Neoliberalism and Fascism

In my essay “What is Fascism,” I described what Fascism is and what it’s goals are, and I’ve touched on Neoliberalism’s similarities with fascism in a few other essays. But now I want to go deeper on that last point, as well as describe the differences between Fascism and Neoliberalism.

The first great difference is the age of both ideologies. Fascism is now over 100 years old. Having emerged after World War One, and eventually becoming a dominant ideology throughout Europe and North America. It continued to be the official political system for several nations even after the fall of Nazi Germany and Mussolini’s Italy, such as Spain, Argentina, and Chile after the U.S. backed Coup d’etat that put Pinochet in power. Whereas Neoliberalism is half that age, not coalescing as an ideology until after the second World War. But here is their first similarity as well. Both Ideologies developed in the wake of a global war as a response to drastically changing economic global conditions, and Capitalist crises. Both ideologies are favored by major Capitalists and used by them to protect their power.

Neoliberalism can be traced back to the book “The Good Society” by Walter Lippmann, and American Journalist. In this book he rejects Socialism, Fascism, and laissez-faire Capitalism, while also rejecting the “New Deal” liberalism of his day, which he criticized as being what he believed to be an unstable mix of Socialism and Fascism, rather than a properly new socio-economic system. Lippman saw the flaws of Capitalism, like the Fascists and Socialists did, but unlike the Socialists he wanted to preserve Capitalism rather than abolish it, and unlike the Fascists he rejected Jingoistic Nationalism. He also wanted to counter the rise of conservatism that was growing in Europe and N. America, which pushed a sort of agrarian society that harkened back to the “good ‘ol days,” a system that is wholly incompatible with modern society.

The result of this is what his colleagues would call Neoliberalism. Something new, that counters the contradictions of Capitalism in much the same way that Social-Democracy does: through state regulation and direct-control of some industries, while also providing for needs through strong welfare programs, but does not abolish private ownership of the means of production. On the surface Neoliberalism looks indistinguishable from Social-Democracy, but going deeper you begin to see it’s similarities with fascism.

Social-Democracy still promotes democratic ideals, wishing to expand the power of the populace as a whole and focuses more on increasing the general welfare of the population rather than protecting economic interests. Whereas Neoliberalism, despite its grąnd language appealing to the expansion of personal freedom, is very much the opposite. Neoliberalism’s primary purpose is to stabilize Capitalism, and does so in the same way that Fascism does: by expanding the political control of the most powerful Capitalists. This is how the economy is managed under neoliberalism, by ensuring that those in power are the people that Neoliberals believe to be “the most capable to govern:” Capitalists, the Bourgeoisie. While Social-Democracy is a pure expression of Republican ideals, Neoliberalism is purely oligarchical. After all, so the Neoliberal would argue, how can you entrust the management of the Capitalist economy to a group of people who aren’t Capitalists?

If you’ve read my previous essay about Fascism, then you can see how this is the same economic system advocated by Fascists. It simply rejects the Jingoistic Nationalism of Fascism. But it  is due to this economic system that Neoliberalism has morphed into something that Lippman opposed, in much the same way that Capitalism has morphed into something that Adam Smith certainly would have opposed. Because the oligarchical nature of Neoliberalism makes it inherently opportunistic. And opportunists are indifferent to nationalism, using it or opposing it, depending on how they believe it can benefit them. This is why Neoliberalism in the U.S. takes on a form that is even more similar to Fascism, promoting American Nationalism and imperialism as readily as the Conservatives. Whereas in other countries Neoliberalism takes on a decidedly more anti-nationalistic character, such as what is seen in Canada, Germany, or Japan.

That is ultimately the only serious difference between Fascism and Neoliberalism. Jingoistic Nationalism and xenophobia are inherent parts of Fascism. They are used as tools by the Bourgeoisie to draw in the masses and control them. Whereas Nationalism and xenophobia can be taken or left by the Neoliberal, all that matters to them is maintaining the status quo of the Capitalist oligarchy and protecting the economic system. If they can do that by opposing nationalism and xenophobia, then all the better. But if they have to promote those concepts instead, that works for them too.

