Communism vs Capitalism
The Nature of Communism
I make no pretenses: I dislike communism. It is a noble concept, but it is one that can’t work without a radical change in the human psyche, and I’m not sure I’d want to live in a world where people were, effectively, labotimized.
My personal belief is that communism, as it exists in the world today, and capitalism are the same thing. True communism doesn’t, and can’t, exist.
True communism depends on human nature being basically altruistic. For communism to work, the members of the society either need to be altruistic enough to want to work for the benefit of their neighbors, or they need to be forward thinking enough to see that what benefits the whole benefits themselves. They must be very far-sighted indeed, because large-scale social benefits tend to be more abstract in nature, and more difficult to recognise. In contrast, when you get your paycheck, you can buy your VCR, and there it is on your table. You can directly relate your work to the results.
If human nature is basically egoistic, then true communism doesn’t work. If people are basically selfish, then they won’t work for the common good, and there will be a tendancy to freeload or otherwise take advantage of the system. For communism to work in that case, you would you need to make sure that everybody was doing their fair share. You would need a system of “points”, to make sure everybody is doing their part. People then work to earn points, so that they can justify receiving their share — or else they don’t get their share, or they go to jail, or they’re kicked out of the community, or some other fascist reaction.
Capitalism is also a value-point system, with the “points” being capital. Therefore, communism is just a form of capitalism, only worse. It is worse because people can’t get ahead — they can still starve, but they can’t get rich. I call this commu-capitalism, and it’s poster child is the former Soviet Republic.
It is my belief that people aren’t bad, but they are by nature selfish. I believe that people, like all animals, are organisms with an genetically programmed desire to prosper, reproduce, and expand. What we see as altruism in people is an evolved sense of mutual benefit — I help you, you help me, we both prosper. Altruism goes out the window when the benefit is one-way. We cast off dead weight, except in certain situations. Yes, we have a social welfare system in the United States, albeit a very inadequate and ill one. I personally believe that the only reason why we have one at all is as a safety net. It is instructional to notice that we have to give tax breaks to intice charity. It is always the middle class — the ones closer to that poverty level and more at risk of slipping into the poverty level — who most support charity for charity’s sake.
Ok, so by now you’re sure I’ve got this black view of the human soul, but I don’t think I do. I like people, and I think they are basically good, when it suits them. I think it is unfair to expect people to be willing to throw away their own health for the health of others — it is nice and noble when it happens, but it isn’t human nature. And this is why communism, as a pure concept, can’t work, and always devolves into capitalism.
Capitalism depends on people being basically selfish. The whole point is that, if you work hard, you can get rich, ride to the top, and do whatever (more or less) you want.
As an aside, I’d like to point out that I find this entirely ironic. The point of life is to procreate, because those organisms who’s entire being is given up to that drive to procreate are the one’s who’s genes have the most chance of surviving. However, birth rates in the most industrialized nations is far lower than those in third-world countries, and it isn’t because we can’t procreate — it is because it we don’t really want to. For some reason, when we get fat and wealthy, we lose the desire to spawn. I’m guessing it is nature’s way of keeping humans hungry. The true advances come from the dissatisfied, not from the comfortable.
In any case, we’ve evolved a system whereby, theoretically, the hardest working reap the most rewards. Only, it doesn’t quite work out that way, as you’ll see.
Like commu-capitalism, capitalism has its downsides. In a communism, you get points only if you contribute. However, with capitalism, people can, and do, make significant amounts money without making any significant contribution to society whatsoever. In fact, a large portion of the American economy is devoted to doing just this — making money off of the concept of money alone. “Interest” is a good example of this. Once an entity has a certain amount of money, it can survive off the interest without providing any constructive contribution to society. I phrase it this way, because at that point it doesn’t matter whether the entity exists or not. It is capable of becoming a pure consumer, rather than a producer. Banks, therefore, are leeches on the process of capitalism. They don’t truely contribute to the advancement of society.
Before I let you get too far into making any assumptions about my beliefs and values, I want to make it clear: I actually like banking. I think they’re absolutely necessary, for the same reasons why a true communism would never work. I’d like to have a job working on banking software. Banking is the one, truely universal industry, where your skills are always in demand. For that matter, I’d love to have the opportunity to become a leech on society. I wouldn’t actually exercise the ability, but it would be nice to not have to worry about how I’m going to fund my retirement. I’m also a dedicated capitalist. However, I do believe that there is no such thing as a purely good concept, and that any idea can be abused.
So, capitalism encourages non-contributing, support structure industry. Many organizations make fortunes simply by shifting money back and forth, from one place to another. While this is all very integral to our economy, it only exists as a side effect — it doesn’t actually produce anything.
Capitalism allows people to starve. However, unlike communism, capitalism also allows people to better themselves and their situation. Capitalism also allows people to ensure a better future for their offspring, should they have any, and to contribute surplus resources to organizations that they believe in. To quote the old hack, it may not be a perfect system, but it is the best one we have.