Essay on Communism, Capitalism, and Socialism - 651 …
Socialists do not believe that capitalism is inherently evil, or that it never should have been invented. On the contrary, if you took a socialist and sent them back to the time before the Industrial Revolution, they would no doubt support the establishment of the capitalist mode of production. Capitalism has unquestionably increased global production many times over, and increased the living standards of millions of people who used to work the fields for feudal landlords. But just like technological advancement moves ever onward, so must society continue to move forward, and socialists believe that capitalism is an outdated system. They do not believe that capitalism is the final mode of production, and that it has to be replaced by a superior system. Capitalism is politically, economically, and ecologically unsustainable. But that begs the question: What, specifically, is wrong with capitalism?
"An entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off." —Tyler Durden, Fight Club (1999)
Essentially, capitalism allows for anyone (that has sufficient capital) to create a business and produce anything they want, however they want, with no regard for democracy in the workplace, equal work participation (the owner does not have to work, just own the workplace), or indeed how the rest of society is doing. A capitalist (an owner of means of generating capital and a member of the , or "upper", class) does not have to care about whether or not what their business is producing is necessary for society. All a capitalist has to worry about is making a profit. This is why socialists view capitalism as, among other things, ecologically unsustainable; because the Earth has limited resources, and each country has limited space for a limited amount of factories. Under capitalism, these factories are used for anything and everything that can generate profit, not for necessities that society actually needs. This leads to people who live in poverty to be able to afford a smartphone, but not always be able to put food on the table. Capitalist society produces too much of what we don't need, and too litte of what we do need, because the capitalist system is based on profit for capitalists, not human needs.But capitalists don't decide it's time to stop making money once they reach a certain net worth. On the contrary, capitalists are never happy and continually seek to make as much money as possible. The problem with this is that money is merely a social construct with no inherent value. Money in itself is not worth anything, but instead it represents a value that exists somewhere. But this value is not infinite. Capitalists cannot keep making money forever, because eventually they will have taken all the value from the world and would have to start taking money from the poor. And yet this is exactly what has happened: The rich have become richer, and the poor have become poorer. The world's capital, the world's value, has accumulated among the 100-or-so richest individuals in the world, and this accumulation is still occurring. And this accumulation of capital will not simply seize, it will have to be stopped. One of capitalism's most famous critics, as well as one of socialism's founders, was Karl Marx. Through the years, Marx described various problems with capitalism. Below are just a few examples. Workers are paid little, whilst capitalists get rich.
Probably the most obvious problem that Marx had with capitalism is that the labourers, who do all the work, are paid very little, whereas the capitalists get rich. The method the capitalists use and have used since the dawn of capitalism is the method of primitive accumulation ("UrspÃ¼ngliche Akkumulation"). The workers produce something for one price, and the capitalists sell it for a much higher one, whilst simultaneously shrinking the wages of the workers as much as possible, in order to maximise profits. The profit that capitalists make using the method of primitive accumulation is called the surplus value. According to Marx, this "profit" is simply , stolen by the capitalists from the hard-working labourers. Marx firmly believed that the workers have a right to the value that they produce, and that those who work with means of production should, alone, own those means of production. In other words, Marx believed that those who work in a workplace should collectively own and democratically decide how that workplace should be run. The only people allowed to be owners of something that can generate capital are those who actually generate that capital. Capitalism is alienating -
Marx understood that work can be the source of our greatest joy, but that capitalism has turned it into something we all detest. Everyone hates Mondays. Monday is the day we lose the freedom of the weekend to start working. But why do people hate Mondays? Why don't people enjoy their work? Essentially, modern work has us do one thing all day, but alienates us from what we believe we could ideally contribute to society. Someone who might want to write symphonies may have to work in a factory, because they need to earn money in order to afford food and housing. And on the other hand, some people who do work with what they feel contributes to society (teachers, for example) are paid very little to do so. Another problem that contributes to alienation is that modern work has become extremely specialised. Capitalists and factory owners don't want master craftsmen to produce the chairs in their furniture factory, they want to be able to hire almost anyone to produce one leg of one chair, and three other people to produce the other three legs, because then it's easy to fire and replace someone if there's a profit to be made, or production can increase with technological advancement. Ten people could be replaced by a computer and one engineer to maintain the computer, leaving 9 people unemployed, all for the sake of profit. Capitalism is very unstable.
From its very beginning, Capitalism is full of economic crises. Capitalists may dress up as these crises as "freakish" and "rare" and "soon to be the last one," but this is far from the truth, argued Marx, because capitalism is unstable by its very nature. Capitalism suffers from a crisis of abundance, rather than, as in the past, a crisis of shortage. Modern production is simply too effective. We produce too much: Much more than we could possibly consume. Modern work is so productive that we could give everyone on Earth a house, a car, enough food and water, as well as free access to a good school and a hospital. But, according to calculations by the World Food Program, there are over 795 million people in the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life. And according to the Global Campaign for Education, over 70 million people don't have access to education. If we were to only produce things we need, rather than, for example, 24 different brands of soap, very few of us would actually have to work, and we could ensure that the common person has what they need to survive. Once people have enough food and a place to live, we can start worrying about producing less essential things. When most people (in the western world, including North America and Europe) hear the word "socialism" they think of Scandinavian and Central European welfare states that have high taxes and different forms of social security nets. It is a common misconception that these countries are socialistic. The correct term to describe these countries is "social democracy", which is a revisionist form of socialism that does not advocate for a transition to the socialistic mode of production. These countries are by all accounts still capitalistic; they advocate for a reform of the current status quo, not a complete transition from capitalism to socialism. What socialism is, actually, is a political and economic theory of social organisation which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned and regulated by the community as a whole, rather than by private individuals. Socialists believe that have a right to "reap what they sow", i.e. that they have a right to the value that they produce, and that who do nothing but own businesses, factories, corporations, etc., do not have any right to steal value from the hard-working labourers. Socialism is inherently an anti-capitalistic ideology, and socialists believe that capitalism is an outdated system that has to be replaced, in order for the working class to achieve true freedom from oppression and exploitation. "Socialism" can also be used as an umbrella term, describing a collection of ideologies that advocate for the socialist mode of production. This includes but is not limited to: Most forms of socialism are based on, or are at least inspired by, Marxism.