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The Capitalist Manifesto By Andrew Bernstein

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What makes The Capitalist Manifesto such a valuable addition to the pro-capitalist literature, is that it targets precisely the existing gap between the practical case for capitalism--provided in abundant detail by historians and economists-and the moral and philosophical case.

The goal of the book is to present an integrated case for capitalism, one that connects the economic and historical facts with the wider moral and philosophical case for capitalism.

That integration is made possible by Bernstein's identification of the unifying principle that explains all of the virtues of capitalism: "Regarding the enormity of capitalism's success, both morally and practically, in different centuries, on far-flung continents, involving a hundred issues, the explanatory principle that will emerge is: capitalism is par excellence the system of liberated human brain power." Capitalism as "the system of the mind" is a theme that is capable of uniting every element of the case for capitalism: its economic mechanisms, its political principles, its history, its heroes, its moral code-all the way down to the epistemology that capitalism encourages and institutionalizes.

Above all, this volume achieves something no other history of capitalism has yet done: it provides the solution to today's cultural and political mind-body dichotomy, showing how the material achievements of capitalism's innovators flow from the highest moral and intellectual ideal: the commitment to the liberation of the individual mind. In doing so, The Capitalist Manifesto makes a valuable addition to the growing foundation for a secular moral case for liberty.

From "The Mind and Body of Capitalism," a review of The Capitalist Manifesto by Andrew Bernstein in The Intellectual Activist magazine, by Robert Tracinski excerpted at TIADaily.com.

[The TIA book review is here.

-GC]

Edited by GreedyCapitalist
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<sigh>Another misuse of the word "enormity".</sigh>

Is this your most essentialized criticism of the review? Are you assuming that the word "enormity" has one, intrinsic meaning?

One of the usages of "enormity" is immensity in size, extent or scope, according to my dictionary (Random House Dictionary of the English Language, second edition, unabridged). That usage has been common since the 1700s, apparently, though competing with the more primary and pejorative use, "heinous," which some individuals choose to attach to the idea named by the word "enormity."

Apparently the word has developed from the Latin noun enormitas or the adjective enormis (from ex/e ["outside"] and norma, a carpenter's rule), which likewise had dual meanings: (1) irregular (and therefore undesirable) shape, and (2) very large, immense.

Edited by BurgessLau
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Here's an excerpt from the Capitalist Manifesto

http://www.capmag.com/article.asp?ID=4333

"For two centuries, capitalism has cried out for its supporters to finally embrace the code of rational egoism as an undiluted virtue of which to be proud. That will be an important part of this book. The torrent of facts showing capitalism's practical superiority will be presented within a philosophical framework showing that capitalism is the only moral system for human beings. "

I think this book has already been written...

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I think he's talking about Capitalism: The Unkown Ideal.

If it is what Neverborn is indeed refering to, they are very different books. The most obvious being Capitalism:The Unknown Ideal is a collection of essays. Although it is an amazing book, in fact the book that introduced me to Objectivism and still the favorite 1st edition in my collection, it is very different from what Bernstein is attempting to do with the Capitalist Manifesto.

His goal is to tie everything from the aforementioned book and all of Rand's works and others to provide a moral defense of capitalism in the same way that the left has the Communist Manifesto. Though I hate comparing them to such drivel as Marx and Engels, Capitalism is more like the Communist Manifesto in that it's a collection of essays and Das Kapital is a monolithic work meant to tie it all together.

Again, the big difference from what I can tell, as I have yet to have received my copy from the aynrandbookstore.com yet so I have to go off the reviews, is the level of integration. And if this is as enjoyable of a read as Heart of a Pagan it should prove to be well worth it. Actually, I'm looking forward to Objectivism in One Lesson when it's completed. But that is another topic but if anyone should be able to pull it together and make it digestible to people that are new to Objectivism it would be him.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Is this your most essentialized criticism of the review? Are you assuming that the word "enormity" has one, intrinsic meaning?

One of the usages of "enormity" is immensity in size, extent or scope, according to my dictionary (Random House Dictionary of the English Language, second edition, unabridged). That usage has been common since the 1700s, apparently, though competing with the more primary and pejorative use, "heinous," which some individuals choose to attach to the idea named by the word "enormity."

Apparently the word has developed from the Latin noun enormitas or the adjective enormis (from ex/e ["outside"] and norma, a carpenter's rule), which likewise had dual meanings: (1) irregular (and therefore undesirable) shape, and (2) very large, immense.

