The One Minute Case For Capitalism

Capitalism a social system based on the principle of individual rights.

A capitalist society is based on the recognition of individual rights, including property rights. Under capitalism, all property is privately owned, and the state is separated from economics just as it is from religion. Economically, capitalism is a system of laissez-faire, or free markets, where the government plays no part whatsoever in economic decisions.

Capitalism is the only social system compatible with the requirements of man’s life

To pursue the values necessary for his life a society, man requires only one thing from others: freedom of action. Freedom means the ability to act however one pleases as long as one does not infringe on the same and equal freedom of others.   In a political context, freedom means solely the freedom from the initiation of force by other men. Only by the initiation of force can man’s rights be violated. Whether it is by a theft, force, fraud, or government censorship, man’s rights can be violated only by the initiation of force. Because man’s life depends on the use of reason to achieve the values necessary for his life, the initiation of force renders his mind useless as a means of survival. To live, man must achieve the values necessary to sustain his live. To achieve values, man must be free to think and to act on his judgment. To live, man must be free to think. To be free to think, man must be free to act. In the words of Ayn Rand, “Intellectual freedom cannot exist without political freedom; political freedom cannot exist without economic freedom; a free mind and a free market are corollaries.”

Capitalism recognizes the inherent worth of the individual

In a human society – one that recognizes the independence of each man’s mind – each individual is an end in himself.  He owns his life, and no one else’s.  Other men are not his slaves, and he is not theirs.  They have no claim on his life or on the values he creates to maintain his life, and he has no claim on theirs.  In a free society, men can gain immense values from each other by voluntarily trading the values they create to mutual gain.  However, they can only create values if they are free to use their minds to exercise their creativity.  A man is better living off on his own than as a slave to his brothers.  Capitalism recognizes each man as an independent, thinking being.

The individual is an end in himself

Just as no individual has the right to initiate force against anyone, neither does any group of men, in any private or public capacity. It is immoral to initiate force against any individual for any reason. This includes the initiation of force for “the public good.” The “public” is merely a collection of individuals, each possessing the same rights, and each being an end in himself. Any attempt to benefit the “public good” is an immoral attempt to provide a benefit to one group of individuals at the expense of another. In a free society, no individual benefits at the expense of another: men exchange the values they create in voluntary trade to mutual gain. The rule of law in a free society has just one purpose: to protect the rights of the individual.

Capitalism leads to freedom and prosperity

A free, capitalist economy has never existed anywhere in the world. The closest the world came to a free market was during the Industrial Revolution in Great Britain and during the late 19th century in the United States. The Industrial Revolution was a period of unprecedented economic growth and unimaginable improvements in quality of life. In less than two hundred years, the life of most people in the Western world changed from a short life filled with poverty, plague, and near-constant war to a modern, comfortable existence that even the kings of medieval Europe couldn’t have imagined.  Since 1820, the leading capitalist nations have increased their wealth sixteen fold, their populations more than four-fold, their productivity twenty-fold.  Annual working hours went from 3,000 to less than 1,700 and life expectancy doubled from thirty to over seventy years. 1

Yet despite the undeniable material superiority of capitalist societies, its critics continue to attack it as inhuman and selfish.  What the world lacks is not evidence of capitalism’s practical superiority, but a moral defense of a man’s right to his own life.


  1. Angus Maddison. Phases of Capitalist Development, p4 (1982)

Further Reading


Filed under Economics, Politics

78 Responses to The One Minute Case For Capitalism

  1. Pingback: The One Minute Case For Individual Rights | The One Minute Case

  2. Marshal Anderson

    “In a free society, no individual benefits at the expense of another: men exchange the values they create in voluntary trade to mutual gain.”

    I guess that this is the nub of it – our experience of capitalism in the real world is that many individuals benefit at the expense of others. This is maybe the mirror of the argument for communism; from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs. Our experience of communism in the real world shows that’s not what happens either.

    That leads me, personally, to feel that some sort of regulation is needed. It seems that governments make quite a mess of that and I guess my dream is that corporations see themselves as part of the community and treat others with respect rather than seeing everything as an opportunity for financial gain.

