I was walking through a certain part of my city very early this morning while I was on my way to work when I noticed a post on a light poll. On it was a large great white shark leaping out of the foamy water, presumably snaring itself a seal, bird, or some other unfortunate animal that the shark had deigned to consume that day, and a few words. The words were black, blocked, and bolded. They said "Learn why Great White Capitalism is the only form of capitalism."
I shook my head and chuckled, knowing full well who put up that poster (local communist party), why (they hate capitalism), and how they would describe capitalism (completely without understanding or comprehension). As I walked to my office I thought about how flawed and, frankly, ignorant many in the communist party, and arguably leftists in general, were of capitalism. They viewed capitalism as a system, a means of poli-economical governance and exchange, and on the surface they appeared to be right. But fundamentally they were wrong.
The Captain often talks about SAEG, super awesome economic genius I think it is called, and while I cannot say whether or not I possess any form of SAEG whatsoever, I can honestly attest to being an individual who spends allot of time thinking and figuring things out. What I came to realize one day is that capitalism is not a system, theory, or an idea like say communism, but a law in and of itself, like gravity. No matter where you are in the world, what time frame you lived in, or what you believe, you are subject to the laws of capitalism. Now I know this seems strange at first, but let me make my case because I think you will agree.
Firstly, I need to differentiate the political/economic form that we call capitalism, which is simply the implementation of this law. You see when we talk about capitalism on this blog, or at the Captain's, Saves, and a whole host of other blogs, what we are really talking about and arguing for is free economics, with sound money of course, and we use the word capitalism when we mean 'free market economics'. And all free market economic is the realization that you cannot drive the actions of individuals like they are pawns. Human beings will make their own choice and to try and make them do otherwise is a futile endeavor. Free markert economics is simply the belief that we should let the markets be free of misguided interference.
Now, as I said, Adam Smith and others philosopher economists of his day understood that capitalism is a law. The fact is that all capitalism really is this, it is an exchange of capital of some sort via human interaction. Or to put it in simpler terms, when you want something from someone you have to exchange something of an equal, or perceived equal, value. That's all, that is it, the pure essence of human economic interaction distilled down to its smallest element. Whether you live in a communist hell hole, a feudal society, a commune, or a farmers village that uses barter instead of money, every single facet of human interaction is governed by the principal of capitalism. This transcends political systems, religious beliefs, and whatever fancy or wish a person has. This is inescapable, like gravity, newtons first law, the need for air and water to live. It just is, always was, and always shall be.
It stands to reason then that of the forms of human economic interaction we establish that the ones closer to this principal truth will be the ones most likely to prosper, exhibeo free market economics; picture an aerodynamically well designed jet. And the ones that are the furthest from this truth, or actively try to distort it, exhibeo communism, will suffer; picture a rock trying to fly. This is ultimately why communism is doomed to fail, because it can never escape the principal of capitalism, and since it actively tries to go against it, but cannot, like a spring compressed too far, or any organic body, or a rock thrown flung from a catapult, homeostasis must be returned. This is why the Soviet Union collapsed suddenly and spectacularly. The more distorted the system, the more violent the return to equilibrium.
Now, I can see some burned out hippy or youthful idealist who would point to communes, communities of individuals who live in a communist sort of environment, and use that as evidence to the contrary. They would say 'See cogitans! We have no need for your money or your capitalism! We produce what we need and share freely. You see how we have no need for your capitalism.' But they would be missing the point that human beings never want to give something for nothing. If we do give it is never freely, it is with the understanding that we ourselves will be taken care of by our community if we ever need it. In someways our charity is nothing more than deposits into a community savings account, from which we ourselves will draw on during our times of need.
But let us delve into that commune a little further. The fact is, that those who produce more, offer more value, will either be given the first choice of bounty when it is shared, and I posit that this is a form of payment, or they will be given a greater measure of respect and deference relative to others in their community, I also posit this is a form of payment. Those who produce less, or who simply leach, will be given less when it comes time to share, or smaller voice in the community, and eventually be told that they must produce more, pay off their debts if you will, or be cast out from the community, foreclosure. In that example we are seeing the works of capitalism.
And this is what makes it confusion for some. Many people are pushed towards thinking that if money is not exchanged then that transaction doesn't confirm to the principals of capitalism. But it does, everything does. And the items exchanged do not have to be tangible, ideas, abilities, beauty, any number of intangible things can be viewed as commodities and capital to exchange for other commodities and capital. A comedian's humor is his capital with which he exchanges for items that he needs. A woman's beauty another. An athlete's ability another. And a writers mind, also another.
So for all you self styled revolutionaries or communists living on your daddy's wallet, know this. Not only is your economic ideology still within the frameworks of capitalism; it can never leave it. You, as an individual, cannot fly simply because you wish to wish away gravity. Nor can you breath underwater because you desperately desire it to be. So you also can not have your communist utopia because you cannot destroy or defeat capitalism, merely pervert it for a short period of time, like a rock flung from a catapult. It is not so much an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object so much as a child slapping the waves in effort to turn the tide. So you can take comfort, or perhaps gnash your teeth, that every interaction that you do, of every day, of every moment of your life, when you exchange some sort of good, intangible or otherwise, you are conforming to the principals of capitalism.