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What the World Would Be Like Without Capitalism

slaverySome people say that the search for profit is abusive, heartless, evil, and so on. I’m not particularly in love with profit for its own sake (and I certainly don’t think it justifies abuse), but a reflexive condemnation of profit is deeply ignorant.

The truth is, “profit” killed the ancient abomination of human slavery. To eliminate the ability of people to profit would draw slavery back into the world. And we obviously don’t want that.

Here’s why:

Slavery Was an Economic System

What is not understood is that slavery was the foundation of economics in the old world – such as in Greece and Rome.

Slavery was almost entirely about surplus. (Surrounded by creative justifications, of course.) It was a type of enforced thrift.

An undeveloped man, left to himself, will spend almost all of what he earns. If he does earn some surplus, he’ll likely spend it on luxuries, frivolities, or worse. Until he develops a strong character, little of his surplus will remain for other uses.

A slave, on the other hand, never holds his earnings in his hands and therefore cannot spend them. All surplus is transferred to his or her owner. It was precisely this kind of surplus that made Rome rich.

But then Christian Europe came about. Prior to that, I cannot point to a single ancient culture that forbade the practice; it was seen as normal. So, for Europe to expel the slavery it inherited from Rome was a monumental change.

Europeans replaced slavery – slowly and because of their Christian principles, not because of a conscious plan – by doing these things:

  1. Developing personal thrift. This required a strong focus on building up virtues like temperance (self-control) and patience.
  2. Replacing the enforced surplus of slavery with profit. That is, by mixing creativity in with their commerce: innovating, inventing, and adapting to get more surplus out of commerce.

Under a new system that was eventually tagged capitalism, thrift and creativity generated surplus, and no human beings had to be enslaved.

A World Without Profit

On the other hand, we have recent examples of what happens when a culture forbids profit: the “socialist paradises” of Stalin’s USSR, Mao’s China, and the enslaved states of Eastern Europe. (Among others.)

These examples are bleak indeed, featuring the enslavement of everyone to a ruling party.

Profit provides an incentive to work, and when it is gone, not only does work suffer, but those who want to get ahead have no honest way to do it. And that drives them either to despair or to crime.

If you eliminate profit – innovative, rewarding commerce – you get slavery. The form of that slavery may vary from one case to another, but it will be slavery of some type.

This result is the same, by the way, whether the elimination of profit occurs via communism (make a profit, we shoot you) or fascism (all profit-making is taken over by friends of the state).

The core issue is surplus:

  • If surplus can be gathered by average people via honest means, slavery can be eliminated.
  • If average people are not allowed to create and hold their own surplus (surplus being skimmed off to the state and/or state partners), slavery of one sort or another will be the result.

Profit is simply a tool – a way of generating surplus without the enforced thrift of slavery.

You cannot get rid of both slavery and profit. You can eliminate whichever one you wish, but you’ll be stuck with the other.

Profit Rests on Virtues

To live in a civilization that prospers by profit, we need to move beyond gorilla-level instincts like envy. We need to develop self-control, patience, and a focus on more than just material possessions.

It’s a shame that the West has turned away from traditional virtues over recent centuries. If the Church that previously taught these virtues was found to be wanting, we should have replaced it with something better, rather than casting everything aside and pretending that virtues were nothing but superstition.

If we ever lose enough of our virtues, profit will lose its protections, and the ancient way of slavery will return.

What we do matters.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

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  • John Bull

    I know you will take a lot of flak from the psychologically impaired for daring to mention the words, “church” and “Christian” but that reaction only serves to illustrate what you have written about. We have in America no real philosophical foundation for our worldview and without that foundation the superstructure will fall. We are a nation without virtue. Two points:

    You say, “To eliminate the ability of people to profit would draw slavery back into the world.” Yet today, right this very minute, there are thousands upon thousands of slaves in this world precisely because of profit. Clothing companies’ et al, do not virtually enslave their “employees,” they literally enslave their “employees,” all in the name of profit. The difference in this type of slavery is now the master pays a pittance of a wage and abstains from all other responsibility, while previously at least a slave holder was responsible for feeding and sheltering his human chattel.

    You also said, “An undeveloped man, left to himself, will spend almost all of what he earns.” Yet this is precisely what the majority of Americans do despite the number of high school and college graduates we have in this country. If education does not or cannot contribute to the development of a man as well as the formation of the virtues necessary for a civilization to thrive then it is useless. Our education system is all about profit and has no real role in development.

