CAPITALISM AND JUSTICE
I enjoyed December's REASON, with its many excellent articles on the subject of the free market and business. I particularly liked the one by Charles G. Koch, "Anti-Capitalism and Business." However, there is one thing that I would like to add, which may shed some light on why the market is not more loved by the persons that benefit most from what is left of it. That is, by the way, the vast bulk of the population, America's middle class, which is at the same time, its working class.
To many persons the libertarian is an apologist for business. In Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, one of the three statist judges comments to Hank Rearden, during the latter's trial, to the effect that whereas Rearden spoke of freedom, was he not merely interested in the freedom to make money. Rearden replied that such was the case and didn't he understand what that freedom implied. I submit that this is an extremely poor answer and is the answer that Rand's Objectivist philosophy gives. It is shared by many libertarians and includes persons such as writer Harry Browne. All these people ground their ultimate defense of liberty on the ethic of rational self-interest as the highest virtue. I submit again that this is wrong and we will not win our liberty unless we discover why.
Self-interest is indeed a virtue if rightly applied. The market reflects mutual self-interest. Splendid. We support it 100 percent. But it reflects something greater, much greater and fundamental: JUSTICE. There is no dichotomy here, only a case of what is first and what is secondary. Justice involves mutual self-interest because it involves, by definition, the voluntary principle, the golden rule idea, if you will. Self-interest, by itself, offers us no standard of right and wrong conduct. David Rockefeller, perhaps the most evil person living (I can defend that statement but it is beyond my scope to do so here), acts in his own self-interest. Furthermore, he acts rationally from his point of view. I challenge anyone to show how he acts altruistically. His victims are plagued with it and he surely makes use of that. But he surely is not. He may have the ability of a Hank Rearden. But his ability to coerce is so far greater than any market ability he might have, that if he lived as an honest businessman, he would not be nearly as rich nor would he be as world renowned. So much for rational self-interest as the HIGHEST virtue.
Now when the love and practice of justice is put at the very top of our value scales and we act in our self-interest within that framework, then we are truly moral defenders of the free market and all the rights of free men. We appeal to, and greatly inspire that heroic passion for justice that alone is necessary to form a successful defense of liberty. Liberty is, after all, justice itself. Dr. Murray Rothbard has, more than anyone else, stressed this glorious truth. Perhaps, that is why he draws more and more persons to liberty and all the while Randianism degenerates to such a low point that we witness the spectacle of an Alan Greenspan, the disciple Miss Rand is so proud of, as just another State apologist, while Miss Rand, herself, is even hostile to not only the Libertarian Party but, more importantly, the entire libertarian movement. I might also state that she has turned out to be a militant spokesman for Zionism, with no regard for the rights of the Palestinians who have lost their private property and what liberties they had. The list could go on, but it would not be necessary. The choice is clear. The passion for justice and the moral triumph of liberty for all; OR the "What's in it for me—the world be damned" philosophy.
Seek ye first the reign of justice and all these things shall be added unto you.
Michael Albert Nash
Your December issue which is concerned with the state of Capitalism contains a powerful lot of erroneous ideas and statements on this subject. I speak from the standpoint of experience and not from behind the hallowed halls of ivy, having spent forty years on Main Street, U.S.A. as a Free Enterprise Capitalist.
The definition of "Capitalism" is engaging in a venture to "buy, sell, and make gain" with resources belonging to the entrepreneur. This does not mean an S.B.A. Government Loan with a 40-year promise to pay at a ridiculously low rate of interest. This type of loan is the climate that has changed the Free Enterprise System into one that is financed by ALL the PEOPLE and one from which the recipient can walk away smiling (having nothing invested) after he has raised hob with the profit structure and all the legitimate competition in the field. Why not! He has NOTHING to lose. The effect is devastating to the legitimate operator. The Keynesian principle of "volume" has permeated the retail business in America as well as the general economic scene.
The vehicle that is supposed to justify drastic price cutting is called COMPETITION but under these conditions is nothing more than Economic Cannibalism with ALL the PEOPLES MONEY! An analysis of the effects will show the legitimate operator being run out of business with his own Tax Money lent to his competition! How sweet it is!