    Huggs :O)

    • Thomas Smith

      more accurately capitalistic controlled government makes a mess of things, they always try to take wealth from the masses and give it to the top 1%

  3. Daniel Arcand

    I feel this is a very well written argument, fluid and enjoyable to read, however it makes not a single point with which to defend capitalism from the critism it receives.

    The comment above my own here does a much better job of pointing out the harsher truth of the capitalistic system; while in design all men are equal and therefor should benefit equally in a free system, because capitalism is fueled by greed, invariably the few will benefit off the toils of the many.

  4. Orlin

    My dear fella. How can private property allow freedom by the means of “Freedom means the ability to act however one pleases as long as one does not infringe on the same and equal freedom of others”

    How can me having 99.9% of the worlds land for exmample will allow you to exercise your freedom? I will be perfectly capitalistic freedom for me but you will have to be mislead that you are “free”. You are, but in the boundaries that those guys, with possession in terms of private property give you, negotiated with the state – the most artificial construct, created to protect the guys with private property keep it.


  5. Dan Said: Invariably the few will benefit off the toils of the many.

    Would the few be tax payers and the many be government workers?

    In the real world, the only ones with true monopolistic power is that of the state. Your failure comes in that you see every transaction as a zero sum game. I assure you that most are not. The only ones that are are state induced.

  6. Agorist


    “…the boundaries that those guys, with possession in terms of private property give you, negotiated with the state…”

    Hear Hear! Dismantle the state! Strong Capitalists (like myself) would agree with you in that the states collusion with certain individuals kills the poor and is unfair. In a capitalist (anarcho-capitalist, to be more accurate) society, the state would not keep the market from functioning through taxes (theft) and redistribution, and people could act according to their own volition and values.

  7. Ben

    I think that the state has some very limited usefulness. It seems that it would be a good way to enforce property rights and contracts. then again private enterprises could do this too….

  8. Michael Groves

    I hear all this talk of “equality”, and I wonder what that is, exactly? Are we hoping for a society where everyone has the same amount of money, and the same kind of car and house etc? Or are we talking about treating people equally, so that they have equal opportunities? If it’s purely the latter, then we have to accept that some people will be more successful in seizing those opportunities, simply because humans differ in their talents, drive, intelligence, physical abilities, aspirations, etc.

    Equal treatment (a capitalist ideal) always results in unequal outcomes. The converse is also true – if we control a system to produce equal outcomes (a communist ideal), then we have to treat people very differently. Either way, there is unfairness – there’s just a trade-off between equal opportunities and equal outcomes.

    Imagine yourself being able to look down at Earth before being born, and wondering if you were going to be born good looking, intelligent, to a wealthy family, or born disabled and penniless in the slums of Bangladesh. I suspect you would wish for a system that gives people equal opportunities (Capitalism), thus allowing those with abilities to make the most of them. But you would also want those with disadvantages to be assisted, even at the expense of the better off, so that they can also lead satisfying lives.

    I consider myself a capitalist and a libertarian at heart, but I certainly see a place for some kind of redistributive mechanism, so that all the wealth and power doesn’t end up in the hands of the most capable, the most driven, and the most ruthless.

    • Jeff

      If it were that simple. Capitalism is in its infant stages, and we have much to learn about the final outcome. But what we are seeing is not optimistic.

      Let me make just one point with this limited space: The Bush tax cuts allowed for a progressive increase tax exempt inherited money until the beginning of 2011. Allowing those who perhaps are not able to produce for the greater good and be justly compensated for their efforts is circumvented by these foolish laws. Maybe the Wal-Mart decedents are not as business savvy as Sam, but they still get to live a lavish lifestyle. If you’re a true capitalist you must agree that policy fails to agree with the proclamation that praises capitalism stated above.

  9. Mike

    I think this argument is well written and provides good points, but the generality leads to misconceptions and even left out pieces of capitalism, the part that is slowly tearing mankind apart.