    • 0point

      Paying a low wage is not enslavement, and claiming so is intellectually lazy at best (dishonest at worst). Does Nike or Apple hold their factory employees at gunpoint? If they don’t show up for work do they send out armed agents to find them and forcibly return them? Living in a place where the available options are not nearly as nice as the options Americans have, does not mean those employees are enslaved.

      • nightgaunt

        Working poor should not exist. It means that even while working you are still not compensated for your labor. And if little in the way of jobs are there how does it benefit the society at large if people work and are still too poor to buy more than necessities and not even enough for that? Which is why Unions of Workers came into existence. To get that balance. We need them now more than ever or it is back to pre Unions USA and a giant poor class of workers.

        • Duiiddooo

          Unions started out protecting its members from economically maintained slave driving labor, and have become a dictatorial system of their own.

      • Duiiddooo

        If it isn’t enslavement, it certainly isn’t anything but a modern form of feudalism.

    • ansonheath

      “Our education system is all about profit and has no real role in development.”
      Huh?

      • april showers

        And enriching the friends of the state!

      • Duiiddooo

        You are confusing schooling with education.

      • Svandex

        Education is used to reveil your potential and help you make full use of it. What you are doing next is up to you, be a slave or be a leader.

    • http://nclinksandthinks.wordpress.com/ Roger U

      The education system is all about profit, espousing any of what Mr Rosenberg calls virtue is prohibited by the heirs of the French Revolution, the liberals.

  • 0point

    Paul, I enjoy and appreciate your perspectives immensely. In this article I’m puzzled that you seem to think of “the Church” as the teacher of virtues. It’s very hard to take seriously any instruction in virtue that is embedded in the credibility-destroying fantasy stories of religion. I wonder if you’re familiar with Stefan Molyneux’s book/theory Universally Preferable Behavior (http://www.freedomainradio.com/FreeBooks.aspx#upb), which is a rational proof of secular ethics, and if you care to share your opinion of it?

    • ansonheath

      As a Christian, I hate to admit it, but the institutional church is the ‘blind leading the blind’.

      • Lorin Chane Partain

        of course it is, we are all saved by grace, that’s precisely why your supposed to be following Jesus.

    • Paul Rosenberg

      Hi 0point,

      The Roman Church, notwithstanding all its crimes, DID teach virtues. People hear about the “seven deadly sins,” but not about the seven virtues, which were taught.

      The inquisitions were horrors, and attributable to the Church, but the local priests, monks and/or nuns in European towns were very often, decent, caring people, teaching as best they could. Such actions, in thousands of towns over centuries, have their effects.

      I haven’t read the book you mention, but I did spend some time with Stefan in the past year. We don’t agree on everything, but I enjoyed the time I spent with him.

      Paul

    • Paul Rosenberg

      Hi 0point,

      The Roman Church, notwithstanding all its many crimes, DID teach virtues.
      People hear about the “seven deadly sins,” but not about the “seven
      virtues,” which were taught.

      The inquisitions, etc. were indeed horrors, and attributable to the Church, but local priests, monks and nuns in European towns were very often,
      decent, caring people, teaching as best they could. Such actions, in
      thousands of towns over centuries, have their effects.

      I haven’t read the book you mention, but I did spend some time with
      Stefan in the past year. We don’t agree on everything, but I enjoyed the
      time I spent with him.

      Paul

      • 0point

        Hi Paul, thanks for taking the time to reply to my comment and those of so many others here. I imagine you’re a pretty busy guy, so kudos to you for engaging with us.

        I don’t dispute that the church did teach SOME virtues in among its many its many sins and crimes. Every successful criminal organization must perform at least some good deeds, usually to create a façade with which to conceal the crimes which constitute its real purpose.

        And its easy for me to imagine many individuals in the church doing good and being decent people, just as many people in government today probably think they are doing good and serving the public. I just have to wonder how much more those local priests, monks and nuns could have accomplished if their minds hadn’t been so corrupted by the irrationalities of their religious fantasy beliefs.

        • Paul Rosenberg

          Hi 0point,

          > thanks for taking the time to reply to my comment and those of so many others here.

          My pleasure. Wish I had time to do more of it.

          > I don’t dispute that the church did teach SOME virtues in among its many its many sins and crimes.

          Right. Things are never simple enough to fit into a slogan or a word formula.

