Announcing #CapitalistAndProud: A National Campus Initiative!



The rise of Bernie Sanders along with some astounding new data suggest that young people today hold an increasingly favorable view of socialism. The Undercurrent is excited to announce a national campus initiative to push back against these ideas: #CapitalistAndProud! 

We’re calling on students everywhere to write in to their campus papers explaining why they support capitalism.

Pieces published in student publications by April 22 will be eligible to win $1,000 in the Ayn Rand Institute’s Campus Writing Contest!

In order to encourage participation in the contest, we will publish well-written pieces on The Undercurrent‘s blog, making them automatically eligible to compete for the $1,000 prize (so long as you enter the contest). All submissions should be sent to

Don’t forget to join the conversation on our Facebook page or by tweeting us @tundercurrent to let us know why you’re #CapitalistAndProud!


The following note was submitted by TU writer J.A. Windham as a “letter to the editor” for publication in various campus papersThe version below was posted in The Prince Arthur HeraldThe Carolina Review, and The Empire State Tribune. A shorter version was posted in The Cornell Review and The Technician. It’s our hope that this simple act of speaking out will inspire students across the country to follow suit and to let their classmates know why they too are #CapitalistAndProud!

Capitalist and Proud

Support for “democratic socialism” is growing on campuses across the country. With so many students caught up in Bernie fever, this seems like an appropriate time to bring some diversity to the conversation—some intellectual diversity. Below are five reasons that I’m proudly pro-capitalist.*

  1. Capitalism respects my right to live for my own sake.

The vast tome of human civilization features a dark, suffocating, relentless motif: the enslavement of the individual by the collective. Whether in the name of the clan, the tribe, the nation, the race, or the proletariat, the resounding imperative has been that the individual live to serve the “greater good”—greater, that is, than his own good.

The Enlightenment, with its culmination in our Declaration of Independence and the emergence of capitalism, gave its shining answer in the name of the individual: “NO—I have the right to live for my own happiness, my own flourishing, my own joy.”

  1. Capitalism recognizes that my mind is my basic tool of survival and that in order to think, I must be free to use it.

In order to live, human beings must think. All other animals have some distinctive set of physical tools that make their survival possible. Clip a bird’s wings, remove a snake’s fangs, file down a lion’s claws, and you make impossible the task of hunting prey, of acquiring food, of living for those animals. But human beings aren’t primarily hunters of prey—we’re first and foremost creators of the values we need in order to survive and prosper.

Our mind is our chief creative tool. To thwart an individual’s capacity to think is akin to clipping his wings, or removing his fangs, or filing down his claws—it’s to curtail his ability to produce and, therefore, to abridge his life. In order to function, a mind requires one basic condition: freedom—specifically, freedom from force. Capitalism recognizes that the freedom to think stands at the root of all the wealth produced and all the happiness ever achieved on earth.

  1. Capitalism treats me as the sole proprietor of my life.

I was born free, and have ever-since owned myself. Capitalism treats me not as a serf of society—not as fodder for my fellows—not as chattel to be chained—but as the king of my every breath. Under capitalism, my time and energy, my triumphs and failures, my burdens and my beloved dreams, are my mine alone.

  1. Capitalism treats me as the rightful sovereign of my soul.

Whitman wrote of an immense joy, the joy of being “a sailor of the world bound for all ports!”—and more, to be a “ship itself” (emphasis mine). He was picking up on something deep and true of all individuals: that our proper position in life is as the self-directed captains of our respective purposes, values, and journeys. By leaving me free to sail the world as I see fit, capitalism respects my authority to chart my own course in the one, precious life I have on this earth.

  1. Because capitalism does not shackle me to any of you, I’m free to respect and value you.

Neither respect, nor cooperation, nor love for his fellows can be imposed on an individual, but attempts to do so can and will destroy those ends. Because it does not command that I serve you or that you serve me—because it treats us as fellow captains seeking happiness as our respective and proper ends—capitalism opens the door for genuine, organic benevolence between free individuals.

My goal with this short note has been to stimulate a respectful, constructive dialogue between socialist and capitalist, and other interested students. To this end, in order to make our voices heard, I’m calling on students everywhere to write in to your campus papers and let your classmates know if you too are #CapitalistAndProud!

