While listening to Wes Bertrand’s latest Complete Liberty Podcast, I heard about a disturbing Rasmussen poll in the US that stated only 53% of American’s think capitalism is better than socialism.
So, despite the horrors of the Soviet Union, Cambodia, the East Bloc even current Communist China, and the abject failure of domestic socialist policies, the poll says that 20% of Americans think Socialism is better than capitalism and 27% don’t know which was better. That’s 47% of Americans who don’t like capitalism. The numbers for those under 30 are more shocking: only 37% prefer capitalism, with 33% preferring socialism and a full 30% unsure either way.
Where do these ideas come from? The pat answers, of course, are the “government school system” or “brainwashing” or “ignorance” and all kinds of other common libertarian shibboleths. The truth is that the blame can be laid at the feet of the very people who have for years claimed to be the defenders of “capitalism” – the vulgar libertarians who try to use the language of capitalism and free markets in order to apologize for and promote the current state-capitalist, economic fascist system.
The poll report itself confirms this, based on a previous poll in which a healthy 70% of repsondents supported the free market.
“The fact that a “free-market economy” attracts substantially more support than “capitalism” may suggest some skepticism about whether capitalism in the United States today relies on free markets.”[emphasis mine]
So, needless to say, when American Republicans and Canadian Conservatives call our current system of state interference in the market with regulations, tariffs and cartels created to benefit their favoured corporate donors and then call it “capitalism”, it is no wonder people don’t think capitalism works. Given the Enron’s, Tycos and Lehman Brothers of the world or the various Savings and Loan, tech-bubble or current government bailout schemes, it is then hardly surprising. If that is capitalism, then they are right.
Of course, that isn’t capitalism, but mercantilism or fascism. But because the vulgar libertarians call it “capitalism”, those common sense folks who see clearly that it doesn’t work, that it isn’t fair or that it is incredibly exploitative are driven into the arms of real socialists and fascist who have no qualms about using the state openly to achieve their ends. Their purposeful conflation of our current system with “capitalism” blinds people who clearly would prefer a “free market” to the real libertarian message of non-aggression and voluntary association.
In short, the vulgar libertarians in the Conservative and Republican parties are the useful idiots of the socialist and statist they claim to deplore. It shows in the nonsense of the teabaggers, who not only don’t have a clue what “teabagging“ is, they cause legitimate criticism of the Federal Reserve system to be associated with insane conspiracy theories about FEMA camps, 9-11 Truthers and thus completely ignored and discredited. I cannot image a better and more effective way to fight against libertarian ideals than to associate with the likes of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh or most of the Republican Party/Fox News crew who are promoting this. If I were a statist, this would be a perfect “Goldstien’s Book” approach to destroy and marginalize libertarianism.
The only bright spot is that most Americans still believe in the free market and do seem to be able to differentiate between the free market and capitalism, when it is put to them right. This is a glimmer of hope for real libertarian efforts.
But make no mistake, Republicans who talk about free markets, but then turn around and vote for earmarks or bailouts or deficits for war are not our allies. They use our language to work against our ends in an insidious fashion. They are against our goals as surely as social democrats, socialists or communists are. At least the social democrats, socialists or communists are honest and up front about their position.