Saturday, April 14, 2007

Capitalism is War

     I think everyone, regardless of their political and religious orientation, hopes for a future in which all of humanity lives in harmony with each other. We hope for a world free from war and the human suffering it entails. But these goals can never be met as long as mankind lives beneath the shadow of capitalism.

     What's so bad about capitalism you ask? And how the hell is it comparable to war? To begin with, let's look at the conventional wars, those fought with formal militaries. What starts them? Perhaps every one was started due to a conflict over resources. They, for the most part, were not fought over religion, as an apolitical atheist may hope you to believe. Religion is often used to placate the masses or to aid in convincing them to participate in the slaughter of their fellow human beings, but the initial motivation is always material in nature. Kings and emperors, the predecessors of todays' ruling capitalist class, started wars with the intent of increasing their material wealth. They have always had others shed their own blood for their material comfort, and if they could not convince their people to fight by calls to religion, patriotism, and the defense of "freedom","democracy", "order", and "civilization" then they resort to drafts and other forced service in their interests.

     Now perhaps this doesn't seem all that bad to some people. After all, eventually a nation will emerge the final victor, having either obliterated its adversaries or having reduced them to a powerless extension of themselves. And then war, outside of minor scuffles and "interventions", will be over. However, this is not the case in my opinion, because I think the mere existence of capitalism necessarily puts humanity in a constant state of war.

    What is war? War is a conflict of interests, in which (typically) one party wins and one party loses. The losing party's quality of life is diminished, and to the victor goes the spoils. But what is capitalism but the glorification of conflicting interests? Capitalism, not by systematic imperfections, but by design is a system that puts people's interests opposed to each other. Worker versus owner, buyer versus seller. These interests are necessarily in opposition. There can be no peace and we cannot work toward common goals if our goals are not the same, if one of us being better off necessarily means that the other is worse off. These conflicts of interests and their outcomes are just as serious as those from more conventional wars. Those who starve, suffer from inadequate health care, curable diseases, and the like do so whether they are the losers on the battlefield or if they are the losers in the marketplace, whether suffering is delivered to them at the point of a gun or handed down to them from the "invisible hand of the market". Even in the "first-world" countries where hard-won labor reforms exist they are constantly under attack by those who lose profit by their very existence. The daily demand for more work from the workers at less pay by the employers and more pay for less work by the workers puts every individual in the society in constant conflict with others.

     I don't believe that anyone is inherently "bad" (if only because no objective definition for the word exists), but I do believe that people act in their own interests, whether they be of a material nature or not. This is a fact that cannot be avoided. So it is crucial that our political and economic structures tie people's interests together rather than set them opposed to each other. No one can reasonably expect any system to be free from conflict, but if you ever hope to minimize it, you shouldn't be using a system that is actually built on it.