I‘ve recently witnessed an interesting phenomenon: self-hating capitalists. The sort of people who still hold all the same perspectives and notions as I, but who are ashamed of publicly admitting what they are – and associating with the likes of me, a capitalist who isn’t afraid to let my colors show. But the reasons they give are understandable enough, I suppose, as they strive to bridge the gap between the right and left, and relabel capitalism as something more favorable-sounding to young voters.
Now, I have argued many times in the past myself that reaching across the aisle and building alliances is a good thing, but when a proposition as drastic as completely shedding your outward identity in order to make nice comes along, it needs to be taken very seriously. What are the motivations? Are they sound?
Well, in this case, I would argue that in fact the reasons are not sound at all. And the reason why is simple enough: whenever legitimate criticism of a movement or state of society comes along, it serves us all well to listen and reconsider our affiliations (as is the case with modern feminism, which many brilliant feminists themselves have now chosen to disassociate themselves from altogether due to the movement as whole shifting into radicalism). But in this case, we have a few problems that make the desire to ditch the “capitalism” label a little wobbly.
First and foremost, those most critical of capitalism today are those of the millennial generation, and unfortunately, millennials have no idea what they’re talking about. So why would we want to give an ignorant demographic the power to change our message when said demographic’s criticisms make absolutely no sense and are based on falsehoods?
Second, “capitalism” itself isn’t really an “ism,” per se, as I have argued before. It’s kind of a misnomer when one thinks about it, because free market capitalism at least is just the natural state of markets when left alone. So to try and “reform” or rebrand it as if it’s a political movement more than it is just a resulting function of free trade is sloppy, and could even be seen as ignorant. It’s not a movement in the first place, therefore it cannot evolve to a point of forsaking its origin points like feminism can and arguably has, so it’s not fair to behave equally toward both entities.
Third, unadulterated capitalism has shown nothing but amazing progress for humanity. Brilliant economist Deirdre McCloskey has written in her book Bourgeois Equality, as well as elsewhere, on just how much wealth and opportunity free markets, entrepreneurship, and social celebration of such things, has brought upon the world, and her most potent point in the book, as American Enterprise Institute fellow James Pethokoukis succinctly phrased it, is that “greater wealth means more opportunities; not just stuff.”
And yet we still see people clamoring to put a new name to this glorious, historically humanitarian system – rather than simply take the time to properly educate the naysayers. There are “free market non-capitalists” now, apparently, as well as “voluntryists” and a plethora of other weasel-worded circumventers that all more or less amount to the same thing – capitalists who don’t like the word “capitalist.” But until this lot – along with the supposed socialists, for that matter – stop using their iPhones, stop drinking their Starbucks, stop blogging on their computers, stop making profits off their own work (i.e. you artists out there), and stop being compliant beneficiaries and utilizers of the very system they claim to despise, not a single, solitary one of them deserve to taken seriously. We can presume that ignorance simply prevails in these cases. And as such, I for one do not wish to further validate it by bowing to the misconceptions about the single greatest market innovation in human history.
I hope many of those reading this will join me in my stubbornness.