I understand Sheldon Richman’s arguments about the term capitalism, but I think we need to watch out for the tendency to be whiners. So yes, it’s true that a lot of people think the present U.S. is the epitome of “capitalism,” and as a libertarian I don’t endorse everything.
But on the other hand, the U.S. still does have a legacy of its more free-market past, and even now it’s hardly the worldwide bastion of central planning. So rather than just dismiss the term capitalism because people associate it with the U.S., I think it makes more sense (both intellectually and strategically) to say that the U.S. has been very successful economically because historically it was more “capitalistic” (in the Misesian sense of the term) than other countries, and that the parts of modern American society we abhor are often because of deviations from that tradition.
This was all driven home for me when Grayson Lilburne sent me an email on Friday. We are working out the bugs before we formally launch the promotion for the Mises Academy and the online business cycle course I will be leading. (Official details soon!) But here was Grayson’s quick note to me:
Great! I tried the web meeting software a bit. But I definitely want to test it out with you, and then figure out a way to somehow test its ability to handle a large number of participants…I’m going to drop my wife and her friend off at Disneyland and then set up shop in a Starbucks with my laptop (should only take a couple hours or so), and then be available for doing…Video stuff the rest of the day. But I’ll have my iphone before that, so feel free to e-mail me questions.
Just reflect on what he is saying in the above. That would have been science fiction not very long ago. Incidentally, once Grayson got set up–in a coffee shop–to work, he and I were talking over a video connection. He was some 2,000 miles away from me at that point.
Note that this didn’t happen in a libertarian novel where “the freed market” is allowed to operate. This happened in our current, real-world United States. I say chalk one (or more like 1 million) up to capitalism.