Equality and Inequality under Capitalism, Socialism and Communism

Hizzle writes:

Rob,

Two honest questions:

Are there different manifestations of capitalism just as there are of communism? For instance, the kind of “Capitalism for the rich, socialism for the poor” that has afflicted us for a long time along with crony capitalism (people in Gottfried’s managerial state helping each other out with no-bid contracts and quid pro quo) is pretty sick and poisonous.

But what about my local hardware store owner whose perception of capitalism is that he works hard for his middle-class lifestyle so he should live better than someone who doesn’t work hard? Why in any moral, sane system, would all people be rewarded equally when they don’t work equally hard? I understand plenty of wealth is inherited, and the reality of capitalism doesn’t fit the model, but there’s always a gulf between model and instantiation, isn’t there, even in communism?

Other question: I think humans are generally selfish or at least somewhat obviously motivated by their own interests, so what do you think would happen tomorrow if someone poured blandishments on you, and you woke up as a billionaire on your own island with your own mansion and jet, titty-fucking the supermodel of your choice, while two concubines fed you grapes? Would you rail against capitalism? The question isn’t rhetorical because I believe some leftists (like Lukacs) came from bourgeois to upper class backgrounds.

Thanks in advance.

Sure, there are all sorts of different capitalist models.

One I like very much is called Fordism, named after Henry Ford who is often called far rightwing and racist, but he really wasn’t. He wasn’t even much of an antisemite really. The Jews acted pretty bad here back then and he was appalled by their behavior. He said they were out for themselves and not for everyone. At the end of the supposedly antisemitic The International Jew, in which he forcefully condemns pogroms, Ford writes, “Come, Jews! I call on you to come join us to build a better America!” He wanted Jews to be Americans first and Jews second but Jews don’t tend to think like that.

Anyway Ford was hardly a reactionary. At the time, cars were quite expensive and out of the reach of most people. I would argue that they still are. He looked out at his auto plant and he thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice if the average worker could afford to buy one of my nice cars here?” So Ford said, “You know what? I am going to pay my workers high enough wages so they can afford to buy my cars.”

So that is Fordism. Pay workers good wages so they can afford to buy the stuff you make or sell. There was a strong Fordist element to our society for many years, but that went out maybe in the 1970’s and now there is a vicious capitalism that thinks only of profits and never asks itself if people can still afford to buy their stuff. It’s all about paying your worker as little as possible to maximize profits. Hell a lot of companies outsource all their manufacturing so they don’t pay US workers one nickel to buy any of their nice products that they import back here from their plant. I guess paying the workers to buy your overseas built stuff is someone else’s job.

There are many other varieties that I need not go into here. Anyway almost all if not all countries are a mixture of capitalism and socialism in some form or another. The “capitalist” countries of the world are usually not that capitalist, but one can argue that maybe they have less socialism than other places. The socialist or Communist countries are just places that have a lot more socialism mixed in with their capitalism.

So it’s a bit retarded to talk about pure capitalism and pure socialism or Communism but everyone does it really because people are not well educated and also there is a tendency to think of things in their most stripped down, easiest to understand form, which helps neural efficiency but also leads to many concepts being poorly or falsely understood. Humans don’t like to think much. They want to think as little as possible and most do a great job of it. I think maybe your brain wants shortcuts too. Why not? Most other things do.

Rich Communists are rare indeed. Carlos the famous terrorist had a millionaire father who was a Communist, but that is an exception. The rich are almost always conservative, and rich liberals are often not all that rich. The rich generally want to keep as much of their money as possible no matter how they obtained, which is normal. The thing is, let’s face facts, wealthy socialists are working against their own economic interests. We rail against the class-cucked poor and working class who do the same thing, but it’s a bit more noble for a rich man do it as it’s more rational for a rich man to want to share with poorer people than it is for poor or working people to advocate giving lots of their money to the rich. The former seems like a saint; the latter seems like a moron.