          > I just have to wonder how much more those local priests, monks and nuns could have accomplished if their minds hadn’t been so corrupted by the irrationalities…

          They could have accomplished a LOT more, for sure.

          Best,

          Paul

    • Derek Blain

      UPB has been thoroughly discredited by secular philosophers since it was released. UPB does not establish an actual foundation for a purely empirical ethic, it offers no proof whatsoever. Empiricism must by default be relativistic in absolutely everything where moral free agents are involved (and deterministic, which rules out the idea of moral free agents in the first place, so consistent empiricists cannot really complain about atrocities and the state beyond “my preference is X”).

      UPB is a fine and dandy way to measure whether a system of ethics is logically consistent, yes. Funny enough, it doesn’t even establish a foundation to demonstrate *why* logical consistency is important.

      There is no such thing as “universally preferable”, there is no such thing as any universal ethics under empiricism. If you are a metaphysical naturalist, you are 100% a relativist if you are logically consistent in any way. You cannot say “Mike raping Sally is wrong”, you can say “I think that Mike raping Sally is wrong”, and your claim is just as valid as Mike saying “I am right to rape Sally”.

      Secular philosophy has been dashing itself upon this rock for centuries, and I hate to break it to you, but Molyneux did not magically come along and break the hidden code to universal empirical ethics. The closest I have seen has been the “independent observer” line of reasoning in secularism, which is basically just Deism enshrouded in trying-to-be-empirical language.

  • John1943

    The Catholic Church gave the world the idea of universal brotherhood, The Holy Bible, Sacred Tradition, mass charity to the poor, the Hospital, The University, Modern Science which comes out of the Church’s, hospitals, universities, and monasteries. The Church has given the world great art, theology, philosophy, architecture, and music. It has out lasted thousands of civil governments. The Church has also suffered thousands of persecutions and millions of martyrs. It has outlived numerous internal heresies and barbarian invasions. Rabbinical Talmudic Judaism, Islam, 40,000 Protestant sects, The French Revolution, Communism, Socialism, National Socialism, Atheism, the Masonic Orders, and the New Neo Paganism were all invented to destroy and replace the Church. So far they have not succeeded.

    • Paul Rosenberg

      Hi John,

      While I want to be fair to the Church, I don’t think all the things you listed can be simply attributed to it. They don’t get credit for everything they touch.

      And, they also get legitimate blame for inquisitions, the crusade against the Cathars, and so on.

      Nor do I think all the other religions you name are your enemies – they are simply other groups of people trying to find truth and meaning, and disagreeing on how best to do so.

      Peace,

      Paul

    • Paul Rosenberg

      Hi John,

      While I want to be fair to the Church, I don’t think all the things you listed can be simply attributed to it. They don’t get credit for everything they touch.

      And, they also get legitimate blame for inquisitions, the crusade against the
      Cathars, and so on.

      Nor do I think all the other religions you name are your enemies – they are simply other groups of people trying to find truth and meaning, and disagreeing on how best to do so.

      Peace

    • nightgaunt

      Atheism is just one more level than you. You are an atheist to all other religions but your own aren’t you? Well Atheists just kicks out the last one.

    • 0point

      It’s not difficult to create morality tales from any variety of fantasy characters (and nearly every culture has done so) including Zeus & Hera, Shiva & Vishnu, Buddha, Mohammed, even Joseph Smith and his magic underwear. Do you lend those fantasy characters equal credence as your resurrected Christ character?
      If not, why not? In almost every case it’s purely random chance, an accident of birth, which of these fantasy stories a person is indoctrinated with. It would be (and will be) so much better to have our ethics, morals, values, and virtues founded on universal secular rational principles, and divorced from all these fantasy stories and characters, which can never be universalized, and so always lead eventually to dissension, discord, division and death.

      • JohnnyAppleseed

        While I don’t necessarily agree, I think you presented your ideas quite decently. However, I feel like mentioning:
        >You misspelled Muhammad…
        >Buddha and Muhammad are not fictional…
        >If you really want to know the answer to your question (“If not, why not?”), read the New Testament for yourself like a true scholar rather than trying to understand it from the rants of raging Christians.
        >Be careful in posing rationalism as the only alternative to following the specific traditions offered by religious institutions.

