Breaking down the definition of the word capitalism and exploring the perversion of the word in America and around the world.
Why write this?
Political Correctness has pushed us so far out of the realm of honest conversations that so many people are scared to talk openly about anything that might offend anyone around them.
Not only am I hoping to start a discussion here, I am trying to start an all out war on the battlefield of ideas over the political incorrectness of being politically correct. That being said, read along, challenge what you know and let’s talk it out in the comments after we’re done. Get it? Got it? Good!
It’s not that I think you’re stupid…
Unless of course you actually do think capitalism sucks. In that case I would ask you to kindly pack your shit and head off to Europe, China or anywhere other than America really.
Maybe you would be happier in North Korea or some other tyrannical state. I hear the soviets are making a comeback! And before you say anything about how great Canada is, I direct you back to my “pack your shit” statement a few sentences back.
No one is keeping you here! If you think they do it better somewhere else then by all means, be gone! Just saying.
Now, before we get into the ideological debate behind the bastardization of the word capitalism, let’s understand the origin and root of the word.
We will start out with a few generalizations about the word capitalism, I’ll explain why it really is that simple and the tell you why people who think capitalism sucks are really just plain stupid.
What is capitalism?
An economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit.
Capitalism is an economic system based on the private ownership of capital goods and the means of production, with the creation of goods and services for profit.
Neither of these definitions tells us a whole lot about capitalism at its core so let’s dive a little deeper.
What is a capitalist?
A wealthy person (apparently you have to already be wealthy in order to capitalize on anything) who uses money to invest in a trade and industry for profit in accordance with the principles of capitalism. (We’re starting to see the skew already)
Wikipedia actually redirected me to the definition of capitalism that I listed before where I quickly ended up on a page about Karl Marx’s critique of political economy and his views on the capitalist mode of production.
This is where I start to get frustrated
Lets look at one more definition (capitalize) before I get started explaining why we need to be careful of how we let people redefine words and the context in which we use them.
What does it mean to capitalize?
1: Taking the chance to gain advantage from.
2: Provide (a company or industry) with capital. For this article I will ignore this definition as it relates to the funding of businesses and the capital (money) used to start and fund business ventures.
Let’s use a little common sense
If I am capitalizing on a situation, I am simply using that situation to my benefit. Where we pervert the game is in the governance and regulation of capital and industry. When we begin picking and choosing winners and losers.
Which is really part of why it bothers me when people vilify the word capitalist or capitalism. Furthermore, the system of capitalism has served to push forward technology and innovation and has free’d more people from the clutches of poverty than any other system before it.
If you think about it, the person who tells you that capitalism is bad is actually trying to capitalize on your intellectual ignorance and sway you into thinking that their definition is the one you should believe.
As if capitalizing on a low information audience is any different than a dishonest business capitalizing on an uninformed buyer.
This is not to say that people do not capitalize on the stupidity of others (it happens all the time), but since when does motive determine the definition of a word?
A politician might capitalize on his opponents weakness or mistakes just as easily as a business might capitalize on an opportunity stemming from a failed competitor or by taking advantage of an opening in the market for a new product.
A salesperson might capitalize on the stupidity of a naive car buyer, but is it not the responsibility of the consumer to also protect themselves? Is the world around us not always some battle which requires survival. It used to be jungles and wildlife, but now it is the wild world of consumerism and advertising which vies for our lives and souls. So yes, the salesman is sleazy for trying to take advantage of you, but you are naive to think that the salesperson would operate with anything other than their best interest in mind.
You see, we are all born with the natural instinct to take advantage of the situations that present themselves to us through the course of our lives. Whether it be for advancement financially, personally or intellectually.
Someone with a full-ride scholarship might be capitalizing on a lot of hard work leading up to receiving that scholarship. Just like an entrepreneur who makes it big by capitalizing on the years of hard work and struggles they put in before taking their company to the next level. Neither of which makes that person evil. In fact, it makes them smart, and we should applaud a system which rewards hard work and dedication.
We should applaud and protect a system that allows individuals to go out and create value in the world. But more importantly, a system that allows people to own the fruits of their labor. This is why capitalism is so important. Because in a capitalist system, the government protects the individual’s right to ownership of property. A fundamental tenet of a free society.
Humans are prone to greed
Generalizing all capitalists as bad would be like saying all Catholic priests are child molesters.
