capitalism won because it is better and other right-wing lies

In recent years, I see a greater awareness that capitalism -- at least in its present form -- is the root cause of so many issues that plague our society. This awareness makes sense, given how extreme the evidence has become. 

Proof is all around us

We grapple with the failures of capitalism every day, as the pressure to show "growth" (i.e., higher profits for shareholders) strains the limits of possibility.

The cycle of planned obsolescence has become so short, that if we buy the least expensive option for our needs, we're lucky if an item lasts more than one use. A more expensive choice -- something that in the past would have easily lasted 10 years or more -- might last six months.

If the price of a staple hasn't gone up, it's probably smaller. Or it very well may be smaller and more expensive. This has become so common that it's led to a new word.

Choosing between eating and keeping warm. Parents skipping meals so children can eat. Employed people supplementing their budgets with food banks. In Canada, one of the richest and most privileged societies in the world, nearly 20% of families report doing one or more of these at least monthly.

Then there's our Earth, which continues to be ravaged for profit, despite the global awareness that this has brought our species to the existential brink.

All this, and so much more, has led to a growing awareness that capitalism has been a total failure for the planet, and almost everyone and everything that lives on it. That the intersection of so many intractable horrors can be laid at its feet. 

This recognition is encouraging. Whether or not that recognition can lead to change is a different question, but this is certain: nothing can change without it.

The anti-socialist soundbites

In response to this widespread awareness, there are a few choice soundbites -- copy/paste responses people parrot without knowledge or understanding -- about the virtues of capitalism and the horrors of socialism. Myths. Lies.

One of the most common myths is that capitalism spread throughout the world because it is the natural state of humanity. That around the world, people adopted capitalism, and rejected socialism, because capitalism is a better system. That socialist governments have failed, because socialism is doomed to fail.

We could ask, did Christianity spread throughout the world because it was the best and most natural religion? In reponse, we could learn about the history of forced converstions: the Crusades, the Conquistadors, the Inquisition, Colonialism. Capitalism has a similar history.

Some facts

Here are some facts. 

In the US, socialist leaders were jailed, deported, surveilled, blacklisted, executed. Labour organizers were falsely accused of crimes, executed, beaten, blacklisted, ruined. 

Worldwide, democratically elected leaders were assassinated by the CIA.

Democratically elected governments were toppled by CIA-backed coups.

Countries were held hostage by IMF policies: drop your plans for a socialist economy, or we will ruin you.

In Latin America, leaders on the left have been murdered outright for generations, leaving new generations of socialists to start over without the knowledge and guidance of previous generations. The US, in most cases, was only slightly less brutal. 

Here's a partial list, off the top of my head. I'm not going to spend time linking, because everything is easily verified; there are dozens of good links about any and all. Skeptics can google. The Fox News crowd will close their eyes as per usual. (I googled only for spelling.)

Emma Goldman
Eugene V. Debs
Bill Haywood
Patrice Lumumba
Salvador Allende
Jacobo Árbenz
Daniel Ortega
Queen Lili'uokalani
Mohammad Mosaddegh
José Santos Zelaya
Achmed Sukarno
Jean-Bertrand Aristide

Martin Luther King, Jr.: under constant FBI surveillance, leading to smear campaigns against advisors and associates, blackmail, and at least one FBI suggestion that King kill himself.

South Africa: when unconditional support for the apartheid state was no longer feasible, the IMF smashed the democratically constructed socialist constitution. (Don't see the connection between white supremacy and capitalism? There's a good reason to google.)

Joseph McCarthy
The Chicago Boys
Palmer Raids
The Ludlow Massacre
Espionage and Sedition Acts
"Right to Work"

Illegal union busting, allowed to continue with impunity in the US and Canada. Legal union busting throughout Asia. In China, labour unions are illegal.

Stealth campaigns of climate change denial funded by the fossil fuel industries -- and the courts and laws that protect them.

* * * *

So yeah, sure, capitalism won by being better. 

Leftists are obsessed with self-blame. Activists are always on about "the failure of the left to..." -- [fill in the blank]. It's healthy to be self-critical -- and sectarian fighting has certainly hobbled movements. But we are not where we are because of the failure of the left. Might as well blame survivors of sexual abuse for being provocative. The ruling class recognizes people's movements as contrary to their interests, and acts accordingly.


impudent strumpet said...

I've been thinking along these lines lately from a more materialistic perspective.

I grew up with a narrative that capitalism is what enables us to have nice things, often contrasting my family's experience in Soviet-occupied Poland lining up for food vs. their experience in Canada with food and all other commercial products available in abundance.

But in recent years I've been noticing more and more situations where capitalism is getting in the way of us having nice things. Things like perfectly useful businesses closing because private equity bought them out and saddled them with debt, or because the financialization of real estate is driving up their rent. Or the enshittification of search and ecommerce obstructing my attempts to find the actual products I want to buy. Or that time there was a massive baby formula shortage because the company did a stock market thingy and had no money left to maintain their factory.

More and more, capitalism seems to be getting in the way of people's ability to use money to buy nice things even if they do have money. Which is significant because that has always been its selling point for regular people.

laura k said...

Your examples are exactly what I meant by this wider awareness.