Can There Be Capitalism Without Racism?

A program at UC-Davis looks at the relationship between capitalism and racism.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

The website Campus Reform points to a multi-year academic program, Racial Capitalism, hosted at the UC-Davis Humanities Institute that explores the links between racism and capitalism (tip to Glenn Reynolds). Among the questions that were asked at the event launching the program are:

  1. "Which came first, capitalism or racism?"
  2. "Can there be capitalism without racism?"
  3. "Is capitalism always racial?"

IMO, the answers to these questions are fairly obvious:

  1. Racism came first. Every inhabited continent had slaves, and ethnic out-groups were among the most likely to be enslaved. It is the abolition of slavery that is particularly Western, as Orlando Patterson explains his books Freedom and Slavery and Social Death.
  2. (and 3.) If there can be any economic system without racism (I suppose it depends on how high one's standards are), then capitalism is not always racist and there can be capitalism without racism. Capitalism is easier to square with a reduction in racism than most ideologies because (a) it is individualistic, (b) it is not built on envy for despised groups, and (c) in the United States at least, pro-capitalists tend to be less racist personally than anti-capitalists.

Indeed, in the general public it is the opposition to capitalism and the desire for redistribution that are positively associated with racism and intolerance.

I explore this relationship in "Redistribution and Racism, Tolerance and Capitalism," which analyzes data from 20 nationally representative surveys of the general public.

Abstract

In debates over the roles of law and government in promoting the equality of income or in redistributing the fruits of capitalism, widely different motives are attributed to those who favor or oppose capitalism or income redistribution. According to one view, largely accepted in the academic social psychology literature (Jost et al., 2003), opposition to income redistribution and support for capitalism reflect an orientation toward social dominance, a desire to dominate other groups. According to another view that goes back at least to the nineteenth century origins of Marxism, anti-capitalism and a support for greater legal efforts to redistribute income reflect envy for the property of others and a frustration with one's lot in a capitalist system.

In this paper I expand and test the first (social dominance) thesis using twenty nationally representative General Social Surveys conducted by the National Opinion Research Center between 1977 and 2010, involving over 21,000 respondents. I first show that respondents who express traditionally racist views (on segregation, interracial marriage, and inborn racial abilities) tend to support greater income redistribution. Traditional racists also express less positive views toward free-market capitalism and its consequences, tending to want the government to guarantee jobs for everyone and to fix prices, wages, and profits. Next, I report a similar pattern for those who express intolerance for unpopular groups on the fifteen Stouffer tolerance questions (regarding racists, homosexuals, communists, extreme militarists, and atheists). Those who express less tolerance for unpopular groups tend to favor income redistribution and to be less supportive of capitalism and its discontents. Using full latent variable structural equation modeling shows similar results. The data are broadly inconsistent with the standard belief in the social psychology literature that pro-capitalist and anti-redistributionist views are positively associated with racism and intolerance.

I then explore an alternative hypothesis, showing that, compared to anti-redistributionists, strong redistributionists have much higher odds of reporting anger, sadness, loneliness, outrage, and other negative emotions. Similarly, anti-redistributionists had much higher odds of reporting being happy or at ease. Last, both redistributionists and anti-capitalists expressed lower overall happiness, less happy marriages, and lower satisfaction with their financial situations and with their jobs or housework. Further, in several General Social Surveys anti-redistributionists were generally more likely to report altruistic behavior than those who favored a stronger policy of government redistribution of income.

In addition, in a 1996 survey:

Not only do redistributionists report more anger, but they report that their anger lasts longer. Further, when asked about the last time they were angry, strong redistributionists were more than twice as likely as strong opponents of leveling to admit that they responded to their anger by plotting revenge.

The more interesting question (than whether you can have capitalism without racism) is whether you can have socialism without racism. The answer is yes, but the reason is an enlightening one.

In the long run, a robust socialism (that dominates most of the economy) tends to lead to the scapegoating of demonized out-groups, because there must be someone to blame for economic failure. Thus, the Soviet Union began with hating the Kulaks and the ownership class more generally, but once these were destroyed, they needed someone else to blame. Though it took many decades, the Soviet Union went beyond targeting "counter-revolutionaries" to add Jews to the list. So the demonized out-groups under socialism don't have to be defined by race or ethnicity; they could instead be defined by economic class, religion, or nationality. Accordingly, socialism doesn't have to be racist, but when it dominates the economy almost inevitably there must be some group to despise.

It would be good if the academy in general–and the UC-Davis Racial Capitalism program in particular–were ideologically diverse enough to reflect some of the substantial evidence from the last few decades on the relationship of capitalism and racism in the views of the general public, evidence that tends to point to a negative association between racism and support for capitalism.

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108 responses to “Can There Be Capitalism Without Racism?

  1. Ah, yes, Orlando Patterson. The person everyone loves to cite for anything not within their area of expertise and to criticize for everything within it. Seriously, when are people going to get over his nonsense?

    1. Arguing against science with an ad hominem attack.

      Yep, leftist. And more likely to be racist and angry.

      1. I thought science was a method of liberal propaganda to trick people into believing in climate change? Shouldnt you be demanding a scientific consensus on this topic before parroting the author’s argument?

        And why so angry and sad?