Whether in business, government, religion or life in general, people are prone to failure and greed, which eventually leads to an abuse of power.
That being said, assuming that all capitalist are bad and that they are all trying to get to the top solely by taking advantage of others is narrow minded, ignorant and impractical. The economy is not a zero sum game. It can expand and grow as new innovations are introduced to the market which means many people can succeed without others having to fail.
If you think business people and “capitalists” are bad people, then you should be willing to admit that people in general are bad, therefore the people that would teach you to hate a capitalist are also bad.
Isn’t your effort to convince me that capitalism is bad an attempt to capitalize on my ignorance on the true understanding of the word? Isn’t your effort to vilify the producers just an attempt to try and steal something you have not yet earned? What system would you suggest in its place? How should we treat the people and money of a country in order to produce a better outcome than what we are working towards today in America?
Let’s examine a few alternatives:
We already defined capitalism, so let’s look at some of the other “ism’s” that people might look to replace it with.
We could just give everyone the things they need. You know, take from the rich and give to the poor and all that shit. Some might say that we are already living in a form of socialism now as we have welfare systems and social safety nets of which more than 50% of our population participate in. And on paper, it sounds like a great idea to just give people their basic subsistence, but in practice, it never works.
This is not to dispel the idea of a Universal Basic Income, which I actually support at some level but will discuss in a future article.
In a socialist world, there would be no accumulation of capital (wealth) and equality would abound! But the truth is that socialism has been tried (without success), time and time again, and you cannot guarantee an equal outcome for any large group of the earth’s population at any given time. What you can do is provide equal opportunity at success, which is really why America was so successful as an experiment in the first place.
That being said, I think everyone considers socialism to be a viable solution at one point in their intellectual evolution. Typically before they acquire any fundamental understanding of economics and free markets at scale. Don’t believe me? Just go ask someone on the street to share their hard earned paycheck with you. It likely won’t happen. But ask the same person for advice on how you should spend your money, and they will surely give it.
The truth is that at some point, the producers will quit producing and the entire system will collapse. Without compensation that is commensurate to the efforts, people eventually quit trying to produce and soon there are no goods or services (or anything else for that matter) to redistribute amongst the people.
After socialism comes communism which is really just a natural progression of state controlled means of production and equal distribution of capital. Which never seems to actually get distributed equally funny enough. To each according to their needs, from each according to their abilities. Or some stupid shit like that. What actually ends up happening is that the separation between classes becomes extreme and you eliminate any chance at upward economic mobility.
Eventually you end up with some dictator who thinks they are a god. A self inflated ego who runs around breaking shit like some pissed off toddler who needs a nap. Seriously, Mao, Stalin, Castro, etc. They all ruled over a communist regime which lead to death and despair for millions of people. Yet surprisingly you still see these dumb antifa fucks running around with the hammer and sickle on their flags while criticising the swastika on others. like for some reason the genocide attached to one is acceptable while the other is repugnant. Because obviously, they get to set the rules in every debate.
Communism sucks the life out of its people by propping up a select few who hold all the power. Eventually a communist society devolves into mediocrity and tyranny. Completely divided into have and have not while espousing equality for all. No middle class, no ability to separate yourself or change your station in life.
At least with socialism and communism you get a cursory effort to provide for the people. With Fascism, all you get is fucked. Essentially this is a complete dictatorial control of a country and their entire economic system.
Think Hitler and Mussolini here.
Another key problem with Fascism is the propensity for violence. In a Fascist system, there can be no dissent or second party. Often, Fascist dictators rule through the threat of military violence, and through the subjugation of their people. Yet even in these corrupt systems, enterprising and conniving business owners will find ways to snuggle up to the people of power in order to earn favors and to gain an advantage in the market.
Back to capitalism
There are many more political and economic philosophies for you to explore than the three I listed above. These are just the most commonly referenced and have all been tried in some form or another in the last century. I encourage you to learn more about each of them and understand their history, their implementation in the past, as well as their strengths and weaknesses as political and economic theories. In that effort you will find that none of those systems can hold a candle to capitalism in its power to change the lives of those who play by its rules.
I will once again point out the propensity for human corruption and highlight the fact that regardless of the system, there will likely be iniquity amongst the people. This is primarily due to the fact that we are all different, have different motivations, interests, pursuits, etc. Not because the economic system in which we live is somehow designed to hold us back.