        (Haha and I know you meant the question to be rhetorical but here is my opinion: the significance and relevance of that question overshadows the rest of your comment which I deem to be inadequate in addressing this most important question.)
        Live long and prosper~

    • Man on the street

      Great stuff. The enemies of Christianity have dominated our education, media, and even our government. Every year, the majority Christian population of America cowardly endure the assuslt of the anti-Christianity forces who object to hearing merry Christmas; yet they never get angry as the minority Muslims would do by burning tires, and blowing things. Being a majority, the Christians do not need to get violent, but simply let the ACLU know that their organization will be targeted if they continue to sue over Christmas.

  • sth_txs

    Of course, no one in the media ever discusses that slavery has never really left us. It just hides under the banner of taxes, regulations, and ‘for the children’. We are corporate/government slaves, though most comfortable, it is still slavery.

  • jrrrr

    There are two physical processes by which to realize profit, that from capitalist exchange, in which profits are mutually beneficial and inclusive of every participant _or_ that of socialist exploitation, which creates profits for winners by destructively confiscating the time and income of losers.

    For one single reason, many people criticize all realization of profit, without differentiating between these two processes and that reason is to benefit from political exploitation. However, in order to successfully use political exploitation for enrichment, one must remain socially acceptable, so as to remain close to, indeed, treasured by one’s prey, which is every working person. The single means to such a goal are to redefine all acquisition of profit as exploitation, historical or current, without differentiating between destructively exploitative profits and exchange based mutual profits, so as spuriously validate socialism’s enforced income redistribution as a means of resolving economic injustice.

    This is a word game which succeeds by obscuring the fact that while capitalist exchange enriches all trading participants at every level of endeavor, it enriches _only_ working participants, a process that does not allow any politician to buy votes from tax funded sloth and greed, by way of the socialist exploitation of a national work force. And whether or not the results are from successful propaganda or greed, a world wide majority prefers to exploit rather than trade and readily accepts the deceit. Were this word game truthfully defined, one would see only meaningless nonsense, referencing zero evidence, in which
    players endlessly proselytize to their prey that _exploitation_ is the remedy to _exploitation_,

  • historian

    Interesting theory on slavery but you cite no evidence for this supposed move to profit motive/capitalism. You cite wishful thinking rather than any kind of historical investigation. You also ignore the fact that in every case known, “abolishing slavery” meant that one is religiously enjoined from enslaving fellow believers of the same faith. This is what happened in Rome. Of course in doing so it provided great incentives for potential or actual slaves to convert. Jews and Muslims had similar beliefs.
    This wasn’t about creating savings or investment but not treating non believers like fellow co-religionists. Vikings abolished slavery when they converted, and nearly all of their potential slaves were already Christians.
    If you are seeking economic explanations, you should consider the fact that in ancient societies there was almost no practical means for people to safely save/invest any surplus capital they had. They could only buy property (some could buy land, not all), personal property (gold, tools) or slaves (for those eligible).
    The Roman Catholic Church didn’t end Roman slavery to promote capitalism; but for religious reasons common to most other faiths.

    • Capn_Mike

      From the article: Europeans replaced slavery – slowly and because of their Christian principles, not because of a conscious plan – by doing these things

    • Paul Rosenberg

      Ah, Historian, so much to reply to!

      First, as Capn Mike notes below, this article wasn’t originally about the Catholic Church – other people put that headline on it. It was about capitalism replacing slavery. Christian morals were very much a part of that, but “Christian” is not the same as “Catholic.” In addition to the Roman Church, there were large numbers of Arians and Eastern (Orthodox) Christians, and they played at least equal roles in the slow abolition of slavery in Europe.

      There actually were banks and loans in Greece and Rome, by the way. Not as many as now, certainly, but they definitely existed. I read a passage in Durant’s Life of Greece on the subject just the other day.

      As for evidence of the move to profit, there is much. You can get a good start finding it in Hendrich Spruyt’s The Sovereign State and Its Competitors.

      Peace

      Peace

  • http://nclinksandthinks.wordpress.com/ Roger U

    The Caribbean refutes the hypothesis that abolition creates wealth universally. As slave colonies, the islands were wealthy, after abolition, their economies died.

    • Paul Rosenberg

      I’m writing about changes on a societal scale, not every individual circumstance.

      Peace

      • http://nclinksandthinks.wordpress.com/ Roger U

        You are speaking only about Europe?

        • Paul Rosenberg

          Hi Roger,

          Yes, I am referring only to Europe and the slavery they inherited from Rome.

