Government erosion of our freedom continues at an alarming pace, even after the pandemic restrictions (extended quarantines and curfews, business closures, and vaccine mandates) were lifted. New initiatives that restrict our freedom to act and to sustain our lives seem to be introduced almost daily.
In Canada, the federal government has just proposed banning fossil fuels from the national electricity grid. This comes on the top of escalating carbon taxes, outlawing the sale of gas-powered vehicles, and banning single-use plastics. None of these will make a difference in achieving the stated goals of lower global temperature or stopping climate change. Instead, these measures will lead to sky-rocketing energy prices and shortages that restrict our freedom and ability to grow food, construct housing, manufacture goods, use AI, and to operate hospitals – in short, to live.
To restore freedom, we need a social system based on the principle of individual rights that shields us against the initiation of physical force, whether by the government or anyone else. That system is capitalism where the government’s only role is to protect individual rights. Yet, thanks to the anti-capitalist – anti-freedom, anti-human-prosperity – movement (that includes most universities, media, governments, and NGOs such the United Nations and the World Economic Forum), most people prefer socialism to capitalism. They are willing to trade off its limitations to freedom and sacrificing to the collective for government welfare programs and other handouts.
A reader asked what one can do to defend capitalism given the ongoing threats to freedom and when one lacks a platform. Here are some ideas, based on my own experience and advice from communication experts.
Everyday conversations. A platform is not necessary to advocate for capitalism; it can be done effectively in everyday conversations, one-on-one or in small groups. It’s surprising how often people tell me that how something I said made them think (conversations make me think as well). Encounters with a co-worker, a friend, a family member, a neighbor, a service provider (a hair stylist, a house cleaner, an Uber driver), or even a stranger (a fellow coffee shop patron, say, or a fellow camper) are opportunities to advocate for freedom and capitalism (when appropriate – see “context” and “audience” below).
No soap box. Proselytizing and badgering people to agree is not conversation and will only make them avoid you. Most people don’t like to be told what to think, particularly about controversial topics such as the ideal social system on which they hold strong views (whether justified or not).
Context. Advocating for capitalism needs to be appropriate for the context of the conversation. Ongoing news about government restrictions of freedom offer opportunities for commenting on individual rights violations or for asking what others think, potentially starting a conversation.
For example, restrictions of free speech (such as banning “wrong” views and those that hold them at schools, universities, and businesses), government failures to protect individual rights to property, liberty, and life (such as by defunding the police and the soft-on-crime legislation), and attempts to violate property rights (such as trying to force tech companies to pay news media for content Facebook users share or Google searches turn up), are topics likely to trigger conversation. That provides an opportunity to point out why such violations of freedom are wrong and to advocate for capitalism as an alternative.
Audience. The conversation also depends on your conversation partner. If they are not open to exchanging ideas – both offering theirs and listening to yours – and steadfastly prefer government control of people’s lives over freedom, the conversation is a waste of time. In that case, it’s best to say only that you disagree (offering reasons if asked) and move on. The same applies when someone advocates rights violations or distorts capitalism in your presence. The audience and the context also determine whether you’ll make a brief comment, ask a question, or engage in a conversation.
Social media? If you are a proficient social media user and enjoy interacting there, they could be used for advocacy. There are many free platforms to choose from: LinkedIn, Reddit, Substack, X (formerly Twitter), and others. One can also participate in others’ platforms by sharing and commenting on their postings. Like personal conversations, social media use may not be effective unless done in a way that gets people to think (see “no soap box”).
Pre-requisites. I see two main pre-requisites for advocating capitalism: a good understanding of it, and willingness and courage to engage in a controversial conversation. It’s important to recognize individual rights as capitalism’s central moral principle (as identified by Ayn Rand). The willingness and courage to engage in conversation is motivated by seeing the consequences of shrinking freedom clearly.
Beyond everyday conversations. Sharing your concerns about freedom, rights, and ways of restoring them with your political representatives may also be effective. The more they hear from their constituents, the more likely they’ll take action to protect rights. And if they don’t, there is always the opportunity to vote them out at the next election.