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5.0 out of 5 stars Capitalism and Human Nature, February 22, 2011
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This review is from: Wealth and Justice: The Morality of Democratic Capitalism (Values and Capitalism) (Paperback)
ORDERING AMERICA: Fulfilling the Ideals of Western Civilization Wealth & Justice is a well-informed, broad-based, and highly-effective defense of capitalism, addressing objectively both its many virtues and some vices. Of note, the authors identify the understanding of human nature by Adam Smith, the Scottish Enlightenment, and our Founders as the key underpinning of our successful commercial republic. Significantly, the modern science of evolutionary psychology has recently validated their idea of human nature. That is a watershed because, in addition to Marxist communism as explained in Wealth & Justice, American social science and progressivism have based their opposition to capitalism over the past century on the Rousseauian concept of human nature, or social constructionism. Evolutionary psychology has revealed social constructionism to be false as well as destructive.

In our European-inspired universities of the late-nineteenth century, the doctrine of social constructionism--there is no human nature except that formed by society and culture, through groups--grew into an article of faith in American sociology and some schools of psychology. The superorganic or group mind, instead of the individual mind, became a basic tenet of social science. A new political science--progressivism, based on social constructionism--was formulated to overcome the limits of the founding order. Rather than continuing the Founders' emphasis on individual responsibility and private sector opportunity, progressivism emphasizes equality--achievement of equal individual results through communal sharing to transform human nature. Visionary elites and social science uncover and determine a Rousseauian "will" of the whole people, which the administrative state then implements to perfect man and society, by granting entitlement rights to social justice and redistributed wealth.

Evolutionary psychology is a biologically-informed humanism and better appreciation of the wondrous complexities of the human mind and intelligence, combining sciences of the mind, brain, genes, and evolution. This new science establishes that there is psychological unity of an immutable human nature with universal instincts beneath the superficial differences of physical appearance and parochial culture. It has substantiated our Founders' idea of an inherent, mixed human nature, and common sense regarding its capacities and limits.

Evolutionary psychology has elucidated the following features of human nature. Human groups more commonly have an ethos of reciprocity than of communal sharing. Humans have a deep-seated capacity for envy; they are envious zero-sum thinkers. They have a need for recognition or esteem from others. Human nature was forged in competition; the drive for human dominance is universal. Human nature is hierarchical; humans form hierarchies of dominance. The partial heritability of intelligence, conscientiousness, and antisocial tendencies imply that inequality will arise even in perfectly fair economic systems. The human mind evolved modules for making judgments about property.

As Wealth & Justice outlines, America was founded as a commercial republic to provide--following Adam Smith--for private pursuit by individuals of ambition, self-interest, and prosperity through a market (reciprocal exchange) system utilizing private property and capitalism. The Founders realized that the pursuit of material well-being through individual work and performance based on reciprocity in the private sector contributes to the welfare of society--both in the sense of creating wealth and the social unity engendered by commerce. They turned to private property and multiple productive hierarchies within the private sector as the primary way for citizens to fulfill their different and unequal faculties of human nature, satisfy their inherent human ambitions for dominance and hierarchical status, and achieve recognition and esteem from others.

Our founding commercial republic--with few rewards provided by government--was designed to avoid the failures of past republics due to envy, class warfare, and economic conflict among factions. Both Smith and the Founders rejected the contrary idea of the French Physiocrats of their time, that human nature is shaped by the economy and the state, whose theory Tocqueville characterized as "absolute equality, State control of the activities of individuals, despotic legislation, and the total submerging of each citizen's personality in the group mind"--a Gallic precursor to American social constructionism.

Wealth & Justice is highly recommended. Its numerous well-crafted arguments establish conclusively that capitalism remains the world's best economic system. As Americans, we should be grateful that our Founders recognized that system as most suitable for our common human nature and future prosperity.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent summary of the facts, January 28, 2013
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This review is from: Wealth and Justice: The Morality of Democratic Capitalism (Values and Capitalism) (Paperback)
This is a wonderful summary to remind us what really drove the success behind the system which has lifted so many out of poverty and allowed people to do such world changing innovations.
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Wealth and Justice: The Morality of Democratic Capitalism (Values and Capitalism)
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