Are you a capitalist who supports socialism?


I don’t want to speak for Slappy, but one of the main reasons I wanted to start writing my thoughts down and posting them to the internet was so that I could help transition other people into the liberty movement.  My goal was to help be the catalyst to open up minds and change them.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m absolutely thrilled that we have readers who are already on our side and agree with our positions.  Those people play an important role, especially in the beginning.  They are our “regulators”—they let us know if we’re on the right track.  I’m not suggesting that anyone is infallible, but if we have people who we think are our allies agree with us, then we might actually be doing something right.

None of my articles are supposed to exclude any group.  I think that anyone can get something out of anything whether you completely agree or disagree or are somewhere in between.  Sometimes, however, I target a certain audience in individual posts.  This is one of those times.  I want to specifically engage what I’ll call the “Obama Socialism”-hating patriots.  These are many Tea Party advocates, conservatives, Republicans, and even many times, minarchists.  I’m talking about the people who generally consider themselves advocates for capitalism, hate Obamacare (and “Obama Socialism”), and also are politically active or favor having the government active in our lives.

Many of you balk at the idea of removing government from all sectors of life and the economy.  While you despise a strong central government, you claim that “not all government is bad” or “we need some government for a number of functions in society.”  One of your favorite arguments against eliminating government is “what about the roads?”  Well, let’s talk about the roads for a bit.

If you believe that the government should handle the roads, but at the same time find the idea of Obamacare abhorrent (for good reason), I have to ask you a question.  Why?  Do you not realize that the government ownership and regulation of the roads is also a form of state socialism?  How do you trumpet the merits of capitalism while simultaneously defending such an obviously socialistic system?

And it’s not just the roads.  Other routinely defended socialist institutions are education, defense, police, firefighting, courts, market regulation, etc.  You might say that you favor bidding out the contracts for this work to private companies, but isn’t that really just a distinction without a difference?

When you hear the words “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” from a liberal, it makes you want to stick needles in your ears.  When we talk about the above mentioned markets, that’s the exact argument you make.

So are you a capitalist like you say you are, or do you believe socialism has its own merits and is a legitimate, ethical, and/or beneficial way to structure a market?  Or do you think that it depends on the market?

If you do believe that it all depends on the market we’re talking about, what is it exactly that makes certain markets different from others at their cores?  Are you suggesting that some markets operate on one set of rules and other markets operate on other sets?  How many sets of rules are there?  How do you pick which sets of rules should govern which markets?

It all quickly becomes pretty hairy, doesn’t it?

But these are legitimate questions.  How can you formulate such strong opinions when it is clear that you do not have consistent views?

I don’t expect anyone to read this and say, “You know what, he’s absolutely right; I’d better become a Stalinist or a voluntarist if I want to claim intellectual integrity.”  What I’m asking is that you honestly look at your views and see if you can find any inconsistencies or contradictions.  Then see if you can figure out a way to correct them.  It may be a little bit painful to admit that you’re wrong about something, but it’s such a liberating experience to do so.

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I’ve gotta disagree with you. There are some things that should be socialized. I consider myself a Tea Party conservative, and I see the Tea Party goal as getting the government to back out of the private sector it is currently intruding. Education is a prime example of something that should be socialized for the benefit of capitalism. How does the private sector work? It has fuel: educated people. The fact that our government forces everyone to complete at least a secondary education forms the foundation of capitalism. Education stimulates the economy, reduces crime, and improves overall quality of life.… Read more »
Rollo McFloogle

Thanks for the comment and the openness to discuss this!

I guess I’ll start off with asking how a foundation of socialism makes a good foundation for capitalism? I would argue that the foundation of capitalism is an environment that allows for voluntary transactions.