In many online discussions & articles, I keep seeing this excuse again & again … the excuse basically blames every problem you see around you on something other than capitalism.
So let’s just debunk this once & for all.
- Capital: a productive resource;
- Capitalism: any economic system in which productive resources (capital assets) are exploited for “profit”;
- Profit: an oxymoron usage of the term, which – in the capitalist economics domain – ignores any & all ecological, social or other consequences that it can, in order to define a nett gain of resources from the limited perspective of an individual or collective entity that owned the resources being exploited.
IN OTHER WORDS: you can run many different sociopolitical & economic frameworks … BUT … every single one of them without exception will be just a different version of capitalism, if the economic paradigm they operate is based on property, trade, currency & the exploitation of capital resources.
- you can have any proportional combination of free-market, feudal, oligarchic, theocratic, socialist, democratic, fascist or totalitarian social systems … and they will all just be different flavours of capitalism;
- you can have privately or publicly owned banks, decentralised banks running only cryptocurrency, and even some versions of bartering economies … and they’ll still just be different flavours of capitalism.
IF you exploit capital for profit, THEN you exercise capitalism.
So people who are typically defenders of one particular version of capitalism (free-market economics), will come up with this excuse that the problems we see around us:
- War for profit;
- Modern day slavery / exploitation;
- Human rights & social justice violations;
- The corruption of the legal / political systems & processes;
- Inbuilt obsolescence, resource waste, unnecessary redundancy;
- Animal exploitation & suffering;
- Species extinction;
- Habitat destruction;
- Ecosystem collapse;
- Environmental pollution & degradation;
- … and so on;
… are not the fault of capitalism.
They typically argue that:
- The problems are caused by the people not the system;
- Shut up, it’s better than communism/socialism, and it’s the best we’ve ever had;
- The system is supposed to do something else but is being undermined by a variety of influences.
So let’s just debunk each of these elements of the excuse.
People are the problem:
Any system should be able to cope with what people are like & how they behave, so that’s an admission of flaw right there.
Capitalism has trillions of dollars & almost total control of the world’s resources … is that not enough resources to influence human behaviour the way capitalism expects?
Capitalism DOES influence human behaviour, because it creates the very motivational framework for most (if not all) human productive activity … so the very behaviour you’re complaining about is precisely the behaviour your system motivates, empowers, nurtures & rewards.
Better than Communism / Socialism:
Firstly, let’s begin by defining what these things are & what they are not.
Communism IS as Karl Marx defined it, when the workers control the means of production & share the benefits with each other – NOT with an owner of capital who may or may not contribute work, and who gets full control of who gets what.
Communism IS NOT Karl Marx’s ideas on how to go about implementing it, NOR is communism his ideas on what would be required in the cultural & historical context of the society in which he lived at the time.
Communism IS ONLY the base set of principles … everything else is just various people’s flawed ideas on how to go about it, given a particular contextual scenario.
ANY & EVERY SCENARIO in which workers are dictated to by a manager, is therefore not communism; as communism is fundamentally anarchic in nature.
Socialism IS where a community – of their own free will – use collectively pooled resources for the common good.
Socialism IS NOT where an authoritarian military dictatorship seizes the reigns of power and controls every aspect of society, taking resources from them, and dictating how they will be used.
Failure to implement:
On this basis – outside of tribal cultures – communism doesn’t and has never existed as a nation state.
On this basis also, socialism has only ever been partially implemented.
Neither the USSR, nor China, North Korea, nor any other major nation state you can ever name in modern history, was ever communist … and they were only ever socialist in name, with far more socialist policies actually being implemented within democratic capitalist economies. Such nations were just authoritarian / totalitarian dictatorships operating a capitalist economy based on a flawed understanding of communism/socialism &/or a failure of imagination to actually implement it.
Congruence with capitalism:
So as stated above, true communism is not congruent with capitalism, because:
- capitalism is about profit;
- profit leads to power;
- power leads to exploitation;
- exploitation is the antithesis of communism.
However socialism as you can see is not entirely incongruent with capitalism … BUT … it is more aligned with communism, so it is limited in the capitalist domain … AND … dictatorship is wholly congruent – nearly synonymous – with capitalism, so this further undermines the capacity for effective socialist principles to be exercised under capitalism.
Best we’ve ever had:
Firstly: this is a non-argument for a start, because something being the historical best, but becoming entrenched via vested interests who oppose change for their own selfish interests … this is not a valid defence of the title.
Secondly: this argument often lends its credibility not from its own achievements, but by taking the credit for the achievements of art, science & technology.
Killing this second argument is easy:
- Art is what it is & does what it does, not because of a single principle of economics, but inspite of it;
- Science is what it is & does what it does, not because of a single principle of economics, but inspite of it;
- Technology is what it is & does what it does, not because of a single principle of economics, but inspite of it.
“Who pays the bills” or the very belief that such bills exist & need to be paid to an “owner”, doesn’t in the slightest way do anything other than interfere with art science or technology … you can change the economics any way you want, and the only thing you’ll ever affect is “the business OF art/science/tech”, but never the PRINCIPLES of art/science/tech … as they are wholly independent & self-encapsulated … the only thing they are dependent on outside themselves, are the laws of nature. Economics comes along, stands in the way of resource access & says “I’ll take credit for that”.
System is supposed to do differently:
Ok … So your system is supposed to do better? That’s the very definition of an “excuse” … it doesn’t mean anything, who cares what you or anyone else says it’s supposed to do, what matters is what it ACTUALLY does.
Let’s say we give you the benefit of the doubt, that it isn’t “supposed to” … well, if it isn’t, then you’ve just admitted a design flaw, because it bloody well does.
Besides which, such benefit of the doubt is unwarranted, because the motivational basis of capitalism is this:
- Go find as many resources as you can & hoard them to create scarcity;
- If a resource is scarce it’s more valuable, so if it isn’t scarce, make it scarce;
- Exploit these resources for the maximum profit possible per unit of resource & time;
- Profit is defined as output gain versus input profit, therefore low input & high output are good;
- Therefore taking responsibility for deleterious input costs reduces profit;
- Therefore giving credit for advantageous output gains reduces profit;
- Therefore slavery exploitation & destruction are inevitable.
Your system is doing exactly what it is supposed to do according to its design.
System is being undermined:
Your system controls almost everything, and has had exponentially increasing control over generations dating back millennia … no version of it, nor “leaders” of it were ever going to lead us to a different conclusion to this equation.
Capitalism currently has more control, power & domination than ever before … and thanks to science, more technology to use. Thus capitalism is an utter failure, because if it wanted to immediately solve all problems, it has no excuse other than the problems it has caused itself over the ages.