October 7, 2011
When questioned last week by a reporter, filmmaker and activist Michael Moore– who has asserted himself as an unofficial voice for the “Occupy Wall Street” protests– dismissed the idea of pursuing the Federal Reserve as the main target of the protests, going on to issue a blanket attack on capitalism, claiming that it has to go. This has raised understandable alarm in people with common sense. Because of Moore’s prestige among many left leaning activists and the fact that the mainstream media has focused on those attacking capitalism to portray the abolition of it as the main demand of the protesters , Moore has an obligation to either clarify his statement or put it in some context that makes sense to thinking people, not just to adrenaline pumped college students swept up in the frenzy of rebellion for rebellion’s sake.
Defending social programs and using extreme examples of poor people who could use some money is not the same as saying that capitalism has to go, and certainly doesn’t justify the sentiment. The question here is not whether citizens should pay for each others’ health care through taxes, or if the state should open an AIDS clinic or an orphanage. The existence of government social programs, big or small, is not the opposite of capitalism, no matter how many people misguidedly believe this.
According to Wikipedia: “Capitalism is an economic system in which the means of production are privately owned and operated for profit, usually in competitive markets”.
If you look at it like a coin, with capitalism being heads, then the the extreme opposite on tails would be a system in which there was absolutely no private property and the citizens were slaves of the state, given rations and assigned their roles in society. Indeed, for big government social programs to exist, funding for them has to come from some source, whether it be tax revenue (heads) or force (tails). Some may argue that the tails side is not government ownership of all property and labor through human slavery but simply no “property” at all, with people roaming the globe like stray dogs with no borders and no personal claim to any resources. Needed professional roles in society would thus be filled voluntarily. This Utopian notion that doctors are going to study for years to treat the sick or that nurses are going to change adult diapers for free because it’s their patriotic duty or the right thing to do for humanity wouldn’t deserve mention except for the fact that there are people who actually believe this and advocate the elimination of private property in favor of this society, which never has and never will exist. The idea that people will be able to simply walk into gardens and take the stuff others planted without them getting mad about it is ridiculous. Belief in the possibility of such a world is charming when it’s being shared by a 5th grader writing a poem for English class, but when it’s being espoused by a group of noisy adults with the ability to possibly influence a public shocked and awed by an economic meltdown, the obvious needs to be stated. Defenders of this idea claim capitalism is against nature, but when I personally look at nature I see– amidst the beauty of the scenery– gazelles being ripped apart by hyenas and male gorillas getting in bloody fights with each other for the chance to dominate and rape the females of the group, as well as lead the pack. Primitive human tribes made war with each other, but more importantly when war got old or too costly they settled for trading with one another in the first steps towards capitalism and human progress. In order for that to happen there had be a recognition that one group had its private property and the other group had its own.
A government that protects property and human rights while at the same time not mutilating the human spirit that made us great and not turning us into mindless robots serving the state properly directs humanity’s (and really every animal’s) natural instinct to compete and better itself into avenues that are not violent. People who claim that capitalism alone leads to imperial wars are being intellectually dishonest. Indeed, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, and China invaded Tibet. This doesn’t mean that controlled economies are the root of all wars and exploitation, either. The real cause of wars is human greed, which will always exist, no matter how a society is structured.
Let’s be clear– greed, will never go away. Ever. The question then becomes how to reasonably limit its impact.
In a society where the government has no power to influence the economy in favor of one business over another, doesn’t have a monopoly on property, and actually follows the U.S. Constitution (which it hasn’t for years), greed’s power is weakened. On the opposite side, an omnipotent government that has no limitations on it and owns everything, will more quickly fall to the naturally selfish desires of the people (yes, don’t forget that governments are run by people, not gods) who control them. In terms of the free range society described earlier that amazingly some adults actually take seriously, an honest assessment of one’s own past and one’s own personal desires, as well as humankind’s history from the dawn of man until now, will put this idea to rest. The only way to enforce such a system is to lobotomize every person in it, thus begging the question of who gets to preserve their intelligence and humanity to perform the operations, creating classes and a control system in a supposedly “everybody is equal” paradise.
Protest is good, but only when protestors demand realistic solutions and know what the real problem is. A staged American “color revolution” like the fake ones that have already toppled governments in the Middle East is not a solution. Restricting the ability of people to own their own means of production is not “progressive” and is not the next step in societal evolution, but rather a fainting fall backwards into the ancient days of human bondage and the total domination of man by a ruling, government selected elite. Though the American standard of living is indeed diminishing fast because of overreaching government policies and corruption, those who argue that they are currently poverty stricken slaves because of capitalism while eating their pizza, cashing their taxpayer (a.k.a. people working in the free market) funded WIC checks, and chatting on their cell phones (cheap now because of the free market) have no idea just what real poor is (North Korea) or how bad it would get if the United States actually abolished capitalism. To give into such demands is to give into insanity, and to play into the hands of those who would steer the angry mob towards their own aims and deliver us a new world order held tightly beneath their thumbs.
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