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Between Rational and Irrational

Noam Chomsky - History of US Rule in Latin America


The promise of capitalism was that anyone could rise to the highest levels of society, purely by merit. Instead, the reality now is that the educational and social requirements for success are inherited, entrenching deep inequalities.

INET President Rob Johnson talks to University of Chicago Booth School Professor Raghuram Rajan about his book, "The Third Pillar: How Markets and the State Leave the Community Behind"

The question is irrelevant. Capitalism per se is not humane or inhumane; nor is socialism. If we compare the two in terms of results, it is clear that only capitalism fosters equality and works toward social justice. The one is based on the principle of voluntary cooperation and free exchange, the other on force of position and power. In a free economy, it is hard to do good—you either have to use your own hard-earned money to do it or work hard to persuade others to your course. But by the same token, it is difficult to do harm because by preventing a concentration of power, capitalism prevents people from committing sustained, serious harm. Is capitalism humane or inhumane? It is neither. But it tends to give free rein to the human values of human beings. Delivered at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. © 1978 Lecture 45 min/Q&A 24 min.
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