A Strange Anti-Capitalist Argument

Every defender of the market has hear this when debating a socialist, specifically when defending the aspect of personal liberty in markets. “Capitalism leaves the individual free, that is, free to starve.”

Or some variation of the idea that no individual is free because “they still have to produce value at the threat of death.”

This may be low hanging fruit but it is a very often logical deduction out counterparts resort to, and it is valuable to know the instant response. It is also nothing but a very bizarre way to recognize the fact of scarcity. All this retort tells us is that goods are scarce and we have to expend labor and economize to survive.

The fact of scarcity that the socialists point out is not unique to capitalism. We know that goods and services are scarce in a free market because they have market prices, and everything that is scarce under capitalism would be scarce under socialism, although much more scarce without the ability to economize.

More importantly the argument, assuming it is made in opposition to capitalism implies an evil notion. If I am arguing in favor of a centrally planned economy, and I use the fact of scarcity as my argument, I am making this statement: “Because I recognize that goods are scarce, I believe I have the supreme right to enslave others to alleviate this scarcity so that I am no longer bound by the fact of scarcity.” But this deduction does not follow.

So in conclusion, the answer is this: The recognition of scarcity in the world does not justify the coercive seizing of the means of production, nor any other aggression in society. Furthermore, recognizing scarcity is simply the recognition of why economies exist in the first place, being a condition that would exist in any political or economic system imaginable. At that, our system, the system of private property has alleviated and conquered scarcity to the lower levels that could not have been imagined by any European King.

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