By Kirsten Raper, News Editor –
On Monday, conservative political commentator and author of The Big Lie, Dinesh D’ Souza spoke to a crowded room of students, faculty and community members in the Roland Hayes Concert Hall about the “Moral Case for Capitalism.”
D’Souza’s lecture was a part of the annual Burkett Miller Distinguished Lecture series, which in the past has included lecturers like ABC News Commentator John Stossel and Edwin Meese, who served as Attorney General under the Reagan administration.
D’Souza said that he was delivering his lecture during a time when the true issues in America are “camouflaged.” D’Souza attributed the camouflaging of these true issues to democrats, socialism and fascism.
“I’m here at a very strange and tumultuous moment in American politics. A time, which public issues, serious issues are camouflaged and are very often projected onto the public stage [and] disguised as something else.”
D’Souza said that one of these “serious” issues is the morality of capitalism, which he said is not something that is frequently talked about.
“We don’t hear a lot about [the moral case for capitalism]. We hear a lot about other things and in order to try and get to the bottom of things, we have to sift away some of the debris and try to look at what these conflicts are really all about.”
When making this point, D’Souza brought up “white supremacists” marching in Charlottesville and the Take a Knee protest that some members of the NFL are participating in. Talking about these issues caused D’Souza to condemn the ways in which American politics work today.
“What an odd country. Is this really what American politics [are] really about?” he said.
D’Souza went on to talk about capitalism and how now it is considered to be a controversial topic.
“Capitalism would seem to be the only economic system that works,” he said. “If capitalism works, and works well, [then] why is it controversial?”
He said that problems with capitalism arise not out of efficiency, but out of morality, which ultimately leads to inequality among people.
“The problem with capitalism is not over its efficiency, but over its morality,” he said. “The moral argument against capitalism focuses a lot on the issue of inequality. Capitalism generates inequality, and that’s actually true. But is inequality itself a problem?
D’Souza said that one of the most common misconceptions of capitalism, is that capitalists provide capital. He said that instead entrepreneurs often go to banks for money, and instead of providing their own money, capitalists provide skills and knowledge needed to create their business ideas.
“Entrepreneurs are very core defenders of the system of liberty possible. The people who attack entrepreneurs are very good at what they do,” he said. “The typical entrepreneur is doing his own thing, and that thing might be very narrow. Entrepreneurs have to spend a lot of time thinking about the convenience and welfare of their potential customers, and by the way, almost no other field does that.”
At the heart of his argument, D’Souza said that capitalism ultimately brings entrepreneurs to the top of society, and by doing this, capitalism also brings up the rest of the members of society with them.
“The morality of capitalism to me is this, people say to me all the time that capitalism is greedy, it’s selfish, and I say ‘no.’ The greed and selfishness is not in capitalism; the greed and selfishness is in human nature,” he said. “What does capitalism do? Capitalism civilizes greed, moderates selfishness. How? By forcing you to direct [your focus to] the welfare of other people.”
After D’Souza’s lecture, Commentator Russell Sobel, who is a professor of Economics and Entrepreneurship at The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, talked about how he thinks that both the Republican and Democratic parties are to blame for the issues with capitalism.
“People react to the incentives they face. And my fear it that it’s not just one party, and one set of people that are the enemies of capitalism and free markets in America,” he said. “We all strive to make sure that free markets work for all of us, but in the end that is not what we end up with.”
Sobel continued and said that he thinks that the problems with capitalism are often caused by those who seek to gain and maintain power.
“We basically have a political system where to gain power, you have to promise things to people and try to fund [those promises] at someone else’s expense. I think both parties are equally guilty of this.”