Stories by Colin Burke

A Candid Catechism
for the Competent

Some people arguing for competition seem to think this entails advocating capitalism and that the only thing which can compete with capitalism is socialism, but they seem glad indeed that socialism can’t compete at all well with capitalism. That gives them away: what they really want is capitalism, not competition for the sake of competition but only the kind of competition which can occur within, or under, capitalism. If they liked competition for the sake of competition, they would relish seeing something else compete really worthily with capitalism and they would tend to emphasize rather than deprecate the merits of the other competitor or competitors. And there are such, when we know where to look.

Capitalism by verbal definition is simply the use of wealth to get more wealth: capital is wealth used thus. So far as capitalism is at all theoretical – that is, so far as it has anything to say, apart from its being only a practice – it can tell us only that the purpose of having wealth is to use it to get more wealth. It says nothing more at all about wealth. But there are other things that may be said about wealth and its purposes. One of these is that the purpose of having wealth is simply to enjoy the wealth one has, either because one has enough or because one does not want to risk losing the enjoyment of what one has, despite its not being quite enough, or even not nearly enough, in order to try to get enough. Some say the purpose of wealth is to allow for increasingly refined delight in beauty itself, as reflected in subtly executed paintings and statues and music.

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