I-P: Capitalism vrs. commies

Paul Prescod paul@prescod.net
Wed, 06 Mar 2002 08:36:16 -0800

Owen Byrne wrote:
> >
> > That it is different from communism is easily verifiable through a visit
> > to Cuba or North Korea or through a book about the Soviet Union. Compare
> > the Enron "crisis" to the Ukrainian Famine. Now that's a crisis.
> >
> Sortof comparable to the potato famine, the genocide of North American
> aboriginals, 

These are not exactly examples of modern capitalism, are they?

> ... the Great Depression, 

Not as bad as the Ukrainian Famine. 

> ... WW II,  The war in Vietnam (if you're
> vietnamese),

So now war is the fault of capitalism. I guess it didn't exist before

> ..  the rust belt, slums, urban blight, "donut" cities, 

Oh yeah, these are really right on the same level as the Ukrainian
famine or the current situation in North Korea. Right.

> ... Its easy
> for rich Americans to sit in gated communities with private security guards
> and say their system is the best. Sort of like mid-eighties communist
> party members sitting in their dachaus surrounded by NKVD security talking
> about how their system is the best.
> As some of my more socialist friends would say, take a tour through Arkansas,
> or Flint or the Bronx (or parts of Vancouver).

I live on Main Street in Vancouver. Most of the abject poverty I see is
caused by drug abuse. Do you want to outline a societal system where
drug abuse will not be a problem?

> ... I just go out my door,
> walk 4 blocks south and I'm in the third world (Except I'd probably feel
> safer in the third world).

The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

> Communism is of course a failed system, while capitalism is "an imperfectly
> implemented system." 

Well it hasn't failed in the sense that communism hsa.

> ... I would argue that it was implemented completely in
> England of the 19th century, and that the results were abject poverty for 99%
> of the people and vast wealth for a few. 

Who said anything about completely implementing capitalism? Capitalism
is fundamentally a system where employees choose their own jobs and
employers are allowed to hire whoever they want at roughly the wage rate
they choose. When I say it is implemented imperfectly I mean not that it
is impure but rather that human imperfection corrupts any system. I have
no interest in pure capitalism. It's only virtue over pure communism is
that it is much easier to rebuild a society from a position of too much
decentralized freedom than from one of too much central control.

> ... Not to mention toxic fog, "mother's
> little helper" and child labour far beyond anything currently seen in the
> 3rd world. 

Funny, it sounds like the situation is getting better. So why the panic?

> ... And that no government since then
> actually believes that perfectly implemented capitalism works any better
> than perfectly implemented communism. 

No human system can be perfectly implemented. But you mean purely
implemented here and the same goes for purity of implementation.

> ... And that "socialism" has been implemented
> in various places in the world, and people have been happy with it, often
> to see it crushed by military force usually cynically labelled as the "forces
> of freedom," or by economic bullying (again usually called "forces of freedom").

so·cial·ism (ssh-lzm)
Any of various theories or systems of social organization in which the
means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively or by a
centralized government that often plans and controls the economy. 

The stage in Marxist-Leninist theory intermediate between capitalism and
communism, in which collective ownership of the economy under the
dictatorship of the proletariat has not yet been successfully achieved. 

 * http://www.dictionary.com/cgi-bin/dict.pl?term=socialism&r=67

Where was this implemented where people were happy with it?

> Then there's my belief that capitalism/profits/rush to market/ is primarily
> responsible for the AIDS virus jumping from monkeys to humans. That one's
> arguable, I suppose, but if you read the book "The River"
> (http://www.uow.edu.au/arts/sts/bmartin/dissent/documents/AIDS/River/)
> perhaps you'll agree with me.

Even if you buy that theory, you could just as easily argue that it is
centralized government intervention that caused the problem. Was a
commercial company distributing the virus on a pay per fee basis?

I'm not a libertarian. I don't have a need to prove that capitalism can
do no wrong or that governments always cause problems. Rather I believe
that human beings cause problems, whatever their governance structure
and the best we can do is try to minimize the damage. Judged
historically, capitalist western countries (and several eastern
countries) do a decent job at minimizing the damage. We tend not to have
famines or decades-long dictatorships. I think we compare favorably to
any self-avowed socialist country like Korea, Cuba, China or the old

 Paul Prescod