Irish Liberty Forum

A different viewpoint

with 5 comments

What do people think of this? Sweatshops are an area of Capitalism which no one would defend, however whether we like it or not, they do bring certain benefits to their host countries. Capitalism is not perfect, but no other system has improved the lives of so many people. Poverty is ever present in the world, but Capitalism gives people the opportunity, through their own ingenuity, to improve their lives.


Written by dermotk

February 7, 2008 at 11:23 pm

Posted in economics, poverty

5 Responses

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  1. Great topic! I’d recommend this essay for a summary of the views of Hayek and Mises on the question of the Industrial Revolution. I think the respective free market arguments are more or less the same regarding development in the third world today.


    February 8, 2008 at 12:08 am

  2. Actually, there is a counter argument that statist systems such as that seen in Soviet Russia allowed a more equal level of improvement in living and working conditions. I don’t believe that idea any more than the capitalism argument above (re opportunity etc) because the crucial term seems to me to depend very much on the way one defines ‘improvement’, are we talking about sanitation systems, public health, welfare, individual living standards, employment opportunity, all, some, none?


    February 8, 2008 at 8:47 pm

  3. Statists do argue this, but the problem is, that it is not borne out by evidence. People may have been more equal in the Soviet Union, but i would like to see evidence of an improvement in their living conditions. How did it compare to to the improvement of living conditions in the USA over the same time period etc. Remember famine was prevalent in the USSR, the biggest landmass in the world.

    Improvement, in my opinion, would include all these things you mention. Equality is a different issue. Equality can be both positive or negative to the individual. People may have become more equal in the Soviet Union, but they were also much poorer than than the average American. America may have been more unequal than Russia, but who would argue that the vast majority of American individuals were not better off?


    February 8, 2008 at 9:19 pm

  4. The standard of living did rise in the Soviet Union as against and compared with the pre-existing situation under Tsarism. More people lived in better living conditions. Now to throw in a comparison with the US is a completely different issue. If we say that communism was an improvement over near feudalism but was not as good as US style capitalism, fair enough. One might add though that nor was it anywhere near as good as Swedish or German social democracy, and indeed that those two systems were broadly speaking as good as the US style (retaining individual autonomy and social provisions far in excess of the US). And if we look at it in continental terms we might argue that broadly speaking Europeans in social democracies were better off than US citizens. So what exactly is the point being made? As for famine well, true, but then the US suffered the dustbowl, so… again what is the point? Or put it another way, I’m far from a cheerleader for Castro but consider how Cuba manages to sit out hurricanes which kill thousands in neighbouring islands. Perhaps the yardstick you’re using is incorrect.


    February 16, 2008 at 8:45 pm

  5. Sorry, I should add, the problem from arguing from extremes is that it ignores a more complex middle ground. Of course the Soviet Union was far from optimal, almost all leftists would agree. But there are such obvious counterarguments about US style capitalism as against social democracy that it does seem to undercut the argument. Taking the developing world one could easily argue that transitions from feudal or agrarian societies might well be better made through semi-socialist political structures than through a quick march to capitalism in order to minimise inequalities.


    February 16, 2008 at 8:48 pm

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