        1. LOL. Why am I not surprised that a Progressive would be asking about “scientific consensus” which is an oxymoron. There is no consensus in science nor the scientific method.

          1. I’m more of an Allstate guy actually.

            1. All state, nothing outside of it.

              It figures.

            2. All state, nothing outside the state?

              Obviously you are.

      2. Wait, you think “historical sociology” is science? No, no, I’m not laughing at you, sir, I just have something, uh, stuck in my throat.

  2. Sometimes people dont like you for whatever reason. You cannot force people to like you.

    Good capitalists dont care about skin color. They want to earn money, so the more customers of every skin color, the better.

    1. That was clearly the case before the civil Rights movement, when everyone with money was welcomed to sit and eat at the same counter.

      1. Can you not tell the difference between State-mandated racism and personal choices?

      2. Southern states that mandates segregation you mean? Yeah Democrats who ran the South used government to enforce their racist mandates on business.

        Similar thing that crony capitalists and Lefties try and do to businesses today.

        1. Can you not tell the difference between State-mandated racism and personal choices?

          It was a personal choice to vote for politicians who yelled n***** the loudest.

          Democrats who ran the South used government to enforce their racist mandates on business.

          Totally against the will of the white voters, who hated it, but what could they do. They were so cowed they even practiced racial discrimination when they didn’t have to.

          1. The point is that capitalism was not responsible for the racist attitudes of the white heirs of southern plantation slavery. (It was in fact the southern defenders of slavery who decried capitalism in a very similar manner to socialists. George Fitzhugh: “Slavery is a form, and the very best form, of socialism.”)

            1. I didn’t say it was.

          2. But that doesn’t refute Lindgren’s point, some of the worst racists in the south in the 50’s were the pinkest. When opposition politicians ran against him the didn’t try do out do him in racial slurs they pointed out he was a communist fellow traveler masquerading as a progressive. Didn’t stop him from winning, but he wasn’t running as a racist capitalist, he was running as a racist redistributionist.

            1. Maybe you could provide example.

              There were surely plenty of campaigns that were run on the question of who was the bigger racist. Economic views hardly entered into it.

      3. I agree, like today, the Progressive Democrats preferred racism and Marxism over capitalism.

    2. Green supremacist, eh?

    3. Green supremacist!

  3. I think you’re ignoring their implied “structural” qualifier for racism.

  4. Racism came first. Every inhabited continent had slaves, and ethnic out-groups were among the most likely to be enslaved.

    For racism to exist as a socially known thing, there has to be a recognized concept of “race”. Such a concept does not date back that far. There’s evidence that it only dates back to the 17th Century. Almost certainly there has always been “otherism”. But that boundary is much more dynamic/flexible than the “racism” boundary.

    1. Are you arguing, for example, that the ancient Japanese did not exhibit racism?

      What about the ancient Arabs against Africans or Chinese against Koreans?

      Of course skin color racism might have been less prevalent when the races primarily lived apart. Doesn’t mean it did not exist.

      1. Slavery, Race, and Ideology in the USA – Barbara Jeanne Fields

        This essay provides some depth regarding the history of “race”. I’m arguing, as the author does, that “Race” is a specific social construct. Your statement of “the races” highlights my point. There is really no such thing as “the races”. The concept is a modern invention. Certainly, there’s always been “those people over there” or “those people who tend to look like X”. But that’s generally “otherism”, i.e. a division of populations based on some arbitrary dividing line.

        I think it’s important to not continually reinforce “race” as an actual thing. It’s a valueless concept. So codifying it as a thing throughout history is something I object to.

    2. Wow. Yeah, it’s not like words for a tribe that mean something like “the true people” are incredibly common

      1. Yes, it’s easy to assert something is of a recent vintage, if you ignore all the history preceding it.

        1. This can also be done the other way round.

          “People are getting overexcited about terrorist atrocities. There hasn’t been a single one since {insert the most recent one.}”

    3. “There’s evidence that it only dates back to the 17th Century.”

      This is impossible. Evidence of “race” being discussed in literature from 17th Century onward would not be evidence that “it only dates” to the 17th Century. It would be evidence that it dates to at least the 17th Century.

      Of course you’re wrong. Humans have been separating themselves by race since the beginning of civilization. To predate your 17th Century claim it took me about 20 seconds. Here’s Christopher Columbus in 1493:

      “They are ferocious compared to these other races, who are extremely cowardly, but I only hear this from the others.”

      1. I mis-remembered the essay I linked to above. In that essay, Prof. Fields is tracing the ideology behind race, not the actual word “race” itself.

        1. “tracing the ideology behind race, not the actual word “race” itself”

          So complete BS then.

      2. NToJ, I’m sure that’s not what Columbus wrote. You were reading a translation, right? So “race,” wasn’t the word used.

        The translation was authored by someone who may, or may not, have been fully conversant with the contemporary contextual meaning of whatever it was Columbus did write. Most likely not, and most likely someone who wasn’t consciously sensitive to the possibility that the word “race,” in its modern context might not have had any real contextual equivalent in language used by Columbus. Or maybe it did, but your example relies on that as an assumption. It isn’t proof of that at all.

