Capitalism not an ideology
Capitalism is not a religion or an ideology. Ideologies are inherently corrupt, especially when they become large, wealthy and powerful. Ideologies come from man (generic for human). They combine ideas or ideals; (man-made) with hierarchy, the oldest (original) form of social structure designed by men (generic for humans).
The hierarchical structure was created to help warriors (mostly male) defend the tribe. When a tribe was attacked, usually by other warriors, the best defense was to have competent members of the tribe (head warriors) train and organize the other warriors. This began the use of hierarchy (chain of command). This system also proved efficient for attacking tribes.
Hierarchy, useful in times of crisis (first responders), became corrupted when used for other purposes. It creates a top-down power structure (vertical management) where the power is concentrated at the top.
When tribes grew and became cities and countries, warriors of the tribe grew into armies. Head warriors became leaders of the armies. These leaders began collecting resources from less powerful countries, allowing the leaders to become richer and more powerful.
These powerful leaders (men) began to desire a legacy (proof of power and/or wealth for immortality) for their descendants. They did this by establishing an ideology that gave them entitlement (special privileges) over others. The easiest way to do this was to play God (pharaohs) or have God’s permission to play God (religion).
Success of an ideology depended on the principle of justification (means justify the end). This justified the use of human beings to protect the legacy.
History demonstrates that ideologies have, throughout time, been the cause of the misery, brutality and bloodshed that men have inflicted upon other men, all in the name of ______ (fill in the blank).
Capitalism is an economic system, not an ideology. Capitalism was the first “modern” economic system. Adam Smith, in 1791, published “Wealth of Nations,” which established the study of economics and the ways people of a society distributes and produces goods.
The reason Mr. Smith was interested is that he observed that common men, for the first time ever, were not only living like kings, they were acting like kings, as well, using wealth to obtain political power. He used scientific inquiry, new methods of research such as objectivity (without prejudice or bias) and observation (looking at a subject as is) to study this new innovation.
He found that the fundamental principle of capitalism was scarcity (not enough to go around) meaning that is there is a finite source of resources (natural or human). The most successful capitalist (businessman) he observed was the man with the ability to maintain the rate of accumulation (profit margin). This resulted in the finding that the capitalist who accumulates the most capital has the ability to obtain the most resources for his business (he who has to the most receives the most).
Mr. Smith also observed other capitalist practices of controlling business costs and that the biggest business expense was labor. Labor, like all expenses, needed to be controlled so that the successful capitalist would maintain his rate of accumulation.
Starting with the Industrial Revolution, capitalists began to accumulate much more capital (wealth) than the merchants of Adam Smith’s study. The result was that not only were they living better than kings, they became more powerful than kings, as well. Of course, being men, they too desired a legacy, so they, too, established an ideology: capitalism.
They changed the objective language of Mr. Smith into dogma (religious language). The capitalists changed “He who has the most receives the most” to “deserves” the most. They also gave themselves permission to treat labor as another business expense rather than as human beings. The capitalist, using the logic of justification, bought politicians to expand their political power. The capitalist now had the means to create his legacy (empire), and the capitalists were successful in accomplishing their ends (goals). This didn’t only happen to capitalism; Stalin and Mao did the same with Marx’s ideal economic system of communism.
Capitalism as an ideology has been established in our country. Capitalists have struggled, though, as this country was designed to be nonideological.
The Founding Fathers understood the corruption of ideology. They designed a horizontal leadership system so that one political group could not accumulate power over another (check’s and balances). They were spiritual men (good human beings) and created the Constitution around the universal spiritual practice of compassion. They gave the people, the ultimate power, “inalienable,” or god-given rights.
This Constitution has proved to be a formable barrier against the many ideologies (partisan politics/special interests) that have tried to subvert the people’s will. The Constitution, slowly, is being used to realize the ideals of our Founding Fathers. The Constitution has been strong as it upholdsworkers’ rights and civil rights and protects the people’s right to access all opportunities that our country provides.
Currently it looks like old-school capitalists (my term), using the dogma of capitalism, are fighting for their ideological lives. This is due to the re-election of Barack Obama. This re-election happened, despite the old-school capitalists pumping billions into spreading the message of anger, fear and hate. This usually is an effective strategy of unification. It looks like the power of the ideology, capitalism, is slipping.
However, the old-school capitalists — which includes those in big oil, big farm (agribusiness) and big medicine (health care industry) — are fighting to keep their power. The old-school capitalists are organizing their largest group of followers; rural, working class, under-educated (lack of knowledge) white people (human beings). They have had success with this group (demographic) starting before the Civil Rights movement.
These supporters, unfortunately, do not realize that all the capitalists want from them is their priceless vote. The old-school capitalists, the current high priests of capitalism, need these votes so they can install (buy) politicians to continue to live like kings and act like kings here in a country designed for “We the People.”
Linda Campbell lives in Nevada City.
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