  10. Tom

    In your paragraph “The individual is an end in himself” you argue that the initiation of force for “the public good” is immoral as it is just an attempt to provide a benefit to one group of individuals at the expense of another. The fallacy of your line of thought follows in your statement that “no individual benefits at the expense of another.”

    The majority of people would be happy to work only for the benefit of their own labor but there are the individuals who will selfishly exploit others when there is no societal oversight to reign in their actions. A good example is the current financial situation where the actions of a few to exploit others (who were ignorant of their own peril) has caused a cascade of events that now effects all of us, even those who didn’t get a bad home loan, or make risky investments. Proper regulation could have prevented all this.

  11. Marshal Anderson :

    I guess that this is the nub of it – our experience of capitalism in the real world is that many individuals benefit at the expense of others.

    What you describe is not capitalism, but the coersive effects of socialist policies. In a capitalist economy, individuals only engage in transactions if they are to their mutual benefit.

    “The majority of people would be happy to work only for the benefit of their own labor but there are the individuals who will selfishly exploit others when there is no societal oversight to reign in their actions.”

    People will always act selfishly. Your only choice is whether selfish people are bureaucrats voting with guns, or consumers voting with dollars.

    Exploitation is only possible in coersive transactions – an aspect of interventionist and socialist economies.

    Tom :

    The majority of people would be happy to work only for the benefit of their own labor but there are the individuals who will selfishly exploit others when there is no societal oversight to reign in their actions. A good example is the current financial situation where the actions of a few to exploit others (who were ignorant of their own peril) has caused a cascade of events that now effects all of us, even those who didn’t get a bad home loan, or make risky investments. Proper regulation could have prevented all this.

    The current economis crisis was not caused by a lack of regulation, but by too much regulation. The financial industry is the single most regulated industry in the economy. The failing institutions are precisely the ones that New Deal policies were meant to protect us from: the FDIC was supposed to prevent bank runs, the SEC was supposed to be stop shady investments, Fannie May and Freddie Mac were supposed to make sure that loans went to people who deserved them.

    Opportunistic politicians are quick to blame the capture of regulatory institutions on lobbyists and “special interests.” They promise to fix the problem by giving yet more money and power to corrupt government agencies, much like a mob boss who blames his enforcers for his protection schemes, and then promises his victims to lay off them if they just give him more guns and money.

    The only reason that special interests are so involved in government is that the government has ingrained itself so deeply in our lives. Giving more power to the state to regulate markets and redistribute wealth and privileges from one group to another only increases the incentive to strengthen one’s political connections.

  12. Lou

    Capitalism is precisely that, it guarantees only the opportunity to compete. The outcome is not fair or predictable. It exposes the short sited, and ill equipped, and leads them to proclaim that the system is not fair. It produces tremendous winners but also lifts the boats of all that compete. The highest standards of living in the world are in capitalist societies. The “invisible hand” is still the most efficient means of creating wealth, and only the intrusive hand of the government can cause the disequilibrium that create the crisis we are experiencing today.

    • Jeff

      You might think it’s the most efficient way to create wealth, but is wealth creation the only measure of a great society?

      When “pure” capitalism is left unguarded it leads to wealth reduction for most people within a society. Extrapolated forward even the wealthy will lose, because there are fewer people contributing to the wealth of society.

      Can’t you see what is happening now in the USA? Pure capitalism is not a perfect system for any just and humane society.

      Ayn Rand’s thoughts were clearly incomplete.

  13. Uncle B

    The French revolution happened, the Latin American revolutions happened, the Cuban revolution happened – Democracy, a precious thing on this earth, currently harbors a malignat capitalism we can all do without!

  14. William Wilgus

    Sorry, but Capitalism is merely a method of finance/ownership. Unfortunately, giving it additional attributes is a common mistake.

  15. William Wilgus :

    Sorry, but Capitalism is merely a method of finance/ownership. Unfortunately, giving it additional attributes is a common mistake.

