Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Following up on The Profit Motive, what constitutes success?

Ask a socialist, and perverse to naive expectations, the word is almost certain to mean -financial- success.

Ask a capitalist, and perverse to naive expectations, the word is almost certain to mean something far more personal.

Socialism is to a great extent defined by its deification of money; sometimes it's an evil and vengeful god, sometimes a benevolent one whose worshipers are the real problem, but the theories of socialism are money-centric; in bygone eras they were property-centric.

Capitalism is not.  Do not be confused by its name, or forget that capitalism was named by its detractors, who saw capitalism as about ownership; socialism from its root was obsessed with wealth, and capitalism was named for the holders of wealth by people who saw the accumulation of wealth as an inherently bad thing.

Capitalism is defined by choice, as mentioned in the profit motive.  Most important of all, the choice on what to do with your life - a choice which is missing from socialism, though few socialists would admit that taxation at its root is the loss of choice about what ends your efforts go towards.

The modern rhetoric of war as a political metaphor - the war on drugs, the war on poverty, the war on illiteracy, the war on this and the war on that - this is a useful metaphor.  Because taxpayers are all draftees in that war, whether they want to be or not.  This is the root loss of choice, of freedom.

And all of these wars come down to a single artifact - measure of success.  Socialists want everybody to be successful, by a particular definition of success, without regard to other definitions - and theirs is the financial definition.  Poor in money but rich in love is not success to them, it is tragedy.

That's not to say the reverse is tragedy, either.  The beauty of choice is that the person who foregoes love for money is as free to do so as the person who foregoes money for love.  We choose our own success.  And by and large, we achieve it.

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