What Is Capitalism – And Is It Really The Best Way To Lead Humanity Into A Future Of Peace & Prosperity?

Capitalism has destroyed our belief in any effective power but that of self interest backed by force.
~ George Bernard Shaw

What is capitalism? That is a great question and depending on who you ask you will get a myriad of different responses. I will give you my definition of capitalism with the understanding that my views are left leaning. At the bottom of this post I will give you resources for the definition of capitalism from both the liberal and conservative perspective.

So what is capitalism in my opinion? In the simplest sense, capitalism is a class system made up of 2 classes. The capitalist class and the working class. Capitalism being a social system upon which we have developed our society only within the recent past. Capitalism as we know it has been around for less than 200 years.

In capitalism, the means of production and distribution are owned by the capitalist class and the working class are exploited to create that production or distribution. Here’s an example. Michael Dell belongs to the capitalist class, he owns the means of production and distribution of Dell computers. The folks who make and put together Dell computers are the working class.

The working class is exploited because they sell their time to the capitalist class in order to make the goods or services that the capitalist class owns and provides in order to make a profit. This profit is for the benefit of the capitalist class and not the working class.

The idea is to buy the time of the working class for less than the capitalist class can earn by selling the product of the working class’ time. This is why we have seen the means of production in many areas head on over to China and other areas where the working class can be bought for far cheaper than the working class in North America or Europe.

Capitalism exists to make products for profit. If those products meet humanity’s needs all the better, but the products are not made to serve needs but rather to create profits for the capitalist class.

The above is my short definition of capitalism. At its very nature it is a system of exploitation because if we are all equal why are some of us more equal in a capitalist society than others. Why do we have billionaires and then also children dying of starvation?

Because capitalism is an inherently lopsided and unjust system I can’t support it. However, if you are looking to this blog or me for an answer I’m afraid I don’t have one.

What we do need though is more equality. How we come about that is up to us to determine. But I like to imagine a world in which no one goes hungry and where everyone has a chance to fulfill their potential and to work towards a common good and uplifting of the human condition. I am not talking about communism or socialism as we might understand it.

I’m thinking more along the lines of the Federation in Star Trek. Where money has become obsolete and people work towards unselfish self fulfillment and fulfilling their potential.

I believe we can get to such a place. Where there are no rich or poor people, only all of us working towards fulfilling the best in ourselves and as such creating a better society for all.

A utopia? Perhaps, but it is possible. Anything is possible when the time comes to make it so.

Let’s just start thinking about why we need to sell our time into wage slavery and spend one third of our lives in misery working at things we dislike or even hate.

I think it is time for a dialogue about the different possibilities that are not based around profit which by its very nature poisons our souls and our environments. We can build a more beneficially useful society if we start taking back our own critical thought and using our gifts for the greater good. To leave this place better than when we found it.

Further reading and viewing:
Capitalism 101
The Marx-Engels Reader
Economics in One Lesson
Crises of Capitalism