    Entrepreneurship and private property cannot exist without a political system that recognizes individual rights. This requires a particular moral philosophy, which in turn entails a particular epistemology and metaphysics. As a social and political ideal, capitalism is not equivalent to the form markets take in any particular country. To claim that capitalism is “merely” Wall Street while ignoring its political and moral basis,
    is like claiming that music is “merely” different frequencies of sound, while ignoring the existence of melody, harmony, rhythm, musical instructuments, or musicians.

  16. Arnold T

    Crazy Utopian Gardens of Economic Eden. There is no such thing as pure capitalism, nor communism nor any other man-made system. There is only how people actually behave, which is messy and sloppy and most of all…. illogical to the extreme at times.

    The Utopian dream of pure Free-Market Capitalism or Neo-Liberalism or Libertarianism or Austrian Schoolism or Misesism or whatever form of pure Capitalism you choose will fail. Because there are humans within the economic system, they will fail.

    The illogical emotional makeup of man will cause Capitalism to implode. Capitalism is inherently unstable due to man’s imperfect decision making processes.

    The stupid investor and businessman will forever and again speculate beyond reason. It is inherent in his makeup. The vision of dollar signs in his eyes will blind people to stupid, ponzi scheme runnups in prices. The booms and busts of man’s making will always remind people of their stupidity.

    Capitalism is a self-defeating system left to it’s own devices. Without policing, it is like a failed state; no law, no order, just chaos and confusion.

    Chaos Capitalism or Free-Market Capitalism if you will, is assured to fail as it has so many times in history. The last major world wide depression brought us Hitler, Stalin and Mao, Communism, Fascism and Nazism. A disaster for capitalism is a disaster for everyone.

    Managed Capitalism is the best capitalism. Just like a well managed corporation, the leaders and management determine the success of the enterprise. A nation cannot excel without good management, citizen and business rules, organized plans, setting of priorities and most important, high goals.

    The individuals must be given the tools to excel whether education or financing or equipment to get the job done. So too the business community must be given the tools for growth with competitive infrastructures and the like.

    Economics is not so simple as to have a pure Utopian ideal. The real world is messy and sloppy and imperfect. The real world will never conform to idealism in economics.

  17. step back

    So I live at top of hill and own the fresh water stream that runs thru “MY” property.
    One day, I make a free capitalist’s choice & dump poisons into “MY” part of the stream.
    You live downstream (of course) and make a free capitalist’s choice to drink water from the stream.
    Hey. All’s fair in love and capitalism.

  18. step back :

    So I live at top of hill and own the fresh water stream that runs thru “MY” property.
    One day, I make a free capitalist’s choice & dump poisons into “MY” part of the stream.
    You live downstream (of course) and make a free capitalist’s choice to drink water from the stream.
    Hey. All’s fair in love and capitalism.

    In a capitalist society, damages caused by pollution are prevented by protecting property rights. It is the lack of property rights, not capitalism which is responsible for environmental destruction, as the history of socialist states aptly demonstrates. Only in a socialist economy, where property is not privately owned is your scenario possible.

    See this for more:

  19. Good article! Nice clear and concise reasons that capitalism is the best system for our country. I added a link to this article on my blog.

  20. Pingback: Link to The One Minute Case for Capitalism | Flyover Country

  21. @ HeroicLife
    I agree with HeroicLife. He is correct about opportunities and individual rights. A groups can not have rights greater then any individual can have. “Collective Action has no Unique Moral Authority.”
    I would argue that capitalism is not a political, economic or even a social system but a moral system.

    Men and Women of high morals who choose to abide by certain principles. For one creating more value then they consume. This is what a capitalist company will do. A capitalist will make use of what is available to him or trade or sell. “Agency Implies Stewardship”. Use it or lose it. And you won’t lose it because a government will take it away but because principles govern. Anyways that’s all I got to say for now.

  22. baldygirl

    @Michael Groves
    There are plenty of folks out there with money, power and no talent or ability. Inheritance ensures that, as well as the public’s stupid obsession with everything celebrity. Paris Hilton talented? Please!

    Not to mention that capitalist insitutions seem to ignore the well-being of the proletariat who make the riches of the person at the top of their pyramid scheme of income production possible.