        Either way, I could be mistaken, if the translator was also a competent historian of 15th century Spanish and Italian culture. Which would not be entirely far-fetched. But otherwise, I’m likely right.

        1. “You were reading a translation, right?”

          No, he wrote the original letter in English. Of course it’s a translation. Since it’s one of the most famous letters in human history, it’s been translated countless times in countless languages. The earliest translations were written in 1493. By people who were living in Spain, and Italy, and who spoke those languages as well as Latin.

          It was pretty commonly believed that the undiscovered world was inhabited by monstrous races, and when Columbus wrote the letter home, he was speaking to an audience interested in what he found about these monstrous races. Go google it.

          1. And did those earliest translations use the word “race,” within the modern meaning you persistently apply to it in your comments? Do you know?

            1. If you mean they meant “race” exactly as MP meant in his OP, I don’t know because I don’t have any idea what he means. It’s in his brain. Do you know?

              If you’re asking whether pre-17th century people understood other human beings to have physical or behavioral traits differently from their own peoples, and defined those groups of others as being different races, yes, I’m certain that’s what they had in mind.

              1. Also many thanks to Twelve and his link below. “otros pueblos” is when he’s talking about other races. No need to rely on translation; the issue is whether Christopher Columbus was “a competent historian of 15th century Spanish and Italian culture”. Which he was, because he lived there.

              2. NToJ, presumably you get that certainty via an assumption that pre-17th century Spanish and Italian people?about whom I suspect you know almost nothing, except what modern popular culture has told you about them?were, on questions of race, exactly like modern people. That could be right, for all I know. But it’s unlikely. Have you asked yourself, “How do I know that?” And if you do ask, does the answer come back, “I know it from reading what the people at the time said, in their own words?” Or does it come back, “I learned it from sources around me now?”

                I ask that on the basis of having read quite a bit of stuff written by English people between 1550 and 1700. One striking fact that emerged from that reading was that almost no idea familiar to me as a 20th century person was ever to be found in anything like its modern form in any of that material.

                Turns out that’s because relatively little of pre-18th century thought and culture continues to be influential today. Almost everything we rely on today came later?invented in the interval between 1680 and now. For instance, I can’t recall any close analogue to today’s concept of race in any of that earlier material.

                1. “…presumably you get that certainty via an assumption that pre-17th century Spanish and Italian people…”

                  I get the certainty from what Christopher Columbus said. What did you think he had in mind when he said “other peoples”?

                  “For instance, I can’t recall any close analogue to today’s concept of race in any of that earlier material.”

                  I’d like to see for myself. Please let me know which materials you were relying on from 1550-1700.

                  1. I would be happy to help you out, but it could go on for a long time. It might be easier to refer you to an excellent secondary source which delves at some length into key questions raised by the OP. Historian Edmund Morgan’s, American Slavery, American Freedom is what you need to get you started, if you are serious.

                    If you prefer an original source, then I suggest to begin with that you choose something to show how old ideas got inflected by changes between then and now, regardless of subject matter?because a lot of those inflections have to be mastered before you can command insight into any period subject matter at all. For that, a readily accessible (online, even) classic document would be John Winthrop’s famous 1630 sermon, A Model of Christian Charity. Read that and you will discover how some religiously founded terms from that era descended into the present for continued modern discussion?but transformed in the descent by changes in religion, and loss of religion, until what remains for current discussion is utterly removed from that past era.

                    You will find a very famous quotation in that sermon, one often used in politics today. Invariably, the modern use is opposite to the meaning Winthrop intended. It’s a nice illustration of the point I’m suggesting. Enjoy.

    4. Since the Dawn of Man, Chimps and Men have been picking up a femur and beating the heck out of the “Others”

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypEaGQb6dJk

    5. And it’s motte and bailey time again.

      Motte 1

      all words are social constructs. Hence ‘race” is a social construct.

      Bailey 1

      and so there is nothing in the real world, outsde of mere social construction, that corresponds to the word “race”

      Motte 2

      weird pseudoscientific theries about vaguely Shemmy, Hammy and Japhethy “races” date back only as far as pseudoscience becoming popular with the chattering classes

      Bailey 2

      any idea that different human populations might have slightly different average characteristics is (a) totally modern and (b) entrely unscientific and superstitious

      Motte 3

      people have always been wary of “the other”

      Bailey 3

      but that’s TOTALLY different from racism. Because racism is Made in America ! Only whiteys can do it. And only American whiteys.

    6. So, did gravity exist before it became a “recognized concept”?

      1. Yes. Did phlogiston exist before it was discredited?

        1. No. That’s the other way round from pre Newtonian gravity – a non existent recognised concept.

  5. It is interesting to note that this program includes not a single economist and has not a single academic economics paper or book included in its reading list. Since capitalism is an economic system which uses markets, prices, individual consumers and producers and private property to determine how much is produced, at what price and who gets what, this seems like a glaring error. Gary Becker, in his 1955 doctoral dissertation began to address the Economics of Discrimination.

    In a capitalist system, where price is a primary factor in allocating resources, including employment and wages, it is ironic that the UC Davis program doesn’t ask if socialism can exist without racism, since it is the economic system that relies on non-market forces to allocate resources. In a socialist system shortages of all kinds will exist because bureaucrats are making the pricing and resource allocation decisions and non-market forces are the mechanisms used to make those decisions.

