Mandeville, LA - Exclusive Transcript - This is an Inigo Montoya moment.  It does not mean what you think it does.  What you mean to say is free enterprise, that’s what you mean to say.  You do not mean to say capitalism.  As Thomas Fleming points out at Chronicles Magazine, there is a reason for that.  This story is posted in its entirety in today’s Pile of Prep.  Here’s what Fleming writes about the use of the term capitalism.  As we continue our education together, ladies and gentlemen, let’s read the Earl of Chesterfield, learn a little Latin, read some classic works together, read founders source documents, and let’s get our terminology straight.

 

Begin Mike Church Show Transcript

Mike:  I keep telling some of my conservative friends -- how many of you have seen the movie Princess Bride?  There’s a part in there where Inigo Montoya is following the Sicilian around.  The Sicilian keeps repeating the word “inconceivable.”  Mandy Patinkin who plays Inigo Montoya says, “I don’t think you used that word the way you meant to use that word.”  The same to you with the word capitalism.  Whenever I say this, people look at me with jaundice-glazed, glassed-over eyes.  [mocking] “Mike, we’s all capitalists.  I don’t know what you, why don’t you want to use…”  As I said, if you trace back the root of the word capitalism, you won’t find very much use of it before Karl Marx.  I know, I’ve received your emails, your etymologies of the word capitalism.  I’ve amended what I say to not very many instances of the use of the term capitalism before Marx.  Last time I said didn’t happen before Marx, I got a boxful, [mocking] “You don’t know what you’re talking about.  It’s the greatest term ever in the history of man.”  I’ve amended it.

This is an Inigo Montoya moment.  It does not mean what you think it does.  What you mean to say is free enterprise, that’s what you mean to say.  You do not mean to say capitalism.  As Thomas Fleming points out at Chronicles Magazine, there is a reason for that.  This story is posted in its entirety in today’s Pile of Prep.  Here’s what Fleming writes about the use of the term capitalism.  As we continue our education together, ladies and gentlemen, let’s read the Earl of Chesterfield, learn a little Latin, read some classic works together, read founders source documents, and let’s get our terminology straight.

[reading]

Capitalism with a capital C, however, is the system and ideology that grew up with liberalism, and it emphasizes the unrestricted rights of capitalists, whose activities more or less define the society, as, for example, fighting noblemen defined parts of Medieval Europe. Let me quote from my students’ book on socialism:

“Liberals usually (though not always) support capitalism, but liberalism and capitalism must be distinguished. Capitalism, although it is often confused with liberal theories of the free market, is actually an economic system that emphasizes capital, that is, the money invested into a company that pays wages to its employees. In principle, capitalism is incompatible with socialism, because capitalism presupposes private property and laws protecting property, while socialists traditionally have advocated public ownership of the great economic interests. In reality, however, capitalism and socialism have tended to merge. In countries that have nationalized large businesses, capitalism managers were often hired to run the corporations, while in countries that are officially capitalistic, large corporations cooperate closely with government agencies and often secure important benefits to themselves and to the detriment of smaller rivals. Adam Smith, the first theorist of capitalism, noted that rival businessmen would rather combine to control, by fixing wages and prices, than compete in the marketplace. In the 20th century this has usually meant a close collaboration of business and government, in capitalist as much as in socialist countries.”

A conservative, then, may be wildly enthusiastic about free enterprise while—for the very reason that he favors free enterprise—entertaining grave suspicions about capitalism, either as a practice or as a theory.

[end reading]

Mike:  Intriguing, is it not?


End Mike Church Show Transcript