What is Capitalism?

Before we talk about the problems of Capitalism, we have to first define Capitalism itself.  I’ve found this misunderstanding of what we are referring to when we say “Capitalism” to be the biggest hurdle when speaking to people about why we must abolish it.  Often people think we are advocating against “the free exchange of goods and services,” or even advocating against you owning any property at all.  Anger at anyone advocating for a system that abolishes those things is perfectly understandable, and we do not want to abolish them.  In fact , we want to expand them both because Capitalism is neither of those things, and actually hinders them both

The primary component of Capitalism, its major defining aspect, is the private ownership of what’s called the “means-of-production.”  The means-of-production is the tools, workplaces, and resources, used to make the things we all rely on for survival and a modern comfortable life.  Like a car factory, or a forest of timber, or the machines used to pave roads, etc.  The means-of-production is not your house, your car, or your other personal possessions.  These things are called “personal property,” and they are yours, no Communist wants to take them away from you, because we want to have our own personal property as well; Communists don’t want their personal property to be owned by the Government either.  Often Communists will refer to the means of production as “private property.”  We use this term because the means of production is privately owned under Capitalism.  We never refer to your personal property as private property, only Capitalists do that.

Under Capitalism , the purpose of the means-of-production is not to supply the population with what it needs, but to be a source of wealth for the private owners.  These private owners employ people that do not own the means-of-production to work it for them.  They pay these workers a “wage” and sell the products that these wage-workers produce for more than what they spent to produce those products (including the cost of the wage.)  This extra income is called “profit,” and it must exceed both the cost of maintaining the means-of-production and the cost of the worker’s wages.  The owners of the means of production, called the Bourgeoisie, live off of these profits.  If they make no profit, then they must close the business, even if the business makes enough to pay for the upkeep of the business and the wages of the workers (called “Breaking even.”)  Because the purpose of Capitalist business is not to provide what the workers need to survive, but to provide an owner with profit.  What I have just described, as you can see for yourself, is a system where one person lives off of the work of others.  Profits are made by the workers, by all rights of reason and ethics, they should go to the workers evenly.  Instead, the profits all go to the owner, the Bourgeoisie.  

Keep in mind, I am speaking of profits, not the cost of maintaining the means-of-production.  It’s important to point this out because I have often heard the argument that “it costs money to maintain a business” as a retort when I argue that profits are unpaid wages of the workers.  Business expenses are not profits.  Profits are what is left after business expenses are paid for.

This is the class division created by Capitalism; Capitalism reduces society into two major groups: The owners of the means of production, the Bourgeoisie, and those who do not own the means of production, the Proletariat.  The Proletariat, having no source of income beyond what they can produce with their own work, are forced to sell their labor to the Bourgeoisie in order to survive.  They are further forced into this situation by other factors, such as the restrictions on purchasing and owning land, the laws against cultivating public land, taxes which must be paid in sanctioned currency, and simply the overpowering influence of the Bourgeoisie who have the most political clout due to their wealth and control over the means-of-production.  All of this creates a system which requires people to have currency.  And if you do not own the means of production, the only way you can get currency is to sell your labor.  And since the majority cannot own the means of production, since we cannot have a society composed of all business owners and no workers, or even a society that is mostly business owners, the majority must sell their labor to survive.

This system is not natural as many would insist.  There was a time when Capitalism did not exist, which was less than 200 years ago.  It’s easy to assume that Capitalism is older than this due to the system which preceded Capitalism: Mercantilism.  Mercantilism was a transitory system from Feudalism, and thus had similar aspects to both Capitalism and Feudalism.  It was an interesting system that certainly warrants a discussion, but for the sake of brevity I will keep the discussion focused on defining Capitalism.  So it is merely worth noting that there were systems before Capitalism, you can even go back to Feudalism if you need to in order to understand this, or to the Slave-based production systems before Feudalism if you still need convinced.  Since Capitalism was preceded by other systems, it is not natural.  That is: it is not an unavoidable state of society that we must be subjected to.  It was created by people, and we can create a different system.

