Saturday, January 12, 2008

Distorted capitalism

In which I'm arrogant enough to correct a proper economist:

Capitalism, with its free markets and free choices has, for all its warts, proved more successful, more efficient and more humane. It delivers the goods far better than do socialist economies, and it manages to do so while allowing a far greater range of freedoms. It goes with political freedoms, free media and freedom of association, employment and travel, all of which are denied in socialist countries.
Nope. Capitalism and freedom do NOT necessarily go together. Nazi Germany (the second of those two links) was not noted for its "political freedoms, free media and freedom of association, employment and travel" yet it was a mainly capitalist society in which some capitalist businesses prospered mightily.

I'm sorry. There is absolutely no excuse for this sort of distortion, especially in a series entitled "Common Errors".

2 comments:

dearieme said...

"yet it was a mainly capitalist society": mm, but didn't the Nazis decide that there was no need for their state to have nominal ownership of a business as long as they had the power to instruct it what to do? (It's a more intelligent variation of Socialism than our own Labour Party ever managed to devise.)

Peter Risdon said...

In fact, that sounds rather similar to the modern Labour Party, though I hesitate to say so. Comparisons with Nazis are normally hysterical but it's certainly the case that the government reserves the right to interfere in whatever ways it chooses in the running of businesses. Their foci on issues like gender and maternity disguise this a bit.

However, there's no contradiction between state interference and capitalism.