Capitalism is alcoholism, hide the liquor

An adult that I have a lot of respect for has been helping me develop my political opinions, albeit in a bit of a backward way. She’s a capitalist and, while I disagree with her, I definitely still hold her in high esteem. We were talking about capitalism, and she shut me up with the comment that “capitalism is like alcoholism. We have to realize that we’re sick, then just hide the liquor.” I didn’t have much of a come-back for it, but it did give me a lot of insight into capitalist politics. I’ve had a week to think about it though, and I’ve given it a lot of thought.

Capitalism is indeed like alcoholism, but rather than accept it and avoid the liquor, I think that one should attempt to move away from it. If I were an alcoholic, I would avoid places like bars and wine-tastings, realizing how dangerous they could be for me. Similarly with capitalism, if I realize that it is a disease, why continue playing along? I’d much rather be proactive, and do my best to eliminate it. I do recognize and understand that a communism would not be any kind of Utopia (Engels had a great critique of Utopian socialism, I’d definitely recommend it for a read!) however, it would be a better alternative to the current capitalist system.

This, ramblingly, brings me to another criticism of socialism, which is that it breeds laziness. My first thought on it is that a Jamestown, John Smith method to work would be very beneficial, essentially, if you don’t work, you don’t eat. But I do realize that this opens the door for atrocities, like Social Darwinism. I definitely think that this should be altered to say something like “To each according to his need, from each according to his ability” then “he who doesn’t contribute to his ability, shall not eat.” Although it’s definitely not as pretty as the John Smith version, it definitely sets me more at ease. I also think that, again, a paradigm shift would be incredibly necessary. Work isn’t something that we have to begrudgingly do, rather, it should be something that, even if we don’t particularly like it, we understand that it provides for a cohesive society.

Now, I do acknowledge that some people can be lazy, even realizing this. And I think that, in a communism, we would definitely see these people take advantage of the system. As I said, a communism would in no way be Utopia. But, I think that it’s important to realize, in this case, this is one of the evils that we must just take in stride. I strongly believe that a communism would be vastly more productive, cohesive and effective than the current capitalist system.

Effective though, I do use it a bit loosely. I follow Marx’s, in that I believe that the quality and effectiveness of a society can be judged by that of it’s weakest or lowest members. It is this way that I feel a communism would be effective. I do realize that a large reason that technology and whatnot have advanced so quickly, is because of capitalism. Capitalism encourages people to work quickly and effectively, however, the only members of society to reap  the benefits are the upper class, it takes much longer to trickle down to the lower classes, and the disadvantaged. In a communism, things would obviously not progress as quickly, but I think this is a worthy compromise to lessen class stratification and bring benefits to all of society, not just a select elite few.

That last point there brings me to my critique of individualism and my promotion of humanism, however, I’ve decided that I’m going to break it up into two blog posts. This is getting a bit long, and, believe me, I know that denizens of the internet don’t have the attention span. Until next time, I think I’ll leave you with a cheesy ‘fight on comrades!’


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by James Saunders on September 7, 2010 at 2:47 PM

    Another perspective of alcoholic-capitalism is the idea of environment– are we to accept inherence of capitalism as a product of human nature? An alcoholic will surely feel the need (physical, mental) to consume alcohol, but the post-hoc fallacy would be to say that alcoholism thus is (1) some “natural” human nature and (2) is the means by which the human animal should live. Even better: we’ve created the addiction (capitalism) and use it as the incentive. Suddenly economics starts looking like the Opium Wars. Surely to the opium-addicted who toil for the dispersed scraps of opium can’t fully comprehend the alternative. Remember, even by the author of the original quote you were commenting on, that capitalism is like alcoholism, but we are NOT BORN alcoholics. When you create social strands of disgust, you’d be amazed what things people will refuse to touch. Ultimately, economics is a matter of human nature, but only cyclically. Change the social stigma, change the system, change the nature of humanity.


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