I’ve long been in favor of small businesses. They cause very little damage to society. Cuba is full of small businesses now. However, your hardware store owner is deluded because he will claim that he works harder than some field worker or ditchdigger, but he really doesn’t. In fact, those outdoor workers probably work quite a bit harder than he does.

There’s a lot of silly self-justification going on with people who have managed to make a fair amount of money. Somehow they deserve every nickel of it because they did such and such noble thing (work, study, whatever) and others didn’t. And capitalist fanboys often say that the rich work harder than poor workers. Bull. I guess they figured out how stupid that was so the latest one is that the rich “worked harder and worked smarter” than others. There’s no answer to that because no one even knows what working smarter even means.

I have never believed that everyone should be equal. Why should a ditchdigger be paid the same as a surgeon? It’s crazy. Why would anyone be a surgeon. Also the surgeon is obviously contributing more to society and he studied for much longer to be a surgeon. Should he not be monetarily awarded for that.

The problem in capitalism is not inequality, which is fine by me, but instead it is the degree of it. The inequality under capitalism is so vast that it is preposterous. Doesn’t Bill Gates have as much money as 40% of the planet? If aliens landed tomorrow and you told them that one guy owns as much wealth as almost half the 8 billion population, they would shake their heads, say they’re insane morons here, and there’s obviously no sign of intelligent life, so we’re taking off.

Only in this crazy planet could there be hundreds of millions of humans who actually nod their heads like that’s normal and even stand up and cheer for it. It’s absurd the way humans think here on Earth. I doubt if it is even normal either. Earthly humans are quite idiotic. Maybe it is all down to selfishness. Humans are incredibly selfish. It’s adaptive in a sense. If you don’t put your own interests first most of the time, you will soon be dead – but it is also one of the worst traits of this supposedly highly intelligent species.

How about a pay scale? Even in Communism, pay the surgeon say eight times more than the ditchdigger. Fair? Communist societies all had pay scales. In Cuba right now the average monthly wage is ~$25. But no problem as most everything is cheap or free. For instance your rent on that salary would be $1.50/month (!) and a bowl of ice cream costs 2 cents (!). However, IT workers are being paid $2,000/month in Cuba for some reason. No idea why. Maybe to encourage people to work in the field. So you see there is fair amount of inequality in Cuba. It’s just that there people are so much more equal and less unequal there than in most places.

Communist societies need not be so poor. Belarus has an economy that is 80% Soviet style, maybe upgraded for the times. Belarus and Ukraine always had by far the highest incomes in the USSR, and it seems those are two places where Communism sort of worked. Somehow those two places figured out how to make it work. On the other hand, much of the manufacturing in the USSR was located in those two countries. The average income in what is basically Communist Belarus is $16,000/year. Almost every family has a computer and a car. Does that sound like privation to you? Communism need not lead to privation.

And Swedish society is not as equal as you think. The Swedish rich have an unbelievable amount of money. Some are among the richest people in the world. The thing about Sweden is that just about everyone is afforded a decent living. There are few very rich in Sweden, but there are also few very poor. So most everyone is somewhat more towards the middle. And Belarus and Finland have wiped out homelessness. There are zero homeless people in either country.

12 Comments

Filed under Belarus, Capitalism, Caribbean, Conservatism, Cuba, Economics, Europe, Finland, History, Labor, Latin America, Left, Liberalism, Marxism, Modern, Political Science, Regional, Social Problems, Socialism, Sociology, Sweden, Ukraine, US, USSR

12 responses to “Equality and Inequality under Capitalism, Socialism and Communism

  1. Jason Y

    Ford’s idea makes sense. As for the comment about small business, well, all of them have been driven out by chains like McDonalds, Wal-Mart. Well, at least with fast food though, the stores themselves, though a chain, can be owned by locals and benefit the community.

    Now, Wal-Mart provides a lot of jobs to the community, but, well we all know the dark side of that company. I think Wal-Mart drives out the middle man more than fast food does. Soon Joe’s Hardware goes out of business etc.. to make way for the new Wal-Mart or Target etc..

