One Answer to an Important Social / Political / Economic Question of Our Time
Ira Katz has written a piece entitled “An Important Social/Political/Economic Question of Our Time.” In this, he examines some of the many criticisms of a free market, capitalist order. He ends the piece with an important question, and a challenge to the LRC community to answer the question, as follows (emphasis in original):
I believe hierarchy is a natural and necessary development of a functioning economy and society. But it seems to me most people believe in “equality” and that the dangers I have described are the results of capitalism itself. I am ready to defend a true free market and capitalism in every sense but on the surface it seems there can be some truth to this charge today. So I pose this question:
Is it inherent in the nature of free market capitalism for the most wealthy individuals and/or corporations to capture government power?
I believe the answer is critical in our efforts to maintain a free society and in determining ways to oppose this power? Mass disobedience is critically needed so people must be convinced that freedom is the basis of our civilization and the free market is one of the pillars that maintain it.
My challenge to the LRC community is to refute this charge against capitalism addressing the historical context, the current dilemma, and future directions.
Consider the following my humble contribution to what I hope is a more robust dialogue around this important question. I suspect that even my meager contribution will take more than one post…. I suspect this, because Ira’s question has brought to focus an issue I have been struggling with, an issue that I wasn’t sure how to succinctly address, one that – when outlined, as I have done – required an extensive list of topics.
My struggle was something along the lines of Ira’s challenge: “…addressing the historical context, the current dilemma, and future directions.” It is an overwhelming idea for me. I have written around this, many times and in many ways. But not succinctly, in a single narrative thread. I guess I should both thank Ira and curse him at the same time…
To begin, I will offer my understanding of some of the terms and concepts in the excerpt from Ira’s post, above.
“I believe hierarchy is a natural and necessary development of a functioning economy and society.”
To clarify, I will use the following definition of hierarchy, which, I believe, is also consistent with Ira’s intent:
…any system of persons or things ranked one above another.
Given this definition, it seems to me that “hierarchy is a natural and necessary development” …full stop. It could be toward a dysfunctional economy and society just as well as a functioning one.
There will always be a system of rankings and ordering. The only question is: what is the value that provides the basis for determining the rank and order?
“But it seems to me most people believe in “equality” …”
Equality (or, I suspect more accurately, egalitarianism) is the value that cur
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