Usage Note: Enormity is frequently used to refer simply to the property of being enormous, but many would prefer that enormousness (or a synonym such as immensity) be used for this general sense and that enormity be reserved for a property that evokes a negative moral judgment: Not until the war ended and journalists were able to enter Cambodia did the world really become aware of the enormity of Pol Pot's oppression. Fifty-nine percent of the Usage Panel rejects the use of enormity in the more general sense in the sentence At that point the engineers sat down to design an entirely new viaduct, apparently undaunted by the enormity of their task. This distinction between enormity and enormousness has not always existed historically, but nowadays many observe it. Writers who ignore it in phrases such as the enormity of the President's election victory or the enormity of her inheritance may find their words an unintended source of amusement. <Bold highlight added by RSalar>

(Excerpted from The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition Copyright © 1992 by Houghton Mifflin Company.)

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Was it called the Capitalist Manifesto as a sort of counter to the Communist Manifesto? If so then I'd be worried that it encourages the view that 'Objectivism is to corporate America what communism was to Soviet Russia'. Just a thought.

I suspect it was called the Capitalist Manifesto because it is a manifesto in support of capitalism, just as the Communist Manifesto was a manifesto in support of communism. So there is a parallel.

I wouldn't worry too much about the 'Objectivism as a shill for corporate America' thing. Bernstein takes pains early in the book to point out that, historically, business has actually not been very supportive of capitalism. To sustain high profits under capitalism, businesses have to engage in a sustained long-term process of innovation. They need to create new products, find ways to improve the efficiency of their production, etc. And that's a lot of work. Many businesses (to their discredit) prefer to turn to the government to protect them from competition and lock in markets.

People who read the book shouldn't make the mistake you fear. And what's the point in worrying about the thoughts of the people who don't read the book? More generally, it's a bad idea to soften the presentation of one's ideas out of a fear of misunderstanding.

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Don't forget that true Capitalism is very much "anti" big corporation in a very real sense. It is the obscene laws and regulations that allows companies like Time Warner to be what they are today. The laws prevent competition. So when you hear about individual cities deregulating cable, invariably it means that they are just adding another layer of laws and the city itself goes into the cable business.

The same is true about GE. If it weren't for anti-trust laws, GE would still be a lightbulb and wire company that would be a mere shadow of itself. It was the anti-trust laws that forced them into areas that guaranteed they would not have a dominance in.

In industries where Capitalism is more or less the rule and there isn't regulation giant corporations will generally end up failing because they get to big and die off like dinosaurs. The best example is Sears. At one point, they accounted for 2% of the countries GDP. Really, they make Wal Mart look like an also ran. But they diversified badly and ended up getting gobbled up by the post bankruptcy Kmart. It was really a mercy killing because so many of their once booming stores are worth more as raw land that you can put condos or strip malls on than the stores themselves.

This is what we need to keep stressing that Capitalism does not equal Corporatism. They are very very different animals. It's actually fascism and socialism that ends up guaranteeing monopolies and giant corporations that have a lock on trade.

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Fifty-nine percent of the Usage Panel rejects the use of enormity in the more general sense [...] Writers who ignore it in phrases such as the enormity of the President's election victory or the enormity of her inheritance may find their words an unintended source of amusement. <Bold highlight added by RSalar>

So, what is your point? Are you suggesting that fifty-nine percent of the members of a committee -- for membership in which no objective standards have been offered -- should decide for all readers what is or is not amusing?

Any word usage may be amusing to some individuals operating in certain contexts. For example, "Capitalism is good" can evoke gales of laughter among statists. Should that wording be avoided?

Rational, informed readers know that words are labels for ideas, and sometimes a single word can label a variety of ideas, each with its own meaning. Why would a rational reader automatically react with amusement in such a situation? I suggest that rational, informed readers do not believe words have intrinsic meanings. Instead, a rational, informed reader would stop and think: Which of the possible ideas identified by this word has this author intended?

Edited by BurgessLau
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In industries where Capitalism is more or less the rule and there isn't regulation giant corporations will generally end up failing because they get to big and die off like dinosaurs.

What about Standard Oil or the Great Northern or the company run by Cornelius Vanderbilt? They were big corporations and extremely succesful until the anti trust laws got hold of them.

As for GE, with a CEO like Jack Welch, I doubt GE would not have diversified even if anti trust regulations had not been there.

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What about Standard Oil or the Great Northern or the company run by Cornelius Vanderbilt? They were big corporations and extremely succesful until the anti trust laws got hold of them.
Not coincidentally they were at the top of their size at the same time Sears was. Eventually, all large corporations get fat and start to add layers of management and obsess over size and not product. I've seen it first hand and it is as rare as a cookoo's egg for it to not happen. Eventually, someone would have seen the profits that they were generating and come along and cut costs, and been significantly more profitable than Standard etc.

