112. The imprudence of liberal capitalism
Human life on earth is regulated both divinely and naturally by secret harmonies, which prudence demands that we know and respect. Otherwise, God punishes the ungodly, nature takes its revenge on the imprudent, and society rebels against the false brother and excludes him. Liberalism was doomed to experience this boomerang effect. The idea of freedom, hurled by capitalism against every other power, will in its turn hit back. The vital force of traditional society used to be the family interest prudently managed. Liberalism has replaced this with the free individual pursuit of the maximum profit in a market without constraint, where money is the absolute deciding factor in everything. However, “ what does it profit a man to gain the whole world if he loses his own soul ”, and even his life ?
1. The benefits of liberal capitalism are obvious. They are : the fantastic increase in the production of material goods and the constant perfecting of the means of production ; the increase in volume and mobility of capital investment ; the unprecedented progress of the mechanisms of the market, and finally the growing satisfaction of individual needs, amplified and diversified beyond reason. It is a fine performance.
The most remarkable performance, and that most forcefully asserted by the liberal economists, consists in “ the automatic information and regulation of economic activity by the free market ”, making this creature of liberalism “ a highly desirable institution ” (Aftalion).
2. The misdeeds of economic liberalism are nevertheless very grave. They consist essentially in the systematic destruction of other regulating factors of social life or in their degrading assimilation to its law of profit, and in the internal corruption of its own model of society – its inevitable “ decomposition ” (Schumpeter).
The system is wrongly criticised for the severe “ crises ” it encounters in its ever accelerating progress. These crises, however, only come from a transitory lack of balance – so called “ endogenous factors ” – between production and consumption, supply and demand, means and ends. Hitherto the system had always surmounted them despite the crushing mediocrity of its leaders and appointed thinkers.
Capitalism’s unpardonable imprudence lies elsewhere. It lies in its blind obstinacy in destroying every force other than that of money and in crushing, exploiting and devouring every weakness that it believes it controls. The great crises that will block the system and bring about the collapse of the capitalist world will come from external causes, from “ exogenous shocks ”, which will be unforeseen because unprovided for : the revenge of slaves against Money.