Robert Fulford conveys confusion about the meaning of capitalism ["Capitalism's guilt edge", National Post, March 25, 2006].
To suggest that poverty in China proves “capitalism works imperfectly” implies China practices capitalism. But capitalism, as defined by its greatest champion, Ayn Rand, “is a social system based on the recognition of individual rights, including property rights, in which all property is privately owned.” China is a collectivist dictatorship that permits some private enterprise–a far cry from pure capitalism.
Likewise, to suggest that capitalism failed in the 1930s evades the well documented anti-capitalist policies of the U.S. government that caused the depression.
But the most important question raised by Fulford is why capitalism is despised despite its proven ability to improve our lives. Fulford only hints at the answer by tying capitalism to “selfishness.” As Rand pointed out in such books as Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, capitalism is based on the morality of “rational self-interest” (one of today’s most subverted and misunderstood concepts); but our culture predominantly champions self-sacrifice or altruism as the moral ideal.
As long as people regard altruism as good, they will oppose or feel guilty about capitalism. It’s too bad because capitalism–properly understood and practiced–could improve our lives immensely and eliminate many of the world’s problems that are easily attributed to the politics of statism, which is based on the morality of altruism.