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 “Puritan Work-Ethic,” Profits, and the Decline of Happiness

We all know the famous story of Martin Luther nailing his “95 Theses” to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church door.  We know this as the second greatest split in Christendom;  this split marked the moment that half of Europe broke away from the Catholic Church, and formed what would be called the “Protestant Church.” (Which would itself split up numerous times)  What is often overlooked is something far more important:  this split set in motion the creation of an ideology that would be so pervasive that we still live under it today, that even atheists adhere to it, and preach its virtues without even knowing that they are spreading religious dogma.  This ideology is known now as “Puritan Work Ethic.”

At the very beginning of Luther’s “95 Theses,” he makes the argument that repentance for christians is a lifelong endeavor.  Luther believed that Christians must struggle their whole lives against their “sins” and are never free from this struggle.  But he did not deride this struggle, he praised it.  Luther viewed this conflict as a kind of purification, which would ultimately redeem an individual.  Luther also attacked the Catholic definition of “vocation,” which was defined as “spiritual work” at the time, that is; only the work of Priests, Missionaries, and Monks.  Luther argued differently, he believed that God is as pleased by work of the milkmaid as he is the work of the minister; “God is milking the cows through the vocation of the milkmaid.”  Luther would argue throughout his life that God answers prayer through the work of Christians; “God gives the wool, but not without our labor.  If it is on the sheep, it makes no garment.”  With these ideas Luther laid the foundation for the deification of labor.  Before Luther’s teachings, work was merely a necessity of life, a means to provide sustenance and other needs.  Now, since God was seen to be working through the act of manual labor, work started to be regarded as a religious act.

This religious regard for work really took form with the Puritan Calvinists of England, specifically those who colonized America.  These Puritans sanctified work in the same way Luther had done, but through the lense of their own religious beliefs.  Puritans went a step further with Luther’s belief about the lifelong struggle against one’s own “sin.”  Puritans didn’t just deify that conflict, they deified the very act of suffering.  Puritans glorified “suffering for God,” believing that suffering to advance “the gospel” was the greatest way any person could glorify God.  Since work was holy, suffering in your work was encouraged.  They also believed that a person’s entire life must be committed to glorifying God; everything a person does or says should bring glory to God.  All this created a culture that emphasized never ceasing difficult work.  Because you weren’t working to provide for your needs, you were working as a necessary part of worshiping God. “Laziness” was no longer just refusing to work, it had become a sin that one could commit simply by not working hard enough.  Even if a person was able to provide for all their needs with the work they did, if the maximum amount of effort wasn’t ceaselessly performed, you were regarded as having committed a sin against God!

Do you see the foundations of our modern work ethic?  It’s represented in the smallest details of our jobs.  Cashiers being required to stand the whole time they are working, office workers being required to stay at work even if all their tasks are completed, soldiers painting rocks or raking dirt!  All of these are examples of the Puritan work ethic being subjected upon a secular society.  They are acts which serve no purpose beyond the performance of the act itself.  They better society in no way, yet they are enforced because we still detest the Puritan ideas of laziness; you must not only work as much as possible, you must suffer at that work regardless of if the work needs done that much, performed that painfully, or even if that work needs done at all!

The insidious nature of this Puritan Work Ethic isn’t just manifested in cruelty towards people and it’s general destruction of happiness, but also in the fact that it is a part of the bedrock of Capitalism.  Max Weber makes this very argument in his l905 book: “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.”  In this book, Weber argues that it was the shift from emphasizing metaphysical, other-worldly, rituals and devotion, towards earthly “mundane” work which Puritanism brought about that allowed Capitalism to develop.  But it wasn’t merely a change in culture that Puritanism brought which facilitated the rise of Capitalism, it was the material effect, and its usefulness for profit seekers.

