Recently at The Undercurrent, we launched #CapitalistAndProud, a national campus initiative aimed at rallying students everywhere to write in to their campus papers explaining why they support capitalism. To encourage participation, we’ve committed to posting well-written submissions on the TU blog.
Below is a submission from Philalethes, a Canadian law student.
Why I Support Capitalism
Embracing the values of individualism and capitalism was not a compartmentalized, political decision for me. Embracing those values was a corollary of a deeply personal, spiritual quest to solve a moral dilemma: How should I live my life? What is right and what is wrong? Is it the right thing to do to give up everything I have and give it to others? After all, isn’t that what Christ instructed us to do? Or, can I pursue life for myself? How could it possibly be immoral to want an education, stability in my life and happiness? But, I wondered, isn’t that “selfish”? In short, I thought that any act that sustained my existence—even eating—was selfish, but that selfishness seemed to imply a dog-eat-dog world, which I rejected.
The problem was that I viewed the issue as an either-or proposition. Either I am to be “selfish” in a colloquial sense and end up hurting other people, or give up everything I have, do my duty and live miserably—a prospect which seemed utterly depressing.
Discovering Ayn Rand’s concept of selfishness solved this moral dilemma for me. Rand presented a third alternative, rational selfishness, which made so much sense to me once I unpackaged the colloquial concept of “selfishness.”
“Selfishness,” properly understood, does not imply a dog-eat-dog world. You can pursue your own values and not hurt other people. In fact, you cannot pursue your values unless you are left free do so—free from harm by other people and the state.
That is how a quest for moral answers turned into an interest in politics. I had very little interest in politics before discovering Rand. As I started to think about Rand’s concept of morality (which took me years to fully understand and integrate into my life), I started to realize how relevant politics is to life itself, how essential it is to morality. Rather than being an isolated area of inquiry, I realized that politics—and specifically, freedom under capitalism—is vital to being able to live life morally. Freedom under capitalism ensures that I am able to use my own mind and act upon my own judgment. I cannot be happy unless I am free to do so.
That is why I embrace the values of individualism and capitalism, not as a result of group identity or political association, but because I subscribe to these values on a deeply moral, personal—selfish—level.
The Undercurrent is happy to offer #CapitalistAndProud participants a platform for their ideas. Their submissions do not necessarily represent the views of the publication at large.