The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 64.0°F | Light Rain

Ideas- Social Darwinism and Capitalism are not the same

[vb.25,.26,.28,.99,0]

Ideas: Social Darwinism and

Capitalism are not the same

To the Editor:

I would like to comment on an article by Mr. Tom Foo ["Students need sensitivity," March 5] regarding his appeal for a civilized society and against a capitalist one. I maintain that Social Darwinism, Capitalism and neoconservative thought are not the same and that Capitalism rather than socialism will lead to wealthier, and therefore more "civilized" societies.

It is my impression that Tom believes Social Darwinists advocate the principle of selfishness (I take it that selfishness means caring only about yourself). Tom implies that neoconservatives and Capitalists also advocate selfishness. This is not the case; Capitalists advocate the private control of capital while socialists advocate the public or governmental control (and redistribution) of capital.

Although I believe that some Capitalists advocate selfishness, what Mr. Foo implies, and what other ultra-radical-left-wing-extremists maintain, is that Capitalists necessarily advocate selfishness. For this to be true, private (or individual) control of capital must be a selfish act. Private control implies private property, and<>

[el-37l]

private property implies ownership; that an individual can decide what will be done with the property that she (or he) owns.

But having the ability to decide how to invest (or spend) one's<>

property (wealth) is not the same as caring only about yourself -- it is caring only about deciding for yourself! Mr. Foo has confused avocating individual freedom with advocating selfishness. Neoconservatives embrace capitalism and individual freedom, not Social Darwinism.

It is my impression that Tom believes civilized societies must include forced redistribution of wealth (government "welfare" programs). The "severe austerity policies" against forced redistribution (Reagan's of course) are "uncivilized," Tom implies because they will cause "poverty ridden unemployed youth" to take up arms-i.e. become criminals resulting in uncivilized behavior.

However, there is abundant evidence that the redistribution policies of the last twenty years have not created wealth -- they have destroyed it by squandering capital. The amount of wealth that the government redistributed has increased dramatically during the last twenty years, not only in<>

[el-37l]

the US but also in Europe and Third World countries.

What we "neoconservatives" realize is that there has not been a corresponding increase of wealth in these countries; rather there has been a decline in the standard of living including the poor's. In addition, in those countries which have embraced<>

Capitalism, (Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong for example) there have been dramatic increases in wealth -- including the poor. We neoconservatives believe that capitalism, not socialism has led, and will lead to wealthier (and freer) societies.

I recommend Mr. Foo read some books on free market economics including: The Constitution of Liberty by F.A. Hayek, Human Action by Ludwig von Mises, and Man, Economy, and State by Murray Rothbard. Maybe then he will understand why I said (and he correctly quoted me in his article) "I don't have to live life; I can read it." To put this into the context of our conversation, "I don't have to live in a ghetto to know poverty is a bad thing. Economists have written about how to eliminate poverty, and I think there is a solution. It is free-market Capitalism".

Paul A. Lindahl G->