The United States of America’s birth occurred rather recently. Yet, this juvenile nation currently ranks as one of the world’s greatest industrial powerhouses. This success derived from the early integration of capitalism into the American culture. In young America, ideas, inventions, and techniques warred on the battle fields of laissez-faire capitalism, allowing the most adaptive and successful to survive. This same principle also applied to the citizens of the same time period.
The Carnegies, the Rockefellers, the Vanderbilts, and the Goulds survived, nay, thrived due to their superiority. Their paths of prosperity paved over the hopes and futures of thousands, thrusting them into poverty. Nonetheless, because of the just and necessary actions of these cunning and ingenious Captains of Industry, the infantile America stepped out of its cradle, hurdled crawling, and came forward running. The Captains of Industry, ruled, due to their superiority, and the weak were ravaged. As Charles Darwin eloquently stated:
Can it, then, be thought improbable, seeing that variations useful to man have undoubtedly occurred, that other variations useful in some way to each being in the great and complex battle of life, should sometimes occur in the course of thousands of generations? If such do occur, can we doubt (remembering that many more individuals are born than can possibly survive) that individuals having any advantage, however slight, over others, would have the best chance of surviving and of procreating their kind?
On the other hand, we may feel sure that any variation in the least degree injurious would be rigidly destroyed. This preservation of favourable variations and the rejection of injurious variations, I call Natural Selection (Darwin). English sociologist Herbert Spencer interpreted this theory of natural selection in terms of competition between social groups (known as “Social Darwinism”) (Bannister). Therefore, utilizing Social Darwinism, the Go-Getters possessed useful variations, which enabled them to excel.
The poor possessed futile or adverse variations, which inhibited their progress. Thus, naturally, the fittest reigned and the weakest perished. Critics of the Captains of Industry frequently refer to them as the evil “Robber-Barons,” because of their deleterious affects on thousands. As previously declared, these men ruled according to natural law. Yet, many believe that man exists outside the realm of nature, and thus these men are not absolved of their immoral acts.
These critics insist that the damage done to the masses outweighs the Robber-Barons’ positive effects on industrializing America. Unfortunately, as Nietzsche proclaimed, “God is Dead” (Nietzsche). This analysis of the world reveals that morality, the “concern with the distinction between good and evil or right and wrong” is not apropos (Dictionary. com). Rather, amoralism, “the doctrine that moral distinctions are invalid,” applies (Dictionary. com). As expressed in “Beyond Good and Evil,” men are driven by their will-to-power (Nietzsche).
All men’s actions merely are, and are beyond the realm of good and evil. Machiavelli holds similar opinions as Nietzsche. His principle work, The Prince, alludes that “Murder, the incitement of quarrels among citizens, the purchase of temporary loyalties, and betrayal: all are permissible-indeed, recommended-if they advance the prince’s goal of attaining and securing power” (The Prince). Neither placed needless titles of morality upon scenarios or men. Accordingly, the moral attack upon the Captains of Industry is quite inane. The Captains of Industry, via their revolutionizing the industries of banking, steel, railroading, oils, the stock exchange, et cetera, greatly aided the process of America becoming a first world country and an industrial powerhouse. While their methods could be viewed as ruthless and detrimental, as Matthew Prior is accredited with saying, “the ends justify the means” (Bartlett).
In addition, Machiavelli points out that “the results of actions are what matter” (The Prince). The Go-Getters acquired obscene futures, creating an elite class of the extremely wealthy. In the field of economics, there dwells a theory known as the trickle down effect. The trickle down effect is a process in which when those at the top of the economic ladder are successful, those on the lower rungs will become successful as well. The Captains of Industry created an America in which the citizens have one of the best and most envied standards of living in the world.
The go-getters entered America into a marathon. Since beginning this competition for global industrial strength, America has occasionally faltered, but has never fallen nor lost the lead the Robber-Barons charitably handed it. The status of international powerhouse, which currently is the epitaph of the United States of America, stems from the activities of these few great men. Thus, unless one wishes to forfeit the commonplace luxuries of America, one should not unjustly critique the Robber-Barons, but rather praise them as “The Just Captains of Industry! “