I will revisit that last point later on and discuss several proposed systems for replacing Capitalism.  But first I think Capitalism needs to be fleshed out more, after all, as the old mechanic’s proverb says: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  We wouldn’t even be having this conversation if Capitalism didn’t need to be replaced, but it’s likely that you may need more convincing on that point.  So, let’s begin by discussing the “fuel” of Capitalism: wage-labor, and a subject that we can both agree is bad: slavery.

Wage-Labor and Slavery

What is slavery?  The easy answer is that it’s making one person do something against their will.  But that is not complete, as this would describe every prisoner as well.  Perhaps we could say that it’s the commodification of human beings, the act of regarding people as property.  That is a much more accurate term.  But take the Serfs of feudal Europe for example.  They could not be bought and sold like chattel, and even had certain rights.  Nobles couldn’t simply punish or kill them with impunity.  Yet that practice is universally regarded as a type of slavery.  Perhaps, then, we could agree that slavery is the practice of making a person work for you, and taking all that they produce with that work?  Personally, I think that is much more accurate.  It effectively describes every form of slavery, and also brings me to my point:  wage labor is a form of slavery.

Wage labor is the practice of an owner hiring a worker to work for them, as we have already discussed.  The owner, once again, takes all that the worker produces, and then gives back a small portion of that produce in the form of wages, almost universally in the form of a State-sanctioned currency.  “Ah ha!”  The Capitalist will say. “That shows that it’s not slavery!  A slave receives nothing for their work!”  But don’t they?

Slaves are always given shelter and food. In some cases, like the Janissaries of the Ottoman Empire, they even received pay.  So, if slaves receive a wage, even if that wage is in the form of food and shelter, then the only difference between a wage worker and a slave is that the wage worker usually receives a bit more back than a slave.  But if that’s the only difference, then there is no difference.  There have always been slaves throughout history that were treated better than wage workers, and had access to luxuries that wage workers do not.  Meaning that those slaves were paid more than most wage workers, but they were still slaves.  “Then that’s not the difference!”  A Capitalist might say:  “Slaves cannot go where they want, they can only ever do what they’re told and work for who they’re told.  They have no agency over their lives!”  But, do wage workers have such agency?

They might have some choice in who they work for, but the system is still the same.  They still are subjected to wage work.  If a prisoner is given the opportunity to choose their prison, they’re still a prisoner.  And even then, this choice is usually in-name-only for wage workers.  Because in truth it is not them that chooses where to work, but the owner that chooses what workers to hire.  A wage worker is usually too poor, and must accept the first job they are offered.  Since it is illegal to harvest your own timber to build your own house, and you cannot build such a house on open land, but must purchase it, nor grow your own food on open land and also must purchase either the land or food. No one can choose to simply live by the fruits of their own labor, and must choose to submit themselves to wage work.  The choice between hunger and homelessness, and wage work, is not a choice at all.  Slaves have the same kind of choice: work for their master, or be punished and killed.  “But, wage workers can save their money, or invest it, and eventually become owners!  Then they aren’t wage workers anymore!”  This is the next argument the Capitalist will make.

Not only are most wage workers not able to do those things, as the amount they receive back from the owner is so meager that it’s barely enough to provide for their food and shelter, but also: there were slaves subjected to this very system.  Both “indentured servants” and the Janissaries of the Ottoman Empire were only subjected to slavery for a period of time, after which they were freed.  And there are many cases of slaves in the United States eventually earning enough money to buy themselves and earn their freedom.  Slavery that you legally can work your way out of is still slavery, and for most such slaves they are never able to earn enough to purchase their freedom.

Friedrich Engels also touched on this entire subject in his essay “Principles of Communism,” where he answers the question “how is the proletarian different than a slave” in this way:

“The slave is sold once and for all; the proletarian must sell himself daily and hourly.  The individual slave, property of one master, is assured an existence, however miserable it may be, because of the master’s interest.  The individual proletarian, property as it were of the entire bourgeois class which buys his labor only when someone has need of it, has no secure existence.  This existence is assured only to the class as a whole.  The slave is outside competition; the proletarian is in it and experiences all its vagaries.  The slave counts as a thing, not as a member of society.  Thus, the slave can have a better existence than the proletarian, while the proletarian belongs to a higher stage of social development and, himself, stands on a higher social level than the slave.  The slave frees himself when, of all the relations of private property, he abolishes only the relation of slavery and thereby becomes a proletarian; the proletarian can free himself only by abolishing private property in general.”

