Move over, Adam Smith. The new moral champion of capitalism is Mickey Mouse.
Thanks to the Great Recession, capitalism has another PR problem. Marx is back, according to Foreign Policy. College students are demanding new courses in socialist ideology. A ponderous economics treatise advocating confiscatory taxes is a national bestseller.
Such suspicion of capitalism comes and goes with every recession. Socialist economics rises from the dead only to die again. What remains alive, each time, is Marx’s moral critique of capitalism.
Even Adam Smith claims that capitalism is a compromise with selfishness: “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.” Capitalism bribes us to work for the common good. Capitalism economizes on virtue; socialism needs more virtue than we can supply.