History: The Struggle for Liberty

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6. The New World of Capitalism

  • History the Struggle for Liberty 2003

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09/03/2004Ralph Raico

In the face of overwhelming evidence of the prosperity of capitalism, Marxists were forced to rephrase their arguments from material provisions to quality of life. Robert Nozick, a brilliant philosopher of liberty, became a libertarian. Anarchy, State, and Utopia, his main book, dominates debate in political philosophy.

Why were intellectuals so hostile toward the market place and private property? Only state interventionism was seen as virtuous. Hayek saw that intellectuals had egalitarian biases, but felt they meant well. They just had scientistic prejudice. Schumpeter remarked that Hayek was polite to a fault.

Schumpeter held that the key to intellectual hostility was the education and literacy that the capitalist wealth machine made possible – the freedom to nibble at the foundations of the capitalist society. This analysis is in his most popular book Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy.

Mises was not polite to a fault. His focus on this issue cites work about money making having been stigmatized. Western culture has had contempt for money making, commerce, merchants and business people. Entrepreneurs and capitalists themselves are swayed by the moral outlook which damns their activity.

Lecture 6 of 10 from Ralph Raico's History: The Struggle for Liberty.


Ralph Raico

Ralph Raico (1936–2016) was professor emeritus in European history at Buffalo State College and a senior fellow of the Mises Institute. He was a specialist on the history of liberty, the liberal tradition in Europe, and the relationship between war and the rise of the state. He is the author of The Place of Religion in the Liberal Philosophy of Constant, Tocqueville, and Lord Acton.

A bibliography of Ralph Raico's work, compiled by Tyler Kubik, is found here.

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