PROFIT is the lifeblood of CAPITALISM. Take away the profit and the system is gone. We have become a nation of S.B.A.-financed semi-literate operators of a business we know nothing about. Everyone is "living by the book." No matter what type of business you enter the first thing you are given is a price book that you are supposed to follow. Standard price charges for everything but based on a high volume business that only a few can generate because there is an S.B.A.-financed operator on every corner. The ability to figure the cost and selling price needed to make a profit and to evaluate his own business, do his own advertising is all covered "in the book." Follow it and you will end up broke and out of business. Those who can get the volume necessary to sell at the low profit margins in the book exist with the meager living of nothing more than hired help.
WORTHAM ON BROWN
In response to Susan Love Brown's letter [December] denying my conclusion [September] that her view of the problems of Negroes is clouded by deterministic sentiments, I would like to point out that by calling the idea of "the rape of the black mind" a product of determinism, I was not describing the whole of Brown's philosophical system, but her presentation of a specific issue.
I did not recognize the metaphor in her title and saw no indication of it in the exposition that followed. I took Brown at her word and responded accordingly. Now that she has designated the terminology in her title as mere metaphor, I would like to respond to that—accordingly.
The dictionaries I am familiar with define the verb "rape" as an action committed by force upon one's person or property by an external opponent. With this definition in mind, I had read Brown's terminology to imply that the lack of self-identity among Negroes is due solely to external forces beyond their control. Such an idea, I believed, had to originate from deterministic sentiments and contradicts many of the other very sound observations she makes.
Brown's clarification indicates her figurative use of rape to mean an action initiated by oneself against his person—in this case, his mind. In my view, the only way one can "steal" his own self-identity is on the condition that his consciousness exist outside his person, which is clearly impossible. Brown's clarification makes no sense to me.
But I am less concerned about her use of "rape" than her assertion that my objection to such terms as "black mind" and "blackness" is the same as an objection to "man's rights."
There is no connection whatever between designating the minds of Negro individuals as "black" and the fact that rights are the possession of men—i.e., all human beings. I object to Brown's uncritical use of such terms as black mind and blackness precisely because they are conventionally used to oppose principles of human rights—and ultimately man's reason.
Black mind is an anti-concept which gives man's reason a racial attribute it does not have and drops the context of the universal identity of the human mind. It is not analogous to man's rights but to such anti-concepts as "women's rights," "minority rights," or "patients' rights" which give human rights circumstantial attributes they do not have and which drop the universal context of human rights.
There is nothing figurative about "man's rights." (It in no way represents something called "male's rights" for instance). It is a valid, objective concept formulated on the basis of man's nature as a rational being who must survive according to the right requirements of his psycho-biological and intellectual nature—requirements that ought not be infringed upon by other men.
Concepts like black mind and blackness, on the other hand, are used by subjectivists and collectivists to negate the nature of man's consciousness and to legalize the infringement of his rights. Because I support the concept of man's rights I must object to these concepts and therein lies my consistency—not inconsistency as Brown claims. Like Brown I do not believe in collective minds or collective men, and it is for this reason that, unlike Brown, I challenge the use of black mind as literary convention. I object because such terminology violates the law of identity; it is fashioned by men who insist that words have no specific referents but mean whatever people want them to mean.
Surely I recognize the validity of verbal economy in communication, but I must object when it is used at the expense of objectivity to translate into practical reality the arbitrariness men give in abstraction to concepts and definitions. Brown may use such concepts as black mind and blackness in the interest of verbal economy but that is hardly what is intended by the many political activists, educators, and the journalistic/entertainment/advertising media who use them. It is important that we question not only the validity of these anti-concepts but also the means by which they have become literary convention.
WATERED DOWN IDEAS
I have to say that I was stunned by those letters you published criticizing you for defending gay rights [December]. What disturbs me about them is not the attitudes—those are certainly familiar enough to me. Rather, it's that people with those attitudes came in contact with libertarianism, got exposed to enough of it to subscribe to REASON, and never heard that libertarians favored sexual freedom (at least in the political/legal sphere).
I can see three ways this could happen: (1) these people were told libertarian general principles clearly and never reasoned through to gay rights; (2) they were told libertarian general principles and encouraged not to apply them outside the areas (economic policy?) that interested them; (3) they were told about libertarianism by people who themselves weren't willing to carry them through in this area. Whichever is true, this doesn't say much for the quality of libertarianism's "recruits." Gay liberation, after all, is a perfectly straightforward application of the libertarian ethics; moreover, the psychological viewpoints associated with libertarianism—e.g. Branden's theories—logically imply that, if a person does enjoy homosexual more than heterosexual relationships, he may be missing the best form of sexual pleasure, but there is no reason for him to feel guilty or punish himself or for other people to fear him. Some male homosexuals do use force on other males, but a homosexual woman could equally well advance the corresponding criticism against heterosexuality.
