The Morality of Capitalism


As students for liberty, we are well-versed in defending the free market.  Our opponents on campus constantly claim that markets are unfair, that capitalism is exploitative, that competition is inhumane, and that government control and redistribution are the solution to society’s problems.  Every day we struggle to explain that a free society that embraces free exchange is the only way to create wealth, peace, and prosperity for all.

Most people acknowledge, if only begrudgingly, that capitalism does produce considerable wealth and material well-being. But many feel torn between material prosperity on the one hand and living a moral life on the other. The self-interested pursuit of profit that is characteristic of a capitalistic system just doesn’t feel right to them.

The task before us, then–if we wish to actualize the truly free social system that is laissez-faire capitalism–is to provide and defend its moral justification. We must convince fellow students that capitalism is not just the most efficient system, but a virtuous one as well.

This is not simply an American venture but an international one as well.  Our partners from Atlas and around the world will be creating videos, websites, and similar works in Arabic, Chinese, French, and many other languages.

Now is a critical time for young people around the world.  The recent financial crisis, which was falsely blamed on “the free market,” has led many students to question the status quo and look for alternatives. We have an opportunity to educate, to be that alternative, but we must no longer solely be on the defense.  We must be pro-active in spreading the message of free enterprise, free trade, and cooperation.  We must show our peers that only a true free market system creates the conditions for humanity to flourish.



“Love and friendship are the fruits of mutual benefit through cooperation, whether in small or in large groups.  Without such mutual benefit, society would simply be impossible.” – Tom G. Palmer

Last fall we distributed hundreds of copies of The Morality of Capitalism, What Your Professors Won’t Tell You to student groups around the world.  The book combines the writings of various philosophers, economists, Nobel Prize winners, and entrepreneurs to make the case that not only do “markets deliver the goods” as Vernon Smith says, but that a true free market system is a prerequisite for a just, prosperous, and cooperative society.