Liberalism and Capitalism Are The Same

Only five years ago, I would have assumed that there are things both the left and the right could agree on. One of those things was the superiority of capitalism. But, I guess not, because I’ve been seeing a surge in people calling for socialism and communism.

Well, it looks like I have to explain to liberals, and the other groups of the left, why being anti-capitalism is immensely stupid.

If you are a liberal – a true liberal – then you believe that all people should be free and have equal rights and opportunities, regardless of race, religion (or lack thereof), age, gender, height, weight, hair color, or whatever else. There is no one person who has all the political power, but instead, there are a multitude of politicians who have the power of the state evenly divided among them, and maybe as a safety measure, those people have limits on how long they can have that power. Now, if you, as a liberal, want to live in a liberal society, then you are going to need an economic system that is compatible with your ideals and principles. So, what would that economic system look like?

People would need to be free to decide what they want to do for a living, whether that is knitting or stripping. Maybe you want to be rich, or maybe for some reason you want to be poor. Regardless, you are free to make that decision. Whatever you decide to do, it will produce a different result. No two people will live the exact same life, unless they want to.

Well, that’s exactly what capitalism is. That’s exactly what we have in America (or, at least what we should have) and in most Western nations. Citizens of these countries aren’t forced to work in factories, on farms, or sweatshops. You can make a living as a stuntman in a movie, or you can make a living making YouTube videos.

“But what if I don’t make a lot of money doing what I want to do?”

Well, that’s where reality steps in. Wealth isn’t an object that randomly falls out of the sky. Wealth is something that societies create for themselves, and it comes from how well that society operates. A functioning society has many, many cogs that are required to make it run correctly. People need food, people need entertainment, people need healthcare, people need education, people need law enforcement, etc., etc.

Who should make more money, the people who make food, or the doctors who save lives? I don’t think there’s a correct answer to that question. Both jobs are necessary. Can we agree, though, that somewhere down the line, somebody isn’t going to make as much money as the next person? Different professions require different things and produce different results, for different reasons. So, why would all professions produce the exact same amount of wealth? Isn’t it just natural that different industries would fluctuate in value?

During times of war, your country needs weapons. So, during war, maybe the manufacturing of guns and tanks and planes are the most profitable professions. Once the war is over, though, how valuable are those things? Probably not as much.

Now, what if disease is at an all-time low? How much money would there be in healthcare if people don’t get sick as much anymore? On the other hand, if disease is rampant, then being a doctor might be such a societal need that you can become immensely wealthy from it.

Human beings are different. We are born different, and we desire to live different lives. We also have different needs, at different times. Like I said earlier, a society produces its own wealth, and its wealth depends on what its people do. Simply put: If you allow people to be different, then there will be somebody for every kind of job imaginable. We need people to construct our buildings, we need people to take care of our children while we’re at work, we need people to build amusement parks, we need people to take care of our sick, we need people to work on our plumbing, we need people to clean our water, we need people to make porn to look at, we need people to make our clothes, and we need people to rule over us to keep us organized and stable. You name it, there’s a need for it, but the degree of need fluctuates over time. Sometimes the need for certain things goes up, and sometimes it goes down.

In a capitalist society, your wealth depends entirely on how much people need what you have to offer. If what you have to offer isn’t desired by many people, then you won’t make much money from it. I’ll use my own novels for example. Everyone who reads them says they’re great stories and well-written. So, why aren’t they hugely popular? Because they are violent, have almost no comedy, and they’re complex. Human beings like a little more brightness in their escapism, and a little less grim realism. See, I understand this, which is why I don’t bitch that people don’t buy my novels. I know why, and I’ve accepted that. Therefore, I make a living doing something that is more important to society. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Whatever we produce as individuals needs to belong to us, because that’s just part of human nature. We aren’t motivated to put our full effort into things if we know we can’t make all the decisions for it. It doesn’t guarantee success every time, but it does guarantee success if there is potential for it.