Here Engels draws a similar comparison between the slave and the wage-worker.  Both are regarded only as a means to wealth, nothing more.  They have no value outside the value they produce for an owner.  However, he also points out how a slave in many ways can be in better condition than a wage-worker.  If a wage-worker is worse off than a slave, then they are no better off than a slave.  They are a slave.

Yet still there is still another defense of wage labor, but from an unlikely source: the Socialists and even some Communists who wish to preserve wage-labor in the form of “labor notes” or some similar system that pays workers in vouchers they can use to buy things.  These vouchers are not traditional money, as they have no more value, nor even exist, after being spent.  The argument from such Socialists, is that wage-labor without private owners or traditional money is not exploitation, and in that regard they are correct.  Wage-labor in a democratically managed workplace, and even “labor-notes,” is far superior to Capitalist wage-labor.  Yet, there is still no proper material basis to support the arguments these Socialists use to defend the continued existence of wage-labor.  They often use the very same arguments as Capitalists, arguments like: “we must regulate the distribution of goods,”  or “those who work harder should be given a greater reward.”  But there are other ways of regulating the distribution of goods, ways which don’t allow for the development of economic inequality.  And how can we gauge who’s work is more valuable?  We cannot.  I will reference the great writings of Peter Kropotkin in his seminal work “The Conquest of Bread.”  For no one else could put it so succinctly and eloquently:  

“If you enter a coal-mine you will see a man in charge of a huge machine that raises and lowers a cage.  In his hand he holds a lever that stops and reverses the course of the machine; he lowers it and the cage turns back in the twinkling of an eye; he raises it, he lowers it again with a giddy swiftness.  All attention, he follows with his eyes fixed on the wall an indicator that shows him on a small scale, at which point of the shaft the cage is at each second of its progress; as soon as the indicator has reached a certain level he suddenly stops the course of the cage, not a yard higher nor lower than the required spot.  And no sooner have the colliers unloaded their coal-wagons, and pushed empty ones instead, then he reverses the lever and again sends the cage back into space.  During eight or ten consecutive hours he must pay the closest attention.  Should his brain relax for a moment, the cage would inevitably strike against the gear, break its wheels, snap the rope, crush men, and obstruct work in the mine.  Should he waste three seconds at each touch of the lever, in our modern perfected mines, the extraction would be reduced from twenty to fifty tons a day.

Is it he who is of greatest use in the mine?  Or, is it perhaps the boy who signals to him from below to raise the cage?  Is it the miner at the bottom of the shaft, who risks his life every instant, and who will someday be killed by fire-damp?  Or is it the engineer, who would lose the layer of coal, and would cause the miners to dig on rock by a simple mistake in his calculations?  And lastly, is it the mine owner who has put all his capital into the mine, and who has perhaps, contrary to expert advice asserted that excellent coal would be found there?  All the miners engaged in this mine contribute to the extraction of coal in proportion to their strength, their energy, their knowledge, their intelligence, and their skill.  And we may say that all have the right to live, to satisfy their needs, and even their whims, when the necessaries of life have been secured for all.  But how can we appraise their work?  And, moreover, Is the coal they have extracted their work?  Is it not also the work of men who have built the railway leading to the mine and the roads that radiate from all its stations?  Is it not also the work of those that have tilled and sown the fields, extracted iron, cut wood in the forests, built the machines that burn coal, and so on?

No distinction can be drawn between the work of each man.  Measuring the work by its results leads us to absurdity; dividing and measuring them by hours spent on the work also leads us to absurdity.  One thing remains: put the needs above the works, and first of all recognize the right to live, and later on, to the comforts of life, for all those who take their share in production.  But take any other branch of human activity — take the manifestations of life as a whole.  Which one of us can claim the higher remuneration for his work?  Is it the doctor who has found out the illness, or the nurse who has brought about recovery by her hygienic care?  Is it the inventor of the first steam-engine, or the boy, who, one day getting tired of pulling the rope that formerly opened the valve to let steam enter under the piston, tied the rope to the lever of the machine, without suspecting that he had invented the essential mechanical part of all modern machinery —the automatic valve.

