Society cannot contribute anything to the breeding and growing of ingenious men. A creative genius cannot be trained. There are no schools for creativeness. A genius is precisely a man who defies all schools and rules, who deviates from the traditional roads of routine and opens up new paths through land inaccessible before. A genius is always a teacher, never a pupil; he is always self-made.
Used to the conditions of a capitalistic environment, the average American takes it for granted that every year business makes something new and better accessible to him. Looking backward upon the years of his own life, he realizes that many implements that were totally unknown in the days of his youth and many others which at that time could be enjoyed only by a small minority are now standard equipment of almost every household. He is fully confident that this trend will prevail also in the future. He simply calls it the American way of life and does not give serious thought to the question of what made this continuous improvement in the supply of material goods possible.
All varieties of the producers' policy are advocated on the ground of their alleged ability to raise the party members' standard of living. Protectionism and economic self-sufficiency, labor union pressure and compulsion, labor legislation, minimum wage rates, public spending, credit expansion, subsidies, and other makeshifts are always recommended by their advocates as the most suitable or the only means to increase the real income of the people for whose votes they canvass. Every contemporary statesman or politician invariably tells his voters: My program will make you as affluent as conditions may permit, while my adversaries' program will bring you want and misery.
Therefore it is not arrogance or narrow-mindedness that leads the economist to discuss these things from the standpoint of economics. No one, who is not able to form an independent opinion about the admittedly difficult and highly technical problem of calculation in the socialist economy, should take sides in the question of socialism versus capitalism. No one should speak about interventionism who has not examined the economic consequences of interventionism. An end should be put to the common practice of discussing these problems from the standpoint of the prevailing errors, fallacies, and prejudices. It might be more entertaining to avoid the real issues and merely to use popular catchwords and emotional slogans. But politics is a serious matter. Those who do not want to think its problems through to the end should keep away from it.
Inequality of wealth and incomes is an essential feature of the market economy. It is the implement that makes the consumers supreme in giving them the power to force all those engaged in production to comply with their orders. It forces all those engaged in production to the utmost exertion in the service of the consumers. It makes competition work. He who best serves the consumers profits most and accumulatesriches.
Without exception all political parties promise their supporters a higher real income. There is no difference in this respect between nationalists and internationalists and between the supporters of a market economy and the advocates of either socialism or interventionism. If a party asks its supporters to make sacrifices for its cause, it always explains these sacrifices as the necessary temporary means for the attainment of the ultimate goal, the improvement of the material well-being of its members. Each party considers it as an insidious plot against its prestige and its survival if somebody ventures to question the capacity of its projects to make the group members more prosperous. Each party regards with a deadly hatred the economists embarking upon such a critique.
People must learn that the accumulation of wealth by the successfulconduct of business is the corollary of the improvement of their own standard ofliving and vice versa. They must realize that bigness in business is not an evil, but both the cause and effect of the fact that they themselves enjoy all those amenitieswhose enjoyment is called the American way of life.
In the market economy the consumers are supreme. Consumers determine, by theirbuying or abstention from buying, what should be produced, by whom and how, ofwhat quality and in what quantity. The entrepreneurs, capitalists, and landowners whofail to satisfy in the best possible and cheapest way the most urgent of the not yetsatisfied wishes of the consumers are forced to go out of business and forfeit theirpreferred position. In business offices and in laboratories the keenest minds are busyfructifying the most complex achievements of scientific research for the production ofever better implements and gadgets for people who have no inkling of the scientifictheories that make the fabrication of such things possible. The bigger an enterprise is,the more it is forced to adjust its production activities to the changing whims andfancies of the masses, its masters. The fundamental principle of capitalism is massproduction to supply the masses. It is the patronage of the masses that makesenterprises grow into bigness. The common man is supreme in the market economy.He is the customer who is always right.
Only stilted pedants can conceive the idea that there are absolute norms to tell what is beautiful and what is not. They try to derive from the works of the past a code of rules with which, as they fancy, the writers and artists of the future should comply. But the genius does not cooperate with the pundit.
Under capitalism the common man enjoys amenities which in ages gone by were unknown and therefore inaccessible even to the richest people. But, of course, these motorcars, television sets and refrigerators do not make a man happy. In the instant in which he acquires them, he may feel happier than he did before. But as soon as some of his wishes are satisfied, new wishes spring up. Such is human nature.
Since its appearance the view that prostitution is a product of capitalism has gained ground enormously. And as, in addition, preachers still complain that the good old morals have decayed, and accuse modern culture of having led to loose living, everyone is convinced that all sexual wrongs represent a symptom of decadence peculiar to our age.