Updated: Jul 30
By Marshall Defender Nyanhete
I would never argue for a complete and indiscriminate takedown of Capitalism. Not only do I believe that argument to be naive, but I also view it as a wholly reprehensible symptom of a 21st-century society obsessed with pointing out the imbalances of life whilst continually passing up on opportunities to do something about these inequalities. I do not say this to cause undue offence, after all, I too am a contributor to our short-sighted society. But I do hope it causes some unease because “uncomfortable” is an incredibly useful place to be in. It is a place of growth, a place of learning, a place of evolution. I believe we must evolve beyond the temptation of a dopamine led existence centred around collecting money. It is not sustainable.
Compared to capitalism, communism is a relatively new phenomenon. How then can we say it is doomed to fail? Surely the latter deserves those same countless millennia (to fine-tune and further define itself) as have been afforded capitalism? Well, we have only to look at its history - recent though it is; we have only to examine human nature and its affinity for corruption and we arrive at the sensible conclusion that communism is in-actionable. It is a beautiful, beautiful idea. The most beautiful idea humanity has ever dared dream, in-fact. However, because of its insistence on equality of outcome, it will never be anything more than just an idea.
Why? Remove motivation and you suddenly find yourself without a backbone. You begin to find yourself prone to existing in this spineless place where every one of the things that “could” hurt “does” hurt. It is a sad truth, but a truth none the less, that life can be miserable. We should strive in all things, therefore then, not to add to that misery any more than is necessary. Capitalism is useful in that it motivates. Remove motivation and you remove hope. A hopeless existence is incredibly problematic - it does not often end well!
Having acknowledged its usefulness, I advocate not its removal but a move towards a more empathetic form of capitalism. Collective and conscientious capitalism. A form of wealth gathering rooted in the awareness that my actions have consequences that go beyond just myself. I may be one in seven billion but the movements of my one ripple out in ways that cannot help but move those billions. You do not need theism to reach this conclusion, it is self-evident. A very immediate example of this statement’s truth resides in the situation we currently find ourselves in. A global pandemic where my actions on a tiny Island, for example, can and will be felt across the globe!
It is not about despising success, nor is it about devouring the rich; it is rather about acknowledging via collective responsibility the truth that: there is a degree of personal wealth which is not only irresponsible but also oppressive. Contrary to increasingly popular opinion, being rich is not the result of some deep-rooted evil. It (not always but very often) is a by-product of hard work and determination. Neither of these qualities deserves to be taken lightly. Neither of these qualities deserves to be vilified. They are for many, the backbone allowing them to wade through life’s murky waters. It is not wrong for me to want to work hard, it is not wrong for me to want to be rewarded for my efforts. It is wrong, however, for my efforts to actively impede the elevation of others.
I am not a fan of the term “3rd world” and I wholly reject the phrase “developing countries”. Such terms invite us to gloss over the fact that the natural progression of these countries was and continues to be stunted by greed (first by colonialists and currently by the corruption of a vast number of native government officials). The bottom line is this: the senseless hoarding of vast amounts of wealth leads to the removal of opportunities for others to also benefit from their hard work.
It is alarmingly obvious that because of the imbalances propagated by our current economic practices, we will not be able to circumnavigate the climate emergency we find ourselves hurtling towards. This is because selfishness breeds selfishness. The climate poisoning methods employed by the West for its betterment during the industrial revolution will continue to be employed by countries striving now to play catch up. Any attempts to police these copy-cat revolutions will simply be met with derision. Why wouldn’t they? The immediacy of hunger takes precedent over the eventual threat of melting ice caps. Selfishness breeds selfishness.
It is important to stress that this empathetic capitalism I am advocating for must never be about equality of outcome - such is unattainable and such is quite frankly undesirable. The Romans asked of posterity: “who shall guard the guardians?” It is a question to which communism, by failing to take into consideration human nature, could not provide a functioning answer. Allow me now to offer up a suggestion…If indeed collective conscientious capitalism is about equality of opportunity, it is most certainly about equality of peoples, and therefore then it has to be about self-examination. Self-policing. How much money is too much money? Only you can answer that.
Collective conscientious capitalism isn’t about knowing the answer, however, it is about a willingness to ask the question. It is about acknowledging your inalienable power to affect both negatively and positively the lives of your fellow man.
Disclaimer: All views expressed in this piece belong solely to the author and do not reflect the views of Demographica as a company.