Is it the inventor of the locomotive, or the workman of Newcastle, who suggested replacing the stones formerly laid under the rails by wooden sleepers, as the stones, for want of elasticity, caused the trains to derail?  Is it the engineer on the locomotive?  The signalman who can stop trains?  The switchman who transfers a train from one line to another? — To whom do we owe the transatlantic cable?  Is it to the engineer who obstinately affirmed that the cable would transmit messages when learned electricians declared it to be impossible?  Is it to Maury, the scientist, who advised that thick cables should be set aside for others as thin as canes?  Or else to those volunteers, come from nobody knows where, who spent their days and nights on deck minutely examining every yard of the cable, and removed the nails that the stockholders of steamship companies stupidly caused to be driven into the non-conducting wrapper of the cable, so as to make it unserviceable.
And in a wider sphere, the true sphere of life, with its joys, its sufferings, and its accidents, can not each one of us recall some one who has rendered him so great a service that we should be indignant if its equivalent in coin were mentioned?  The service may have been but a word, nothing but a word spoken at the right time, or else it may have been months and years of devotion, and are we going to appraise these ‘incalculable’ services in ‘labour-notes?’

But human society would not exist for more than two consecutive generations if everyone did not give infinitely more than that for which he is paid in coin, in ‘cheques,’ or in civic rewards.  The race would soon become extinct if mothers did not sacrifice their lives to take care of their children, if men did not give all the time, without demanding an equivalent, if men did not give just to those from whom they expect no reward.
If middle-class society is decaying, if we have got into a blind alley from which we cannot emerge without attacking past institutions with torch and hatchet, it is precisely because we have calculated too much.  It is because we have let ourselves be influenced into giving only to receive.  It is because we have aimed at turning society into a commercial company based on debit and credit.”

After all this, the only defenses of wage labor left are ones appealing to culture. “It builds character!” and the like.  These arguments have no material basis, and are nothing more than the same tired defenses of slavery that people have been spouting since time immemorial.  The only true option is an end to wage slavery, of every type.  We must liberate ourselves from the tyranny of the work-clock.  Stop forcing ourselves and our fellow citizens to work for a set period of time just to gain what they need to survive, regardless of whether or not that work actually needs done.  For that, as I will discuss next, is actually a carry-over from Feudal theocratic oppression.  It is called “The Puritan Work Ethic.”

The Inherent Contradictions of Capitalism

I’ve discussed the moral problems with Capitalism to some length now, but the problems Communists have with Capitalism are not purely issues of morality.  Capitalism is defined by two primary aspects: wages and profits.  These are the cornerstones of Capitalism, wages are the diesel in the engine of the train, and profits are the rails.  Without these institutions, Capitalism would not exist.  But the relationship between the two is a flawed design, an inherent contradiction.  This system does not run like a well-oiled train, because it can’t.  

As I’ve already described, Capitalism divides society into two primary groups: owners (Capitalists, “the Bourgeoisie.” The people who own the factories, stores, rental properties, natural resources, and other forms of capital: what is commonly called the “means of production.”) and workers (laborers, “the Proletariat,” the people who do not own businesses or other forms of capital, and must work for a wage to survive.)  For Capitalism to function, the workers must be a vast majority, as they are also the prime movers of capital.  The workers build the products and buy them, providing the owners with profit.

In order to make a profit, the owners must sell products for more than what it cost to produce them.  They must maximize their profit and minimize their cost of production.  This means that owners must pay workers as little as possible.  And that, once said, reveals the great contradiction of Capitalism.  The very source of the owner’s wealth must be as poor as possible.  Profits rise as wages decrease.  This decrease can, and often does, exist even as the literal value of wages increases.  Because the prices of goods is increased by the owner in order to offset their risen cost of production which occurred as a result of rising wages.  So now the workers must pay more for goods, and as a result their wages have actually decreased.