*By “capitalism,” I mean a laissez-faire social system that protects each individual’s right to life, liberty, and property by banning the initiation of physical force from human affairs.

Posted by on March 9, 2016. Filed under Spring 2016, Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
  • Pingback: GUEST | Announcing #CapitalistAndProud: A National Campus Initiative | The Cornell Review()

  • Frito Bandito

    capitalism suxxxxx

  • Joseph George

    So you defend capitalism, and don’t know what actually means. . .

    • J.A. Windham

      Well, I defend the system I describe in the note above. I’m coming out in defense of “a laissez-faire social system that protects each individual’s right to life, liberty, and property by banning the initiation of physical force from human affairs.” We can quibble over what to call that system, but in order to critique me, that’s the system that you’ll have to address yourself to–the one I’ve expressly endorsed.

      • steveg

        What dictionary did you get that from? Are worker-owned cooperatives somehow not protecting individuals’ rights to life, liberty, and property? Why are you equating democratic socialism to state socialism – which nobody is promoting?

        Capitalism has brought about wealth inequality the likes of which we haven’t seen since the days of the pharaohs of Egypt. The people in charge in the current system rarely if ever take the protection of other people’s lives, liberty, or property into account; they seem to only be interested in whatever nets them the most profits.

        • J.A. Windham

          “What dictionary did you get that from?”

          I’m not quoting from a dictionary. I’m quoting from myself, in the piece above. What I’m describing is the system I support.

          “The people in charge in the current system”

          I don’t support the current system. I support the system I describe above.

          “rarely if ever take the protection of other people’s lives, liberty, or property into account; they seem to only be interested in whatever nets them the most profits”

          There’s an implication here that profiting somehow entails violating rights. I reject that idea.

          Now, I grant that it’s possible for one to flat-out steal money (through physical force) from others. But it’s also possible for one to trade for it (by selling his labor, selling his product, selling his idea, etc.) The former is voluntary; the latter isn’t. And I see a huge moral difference between those two routes–between dealing with others through force, and dealing with them on a peaceful, voluntary basis.

          If you’re angry about the crony capitalists who lie in bed with government today, and who use the power of the state routinely to steal wealth from others, then I agree, and I think that’s terribly wrong.

          But I don’t support that sort of system. I support a system that protects your right to life your life free from physical force–a peaceful, productive, trader’s life. Any profit under such a system is a signal, not of one’s capacity to harm to others, but of the extent to which others want to deal with him–of his virtue.

  • Karl Marx

    Capitalism respects the bourgeoisie’s right to live—not for the sake of the group, the nation, the race, the proletariat, or for any of you—but for the sake of accumulating profit through exploitation.

    Capitalism recognizes that unpaid labor is the bourgeoisie’s basic tool of survival and that in order to maximize revenue, it must be free to use it.

    Capitalism treats those who own the means of production as the sole proprietor of their own lives. Under capitalism, the proletariat’s time and energy—their triumphs and failures—their burdens and their beloved dreams—are the bourgeoisie’s alone.

    Capitalism treats the moneyed class as the rightful sovereign of the proletariat’s labor-power, respecting its authority to chart its own course in the one, repulsive life it has on this earth.

    Because capitalism does not chain the bourgeoisie to the production of socially valuable tasks—because it does not demand that they serve us, but that we serve them—they’re free to treasure our ability to generate surplus value.

    • Frito Bandito

      already said this bro

  • Vanadias

    By “capitalism” I mean a system that protects an individual’s right to forget history, abstract particular modes of social relations as “universal truths,” overlook the ineluctable bond between man and his environment because markets, turn collective habits and norms into “universal economic principles,” base all freedom on the ability to hold private property (and make transcendent the very concept of “possession”), put in economic terms a superficial notion of human nature as a war of all against all, and make any success the result of sheer willpower and any failure an occasion for deep Catholic penance of one’s own unworthiness. For this, oh god Mammon–may he be fed without limit–I prostrate myself.

  • Ian Hartman

    fuck you

  • Ayy Guevara

    i thought i’d have to go deeper into this article to find a contradiction, but nope! it’s right there on the first bullet point!

