The Moral Basis of Capitalism

Lecture under the auspices of the Free Market Road Show by Professor Andrew Bernstein

The Moral Basis of Capitalism: This talk opens by doing what is rarely done in political discourse: It provides rigorous definitions of such key concepts as “capitalism,” socialism,” and “mixed economy.” On this foundation, it shows that capitalism, the system of individual rights, protects an individual’s right to his own life and, consequently, to his own mind. Because of this, it liberates human brain power to make life-giving advances in every field. Numerous examples are provided from America’s freest period, the late-19th century, the period Prof. Bernstein dubbed, in his book, “The Capitalist Manifesto,” the “Inventive Period.” Under full socialism, conversely, a person’s life is socialized; it belongs not to him but to society. It stands to reason that if his life belongs to the state, so does his mind—and the only “thinking” an individual can do is that permitted by the state; all else is banned. Cultural stagnation and collapse are thereby assured.

This talk was given, in the Fall of 2016, at numerous conferences sponsored by European Students For Liberty (ESFL). It is based on material from Andrew Bernstein. “The Capitalist Manifesto: The Historic, Economic, and Philosophic Case for Laissez-Faire” [University Press of America, 2005].


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