Economics and aggression have more in common than most understand. When considering history, it is evident that those societies which endow their governments with the power to “do good” inadvertently and equally empower their governments to cause great harm. Across the spectrum of differing societies, it is clear that those which disrespect the individual rights of its citizens also have a parallel disregard for other societies.
Capitalism is defined as an economic system in which property, businesses, and industry are owned by individual people and not by the government. In other words, in a capitalist society people have the freedom to possess and own property without control or possession by any other entity. The more a society values an individuals right to the property they have earned, the more capitalist the society. Of course, those who possess the resources also possess the power. Therefore, in a capitalist society the citizenry possess most of the power, not the government.
This is a default result of capitalism because government produces nothing; it only takes from those who produce. When the right of each individual to own the fruits of their labor is prevalent, governments power is limited. Therefore, its ability to initiate force against the individual is severely limited.
Finally, while studying the definition of capitalism, it is evident that it requires government. As cited, it is an economic system in which resources are owned by individual people and not by the government. Nowhere in the definition does it imply capitalism requires the absence of government, only that property rights are respected by the government.
Capitalists believe in government because there must be some entity in society in which the protection of equal rights instilled.
The connection between the state and aggression
Any other economic system, no matter its name: communism, fascism, socialism, or anarchy, is a departure from the principle that an individual has the right to the property he or she has earned. The more a society devalues the individual and his or her right private property, the more that society condones the initiation of force and the more aggression permeates the society.
This is obvious to any thinking person. When people are left alone to live their lives as they see fit, it is evident they are civil towards each other. Millions of people pass each other every day and say nothing, do nothing, or sometimes engage – yet without a problem. Although if the one tries to mug the other, will the person being mugged feel the urge to use aggression? Of course they will.
History underscores this point perfectly. The further from a capitalist society, that is one in which the state wields power though its possession of resources, the more inclined the society is towards aggression. The National Socialists as well as the Soviet Socialist murdered millions of innocent people while ruling in societies in which an individuals right to private property was almost nonexistent. If it were not for the more capitalist societies, they would have succeed in enslaving and destroying the entire world.
These are of course the extreme examples, but there are many more. The United States, the most capitalist country in history with unparalleled military strength, has never tried to conquer the entire world. Yet as the United States moved from its capitalist values to collectivist values, its acts of aggression increased in almost perfect proportion.
Prior to World War I, the U.S. was, for the most part, governed as the Founders envisioned with freedom and equality under the law for all individuals. The U.S. was mostly capitalist. When the First World War broke out, the U.S. remained disengaged until it was absolutely necessary. World War II, the U.S. did not get involved until an attack on our military, making non-engagement an impossibility.
Since then, while the US government grew and the rights of individuals were sacrificed for the benefit of others through welfare programs, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and so on, aggression began to take hold. That is, as the sanctity of individual rights became less of a value in society, respect for all individuals did as well.
From wars dubbed conflicts, fought but undeclared in Southeast Asia, to today in which aggression against a foreign land is waged by a president who does not even receive approval from congress; government intoxicated with power kills people by the hundreds of thousands without any regard for the law.
The values and principles a society holds in its highest esteem will permeate its actions. When the rights of individuals on an economic level are not respected, force must be used because the freedom to choose in relation to ones property must be compromised. The more the compromise, the greater the society’s downward momentum towards ignorance and immorality.
As we see throughout history and in our everyday lives, when people’s individual rights are respected, aggression is mitigated. Capitalism, the only economic system that respects the minds and productive rights of every individual; limits the coercive power of government by depriving it of capital, in turn limiting the value of coercion within society, which mitigates aggression, and the result is peace.