    Capitalism can bite me.

  23. Uncle B

    The current cancerous, exploitative, unregulated, vulture capitalism, using the corporation as a weapon against humanity and for the bottom line ROI only, current American capitalism, is a sad, sick, return to the middle ages and the downfall of democracies the world over! We in America must re-define the corporation, and re-regulate capitalism to fit democracy and the worker’s plight, before it rapes us into poverty and destroys our dollar! China may have the final say; as of now, and due to Wall Street, the Banksters, Shylocks, swindlers, and thieves in charge in America, the ball is in their field! Communists of all things, were given over control by greedy Americans! I’ll be Damned!

  24. glorybe

    Capitalism is a negative. It really has never existed although it may be said that some nations have been more capitalistic than others. Capitalism usually requires growth and growth is the path to disaster.
    Further, historical thoughts are invalid. Robotics, computers and automation will soon eliminate the need for all human labor and intellect. We will require each person to receive a governmental support check as a consequence. It has been suggested that the government install a mandatory gambling event so that those who are kept on pensions will be forced to compete with each other, thus preserving a social pecking order as the notion of earning a living is about to become historic

  25. capitalism is poison

    Why is there a link to this in my gmail???
    being that you thrust this on me thanks to the gross misallocation of “property” which has bequeathed upon us as much an empty aesthetic of progress and development as it has promoted ecocide on an unimaginible scale, here’s how I feel:
    You can decorate and justify your own sociopathic hubris all day saying that it’s just not free enough or whatever… but this shit can’t last. Probably should have never happened in the first place. People are going to start brushing up against your illusion property and perhaps you will rediscover that you own nothing, not even your name. You mr high falutin businessman are screwing with our Commons. Don’t think that just because you recite this psychobabble all day that everybody just sees it and either believes it or thinks it’s inevitable progress. A suprising number of people recognize it for exactly what it is: totally inept, way overextended, and a filter for the worst qualities in human behavior rising to the top. Don’t flatter yourself and think you’re so much better, you just don’t have the constitution to be anything but a sell out. Enjoy your money now, cuz one day you’ll be eating it.

  26. Anthony

    The fairest system is one in which those with the knowledge and ambition succeed, even if they fail one or more times. Those who wish to not put out will receive very little or nothing at all. A system cannot be fair to all if government taxes those who produce to give to those who won’t. What is wrong with a high income earner keeping most of their check?

  27. step back

    In response to your comment 17:

    Love Canal happened in a capitalist system.
    Privatize the profit.
    Socialize the burdens.
    Makes good “business” sense.

  28. admin

    step back,

    The United State is not and has never been a fully capitalist society.
    Love Canal is an example of socialism. I am opposed to socialism.


  29. step back

    Ha ha.
    I’m talking about Love Canal *before* the gov’t stepped in to help the hapless home owners. I’m talking about private sector greed that concentrates profits to itself and distributes liabilities and hurts to the general public. The builders of Love Canal knew they were building residential homes on a toxic waste dump. They chose to hide that itty biddy piece of info from home buyers. Caveat emptor, aye?

    Trouble with a 1-minute mind is that it doesn’t allow you to think things out to their full consequences. If you were truly a pure, free markets capitalist you would allow for free trading of all drugs, for selling of “protection” to store owners by entrepreneurial Mafia bosses and so on. Is that the kind of world you want to live in? Not me. 😉

  30. Mikey

    It is interesting, above all things, to think about what makes one powerful in a capitalist society. Power under capitalism comes from one’s ownership of capital, which (ideally) one uses to produce and create jobs and prosperity for all involved.

    However, the reality of the situation is not nearly so idyllic. Capitalism and democracy are very different things. In a truly democratic society, everybody would have equal say in how resources are used and how work is done. Under capitalism, however, all resources are privately owned and everybody competes for ownership. Those who have more resources (read: capital) have the means to gather even more and most resources end up in the hands of the few. Those that were born without the affluence to produce have NO CHOICE but to sell the only capital they have left, their labor, to those that own the resources. By their labor, they produce everything while those who own the resources profit from that labor. The owning class determines how people will work for them because most other people have to work to secure things like food, water, shelter, and medical care (which are also privately owned).

