Marks of Marx
American attitudes and policies in relation to developments in the
Eastern regions of Europe and of Asia rest on the assumption that
a switch to "capitalistic" practices will ring in the
bells of freedom.
Both the word "capitalism" and the thesis that economics
determine the political structure come from Marx and have no foundation
in reality. Nonetheless, we have adopted these views with the fervor
of a gospel and even the least Marxist among us uses them as the
basis for rational argument. As a result, we are bound to make costly
mistakes on a grand scale.
Until recent times, the interested researcher looks in vain for
the word "capitalism" among the pages of the father of
all reference books: the Encyclopaedia Britannica. It is nowhere
to be seen in the famous Eleventh Edition, and the essay in the
1968 edition is written in purely Marxist terms.
Indeed, those are the only terms in which such an essay can be
written. Marxists have tried to disseminate the myth that Adam Smith
had coined the word, but of course he couldn't have: he was engaged
in creative thinking, not in political warfare.
The suffix "-ism" at the end of a word almost always
indicates a theory to which reality has to conform. Our free enterprise
system is the very opposite of that. Best described by Friedrich
Hayek as the "extended order of cooperation," its complexities
preclude any organization by mortals. It is the result of man's
creativity unleashed by the removal of artificial constraints.
Marx simply needed an "-ism" to be seen opposite his
own "-ism" to justify the war he and his followers conduct
in the name of "social justice." A glance at the ingredients
of his "capitalism" would persuade any rational person
that America's course invalidates it even on paper. Marx's capitalism
depends on a class that possesses nothing but its labor, called
the proletariat. The ownership of a single over-the-counter share
of stock transforms one into a "capitalist." Case closed.
That leaves us with the still greater trap of viewing the economic
structure of a society as the "foundation," and all matters
political and cultural as the "superstructure." Marx,
Since Marx's world of the future relied on the confiscation of people's
possessions, he had to tell himself, and the rest of us, that such
a development would produce the "desirable" effect in
all other realms of life. How generation after generation in free
countries - supposedly governed by common sense - buys into the
doctrine of foundation and superstructure is a measure of the immense
intellectual conquests of socialism.
In fact, observation of history teaches us the opposite. The unprecedented
and unparalleled wealth of this nation - and the ever-increasing
access to it by a constantly growing proportion of its people -
was built on a foundation of laws, morality and corresponding political
institutions, not the other way around.
Consequently, to assume that a few private businesses in Shanghai
will turn communist China into a society of free-thinking citizens,
living by the rule of law, is about as logical as the weekly speeches
by every communist party secretary in the Soviet Empire claiming
that "American imperialist monopoly capital is about to be
overthrown by the starving masses, and it is only a matter of time
before the American proletariat joins hands with the Socialist International."
Then there is Russia. That country has never been home to what
we would call legal concepts, has no working political institutions
in its 700-year history to "restore," and to believe otherwise
will be costly not only in economic but - more importantly - in
security terms. Perhaps the recent crash of the currency will open
That brings us to the "Pacific Rim," as the Far East
has been called ever since Lenin's "political correctness"
has replaced plain English. What seems only a few minutes ago, American
business had persuaded itself that "Europe was the past - the
Pacific Rim is the future." Thus, the domino-like collapse
of, even, the Japanese economic miracle is met with utter bewilderment.
It ought not to be. Unlike the United States, none of those countries
possesses foundations and traditions of law and corresponding political
institutions that can support a consistently expanding economic
universe. None has a concept of its own of freedom. None has unleashed
the boundless creativity of the individual which alone fuels the
engine of American business.
That reminds me: America's socialists have done away with the label
"American business." Instead, we now have "the private
sector," to the best of my knowledge a term of purely communist
origin and communist rationale. Or can someone can point to a different
Perhaps the same person can also tell us where "capitalism"
comes from, if not from Marx, and "politically correct,"
if not from Lenin.