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.