  2. Jason Y

    Capitalism has it’s downside, but then again, the rise of the internet has made many things free, that previously cost a lot. You can get a lot of free education, entertainment, among other things on the net. Perhaps the net kind of softens the harshness of capitalism to some degree. Could it be another “Opium of the People” like religion?

  3. Hizzle

    Bill Gates (and many others) I guess fit David Brooks’ model of “Bobos.” They take liberal stances on things that don’t cost them money, and they give to philanthropies as much for tax reasons as for others, I suppose.

    My father (an ex-SDS member/sixties radical) once had a theory that Reagan was (at least subconsciously) still on the left even when he led his right-wing revolution as president, and that he was trying to heighten inequality so much that it would foment revolution. I think you said “Wealth gets redistributed one way or the other.” Smart elites (people like Buffet or FDR) recognize that if you starve the people, you have a dangerous population on your hands, so you need to throw them a bone now and again. Ironically then your super-capitalists like Grover Norquist are actually then trying to foment revolution unconsciously by pushing the workers and starving them.

    I read that Henry Ford heard Jews in America were trying to do with stock what they had done with the diamond market in South Africa, which is only sell to each other in order to corner the market, and so his solution to the nepotism was to suggest not selling to Jews, in order to close them out of the market before they closed everyone else out.

  4. Actually Pretty Funny

    “The average income in what is basically Communist Belarus is $16,000/year. Almost every family has a computer and a car. Does that sound like privation to you? Communism need not lead to privation.”

    Well, it sounds nice on paper because “Rich” Communist Countries like Belarus and Ukraine manufactured awful stuffs for poor Communist countries. They had The Market. Capitalism anyone?
    Like, you could lift East German cars with your hands. But it sold, and people lined up for ten years to get one.
    Those, like North Korea, or Ethiopia were so ready to be nice all along and ate horse food without complaining. All while fighting some wars.
    But life changes. Poland was the loudest complainer, and they escaped Communism quite fast. The stereotype of Polish before Liberation from Communism was exactly that of Russians today: lower class serfs who drink vodka to death and forget about “life”, old dirty mass-built buildings.

    I remind you that your homeless friend doesn’t even wants to line up for food from charity service.

    • Actually Pretty Funny

      Landlocked Belarus is the gateway between Russia and the West.
      For example, farm produces “forbidden” by the sanction wars between Russia and EU flow through Belarus, under some sneaky Belarussian brands.
      The same for many other goods.
      And moreover the superpower that is Russia also props up Belarus as a barrier against the West. It helps too.
      But you can’t constraint countries/ regions with seaports with Communism. The economy of Detroit or Minnesota obviously couldn’t beat California, that’s why most of East Europe quit Communism.
      Poland is now the biggest exporter of Marine propulsion. Huge profit they make from it. They don’t need to smuggle farm produces to Russia to get rich.

      • Belarus was in the prosperous state I describe here – per capita income $16,000/year, every household has a car and a computer – way before these sanctions hit. I’m not sure what is going on. The manufacture all sorts of products including a lot of machinery such as farm machinery – tractors, etc. They sell these all over the world and many of these types of products are sold to Europe. I doubt if Russia would put up with crappy products so Belarus, if it ever produced junk, isn’t producing any right now.

    • Communism never worked in Poland. Stalin said that trying to impose Communism on the Poles was like trying to put a saddle on a cow.

      Homeless people will definitely line up for charity service, even for a meal. They do it every day in my city.

      Well, it sounds nice on paper because “Rich” Communist Countries like Belarus and Ukraine manufactured awful stuffs for poor Communist countries. They had The Market. Capitalism anyone?

      That’s not capitalism. Even if you call it State Capitalism, it’s still not capitalism. BTW, I support State Capitalism. But capitalism implies private ownership and the exploitation of workers for private profit of the private owner or employer. That rules out State Capitalism right there. Even in State Capitalism, the profits extracted from the workers who are supposedly exploited are given to the state. The state then gives these profits back to the workers in various ways.

