"How Capitalism Saved America: The Untold History of Our Country, From the Pilgrims to the Present" seems like just the right book to give a market skeptic. "You have doubts about capitalism? Read this." After years of interacting with students in an urban business-school environment, DiLorenzo knows precisely what are the main points of contention.
The chapters are short but precise and careful in choosing the right episodes to highlight and arguments to present to make his case. His main points come mostly from the Austrian tradition: the classic texts by Mises, Hayek, Rothbard, Reisman, but also the public choice school, and also the best economic historians of our time. He begins with a definition and sweeping defense of capitalism, along with an eye-opening illustration of why such a defense in necessary, citing an egregious history of intellectual defenses of communism. Who remembers that John Dewey called Soviet communism "intrinsically religious" with the "moving spirit and force of primitive Christianity"?
The text never slows, as he marches through the history of the pilgrims, the American Revolution, the 19th century debate over internal improvements, the advancement of workers amidst capitalist advance, the myths of the Robber Barrons, the great depression, the New Deal, the energy crisis, and the modern debate on the environment, social regulation, and the war on vice. This whole book is a kind of guerilla manual for beating back the most common economic myths one is likely to encounter on campus or in public debate. Master this book and you have overcome most of the bad economic thinking of our time.
“One of the most pervasive – and pernicious – myths about capitalism is that capitalists have always exploited the working class. To anticapitalist myth makers, the industrial revolution was a horror that subjected the American working class to nightmarish working conditions while a relative few capitalists became wealthy on the backs of the working poor, and that subjugation has only continued.
But the historical record of capitalism in America – and in every country where it has practiced – reveals something quite different: capitalism has continually improved the lot of the working class.”
Thomas J. DiLorenzo
Thomas J. DiLorenzo (1954) is a Research Fellow at The Independent Institute, and Professor of Economics at Loyola College in Maryland.
He is an adherent of the Austrian School of Economics.
DiLorenzo is a senior faculty member of the Ludwig von Mises Institute.