Capitalism: “The Others” Helper

Societies have long tried to define themselves as being different from “The Others”. The Romans had their barbarians. The Jews had their Gentiles. The Nazi’s had their Jews, European colonists had their savages (be they Native Americans, Africans, etc.) Southerners had their slaves. Political populists have their “Rich”. The cast of “Lost” even literally had “The Others”.

Sometimes “The Others” serve as scapegoats for society’s problems. Sometimes they are seen as a threat to the further existence of society as we know it. What is common about “The Others” is that whatever rules society has regarding interpersonal actions, these rules do not apply to “The Others”.

This is true regarding economic rules as well. In some cases “The Others” can’t own property or are property themselves. Property claims they did have were often just taken from them.

Whenever populists or politicians start invoking “the best interests of society” it is important to ask who they think society is. Unless they mean humanity, their definition of society creates a group of “others”.

Is it in society’s best interest to redistribute money from the rich to the poor? To do so, you are already identifying “the rich” as “The Others” whose property rights aren’t worth as much as the rest of us. If you define society as America, philosophically or for political gain, then you are making 5 billion plus people “The Others”.

Does someone who makes $15,000 a year in the US have a moral claim to have money given them by someone who makes $80,000 a year? If so, then why is that same person not required to share their wealth with the 2 billion people living on less than $1.25 a day? Probably because those people, like the rich, are “The Others” and so they don’t count.

What kind of economic rules are they if they only apply to a couple of people while everyone else (richer and poorer) are “The Others”?

Yet another thing that capitalism has going for it is that its existence is not defined by the existence of “The Others”. Everyone is welcome to make voluntary transactions. People are free from the threat of force and their property rights are protected. Surely an economic system built around treating everyone equally and fairly is a just economic system. It sure beats any system where “The Others” need not apply.

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