There is another way that the Bourgeoisie maximizes profits, a tactic that has become more popular in modern times:  instead of  simply paying workers less, or raising the price of products to offset the cost of production, owners often reduce their workforce.  That is: employ fewer workers who produce more.  Although this has the effect of reducing strikes and the general disgruntled attitude of the workforce, it still has a similar effect on the economy; more workers have lęss buying power.  Once again:  the very driving force of Capitalism is reduced by the owners increasing their profits.

As profits rise, as the economy grows, meaning that all businesses must grow in order to remain competitive and in business.  In order to grow, Businesses must continuously increase their profits.  In order to keep their profits rising, the owners raise prices without raising wages.  Or, they raise wages, but also raise prices, so the effect is negated.  Or, they keep prices the same, and raise wages, but lay off workers and make the remaining workers work twice as hard.  No matter which method the Bourgeoisie use, the buying power of the masses shrinks.  More and more luxuries become too expensive for the workers as a whole, killing those markets first.  This means the workers are spending all their wages only on what they need to survive.  When all of the produce of a worker’s labors goes to make an owner rich, and the worker receives only the minimum of food and shelter they need to survive, this is called slavery.  Regardless of what labels we put to it, or what legal status the worker has, the material effect to the worker is the same as if they were a chattel slave.

Eventually, the contradiction between wages and profits makes it so the workers cannot even afford needs.  They become homeless, destitute, or at the very least dependant upon welfare from the State.  They can no longer move capital by purchasing things.  Thus the engine of Capitalism runs out of fuel and comes to a halt.  Factories close because their owners aren’t turning a profit for themselves.  Workers are laid off, reducing their buying power even further, exponentially compounding the problem.  Depression (Or “recession,” if the political leaders are trying to save face) ensues.

But this floods the market with cheap labor and cheap property, as millions of workers are more desperate for any and all work and many businesses close and sell their factories and other property.  This allows the Bourgeoisie to expand, buying more businesses and hiring more workers for cheaper wages.  Making the economy climb back up.  Round and round it goes, boom to bust and back again. All the while the wealthiest of the Bourgeoisie get more and more wealthy every time, as they expand their Capitalist Empires with each depression and sell-off of businesses.

This is why every period of prosperity in Capitalism is followed by a period of depression.  This was seen in the late 19th Century, the “Great Depression” of the 30’s, the economic slump of the 70’s, the “crash” of 1987, and most recently with the “Great Recession” of 2008.  So, as you celebrate the economy recovering, as you watch profits rise and wages inch upward, or even as you push for a higher minimum wage, remember this: it will only bring another crash.  Chaos is the very nature of Capitalism, it cannot be stabilized nor made ethical.

The only permanent solution is to end this madness.  We must end the pursuit of profit, end competition over the means of subsistence, and instead create an economic system built on cooperation and providing for everyone’s needs.

Of course, the Capitalists are not ignorant of this reality.  Anyone with even the smallest understanding of history can see it.  And Capitalists have developed their own solution for this inherent contradiction:  Fascism.

Capitalism Betrays Democracy

Democracy is the great imperative, and the triumph of civilization. it is birthed from the principles of the enlightenment age, where our ancestors realized that the only way to advance society and improve life even for a few, was to improve life for all.  It is inspired by and sustained by an ethical system which promotes equality, justice, and prosperity for all, and for everyone to have an equal voice in the systems that affect their lives.  It’s safe to assume that the one thing that I and any reader of this book can agree on is the necessity for a Democratic Government.  What is always baffling to me is how any advocate for Democracy can ever support Capitalism.  How can anyone demand Democracy in Government, and tolerate tyranny over the means of production?  How can we claim equal representation in the system which creates our laws, while subjecting ourselves to dictatorship of the systems which provide all the things we rely on to survive and live a modern life?  Capitalism is a betrayal of the ideas behind Democracy.  For this essay I am going to rely on the writing’s of a colleague of mine, Chris Tumlinson, to argue this point.  As I feel I could not argue it better than he already has.  I am going to quote his essay on this subject in its entirety, which he originally wrote in the form of “memes” to share online.  I highly encourage anyone to visit his facebook page: “Learn Socialism” to read more writings like this one:

“In a Democracy, we expect our leaders to answer to us and we expect to have an equal voice in the day-to-day decisions that govern our lives.  As a worker, does the leadership of the company you work for answer to you?  Do you have an equal voice in the decisions that govern your workplace, where you spend the majority of your life?  Why do we expect Democracy over our political systems , but not our economic systems, which have the most impact on our lives?”