    In all reality, it is a system in where the most ruthless of us are the most likely to succeed and reach the top. If you’re willing to go that extra mile by dumping your waste into the water of a poor community and up your profits by a few points, you get more capital, which gives you the power to acquire more still. In total free-market capitalism, the logical end result is that of the monopoly, run by those who were the strongest, most ruthless competitors who were willing to do ANYTHING to get to their seat of power.

    And people that work for a living are by no means getting the value of their labor compensated. Say a factory worker makes $1000 worth of machinery a day. I am willing to bet my left nut he gets payed no more than $100 for every day he works. The disparity of the value of what is produced by those who work and what they are actually paid is profit, and it is the driving force behind capitalism.

    It’s time we moved on. This isn’t the best of all possible worlds, and if anybody tells you it is, they are wrong. It’s time we freed ourselves from the shackles of money and greed.

    (A) = order

  31. Truth

    “Personally, I’m in favor of democracy, which means that the central institutions of society have to be under popular control. Now, under capitalism, we can’t have democracy by definition. Capitalism is a system in which the central institutions of society are in principle under autocratic control. Thus, a corporation or an industry is, if we were to think of it in political terms, fascist; that is, it has tight control at the top and strict obedience has to be established at every level – there’s little bargaining, a little give and take, but the line of authority is perfectly straightforward. Just as I’m opposed to political fascism, I’m opposed to economic fascism. I think that until the major institutions of society are under the popular control of participants and communities, it’s pointless to talk about democracy.” – Noam Chomsky

  32. Ben

    Capitalism is the only democratic system. Every dollar is a vote. Everyone votes for what they think is the best by buying it. Now the reason that some people have more “say” in this is that others have voted for them before by buying their product. You don’t just magically get money, people GIVE it to you.

    Your analogy of the factory worker not being fairly compensated is so amazingly flawed. The worker may have “produced” $1000 worth of product that day, but he is only one person in a long line that had something to do with it. That is like saying that the cashier at Walmart should keep all of the money for the items that they ring up. Now if the factory worker owned the machines, the factory and mined the metal to make the product and sold it to the end user he would have made $1000. But all he did was assemble it, he didnt pay for the building or the machines the tools or the materials. This is why he was only paid $100. The other $900 was used in the other steps of production of the item.

  33. step back

    Ben (@#30)

    If every dollar is a vote, how come some people (i.e. Helicopter Ben) can print all the votes they want and others can’t? Where’s the fairness in that? BTW, Did you get the same number of “votes” under TARP as some of Hank Paulson’s friends got? And if yes, then good for you. It means you are one of the more equal pigs on the Animal Farm.

  34. Ben

    My example is referring to capitalism. What we have now in the US isnt even close to capitalism. We have a strange mix of fascism corporatism and mercantilism. There is still some private ownership of capital but the government controls far too much of the economy to really call it capitalism. tons of regulations are another way the gov makes this less of a capitalist system. If some one can tell you what you can and cant do with some thing, then they own it.

  35. step back


    Very funny. Well in that case, the church “owns” some of your critical thinking organs. 😉

  36. Arnold T

    What a bunch of malarkey. This article is just Utopian, Garden of Eden, thinking. It has no basic in reality. The real world is messy and complex and any attempt to make it a pristine vision of idealism is doomed to adjunct failure.

    All this talk about individual freedom is sickening. The fact is, man is a social creature who must make sacrifices of personal freedoms in order to procure the freedoms of a good life as opposed to a perfect Utopian ideal.

    The author ignores reality and lives in a fantasy world. He should write science fiction.

  37. Michael Groves

    @Arnold T
    “All this talk about individual freedom is sickening. The fact is, man is a social creature who must make sacrifices of personal freedoms…”

    You might view yourself that way. I am an individual first, and a member of society a distant second. My co-operation with my fellow man is one that is voluntary and based on mutual benefit – i.e. trade.

