It’s About Freedom

row-of-us-dollar-signsArthur Brooks, at  The Wall Street Journal suggests that there’s a bit of a culture war going on about the future of capitalism.  The headline suggests that “The Real Culture War Is Over Capitalism “

There is a major cultural schism developing in America. But it’s not over abortion, same-sex marriage or home schooling, as important as these issues are. The new divide centers on free enterprise — the principle at the core of American culture.

I dare suggest Brooks in this quote, has this exactly backward.  He’s pointing at a symptom and labeling at the root cause. Not that I blame him, really.  It’s been so long since we’ve dealt with things on the level of principle that even the more learned among us get it garbled in translation.

I agree with Arthur that this is a war that is cultural in its nature. However, the war over capitalism, as he calls it, is part of the war on culture because capitalism in its truest sense can only exist in a free society, which is a culturally generated condition.  It is the product of a particular variety of culture that…  (at least until recently)…  we here in these United States have been blessed with. What I am suggesting is that the principle at the core of the American culture is in fact freedom, of which capitalism is a product.

While it is true that there are a few places in the communist world, China for example, where capitalism raises its head in some form, it is diluted in the extreme. It is in fact, capitalism in name only.  Alas in the view of many, a goodly number of which were out on the front lines of the tea party protests last month, that kind of weak as dishwater capitalism, capitalism in name only, is the path that we have been set on long ago, and have taken several leaps toward in the recent dealings between the White House the united auto workers unions had left of the American car manufacturing companies, and the banking industry.

Freedom, in the end, is an issue of morals, the proper application of morals. It is purely a morality issue. So it is, that very few people were surprised when the current administration left an over- large the bill for our offspring to pay for bailing out the aforementioned united auto workers union, and for whatever else the government decided they were going to use it for in the name of “recovery”. There’s an immorality at the center of the current administrations actions that cannot be ignored.

In the end, that morality issue is what the Tea Parties were all about. being populated,  by and large people who haven’t walked away from their mortgages who don’t want the government largess and who certainly aren’t interested in the government taking their pockets to pay for people who did walk away from their mortgages who do want government largess and don’t care about much else.  You see…. Theft, of whatever kind, is also a morality issue.

I must be fair….Brooks gets it partially right, here, when he says:

Social Democrats are working to create a society where the majority are net recipients of the “sharing economy.” They are fighting a culture war of attrition with economic tools. Defenders of capitalism risk getting caught flat-footed with increasingly antiquated arguments that free enterprise is a Main Street pocketbook issue. Progressives are working relentlessly to see that it is not.

Advocates of free enterprise must learn from the growing grass-roots protests, and make the moral case for freedom and entrepreneurship.

Well, I’ll give him 7 points  out of ten; he’s getting close to the principles of the thing, but he’s not quite there yet.

Entrepreneurship is a product of capitalism, and cannot exist outside that environment.  Capitalism in it’s turn, is a product of freedom. Similarly, capitalism cannot exist outside an environment of freedom, which is in turn a product of morality.

In the end, what the protesters on April 15 were arguing for was that the government start acting morally.  It’s something that they haven’t done for quite some time.  Of course, there are those who will argue that moral judgments in the political world amount to a litmus test.  They are quite correct, of course it does.  But since when is that a bad thing?  Let me tell you, my friends, when you hear somebody dismissing something as a litmus test what you are really hearing is someone arguing that principles should not be applied.  There lies a snake.

It is clear that the Democrat party are never going to return to that level of morality, will never understand the relationship of morality freedom and capitalism , and wouldn’t admit it if they did.  It is then left to the Republican Party to make those connections and to trumpet their virtues.  The Republicans for their part are only going to be returning to power to the direct degree that they understand those relationships, and championed the principles behind them.

Addendum: (David L)

Who better to explain markets and freedom than Milton Frindman.   Capitalism isn’t a system.   Rather a free market economy is simply what free people do.   This video is not exactly on point, but ot is hard to wrong with Friedman.   The last half of the video is Mark Levin rant, video:

Friedman understands the  market economy, and Levin understands Obama.

Cross-posted from BitsBlog.

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