    One must ask, in which system, capitalist or socialist, do disincentives exist to engage in racial discrimination and in which system do such disincentives to not exist?

  6. “Can there be capitalism without racism?”

    I guess it all depends on how the academics are defining racism nowadays, doesn’t it?

    1. That and their definition of capitalism. I suspect they mean something completely different when they say “capitalism” than normal people.

    1. Of course I’m being unfair, not all socialists followed Marx. Some adopted a *national* socialism.

  7. Can a University of California Social Studies program exist without complete idiocy?

    1. I’m waiting for the follow-up paper: “Can there be dogs without mathematics?”

      1. Or quantum mechanics without cats?

        1. There both can and cannot be.

  8. From Sociology for the South (1854), by slavery apologist George Fitzhugh:

    “…Socialism is already slavery in all save the master. It had as well adopt that feature at once, as come to that it must to make its schemes at once humane and efficient….Our only quarrel with Socialism is, that it will not honestly admit that it owes its recent revival to the failure of universal liberty, and is seeking to bring about slavery again in some form….

    “We cannot believe that the Socialists do not see that domestic slavery is the only practicable form of socialism – they are afraid yet to pronounce the word.”

  9. Imagine any time in history. A group of people living in a place meet some newcomers. The newcomers don’t look or act or talk like the familiar people from home.

    What is the home group’s reaction to the newcomers? Any time in history, any group of people, anywhere in the world, what’s the reaction? Is it instantaneous trust and warmth? Are the newcomers treated like family?

    When did the most natural reaction — a reaction that’s universal throughout the world and down through time — become an unpardonable evil? Why?

    Can we start being sensible sometime?

    1. The initial reaction is subject to being modified in light of later evidence – and if the different groups have been living in the same country for some time, simple practicality argues for some modus vivendi, especially in a regime where citizens are supposed to have basic rights enjoyed on an equal basis.

      1. But the context is: Does free market capitalism [allow sin to exist in human hearts]? Where the sin is the failure to entirely repudiate a natural, common human reaction.

        This religion has become too absolute and intolerant. Its adherents have lost the ability to reason.

        Sins of nature will exist in humanity. It’s not a function of the economic system, it’s life. Shouldn’t natural human failings be forgiven?

    2. The initial reaction might well be one of suspicion and caution, though I think that would happen regardless of skin color. That does not necessitate an assumption that the newcomers are somehow inferior

      But, as Eddy says, that ought to change in the light of further evidence. Nor does caution justify enslaving or attacking the newcomers. It’s one thing to post a guard, something else to start a war.

      1. It’s not “one thing to post a guard”. Any imperfection is treated as a grievous sin, maybe even an unforgivable one. Ask Rosanne Barr if it’s “one thing to post a guard”.

      2. that ought to change in the light of further evidence. Nor does caution justify enslaving or attacking the newcomers

        Had they lived long enough to peruse further evidence, the pre Columban population of the New World would beg to differ.

        That does not necessitate an assumption that the newcomers are somehow inferior

        “Inferior” and “dangerous” are not coextensive.

    3. What is the home group’s reaction to the newcomers? Any time in history, any group of people, anywhere in the world, what’s the reaction? Is it instantaneous trust and warmth?

      Historical answers to that question are various, and differing. History offers, for instance, affirmative answers to your questions with regard to New England Indians and English settlers. History shows also early discrimination by Indians regarding which settlers to trust, and treat like family, and even to take into their families, and which settlers to distrust.

      Likewise?of interest in light of the topic here?western Indians in North America?who lived largely as socialists?were for a very long interval welcoming and trusting with regard to Europeans with whom they first came in contact. Those represented the nascent capitalist Hudson River Company, or at least traded for it. That mutual amity lasted for many decades. It produced mixed families in profusion.

      Strikingly, during the Nez Perce war in 1877, it was widely known among the Nez Perce that one combatant was a son of William Clark, of the Lewis and Clark expedition. The Indians knew that because the son was fighting on their side. He was Halaftooki, a Nez Perce.

      In general, popular culture has greatly obscured the extent to which Indian and European cultures interacted peacefully?often for decades?before entering into conflict.

      1. Oops, “Hudson’s Bay Company.”

    4. That’s called the ‘naturalistic fallacy’; the conceit that what is natural is also good. It’s like homeopathy for morals.

      As for your question, you can look at many instances of national liberation or reinforcement by a third party during war. Our allies (particularly France) had this reaction to us during the World Wars.

      Also, certain Pacific islands were renowned for their welcoming behavior, even of strange foreigners.

      1. It’s not the naturalistic fallacy at all. Nor is it “good”.

    5. It doens’t have to be newcomers. The Jews weren’t new in either Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia. The Tutsis and Hutus of Rwanda lived in the same area and even intermarried for many generations. In India, where pale skin is unapologetically favored by many outside of some southern states, skin color is still used today as a proxy for racial origins nearly three thousand years old.

      Racism is not original to the US, the West, or the very recent economic system known as capitalism.