As a political cynic, I'm not concerned about the Libertarian Party's success in educating people. But it does hurt to see a concern for popularity and acceptance lead to libertarian ideas being debased to appeal to idiots. If libertarianism can only "win" by this kind of watering down, it's likely to die of its victory. What happened to "the courage to be utopian" we used to hear so much about? Fifty years from now, I suppose, some new movement will look back and its members say, "Hey, those 'libertarians' really were on the right track; they had a lot of good ideas. What do you suppose happened to them?" The answer, plainly enough, will be "death by compromise."
William H. Stoddard
Chula Vista, CA
CAUSE FOR REJOICING?
Once again, I note Professor Rothbard's exultation over the calamitous decline of state power—this time, it is the financial demise of New York City [January]. Well I can agree with him that it is a sure sign of the chickens coming home to roost, and a vindication for libertarian prescience, but excuse me from the merrymaking, I see no special glee in the understanding that yet another edifice of the state is crashing down, crushing innocent persons beneath it.
But Rothbard's gleeful chortles pale into mediocrity beside the advertisement on page 5, proclaiming how "You can profit from the coming mideast war." Isn't it enough for libertarian journals to denounce war, without summoning up the capitalistic maxim that "Aware investors have always made good profit from war"? I fully recognize that present times are such that it is near folly to neglect financial opportunities—but surely it is unnecessary to so loudly lick one's chops over the imminent prospect of destruction, death, and ruin visited upon a hapless and poverty-stricken population.
The fall of New York is nothing to rejoice over; it is just a grim inevitability of state deficit financing—bringing good to no one and not desirable in any absolute sense. Better it should never have been, to begin with. And it is utterly shameful to think that libertarians could ever find an ad appealing that viewed warfare as yet another opportunity to amass fortunes.
This flagrant callousness brings no honor to libertarianism and can serve only to repel outsiders from our cause. I completely repudiate and abjure the above sentiments of Professor Rothbard and the Dublin Publishing Company.
WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY would you go and accept an ad that says "YOU CAN PROFIT FROM THE COMING MIDEAST WAR"? Does no one in this world Care about people any more?
Look, I know you have a right to make money—if I didn't think so I wouldn't have subscribed to REASON for four years—I wouldn't have spent hundreds of dollars on freedom-oriented books—I wouldn't have written-in John Hospers in the 1972 election. Also I wouldn't have felt very sad when Ayn Rand turned ultra-right and anti-libertarian.
But nowhere in those many books is there a justification for making money off the deaths and suffering of other people. Sure, it's easy to sit back here, while those dumb A-rabs and Hebes kill one another and bleed and suffer, and watch the money roll in. Sure, you say, someone is going to get rich, so why not me? I say, why you?! Libertarianism claims to be the MORAL political philosophy!!
I say you are two-faced, fork-tongued. You rush to the aid of someone who is being taxed (I agree); whose civil liberties are being stomped on (I agree); who is being regulated/controlled/harassed by Uncle (I agree): but there is no way around it—to accept an ad that pushes war-profiteering is to push war yourself—to gloat over the latest body-count from Sinai, because that means more MONEY!!
DAMMIT TO HELL!!! IS THERE NO ONE OUT THERE WHO GIVES A DAMN ABOUT PEOPLE???!!!
Joseph Elliott Caldwell
Editors' reply: Readers Dunn and Caldwell are advised to read (or reread) the advertisement in question. The point of the book is to make money—not from "war" (there is no discussion of selling arms, to either side, as Uncle Sam does)—but from the predictable distortions in the economy caused by government controls in response to the likely occurrence of another Mideast war. This is merely intelligent speculation, which is entirely morally defensible and even praiseworthy. —Ed.
In an article appearing in Trends [January], a U.S. Supreme Court decision to permit other communications companies to compete with American Telephone and Telegraph was applauded. While competition is certainly desirable, the article was incomplete.