Here’s why socialism doesn’t work:

Imagine having a vision for a movie, but a thousand people come in and they also get to decide what happens in the movie. Some want comedy, some want horror, some want sex scenes, and some want family-friendly cartoons. There’s no way those things work together, but if you had to share creative authority with all these people, what you’d produce is a disaster. It works the same way with everything else in life that people make. Sure, some things require input from other people, but that’s when you work together as a team, and you are careful about who your team consists of. But if creative authority, or political authority, were in the hands of everyone, all you’d ever get is conflicting ideas and nothing would ever get done. Humans need the freedom to create things as they want to.

Here’s why communism doesn’t work:

It forces everyone to be the same. There is nothing more illiberal than forcing everyone to be the same. We are not the same, we are all different. This is the #1 reason that communist societies are always, always poor. To make everyone the same, you have to stifle everyone’s freedom to be different and you have to stifle their creativity. Innovation is almost nonexistent in communist societies. Oh, and did I mention that in order to make everyone the same, you need an authoritarian regime? Yep. You can’t force everyone to be the same without … well, you know … forcing it. So, fuck communism.

So, if you’re a liberal, you should love capitalism above all other economic systems. Just because the right wing loves capitalism, that doesn’t make it evil. The right wing only loves capitalism because it’s the system we’ve always had. Conservatives only understand things that have always been in place, regardless if it’s rational or irrational. America was founded by liberals and liberal principles, so as long as that’s what conservatives are trying to conserve, then I’m okay with it.

I understand there’s a colossal gap of wealth between the rich and non-rich in America. This is not because of capitalism, it’s because of corporatism. Capitalism only works if it is regulated. Capitalism fails if any religious group, criminal organization, or the upper class use their influence to prevent anyone else from accumulating wealth. It’s the government’s job to stop this, not allow it. We should not allow corporations to be able to buy the government. That needs to stop, and that’s why I would have voted for Bernie Sanders, if Hillary Clinton and the DNC hadn’t screwed him over.

Never forget: Humans are imperfect creatures. We will never do anything with utter perfection. I don’t claim that capitalism is perfect, but I will claim that it is the closest we could possibly get to a perfect system.

Now, I’m not someone who believes that a person’s wealth and their value as a person are the same thing. I don’t believe money can buy happiness. I also don’t think that just because someone is wealthy that they came about it by purely noble means. But, at the very least, I don’t hate wealthy people simply because they are wealthy.

Most of the time, when I see a wealthy person, I think, Good for you.

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1 Comment

  1. I really wish you had mentioned you might have voted for Sanders at the beginning of the essay. I would have critiqued you differently. But I do have some thoughts.

    1: income inequality is bad for capitalism because if too many people are making too little money, they make lousy consumers. If rich people are making too much money, the economy turns into an upside down pyramid just waiting to fall over, as it did during the Great Depression and might have in the Great Recession if not for Obama’s reforms, reforms that Trump is getting rid of as we speak.

    2: Equal opportunities require equality of education and training, so I am quite in favor of more spending on free education and job training. Massive amounts of spending, actually. If I ran the world, the Department of Education and NASA would be two of our best funded government organizations.

    3: The majority of people stay in the economic class they are born in, and when I see rich people I see people who were lucky in their parents; the majority of wealthy people in our country inherited it. Of course, that argument gets unclear since people will define wealthy in a way that allows them to win the argument the same way many people define capitalism, socialism, and communism in ways that help them win arguments. We might think a doctor is rich, but doctors aren’t in the “1%” club of the “really rich.” Where do we draw the line to prove our own arguments?

    4: The way you defined socialism in such a way that to “show” it doesn’t work could easily be another man’s way of defining democracy to try and “prove” it doesn’t work.

    5: The communist countries were usually poor before they became communist. Communism made their lives worse because communism wasn’t supposed to be applied at the agricultural stage of economic development; according to Marx, countries aren’t supposed to try communism until capitalism has played itself out by inventing machines so efficiently productive that it produces so many products that it drives prices too low for anyone to make a profit; sort of like the direction agriculture in the United States is going. I think a lot of countries joined communism not because they believed in the ideology at first, but because the capitalist countries treated them like crap and only the communist countries were willing to help them gain independence from imperialism.

    Like

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