Why Capitalism is Better than Socialism

Even under ideal conditions, socialism would still suck, says Georgetown's Jason Brennan.


“We’re not the Borg from Star Trek. We want to engage in private projects we do by ourselves and not with others," says Jason Brennan, an associate professor of philosophy at Georgetown University.

Brennan's new book, Why Not Capitalism?casts a critical eye on a notion with wide appeal among academics, politicians, and the general public: That even though history has shown that socialism is unworkable in practice, it's still the best way to run society in theory

Brennan says that such thinking neglects the fact that even in utopia people will have significantly different visions of a life well lived. “You want a system under which you can realize all these different conceptions of the good life and the good community,” he argues. Even in a world free of petty rivalries, tribalism, and human failings, capitalism would still be superior because it uniquely affords citizens the rights and freedoms necessary to customize their lives and pursue their own, personally meaningful projects.

Interview by Rob Montz, who also edited the piece.

Camera by Amanda Winkler and Joshua Swain.

About 8 minutes.

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  1. many groups manage to live ‘socially’ or at least in an odd way, like the Amish and Mennonites, without trying to make all of us live that way.

    How many Hippy communes survive today?

    1. How can we expect people to understand how simple capitalism is. The average American student is still being taught that FDR was a good guy.

    2. That’s precisely the point I feel like socialists and liberals and your average college undergrad overlook. With capitalism you can pretty much do as you damn well please, as long as you’re not actually hurting anyone else. With socialism the options are severely limited.

  2. I can’t watch the video here at work atm, but I read his book recently and it’s a thought provoking and relatively quick read. His parody of Cohen’s Why Not Socialism? using the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse as his “ideal” capitalist society is very clever.

    In Cohen’s book he paints socialism as a “camping trip” with perfect moral actors and then compares it to a very uncharitable view of “real world” capitalism. Brennan flips it around and makes the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse his ideal of capitalism. They have private property, but they’re all loving and caring and help each other all the time. It’s a show for toddlers, so the characters are more or less morally perfect for his thought experiment.

    He then see what happens when we compare their world to “real world” socialism. Donald Duck starts nationalizing the farms and quoting Lenin, Goofy is put in charge of the gulag and Mickey becomes Premier for life. The fallacy of Cohen’s argument become blatantly apparent.

  3. Capitalism: A system of expanding prosperity.
    Socialism: A system of expanding misery.

    1. This said, bear in mind, bachelors of Reason, that the family is a fundamentally socialist institution.

      1. “bachelors of Reason,”

        ad hominem, invalid argument…

        “family is a fundamentally socialist institution.”

        Except it’s not. The issue isn’t whether you share or not. The issue is whether government is allowed to initiate physical force against its citizens or not. In a proper laissez-faire capitalist system the initiatory use of physical force would be banned for everyone, most especially for government.

      2. You can leave your family and even join or start another one.

        Almost all kids do.

        Also if the Family is socialist then why do almost all socialist totalitarian regimes try to destroy it?

  4. Why Capitalism is Better than Socialism

    USSR, Cuba, Venezuela, DPRK, etc.

  5. Because if people were so good that socialism could work, co could capitalism. Or as one of the founding fathers said, if me were angels, we wouldn’t need government.

    Or as I say, a reasonably good facsimile of socialism can be simulated by contract under individualism, but nothing remotely individualistic is allowed under socialism. Therefore, in the absence of vast social experiments proving definitely that one is better than the other, it’s best to default to individualism and let the socialists contract with each other to get 99% of what they claim to want.

    1. Of course it’s that last 1% that they can’t get under that system that drives them apoplectic.

      A socialist goes into an ice cream shop, sees all those flavors and orders one. He then sees the production of the other flavors as misallocation of goods. You would only like one of the other flavors if you were racist, sexist, elitist…. At it’s core socialism is the attitude of a 3 year old unable to conceptualize that individuals have different interests than himself.

  6. I’ve seen Brennan posting at BHL, but he makes for an outstanding interview. You sold me, Brennan & Montz; I’ll read the book.

    The cover, set side by side with Cohen’s Why Not Socialism, is beyond awesome.

  7. Sarcasm Button On:
    RE: Why Capitalism is Better Than Socialism
    Comrades! Socialism is superior to capitalism. Socialism eliminates the human weeds from humanity. One only has to look at the benevolent socialist policies of Lenin, Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot to recognize the efficiency of socialism’s elimination of excess humanity. About a hundred million people died under these merciful socialist dictators. Socialism has a few bugs in its system, not when it comes to its killing capabilities. Socialism liberated the masses from such repressive conditions as engaging in free speech, free press, owning a small business, etc. The people under these freedom loving totalitarians never had to worry about thinking for themselves, free elections or leaving their new benign gulag state. Socialism also refined terror. Terror has been around for a long time, but it was the socialist elitists who perfected it. Now the populace of these wonderful dictatorships could appreciate the adrenaline rush of being awoken in the middle of the night by the secret police and being punched, kicked and beaten into unconsciousness just before you and your family is sent to the local gulag to be shot. Can the majority of capitalist states they’ve done this? No, they can not. Only socialism has been able to introduce so many millions to terror, repression and murder on a grand scale. We socialists call that progress.
    Sarcasm Button Off

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