How the Left Exploits Anti-Racism to Attack Capitalism

by Ryan McMaken

Joseph Schumpeter once observed “capitalism stands its trial before judges who have the sentence of death in their pockets.” Capitalism is to be condemned no matter what, even if the executioners have yet to settle on the specific reason for its condemnation.

The forces of anti-capitalism have long morphed into whatever form best suits them for taking advantage of the zeitgeist. Whatever the latest injustice may be — from a polluted environment to poverty to racism — the solution is always the same: the destruction of markets and market freedom. As Ralph Raico has noted:

In earlier times, they [i.e., the anti-capitalists] indicted capitalism for the immiseration of the proletariat, inevitable depressions, and the disappearance of the middle classes. Then, a little later, it was for imperialism and inevitable wars among the imperialist (capitalist) powers. …

Capitalism was charged with being unable to compete with socialist societies in technological progress (Sputnik); with promoting automation, leading to catastrophic permanent unemployment; both with creating the consumer society and its piggish affluence and with proving incapable of extending such piggishness to the underclass; with “neo-colonialism”; with oppressing women and racial minorities; with spawning a meretricious popular culture; and with destroying the earth itself.

At the moment, the Left has apparently settled on racism as the justification for the latest round of anti-capitalist invective. Indeed, if we delve into the Left’s narrative underpinning of the current Black Lives Matter movement we find a sizable undercurrent of anti-capitalism. This isn’t to say anti-racism has nothing to do with the controversy. Clearly it is an element of the movement. Moreover, it may certainly be the case that most of the movement’s rank and file — those who demonstrate in the streets — are animated simply by a desire to end mistreatment by government police. But when it comes time to formulate policy responses to the current crises of police abuse, we’re likely to discover the Left is demanding a “solution” that goes far beyond merely holding abusive cops accountable, and will focus instead on further dismantling what’s left of the market economy.

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