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Henrik Unné

Capitalism vs. altruism

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I wrote an earlier version of this debate article in Swedish some 8 years ago. About 6 years ago I got a translation into English of the article published in Capitalism Magazine on the net. It was the only article that I have ever got published in Capitalism Magazine. I have got this debate article published on more than 1 Internet debate fora here in Sweden over the years. The typical reaction from socialists has been to lambast me for being "heartless" and for, allegedly "wanting people to die". Judge for yourselves who it is who really is evil.

Henrik Unné

Skarpnack, 30th March, 2010

CAPITALISM VS. SOCIALISM

The philosopher Ayn Rand observed that the really major battle in our time is not the one between capitalism and communism. The really major battle is the one between capitalism and altruism. As long as westerners accept the altruist morality, they will continue to play into the hands of the enemies of freedom. As long as westerners accept the idea that self-sacrifice for others is the ideal, they will not be able to resist socialism in an effective way – because socialism is the political means to achieve self-sacrifice.

The history of the Soviet Union demonstrates this clearly. Because of the influence of altruism, western politicians and capitalists have again and again saved the Soviet empire from collapse.

It began already a few years after the revolution. In the year 1921 production in the Soviet Union had come virtually to a standstill. The masses were starving. If the natural course of development had continued, the Communist dictatorship would have collapsed.

But the western countries saved the Soviet Union. The American politician Herbert Hoover, who later was to become the president of the USA, built up an international organization which gave food aid to the Soviet Union. The USA alone sent 700.000 tons of food to the Soviet Union. Other western countries contributed food also. The food from the west prevented the Soviet Union from collapsing in a countrywide starvation catastrophe (although roughly 5 million Russians starved to death anyway).

It was the altruist morality that caused the food aid program to the Soviet Union. Many western leaders pitied the Russians. After all, it was not the fault of the Russian workers and farmers that the Communists had succeeded at taking power in Russia, was it? So why should they have to starve to death because of Lenin´s insane policies? That was the reasoning of the altruistic leaders in the USA and Western Europe.

Countless millions of people all over the world have had to pay with their lives for the altruists´ rescue of the Soviet Union. Because the fact that the Communist regime survived, has led to even more massive death and destruction.

If the course of events had been permitted to run its natural course, then probably a few tens of millions of Russians would have starved to death in the early 1920s. This would have had two good effects. For one thing the Communists would have lost their power in Russia. And also, the opponents of socialism all over the world would have been able to point to Russia and have said – “You see, they instituted socialism in Russia, and the Russians starved to death!” So the good reputation of socialism would have been destroyed. But because of the western food aid, the supporters of socialism around the world have instead been able to say – “You see, they instituted socialism in Russia, and the Russians did *not* starve to death!” So in this manner socialism´s reputation was rescued from having been destroyed, and the socialists could proceed to institute slavery and mass murder in dozens of other countries, in addition to Russia.

The Soviet Union´s parasitism on the west continued during its entire history. During the 1920s and 1930s the Moscow regime fooled western business firms and capitalists into industrializing the Soviet Union. These business firms and capitalists were permitted to form joint ventures with the Soviet state. The former supplied the knowhow and the capital – the latter merely supplied cheap labor (often slave labor).

The American automobile industry´s creator, Henry Ford, was fooled into building up the Soviet Union´s automobile industry. The great American dam builder Hugh Cooper led the construction of the gigantic water power station at Dnieprostroi in the Ukraine. The American Arthur G. Mackee Company built the famous steelworks at Magnitogorsk. The Swedish industrial firm SKF created the Soviet Union´s ball bearing industry. And so forth.

So all of these “triumphs of socialism”, were created by western businessmen. But the Moscow regime remained silent about that fact. Which made socialism still more attractive in the eyes of envious mediocrities all over the world, who had daydreams about their not needing the capitalists.

The western businessmen who industrialized the Soviet Union hoped to make money while doing so. But they were also motivated by the altruist code of morality. They imagined that they were doing a “good deed” when they “helped” the Russian people.

In 1941 Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union. The German armies cut through the Soviet defenses like a warm knife through butter. The Soviet Union was on its way to losing the war against the Nazis. But still another time the USA saved the Soviet Union. America carried out the “Lend-Lease” program. This program entailed that the USA sent copious amounts of weapons, machinery, raw materials and food to the Soviet Union. Due to the American aid, the Soviet Union managed not only to survive the Nazi onslaught, but even to beat back the Nazi armies, and to conquer Eastern Europe. And after that the Soviet regime managed, with the help of the western countries´ intellectuals, to nurture the myth that it was due to the Soviet Union that Nazi Germany lost the Second World War. So the reputation of socialism was inflated still more, and still more countries were taken over by the Communists during the postwar period.

The Soviet Union collapsed in 1990. The western countries could not prop up the Soviet Union forever. But what an enormous price humanity was forced to pay for the aid to the Soviet Union which altruism brought about! It is estimated that in the Soviet Union alone some 70 million people suffered and died at the hands of the Communists. And in addition to that, some 100 milion people have been murdered by Communists in other countries – such as, for example, China, Cuba and Cambodia. And in addition to that, the Nazis might not have been able to come to power in Germany in the 1930s if socialism´s reputation had been destroyed, by dint of the Soviet Union having collapsed in a starvation catastrophe in the 1920s. And then perhaps socialism would have gotten such a contaminated reputation that Hitler would not have had a chance to win the German´s support. Then the world would have been spared also the Second World War and the Holocaust!

But it is still not too late to save the survivors of the blood-stained 20th century from altruism. There are hopeful signs. More and more young people believe that they have a right to live for their own sake, and to pursue their own happiness. Successful businessmen and capitalists are viewed by more and more young people as heroes, rather than as rogues. And more and more people think that it is a virtue to earn lots of money

These positive signs of an improvement in the culture are probably a consequence of the indirect influence of Objectivism. Most people know nothing about this philosophy, and its creator Ayn Rand. But Ayn Rand´s books have been read by millions of people around the world. Ayn Rand´s ideas have spread like rings on the water through the world´s culture. The world´s best hope today is that more people will discover Objectivism – for example by reading such books as Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.

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I forgot to mention that an important source for the factual information in this debate article was the excellent work of modern history "East Minus West Equals Zero" by the German historian Werner Keller. This book was reviewed in The Objectivist Newsletter back in the early 1960s. Sometime around 1985 or 1986 I wrote to The Palo Alto Book Service, and asked for help in locating a used copy of this book. The Palo Alto Book Service got me a copy, and I consulted it when I wrote this debate article.

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