Capitalism Is Most Assuredly Not Obsolete
Imagine a world constructed by a god who populates it with beings that make their way by eating the young of others…
What’s wrong with this picture?
Are we missing something here?
Well yes — perhaps we are.
Standing at the window with my morning coffee — watching various birds feeding at the bird feeder — I am witness to the majesty of life.
Sparrows, Wrens, Thrushes, Gold Finches, Cardinals — they all take their turns. Both young and mature birds, they all carry on with their lives — successfully eking out a living, raising families, …
Even in this microcosm, you can see the fundamental law of the jungle at work here. These are wonderfully beautiful and successful individuals, flitting to and fro.
To a bird, they look like they’ve stepped off the cover of “Bird Monthly”.
If there was such a publication…
These are beautiful representations of the various bird species. Seeing a cardinal — resplendent in its acid-trip bright red hue is almost a religious experience. Blue jays? Check. Goldfinches? Holy Crap!
It may sound cruel, but when you think about it, survival of the fittest is actually the only viable way of operating in the natural world. It is exactly what has powered the evolutionary underpinnings of all life on earth. It is what has ensured the flourishing of life itself over the past four-billion-or-so years.
Now, owing to the pedestrian nature of my writings, do not expect some big treatise on economic theory here. But I’ll try not to hurt myself, so bear with me…
Human economies seem to operate best when they seek to mirror within themselves this fundamental evolutionary processes of survival of the fittest. Capitalism embodies this processes as it develops and brings to market the best and most competent businesses among its peers, constantly monitoring and eliminating all but the relative best. From single individuals buying and reselling a product at a profit (the very power stroke of Capitalism), to multi-national corporations struggling to return profitability to the investors, it is all based upon showing up and putting forth your best face to the world.
It is all based on individual effort at it’s lowest common denominator.
It is the most efficient way to bring resources, and in fact life itself, to the largest number of its citizens. Indeed, it is really the only way.
Any other social experiments in goods and services distribution within modern societies have eventually relegated themselves to the dustbins of history. After much wailing and gnashing of teeth.
The thing that we humans frequently do not understand, the thing that we constantly rail against, is the myopic view that we must somehow insulate the largest numbers of individuals in a society from the crueler aspects of life. Or, that there is something wrong with having a gradient (even a seemingly large one) between the ends of the economic spectrum that develop within a free society (or a relatively free one), based on free-market Capitalism.
When we raise families, we instinctively seek to insulate our younger members from the negative aspect of this law of the jungle. It ensures their growing into functioning, productive adults who go out into the world and establish their own families.
Where we run into trouble is when we begin to think that these insulating efforts must extend beyond the family and go out into society as a whole. We mistakenly believe that the kindness we use to raise our own families must naturally be turned to all members of a society en masse. And that doing so should result in the greater good to the largest number of its members.
What we fail to understand is that in turning this myopic view outward to include all members of society, we are insulating people from the fundamental laws that have built the entire world as it stands today, with all its flourishing life.
Mirroring this fundamental and seemingly cruel law of the jungle within our human activities is the only way to ensure that our civilization can extend the kindness of life to the largest number of its members.
This is not to say we should ignore the plight of the infirm, the weak, the aged. These are qualities that set us apart from non-sentient animals — our willingness to help our fellow man in bad times; to extend the milk of human kindness to those that need it most in their time of need. However, this is best expressed at the individual level.
But concepts inherent in say, socialism, for instance — such as eliminating private property, the centralization of communications (wait…), and the nationalizing of much of the economic activity of a society, only serve to stifle most of the best and the brightest examples of our species.
It tries to flatten the gradient between the two opposite ends of the economic spectrum.
Contrary to what we have all heard all of our lives, flattening this gradient is not a good thing. Because it is this very gradient that brings about a middle class — a constantly churning center area between both extremes whereby participants are continually going into and out of it on either end. It is composed of a mass of individuals, each presenting their brightest selves while they flit to and fro on the stage of life.
This process continually ensures the presentation of the highest number of the best and brightest among us.
Individuals who could have just stepped off of the cover of “Human Monthly”.
If there was such a publication…
This is the lesson of the entire last century. Let us hope it is not falling on deaf ears now.
For if it ever does, we are doomed to witness another hellish spasm of Human History.