The issue of course is one of freedom. The goal of Democracy can be summed up in this word.  Democracy is meant to increase the freedom for everyone , and the common belief is that collective economic systems, like Communism, stifle this freedom.  Chris Tumlinson moves forward with this theme:

“First of all, what is freedom?  Freedom is the power to act, speak, think, or choose without restraint .  In other words, it is the power to make decisions over one’s own life.  We can all agree that freedom is very important, that all individuals should have the power to make decisions over their own lives.

But is freedom of the individual an absolute?  An absolute is something that can be viewed as existing independently and not in relation to other things.  Unless an individual isolates themselves completely from human society, the freedom of the individual cannot be viewed as an absolute because the freedom of one individual does not exist independently from the freedom of other individuals.

In human societies, where individuals live side-by-side and interact with one another every day, the freedom of any individual to make decisions over their own lives will always have a relationship with the freedom of others to make decisions over their own lives.

For example: if an individual while exercising their individual freedom, decides to dump garbage into a water supply, their decision will interact with the freedom of others, the freedom to have clean and unpolluted water.  If an individual , while exercising their individual freedom, decides to express hate speech towards others, their decisions will interact with the freedom of others, the freedom to live without fear.  If an individual , while exercising their individual freedom decides to build a fence around a natural resource, their decision will interact with the freedom of others, the freedom of access to that resource.  If an individual, while exercising their individual freedom decides to tear down someone else’s house and build their own in its place, their decision will interact with the freedom of others, the freedom to have and live in their own home.

Our freedoms overlap.  Some decisions made by individuals have the potential to affect the lives of more than that individual.  This is the purpose for which Democracy exists.

Democracy is the process of making decisions together so that everyone whose life will be affected by a decision has a chance to participate in making that decision.  When the freedom to make decisions over one’s own life overlaps with the freedom of another to make decisions over their own life, we use Democracy so that each person affected by the decision has a voice in that decision.

Those who are affected by the outcome of a decision should always have a say in that decision.  When determining whether a decision should be made individually or Collectively (through Democracy), the question should be asked: who will be affected by this decision?  If the decision will affect only the individual, it can be made individually by the one who is affected. If the decision will affect more than the individual it should be made collectively (Through Democracy) by all who are affected.  This is how we create fair and equal societies where the freedoms of all are respected, so that the best decisions can be made for the best benefit of everyone. Without Democracy, individuals can make decisions without concern for the lives of others, which limits the freedom of those who are affected by excluding them from making decisions over their own lives

The core of Capitalism is individualism. Capitalism emphasizes the importance of individuals (Capitalists) and the pursuit of their own self-interests (profit) as having a higher importance than the collective interests of others.  Capitalism ignores Democracy and grants decision-making power over the lives of many into the hands of a few.  Under Capitalism individuals own and control the means of production; they dictate all of the decisions of a business in order to pursue their own interests, which is the pursuit of profit.  In pursuing profit, Capitalists make decisions which affect the lives of many others (their employees and their communities) while giving little or no decision-making power to those who are affected.

The core of Socialism is collectivism, Socialism seeks to democratize work, production, and distribution so that workers and communities are empowered to make decisions over their own lives rather than be subjected to the dictatorial decisions of individual owners of the means of production (Capitalist employers.)  In this way, the collectivism of Socialism offers greater freedom than the individualism of Capitalism. When workers come together to make the decisions that affect their lives, they don’t decide to endanger themselves, to eliminate their own livelihoods, to shut down the facilities that support their communities, or to damage the environment in which they and their families and loved ones live.  Socialism emphasizes the shared interests of all workers and the whole of human Society.  Socialism is about real Democracy.”

