Even the most ardent anti-capitalists would agree that money is a “good” like any other. And these same anti-capitalists would likely argue that consuming “too much” of that good is unnecessary, greedy, and all that bad stuff. Hence there are no dearth of student pamphlets on colleges like mine expounding the mantra, “Production for People, Not Profits,” or “Corporations versus Nature, You Know Who Should Win!” and so on.
But think for a minute about how absolutely incoherent these claims are. And I am not arguing here on the economic evidence that production for profit IS production for people. Ignore that – we wouldn’t want some good solid evidence to get in the way of some armchair theorizing. Ask yourself how it is possible at all for someone to generate profits? Unless some looting corporatist has used the power of government to force us to do business with them, the only way they can make profits is by discovering what the preferences of people might be, and then figuring out a cost effective way to satisfy them. In other words, private profits come from a very public evaluation of “good” and “bad.”
But there is much more to say here. Suppose that the anticapitalists wish to argue that the preferences for an egalitarian outcome should trump the preferences for the acquisition of more money? Or better yet, that the preferences, their preferences, for more trees or ostriches or hiking trails are superior to some corporation’s “preference” for making more computers, cars or iPads in the pursuit of profits. Do we not see the philosophical absurdity here? If we were to accept this, then we would be saying that preferences for certain goods trump preferences for others. But it is even worse than that. If there is a harmless preference for any good, it has to be that of money. After all, money can be used to buy just about anything, including more hiking trails and trees. Whereas the preference for trees precludes the ability to produce some of the things that we produced in order to satisfy some greedy capitalist’s preference for money.
So there can be no coherent intellectual basis for arguing that a preference for trees (which I share) should trump a preference for profits, but I will be 6 feet tall before I ever see an religion teacher environmentalist make this point clear when she is indoctrinating her students about it. Generally, the point above is true in regard to not only trees, but claims to the moral high ground for other preferences too. And there can be no “winner” or “loser” in a battle over preferences, so long as one is not doing violence to property. There must be something other than “the moral high ground” to appeal to. And for that we have economics.