    6. It doens’t have to be newcomers. The Jews weren’t new in either Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia. The Tutsis and Hutus of Rwanda lived in the same area and even intermarried for many generations. In India, where pale skin is unapologetically favored by many outside of some southern states, skin color is still used today as a proxy for racial origins nearly three thousand years old.

      Racism is not original to the US, the West, or the very recent economic system known as capitalism.

  10. It’s hard for me to believe that there is much meaningful correlation between one’s attitudes towards capitalism and socialism – however defined – and whether one is a racist.

    First glance at this paper does not suggest to me that the methods used are particularly sound, but I do need to read more closely. Some of the questions seem a touch ambiguous.

    For example, one question asks “On the whole, do you think it should or should not be the government’s responsibility to . . . Keep prices under control.”

    Does that refer to the prices of specific goods and services under all circumstances, some special cases, or does it ask whether government should control the overall price level by controlling inflation?

    Those are different questions.

    And there is another interesting proposition. “The government should provide everyone with a guaranteed basic income.” Recall that firebrand left-winger Milton Friedman proposed this. Anti-capitalist?

    1. Regarding Milton Friedman “proposing” a guaranteed basic income, that is just a LIE. Either bernard knows NOTHING about what Friedman actually said – that a guaranteed basic income was preferable to the mish mash of convoluted social welfare programs designed and run by the government, but was STILL a bad idea in that it created perverse incentives – or bernard is willfully lying to you. But maybe bernard is just too dense to understand what Friedman was actually saying.

      https://youtu.be/LNffhKX4KC8

      1. maybe bernard is just too dense to understand what Friedman was actually saying

        Much more likely to be a common or garden example of what Gail Heriot was noting in the next article down about the perceptions of newsworthiness. Who remembers anecdotes that refute their prejudices ? We remember sayings and stories that we like, accurate or not. Perfectly normal. Nothing to see here. Move along.

        Which is why politicians don’t tell self depreciating stories or jokes against themselves, like normal people do.
        Their enemies will simply delete the smile, edit the quote to taste, and tell it as a confession of guilt.

        1. Which is why politicians don’t tell self depreciating stories or jokes against themselves, like normal people do.

          In Massachusetts politics, nothing is more prized than a politician’s ability to seem self-deprecating. A personal favorite of mine, to then-candidate for governor, William Weld:

          (Reporter): “Can you name a personal fault of yours?”

          (Weld, without hesitation): “I’m lazy.”

          It was perfect jujitsu, because it not only showed Weld’s willingness to self-deprecate, but also his insight that energetic politicians make constituents nervous.

      2. From Capitalism and Freedom:

        Suppose one accepts, as I do, this line of reasoning as justifying governmental action to alleviate poverty; to set, as it were, a floor under the standard of life of every person in the community. There remain the questions, how much and how.

        1. Learn to read bernard. That quote does not endorse a universal basic income. The language you quoted could just as easily justify poor houses and soup kitchens. The question of how.

          1. “How much” is also a critical question, to which the answer is workfare. Far too much of the debate about poverty is about income and not nearly enough is about {income minus the labor required to get it.}

            If welfare gives a man $150 dollars a week to do nothing, then a job paying $250 a week for 40 hours hard tiring dirty work is effectively paying $2.50 an hour. Many folk will think that a poor wage. Whereas if you have to do 40 hours of hard tiring dirty work to get your welfare check, the incentives are transformed. You can get yourself an extra $100 a week for no extra work at all.

            1. Lee,

              “How much” is also a critical question, to which the answer is workfare.

              Friedman’s answer is:

              I see no way of deciding ”how much” except in terms of the amount of taxes we, by which I mean the great bulk of us, are willing to impose on ourselves for the purpose.

              IOW he is prepared to put the question in the political arena.

              If your answer, whatever the final number, is workfare, do you favor government programs to backstop the labor market, providing employment during recessions and the like, not to mention a bureaucracy to determine who is and is not capable of working, earning $X or$Y, etc.?

              By the way, the book is here.

              My quotes come from pp. 157-8

              1. bernard : do you favor government programs to backstop the labor market, providing employment during recessions and the like, not to mention a bureaucracy to determine who is and is not capable of working, earning $X or$Y, etc.?

                First, I quite accept that workfare like any kind of welfare is a cost to the taxpayer, and it is a political question as to how much, if anything, the taxpayer should contribute. The answer varies according to the wealth of the society. The US could afford workfare, India could not. And yup, workfare has some nasty bureaucratic costs as with any government program to “correct” what the market has wrought.

                I don’t support government programs to “backstop the labor market” – I favor government programs to deal with the consequences of some workers’ productivity being sufficiently low that the market will not pay them enough to survive. When I say I “favor” government programs, I mean I favor charity way ahead of government programs. But practically the welfare state has crowded out charity so effectively that it’s a long road back to charity based welfare.

                1. Government programs to cope with unemployment in a recession are, IMHO, a really bad idea as they delay and sometime entirely prevent the market correction of wages. Unemployment of productive workers is almost entirely the effect of labor market rigidities created by the state – definitely not excluding welfare.

                  And the problem with negative income tax as Friedman recognised, is that it does not solve the problem of incentives, for precisely the reason that I mentioned up front. You want a real job to pay better than welfare. And if you have to work through the value of forty hours leisure first, you’re in a deep deep hole.

