Friday, June 26, 2009

Che Guevara's "Zero-Sum" World

"The laws of capitalism, which are blind and are invisible to ordinary people, act upon the individual without he or she being aware of it. One sees only the vastness of a seemingly infinite horizon ahead. That is how it is painted by capitalist propagandists who purport to draw a lesson from the example of Rockefeller — whether or not it is true — about the possibilities of individual success. The amount of poverty and suffering required for a Rockefeller to emerge, and the amount of depravity entailed in the accumulation of a fortune of such magnitude, are left out of the picture, and it is not always possible for the popular forces to expose this clearly ... It is a contest among wolves. One can win only at the cost of the failure of others."
Che Guevara [1]

Yes Che, that would be true, if only the world's productive output was completely static and the pie didn't grow any larger as people actually produced more stuff.

The beauty of capitalism is that for a Rockefeller to emerge, NO poverty or suffering at all is required for anyone else... Far from robbing "the poor", Rockefeller necessarily made his fortune by adding to the wealth of the world! This should be self-explanatory, but John D. Rockefeller got wealthy by discovering new uses for oil, extraction methods, creating an efficient supply chain and generally providing incredibly useful products to the world. Absolutist "environmentalists" aside, is there even anyone even remotely disputing that the ability to use oil as a power-source has added astronomical value to humanity? Even if you think it's time to stop using it now in 2009, without oil we'd have virtually none of the amazing tools we take for granted today. No computers, no plastics, no means of transportation and very little capital machinery - which would mean fewer available goods needed by people around the world to survive and live happy, comfortable lives.... you know... stuff like food, housing, clothing, sunscreen, medicines... Hats...

Without people like John D. Rockefeller, we have none of that. Without Rockefeller, the world is an immensely poorer place to be - thus he was duly compensated for the new value he added to billions of people around the globe...

So the world isn't poorer because he made billions of dollars... to the contrary, it's immensely wealthier!

(Minor side-note: Rockefeller also generously gave the approximate modern equivalent of $7,800,675,113 to philanthropic endeavors
... That certainly seems better than the kind of philanthropy Guevara was known for!)

Now... I'm tilting at dead windmills here and I know I shouldn't give ruthless, psychopathic murderers like Che Guevara any intellectual credence at all, but that quote solidified some thoughts I've been having lately about the kinds of stupid totalitarian ideas people have which measurably set back the progress of humanity and make everyone poorer as a result.

Of all the economic fallacies which contribute to these sorts of things... I think the greatest and most terrible is the idea - as espoused by the Butcher [2] up there - is the idea that economic activity is zero-sum.

It's not. It's an additive sum. People do not engage in economic activity unless both parties expect to benefit provided there is no force or coercion... Free trade is thus always value-adding!

Never has a more self-evident concept been so widely ignored and more poorly understood... and looking back on history shows thug after thug, dictator after dictator and evil after evil in the wake of this simple intellectual mistake.

[1]Guevara, Ernesto "Che". "Socialism and man in Cuba." Marxists Internet Archive. 26 June 2009 .
[2] Llosa, Alvaro Vargas. "The Killing Machine: Che Guevara, from Communist Firebrand to Capitalist Brand: Newsroom:." The Independent Institute. 26 June 2009 .

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Where does profit come from?