Feels Weirdly a Lot
Soviet style communism was always marked by chronic, predictable shortages. Especially for luxuries...
The line for jeans,
sweaters, boomboxes, and TVs, which stretched around the block,
always leaving people empty-handed - while decadent Westerners
simply trundled down to the store and bought them by the truckload.
It's marked by chronic, persistent shortages for just the opposite. Not for luxuries - but for life's basic necessities. Medicine, hospitals, education, good schools, income, decent media, a home to live, income, jobs.
Even potable drinking water (see: Flint) and decent food.
In America, for example - there's no guarantee you'll be able to get these things, because they're always in short supply. In fact, life seems to be designed precisely so that some people must always be at threat of going without them.
How ironic, when you
think about it, no - capitalism and communism both failing, in
mirror images of each other? Why is that? And what does it mean?
And that's because capitalism has
proven to be a ruinous failure as the sole (or highest) organizing
principle of a society - which is what it's been for the last
thirty years or so now. I'll make my case - and you judge if it
carries any water.
But what does that really mean?
It means life has become governed by artificial scarcity. Middle and working classes are on the brink - because capitalism makes things artificially scarce, so that it can maximize profits.
When insulin costs
thousands, though we all know it can and should cost pennies -
that's artificial scarcity.
Billionaires shoot off space rockets, while young diabetics die without insulin. Society can easily afford it but it's forbidden, under the terms of neoliberal capitalism, to allow decent lives for everyone because then profits would stop growing and "growth" might come to a halt.
Someone must suffer - and suffer badly...
That is how you get to the weird paradox of a "growing" economy in which life expectancy, income, trust, meaning, and happiness are all falling.
There isn't enough to go
around - but keeping things at just that razor's edge of artificial
scarcity is the only way now capitalism can raise its profit
Unless you believe that a bigger TV is a substitute for a stable job, a raise, savings, a mortgage you can pay off, healthcare you can afford, and stability that you can depend on.
The rich have grown astronomically richer - but life below the line of being super rich is something between precarious and implosive, and that is because artificial scarcity keeps the basics of a decent life just out of reach, endlessly.
That's not a bug - it's a feature of predatory capitalism.
And that is why the future is a choice between of two kinds of socialism.
So capitalism the way we practice it ends in implosive stagnation.
Artificial scarcities eating away at life:
Yet these ongoing shortages are
ever-present, things which never get "fixed" - because they are
exactly what capitalism must maximize on one side, to maximize
profits on the other.
But not all socialisms are created equal. Think of opposite poles of a spectrum.
Let's start with national socialism.
What is it, really? American thinkers will dispute it even really exists - but they are not known for thinking well.
National socialism is very as a form of socialism. It is simply something like "socialism for the true people" or a little more accurately,
Think of the "good German"...
He was very much a beneficiary of national socialism. He was provided a stable job, a regular income, savings, a home, healthcare, safety, security, the ability to take care of his family and children - all for the first time, really, in decades. But there was a price.
Maybe his day job was a lawyer - drafting laws to take homes from Jews.
Whom did those homes go to?
Do you see the mirror image, which is the problem, yet?
Of perverting the rule of law, and using it as a weapon to seize people's belongings and money and savings and possessions and homes - which then belonged to the good German.
was what the new "jobs" in Nazi Germany really were. A zero sum game
of taking life away from some, to give it back to others.
The cost of receiving the basics of a good life from the Party was that he did the very work of seizing those basics from another, a lesser human being, in the Party's eyes.
They are ways for a good member of the tribe, today's good American, to get income, a job, healthcare, savings, a home - all the things that are in shortage today in America.
But the price is that he must exclude, punish, and hurt little children. That is a nascent kind of national socialism - if you can do the job of dispossessing others, then the Party will reward you with all the things that you need to live a decent life.
That's a very real kind of socialism, too.
When we take from some, to give what was theirs to
ourselves, we have kicked off a vicious cycle that must - must -
end in war, genocide, and our own sure ruin - because we cannot do
that to the whole world.
The fundamental way it solves the problem of stagnation is different. Not by taking money, jobs, homes, possessions, and savings, from some, and giving them to the pure, strong, and powerful.
But by a society choosing to invest in itself.
Do you see the difference?
But social democracy operates through the exactly the opposite:
Even a billionaire can't really set up a
cutting-edge hospital, and keep it running for more than a few
years - it takes a society to do that.
In that way, it's a mechanism to solve the problem of predatory capitalism operating according to the law of artificial scarcity as a tool to skyrocket profits - which costs lives, at this point.
Socialism is a way for a society to address shortage of basic,
fundamental goods, like healthcare, education, transport, media,
safety nets, retirement, pensions - which capitalism has made
Well, usually, it begins with jobs...
Do you see the vicious spiral at work?
National socialism solves the problem capitalism leaves society with, which is shortages of basic goods, in a harmful and destructive way - one must take more, from the impure, in more and more savage ways.
what it takes to keep "growth" going under the terms of national
socialism, because it has always been operating by taking from some,
and giving it others, according to the Party's judgment of who is
It invests, so that those shortages are turned into surpluses. Hospitals, highways, schools, universities - abundant enough for all to have access, at a relatively low price. And the "work" done is very different too.
The good German, whether the lawyer, the police officer, or the accountant, was doing the work of harming others - but the social democrat, whether the doctor at the hospital, the professor at the university, or the builder of the bridge, is doing work that helps others genuinely realize themselves.
And in that way, because it
unlocks our higher possibilities, social democracy is the far, far
You might say, at this point,
Ah, my friend. If it were
would the world be where it is today...?