                  1. Government programs to cope with unemployment in a recession are, IMHO, a really bad idea as they delay and sometime entirely prevent the market correction of wages. Unemployment of productive workers is almost entirely the effect of labor market rigidities created by the state – definitely not excluding welfare.

                    Well, we are just going to have to disagree on this. There were plenty of recessions well before the New Deal and other modern efforts to deal with them. And of course Keynes showed that the market is not a reliable mechanism for fixing things, and by the way, that labor market rigidities are not solely the consequence of government action. I’m sure someone will be along soon to claim Keynes was a fool, but I’ll rely on, among others, Greg Mankiw’s opinion from 2008.

                    IF you were going to turn to only one economist to understand the problems facing the economy, there is little doubt that the economist would be John Maynard Keynes. Although Keynes died more than a half-century ago, his diagnosis of recessions and depressions remains the foundation of modern macroeconomics. His insights go a long way toward explaining the challenges we now confront.

                    1. Keynes showed that……. that labor market rigidities are not solely the consequence of government action

                      Yes, by redefining involuntary unemployment to include folk who are willing to work for $200 a week when they are offered $125 a week as “involuntarily” unemployed. Which of course they are not.They are voluntarily unemployed. They merely don’t wish to take a job at the price offered (which they’re perfectly entitled to do.)

                      Of course individual humans have things they want to do and things they dont want to do, and prices they’re willing to do them at. Those are “rigidities” in the sense that Mr A and Ms B may not have a meeting of minds and so no transaction will occur. But that isn’t a market failure. A market failure is when X wants to work for more than $125 a week and X wants to employ him for less than $150 a week, and there’s something blocking the deal proceeding. The something is almost invariably the government, or something constructed with the assistance of the government.

                      Keynes was of course a very clever fellow and not an idiot at all. But once he moved on to the business of advising governments he was no longer attempting to understand economics in the spirit of academic enquiry, he was merely jerry building arguments to bolster the policy prescriptions he favored.

                    2. Yes, by redefining involuntary unemployment to include folk who are willing to work for $200 a week when they are offered $125 a week as “involuntarily” unemployed.

                      I think this is just inaccurate. Keynes talked a lot about downward rigidity in wages as an actual observed phenomenon. The whole point was that the market did not in fact adjust wages downward as classical theory suggested it should.

                    3. Downward rigidity in wages was a well observed phenomenon long before Keynes, but that does not mean that such downward rigidity was a failure of the market, nor that classical economists before Keynes claimed that wages would adjust downwards instantly and automatically. As this

                      https://uneasymoney.com/2014/02/06/
                      why-are-wages-sticky/

                      explains, Keynes’ argument was quite different. He argued that even if nominal wages did adjust downwards that would not solve unemployment. What was required to solve unemployment in Keynes’ view was a good dose of inflation.

                      In a recession, what happens is that what was originally a single wage differentiates – the more productive workers are retained, and the less productive ones are laid off. The market wage for the former stays put, more or less, because the employer can get 80% of the old work from 50% of his best workers. But because the employer does not foresee an expansion of production, he no longer needs the other 50%. He might hire them at 25% of the old wage, but they’re not willing to work for that.

                      To get back into employment, these low productivity workers need to accept painful cuts in wages. Any government palliative measures simply delay the moment when they realise this. And the longer they stay out of work, the less employable they become.

                    4. There were plenty of recessions well before the New Deal and other modern efforts to deal with them

                      Indeed there were :

                      https://fee.org/articles/the-depression-
                      youve-never-heard-of-1920-1921/

            2. “How much” is also a critical question, to which the answer is workfare.

              Why must compulsion to do distasteful work be reserved for the poor? Why not also a separate, and far more generous standard for the rich, in deference to their status? Let the earners of dividends, interest, and capital gains keep as much of that income as they can earn, by working alongside the poor, in poor people’s jobs, but paid at 10 times the poor peoples’ rate of pay. Imagine the envy of their co-workers.

              And as for the balance of that unearned income, let it be taxed and applied to the poor peoples’ wages, to boost them to a level where a rich person could feel properly rewarded by being paid 10 times that, for his own hard work. Call it workfare for everyone.

              1. Because it’s not compulsion. The rich are not asking for any money off the government as they live of their dividends, interest and capital gains. Indeed they’re paying taxes on those things. I agree that some people would like them to go to work to do something more productive than provide employment to yacht repairers and cocktail waitresses, but in a free society we don’t get to tell other people what to do.

                Unless they want to make a deal with us. Our employers give us money in return for labor. In most cases if they didn’t give us the money, we wouldn’t do the work.

                That’s the difference. A poor man (by which I mean for these purposes, a man whose labor is not valued highly by others) can

                (a) get a bad job and live off the proceeds
                (b) sponge off his friends and relations
                (c) ask for help from charity
                (d) ask for help from the government

                Only in the last case would the government require work in exchange for money. Just like a job in fact.

                So no, not being a communist or an Egyptian pharoah I do not believe that other people’s labour belongs to the state, to be directed by the state. I believe that people should do what they want. If they want help, they can accept the conditions that their helper attaches to the help at no cost to liberty at all.