          The Caribbean is another story. :)

  • http://www.salescopywriter.net/ Alan

    Yeah that’s nice and everything but the church (and bible) openly endorse slavery. So there’s that?

    • Paul Rosenberg

      Hi Alan,

      First of all, the Bible doesn’t “endorse” slavery, although it does recognize it as existing. But you are quite right that it does not directly condemn it. (Which makes the fact that a Christian-based civilization did double-interesting.)

      The Church (as in the Roman Catholic Church) generally condemned slavery. What made slavery in the New World possible was the fact that the enslaved were not Christians. (I know, still damned sick.) But even that was strongly opposed by many in the clergy. And, thank god, it didn’t last.

      My purpose in hitting these issues is to be fair. I am not a Catholic, and I know very well about their crimes, but fair is fair, and the picture that is usually presented of the medieval church is a cartoonish distortion.

      Peace

      • nightgaunt

        The Bible accepts slavery as a given like it does the poor. It never explicitly condones or decries it, it subtlety endorses it.

    • Gregory S. Gill

      The slavery that the bible allows and regulates is today called indentured servants were they were given a fair wage when the bible was enforced, its not the slavery that was practiced in the south. Also people who stole but couldn’t pay back became the slave of who they stole from until they paid back what the bible law demanded for them to pay back.

      Kidnapping someone for slavery or whatever was a capital crime, Deuteronomy 24:7, 1 Timothy 1:10. Read the article “The Bible and slavery” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bible_and_slavery

  • Patrick

    People were not unshackled from slavery by the free market. If anything, they were enslaved by the market running without regard for basic human rights. Societies and their governments recognized the rights of all people and enacted laws that brought slaves to equal footing with the rest of society. This removed slaves from the category of
    property or an economic means of production that’s no different from a windmill, cotton gin, or anything else to be owned of economic value. These laws to abolish slavery, in effect, regulated the free market by outlawing one of its means of production (i.e., slavery) for the betterment of society. So in closing, I’ll say that the economic analysis of this article is confused pseudoscience and its conclusions are deplorable blather. What’s funny to me is this dumbass author doesn’t even realize that in attempting to praise the free market he actually advocates its regulation.

    • Paul Rosenberg

      Contribute politely or go away, son.

      • Patrick

        My apologies, Paul. Do you have any other criticisms of my assessment?

        People were not unshackled from slavery by the free market. If anything,
        they were enslaved by the market running without regard for basic human
        rights. Societies and their governments recognized the rights of all
        people and enacted laws that brought slaves to equal footing with the
        rest of society. This removed slaves from the category of property or
        an economic means of production that’s no different from a windmill,
        cotton gin, or anything else to be owned of economic value. These laws
        to abolish slavery, in effect, regulated the free market by outlawing
        one of its means of production (i.e., slavery) for the betterment of
        society. So in closing, I’ll say that the economic analysis of this
        article is confused pseudoscience and its conclusions are deplorable
        blather. What’s funny to me is this author doesn’t even realize
        that in attempting to praise the free market he actually advocates its
        regulation.

        • Paul Rosenberg

          I’m not at all sure you’re sincere, but I’ll play this time:

          > If anything, they were enslaved by the market running without regard for basic human rights.

          “The market” is not a single entity, it’s a shorthand name we apply to thousands of people all doing their own thing. So, an actual market cannot enslave anyone like a government can. (Governments are groups of men holding a monopoly on coercion.)

          > Societies and their governments recognized the rights of all
          people and enacted laws that brought slaves to equal footing

          Nor are “societies” real things, that’s another shorthand for “many individuals.” And in Europe, millions of individuals decided that slavery was bad. Leading that movement were devoted Christians, quoting the Bible. I wrote about this in FMP 33, btw, and quoted several of them. You need only look to verify this.

          Governments from the beginning of history enforced slavery: Greece, Rome, Sumer, Egypt, etc. – they all enforced slavery.

          Furthermore, THERE WERE ALMOST NO GOVERNMENTS IN EUROPE AS SLAVERY DIED. The ancient evil finally vanished by about 1100 AD. At that time, there were literally thousands of tiny, weak governments in Europe, and even the “big” governments were monarchies with massively decentralized power. (English Barons overtook the King in 1215 and a collection of Peasants nearly overpowered him in 1381.) They had minimal ability to make their lords do as they wished.

          There is a difference between slogan-based, goal-seeking history and real history. You need to read original sources and do you own analysis.