    I allow myself to be subjected to laws in recogonition of the fact that if everyone else also follows the rules, that is to *my* benefit.

  38. Arnold T

    Your just denying reality and instinct. Man has never accomplished anything alone. He has always worked in groups. It is the way we are and you cannot deny nature.

    You are not an individual, you are part of a larger group which allows you to benefit from the efforts of the whole, Most supposed individuals work for someone else within a company. And we all live within a local city, county, state and nation.

    The fact is, you have a natural instinct to belong to a group. It is overwhelming whether you admit it or not. You are a patriot or a traitor in most peoples minds. This is called nationalism, the group, the commune that you adhere to.

    There are always the anti-social personalities, but most of us willingly throw ourselves into a group at many different levels. And belonging to a group does not come without restrictions, many of them in fact. This forces cohesiveness amongst groups through fairness and a sense of security that people take care of their own kind.

    Just look at the Republicans and their insistence that everybody toe the party line or be punished. This is not what you call respect for individualism and freedom. This is a blatant attempt to manipulate people into a position where they do not have the freedom to disagree.

    But if you adhere to the party, then you will reap the benefits of pork, tax cuts and favors of all kind.

  39. Arnold T

    Get real people. Your platitudes of a perfect world where everybody just gets along and respects each others freedoms is a joke.

    The world is not fair and those with the economic power will always take more than their fair share. Be warned that you are being ripped off by Wall Street and then convinced that Republican Wall Street is your friend. Suckers.

  40. Ben

    @Arnold T
    Groups of people are just that. They are a group of individuals. They are individuals first and a group second. You have no access to the thoughts of others without them telling you. The fact that we have private thoughts hidden from the minds of others is what makes us human. If we were the borg and could all know what all members of the collective were thinking at all times them I might agree that a group is something more than a collection of individuals.

    Group rights do not exist as groups do not exist. Individual rights are the only kind of right that there are as individuals are the basic building block of human societies. If the individuals do not have rights then by definition a collection of individuals can not have rights.

  41. step back

    Arnold T

    You are not alone.
    I agree with you.
    Man is a herd animal.
    No man is an island.
    From the dawn of time, man has survived by being part of a cooperative tribal unit. To believe otherwise is to be steeped into denialism about what and who we are.

  42. Arnold T

    Your a light weight and just making stuff up in your mind, wishing it were true.

    Evolutionary psychology does indeed show how humans have instincts that are not as individualistic as you might think. The primary drive for survival demands that we work in groups, communities.

    Humans have a built in desire to form hierarchies. We willingly, instinctively know that we must have a boss, a leader. We know that we must follow that leader if we are to be successful as a group and for ourselves.

    Those that do not follow orders get fired, are unemployed and fail as individuals. We label these types of individuals anti-socials, unemployable, bums, misfits.

  43. Michael Groves

    Arnold T,

    We ARE social animals, I agree. And we do tend to thrive and prosper as individuals when we co-operate, rather than working alone. That’s *why* we co-operate – it makes our individual lives better.

    But our unique human consciousness is individual – we each recognise ourselves as the centre of our *own* universes, and pursue our *own* dreams. If you are interested in evolutionary psychology in this context, you might find Prof Steven Pinker’s “The Blank Slate” and “How the Mind Works” both enlightening reads.

    I’ll co-operate with you because it’s in my own “selfish” interests to do so. As soon as you try to coerce me to do things that are contrary to my own interests, “for the good of the community”, then you lose my co-operation.

    In reality, we’re probably not a million miles apart in our understanding of the facts of human interaction, but we are poles apart in our conclusion of where our *primary* interests lie.

    Speaking for myself, I’ll reiterate, *I* am an individual first and foremost, and a member of society a long way behind. This lies at the heart of my capitalist and libertarian leanings.

  44. Michael Groves

    While I obviously agree with you about the individual vs worker-bee thing, I think you are on shaky ground when you refer to “rights”. At the end of the day, there are no rights other than those that can be, and are, enforced. And this is usually (but not always) decided on, and done, by the community.

