It does not follow from the belief that men should be free to do a thing that we must respect or even honor them for doing that thing “well.” The value of freedom lies not in its deliverance from the overwhelming force and painful limits of the true and the good, but in its opportunity to pursue truth and goodness without artificially imposed impediments — an indispensable gift precisely because nature’s impediments to the true and the good are already so extreme. The case against libertarianism.
It does not follow from the fact that the profit motive is consistent with freedom that the profit motive is the meaning of freedom. And the pseudo-argument that the profit motive produces general prosperity changes nothing; freedom does not essentially entail material prosperity, anymore than material prosperity is any guarantor of freedom. What is essential to freedom is what produces or engenders freedom. The profit motive as such manifestly does not produce or engender freedom. If it did, China would be racing toward liberty today, while America, by contrast, would not be in freefall toward progressive totalitarianism. This is not an argument against the profit motive. It is an argument against mistaking a typical feature from an essential trait. One cannot defend freedom without first having clearly defined what freedom, at heart, is — and thus, by implication, what it is not.