We Must Take On The Anti-Capitalists At Every Turn

WSJ.com – Eye on Europe
The riots in Seattle were one of the most embarrassing displays in recent memory, mostly because the participants didn’t have the foggiest notion what they were protesting or why. Their only argument was property destruction and railing against “the system”.

As this columnist points out, if they go unanswered they’ll win the argument regardless of merit. They have no notion of how wealth is created and aren’t interested. It’s the people on the fence we need to concern ourselves with. Adopting the anti-globalization agenda — from Kyoto, to transnational progressive – will be a giant leap backward for mankind.

The only system that has proven its ability to create wealth is capitalism. It’s also the only system consistent with life in a free society. If the transis have their way, Africa, a continent they claim to care about, will still have subsistence economies in a century and it will be their fault. Those of us who know better won’t be blameless, either.

At every turn, when you hear anti-Americanism you can suggest to the idiot spouting off that other countries could be just as prosperous as us if they adopted the right policies. Emulate, rather than castigate. That’s our motto. Well, mine anyway.

Back in 1936, v F.A. Hayek received a new book from a colleague, and contemplated writing a detailed criticism of it, but in the end decided against it. The theories in it were too flawed and incoherent, he thought, so no one would take them seriously. Surely the author himself would soon change his mind. Why waste time that could be used to develop his own thoughts?

The colleague was John Maynard Keynes, and the book was the General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money. When Keynesianism conquered the world’s economic ministries one by one, Hayek regretted his decision for the rest of his life.

We risk repeating Hayek’s error when we choose not to take anti-globalists seriously. Many serious thinkers adopt this approach, however. Typical are the comments of a trade economist who told me that it was a great waste of time to confront anti-capitalists. They are guided by ideology and not facts, and do not understand economic principles, so reasonable arguments won’t change their minds anyway.

This argument is fine as far as it goes, but it misses the point that anti-globalists must be met head on not to convince them, but to make sure they don’t convince others. If they are not challenged in a public debate, their confused views will guide all public policy soon.

As a side note, I remember when Hayek died. I was, naturally, in a hotel room in Highland Falls, NY in the spring of 1992. It was right around the time Bill Clinton made the infamous remark, “I didn’t inhale”, during the Democratic Presidential debates in New York. Strange that I remember that, but I had just read The Road To Serfdom a year or so earlier and was just starting to appreciate Hayek.

He was right in 1936 and the author is right today: if we don’t make the case for capitalism, silence will lose the argument for us.

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