The Nassau Institute in collaboration with the Banking, Economics and Finance Department and The Economics Society of The College of The Bahamas presented this lecture by Professor Andrew Bernstein on The Moral Basis of Capitalism in lecture hall at the Harry C. Moore Library at College of The Bahamas Tuesday, August 30, 2016.
This talk opens by doing what is rarely done in political discourse: It provides rigorous definitions of such key concepts as “capitalism,” socialism,” “mixed economy,” and others. On this foundation, it shows that capitalism, the system of individual rights, protects an individual’s right to his/her own life and, consequently, to his/her own mind. Because of this, it liberates human brain power to make life-giving advances in every field. Numerous examples are provided from America’s freest period, the late-19th century, the period I dubbed, in my book, The Capitalist Manifesto, the “Inventive Period.” Under full socialism, conversely, a person’s life is socialized; it belongs not to him/her but to society. It stands to reason that if an individual’s life belongs to the state, so does his/her mind—and the only “thinking” he/she can do is that permitted by the state; all else is banned. Cultural stagnation and collapse are thereby assured. (This talk was given, in academic 2013-14, at Wayne State University and—under the auspices of the Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism (CISC) and the Institute for Humane Studies (IHS)— at Clemson University. It is based on material from my book, The Capitalist Manifesto: The Historic, Economic, and Philosophic Case for Laissez-Faire [University Press of America, 2005].)