    You and I might (or might not) agree on what rights an individual *should* have, but they are not “inalienable rights” or ordained by God – they are really just wishful thinking about the way things should be.

    But since most individuals have similar aspirations and fears, it’s generally possible to agree on a core set of “rights”, and then communally enforce them. (Of course, since most people aren’t very analytical,the “agreement” is implicit in their acceptance of whatever the regime imposes, but history shows us that prosperity and stability tend to go along with economic freedom, i.e. strong individual “rights” and strictly curtailed communal/authoritarian “rights”).

  45. Ben

    I never said what rights an individual should have, just that group rights are derived from the fact that the individuals in the group have individual rights.

    What rights an individual should have is a whole other comment thread.

    Speaking of comment threads has this on not pulled a Godwins law yet?

  46. Michael Groves

    I was pointing out that “rights” don’t really exist, so it’s really moot whether they are individual or communal. Anyone can declare something arbitrary a “right”, and if (and only if) they have the might to enforce it, then it *is* a right.

  47. Marc

    You are engaged in one of the most damaging and persistent out there, wich is of looking at the imperfections of man, and only aplying them to those who work in the private sector. Shure investors and buisiness people are gonna screw up very often, but why do you assume that government bureaucrats won’t? The government is not this outside force from another dimension, its made up of people, people who are just as imperfect as those who work in the private sector. The private sector is far from perfect, but it is far better than the alternative, wich is the public sector. Where the private sector fails, the public sector can only fail even more, because it is made of people who spend other people’s money to fullfill the needs of other people. You are suggesting that we do the dumbest thing we could, wich is to put in charge of important decisions people who pay no price for being wrong. The profit motive will not only lead to risk taking, it also leads to costs reductions, product improvment, competition, hard work, sacrifices, discipline and so on. The examples that you cited, the great depression and the current recession and products of that mistake, of putting the government in charge of managing things that would have been better handled by the private sector.

  48. Arnold T

    This article is nothing more than worshiping at the alter of fanaticism. The extreme perfection called for is called Utopian. Utopian societies do not exist and cannot exist because human nature is very very messy.

    The complexity of the world cannot be wished away. This talk of Free everything is hogwash. Get real.

    Oh and if you want to prove that government fails, just let the Republicans run the government. Great Depressions and Great Recessions are guaranteed. The Free Market nuts got most of what they wanted while they had the power and influence then destroyed the economy while they were at it.

    Yea, government fails when lunacies are at the helm just like corporations fail when idiots rise to the top.

  49. Michael Groves

    Arnold T,
    Just for the record, the “Free Market” did not destroy the economy. Greed (aka wanting stuff) is a natural drive of humans, but usually reined in by the fear of losing money in risky investments. Unfortunately, *Government* took away that balance by creating a guarantee for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, and telling them they *must* lend money to uncreditworthy customers.

    The bailout of the Banks is precisely the reason investors allowed (in fact, pushed) the Banks to make make risky investments – why not take risks if any losses will ultimately be covered by the Fed?

    The Free Market says that you can invest what you like and reap the rewards, but you suck up the losses without running to the tax payer.

    Contrary to popular opinion, the problem was (and is) too much regulation, not too little.

  50. Arnold T

    @Michael Groves
    Too bad you have been brainwashed by the Extremist Right-Wingers. You will never understand economics because you have adopted an ideology of unrealism. You are doomed to never comprehending the true nature of economics. The idea that Freddie and Fannie were a cause of this mess is just dumb.

    By not blaming the actual private business individuals who lobbied to be unregulated and then designed the loans, marketed them and signed off on them is just stupid.

    You are as irresponsible and dense as the buffoons who created the mortgage loans.

    The only way to prevent speculation and malfeasant financial behavior is to prohibit it. That is the only answer that gets results. It worked for over 40 years until they deregulated banking and went for free market chaos.

    Blaming government is ridiculous. Wall Street will always gamble if you let them, bailouts or not. Las Vegas has no problem finding gamblers who will risk it all and lose it all.

    It is the same with Wall Street. The only answer is for the government to regulate the hell out of them so they cannot.

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