Overworking obviously creates an over-abundance of goods, which is a condition that Capitalism requires to exist in order to function.  Capitalists promoted the Puritan work ethic, knowingly or not, because that mindset was required for them to maximize profit.  Because so long as the workers adhere to Puritan ideas of what constitutes “laziness” and good work, they can be exploited.  Think about the very idea of “hard work” being regarded as a positive thing.  It makes far more sense to try and make work less difficult.  But for a Capitalist to maximize profits, the workers must work as hard as possible for no greater reward.  And the workers will gladly do so as long as they believe it is unethical, that it’s “lazy,” for them to do otherwise.

This method of overwork and over-production is not only unethical because of how it needlessly abuses the workers, but because it’s ecologically unsound.  Its very foundation is inefficiency, because it encourages the continuation of work long after there is a need to do so, wasting both resources and labor-power, which should be used to address other needs.  Instead, it’s all wasted on producing more food than can be eaten, more cars than need exist, and a myriad of products that no one even wants, all to be thrown away and add to the degradation of the environment.

As it stands now, society places work before needs, work before happiness.  In fact, you should be happy to work so hard!  How can anyone not see the echoes of the Puritan sanctity of suffering in this?  This moral insanity has to end. There is no morality in suffering and misery, there is no morality in working more than we must.  “But we will become weak!” The Unquestionable-They will cry.  “Haven’t you seen WALL-E?! ”  God help us all, now that we have based our society on the “wisdom” of cartoons.  There is no material basis for the idea that humans become fat, stupid, and incapable of taking care of themselves when not worked to exhaustion day-in and day-out.  If this were true, the owning class should have died out naturally long ago.  “But that’s not true! Owners do work hard!”  The Unquestionable-They is likely saying now.  Pretending this point is correct, then they’ve only proven their first point wrong, because the owners don’t have to work at all.  They can hire managers and accountants to do everything for them.  If they work, they do so simply because they want to.  No more, no less.

The owners allow themselves to live according to more natural laws of work ethic.  Working only when they have to and when they want to, never any more.  This was the state of being for all of humanity (except slaves, of course) until our subjection to Capitalism and the tyrannical Puritan Work Ethic it favors.  Even the serfs of Medieval-Europe had more days off than modern wage-workers!  Hunter-Gatherers work only a few hours a week, and that is the most successful system humanity ever devised.

I can already hear the cries of the Unquestionable-They: “Those were ‘primitive’ societies.  To live in modern society with modern technology, we need to work harder.”  No, we don’t.  I refer you to what we’ve been talking about: over-working, and undue suffering while at work.  Being uncomfortable while working doesn’t even require any serious consideration.  You cannot work as effectively if you are miserable.  As for overworking: at the very base of it, it’s a type of discomfort.  It prematurely wears a person out, wasting their energy that could be saved for that job later, or applied to different meaningful work.  And the products that it produces: tell me, how do the thousands of acres of unbought new cars, that are parked to rot in the deserts of the American southwest, help provide cars for everyone?  How does this even warrant consideration?  It’s literally producing more than is needed.  It does nothing but waste human energy and resources.

The Puritan work ethic is the last vestige of theocratic Medieval-Society, ironically continued often by even atheists.  And like the rule by the priest and the bishop, the domination of the masses by work before need is slowly crushing our species, and bringing the planet with us.  The clergy of Europe began the conquest of the world, and their shadow continues to be cast in every Capitalist workplace, every clearcut forest, every industrial slaughterhouse.  That shadow was felt by the Sioux Nation as it opposed the Dakota Access pipeline.  That shadow is felt in every sweatshop.  That shadow is felt by you, the wage-worker, every time you find yourself forced to endure needless work, and needless suffering at work.  Step out of this shadow, reject this archaic religious dogma, and overthrow the tyranny of the Puritan Work Ethic.  Take back your happiness.

