18. “Grounding Political Debate”


Abstract: This essay is intentionally one-sided. Almost all other essays by either defenders of capitalism (libertarians) or defenders of government (statists) are oppositely one-sided. They claim that capitalism’s voluntariness or government’s coerciveness mean that capitalism or government better fosters such things as art, happiness, education, jobs and world peace, and never much emphasise factors that may undermine their commentary. This essay emphasises the mitigating factors that others gloss over.

Arguments about the advantages or disadvantages of capitalism or government dominate political debate. This essay contends that these arguments, when they are not just about their author’s feelings, are usually incorrect or misleading. They often use value-judgments on behalf of others, disguised by false measures of happiness invented from economic data or surveys, and then applied across demographics and time. Another common error is to talk only of the positive side of something and ignore the negative. Libertarians spot these errors in statists, yet often do not hold themselves to the same standard.