Apr 8, 2010

Bernstein to lead study group on capitalism's history

For June 14 to July 25, Study Groups for Objectivists has scheduled a five-week study group examining the historical roots of capitalism. The study group leader will be prolific author, lecturer, and philosophy teacher Andrew Bernstein, PhD ( http://www.andrewbernstein.net ). The study text will be four chapters from his book, The Capitalist Manifesto: The Historic, Economic and Philosophic Case for Laissez-Faire. To allow for attendance at the 2010 Objectivist Conference, the study group skips the week of July 4. The fifth and last week of the study group will be a review week.

Why study this text? Dr. Bernstein says:

Capitalism is under attack. The intellectuals accuse it of crimes against humanity. Following the lead of the intellectuals, the politicians push America remorselessly into socialism. Now more than ever in America’s illustrious history, a capitalist manifesto is necessary -- a ringing moral endorsement of the principle of individual rights.

Most urgently, men must start by studying capitalism’s history. Socialist intellectuals have created a vast mythology, claiming capitalism exploited workers, exacerbated child labor, instigated imperialism, and spawned penury. This fabric of interlocking canards is taught to millions of students.

It is time for the antidote.

The antidote to that statist mythology is "Part One: History" in The Capitalist Manifesto.

So far, I have finished reading the Introduction and Part One. The style is clear and direct, yet informal. The content is logically structured. The "joints" in the skeleton of the argument are evident because the author tells readers at each turn where the argument is headed next. The text is objective, that is, it supports each theme and subtheme with a flood of evidence.

This book is a one-stop source for anyone who has an active mind engaged in trying to decide what sort of political system is best for living fully on earth. Intellectual activists working for capitalism can recommend the book for such readers. Readers already supporting capitalism as an ideal will gain a wealth of information about the actual history of the rise of capitalism, its brief period of flowering, and the beginnings of its decline. The footnotes and annotated bibliography are doorways to further study. By assembling all of this information in one spot, Dr. Bernstein has spared readers from the vast investment of time required to sort through scattered scholarly material.

Capitalism has been an "unknown ideal," to use Ayn Rand's phrase. Her work and Dr. Bernstein's work are making it known.

Burgess Laughlin
Author, The Power and the Glory: The Key Ideas and Crusading Lives of Eight Debaters of Reason vs. Faith