Capitalist ideology vs. anti capitalist capitalists


This video from Scotland about Robert Owen is called New Lanark.

Ideologists defending the capitalist system, including its inequalities, often depict the privileges of the rich as just rewards for hard work and/or creativity.

Well, I never heard about someone working very hard for long hours digging ditches or at an assembly line for some boss becoming a millionaire.

I also very rarely heard about a small farmer becoming a millionaire; unless he lived in a country with very much inflation; or if it turns out that millions of years ago, microscopic animals used to live under exactly that farmland, forming oil deposits. So much for the “hard work” argument.

As for the “creativity” argument: most of the rich got rich by marrying money (like John McCain; see also here); or inheriting it; or because of good luck at a casino like stock exchange; or because of cleverness in handling paper about money. None of which I would call real creativity.

Surprisingly, looking at biographies of people who, apart from being capitalists, were also inventors or otherwise innovators, many of them turn out to be critics of the capitalist system. A few examples: textile factory owner and pioneer of socialism Robert Owen; Leo Baekeland, inventor of plastic and “anti materialist millionaire“; anti militarist anti capitalist merchant of death Alfred Nobel.

Capitalism and war: here.

Capitalist competition holds back progress: here.

14 thoughts on “Capitalist ideology vs. anti capitalist capitalists

  1. I believe Socialism is the grandest theory ever presented, and I am sure it will someday rule the world. Then we will have attained the Millennium.… Then men will be content to work for the general welfare and share their riches with their neighbors.

    Andrew Carnegie in New York Times (1 January 1885) “A Millionaire Socialist”

    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Socialism

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  2. Amazing relevant and timely as per usual. I’m most impressed again. Thanks
    I studied Owen’s New Lanark in cultural studies at uni. We share the same birthday on May 14th 🙂

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    • Thank you for your comment!

      It is interesting to see the many contradictions in Andrew Carnegie’s life: anti-war, vice president of the Anti-Imperialist League; but made lots of money from wars. A self-made “rags to riches” capitalist, contrary to most other capitalists (in reality as distinct from propaganda), who advocated socialism, and was full of scorn about inherited wealth and about wealth spent on profligate consumption instead of philanthropy. On the other hand, trade unions in his steel works were suppressed violently; and he mercilessly ruined his competitors’ businesses in his drive toward monopoly, going too far even according to his friend, “Social Darwinism” ideologist Herbert Spencer.

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