…from FA Hayek’s spring 1933 note, page 247 – entitled “Nazi-Socialism” – to William Beveridge, a note in the 2007 Open Edition Appendix (Bruce Caldwell, ed.) of FA Hayek’s classic and still relevant 1944 book; The road to serfdom:
The natural logic of collectivism makes it impossible to confine it to a particular sphere. Beyond certain limits, collective action that protects the interests of all can be taken when all those in power can be forced to accept what they have taken as their own interests. At that time, coercion should extend the ultimate goals and intentions of individuals and try to bring everyone together. Weltanschauung In agreement with the ideas of the rulers.
DBXHayek points to the main danger lurking in what many conservatives today call “capitalism for the common good.” of Word (“Common Good Capitalism”) Sports is an unmistakably elegant definition. Who is it anyway? He opposes Mutual benefit? Yet the essence – and threat – of “common good capitalism” lies in its premise.
Demanding to prefix “capitalism” with “common good” “common good capitalists” believe that a capitalist market system left to its own advantage is not conducive to the common good. The practice of prefixing “capitalism” with “common good” is intended to distinguish it from capitalism, as understood and maintained by its most respected champions, scholars such as Adam Smith, Frederic Bastiat, Ludwig. von Mises, FA Hayek, WH Hutt, Fritz McClupp, Ronald Coase, Milton Friedman, Armen Alchian, James Buchanan, Leland Yeager, Vernon Smith, Israel Kirzner, Harold Demsetts, Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, Dick Wagner, Deirdre McCloskey, and Robert Higgs.
The basic difference – and it is a category – is not defined by the prefix of capitalism and “common good capitalism” is only under the former that individuals are allowed to choose their own objective goals with equal rights for everyone. In contrast, under “common good capitalism” some objective goals are more important than other objective goals. Under “common good capitalism,” the state prevents some peaceful actions and coerces others in an attempt to artificially encourage and enable the achievement of objective goals favored by “common good capitalists.” Ironically, the “good” triumphantly described as “common” is nothing more than the “good” chosen by whichever “common capitalists” are in power.
Some “common good capitalists” are more open than such “capitalists” about their chosen objective goals – about the particular economic arrangements and ‘outcomes’ they believe are necessary for the common good. Oren Kass, for example, wants more factory work and a smaller financial sector. In addition, the government wants people to support people in their role as producers in their role as consumers. (Ignore here that Cass doesn’t understand that such coercion turns beloved ‘producers’ into the opposite of producers; it turns them into parasites.)
Other “common good capitalists” are silent in frustration at how their version of “common good capitalism” differs from capitalism without its prefix. These “common good capitalists” assured us that “common good capitalism” was the way to go, but (at least not yet) gave us no details. They don’t tell us anything concrete. We have to trust that the yet-to-be-revealed concrete version of “common good capitalism” will end up—unprecedentedly different from the extremes in capitalism—that serve the common good.
But written or not, the concrete ends of “capitalism for the common good” are to be imposed by the government. Compulsively. No one is allowed to choose or act in a way that is believed to detract from the pursuit of the concrete objectives that the rulers have somehow asked for.
“Common good capitalism” is, in short, illiberal. It is authoritarian, even if many of its adherents do not sincerely believe themselves to be advocating a doctrine of authority. “Common good capitalism” is therefore fundamentally incompatible with capitalism as understood and championed by liberals such as Bastiat and Hayek.
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