          Paul

          • Patrick

            Thanks Paul, I’ve done my own thinking. Don’t you get all saucy on me now that I’ve apologized!

            My point is simple: people were once enslaved by individuals in a market and when governments or religions (as you argue) freed those people, the market became more regulated (because now something that was once part of the economy is prohibited). For example, the same thing would happen if individuals in a market were prohibited (by governments, or if you’d like, religions) to burn fossil fuels – the market would become more regulated. So basically, by regulating the individuals of the market (by whichever entity you prefer), slaves became free men and women. So in the end, it wasn’t the free market (or individuals of the free market) that ended slavery, but the regulations on the market (and its individuals) by law-making entities.

          • Paul Rosenberg

            Okay:

            > people were once enslaved by individuals in a market…

            But that’s NOT what happened. People were enslaved by governments. Trade was considered dirty in those days, and there wasn’t a lot of commerce in our sense.

            Again, the governments of Sumer, Egypt, Greece and Rome (along with their religions) all enforced slavery.

            > when governments or religions (as you argue) freed those people…

            This, also, DIDN’T HAPPEN. Individuals (mainly religious) agreed that slavery was bad, and it withered away. Records of precisely how it withered are scarce (as are all records of that period), but governments of that era were tiny, controlling small areas. The big-boss kings had very little power of these town-sized governments. They could not have enforced any such law. They barely could have published it.

            The one law of that era outlawing slavery that I can point to was in England, from the late 11th century, when slavery was already 90% dead.

            We can have whatever theories we like, but the things you mention did not occur.

          • Patrick

            Paul, my point is that an economy without slavery is more regulated than one with slavery. Its a simple fact: more regulated markets have more rules than less regulated markets. Therefore, if you advocate a completely free market, you advocate one in which slavery is a possibility. If you think there shouldn’t be slavery, then you must admit that the market (and its individuals) must be regulated to a degree.

          • Paul Rosenberg

            One last set of answers, Patrick, then you may have the final word if you wish. And please note my focus on reality here:

            > Its a simple fact: more regulated markets have more rules than less regulated markets. Therefore, if you advocate a completely free market, you advocate one in which slavery is a possibility.

            First, notice your complete belief that rules are good and produce good. That is plainly FALSE. Over 200 million people were killed in the 20th centuries by governments – 100% by the rules.

            Slavery in the old world WAS MAINTAINED BY RULES. That’s a fact. Word formulas can’t change it.

            Slavery was NOT destroyed by rules. It was destroyed by millions of decisions of individuals. That’s why it took centuries. The shared ideas of millions changed.

            Is slavery possible under a free market? Well, in individual cases, sure it is. Slavery is *possible* almost anywhere and at any time. In ACTUAL FACT, however, it has only endured when backed by government force – by the rules.

            > If you think there shouldn’t be slavery, then you must admit that the market (and its individuals) must be regulated to a degree.

            Quite the opposite. I say that regulations are the friend of slavery and that the actions of morally-centered individuals are the enemy of slavery. And I say this BECAUSE IT MATCHES WHAT REALLY HAPPENED.

            It doesn’t matter how good your theory makes you feel – what it specifies DID NOT HAPPEN.

            Peace.

          • Patrick

            Paul, in my last post, I did not put a value judgement on slavery – good, bad, or indifferent.

            I said, “Its a simple fact: more regulated markets have more rules than less
            regulated markets. Therefore, if you advocate a completely free market,
            you advocate one in which slavery is a possibility.”

            And you reply, “First, notice your complete belief that rules are good and produce good.
            That is plainly FALSE. Over 200 million people were killed in the 20th
            centuries by governments – 100% by the rules.”

            I did not claim that rules were good or produce good – you invented that. You obviously cannot stay on topic. Anyway, riddle me this, how many millions of people are now alive because governments abolished slavery (100% by the rules)?

            You really should be embarrassed by your lack of communication skills and reasoning.

            No reply necessary,
            Pat

          • Charles

            You are all screwed up. In a completely free market there is no slavery. If there was slavery, it wouldn’t be a completely free market. Sheesh!

          • Patrick

            Charles, in a completely free market, there would be no rules (or regulations) and individuals could do whatever they want. This includes the possibility of owning other people.

          • Charles

            I guess it depends on how you define freedom. The way I look at it, in freedom, you are not free to take someone else’s freedom away. Freedom is not freedom just for you. You can do whatever you want as long as you don’t interfere with someone else’s freedom. Kind of like the libertarian concept of the non-aggression principle.

