December 26, 2005

Cutting Throats Is Not "Capitalism" - UPDATED

Hatched by Dafydd

It seems as if half my posts recently have had the category "Media Madness." I'm not on the hunt for it, I swear! It's just that something about the Christmas season brings out the best in real Americans -- and the worst in pseudojournalism.

This latest offense against the English language is a continual complaint of mine: the idea that any activity, no matter how criminal or repulsive, committed by a merchant of a product or service is accurately described as "Capitalism," no matter how anti-capitalist it actually is:

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) - A gas attack in a home-supply store on one of the busiest shopping days of the year sickened scores of people Monday in an incident that police called likely motivated by a commercial dispute or blackmail attempt.

Boxes containing timers wired to glass vials were discovered at the scene of the attack and three other stores in the same chain in Russia's second-largest city....

Most efforts to undermine competitors' sales in Russia's sharp-elbowed free market take the form of negative advertising or damaging rumors. Business-related violence nonetheless remains a feature of the cutthroat capitalism that enveloped Russia following the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

Get it? Do you get it? Back in the good, old days of the neo-Stalinists, those wretched, evil capitalists were leashed like the mad dogs they are. But now that the despicable Ronald Reagan collapsed the worker's paradise, out of pure envy at how well it was working, "cutthroat" capitalists are raging out of control, launching gas attacks against Russian proletariats, just like the American robber-baron capitalists always used to do!

I realize that the writer, Irina Titova, probably grew up in the Soviet Union and has no idea what Capitalism really means: the free exchange of goods for capital; and she likely does not understand that Mafia tactics like this to damage one's competitors are not any part of Capitalism, any more than is extortion, robbery, slavery, or murder for hire: every human involved in the transaction must freely enter into it, not be driven from one merchant to another by chemical weaponry. But for heaven's sake, are there no American editors at the Associated Press who have a passing intimacy (or even a one-night stand) with the English language?

The core of Capitalism is, to borrow the title of Ludwig von Mises' masterpiece, the freedom of human action; any activity whose purpose is to limit or repeal that freedom of choice is not Capitalism... it's criminality. This is true whether it's done by a government (as in the Soviet Union, and sadly, now Russia as well) or by a "competitor." The former is socialism; the latter is mobsterism.

Is freedom of choice really so difficult a concept? Can reporters not at least understand it, even as they reject it?

UPDATE; from the New York Times:

The authorities ruled out terrorism. Instead, they attributed the attacks to the rough edges of Russian capitalism and gangsterism, saying the most likely motive was an effort to hurt the chain's sales on one of the most important shopping days of the year.

CBS, by contrast, resisted the urge to call the gas attack "Capitalism."

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 26, 2005, at the time of 1:02 PM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this hissing:


The following hissed in response by: stackja1945

Al Capone was a capitalist?
He did finally pay for his deeds!

The above hissed in response by: stackja1945 [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 26, 2005 3:58 PM

The following hissed in response by: Storm Warning

Methyl-mercaptan was the gas. Makes you sick. Won't kill you.

The above hissed in response by: Storm Warning [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 27, 2005 8:34 AM

Post a comment

Thanks for hissing in, . Now you can slither in with a comment, o wise. (sign out)

(If you haven't hissed a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Hang loose; don't shed your skin!)

Remember me unto the end of days?

© 2005-2009 by Dafydd ab Hugh - All Rights Reserved