                1. That’s a tidy-looking ideology you’ve got there. But as you describe it, it has kind of a vituperative tone.

                  Also, are you really certain that in actual practice there isn’t any compulsion built in? I ask because you don’t seem to answer the question why the poor man doesn’t knock the rich guy in the head, and just take what he needs. If you allow that as a possibility, seems like you have to account for why it doesn’t happen, especially in the case of a poor man short of necessities. I suggest compulsion has something to do with the answer. And it’s state compulsion, too, actually.

                  So how does your ideology discount that state compulsion down to nothing?

                  1. SL :That’s a tidy-looking ideology you’ve got there.

                    Not really an ideology – a set of prejudices, though some of them are postjudices. I’m a realist. So if my pre/postjudices don’t seem to be workable, they are selectively discardable in favor of things that might work better.

                    But as you describe it, it has kind of a vituperative tone

                    Sounds a bit rorsachy to me.

                    On to mugging. I agree. The state’s awesome power is used to punish muggers. I justify this on the basis that :

                    (a) there are very few people who think mugging should be allowed
                    (b) I agree with them
                    (c) freedom and anarchy are not the same thing – it’s entirely consistent with liberty for the state to punish crimes against persons or property, according to law
                    (d) and in any event the poor are much more frequently crime victims than are the rich, and the rich are much better placed to protect their persons and property without the help of the state than are the poor

                    So, no, legalising mugging doesn’t seem to be a wise, or just, policy. The rich man is far more likely to be able to knock the poor man on the head, than the other way round.

                    But aside from your quite radical proposal to allow the rich to beat the **** out of the poor without any legal comeback whatsoever, did you have another point ?

          2. You learn to read.

            This is followed immediately by the recommendation for a negative income tax.

            Here’s your argument in a nutshell:

            1. Friedman only advocated the NIT as the best kind of welfare program, not in and of itself.
            2. But, when he said he though government action to alleviate poverty was justified, he didn’t mean the NIT but soup kitchens.

            That makes no sense, but just for completeness, let me point out that two paragraphs after the above Friedman writes:

            The arrangement that recommends itself on purely mechanical grounds is a negative income tax.

        2. Friedman proposed the “negative income tax” which provided a floor on minimum income while at the same time preserving the incentive to work. Read about it here:

          http://www.econlib.org/library…..meTax.html

  11. It’s by no means clear that there is any agreement on what the word “Capitalism” means. Professor Lindgren’s method appears to regard “capitalism” as referring to laissez-fairs sort of regime, with tendencies towards redistribution policies regarded as not-capitalism.

    But this distinction might be so far to the right of anything on the UC Davis’ radar screen as to be irrelevant.

    By way of analogy, Orthodox Judaism and Islam both don’t interpret their scriptures somewhat differently from the way “The Fundamentals” manifesto says to interpret Christian scripture. Occasionally their spokespeople have relied on this difference to claim that what they do isn’f Fundamentalism. But nobody in general American society would have any trouble calling them fundamentalists, and would regard this type of attempt to distinguish them as hairsplitting.

    The UC Davis program might well, similarly, consider a left-wing Democratic position fully capitalist compared to what it thinks of as the alternative to capitalism, and regard the distinctions Professor Lindgren relies on as distinctions without a difference.

    1. The difference: Capitalism is a specific economic system with it’s own very specific history and literature. Fundamentalism is not one thing, but varies based on the underlying religion and sect. So, a fundamentalist Wahhabi Sunni Muslim will have a distinct belief system from even other Muslims, and might be completely on the other side from a fundamentalist Theravada Buddhist. If they were fundamentalist Quakers, they might not even be especially intolerant, though that’s one of the few common traits most fundamentalists share.

      Did you really mean to analogize “capitalist” to “fundamentalist”?

      1. Not at all. To the class of religious scholars who coined the term, it means something very specific, the viewpoint espoused in the collection of essays known as The Fundamentals published around 1910. People who might quite conservative religious views but who disagreed with the this viewpoint were non-fundamentalists, and sometimes proud of it. The term as originally coined obviously applied only to a specific subgroup of Protestantism and no other religion.

        Lay people later have the term a much broader meaning than it had in its original theological context.

        Like the religious scholars regarding fundamentalism, you believe capitalism has a specific, narrow meaning. But there is no more reason for you to have any more control over or even say in what capitalism means to outsiders than people who believe in the fundamentalist viewpoint do regarding the name of their movement.

        Anti-capitalists have just as much right to dismiss your definition of capitalism as absurdly narrow as you do the original definition of fundamentalism, and similarly to regard distinctions you thin central as comparatively inconsequential. Actual original Fundamentalists would be horrified at having the name of their movement associated with Judaism or Islam, but no matter. Same here.

        Both you and professor Lin

        1. For example, “fascism” is similar, having both a narrow and a broad meaning. In general, people who despise something tend to see signs of it under every rock and behind every tree, and hence tend to give it a much broader meaning than its original adherents. Insults, like mud, tend to splatter quite broadly. And this group seems to be using “captitalism” more as an insult or derogatory term than as a narrow scholarly term, perhaps in something like the way. E John Birch Society considered John F. Kennedy a Communist – and you use “fundamentalist.”

  12. 1) “I hate capitalism. More like *crap*italism, amirite?”

