Opinion by Allan McNew
I have tried my best to understand economics, I think most people view economics as whether they have enough at the end of the month, or if they have some left over do they blow it on instant gratification or do they stuff it in the mattress for the future rainy day. I compare my perceptions of capitalism with my perceptions of socialism and have mixed feelings. I am reminded of a man who stated “When I was in college, I was a communist. When I opened a business I became a capitalist.” I believe many, if not most, people associate the word “capitalism” with fat 19th century corporatist millionaires lighting prohibitively high priced Cuban cigars with hundred dollar bills while gleefully forcing widows and orphans to freeze and starve in the dark.
To me, capitalism is the exchange of something of value for something else of value in order to gain increase, usually involving currency in exchange for an item or measurement of time while providing labor or a service. By this definition we are all capitalists, including all those “communist” professors who force their students to purchase expensive multiple books for an advanced class – which are virtually rewritten clones (heavily citing the previous works) of previous expensive books those professors forced the same students to purchase for prerequisite classes. Unbridled capitalism is heartless with loyalty only to a perceived bottom line – and self professed “communists” can be very capitalistic. Witness the People’s Republic of China which sells us cheap, shoddy goods produced by virtual slave labor while lending us our own money they derive by trade imbalance and use to buy up various forms of real estate and financial institutions in the United States – property speculation, usurious profit and gaining by being unscrupulous landlords.
For example, when a small, labor intensive business rents a building, the landlord leaves the leaseholder with just enough to get by, and he doesn’t intend to leave him with any more. Or supply and demand: when uneducated, unskilled shovel holders and burger flippers are allowed to pour into the country that results in displacing and driving down the wages of previous shovel holders and burger flippers who were originally part of a smaller, more stable labor pool.
On the other hand, Utopian theory of socialism (which Marx theorized was a precursor to communism) strikes me as where the patrons of a saloon run off the proprietor, dismiss the bartenders and establish an open bar with the patrons on the honor system. It’s not going to work, socialism as theorized is impossible due to human nature.
So, coercion combined with propaganda and censorship is needed to to level society and make everyone equal, and coercion involves punishment with ostracism, being deprived of making a living or by incarceration. That is, except for the more equal, supremely privileged oligarchy self appointed to oversee the socialist program. Which in effect is not much different than Gilded Age style robber barons having complete social control over the population. Breadlines down the street and around the block in an extreme capitalist dominated society is no different than the same breadlines in an extreme socialist dominated society. The bread runs out before those in the back of the line can exchange their meager cash or ration tickets for bread.
But, socialism parasitically depends on capitalism. The perfect example is that if not for his rich capitalist family providing him with maintenance and occupation, Friedrich Engles would have starved in the streets while denouncing capitalism. Engles used some of that capitalist money to compensate Karl Marx for sitting on his posterior and writing about social-economic theory. A rough modern example could equate modern Silicone Valley billionaires as Engles and progressive-socialist politicians in the Democrat Party as Marx – adding the cynical Gilded Age corporate observation that “An honest politician is one who, when bought, will stay bought” and, like the pigs in “Animal Farm”, seek to become part of an intolerant, no dissent allowed, ruling oligarchy. Marx was interested in stroking his beard and scribbling improbable theory rather than being a hypocritical autocrat.
Socialists who hide behind the “progressive” label, such as Ocasio Cortez, live in a theoretical dream world and have no idea of the real world beyond their farcical perception of what society is and what it should be. A year ago I perceived House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to be a far left wing nut- she now looks positively right of center compared to Ocasio Cortez and her hypocritical wacky cohort of female freshman congressional politicians, and they, far more than the underhanded, disrespectful, self superior house speaker are ruthlessly not afraid to hold the figurative coercive political gun against the head of anyone who has has a different viewpoint of any sort and pull the trigger.