All Commentary
Tuesday, February 23, 2010

So a Capitalist Walks into a Bar…

Conjure up an image of the average capitalist. Did you imagine a comedian or at the very least some sort of droll character? Probably not, as capitalists seems to have earned a different stereotype. Most people probably imagine the likes of Ebenezer Scrooge, Mr. Potter from It’s a Wonderful Life, or the type of characters who have “rightly” earned the title of robber baron due to their “cutthroat ruthlessness.” Even those readers who know better, being educated in economic theory (by the likes of Adam Smith or Ludwig Von Mises), and sympathetic to the capitalist, probably did not imagine a witty wisecracker. Still, in this article, libertarian journalist and Albert J. Nock Protégé, Frank Chodorov makes the claim that Capitalists are Funny.

The humor of the Capitalist, in Chodorov’s view, comes not from some dry wit that goes over most of our heads. Rather it comes from, unbeknownst to him, his self-destructive actions: he funds an ideology counter to his interests (and societies in the long run). Chodorov argues that most capitalists give money to support their alma mater once they are gone but do not realize what is actually being taught.

This is unfortunate. As Nobel Prize-winning Austrian economist F.A. Hayek pointed out, the intellectuals propagate ideas through society. These intellectuals do not necessarily need to be particularly brilliant, they may even be flat out wrong, but this does not stop their ideas from changing the world. Reading Chodorov’s article should make anyone who is a supporter of the freedom philosophy happy that organizations like FEE exist today but also make us realize how much farther we still have to go.

Dowload Frank Chodorov’s “Capitalists are Funny” here.

  • Nicholas Snow is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Kenyon College in the Department of Economics, and previously a Senior Lecturer at The Ohio State University Economics Department. His research focuses on the political economy of prohibition.