The FCC requires AT&T to equalize its pricing practices nationwide. Calls going between, say, Philadelphia and New York City are high volume but calls going between towns in, say, New Mexico are not. AT&T is required to price the calls in high volume areas to cover the losses in low volume areas. MCI Telecommunications Corp. does not provide services in low density areas and therefore does not have to cover the losses of services in these areas.
Just another example of government regulation making life wonderful and fair for industry.
Robert W. Warren
Mr. Poole replies: Mr. Warren is correct in his description of the facts. But the prescription is not, as A.T.& T. would have it, to use government force to put MCI out of business, but to remove the FCC controls on A.T. & T.'s pricing so that telephone users in low-density markets pay a competitively-determined (probably higher) rate, rather than being subsidized by users in high-density markets. —R.P.
Supporters of transportation deregulation would be interested to know of the coverage of the issue in the June, 1975 issue of Traffic Management. The annual meeting of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce showed support by the delegates for abolition of the ICC, CAB and Federal Maritime Commission.
Also in the issue is a poll of railroad executives on public issues. Deregulation of railroads is supported by 22.2 percent and opposed by 66.7 percent. However, 83.3 percent favor partial deregulation, 11.1 percent total deregulation, and only 5.6 percent favor continued regulation. Open entry into freight transportation is supported by 11.1 percent and opposed by 83.3 percent. This backs up historian Gabriel Kolko and others in showing that it was business that demanded regulation of the economy for its own purposes. It should be noted in fairness that there is a minority of railroad executives that are consistently opposed to transportation regulation.
Richard A. Cooper
PROPOSED BALLOT INITIATIVE
Place the following Proposition on the ballot:
"The Peoples Right of Appeal Act. Any rule, regulation, law, or practice that is questioned by ___ percent of the registered voters will be placed on the ballot for vote of confidence. If rejected by more than 50 percent of the electorate it will cease to be law after a period of time equal to one tenth of the time it has been in existence."
This sounds a lot more practical than the "None of the Above" ballot change, which seems to leave things somewhat in limbo.
Robert Hawkins, M.D.
Santa Barbara, CA
MARTIN AND EXTERMINATION
I'm absolutely shocked regarding Dr. Martin's remarks concerning the Nazi extermination of European Jewry [January]. I am not a learned historian, but allow me to answer several of his truly astonishing allegations.
"I never made a head count of all who lost their lives in the war—we've seen a variety of statistical materials, some of which have been pulled out of thin air."
"I don't believe that the evidence of planned extermination of the entire Jewish population of Europe is holding up."
"I haven't seen any strong evidence to upset his (Rassinier's) allegations or his assertions that there was no planned program for the extermination of European Jews. His other main case is that there were no gas chamber extermination programs."
The Nuremberg and Eichmann trials extensively documented the Nazi's "Final solution of the Jewish Problem" as did the mountain of captured German documents. In evidence were documents from the German archives themselves, concentration camp records, and sworn statements of the officials of the Nazi Regime, and people who were actual inmates of the camp. If Dr. Martin would like a head count of exterminated Jews, I refer him to Yad Vashem in Israel, which is a memorial to the murdered Jews and where several million names are recorded. Nazi head counts themselves are yet more evidence of the killings of millions.
I suggest that Dr. Martin do a little firsthand research and see the gas ovens at Auschwitz, Dachau, and Bergen-Belsen which have been preserved as memorials.
There were numerous instances in the interview where Dr. Martin used unbelievably sophomoric reasoning. Allow me to mention the most obvious: "After all, he (Rassinier) was in one or two of them (concentration camps) for several months, long enough to get a good idea what it was like." Is Dr. Martin so naive as to think that because one or two camps were not extermination camps, therefore, the others were not? Is it unreasonable to assume that Jews (and others) marked for extermination were sent to special camps, so as to keep publicity to a minimum?
I'm afraid to say that Dr. Martin's comments are examples of convoluted and specious reasoning.
Sylven L. Schaffer, M.D.
Dr. Martin replies: Dr. Schaffer's reaction to my observations is a prime example of what revisionists in any area are sure to encounter: enraged and indignant expostulations over the temerity of a skeptic of an entrenched orthodoxy. Psychic intimidation and the hope of incubating guilt feelings and shame as a consequence of being so rash as to defy a sanctified climate of opinion are venerable ploys.
Since Dr. Schaffer appears to be utterly innocent of the content of Rassinier's six books on the subject, I see no purpose in filling an issue of REASON with contradictions of the sacred and presumably unchallengeable sources advanced in his incensed condemnation, which easily could be done.
