Economic Smackdown! “Porchers vs Austrians” on Capitalism

22 Jul

Great speech by Allan Carlson

What does conservatism, rightly understood, have to say about capitalism? In my remarks this morning, I will provide three answers:

First, I will separate out the socially disruptive effects of the broad industrial revolution, from capitalism per se.

Second, I will summarize the major conservative criticisms commonly and specifically leveled against laissez-faire capitalism.

And third, I will describe an alternative approach to building a free economy which is compatible with conservative sentiments, namely the Humane Economy of Wilhelm Roepke.

Definitions here are important. A definition of capitalism will emerge in what follows. However, for today’s purposes I do want to define “conservatism” at the outset. The modern term comes from the French counter–revolutionaries of the early 19th Century  -– from figures such as Louis de Bonald and Chateaubriand — who opposed the cultural radicalism of the French revolution. The conservator, they said, was the person who protects the vital spheres of life that nurture human virtue: family; village; neighborhood; faith community; and region. Britain’s Edmund Burke labeled these same spheres the “little platoons” of society. The authentic conservative is still called, first and foremost, to their defense. It’s fair to say, I think, that this definition was the one also held by the 20th Century  conservative writers, Robert Nisbet and Russell Kirk.

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