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By George Reisman
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How Capitalists Can Be Socialists

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At the present moment, we are witnessing a phenomenon that to many people appears bizarre and inexplicable: the phenomenon of wealthy capitalists supporting socialism/communism.

Capitalists, we have been taught, are supporters of capitalism, indeed, the only supporters of capitalism, because they are allegedly the only ones who gain from capitalism. Everyone else is assumed to be a victim of capitalism’s alleged exploitation of labor.

The actual significance of this phenomenon is that it constitutes a living refutation of the doctrine of “identity politics,” according to which people’s ideas and actions are determined by their group membership in terms of economic class, race, or gender.

The truth is that what people advocate is determined by their ideas and values, not their membership in this or that group. This includes the fact that the policies that actually serve an individual’s self-interest is a matter of economic science, not group membership.

The beliefs associated with the alleged interests of this or that group, such as labor and social legislation, confiscatory taxation of the rich, and government ownership, being in the interest of the wage earners, turn out to be nothing more than unchallenged, frozen ignorance.  

They are a bundle of errors. In contrast, a wage earner who understands economics knows that his material well-being is served by capitalism and capitalists. For the capital of the capitalists is the source of the supply of the products that he buys and of the demand for the labor that he sells.

This, of course, means that the greater the number of capitalists and their average wealth, the higher are wages and the lower are prices.

Just as wage earners who understand economics, support capitalism, businessmen and capitalists who don’t understand economics but instead have accepted the nonsensical theories of Marx, stand with the enemies of capitalism.

This has been true from the very beginning, starting with Marx’s collaborator and personal benefactor Friedrich Engels, a wealthy cotton mill owner. Indeed, it goes back even earlier, to Robert Owen, a leading “utopian socialist” textile manufacturer early in the 19th Century.

An interesting question for psychologists and psychotherapists is how anti-capitalist capitalists are able to live with themselves. They believe that what they are doing is robbing their workers and making them suffer, but they go on doing it.

Is it really sufficient for them to be able to say they are financing the ultimate overthrow of the capitalist system, while on the basis of their beliefs, they think they are causing massive suffering every day, while they themselves enjoy all kinds of luxuries?

I’m tempted to coin a couple of names for this condition: “double inverted schizophrenia” and “capitalists’ socialism syndrome.” The schizophrenic element is a socialist belief-system in opposition to one’s every-day capitalistic behavior.

The “double inversion” part refers to the fact that the actual behavior entailed in being a capitalist is profoundly beneficial to wage earners, while the atonement for that behavior is what is destructive and evil.


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