But, you may be wondering, why can’t we end the Protestant Work Ethic now, without instituting Communism?  How does it relate?  That answer is in the need for profits to exist under Capitalism.  We just discussed how this ethic is necessary to maximize profits, but the very act of maximizing profit, which allows Capitalism to have some semblance of functionality, is a flawed design.

Capitalism is a system of endless economic growth.  A business must continually produce profits, it cannot “break even,” and it must always grow, else-wise it will have to close.  And here we encounter perhaps the most damning aspect of Capitalism:  it is inherently unstable, it actually is not a system that can function properly in any capacity.  Capitalism has within it a huge and glaring inherent contradiction between profits and wage-labor, the two defining aspects of it.

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.

What Is Fascism?

Today the terms Fascist and Nazi are heard with alarmingly increasing regularity, and clashes in the streets between Fascist and Anti-Fascist demonstrators is an almost daily occurrence.  On August l2th, 20l7, a Fascist demonstrator even tried to kill an entire group of Anti-Fascist protesters in Charlottesville with his car, succeeding in injuring dozens and killing one:  Heather Heyer.  As this conflict grows, it’s important to stop and ask, and to analyze, exactly what Fascism is and why it’s so dangerous.  When you do that, you can also see why Capitalism makes Fascism an inevitability if Capitalism is not ended.

Fascism was born out of the turbulent and economically unstable years of the early 20th century.  It began in Italy during World War One.  During that time the populace was organized into a militaristic group of labor unions known as “fasci,” which simply means “a bundle.”  The separate worker groups aided the Italian war effort, and provided a platform for spreading radical ideologies.  People involved in the fasci began to believe that Liberal Democracy had become obsolete, they could see how traditional Capitalist society was unable to overcome the inherent contradictions of Capitalism.  But they did not advocate for the workers to seize industry and democratize the economy, as the Communists did.

In 1914, under the leadership of Benito Mussolini, these separate fasci were united into a single party called “The Autonomous Fasci of Revolutionary Action.”  This Fascist Party advocated for Italy to join the war on the side of the Allied powers, and used extreme nationalism to advocate for a reorganization of society into a single unit.  The fascists believed that the State should be merged with economic entities, like corporations and business leaders, as they viewed that such experts of economics could create an efficient planned economy to counteract the inherent contradictions of Capitalism and prevent further economic depressions.  (Here we can see, once again, how Economists and Business-Owners have replaced the Priests and Nobles of Feudalism.)  

The fascists admired military organization, and wanted the whole of society to function in this manner, under the direction of the Capitalist leaders.  However, the planned economy advocated by the Fascists was not like the one advocated and created by the Bolsheviks.  The Bolsheviks, being Communists, eliminated private ownership over the means of production and instead consolidated control of it under a Republican Government.  The system advocated, and eventually created by the Fascists, was one that that did not eliminate Capitalism; it maintained private ownership over the means of production.  Instead, the Fascist system brought the Bourgeoisie into Government as heads of the economy in order to plan it.  The Fascists system didn’t just protect the power of the Bourgeoisie, it expanded their power.

This is why, time and time again, we see the Bourgeoisie not only show a lack of concern for Fascists, but they actively court them.  Benito Mussolini enjoyed support from the largest banks in Italy, and even the Pirelli family.  Which even included financial donations.  The Ford Motor Company openly supported Nazi Germany, even going so far as to print this in their official company publications:

“At the beginning of this year we vowed to give our best and utmost for final victory, in unshakable faithfulness to our Fuehrer.”

In 1940 during the “Battle of Britain” and only one year before the U.S. entered the war on the side of the Allies, the Ford Motor Company gave 30 percent of all rubber it manufactured to Nazi germany and other Fascist countries.  Henry Ford himself donated 50,000 Reichsmarks a year to Nazi Germany on Hitler’s birthday.  We can even see this today at times like after the violent protests of 2017 in Charlottesville, where President Trump (the first Billionaire President) called the Fascist demonstrators, one of whom murdered heather Heyer: “Very fine people.”

