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Category — Capitalism vs. Collectivism

“The Triumph of Capitalism” (Socialism is Intellectually Dead, but Central Planning in the Mixed Economy Lives On)

“Less than 75 years after it officially began, the contest between capitalism and socialism is over: capitalism has won… Capitalism organizes the material affairs of humankind more satisfactorily than socialism.”

- Robert Heilbroner, “The Triumph of Capitalism,” The New Yorker, January 23, 1989, p. 98.

A major event in the history of political economy thought occurred in 1989 when socialist economics writer Robert Heilbroner (1919–2005) renounced his belief in central planning in the pages of the New Yorker. For anti-market liberals, this made it official: socialism was out of the mainstream. Socialism could not plan a modern economy and was an open sesame for totalitarianism. Hayek said as much in his 1944 classic, The Road to Serfdom. A trusted voice on the Left confirmed it 45 years later.

David Boaz, the Cato Institute’s longtime scholar of liberty, wrote a tribute upon Heilbroner’s death nine years ago in Reason magazine. MasterResource, with permission, reprints Boaz’s essay for its lucidity and its relevance in today’s political economy debates where mainstream views about perilous man-made climate change and the sustainability of “green” energy are in intellectual trouble.

The Man Who Told the Truth: Robert Heilbroner fessed up to the failure of socialismReason, January 21, 2005. [Read more →]

February 7, 2014   3 Comments

Thanksgiving & Capitalism

In good economic times or bad, Thanksgiving is when Americans gather with their families and friends and enjoy the most special meal of the year. The event remembers those early Pilgrim Fathers who crossed the uncharted ocean from Europe to make a new start in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

What is less appreciated is that Thanksgiving also is a celebration of the birth of free enterprise in America.

The English Puritans, who left Great Britain and sailed across the Atlantic on the Mayflower in 1620, were not only escaping from religious persecution in their homeland. They also wanted to turn their back on what they viewed as the materialistic and greedy corruption of the Old World.

In the New World, they wanted to erect a New Jerusalem that would not only be religiously devout, but be built on a new foundation of communal sharing and social altruism. Their goal was the communism of Plato’s Republic, in which all would work and share in common, knowing neither private property nor self-interested acquisitiveness.

Collectivism Tried and Abandoned

What resulted is recorded in the diary of Governor William Bradford, the head of the colony. The colonists collectively cleared and worked land, but they brought forth neither the bountiful harvest they hoped for, nor did it create a spirit of shared and cheerful brotherhood. [Read more →]

November 22, 2012   4 Comments

Thanksgiving & Capitalism

“The true meaning of Thanksgiving … is the triumph of Capitalism over the failure of Collectivism in all its forms. In light of America’s current political debates over health care and energy, involving 25 percent of our economy, the message of Thanksgiving is more timely than ever.” – Professor Richard Ebeling

In good economic times or bad, Thanksgiving is when Americans gather with their families and friends and enjoy the most special meal of the year. The event remembers those early Pilgrim Fathers who crossed the uncharted ocean from Europe to make a new start in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

What is less appreciated is that Thanksgiving also is a celebration of the birth of free enterprise in America.

The English Puritans, who left Great Britain and sailed across the Atlantic on the Mayflower in 1620, were not only escaping from religious persecution in their homeland. They also wanted to turn their back on what they viewed as the materialistic and greedy corruption of the Old World.

In the New World, they wanted to erect a New Jerusalem that would not only be religiously devout, but be built on a new foundation of communal sharing and social altruism. Their goal was the communism of Plato’s Republic, in which all would work and share in common, knowing neither private property nor self-interested acquisitiveness.

Collectivism Tried and Abandoned

What resulted is recorded in the diary of Governor William Bradford, the head of the colony. The colonists collectively cleared and worked land, but they brought forth neither the bountiful harvest they hoped for, nor did it create a spirit of shared and cheerful brotherhood. [Read more →]

November 23, 2011   6 Comments

The True Meaning of Thanksgiving: Private Enterprise in America

[Editor’s Note: Richard Ebeling, a noted classical liberal scholar, teaches economics at Northwood University in Midland, Michigan. This post is reprinted with his permission from Northwood's blogsite, In Defense of Capitalism & Human Progress.]

This time of the year, whether in good economic times or bad, is when Americans gather with their families and friends and enjoy a Thanksgiving meal together. It marks a remembrance of those early Pilgrim Fathers who crossed the uncharted ocean from Europe to make a new start in Plymouth, Massachusetts. What is less appreciated is that Thanksgiving also is a celebration of the birth of free enterprise in America.

The English Puritans, who left Great Britain and sailed across the Atlantic on the Mayflower in 1620, were not only escaping from religious persecution in their homeland. They also wanted to turn their back on what they viewed as the materialistic and greedy corruption of the Old World.

In the New World, they wanted to erect a New Jerusalem that would not only be religiously devout, but be built on a new foundation of communal sharing and social altruism. Their goal was the communism of Plato’s Republic, in which all would work and share in common, knowing neither private property nor self-interested acquisitiveness.

What resulted is recorded in the diary of Governor William Bradford, the head of the colony. The colonists collectively cleared and worked land, but they brought forth neither the bountiful harvest they hoped for, nor did it create a spirit of shared and cheerful brotherhood.

The less industrious members of the colony came late to their work in the fields, and were slow and easy in their labors. Knowing that they and their families were to receive an equal share of whatever the group produced, they saw little reason to be more diligent in their efforts. The harder working among the colonists became resentful that their efforts would be redistributed to the more malingering members of the colony. Soon they, too, were coming late to work and were less energetic in the fields.

As Governor Bradford explained in his old English (though with the spelling modernized): [Read more →]

November 26, 2009   4 Comments