Sam, writing has two purposes really. One is to communicate your ideas to others. The other purpose is less appreciated but arguably just as useful and valuable. It is to explore, organize, curate and validate one's own thoughts by setting them down externally, i.e., by writing them out.

I've read both your articles. I don't usually respond when people "assign homework," but okay, this once...

You aren't thinking clearly about any of this. And you most certainly are not thinking **originally**. These may feel like your own thoughts, but they are the regurgitated echoes of fragmented arguments I've read and heard more times than I can count. I don't mean to suggest you are incapable of original thinking, quite the contrary. But at this time you are wrestling with so many contradictory ideas that there is not much to say about any of them except what I've said above.

IMO you have not grasped what capitalism is, despite your reading and your study of Austrian economics. You likely held unchallenged and possibly unidentified priors that prevented it. You likely still hold them. Anyone who grew up in the USA has been bombarded with so much anti-capitalist and anti-individualist propaganda in the movies, (always the evil corporation for some mad reason intent on killing their own customers as a way to somehow "make money" at the expense of all human values), cartoons, school -- it's just everywhere. The USA is insane with self-hate and it is getting worse by the minute. We are all victims of this ideological virus.

The thing to realize is that when one encounters a very different philosophy, one cannot grasp it through reference to one's existing philosophy. One may hold one's existing philosophy implicitly, in unidentified form. In this case, one's instant urge upon reading something that challenges one's priors is to look for reasons to reject the challenging ideas. One becomes a sucker for every ridiculous smear that provides ammunition against the challenging ideas and against the people advancing them.

Yes, of course you don't identify as a Marxist. It's just that if Marx were alive today, he'd recognize his ideas in those you call your own. This is typical. The ideas we absorb from the culture around us don't come with names attached. It is well-known that the entire American educational system has become almost uniformly leftist. Education is a great place to harbor and incubate ideas that don't work in practice. You can make a living teaching ideas that are worse than worthless when put to practice. It is no surprise that Marxism, having failed in every attempt at manifesting itself in the world, (at uncountably horrific human expense), has found a cozy incubator in academia where it can hide and fester and spawn derivatives that deny their Marxist origins. All the "critical theories" came from this. And of course they all deny their relationship to Marxism too.

If one is to be an intellectual of any sort, one must learn how to become open to unfamiliar and even irritating ideas. Instead of knee-jerking away from the irritant, one should identify the inner source and meaning of the irritation and either validate it, or jettison it. Above all, do not rationalize it. Do not invent reasons why your feelings are right. Understand why you feel them, and then decide if you want to keep them or revise them.

Think about it: There is no way all our impressions and emotional reactions formed from childhood on forward are valid and realistic responses to the world. Everyone has work to do. If I were to say this work consists in identifying and purging oneself of latent racism, oh, well, yes of course, agree agree! And this may be some small part of it. But the work also consists in validating and improving or discarding much else, particularly the powerful cultural bias against reason, individuality, capitalism, etc. It's not like racism is our only irrationality.

Being wrong is very easy. There are endless ways to be wrong in one's ideas, but perhaps only a very few ways to be right in one's ideas. This is why Noam Chomsky has so many books. Never mistake quantity for quality.

On the matter at hand, I'd suggest you introspect on the following questions and points:

1) The evidence that capitalism has been the engine of human prosperity is obvious and constant. One should ask oneself why admitting even this much is met with such emotional resistance. Nothing is to be gained by denying it except conformance with the opinions of peers. And Sam, the denials of it are entirely ridiculous and essentially religious. The final refuge of these denials is mystical, it is the notion that there is some cosmic zero-sum ledger that is put out of balance by human prosperity and thus the gains are illusionary. Some god-like "force" will come along and restore this balance by wiping wealth away. Currently, this idea animates the anti-prosperity side of the environmental movement. The environment will take us down and restore the balance of nature. In the past it has been the displeasure of other gods that those who will think and build have been threatened with.

2) Given this fact about capitalism's positive effect, why is your first urge to replace it or change it in some dramatic way that basically destroys its essentials, i.e., "state capitalism?" Why is your first urge not to identify what is good about it? Capitalism has certainly done great good in the world. Why do you feel there "just must be something very wrong with it?" Of all the things that really are wrong in the world, why do you target capitalism? It really makes no sense. Ah, yes, I know, "but it feels right."

I suggest you keep writing, but I suggest the following exercise: Instead of wandering all over the place and trying to pen some kind of fragmented magnum opus, zero in on one idea that you feel you truly, deeply understand and make it clear as a bell with your words. Confine yourself to this. Work at it until you see it there, objective and external to you on your screen or paper. Test it on others who don't already know your thoughts. (Medium is good for that, but you have to ignore the sycophants. If you say capitalism is evil, you are guaranteed some "likes" and affirmations no matter how poorly you present your case.)

And then practice this: Pretend you know nothing about what you've just written. Pretend you are a stranger to yourself. Read what you have written and ask yourself, "If I knew nothing about this, would these words be clear and meaningful to me?" Which is to ask yourself, "Have I succeeded in being clear?" Any fool can write obscurely. Clarity is difficult. Clarity is an accomplishment.

The goal is to achieve clarity on paper, and then, eventually, to achieve clarity in one's own mind.

Observing. Gathering and curating ideas. Getting ready.

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