          • Maxwell Downham

            I’m not learning much about life after Capitalism here. I think Paul’s request for you to go away, Pat, is the best part of this exchange. You’re what I’d call an antagonistic argumentative – or what’s known in legal terms as a vexatious litigant. We’re hearing from your ego and it’s quite boring Pat.

            What’s to come after Capitalism (a uniquely materialistic preoccupation) will be like the Middle Ages at its best, which was an ideal blend of the spiritual and the material. Talk of slavery as it’s gone on here is going nowhere. The Guild System was a way of conducting communal business without all the anarchy of Capitalism. Why is no one discussing the modern version of it? If whatever comes after Capital isn’t a new guild system, it’ll be just another type of tyranny. That looks likely the way this debate is developing. Nab’s propensity for oneupmanship is evident here with Pat’s style of ‘communication’. The Guild system was developed to cope with the collapse of the Roman control system. It would do something that I consider more important than anything else – put meaning and joy back into work. As Marx said, that’s the core of the alienation Capitalism imposes on the individual. What I’m saying here can we have more discussion of what’s going to liberate us from Capitalism that how to stay locked into it. Can we talk about what qualities in us–human beings– have been destroyed by our supermarket mass education? That would lead us out of the slavery-freedom vicious cycle.
            Max

  • Charles

    You didn’t define profit so allow me.

    Profit as any moral increase in happiness.

    Example; when you buy a car, the dealer profits because he would rather have the agreed upon amount of money, and you profit because you would rather have the car than the money. In freedom both sides profit in any exchange at the time they make it. (Absent any force or fraud).

    You can profit by seeing a sunset, reading a book, enjoying time with a friend, making money etc., etc.

    Robbing a bank would be an increase in happiness but if it involves force or fraud it would be immoral.

    Any immoral increase in happiness is not profit but plunder.

    • Duiiddooo

      But who specifies the moral system?

      • Charles

        Any agreement between two adults without force or fraud is moral.
        There is no WHO. Free, intelligent men don’t look to a ‘WHO’ to lead them but to a PRINCIPLE to guide them.

  • Jesse Petersen

    This article is rather ridiculous and one-sided. It’s rather ignorant of some very important facts about civilizations other than western European ones. Personal profit was a motive long before slavery was abolished, or for that matter, long LOOOONG before Christianity or even monotheism was even a concept. 10s of thousands of years ago there were ancient trade routes for trading flint, amber, furs, and probably many other goods. These routes extended for thousands of miles, and there’s even some scant evidence of trade between North America and Europe (genetic interchange, similar technological developments, etc.) What were these motivated for, if not for profit? There’s no evidence of slavery as we know it amongst these traders, and much more evidence that these were solitary traders or tiny bands of free men.

    To give a more recent example, in Japan the merchant class was the lowest of the low, one small step above untouchables. Christianity was outlawed, punishable by death. And yet the merchants rose to the point where they rivaled the Samurai, so that they could afford luxuries and mansions and bodyguards while the honorable warriors made do with austere poverty. There are countless examples of merchant cultures / classes both within and outside of, pre- and post-dating the advent of Christianity.

    Finally, patience and temperance, while both good virtues, are hardly the only useful virtues for profit seeking. They’re not even necessarily the most important. Temperance and patience were widely extolled by slaveholding southern Christians, and it certainly did them little good! They still held on to a backwards and brutal economic system that was outmoded by the superior (albeit flawed) northern mercantilist model.

    The truth is, slavery is a product of militarism, and cannot exist without it. All that it takes for it to die is the ethical code forbidding aggression against your fellow man. Such has been the code of most major religions and philosophies, as evidenced by Maurya abolishing the slave trade in India 300 years before Christ. The hard part is getting people to live up their stated virtues, and that will be the case no matter what you claim those virtues are or where you say they come from.

  • Bouton

    I am all for trade and profit, that is the true meaning of trade. A clear straight forward exchange of goods or services.

    My argument and I do believe it is valid is with the banks. You take a loan from any bank. But they never delivery their part of the agreement. You are then expected to pay them back or forfeit. There is no risk on their part, They never sign there part of the agreement because they know the loan is a complete fraud and is really void until they can prove equal risk of disposition. In other words they commit theft by deception. Iceland have managed to kick these con merchants banker’s out.

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