Smash Capitalism and You Destroy Civilization


Somewhere, there are two graduate students in the social sciences who need dissertation topics. Those students should be watching the Occupy Wall Street movement with keen eyes because as it evolves, it’s going to provide us with an interesting set of applications, illustrations, and tests of different principles in the social sciences. One student should study the on-the-ground evolution of the Occupation camps themselves. Another should look at the evolution of perceptions of the Occupations and how they have changed as data on the Occupiers’ views have emerged.

Former Clinton pollster Douglas Schoen has done a valuable service by assembling a poll—which he discusses in the Wall Street Journal—that “probably represent(s) the first systematic random sample of Occupy Wall Street opinion.” According to Schoen, the Occupiers are united by “a deep commitment to left-wing policies.”

I agree with the Occupiers when we both answer “no” to a question like “should we bail out large financial institutions that have made a lot of bad investments?” The more radical Occupiers lose me with demands that we “smash capitalism” and “abolish private property.” It isn’t at all clear to me that they have thought through exactly what this would entail.

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Art Carden is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute in Oakland, California, and Assistant Professor of Economics at Samford University.