The ideological separation of capitalism (free and empowered individual citizen) and socialism (collective support safeguarding all citizens) is the most divisive misconception of the modern world. Small wonder it’s been conditioned so deeply into the minds of the population as a way to polarize people into irreconcilable teams.
Apologists for total capitalism or advocates for 100% socialism, unless it’s in the context of a real-world that’s a blend of both, are either unwittingly passing along propaganda that’s been designed to atomize or else wilfully playing at polemics, arguing for argument’s sake.
SOCIALISM OR CAPITALISM?
If your society has no losers, it can’t have any winners. Socialism may be a recipe for stagnation, even if it’s in an ideal form and achieves the universal standard of living of an average middle-class Western democracy.
Winnow out all the ideological bullshit of capitalism v socialism, liberalism v social democracy. There are certain practical ‘facts of life’ with these systems one can reasonably anticipate. Capitalism is ideally a game of winners winning and losers losing, on merit (skill and effort) with winners benefiting from what losers lose. Socialism tries to level out that brutal game of life.
The blueprint for good social democratic government is pretty much how most Western democracies say they function. But they don’t. Government becomes subordinated to wealth, as part of the pursuit of universal human ambition. Democracy is supposed to keep govt accountable, but it doesn’t. It can’t, if it’s dominated by the very excess they’re supposed to regulate. So big business has free-reign to maximize profit; which means the population suffers more than it should and society shifts from meritocracy to plutocracy. Democracy is no guarantee of freedom.
Profit is a wonderful motivator – an unpredictable but largely continuous motion engine for converting human ambition into energy – but it can’t by itself prioritize foresight. It’s best organic expression of ‘looking to the future’ is corporate monopoly. Sadly, this brings about the worst possible corruption of the free market machinery. Monopoly is a feudalism manifest in modern economic terms, in many ways more durable, more deeply entrenched, and therefore more dangerous than the old sword-and-gold aristocracy. It’s a problem society needs to fix. The government itself becomes subordinated to the interests of the biggest corporations, at first reciprocal, sharing profit, but soon perfunctory, as the means of production (of politicians and lawyers) is privatized too.
How can this dynamic be changed?
Wealth is transnational. American corporate oligarchy doesn’t need American workers. Consider. American corporate oligarchy has never treated the American people so badly as they are now. Yet their grip on government, their evasion of regulation, their ability to extract wealth from the public, has never been greater. Democracy has become a weapon wielded by a brazen plutocracy, using the people’s worst instincts against their best interests. Until THAT subverted democracy dynamic is broken somehow, arguments about social democracy or whatever are no more than impotent distractions.
“ . . . Global capitalism now seems to be the only thing that is revolutionary. That’s the Marxist way of looking at it.”
Plutocracy is diverse and competent. It’ll find a dirty equilibrium that’ll cover the next four years. Perhaps #Trump2024 rallies will begin soon as Biden takes office, possibly on the day of the inauguration, and continue the entire term. Trump’s rallies will be lapped up by the advertiser-hungry media as guaranteed clickbait, and they’ll serve up four years of hysteria for the GOP/Dems to weaponize into greater polarization. What’s more, both parties will use Trump’s evangelical tour as an epic script to beat their supporters into line against an evil enemy trying to destroy America. To the Dems, Trump is the conservative devil incarnate trying to ban abortion, kill immigrants, selling secrets to Russia, etc. To the GOP Trump is a Messiah, the nation’s only hope against an institutionalized conspiracy of liberals and Jews. It’ll keep the public busy and misdirected and irrelevant while the business of upward wealth transfer continues with nobody holding anyone to account. #bullshitspigot
So long as the duopoly maintains urgency to the public conflict narrative – through managing the day-to-day news cycle and framing the day’s events in ways that best serve party orthodoxy and audience confirmation bias – the plutocrats can continue their profiteering, aided by government and neither will be held accountable by the public.