What I am trying to point out is that capitalism gives the average person (you and I) the best opportunity to carve our own path, to follow our own dreams and be rewarded according to our individual efforts in doing so. It is why America, has surpassed the rest of the world in innovation to this point, and why we were able to come so far in this country while others stagnate for centuries.
America’s perverted versions of progress?
This article is not intended to be a defense of American Capitalism in its current state. I believe we have made –and continue to make– major mistakes in our economic and political behavior as a country. We’ve been printing money like it’s going out of style, and although we since stopped, we’ve yet to feel the effects of that increase in our monetary supply. Furthermore, look at the amount of money we let influence the decision making of the people we send to represent us in Washington.
We have completely bastardized the idea of a free and open market, and to pretend otherwise is intellectually dishonest.
The problem is that America is no longer a purely capitalist society. We have evolved into a corporate oligarchy. A system where corporate money pulls the strings of all of the puppets in Washington. A system where the government itself is just a paid extension of the corporate crony machinery. A structure that has created greatness over the years, but one which is also now killing itself by suffocating the people who support it.
A truly capitalist society would strive to provide a level playing field so that its citizenry can compete freely. It would protect our ability to innovate and take risks on new ventures. Not seek to limit or diminish our potential for success. This is where regulators seek to find balance.
But instead we find our government striving to pick the winners and losers. Making investments or restricting industries in ways where the long term results cannot be predicted. And to write off that lack in leadership as a failure in a basic economic system is why I can plainly call you stupid for not understanding the nuance. At the very least it makes you ignorant and naive to the real problems we face as a society.
So where do we go from here?
Would you rather have a dictator telling you what to do? A monarch? A tyrant? An out of control government? Wait, we might already have that one…
But seriously. Tell me when the other systems have ever worked? I’m waiting…
When has a nation ever given up their individual freedom and ended up better off because of it?
Actually, I could argue that we are moving away from the ideas of free market capitalism and fair competition, and moving towards a systematically skewed system of social equality in name only. Instead of working to protect equal opportunity and a fair shot at the pursuit of happiness, we are working to ensure equal outcomes on paper at the expense of freedom for all in practice.
Furthermore, we have seen time and time again that the road towards socialism, communism, or any economic model other than capitalism for that matter, inevitably lead to mass oppression, a military style police state, and total control of the people and ideas which might otherwise power a free society.
So if you ask me, I’d prefer to put my trust in the people and in the market itself. I would rather see more competition, more innovation, and less government interference. I would like to see less influence from the corporate elite in the lives of the average American, and more opportunity for each of us to pave our own path.
Because I would rather be in control of my own destiny –for better or worse– as opposed to surrendering control to someone who has never met me, yet somehow thinks they can make my decisions better than I can make them for myself.
I would rather be in control of my own fate. To be in control of my ability to not only fail, but to succeed beyond all of my wildest dreams.
And I’ll take that every day as opposed to putting my faith in a state controlled corporate machine.
America was –and still is– the most amazing place to live in the world. There is a reason people risk their lives trying to get here in order to escape their oppressive regimes.
We are what we are because we’ve allowed people to realize the benefits of risk and reward. Have we messed up along the way? Yes. Have we gotten it mostly right? You better fucking believe it.
And if we find a way to correct that path, as opposed to looking for ways to turn from it, then there is no limit to what we can accomplish. But, if we continue restricting capitalism as a principle and vilifying the producers of this nation, then we will ultimately drag the entire country down with them.
Imagine a teacher telling the “A” students to not try so hard because they were making the “D” students look bad instead of finding ways to bring the “D” students up a level or two. It’s a little simplistic but it is in essence what we are encouraging people to do by pretending that some other system might serve us better.
We must stop telling people that success and profit are evil. But we must also not teach them that profit is everything that matters. We must teach people to be accountable for their thoughts and behaviors. Teach them how to go out into the world and create value for themselves and others. Teach them to reinvest their intellectual capital in themselves in order to advance their own agenda as opposed to walking around blindly advancing someone else’s.
Because I personally hate the thought of being anything other than exceptional. I hate the idea of striving for just good enough.
So, what do you say? How about we go capitalize on everything that makes humanity great and remember that we are after all, just people. Let’s remember that the slave masters keep the slaves uneducated for a reason. And let’s all set the shackles of societal stupidity aside and go build something beautiful.