Can Capitalism Survive?
By Benjamin A. Rogge
One of the signs of advancing age in the American college professor is a tendency for him to write less and publish more. This seeming paradox is easily explained by the phenomenon of
Collected Works, that is, by what on television would be described as reruns. As in television, no great public outcry is needed to bring forth the reruns; a question from his wife, a polite suggestion from a colleague, and the cut-and-paste operation is under way.I have put together here what I believe to be the best of the rather meager output of my professional career up to this point. For reasons (mostly financial) that always seemed adequate at the moment, I have been more of a speechmaker than a writer. Thus, you will find that many of the pieces in this collection are but speeches put down on paper…. [From the Foreword]
First Pub. Date
Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund, Inc. Liberty Fund, Inc.
The text of this edition is under copyright. Picture of Benjamin Rogge: file photo, courtesy of Liberty Fund, Inc.
- Part I, Introduction
- Part I, Chapter 1, Can Capitalism Survive
- Part II, Introduction
- Part II, Chapter 1, The Case for Economic Freedom
- Part II, Chapter 2, The Libertarian Philosophy
- Part II, Chapter 3, Who is to Blame
- Part II, Chapter 4, Paradise in Posey County
- Part III, Introduction
- Part III, Chapter 1, Adam Smith, 1776-1976
- Part III, Chapter 2, Christian Economics: Myth or Reality
- Part III, Chapter 3, College Economics: Is It Subversive of Capitalism
- Part IV, Introduction
- Part IV, Chapter 1, Profits
- Part IV, Chapter 2, The Businessman
- Part V, Introduction
- Part V, Chapter 1, The Labor Monopoly
- Part VI, Introduction
- Part VI, Chapter 1, The Long-Run Economic Outlook
- Part VI, Chapter 2, Alleged Causes of Inflation, Corporate Monopolies
- Part VII, Introduction
- Part VII, Chapter 1, The Problems of Cities
- Part VIII, Introduction
- Part VIII, Chapter 1, Financing Higher Education in the United States
- Part VIII, Chapter 2, The Promise of the College
- Part IX, Introduction
- Part IX, Chapter 1, The Businessman and the Defense of Capitalism
- Part IX, Chapter 2, Reflections on the Election of 1964
- Part IX, Chapter 3, The Foundation for Economic Education, Success or Failure
Part III, Chapter 3
College Economics: Is It Subversive of Capitalism?
So that you will not be left in suspense, let me tell you immediately that the amount of subversion that takes place in college economics courses is probably much less than you may have imagined. The reasons for this are many; two of the most important are as follows:
only formal course in economics taken by most American students—if they take even that) is generally of such poor quality that the students are neither subverted nor enlightened—primarily, they are
exposed to less purely leftist economics than you may have imagined. But don’t be too encouraged by this. Where the student
does encounter the true economic nonsense of the left is in his courses in literature, history, political science, social psychology, sociology (one of the worst offenders), and philosophy. The degree of certainty of this exposure to economic nonsense becomes almost absolute if he goes on to study to be a minister, a priest, or a rabbi.
inflationary gap, I wonder?). A readings book presenting a range of views on questions of public policy is a very common adjunct to the course, but is rarely at the heart of the course.
A dramatic example of the importance of a pricing system is postwar Germany. In 1946-1947 production and consumption had dropped to a low level. Neither bombing damage nor postwar reparation payments could account for this breakdown. Paralysis of the price mechanism was clearly to blame: Money was worthless; factories closed down for lack of materials; trains could not run for lack of coal; coal could not be mined because miners were hungry; miners were hungry because peasants would not sell food for money and no industrial goods were available to give them in return. Prices were legally fixed, but little could be bought at such prices; a black market characterized by barter or fantastically high prices existed. Then in 1948 a “miracle” happened. A thorough-going currency reform set the price mechanism back into effective operation. Immediately production and consumption soared; again the
what, how, and
for whom were being resolved by markets and prices.
The fact to emphasize is that such so-called miracles are going on all around us all the time—if only we look around and alert ourselves to the everyday functioning of the market.
other selections Samuelson reveals his true colors. Yes, it is true; Samuelson does say much with which I disagree and with which most of you disagree. But, in common with almost all professional economists, including the best of the socialists, he does recognize the critical and necessary role of the marketplace, with an excellent, explicit development of subjective, marginalist value theory.
*49 From my own observations, I would tend to agree, much as I dislike agreeing with Stigler behind his back.
process at work in the economic affairs of man, that effects
are related to causes, and that this process is a great datum of human experience. One of the brothers in Dostoevsky’s classic says to the other, “There is no God and hence everything is possible.” His modern counterpart says, at least by implication, “There is no Economics and hence everything is possible.” Again, this is not a statement commonly made by economists, although John Kenneth Galbraith comes close to saying this in his recent writings. Perhaps Galbraith is the only economist of wisdom in America today—or perhaps (as I think more likely) Galbraith is not really an economist at all, but rather a man of letters. And men of letters, by and large, when they turn to subjects in economics, tend to produce nonsense. Thus George Bernard Shaw, self-appointed economist for the early Fabians, in his preface to
Major Barbara, eliminates poverty everywhere with one stroke of his pen. “The thing can be done easily enough,” he says, “in spite of the demonstrations to the contrary made by the economists.”
The Wealth of Nations (New York: Modern Library, 1937), p. 79.
The Theory of Moral Sentiments (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1976), pp. 380-81.
Christianity and Communism Today (1960), p. 118.
Two Concepts of Liberty (1958), p. 10.
Summa Theologica, 2a, 2ae, quaestiao 66, art. 7.
Economics, 6th ed., pp. 37-38.
Essays in the History of Economics (Chicago, 1965), pp. 51-65.