It may be said with confidence that one’s personal values guide his political opinions. We all carry within ourselves a certain code of ethics that reinforces how we interpret the issues of the day. Indeed, studies have shown that liberals and conservatives weigh the importance of moral concerns differently, and that this manifests in their policy preferences.
When one thinks “left-wing” moral priorities, things like compassion and equality are probably the more enduring values. Yet “tolerance, diversity, and inclusion” seem to be the “values du jour” for modern liberalism today.
Coinciding with the ascension of these values has been the rise of socialism within the Democratic Party. It is no coincidence that the “tolerance, diversity, and inclusion” crowd, colloquially known as Social Justice Warriors, hailed the socialist Bernie Sanders as a political messiah. Arguably, if it hadn’t been for Democratic National Committee bias, Sanders might have earned the party’s 2016 presidential nomination. The social justice value system, and the socialism that goes with it, are the face of today’s Democratic Party.
Much has been written about the utter hypocrisy of “tolerant liberals” refusing to allow conservative voices to be heard, and of how the Left promotes a diversity of superficial features over a diversity of thought and ideas. However, less has been written about the hypocrisy of socialism being promoted as the economic manifestation of “tolerance, diversity, and inclusion.” When looked at honestly, it becomes clear that the free market better promotes these three values.
How Markets Promote Tolerance
Let’s first start with tolerance. Tolerance may be the most cherished value of the modern liberal. By this framework, everything is relative and therefore equal in worth and validity (unless it’s at all conservative or Christian). This postmodern outlook has yielded absurd claims of cultural and moral relativism. The connection between tolerance and postmodernism has been recognized for some time—as G.K. Chesteron said, “Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.”
Despite such criticism, a level of tolerance is good in society, especially when there are countless types of people. So which economic model better promotes tolerance, socialism or the free market?
To answer this question, the most sensible approach may be to look at how capitalist societies treat their socialist minority, and how socialist societies treat their capitalist minority. After all, what is tolerance if not the treatment of those outside the status quo?
To start with, let’s look at how a capitalist society treats a socialist minority. The best case study for this is likely Israel. Israel has a capitalist, free-market economy. However, within Israel there is a long history of socialist enclaves called Kibbutzim. These Kibbutzim have been free to manage their collectivist communities and develop a unique set of customs as compared with the broader Israeli society. Kibbutzniks can leave the Kibbutz and assimilate into mainstream Israeli society, and people in the larger Israeli society can join a Kibbutz if they please. Tolerance of the socialist lifestyle and vice versa goes without saying in capitalist Israel.
Now when we look at how socialist societies treat private property, the basis of capitalism, a much different picture emerges. When socialists come to power, they take it on themselves to seize individuals’ property, often with catastrophic consequences. Unlike the capitalists in Israel, who leave socialists alone, the reigning socialists need to seize the property of others to support their “utopia.” People either need to get on board with the socialist vision, or else the power of the state will be wielded, often violently.
What’s more, socialist societies are almost always one-party states, so citizens with capitalist views cannot gather to advocate their political beliefs. So while a Bernie Sanders can freely peddle socialism in the United States, a similar capitalist figure would face systemic opposition and be silenced in socialist Venezuela, Cuba, or China. Therefore we can safely say that capitalist societies are better at promoting tolerance.
How Capitalism Promotes Diversity and Inclusion
Now we come to the closely linked values of “diversity and inclusion.” According to the Left, diversity and inclusion are good in and of themselves. It’s not so much the competence of the individuals in the room, as it is their group affiliations. To quote Thomas Sowell, “The next time some academics tell you how important ‘diversity’ is, ask how many Republicans there are in their sociology department.”
At first glance, a socialist economy may seem to better foster diversity and inclusion. If industry is collectivized, then all people can be included in it. However, this is never how events actually unfurl. In practice, the means of production aren’t so much collectivized as they are nationalized by the state. Business decisions—what gets produced, how much gets produced, prices, costs, wages, etc.—are determined by an elite political class.
In comparison, within a free market, all members of society are included in these decisions, both directly and indirectly. Private businesses must compete to meet consumer demand, in turn determining what gets produced, how much gets produced, and the prices of goods and services. Hence we see that by extending economic influence to all people, capitalism is the more diverse and inclusive system.
Because we all get to vote with our dollars in a free market, and because each person is unique, there are a plethora of tastes for businesses to cater toward. Consumers can gain access to products and services geared specifically for them. Meanwhile, a planned economy lacks the consumer feedback of a free market, and state-run monopolies can only guess what the people want. Consumers can only purchase from a single source, destroying competition and limiting choices. Not only does this limit options, but the lack of competition encourages nepotism-based promotion over ability.
Socialists however, see this limited diversity of choices as a good thing. Sanders said it best when he complained about how there are “23 underarm spray deodorants” and “18 different pairs of sneakers” available to consumers. Therefore, we can say capitalism better promotes diversity: There are diverse choices for diverse tastes.
Socialism Rests on Coerced Participation
Lastly, while socialism claims to foster inclusion, it also includes people who would rather exclude themselves. For example, in the United States today, people’s tax dollars go toward organizations like Planned Parenthood, government unions, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Many Americans don’t wish to contribute toward such organizations, but are being forced into doing so. Because of big government, we have a perverse form of inclusion, whereby dissenting individuals must support what the ruling majority says.
The free association of capitalism allows for a more wholesome form of inclusion; people associate with and contribute money toward that which they value.
Tolerance, diversity, and inclusion are the holy triumvirate of social justice for those who think of themselves as politically left. Free-market capitalism better promotes these values then socialism. People infatuated by socialism need to understand the moral arguments against it, which include these.