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Newsbyteblog: the blog of newsbyte regarding all things IT, free speech, copyright and patents and other things deemed interesting.

Friday, July 07, 2006

The anglo-saxon capitalistic viewpoint

Sometimes, I encounter people (mostly americans, but not always) who have a typical anglo-saxon capitalistic view on the world. "Let the markets decide and everything will be allright!" they claim - conveniently forgetting passed historical lessons, or even logical and rational deduction when one compares different economic systems. Sure, communism failed - but so did ultra-capitalism. And it's the latter that seems to be forgotten all too aften. Thus, the following debate ensured (originally dealing with the EU sanctions against microsoft):

"Sure, by the legal definition MS is bad and needs some good beating, but in the moral sense I clearly disagree. I haven't used MS stuff for quite a while. No problems. Just because so many people whine about how they'd like this or that feature in Windows doesn't give them the right to force it."

That's because your moral premise is completely different; you seem to uphold the premise that a company should be allowed to do whatever it wants - while I (and most of the rest of the world) are of the opinion they are to be hold to restrictions, just like any individual citizen is restricted by laws. Now, it is possible, as I have argued myself, that one should not always follow the law if there are moral objections, thus, when a law is totally incompatible with your own basic ethical value-system.

However, I am left pondering what ethical-value system this might be in the case of a monopolist, and in how far this would be universal.

Corporations only have one overwhelming value-system, and that is making as much profit as possible. This, I would argue, can not constitute an ethical justified objection to a restriction imposed by a law, unless one would argue this value-system trumps every other (ethical) value-system.

Which is, in fact, often claimed within the context of the typical anglo-saxon capitalistic view on the world.

It should be noted, however, that this is not a universally accepted premise, and many find there are other considerations and moral/ethical values, beyond that of profit-gathering. Basic protection of citizens - including in their status of consumers - and stimulating innovation in society are both ethical values, for instance, that can be used, aside profits. Since monopolies, as history demonstrates, are antithetical to both, one is fully justified to make adjustements based on those ethical values or argumentation, instead of yours.

The rest of the debate, which goes further and deeper into matter of economic politics and the ultra-capitalistic (sometimes also referred to as 'libertarian' economic viewpoint; which I do not defend, even when being a civil libertarian myself) can be followed here:

The anglo-saxon capitalistic viewpoint



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