There’s a war of ideas ongoing. Capitalism is a key theater.
One adversary? The “Cultural Marxists.” The far left Southern Poverty Law Center slurs, as antisemitic, those who call out their work as such. I, a proud Semite, call that preposterous.
OK, all’s fair in love and war. To paraphrase Carl von Clausewitz, this is war conducted with the addition of other means.
There’s an academic trend to take Marx beyond economics to culture. Professor Daniel Koltonski of Amherst College, my own alma mater, states “critical theory” to be Marxism … with the addition of other means:
“Marx’s critique of capitalist economic relations is arguably just this kind of critical theory. As participants in a capitalist market economy, we fall into thinking of the economy in terms of private property rights, free exchange, the laws of supply and demand, etc., and, in so doing, we fall into thinking of capitalist economic relations as justified. …
“Marx argues that this way of thinking is nothing but ideology: it obscures … the pervasive and destructive forms of alienation, powerlessness, and exploitation that, in Marx’s view, define capitalist economic relations. Any prospects for change, reform, or for Marx, revolution requires first that people come to see capitalism for what it is, for they must first see the ways in which they themselves are alienated, powerless and exploited. …”
Might seem academic. Not! Consider the ongoing clash over “critical race theory.”
Attacks on capitalism are to be expected.
How few its defenders.
I, co-founder and chairman of the 199,876 member Capitalist League, now praise Dr. Rainer Zitelmann, a double Ph.D., historian, sociologist, author, and management consultant, as the reigning public intellectual champion of capitalism.
He is capitalism’s Thomas Picketty. Anti-capitalist Picketty’s works are extensively reviewed and on the bestseller lists.
Picketty benefits from tailwinds of the cultural elite’s inane fawning over Marxism and irredentist antagonism toward (Adam) Smithism, aka Capitalism. Picketty’s tailwinds are our headwinds.
Zitelmann’s work is rigorously data-driven. Not dogmatic. While the left, shrewdly, never lets the facts stand in the way of a good story, Zitelmann utterly demolishes its arguments.
All right (in both senses) thinking people should be enthusiastically promoting him.
Zitelmann recently came to Washington to present his latest book, “In Defense of Capitalism: Debunking the Myths,” at the prestigious Institute of World Politics.
There have been three “controlled experiments” between capitalism and communism. Hong Kong and Taiwan vs. mainland China. South Korea vs. North Korea. And the most relatable, to me: West Germany vs. East Germany.
In each, capitalism beat communism hands down for humane and ecological outcomes. It vaulted those who lived under capitalist systems far ahead in financial security, necessities, amenities, environmental quality, and, not least, liberty.
In the process, creating some obnoxious billionaires. Small price to pay!
I’m not alone in thinking this. Over three million people — 20% of its population — fled East Germany for West Germany in the twelve years after the end of WWII. Virtually none fled West to East.
This mass “voting with their feet” caused the East German communists to build the Berlin Wall to try to keep its people captive.
Zitelmann’s presentation commenced with a showing of his award-winning documentary, “Life Behind the Berlin Wall.” As he stated at The National Interest, it ” … does not focus on political oppression, but on the economy and the everyday lives of East and West Germans.”
Zitelmann rigorously quantifies how capitalism lets regular people improve their lives … and speaks mordantly about how Western intellectuals gullibly showed (and still show) great enthusiasm for communism, cheering on dictators like Stalin, Mao, and Hugo Chavez, then dismissing their catastrophic humanitarian failures as “not real socialism.”
“In Defense of Capitalism” is divided into three sections.
First, Zitelmann definitively dispels “The Ten Greatest Anti-Capitalist Fallacies.” Free sample: the fallacy that capitalism causes environmental destruction.
Untrue! Countries with the highest degree of economic freedom consistently have the highest environmental quality. Countries ranked most unfree have, “by far, the worst environmental performance.”
Second, Zitelmann shows that while anti-capitalism sounds lovely in theory … socialism consistently fails. Hey, 26 out of 26 catastrophic failures of socialism should teach a lesson.
No? Rivers’ Law: “There’s no education in the second kick of a mule!”
Third, Zitelmann addresses popular perceptions. He trenchantly observes, that, much as in real life marriage versus pulp romance novels, it is impossible for reality to beat an idealized fantasy.
Yet it only makes sense to compare reality with … reality. Back here in reality, capitalism beats socialism. Always.
That great capitalist tool Steve Forbes says, of Zitelmann’s latest work, “One of the most important books in decades defending capitalism. …” If you enjoy crushing your progressive frenemies’ arguments, buy it, read it and give many copies.
Welcome to the war of ideas. Zitelmann furnishes the ammo we need to win.
Ralph Benko, co-author of “The Capitalist Manifesto” and chairman and co-founder of “The Capitalist League,” is the founder of The Prosperity Caucus and is an original Kemp-era member of the Supply-Side revolution that propelled the Dow from 814 to its current heights and world GDP from $11T to $94T. Read Ralph Benko’s reports — More Here.
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