Earlier this morning I came across a provocative headline for a Forbes article on Facebook — “If It Doesn’t Change, Capitalism Will Starve Humanity by 2050.”
Meant to illicit clicks, it did its job. I read through the article but found myself somewhat perplexed by its conclusion – that we must adopt “new capitalism.”
What is this ‘new capitalism’ you might ask? Quite simply, what the author unintentionally advocated for was Marxism. While he used examples of start-up culture to illustrate the idea of labor owning the means of their production – it is not Silicon Valley who founded this economic philosophy. Unfortunately, here in America we’ve been sold a bad bill of goods about democratic socialism and its underlying Marxist philosophy because our schools have long indoctrinated us against anything but capitalism.
The Red Menace, communism, The Soviet Union – a bastion of evil, horrible living conditions and a people abused by autocratic rulers. It is a place where your neighbor might be ratting you out to the spies. The buildings all look the same and so too do the cities as a result. Planned cities, cities like Chernobyl, a crumbling relic of planed living shrouded in a toxic cloud of atomic dust. Big giant nuclear bombs and missile parades celebrating pure lust of power – of global domination and where America and capitalism and freedom is the enemy! The Domino Theory and the end of the world as we know it. Most importantly, where Marxism is the root of all this evil.
This is how American school kids are taught about Marxism. Any word tangentially associated with this great evil – the USSR – is by proxy considered anti-American and evil. So to discuss the actual merits of Labor owning the means of production (you know, real Marxism) is a complete non-starter. You can’t even broach the topic with most people born before 1985, and many after too.
That is because they live and have lived many generations in an America where they were taught by Boomers afraid of the red menace to fear communism and that socialism was a bridge to said evil. They believed and continue to believe and educate our kids that Capitalism will set you free – that it is a system which offers choice and prosperity. Communism these educators say offers no such choice, it is anti-freedom – or more specifically it is anti-American.
The education system in America is designed to intentionally obfuscate and propagandize corporate capital and consumption. It is designed to protect the status quo and keep you mindlessly strolling through shopping malls. So instead of a debate between two economic theories – one where labor owns the means of production (Marxism), the other where capital owns the labor class (Capitalism) – we get a Cowboy versus Indian story of good versus evil. And as a result, John Wayne is considered an American hero while writers trying to organize for better workers rights were blackballed from an entire industry.
So beyond this good versus evil nonsense taught in our schools what does Marxism, or rather “New Capitalism” look like?
It looks like Germany, where the board of companies like Mercedes are split 50-50 between the workers and the owners. It is in start-up culture, and companies like Google, where workers participate in profit sharing agreements so as to own a piece of the company themselves. It is in Italy, Germany and Nordic nations where in order to become CEO, you don’t graduate with an MBA and nab the job but work in every facet of the company as a worker beforehand. Workers owning the means of production mean that robber barons and titans of industry can’t screw them over because they can block that from happening because they own the means of their production instead of it being owned exclusively by the capital class.
On the government side of this equation, It is in Western European nations like France which has one of the best healthcare systems in the world. While they pay higher taxes, they pay less than we do out of pocket for superior care. In fact we pay more out of pocket for life’s necessities than Europeans do — but we don’t call it a tax. Although it should be treated as such, only we pay our tax to aloof corporate overlords instead of benevolent government.
What else is provided by said taxes? University is subsidized – in many cases free – and only the brightest attend. For those where college isn’t an option, they train via trade schools and educate their kids in high school better than many American colleges do. They invest in science and research. They have state of the art facilities like CERN. Arts and letters are supported versus looked down upon as a waste of time. Many European high school students are better educated and more well rounded than Americans with bachelors degrees!
Americans have been sold a lie. Ask yourself why you can’t afford your healthcare premium/deductibles? Capitalism. Ask yourself why you can’t send your kid to the college of their dreams without incurring massive debt? Capitalism. Ask yourself why you can’t afford to buy a home when your parents could years ago? Capitalism. Ask why your wages aren’t keeping up with inflation and you can barely afford to feed your family? Capitalism.
Capitalism is socialism for the rich. It is the massive theft of Labor redistributed to the capital class at the expense of your economic well being. It is a system of freedom and choice, but only if you have lots of capital. Capitalism has an end stage, and that stage is upon us now – where only the rich have choice and opportunity. You have people making off with the whole damn pie while we are left fighting over the crumbs!
The only reason this is possible in America is because people still see socialism as a dirty word – associated with the USSR. They have been indoctrinated since childhood by a school system that sought to lie to them. A system which told them if they worked hard and did a good job, they’d be able to live the American dream. They lied.
But it’s not too late. We can have an honest debate about the merits of empowering labor, as Marx advocated – but only if we first get rid of the propaganda in our education, entertainment and political landscape. This will be a tough fight, but it is an essential one to have. Let’s go out there and fight for “New capitalism” – since socialism is such a dirty word.