The other primary aspect of fascism was their belief that society needed an enemy.  The Fascists saw how the nations of Europe were able to mobilize their populations into societies of singular purpose during world war one, due to the great fear of their enemies which was fostered by the different powers (think of the posters and other propaganda that painted the Germans as barbaric “Huns.”)  The Fascists believed that this was the ideal society: one where the whole of a nation works towards a single goal of of fighting its enemies.  They believed it was the only way a nation can progress, and that the greatest technological achievements were made under such a system.  The only way that society could be organized in such a way, the only way to realize its full potential, was through war.  In that belief, the Fascists created their most pervasive ideal: the scapegoat of “the other.”

“The Other” is anyone who doesn’t fit the ideal person of the nation, anyone who is from outside the dominant culture and ethnicity, or deviates from the accepted social norms.  In Europe this is most often the Jews and the Roma people, but Fascists extended their alienation and scapegoating to homosexuals, disabled people, and anyone else that they viewed as either deviating from the norm or unable to perform as a worker, and thus unable (in their eyes) to contribute to society.  To the Fascists, the nation was everything.  One nation, united, working to “better” itself through concerted effort and conflict, guided by the most economically knowledgeable people in a never ending war against the enemies of the nation: “the other.”  This alienation of “the other” kept the population afraid, and thus controllable, and also served to foster a sense of extreme nationalism.  I’ve described before, in previous writings, how nationalism is the new great religion, and that is precisely how fascists used it.

So now we see the pillars of fascism: corporate merger with Government to plan the economy, fostering of extreme nationalism, alienation of anyone outside that nation and scapegoating them for all of society’s problems, and perpetual warfare.  This is what Fascists in 1920 advocated, and it’s what Fascists today advocate.  And it’s no coincidence that Fascism has returned to the mainstream during this economic crisis.

I mentioned before that Fascism was a response to the inherent contradictions of Capitalism, an attempt to counter those contradictions without abolishing Capitalism.  That’s really what Fascism is: the inevitable outcome of Capitalism.  As these economic crises become more frequent, as the flaws of Capitalism become more apparent to all, the Ruling Class take action to avoid losing power.  That action is Fascism.  They take direct control of Government, and distract the masses with warfare and fear of “the other.”

I hope you’ve taken notice of something: that this is what the U.S. has always been. Mussolini and Hitler studied the United States to form their ideologies, and as inspiration for their racist laws.  They sought to duplicate the U.S. ‘s accomplishments.  The U.S. has always been ruled by the Businessman, the Bourgeoisie.  They wrote the constitution, they are always the ones elected to office, the are held up as “the most capable to govern.”  The U.S. has always fostered extreme nationalism, and always alienated and scapegoated minorities.  And the U.S. has always, constantly, made war both to expand it’s power and to keep the populace united behind the Government out of fear of its enemies.  The truth is : The U.S. invented Fascism, the Italians just gave it a name.

Still, even in the U.S. there has been some semblance of Democracy, and at least a spirit of support for it.  But that will die eventually if we do not end Capitalism.  As these economic crises grow in frequency and severity, which is inevitable due to the inherent contradictions of Capitalism, the Bourgeoisie will tighten their grip on political power.  Eventually they will throw back the facade and rule openly as a new Nobility, just as they did in previous Fascist Governments.  We’ve already seen a taste of this.  Both ruling political parties brazenly court Corporate financing and wealthy Business Owners, directly against both the interests and desires of the average citizens.  And in the last two Presidential races both parties have openly declared “the party picks the candidate, not the people.”  This undemocratic system is inevitable under Capitalism.  Because the most economically powerful entities will always dominate the political landscape, and the working class is never, and can never be under Capitalism, the most economically powerful group.

This is why a Democratic Government cannot exist under Capitalism.  The best that it can ever be is a broad Plutocratic-Oligarchy.  Capitalism is the undemocratic control over the means of production, the things we all need and rely on to live our lives.  That system is a very betrayal of Democracy.

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.