Jonah Goldberg: Democracy and capitalism are ‘unnatural’

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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If you haven’t read Jonah Goldberg’s The Tyranny of Clichés, what are you waiting on? It’s a terrific read. (Let me also highly recommend the audio book — which he narrates.) And while the whole book is chock-full of interesting ideas and facts, one parenthetical point struck me as especially profound:

(Lost on many conservatives is the fact that the two core stanchions undergirding the American system are quite simply unnatural. Democracy is not natural. Capitalism is not natural. Both depend on and exploit natural phenomena — self interest, the yearning for respect — just as a house depends on stone, wood, and metal. But you won’t find a naturally occurring house in the woods, will you? Capitalism is the greatest system ever created for peaceful universalizing prosperity, but it doesn’t feel like it because it’s unnatural. Democracy is the noblest of experiments: you will be hard-pressed to find a tribe putting everything up for a vote as a matter of custom and ritual, never mind binding law.)

The fact that democracy and capitalism are unnatural might also help explain why conservative sometimes have great difficulty in explaining — and defending — them.

Other (much less successful) systems are more organic, and thus, perhaps easier to sell?

Matt K. Lewis