Until I was forty I lived as a true bohemian, considered financial matters beneath me, and never really understood why I was always in debt. As with everything in my life, the shift from that phase was abrupt and total, and a sort of law of conservation of vice that governs my existence ensured that the overcoming of spendthriftness could only be bought by quick transition to an obsessive, all-consuming preoccupation with my ledger-books. I rush to add that I hate capitalism much more than I ever did in my bohemian phase. I hate it because it forced me, finally, to submit to it, though I always believed it never could. Capitalism broke me like a mustang cornered in a pen.
Capitalism’s greatest predicament is that several paradoxes of the human condition combine to turn capitalist successes into failures… Take mass education: it was the capitalists and not the intellectuals who initiated and promoted mass education. In capitalist America every mother’s son can go to college. Most capitalist societies are being swamped with educated people who disdain the triviality and hustle of the marketplace and pray for a new social order that will enable them to live meaningful, weighty lives. The education explosion is now a more immediate threat to capitalist societies than a population explosion.
— Eric Hoffer, Before the Sabbath
Marx, a Victorian intellectual, predicted that capitalism would be undone by its immiseration of the proletariat. Actually, capitalism has done more to jeopardize itself by annoying intellectuals. Many of them look down their upturned noses at the marketplace, and therefore at those who thrive in it. The intellectuals’ disdain is a manifestation of resentment about the fact that markets generally function nicely without the supervision of intellectuals. Their disdain is, among other unattractive things, ingratitude. The vulgar (as the intellectuals see them) men and women of commerce who make markets productive also make the intellectual class possible. As George Stigler (University of Chicago; winner of the 1982 Nobel Prize in Economics) said, “Since intellectuals are not inexpensive, until the rise of the modern enterprise system, no society could afford many intellectuals.” So “we professors are much more beholden to Henry Ford than to the foundation which bears his name and spreads his assets.”
— George Will, The Conservative Sensibility
“Capitalism” isn’t a “system,” it’s a word made up by an 1860’s hipster dipshit to whine about people voluntarily buying & selling stuff.
— David Burge (@iowahawkblog) April 15, 2016