    2) “I consider myself an enemy of racism (at least the wrong sorts of racism.”

    3) “There must be a connection between these things which I hate.”

    THEREFORE: “Let’s do a seminar!”

    1. This seems to be intersectionality theory in a nutshell.

      1. They don’t study giant evolving memeplexes — collections of memes — that adapt to gather followers to seize power? How do they even know the machine they are an unthinking gear in?

  13. “In debates over the roles of law and government in promoting the equality of income or in redistributing the fruits of capitalism, . . . .”

    Why should we bother with debates over the roles of law and government in these endeavors before we have even had a meaningful debate about the desirability of “promoting equality of income or redistributing the fruits of capitalism”? The whole notion that government has any business at all in “promoting equality of income” is based upon the most appalling ignorance and innumeracy, the misuse of statistics that those screaming the loudest just don’t understand, and the incredible arrogance of the assumption that “government” (meaning, of course, the people capable of pulling the right strings) have some magical capacity to know just what level of inequality of income is “right.” The notion that government should be involved in “redistributing the fruits of capitalism” is built upon the equally ignorant and arrogant assumption that just because some folks don’t LIKE how the markets work in distributing the rewards of free and voluntary exchange, then it must be the markets, and not those self-appointed purveyors of envy, which is somehow wrong. Idiocy. Pure, unadulterated idiocy.

    1. Well I’d go for 90% idiocy rather than unaduterated idiocy. There’s subjective values to be taken into account. There are some folk* whose value systems regard :

      (a) everyone having enough wealth / income to consume goods and services to the value of $35 a day

      as better than

      (b) 90% of the population having three times as much as they would have had under (a) and 10% having a hundred times as much.

      In practice (a) is unachievable, because although it’s possible – even quite easy – to make almost everyone poor, it always turns out that administering this poverty requires high powered fellows* who need to get quite a bit more than the working man. (Not a few of the “some folk” see themselves as future “high powered fellows” btw.)

      (b) is pretty easy too – but the feeling that some people are doing better than you can be pretty enraging. The rich should pay more ! That would be everyone richer than me. Especially that miserable Matt from high school who was way below me in school and now makes out like a bandit, owning a plumbing company. A system that could allow that to happen can’t be right.

  14. My favorite part of this essay is the conclusion, in which Lindgren goes to the always popular “everyone else is biased” argument:

    “One suspects that these fairly obvious relationships have been missed by social scientists in part because of researchers’ own motivated social cognition. … In exploring these issues, using representative samples of the general public can help to reduce the tendency of academic researchers to fall prey to the same sorts of biases and motivated social cognition that they attribute to the subjects of their research” (35).

    In short: ‘everyone who has reached different conclusions than me in studying this ideologically infused issue is biased. But I’m not biased. It’s everyone but me that’s biased. I’m immune to that motivated reasoning thing, which is why I can say that others have fallen victim to it.’ This from a law and economics professor, with a bio on The Federalist Society’s webpage, writing in defense of capitalism, blogging about his essay on a libertarian blog. But what makes this game fun is that now someone can respond to me saying that I’m biased, after which someone can respond to them saying they are biased. It’s motivated reasoning all around!!

    But seriously, if the bi-variate analysis gets published by an academic journal (peer-reviewed, not reviewed by students) then I’ll give some weight to the findings. I will acknowledge that, according to his Wikipedia page, “James Lindgren is a hero to humanity.” As a human, I thank you.

    1. So, you’re incapable of independently evaluating arguments and evidence? Perhaps you should start your comments that way, as a service to readers?

  15. Yes. That was easy.

    1. Is any institution not “racist”?

  16. A more useful question, still open in my opinion, is “Can there be a ban on racism (or race discrimination) that doesn’t produce more unfairness than it prevents (by wasting our time and effort on false claims of racism by plaintiffs who were fired, not served, etc. for well-deserved reasons)?”

    These false claims certainly outnumber all other forms of racism today many times over. Which is why it’s high time for laws against discrimination (by other than government) to go away.

  17. I will grant that some form of racism has been found in every culture BUT, where is the evidence that racism was BEFORE capitalism?

  18. Capitalism requires competition, which selects for quality, which eliminates racism. Read my Women’s Power and Social Revolution (1989, Sage Publications) for a clear example (Barbados) well illustrated also all over the world.

    1. What if the market determines that one “race” (however one defines that term) is, for whatever genetic, environmental, or cultural reason, less valuable (however one defines that term)?

  19. Were/are Quakers capitalist?; is Quakerism racist?

  20. Freedom and liberty permit one to be racist. And the free and voluntary exchange of goods is part of freedom and liberty.

    So if we wish to be free then we have to allow some folks to be racist. Its OK there aren’t that many of them.

  21. My contention is that there is no history without colonialism, which some people today insist is synonymous with racism. It is a hard wired evolutionary imperative that we will seek to better ourselves by mobility. Of course, it is also a certainty that if we go to lands already occupied by other humans, our co-existance with them will be problematic.

    The original culture and the newcomers may meld together, or they may continue

    1. in symbiosis, or one culture may outright subordinate or eliminate another (though the latter may choose to put itself into exile which means it is on the road to imperial adventure somewhere itself.)

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