I get into a lot of trouble when I say this, but it is true: Capitalism is not the same thing as the free market. I only wish the people who get upset when I say this understood why it is true. I’ve tried to explain it in the past and failed, but that was because I didn’t fully understand why it is true, myself. I’m not going to claim I understand it now, but I believe I understand it better, and that I might be able to explain it better now that I do. The key is in understanding Natural Law and how it is perverted for the purposes of control.A good friend of mine, and my ‘blogging mentor,’ Utah, who owns and operates The Rio Norte Line, wrote a piece that both explains the problem and illustrates my point — all at the same time. In his post, Greater Than God, Utah hits on the folly of trying to ignore Natural Law, but then misses the fact that Capitalism is a violation of that same Natural Law. Now, before I go any further, I want to be clear about something. I do not mean to slight Utah in any way. I mean no insult to anyone who thinks Capitalism is the free market. I used to believe it was, therefore, any accusation or criticisms I might make would apply equally to myself. So, please, understand that I am sincere when I say that I mean no insult. Rather, I believe many of us suffer from a common misconception whose modern origins can be traced to Marx, and that this is where we need to begin to understand how and why we’ve been deceived.
First, we need to understand the truth that Utah points out in his post: all attempts to overwrite Natural Law are merely man’s attempts to wrest control from God. The simple fact of the matter is that everything we do in this world is about control. In Marx’s case, we had a man who could not create, he could only consume. If you research his personal life, you will find that he mooched off the wealth of others. Even a basic laborer creates. A ditch digger makes a ditch, therefore, the ditch digger earns his living. But Marx couldn’t even bring himself to do that, and at least one of his children died of starvation as a result.
But Marx thought much more of himself than this. Really, we shouldn’t blame him: we all think more of ourselves than we should. But there are some of us humble enough to realize and admit this. Marx was among the majority who cannot. These people are very good at fooling themselves into believing they are something more than they are. I should know: I was one of the worse for the majority of my life. I thought more of myself and my opinion than either were worth, and when I didn’t think I was being properly appreciated, I constructed rationalizations for why the world was wrong and I was right. This is what Marxism is all about: a rationalization for living off the labor of others.
Marx wanted control of society. The first thing he had to do to seize that control was ‘kill God.’ After all, if one acknowledges the self-evident Creator, than no human can ever claim control. After Marx dismissed God, he then had to deal with those who create. In his time, the majority of these people either owned or worked for industry. Hence the term ‘industrialists.’ What Marx wanted was to present himself as morally superior to the industrialist while, at the same time, creating a justification for why the moochers of the world should rightfully be given control over all of society. But to do this, Marx was going to have to convince people to surrender their liberties to his control. This requires an enemy. So Marx coined a word for the industrialists. He called them ‘Capitalists,’ and with that word, Marx had his ‘enemy.’
Now, according to Marx, the ‘Capitalists’ were exploiting the workers, and in some ways, he was correct. We’ll get back to this shortly. Marx used one of the most basic of human failings against people: he used their own laziness and greed to convince them that the Capitalist was ‘bad’ because he was exploiting them and taking what they rightfully earned. At the same time, without ever having to say it, Marx created the belief that — since he was ‘fighting’ for them — Marx and his moochers were ‘good.’ In short: Marx was ‘fighting for the people,’ while the Capitalist was ‘exploiting the people.’ In truth, both Marx and the Capitalist were exploiting the people for control. The only difference was one created and the other mooched.
Marx advocated a violation of Natural Law. He called it Communism, but it was just another name for collectivism. For Marx, collective action was a way of taking control away from the creators. Today, they call themselves by other names, such as Progressives, Socialists, even ‘community organizers.’ But no one seems to understand that the Capitalist is also a collectivist.
What do we think of when we think of ‘Capitalism?’ Look it up sometime. You will find the only difference is that private individuals keep the profits of industry rather than the State. Marx wanted to become the State so he could use the power of government to take away from the Capitalist — period. In short, Marx just wanted to turn the tables of what already was, and what was were corporations owned and controlled by private individuals. However, by its very nature, a corporation is a collective action.
Here is where most people get confused. Just because a corporation is owned by private stock holders, that does not mean is it not a collective action. Corporations do not exist outside of society. Society is nothing more than the sum of all individuals within it. In a democracy or a republic, where the government is nominally under the control of those individuals, laws are passed to make corporations possible. Thus, a collective action created the corporation. Now, a creation is always under the control of its creator. This means the people — through their government — still retain control over the corporation. They could just as easily abolish it as allow it to continue. So, even though some individuals in a society may own the stock of a corporation, and collect profits from it, that does not change the basic fact: the corporation is an artificial entity created by a collectivist action.
But we need to go further. When we think of the collective, we think of a society where the people surrender their individuality to whomever controls the collective. That is what Marx was after: he wanted to convince the people to surrender their authority to government (naturally, he saw himself as being in control of that government). But how is this any different from the modern corporation? If you own stock, can you go in to that company and take a piece of it home to use for yourself? No! So you do not own that company. All you own is a piece of paper that gives you a right to maybe collect of the profits. But in this day and age, stock doesn’t even give you that right. Mostly, all stock is today is a form of legalized gambling. It certainly isn’t ownership. If it were, then you would collect the profits and could use company assets as you saw fit. But you cannot do these things because the corporation — for all practical purposes — belongs to the CEO and board — just as the various branches of government ‘belong’ to the people who control them.
So you see, both government and the corporation are collectivist in nature. They are created by a collective action and — at least in theory — are maintained by collective actions. How one can derive private from collective is beyond me. The only ‘public/private’ in the equation is who the heads of these collectivist entities will be: the creator or the moocher.
Now, that was a long way to go to explain that Capitalism is not the same thing as the free market. The free market relies on the individual. It does not require collectivist entities such as the government or corporation. Scripture actually commands a free market. It requires fair weights and measures, and ethical business practices. It also requires all — large and small — to be treated equally under the law, and that means Natural Law; God’s Law. Scripture commanded that man pass no law violating God’s laws. This is just as much a part of the free market as fair measures and equality under the law. However, all forms of collectivism are violations of Natural Law. They create things that become legal entities unto themselves, something that does not and cannot happen in nature. This includes the corporation. This is why Capitalism — as we know and understand it — is not the same thing as the free market.
I’ll close with a quick note. None of this means we cannot work together, but we need to understand that cooperation is not equal to collectivist. I wrote more about it in The Collective vs. the Cooperative. This is where, how and why I think we have been deceived: so that the moochers can convince us to surrender our Natural Rights to them. Our confusion is just how they do it without having to force us to give in to them. You see, if you accept that collectivism is ‘private,’ like accepting the assertion that Capitalism is private, then the argument is already won by the moocher. The Capitalist just happens to be a more creative moocher. He’s not only convinced you to accept the collectivist structure of the corporation, he’s got you defending it for him.