    “Capitalism respects my right to live… for my own sake.” the fuck are you talking about? capitalism doesn’t care about you. it cares about only how much economic value you input into the world. if you’re *not* living for the sake of the economy, and *don’t* contribute anything to it – by your own fault or not – capitalism is perfectly happy to let you freeze to death on the streets.


    > Because my goal here is to stimulate discourse, I’m calling on all like-minded students


    • J.A. Windham

      When I say that capitalism “respects my right to live,” I take “live” to be a *verb* designating a course of action chosen by the agent. I don’t mean to say that capitalism will provide for my life. Rather, I mean that capitalism–because it “protects each individual’s right to life, liberty, and property by banning the initiation of physical force from human affairs” (as I wrote above)–gives me the freedom I need to pursue living. That’s what “respect for life” by a political system entails.

      “> Because my goal here is to stimulate discourse, I’m calling on all like-minded students”

      My point was that there aren’t a lot of like-minded students out there speaking out against this new wave of pro-socialist sentiment on campus. The goal is to start a dialogue.

      As a moderator of this thread, I was close to deleting your comment due to the profanity. But I’d like to encourage you to take a more respectful tone and to engage with what’s said here at an honest, civil level. If you can’t do that, I’ll be deleting your comment and whatever vulgarity comes next.

      • Cumshitter

        I’m just surprised that capitalists are apparently a persecuted minority while capitalism is the dominant economic paradigm.

        Also, it’s not really a dialogue when you’re asking the choir to sing about its own beliefs while simultaneously offering a reward to the adherents with the most eloquent justification of their faith.

  • Cumshitter

    I <3 capitalism because my obsession with individuality is so strong that I see society as a collection of atomized people, and nothing more.

    I also don't believe in the use of physical force, except when it's used to coerce people into accepting views and laws on property that they have no choice but to agree with at birth. Individual property ownership is a universal truth of the human condition and the enforcement of property law is the sole domain in which the use of force is moral.

    Market, fill me with your divine provenance! I will proselytize in your name and bring more individuals into our freely associating non-collective!

  • Pingback: Letter to the Editor: Capitalist and Proud | Carolina Review Online()

  • BernieSanders2016

    1. Capitalism has no respect for my right to live – that’s why it steals my land, poisons my water, and starves me to death.

    2. Capitalism sees no value in my mind or survival except insofar as I can be used to generate profit.

    3. Capitalism sees me as capital to be exploited for profit. My time and energy – my triumphs and failures – my burdens and my beloved dreams – are nothing before the whims of my corporate overlords, to whom I am enslaved.

    4. Capitalism treats me as a vessel to be drained, until I am a soulless, emotionless husk, devoid of joy, working a job I hate for wages I can barely live on, let alone use to chart my own course in the one, precious life I have on this Earth.

    5. Because capitalism keeps me chained to a desk – because I am spooked by profit above all else, even dignity – I value nothing and no one but the opportunity to take the place of my oppressors and continue their work.


    • J.A. Windham

      I’d like to flesh this out a bit. Under the system I advocate above–“a laissez-faire social system that protects each individual’s right to life, liberty, and property by banning the initiation of physical force from human affairs”–how exactly is it that anyone could destroy your life in the way you describe?

      That is, if nobody is at liberty physically to harm, halt, or destroy you, and the most they can do is approach you with words–with an offer, or with a request, or with an argument, etc.–just how can they oppress you in the way you describe?

      To be clear, I don’t have tons of interest in discussing what you take to be the evils of our present system. I’m no fan of that system myself. But I am interested in hearing how you think the system I advocate–the system about which you’ve ostensibly commented, given the substance of the piece–is guilty of any of these crimes.

      • Vanadias

        Because oppression can be systemic–it does not just have to be one person inflicting harm, violence, or inhibition on another. Almost nobody wants people to be homeless. And yet, we live under a system where there are more vacant houses in the U.S. than there are homeless people and no way to put them together.

        I suspect you’ll say that this is an “inefficiency” brought on by insufficient purity of the market. If this is the case, then maybe what you’re actually interested in is the perfect, sanctified purity of the market and not the people who live under it.