AUBG Business Professor Andrew Bernstein on Capitalism, Money, and IndividualismOctober 19, 2016
Can money buy happiness? Should becoming wealthy be our ultimate life goal? When asked in an impromptu poll, eight out of ten AUBG students indicated they would like to get rich as fast as possible in order to afford the kind of life they want.
Is the capitalist world to blame for such thinking? Prior to the capitalist and industrial revolutions in Great Britain, starvation and poverty levels were rampant across Europe. Before the steam engine was invented, talk of a free economy was virtually non-existent. Nowadays, many associate wealth with happiness.
Andrew Bernstein, AUBG’s newest business professor, expounded on this topic during his self -organized lecture on Wednesday, Oct. 5. From his significant background in philosophy and business, he explained that money is an insufficient measure of wealth. On the contrary. In a capitalist world, being free to use the money you earn is what truly matters.
Bernstein pointed out that life in a capitalist world is freer than it used to be. To reach this level of freedom, many countries have gone through wars and drastic change.
“One must understand that the true essence of capitalism is the message that your life belongs to you,” he said.
Until the establishment of the republic of the United States in 1790, Britain was the freest country on earth. There, the principle of individual rights, codified by John Locke as a formal philosophy, that an individual has “inalienable rights to life, liberty, and property,” became a key aspect of the political system.
Bernstein explained that the U.S Constitution in 1776 was written as means of protecting individual liberties. Capitalism was built on a similar foundation.
“Capitalism and individualism must go hand in hand,” Bernstein explained. “A free-thinking mind is the key. ”
Bernstein emphasized that a culture can’t always be reduced to its politics and that capitalism is the best thing to have happened to humanity.
“It is very important to comprehend the core of it,” he said. “If mankind enacts but two principles – a culture glorifying the rational mind and a politics protecting individual rights – then human beings will continue to advance, creating vast amount of intellectual and material wealth in every field.”
The lecture took place in the BAC auditorium and was attended by both students and faculty.
Story by Lea Fanku
Photography by Lea Fanku