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End to a vicious rumor: Capitalism does not depend on, or create an &q

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Charles Lester

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There is a rumor that socialists, communists and other ethnic variants have been very successful at spreading: That capitalism depends on an “underclass,” or even goes so far as to create an underclass. It has always defied me—even when I was a staunch socialist—that this rumor could persist as well as it has. The most basic question—then and now—which comes to mind is: How can a capitalist make money, if everyone—or anyone—can’t afford what he sells? Put another way: How would a baker be "better off" if there are none—other than himself—capable of buying his bread?

Logically speaking, it is easily understood that capitalism ultimately depends on there being as many people as possible capable of buying and/or producing things that are needed by other producers; as against some fabled "underclass."

To demonstrate this, I think that it might be a good idea to take money out of the equation in order to simplify things a little. As an example, let’s invent a primitive tribe of hunter-gatherers that function as a capitalist band. Let’s further imagine that there are only five men within their society. One of them makes arrows; one makes knives; one builds and cooks; one makes lashings and fine tools; and the last is leader of the hunt. Each of these men—I assert—is better off producing as much as possible within the society; and none is better off trying to hold the other back.

How could it be better—for the knife maker—that the arrow maker makes fewer arrows and bows? If there aren’t enough arrows, then, the number of kills that the band will be able to make will be fewer. How could it be better—for the arrow maker—if the knife maker made fewer knives? If there are not enough knives, it would take much longer to cut the animals up into much more manageable chunks. How would they skin the animal, so that they can maximize the amount of leather they have to make quivers, clothing and shelter? If these two men were to gang up on the builder/cook, in order to “squeeze” him; then, they would be left without a prepared meal. They would still have to build their hunting tools, AND NOW, cook for themselves—leaving little energy for them to do much else. Where would their hut come from; since, they have limited the number of huts that the builder can make? They would have to share a hut now—assuming that there's one available for them. How is this better off?

No matter what the product is within their society, limiting its production would not be smarter, but an absurdity! An allegation no less absurd, than the one levied against the greatest producers within our society!

Within the context of a capitalist system, there is an "occurrence" that seems to be quite common. But, before I label what it is, I will continue the previous example, and demonstrate how the "occurrence" works, before I let the cat out of the bag.

Let’s now assume that the tribesman who is supposed to make lashings and fine tools decides—for whatever reason—that he will not be making many—if any—tools and lashings. How will he be able to justify his portion of the hunt? How will he be able to provide for himself the benefits of the cook and the hut maker? The answer is simple: He assassinates the character of the thinker within the group. Since intellectual expertise is the least tangible commodity, the commodity that in “good times” is most-easily taken for granted, and—quiet as it’s kept—the most enviable commodity, the should-be tool and lashings maker begins a campaign of distraction and subversion.

He tells the other workers that they are the ones who keep the tribe going; and, that the leader of the hunt is exploiting their efforts. After all, what work does he do? Yes, he’s there at the hunt—but so are we! Why does he get as much as we do? We provide the tools for the hunt. We provide the meals that he eats. We provide the hut that he sleeps in at night. Why should his portion be as much as ours? And, by the way, who put him in charge? We must—if things are to be fair—organize ourselves and demand more of him!

The tribesmen—in the example—are faced with a choice. Do they go along with the should-be toolmaker’s plan, or, do they disregard it as rubbish, and require that he “do his part” within their society?

In order to be moral in their actions, the tribesmen have to justify what they do. If to none but themselves, they must, or face the iniquity of their actions head-on. In joining with the toolmaker, the tribesmen have to discount the values that the leader of the hunt brings into their lives. They have to eliminate: mind. After all, no one has to “work” for what they know. No one—they would say—has to “work” in order to be able to decide on anything correctly. The value of the leader’s decision-making ability has to drop out of existence, if the tribe is to force more work out of him, and be able to justify it—morally.

If the tribesmen acknowledge the leader’s contributions, then they realize how much better off they are—if he’s good at his job. He consistently knows where to find prey. He consistently, and successfully navigates the terrain, after first studying it and understanding the geological and geographical information available to him. He intelligently delegates the various roles within the hunt, in order to maximize the energy that will be expended by the five hunters. He designs good strategies, in order for the hunters to be much more successful than they would have been, as compared to a plan that any of the others would have come up with. They all lack the expertise that he possesses.

One path is capitalism; the other is socialism or its variants. One path recognizes all men’s right to what they produce, and that they function as traders within their society. The other enslaves some or all men to others. One is good. The other is evil.

In one sentence, I can summarize: Socialism is the system of the power luster, who usurps power from men, by preying on their envy of others.

Philosopher Ayn Rand states more completely:

“There is no difference between the principles, policies and practical results of socialism—and those of any historical or pre-historical tyranny. Socialism is merely democratic absolute monarchy—that is, a system of absolutism without a fixed head, open to seizure of power by all corners, by any ruthless climber, opportunist, adventurer, demagogue or thug.

When you consider socialism, do not fool yourself about its nature. Remember that there is no such dichotomy as “human rights” versus “property rights.” No human rights can exist without property rights. Since material goods are produced by the mind and effort of individual men, and are needed to sustain their lives, if the producer does not own the result of his effort, he does not own his life. To deny property rights means to turn men into property owned by the state. Whoever claims the “right” to “redistribute” the wealth produced by others is claiming the “right” to treat human beings as chattel.”

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