A Democratic Government cannot exist Within an undemocratic socio-economic system like Capitalism.  We realized this with the system that preceded Capitalism: Feudalism.  Why can’t so many people see that it is the same situation?  We know that Feudalism could not facilitate a Democratic Government because the Nobility held all the real power, they held control over the means of production, the things everyone needed to survive and live a modern life.  And as such the Nobility would simply control any Governmental body as well.  It is the same situation with Capitalism; those private owners over the means of production (the Bourgeoisie) will always dominate Government, no matter how Democratic the Government is structured.  Because the Bourgeoisie control the very systems and resources that we all need and rely on for a modern life.  The means of production has an even more profound impact on our lives than the Government.  It is where we get our food, it is where we get our homes, it is where we get our medical care, it is where we get our education (books and the internet), it is where we get our news and entertainment, and it is where we get our transportation.  As such, it must be Democratically owned and controlled, not privately as it is under Capitalism.

The common theme of today is for people to insist that such radical change is not necessary, that Capitalism can be regulated into an ethical and Democratic system through Social-Democratic reforms and regulation (although they usually mistakenly call this “Democratic-Socialism.”) This is simply a fallacy.  It does not matter how many laws you lay on top of the Capitalist system, how many regulations and social -welfare programs you use to try and force it to be ethical.  The best you could ever achieve by such is a slightly broadened Plutocratic-Oligarchy.  Because at the end of the day, the people who privately own and control the means of production will have to be catered to simply because the real power over everyone’s lives lies in their hands.

Even if it were possible to regulate Capitalism into a solid Democracy and an ethical socio-economic system would it even be desirable?  I do not think so.  For starters, because you still cannot overcome the inherent contradiction between wages and profit, it’s a part of the bedrock structure of Capitalism; Capitalism is an inherently unstable system and it’s preferable to end it simply because of this.  But on top of that, the amount of legal structure and bureaucracy needed to accomplish such a feat would be immense.  Making Government too costly to operate and further alienating the people from it.  Resulting in the very same situation that we started out trying to rid ourselves from.  It’s like trying to modify an antiquated vehicle, like a wagon or a chariot, so that it could travel on modern highways safely.  The weight from the added engine, brakes, lights, drive-train, and safety equipment, would stress the frame, which was never designed for such things, requiring constant maintenance and the ride would never be as comfortable or as safe as a modern car that has been designed from the beginning to drive at current speeds on modern roads.  Capitalism is an antiquated socio-economic system that works against the interests of the majority, against the interests of you and me.  It must be scrapped and replaced with a system that has been designed from the beginning to preserve and facilitate Democracy. Capitalism must be replaced with Communism: a classless society.

As long as one group of society is held above another, as long as society is divided and stratified, the top group or groups will always rule and the bottom group or groups will always be subjugated.  We cannot just hope that the rulers will be benevolent, we must not have rulers.  Society must be Democratic, not Oligarchic.  But society will always be Oligarchic as long as there is class, even if we establish Socialism, the democratic ownership and control over the means of production, and eliminate the class divide of the Bourgeoisie and the Proletariat.  Because that wasn’t the first class system to be created, and still isn’t the only class system to exist.  In order for Democracy to finally flourish we must have a classless society.  And in order to have a classless society, we must eliminate Government as a State.  And that is ultimately the goal of Communism.  

Still, I’m sure that word no doubt creates a sense of great apprehension in your mind, and that is understandable given what you’ve been taught Communism is.  But please, now, let a Communist tell you what Communism is.

“We Can Reform Capitalism.”

This argument is well known, and has gained even more frequent use in recent months largely due to the rise in popularity of Bernie Sanders and what he mistakenly calls “Democratic-Socialism.”  It’s really nothing more than a reemergence of the “New Left” of the 60’s and 70’s.  These people argue that it is not necessary to abolish Capitalism, but rather they advocate for what they call “a mix of Capitalism and Socialism.”  Which shows a gross misunderstanding of what both Capitalism and Socialism are.  But their misuse of these terms is not what I want to talk about.  What they really want is highly regulated Capitalism.  They believe this is preferable to Communism; “don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater,” they say.

