nation should have political freedom before it can engage in free economic trade. The citizens should be politically free before they can freely pursue economic growth. Actually, it could be argued that once political freedom is established, economic freedom is inevitable, and they go hand-in-hand. Economic freedom–for example in China–can push a country towards political freedom, but if the nation is ruled by a hard-lined dictator, then whatever economic freedom is achieved can be squashed and negated.

    America won political freedom from British imperialism. To claim that “Somehow” America emerged a super-power in the twentieth century is to admit historical ignorance or hold an unfortunately mystical metaphysic.

    DK said: And what a terrific mess has come as a result? Read the daily headlines (for the past hundred years), and judge for yourself. Good lord.

    I can confidently say that neither have you read the “daily headlines” for the past hundred years. So, your injunction should apply to yourself first. Personally, I think one need not read the “daily headlines” of the past hundred years to get a grasp of history and ideological movements.

    DK said: I have no argument with the recent economic “independence” of China, India, or any other nation. In fact, I cheer your success. Good job. “More power to ya”, as I’ve already stated. If the United States is stupid enough to export all its jobs and financial capital to other nations in return for little or nothing, then it deserves the economic crises that will inevitably result. Lord knows, arrogant “Americans” are due for a good old-fashioned ass-kicking. Might teach ’em a lesson. Might wake ’em up. Who knows? Unfortunately, it might just piss ’em off, and then Lord knows what will happen.

    “Who knows” and “Lord knows” are not really arguments; they are empty phrases. In any case, there are people who *do* know about these issues, and “Lord” is not one of these people. The above paragraph reveals the implicit premise that there are only a certain number of jobs and that either those jobs are in the US or they are exported to China and India. This premise is false. The number of jobs is not metaphysically fixed or determined; jobs–like wealth, money, capital–is created. Therefore, there is no true limit to the number of jobs or wealth or money or capital. In other words, these things are limitless and there can be more than enough of them to go around between the US, China, and India–provided that producers are left FREE to produce wealth, money, capital, and jobs.

    DK said: But I also stand firmly against the inherent tendencies of capitalism to exploit human lives for the sake of profit — regardless of which country (people) is the exploiter or which is the exploited.

    Support your claim that exploitation of human lives is “inherent” to capitalism. In other words, expose the essential qualities of capitalism that make it logically necessary to create conditions of exploitation. Note, since you used the word “inherent”, your argument should be to show how the mechanics of capitalism necessarily–out of strict logical necessity–entails exploitation. Your argument should have the force of saying that the presence of theft is inherent in a dictatorial government.

    DK said: Meanwhile: “Are we equivocating ‘stealing’ with ‘trading'”?

    If you know anything at all about the history or your own country (India), you know very well this can be true. It’s called “Imperialism” (the flip side of “colonialism” and/or “slavery”), which now rules more of the world than ever before in an on-going quest for corporate profit and power. But economic independence (freedom) does not necessitate the subjugation of one group of people by another. Rather, D.J.R’s “Utopia” is coming home to roost, as “We The People” finally begin to discover the economic efficiency that results from regional democratic cooperation.

    Define and explain the mechanics of “regional democratic cooperation” and distinguish it from free market trade on a regional level.

    DK said: This movement does seem slow, indeed. But it’s also been said: “The best things are worth waiting for”. Likewise, I believe the best things are worth working for. The trick is to find ways (and reasons) to work together toward common goals, rather than picking arguments and conflicts in defense of selfish aims.

    “A tree is known by its fruit”. (We can do it)

    Actually, all rationally self-interested men have no mutual conflicts of interest or goals. For how and why, I’d refer you to the exposition of this reality as described by Rand in her essay “The Conflict of Rational Men’s Interest” in “The Virtue of Selfishness.”

    Cheers.

    Cheers!

  14. Cause and effect was not my intent. Rather, political freedom is empty and meaningless without economic freedom. “Economics” is generally a study of how to manage “scarcity”. But, as you have observed, there is no “scarcity” in the real world. Rather, modern society does not earn enough income to purchase its output production — because — economic scarcity is artificially imposed in a world of unlimited abundance by imperial centers of capital that monopolize common resources to siphon unearned income from the periphery of empire through inequitable trade mechanisms installed by law and enforced by military violence.

    In its most literal sense, capitalism is one person or entity deriving benefit from the exploitation of another person or entity. Unfortunately, some level of exploitation is inherently a factor of exchange (life) that can be either minimized or maximized, but never eliminated completely. But trust is another inherent component within the process of monetary exchange. When exploitation is deliberately and routinely maximized in the course of these events, essential trust is violated, resulting in dysfunctional and adversarial trade relationships.

    Forming regional alliances, many countries (and individuals) have discovered that democratic cooperation tends to be a far more equitable and efficient mode of production than irrational reliance upon the imperial dictates of monopoly capitalism. While some have actually coined the term “democratic capitalism” as a viable alternative to the current status quo, I reject this as an oxymoron.

    In my opinion, capitalism has emerged as the most powerful command economy structure in history, repelling every semblance of democracy in its path. Conversely, I also believe that true democracy is a guiding force of life that, if properly organized, is capable of harnessing every power in the universe of possibilities — including the productive marvels of capitalism. But “democratic theft” doesn’t seem like a fitting label for such an equitable phenomenon.

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