Capitalism: the road to Freedom

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Sarah Henderson. p7. Ludwig von Mises states that “freedom is to be found only in a sphere in which government does not interfere” and doesn’t everyone just want to be free? Then why do we have a government? The answer is this: one may not have liberty, or freedom from a government, but one does have the freedom to plan for himself. One may be free without having liberty. However, this would not be possible in a socialistic society as they control every aspect of their people’s lives. As human beings we are political animals, we thrive with competition and are better when functioning with reason in a society.  People can either be controlled by a government, whether it be laissez faire or not, or they can choose to rebel and deal with the consequences. Capitalism is an economic system that gives a person more opportunity, less oppression, gives the power to the people, encourages free thinking, but still maintains a well-organized and contained society. The question is: is it possible to have a capitalistic society and still grant freedom to all the citizens?  

 

Many people misunderstand and have a difficult time determining what it really means to be free because the definition of freedom varies considerably. One way of putting it is having the ability to do as you please without having to bear any consequences, complete independence. In America people believe they have freedom of speech, and they know they won’t get physically shot down if they arrange a protest and express their thoughts, lucky them. However, the price of doing such would not be free and would not come easily. A person has the choice to rebel, but the rebel has to a pay a price for his dissent. If Ludwig von Mises is correct, freedom means allowing one to choose between assent and dissent, so capitalism is freedom. But, if having to pay a price is not freedom; then capitalism could be considered oppressive.

 

There cannot be civilization or movement towards peace without a government because if everyone was free to act on their every impulse, humans would be more like animals. Living in a society sets humans apart from animals; we are superior because we have the ability to act with reason. However, if you took a minute to think of all the definitions of freedom, you would find that even though one is not free to do whatever he wants like in an animal kingdom, he is still free to live civilized among other human beings; striving for fairness. He is given the freedom to be happy and fulfill his function within an effective state, and he is given the opportunity to be who he needs to be, a political animal.

 

Now, before deciding whether one is free under a capitalistic society, a person must understand what capitalism is and the goals that attempt to be accomplished. Capitalism operates with a market economy, which allows individuals to choose how they wish to assimilate into the frame of social cooperation; again, to be a rebel or not to be? The motto that “the sovereign customers are always right” proves to be extremely effective for capitalist economies. A person may choose to invest in the market, risking to loose capital, but betting to gain more. This is a freedom that socialism does not offer. By allowing and encouraging citizens to save and invest, the economy is growing from the market. In addition, accumulating wealth under capitalism has one key factor: to serve the consumer. The competition comes in when another producer is serving the consumers cheaper and with better quality. If a person has the opportunity to move up and down social rankings, the competition will forego innovation that will empower the society to prosper. The success of one’s production depends on the demands of the masses. Why make a product if the consumers do not need it? Exactly, you wouldn’t. Although the manufacturers and innovators seem like they hold the power, the consumer is the true controller of economic power within the market.

 

When discussing freedom, it is supposed that one would seek freedom for all, or at least freedom for the masses. Capitalism strives to satisfy the masses, if the masses want freedom, the government will work to keep the citizens pleased and will be less restrictive. Socialism is freedom for one person, and that is the dictator. He basically tries to please himself, which does not make for a very pleased society, but they are oppressed and unable to make a change. Just because a government rids the society of serfdom or slavery, doesn’t mean everyone is automatically free. Repression and fear to speak out or inability to escape a job is not considered freedom, and these situations still occur today in socialistic societies.

 

Private property is another controversial topic within the realm of freedoms. Abolishing private property would be taking away the independence of a person. A person should have the opportunity and freedom to own property if the individual has the necessities to do so. The properties of the state belong to the government in a socialistic society, which never would have passed in Capitalism because if a voter knew that abolishing private property rights was on a president’s agenda, they would never get elected. That is the influence of the people at work, the power of their vote; which socialist citizens are denied. Owning property gives a citizen a since of pride in their land and provides them with a trusting independence from the state.

 

Completely contrasting Capitalism, Socialism puts the power completely in the hands of the dictator; taking all sovereignty away from the consumer. The consumers are therefore not encouraged to save and not permitted to invest. The choice to do so is completely void, and the people become a pawn in the ruling of their dictator. Our freedom to vote for the leader of our nation is completely foreign to socialist societies as the people embrace absolutely no control. When there are not enough people that will voluntarily possess a necessary job to the society, socialists often resort to coercion and manipulation of the people. In order to survive in a socialistic society, one must completely give oneself to the orders of the “central planner”. This is complete oppression of the people’s rights as human beings and could not be argued in any way as freedom. For example, the supporters of the Soviet system propose that freedom is not the supreme good and is unnecessary if indicates poverty. The Russians bargained freedom for wealth of the masses and came out with neither one of them. Striving for wealth of the masses by completely controlling a society is not the way to benefit the masses, as the Soviets proved.

 

            Liberty, without the restriction of a state, would ultimately lead to a corrupt and animalistic world. People would no longer be oppressed by a government, but they would be oppressed and destroyed by one another. A government gives people the opportunity to fulfill their function and be happy, but the best form must be chosen to do so. Winston Churchill said, “Democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others.” This quote blatantly describes the issue that a utopian society in the world is impossible, but capitalism is the closest we have come, and the society will continue to find ways to better improve the lives of the people in a society. All solutions to a improved society have both costs and benefits, which is why the form of government and the leader and the laws are always debatable. The history of America rising out of the dirt and becoming a better, stronger, and independent nation is proof enough that human beings will continue to better society and continue to blend freedom and government. America has little government intervention under capitalism, and the nation is still strong and innovative as ever. 

 

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