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8. Objective values as the base of capitalism

 

The objective theory of values is the only moral theory incompatible with rule by force. Capitalism is the only system based implicitly on an objective theory of values—and the historic tragedy is that this has never been made explicit.

If one knows that the good is objective—that is, determined by the nature of reality, but to be discovered by man’s mind—one knows that an attempt to achieve the good by physical force is a monstrous contradiction in terms which negates morality at its root by destroying man’s capacity to recognize the good, that is, his capacity to value. Force invalidates and paralyzes a man’s judgment, demanding that he act against it, thus rendering him morally impotent. A value which one is forced to accept at the price of surrendering one’s mind, is not a value to anyone; the forcibly mindless can neither judge nor choose nor value. An attempt to achieve the good by force is like an attempt to provide a man with a picture gallery at the price of cutting out his eyes. Values cannot exist (cannot be valued) outside the full context of a man’s life, needs, goals, and knowledge.

The objective view of values permeates the entire structure of a capitalist society.

The recognition of individual rights implies the recognition of the fact that the good is not an ineffable abstraction in some supernatural dimension, but a value pertaining to reality, to this earth, to the lives of individual human beings. Note the right to the pursuit of happiness. It implies that the good cannot be divorced from beneficiaries, that men are not to be regarded as interchangeable, and that no man or tribe may attempt to achieve the good of some at the price of the immolation of others.

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