That is the reason their is so much competition in the brokerage industry. Commissions used to be set by the government and once they allowed people to set their own prices, people like Schwab, Waterhouse, and Scottrade came along and made a killing by cutting costs. Almost none of the old school brokerages still exist in their original form today as they've all been gobbled up or merged because they were so bloated and losing money. The same is true about the discount brokerage industry; Schwab was bought then sold back, Waterhouse became a bloated burecracy obsessed with being big and are now just a part of another, more agile competitor. Companies like Scottrade and Options Express are making a killing by staying true to their markets and not obsessing over size like their competitors.

As for GE, with a CEO like Jack Welch, I doubt GE would not have diversified even if anti trust regulations had not been there.

I got to hear Welch speak a year ago. When someone asked about regulation & deregulation he almost exactly what I said. Every time GE got into a marketplace, they became dominant and would almost instantly run afoul of regulators. So they would find something else to do. So they took their knowledge of electrical systems and branched out to nuclear reactors. They then branched out into nuke subs. They would finance various projects and found that they were running afoul of regulators in their other markets so they started offering things like life insurance and various loans.

Yes, they would hopefully have diversified but it was running into stupid regulations that forced them to look elsewhere to raise capital. It is Welch's rare management abilities that made it succesful.

If you look at Wal Mart, they are at a size now and penetration of their base market that is causing them to have to branch out into new markets. The problem is they aren't quite doing it well and there are other competitors that are more profitable on a sales per sq ft basis that are gaining market share. I doubt they are going to collapse like Sears any time soon but it is natural that companies like biological species that they either adapt, move, or die. And once a company gets to a certain size, it makes it much harder to adapt and move, so they tend to die. And for clarification sake, by die I don't mean go out of business but they tend to get reorg'd into a lighter, more agile organization like they used to be ala Kmart.

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So, what is your point? Are you suggesting that fifty-nine percent of the members of a committee -- for membership in which no objective standards have been offered -- should decide for all readers what is or is not amusing?

Burgess, My point is that I find it interesting that someone here picked up on the word "enormity" and it's questionable usage -- then when I checked it for myself in The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition Copyright © 1992 by Houghton Mifflin Company they made a special point to mention that people who use "enormity" in that way "may find their words an unintended source of amusement." They were right! An actual person used "enormity" in a phrase and their words became an unintended source of amusement--just like the dictionary predicted. I find that amazing! I find it interesting for 2 reasons: 1) That it happens at all, and 2) it happens often enough that a dictionary would mention that it happens. What is going on here?

Don't you find it interesting that it is possible to use a word in a perfectly legitimate manner and because other people think they know better, find the "error" amusing? The person who was amused was amused because they thought they found an error but in reality they made the error. I find it amusing that their own error about someone else's "error" caused them amusement. :P

Maybe I am too easily amused!? I was very amused when people concluded that Dan Quale was not fit to be vice president because he spelled potato with an e. What does that have to do with being VP?

Actually it is not amusing --- it's sad. Anyway -- thanks for asking. -- Ron

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  • 4 months later...

Originally posted by Diana from NoodleFood, ReBlogged by Meta Blog...

Wow, what a delightfully pleasant interview with Andy Bernstein in today's Baltimore Sun! Andy will be speaking in Columbia, Maryland on Saturday, February 18th. (That's in my old territory -- just about 25 minutes from the farm on which I grew up.)

Here's the announcement:

Bernstein to Talk in Maryland on February 18

Andrew Bernstein will have a book signing and presentation about The Capitalist Manifesto in Columbia, Maryland on February 18. The title of the talk is: "The Capitalist Manifesto: How in Two Brief Centuries Capitalism Brought Freedom and Widespread Wealth to Mankind After Millennia of Oppression and Destitution." Multiple copies of the book will be available for sale.

Manfred Smith is organizing this event. If you would like to help Manfred to advertise the event, or have any questions, please contact him at 410-730-0073 or manfredsmith_at_comcast.net.

Book Signing and Presentation

Saturday, FEBRUARY 18th at 1:00 pm

Howard Community College

Columbia, MD

Kittleman Room (ILB 100)

Please forward it to anyone in the area you think might be interested.

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The most obvious being Capitalism:The Unknown Ideal is a collection of essays. Although it is an amazing book, in fact the book that introduced me to Objectivism and still the favorite 1st edition in my collection, it is very different from what Bernstein is attempting to do with the Capitalist Manifesto.

Yes, an example of just one of the differences is the historic evidence/examples/facts, or rather the practical case for laissez-faire is dealt more extensively in Bernstein's book than in Rand's collection of essays.

Again, the big difference from what I can tell, as I have yet to have received my copy from the aynrandbookstore.com yet so I have to go off the reviews, is the level of integration.

Yes, the difference is in the integration, the presentation, and also the additional support for laissez-faire in history.

I am but a third into it, but I recently have had to put it down to read a book I got out of the library that is hard to find there since it is frequently checked out.

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