Well, we aren’t talking about babies or bath water, I am not interested in hollow platitudes or idioms.  We need to make decisions on our society based on material conditions and facts instead.  And the fact is that Capitalism is inherently flawed.  Even if greed and lust for power were non-existent, and we didn’t even need any kind of regulation, Capitalism would still be immoral and unstable.  For these reasons alone it should be abolished.  And if it were even possible to regulate Capitalism into a moral and stable system, it wouldn’t even be desirable. Because this system would be so bloated with bureaucracy that it would be expensive and alienating to the population, exacerbating the very problems you hoped to eliminate.  This is why it is not possible to regulate Capitalism, to rely on Social-Democracy to make Capitalism an ethical and stable system; the more you try to make Capitalism better, the worse it makes the system, compounding the problems of Republican Government and even Capitalism, because Capitalism benefits from greater bureaucracy.

Capitalists thrive in bureaucracy, they don’t recoil from it.  Bureaucratic Republican systems become slaves to their structure, they cannot adapt easily and quickly to changing conditions, allowing them to be exploited by Capitalists to retain power and expand their wealth.  It’s why they’ve always built such bureaucratic Governments to begin with.  We even saw this happen in the wholly anti-Capitalist Soviet Union, whose massive and complex bureaucracy was skillfully used by Capitalists to turn the system in their favor through programs like “Perestroika,” which allowed private ownership and management of businesses for the first time in the Soviet Union, and eventually brought an end to the Soviet Union.  How much more so do you believe they can influence a system that isn’t even opposed to Capitalism?  Political power resides with those who control the means of production.  If you want the people to have political power, if you want a healthy Democracy, then the people need to control the means of production.

“But look at the ‘Nordic Democracies,’ they prove that you’re wrong.”  This is the common argument from the Social-Democrats today.  They are right that Social-Democracies like Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, are better than a system like that of the United States, because they aren’t quite as brutal to their populations.  But also keep in mind that these systems have only been in place for a few decades, not quite long enough for the inherent flaws of Capitalism to catch up with them as hard as they have in other countries.  And we know that these contradictions will catch up with them, because we saw in 2008 that even these countries are not immune to financial depresion.  They were affected just as badly as the United States and the U.K., they just had better social-welfare programs to offset some of the pain for the majority of the population.  But still, homelessness, poverty, and severe financial inequality, all still exist in these countries.  Because the labor of the working-class, the Proletariat, is still exploited, and it is still a Capitalist system that is subject to the contradiction between wages and profits.  Just because it’s slightly less oppressive, doesn’t make it a solution.  Would it have been acceptable if the United States had merely imposed laws that required slaves be treated humanely, instead of abolishing the institution altogether?  Of course not!  An immoral and oppressive system is still that, even if you force those being exploited to be treated a little nicer.  It must not be tolerated in any form, but instead must be ended altogether.

Anyone can see the problems with trying to regulate a Monarchy, or a Dictatorship, into an ethical system.  Without abolishing the Monarchy or the Dictatorship, the only effective method is to denude the Monarchy or Dictatorship of all power, transferring it to a Democratic body.  Meaning it’s no longer a Dictatorship or a Monarchy, but rather a Democracy with an expensive and pointless figurehead that has no actual power (yes, the U.K., I’m looking very judgmentally in your direction.)  The same rule applies to Capitalism, because it’s the same situation.  The only way to effectively “regulate” it is to make it not be Capitalism.  Any talk of allowing the private owners, the Bourgeoisie, to remain in control of the means of production, but forcing them to behave ethically, is no different than arguing a King should remain in power but be forced to behave ethically.  The only means of accomplishing this changes the system into something else, something Democratic, something Socialist, and renders the Bourgeoisie without any actual power.  At that point, wouldn’t it make more sense to just abolish their position and make the means of production mutually owned as well as Democratically controlled?  Our ancestors realized this in regards to monarchies two hundred years ago when they threw off monarchies in America and across Europe, replacing them with Democracies (or at least attempts at Democracy.)  It’s time we realize the same thing in regards to Capitalism.