      • Actually Pretty Funny

        I mean, damn it, you only want everyone to be dirt poor. You only care for the dirt poor, and treat everyone the same like you treat the dirt poor.
        Affluent Soviet citizens need ten years to afford a car, with all those paperworks. And crappy cars indeed.
        Your homeless man doesn’t even have the patience to wait in a line wihout driking, why do you force Soviet people who can afford cars to wait 10 years.
        And since the Soviets gave undesirable people too much money and power, and installed them in position of power and management, the people who could efficiently ran the country secretly quit.
        Your Communism, only works in VERY homogenous and secluded society, or else it would fail hilariously. Belarus is landlocked, and mostly Belarussians, so it couldn’t break free away from Russia and indeed depends partly on military/ intelligence/ security know-hows and support from Russia. And the dictator there routinely put people into jail because he needs to keep people homogenous in their thinking.
        One good attribute of the Socialist Man is that he doesn’t complain or protest much. So you don’t hear much about the problems of countries like that.
        But Ukraine isn’t homogenous, so they fled. They have their own seaports to export their goods.
        In this day and age, no one really starves to death anymore. Obesity is now an epidemic. All thanks to tech from the capitalistic West. The Chinese literally sold Chinese made Iphone at 100 USD, so I am not surprised that Belarussians could afford Belarussian cars. Those are cheaper than, say, German imported cars, but they work anyway so why not.
        But the technology for those cars were imported directly from Italy or Germany, and those cars were older models. Rich Belarussians of course drive Germans and Italians imported from abroad. A Rolls-Royce model 2000 is a Rolls Royce too, just feels a bit weird.
        People in America begin to run Tesla electric cars already.
        Back to Belarussia, they of course produce some machinery of all sort, good and bad. Just like China. But the most advanced technology always comes from the West. Belarussia has lower cost.
        Before China opened up to the world(the West), a Chinese household needed 800USD to 1000USD and political connection to set up a home telephone line, the same for North Korea for example. I bet the price in North Korea is much lower now.
        Mobile service providers now beg me to buy the newest(older) tech from America, I love that.
        Ever wonder why Putin has been trying so hard to get sanctions lifted off. He needed tech from the West. Communism= sclerosis
        And btw, Sweden is the role model the Chinese want for themselves. Funny to see you bash it that much.
        You can’t have it all. Choose 2: Prosperity, Diversity, Free Speech.

  5. Actually Pretty Funny

    And you forgot one important thing: Since everything is top down, the leaders has secretly severed a large chunk of budget(investment) before pumping it into the economy.
    So inequality appears low on the surface because, please, who would be able to detect and report such corruption?

    • Actually Pretty Funny

      And since you are a serf, no one would believe your reporting on such “corruption.”
      You need to have “proof”, but what proof? And proof about what?
      Belarussians are happy with 16000 USD to get by with their lives, so why fuck it all up?
      “Why don’t you join the fest and screw the people together with ‘us’?” It’s simple, and they are stupid, so why not?
      Li Keqiang, Prime Minister of China, said:”I never trust such reports(from gov’ agencies) about the Chinese economy, the only things I care are: the railway cargo volume, electricity consumption and loans disbursed by banks.”
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Li_Keqiang_index

  6. AngryRussian

    You said: “The average income in what is basically Communist Belarus is $16,000/year.”

    Do you mean per family? Because even for a family with two working parents it is quite high. The average salary in Belarus in 2015 was slightly less than $400, that is $4,800 a year. Two might earn just around $10,000. But the average salary is always lower than the median by around 30%, so in fact half of Belarusian families earned less than $7,000 a year.

    Of course, prices are lower there, but the price of a cheapest but still new Chinese car is $3500, that is half of the annual family budget.

    Not to mention than in Russia, which in no sense is socialist, the situation is similar, even may be a little better, because an average Russian earns $100-$200 more than an average Belarusian.

    And Belarus has had one of the highest inflation of all the former republics, just recently they’ve denominated their ruble 1 to 10,000, because it became ridiculous to buy everyday things with 10,000 ruble notes.

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