The great con of our time, and what is holding us back as a civilization the most is the notion that socialism and capitalism are mutually exclusive when they’re not. It has led to this situation where people or political parties extol themselves as socialist or capitalist and denounce anyone who doesn’t abide by their ideology as not worth listening to/wrong/dangerous/etc. It fosters an atmosphere of us vs them, people start treating their political parties like sports team; “I’m Labour till I die”, “I would never vote Tory” and this is a very regressive and unproductive mode of dealing with politics. In many cases when a socialist hears someone is a capitalist or someone proposing capitalist ideas (and vice versa) they either just don’t listen to the merit of their proposition or they just straight up “well you would say that, you’re a…”
Now I would say this is more of a problem with the general public than with actual politicians, but public voice can massively influence policymakers and if we are to makes policies in the best interest of the nation or human civilization then we need to do away with the dirtiness underlying words such as capitalism and socialism and recognise that policies from both the Left and Right of the economic political spectrum have value and that there is a sweet spot in the middle that we lead to the best of all possible outcomes.
I look to Aristotle’s moral philosophy and the idea of what it is to be a ‘virtuous person’ (blog post about this at a later date) and apply it to a nation/government/civilization, I feel it is especially useful when discussing the Socialism vs Capitalism as they are two ends of the same economic spectrum. Aristotle suggests that to be morally virtuous you must hit a sweet spot on a spectrum between two things, for example to be confident without being arrogant, brave but not reckless, socialist but not communist, capitalism but not unadulterated pillaging of the Earth. You get my drift, it’s about achieving the sweet spot.
You can see how this would apply to economic ideology of Socialism vs Capitalism. On the Far left we have pure Communism, no privately owned businesses or enterprise everything is owned by the state and people. On the far right, we have Free Market Capitalism, which comes with no regulations and it becomes essentially every man for himself, power is in the corporations. Both these extremes are undesirable, in my opinion, for a strong and prosperous human civilization. Communism restricts individual rights and the competition which drives innovation and creativity is drastically reduced. On the other hand Free Market Capitalism lends itself to predatory business practices and the exploitation of the ‘have nots’ and with no regulation corporations are free to do what they want i.e. the unrestricted raping of Earth’s resources.
In traditional sense and for the sake of transparency I would consider myself a lefty socialist. The reason I consider myself that way is that I think, at least in the West, we are leaning too far in favour of the right side of the economic spectrum. Business have too much power and they can hoard too much wealth and money, whilst people working on the ground for these business are living on the breadline and in some cases, abject poverty. A great modern example of this is Amazon and Jeff Bezos. At the time of writing Bezos is worth $136,000,000,000. ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY SIX BILLION DOLLARS (does anyone else find that absolutely disgusting?), Amazon itself is worth over a trillion USD and is the most profitable company of all time. Meanwhile, Amazon warehouse workers earn a pittance and are reliant on handouts to survive…and at the end of the fucking day, Mr Bezos would be no-where without those people doing the hard labour on the ground. Additionally, Amazon has been found to be avoiding paying its fair share of taxes in the UK and Japan. Now for a company and man who have more money and wealth than some countries, not only is this state of affairs absolutely grotesque, but shows a total lack of morals and empathy at the top of this company. We allow this to happen because we have been taught that Capitalism = good and Socialism = bad (Communism and socialism tend to be used interchangeably to muddy the issue despite being different things).
What I propose is something in-between, something that already exists; State Capitalism. Now I’m going to say something that will freak some people but put your pitch forks down and here me out.
China essentially works with a State Capitalist model. I know some of you out there are going to be “rabble rabble rabble China human rights communism arrrrgh LOUD NOISES that’s undemocratic rabble rabble rabble”, but just wait 2 seconds.
State Capitalism, essentially is a capitalist market economy dominated by state-owned corporations, where the state-owned corporations are organised as commercial, profit seeking business. Now this doesn’t mean we can’t have privately owned enterprises, we can, people are free to do that, but in a more limited controlled way.
Let me paint a picture for you one second. The state-owned enterprise would have ownership over the utility companies (power, water), internet service, construction, mining, housing, agriculture, forestry’s, etc. The kind of things which are essential and fundamental to a civilization. They would be owned by the state on the behalf of the people, with profits being returned to investment to further improve services, lower prices and expand infrastructure. Not going into bank accounts to be horded and unused. Private enterprise can still exist to sell commodities such as Apple who make iPhones, Sony who create entertainment systems and Nikon selling cameras. This would still be allowed. Basically, the state owns the fundamental things most important to stability and civilization, private enterprise own the things that aren’t so important and fundamental but make life more pleasant and unique.
It’s proven to work, just look at China. It is currently the second largest economy in the world and set to become the largest over the next couple of decades. They are throwing money and construction at rebuilding the silk road of ancient times and heavily investing in improving infrastructure around the world, building ports, roads, and airports. Laying thousands of miles of optic fibres to support the growth of the internet. No national government except China is able to expand and grow their influence like this.
Just imagine what the West could do under state capitalism without all the human rights violations that China has. State Capitalism is the perfect balance between Socialism and Capitalism and it is what we should be moving towards.
Personally, I think this is the way forward, I see this system of state capitalism being the most pragmatic socially and economically, if we’re ever going to get ourselves unified on global scale. Like the image suggests, lets all enjoy capitalism.