The well known English writer Colin Wilson recently suggested, after reading some of Rassinier, that a serious investigation of his thesis should take place. Wilson was promptly assailed personally with vicious billingsgate for making this moderate proposal. But that has been the lot of almost everyone who has advanced a similar recommendation. Dr. Schaffer is to be commended for eschewing the ad hominem venom which customarily accompanies a response such as his. —J.J.M.
I, too, would like to see an article closely examining proprietary communities, but with one essential prerequisite; the assumption that such a community is desirable not for esthetics or economics, but desirable morally. Such an assumption could put a different light on every possibility from trailer courts to plush resorts, and also might suggest that a current choice for the individual might be two weeks a year at a proprietary community and the rest of the year in a non-proprietary city. The ultimate long-range goal would be, of course, to maximize the former, and live zero weeks under the gun.
Before Mr. Ramsey ("Letters," January) writes off proprietary communities on the basis of current experience, let me nominate my favorite: Sun Valley, Idaho. Not only is Sun Valley a corporate enterprise that either hires directly, or contracts for, the so-called "essential" municipal services, but, to the best of my knowledge, all this is done at a profit.
One reason for Sun Valley's success is that there is only one boss, and he is a damned good businessman who really cares about the business. I certainly would like to live there year-round, and it is considered a totally planned, though small, city.
To Mr. Klein's question of "do they do it cheaper" I wonder what, and how, to measure. Measured in war-dead, inflation, robbery, and other coercive crimes, Sun Valley is nearly free. But I think Mr. Klein might have been wondering about the day-to-day, out-of-your-own-pocket expenses, in which case Sun Valley is not now inexpensive. However, if there were no taxes, and if Sun Valley continued to charge what they do now in terms of gross individual income, in theory at least, a Sun Valley could be affordable.
Regrettably, most of us are a long way from that kind of a goal.
Pacific Palisades, CA
CRIME AND GOVERNMENT
There is a great deal of conjecture in the press at present about why there is so much crime in the United States (where it has increased by 18 percent in the past year) and throughout the world.
Mostly the kidnappings, hijackings, urban terrorism & multifarious petty crimes are ascribed to extremist minorities or unbalanced individuals. However, I do not believe one can expect the public at large to show integrity in their lives when their elected governments are apparently able to indulge themselves in all manner of strange activities, both nationally & internationally, with such a striking lack of integrity.
These activities are, so we are told, for our own good. They can take the form of increased taxation (for ever more liberal social security handouts), economic tinkering with the inflate-machine, re-organization of education, surveillance of an individual, manipulation of foreign governments (for defense reasons, of course), etc.
One cannot help recollecting that government's purpose is to protect the rights of the individual. When a government can justify all those things mentioned in the previous paragraph as being a means to this end, then it seems equally possible for the lawless to be able to justify their murderous actions.
Harry D. Schultz, Ph.D., D.Sc.
The International Harry Schultz Letter
There has been a lot written about guns in REASON. I personally merely think that if I have the right to defend myself, I have the right to defend myself with something. I'm glad I don't feel I need to, though.
Park Ridge, NJ
I enjoy reading your magazine each month; however, I have one complaint. Each month almost the whole issue of REASON is devoted to Economics and Politics, with a smattering of History thrown in from time to time. Are there no libertarian writers interested in the sciences, the arts, philosophy? Is there no one willing to discuss the philosophical validity of the concept of entropy? the Heisenberg uncertainty principle? the moral problems faced by the scientist creating life? Is no one excited by advances is biology and medicine? Are there no libertarian computer scientists to explore artificial intelligence?
And the arts! I would be fascinated by introductions to Romantic literature; by the philosophy of music; by reviews of artists and possibilities of investment in good paintings. Where are the Rothbards of science and art, willing and able to teach their fields to laymen? (Anyone who has, like myself, tried to find an answer to a problem in physics or chemistry by resorting to a textbook knows my frustration.)
I am sure that I am not your only reader who yearns for a more varied magazine. Consider this a request from your intellectually undernourished admirers.
Richton Park, IL
I applaud your creation of Spotlight. The people you have spotlighted so far have excited my admiration. It is encouraging to know that such people exist and what they are doing. I think it is important that REASON advertise people who have the courage and tenacity to battle our statist institutions and win.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Letters".