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 II, Chapter 2
The Libertarian Philosophy
I intend to spend the next seventeen minutes answering a question that a disappointingly small number of people even bother to ask. The question is this: Just what
is Ben Rogge’s social philosophy? or to put it the way a few who have heard me speak have put it: “Rogge, just what kind of a nut are you?” This way of putting it, although accurate perhaps, is distressing to me because I am essentially a button-down-collar, Kiwanis Club-type conformist. My only attention-drawing eccentricity has been a tendency to give myself all putts under five feet.
ideology—the integrated assertions, theories and aims constituting a politico-social program.” To me, this identifies the ideologue as someone, be he Christian or Moslem or Marxist or Fascist or Liberal Reformer or Monarchist, who has a clear vision of what man is or should be or could become and who has some kind of socio-political program for bringing about the desired state of affairs. To the ideologue, the ideal social system is to be defined in terms of certain ends or goals to be attained, such as the elimination of poverty or the elimination of racial prejudice or the maximizing of the growth rate or the establishment of one true religion or the dominance of the master race or the implementation of the General Will or the eternal glory of the American or the French nation. Usually, but not always, there are certain restraints placed on the means to be used, but the emphasis is upon the vision of the proper goal of man’s existence here on earth, as revealed by voices from burning bushes or by prophets or by the magnificently objective results of science or in the massive and blind forces of history or in the dark and mysterious processes of the human mind or what-have-you.
it is not the ends of man’s actions that count but only the means used in serving those ends. To each of the ideologues he says: “You may be right and you may keep on trying to convince me and others that you are right,
but the only means you may use are those of persuasion. You may not impose your vision
by force on anyone. This means not only that you are not to stone the prostitute or the hippie or the college dean or the Jew or the businessman or even the policeman; it means as well, and most importantly, that you are not to get the policeman or the sheriff to do your stoning for you.”
the society be distinguished from
the state and that the society not be absorbed by the state. Society, with its full network of restraints on individual conduct, based on custom, tradition, religion, personal morality, a sense of style, and with all of its indeed powerful sanctions, is what makes the civilized life possible and meaningful. I am not proposing an anarchic society; on the contrary
I am essentially a conservative on most questions of social organization and social process. I do believe in continuity, in the important role of tradition and custom, in standards for personal conduct, in the great importance of the elites (imperfect though they may be).
without the law, and perhaps properly so, is made so severe (even including death) as to stop that healthy and necessary and slow process of change through which civilizations move to higher levels of achievement.
any of the peaceful actions of individuals or groups, whether the relationship involves sex, games, or the marketplace, and this sets him apart from both the modern conservative and the modern liberal.
Ramparts magazine and lecturing at the Free University in New York. In some ways this makes sense. The New Left and the libertarians share a common suspicion of concentrated power, and particularly of the power to coerce; they join in not wishing to be ruled by any establishment, even of the elite. But there the love affair comes to an abrupt end.
what goals its people are seeking as what
means are used and accepted in the seeking of goals. He insists that to the opinions and ideas and revelations of even the best of men must still cling the mortal, the human uncertainty. If even those who come to be least imperfect in knowing and acting cannot be identified in advance (or even clearly identified after the fact), surely it follows that each imperfect man must be given (indeed,
has) the right to follow his own imperfectly selected star in his own imperfect way, to march to the music that
he hears and not to the music that you and I hear.
The Freudian Ethic (New York: Duell, Sloan, and Pearce, 1959) p. 166.
Heavens on Earth: Utopian Communities in America 1680-1880, 2d ed. (New York: Peter Smith, 1966), p. 101.
History of American Socialisms (1870), p. 43.