why (or not) capitalism

Jul. 8, 2017

An article recently appeared in a regional newspaper that discussed the shortcomings of the capitalistic system for our economy, decrying the inequities of the system and how a few get rich off the backs of the laborer. The author, Robert Jensen, went on to describe his views of the perfect society, one that is governed by "leftist policy", not just liberal policy. He claimed that a liberal wants to take existing systems and make them more 'humane', while a 'leftist' focuses on the "unjust nature of the systems themselves". Two of these key systems, according to Jensen, are capitalism (an economic system that, to a leftist, celebrates inequality and degrades ecosystems) and imperialsim (a global system in which First World countries have long captured a disproportionate share of the world's wealth through violence and coercion). This leftist philosophy continues on with explanations of their righteous agenda and need for the world to accept this approach for the sake of humanity and our environment. After reading and digesting this information, one realizes this would indeed be Utopia. The only problem is that a utopian society only works if everyone aggrees and human greed and even religion are no longer factors. The Utopia a leftist proposes is only possible if society were to revert to tribal or communal living in isloated environments (like wilderness or and island?) cut off from the influences of the rest of the world, which means no internet or communication. Imagine a leftist (or liberal) in today's world not having technology to spout their ideology! Imagine no mass production of foods, no air conditioning, no refrigeration, no drinkable tap water, no flushing toilets, no access to transportation. In other words, imagine living in a third world country. The simplified version of capitalism and all its evils is typical for one that envisions a utopian society (once they have attained their own success) without considering what other second and third world countries have come to desire. One of the most beneficial aspects of capitalism in modern society is the incentive to succeed through innovation. In ancient times, producing or obtaining food was the driving force of any group and any innovations were shared to improve the chances of survival for all. In most modern societies, that is no longer the case, food being instantly obtainable at the nearest market. Few major advances in the modern world come from a socialist or communist influenced society unless it is motivated by the military/industrial complex of that society as a means to increase power for those in control. There-in lies the real source of the violence and coercion referenced by Mr. Jensen. We all love and depend on our computers and smart phones but many fail to acknowledge their origin, that being the same capitalistic, military/industrial complex with which the left finds fault. The larger question then becomes, is 'capitalism fair?  Much like a game of chess, a soccer match, or any contest, the answer becomes a matter of perspective. Should a team that parties all the time, never practices, does nothing to improve their game plan be awarded the same accolades and monetary reward as one that works hard at improving their abilities? We all know the answer to this and see the results after any sporting event. 'Equal' doesn't always equate to 'better' unless one is talking about opportunity, another thing that is of little value unless one grasps that opportunity and works hard to take advantage of it. There will always be those willing to work hard to attain lofty goals and those who will want others to do the heavy lifting, prefering to ride the coat-tails of another in the name of equality. Desire as well as ability both play a role in success, and unfortunately, for this reason alone, there will always be those on the top rung of the ladder, and those holding the ladder up, even in Utopia. Recognizing this, one cannot penalize those blessed with enhanced abilities in the name of equality or those with exceptional skills will have no desire to develope them. The doldrums of socialism/communism or the exceptionalism of capitalism, this may be the larger question for future generations to decide.