In the mean time I though it might be worth recording some of musings on the strengths of free market capitalism in a modern liberal society and why it is that I think more and more good people find themselves against capitalism these days. I have been re reading The Abolition of Man recently and it occurred to me that we (the western world in a terrible over-generalization) used to combat the major flaws of capitalism in a way that is, at best, only minimally effective in modern culture. It used to be that the average westerner held two particular views in regards to the use of their financial (and material) resources: A) that their stuff was their stuff; only they have a right to decide how to spend it so that if anyone else tried to force them to use it in a certain way they would be justified in being offended, outraged etc... B) that they ought to be generous with their resources, help those less fortunate than themselves (especially their friends, family and neighbors) so that generosity and concern for people in need was a basic part of being a decent person.
The result was a worldview which protected societies (in theory and at least sometimes in practice) from the worst impacts of a purely free market system. If people view charity (in the middle-old sense, "giving resources to the poor") as each persons duty, then the poor will generally be kept from starving.
But we can't teach that any more. Back in the day, this moral obligation to help the poor was taught as just that, a moral obligation - usually a religious moral obligation. Today we don't teach children that they have any moral obligations other than tolerance (and something akin to but not quite the same as non-violence). We tell them that everyone has a right to their opinion and then we tell them that all statements of ought or moral sentiment are statements of opinion. And once we have taught them this moral subjectivism, a lesson they pick up with alarming speed, they are almost perfectly defended against any appeals we make to some duty of charity. We have already told them that they have a right to define their own moral code, thus we lose all right (in their minds) to tell them what that moral code ought to look like. So charity becomes a matter, not of moral obligation, but of pragmatic utilitarianism.
This, by the way, is why I think so many older movies are popular as left-leaning films simply because they contain the message that the rich ought to be generous with their wealth. But that is not a socialist message, that is a capitalist message. It is the capitalist who says "the rich have a right to their riches and a responsibility to do the right thing with them. The truly evil man is the miser who has great wealth and does not use it for the good of his neighbors". The socialist thinks of the rich man as un-deserving of his treasure and insists that it be stolen from him and used to make the middle class feel better about the suffering of the poor.
That is why I see it as only natural that good people, people who happen to care about the poor, the mistreated, the abused, are trending more and more towards socialism (not all have gotten there and I see no great shame in being a socialist - though I think that it is a very bad economic and political system). These are the people who want the problem fixed and have noticed that nobody is standing up to fix it. In short, socialism is on the rise because the free market capitalists have forgotten their moral duty.
I believe that being truly moral (something I would still like to be) means not breaking either of two principles. I must not let other people suffer if I can do anything about it and I must not steal, even from those who can afford it, to alleviate the suffering I see around me. Being a free market capitalist means taking responsibility for my fellow man, not because the government forces me to but because it is the right thing to do. A socialist society is a society which does not provide it's citizens with as much of an opportunity to learn to be good; because it is a society with less freedom, it is a society for rule breakers (in Blue Ocean terms - socialism is a good system for a stage 1 society which needs rules and the threat of violence to make it be good). A capitalist society is an audacious experiment in free will. A wager that given the necessity, the rich will voluntarily give of themselves to feed the poor. Let us pray that the experiment does not fail.