Thursday, September 7, 2017

A Tale of Two Dogmas: The Innate Human Drives of Capitalism and Socialism, and Their Manifestations in the Culture War

The debate relating to the ultimate cultural and philosophical origins of what we generally call the impulse to insure land property rights and financial inheritance, i.e. "Capitalism", as well as the altruistic impulse of communal equity and shared group cooperation, i.e. "Socialism", have been retroactively extended backward in time by historians, anthropologists, theorists, and political scientists, to our earliest emergence as a species. As a historian, I have always been drawn to the school of historical analysis known as Euhemerism, which, to offer a short description, is the extrapolation of provable fact from the dissection of literary myth, and thus, I am ultimately most intrigued by origins that are placed in the earliest pre-history, and reflect core aspects of human nature. This guiding philosophy has hugely effected my fiction writing as well as my overall belief system, and has ingrained in me an holistic approach to sub-textual elements in regard to character development in script and story, and in real world in regard to interpersonal communication, where political dogma and ideology have increasingly come into play in day to day interactions in oblique and often subtle modes. 

It is probably no great news flash that I am on record as an ardent anti-Socialist, and I'm sure that for many of my intellectual peers, even hearing such a description is quite disturbing. This reaction is largely due to the cultural fallout of the left generally "winning" the culture war for the soul of western societies. Having moved past their classical liberal / socially liberal democratic values, these assumptions were born in the aftermath of the waves of counter-cultural revolutions that gained speed following World War II, and culminated first in the Beatniks, then the Hippies, and then the Punks. Of course, there was no "rule" to force a Beat, Hippie, or Punk to be a Socialist or Communist, but the assumption was made by, well, Socialists and Communists, that if you "had issues" with "the system", you probably ascribed to further left beliefs. This only made sense since the establishment was always depicted as a bastion of Conservative-Capitalist philosophy and the epitome of "the powers that be".

This was perhaps quite true in the time before the establishment itself moved further and further to the left, but as it stands now in most western democratic (and not so democratic) nations, as well as in many second and third world nations, academia, media and prominent figures in the arts have held enormous power and cultural sway over the slow entrenchment of Socialist philosophy to the otherwise oblivious general public. This has culminated in the increasing co-opting of the government by politicians who may not always define themselves as Socialists, but for all intensive purposes, that is indeed what they are. Saul Alinsky's subversive and adversarial tactics, and his Marxist goal of the destruction of the middle class, and the philosophic foundations of the United States and other western nations, were / are still in effect by the far left, but in the aftermath of this unilateral co-opting of government agencies and political parties, even a Tory in Great Britain, a Republican in the US, or just short of a full Nationalist in France, etc., could easily be seen spouting pseudo-Socialist, Globalist talking points to an audience largely unaware that such a shift had so deftly and subtly overtaken them.

As a counter-reaction to the clear leftist dominance in culture and the takeover of the apparatus of state, Conservative parties were now the opposition to "the man", by default. They revamped themselves in movements such as the Tea Party and Brexit, in the realization that their founding philosophies were indeed still worth fighting for. Many of these classical liberal beliefs were once shared by both right and left but now had been seemingly abandoned by the left for the more outward Socialist and Communist goals of the greener pastures of the further left. This in turn gave the right the fuel to embrace these values all the more as part of their heritage. To be fair, moderate leftists still hold these beliefs as sacred, or at least as semi-sacred, as any of those on the right, yet, in all of this, the far left was / is still convinced that they are carrying the torch of revolution and resistance to imagined enemies of a status quo that they actual control. Ironic, huh?

So this is where we are at now. A state of "Political Schizophrenia", as Vladimir Putin recently disparaged the state of political and societal affairs in the US. But, let's go back to the discussion of origins, shall we?

In the most ancient times mankind primarily worked cooperatively in small hunter-gatherer bands that were primarily based on blood kinship. While this could be seen by many to be the basis of the Socialist tendency, I would argue that because this paradigm thrived in an extended blood bond structure highlighted by hunting ground territoriality, that this was oligarchic in nature, and that the "prime hunter" was given much latitude in "running" the tribe. Essentially, a chieftain-hood is still a monarchy. If the chief was chosen by a council, it was a constitutional monarchy, if he was as appointed by a shaman, this was a theocratic monarchy. The parity of those beneath the chief might very well be described as Socialistic, at least in the pre-Marxist context, though we could equally describe it simply as "familial".

Enter Capitalism. As civilization spread, the ownership of unique physical structures i.e. huts, led to the apportioning of crop fields or more elaborated houses, which were held to "belong" to a specific immediate family group, and thus, the patriarchal concept of inheritance was born. Capitalism's true definition is simply the right to private property and honoring your contractual agreements. Just like mom and dad told us when we were kids - Don't take other peoples things and don't lie to them! This philosophy, far from having a negative effect, reflected man's desire for continuity, and fueled the fire of civilization, as much as civilization was fueled by it. It may have been working counter to the illusion of "collective community", but it allowed for the legal framework in which a man could pass the ownership of his wealth to his offspring, and to provide for his spouse or other chosen relations. This philosophy, and the legal systems that grew from it were not a nefarious plot of male supremacy, as many third stream feminists might contend, but rather a method to insure the stability of civilization in an all too fragile world filled with the threat of famine, warfare, and disease that looming near at hand. Marx describes this as well, and thus the origins of Capitalism is affixed to this paradigm, and I see no reason to doubt that this is indeed the starting point that led to mercantilism and global trade.

Socialists, particularly Democratic Socialists, often contest that any social services, such as police, infrastructure, road upkeep, and the care for the less advantaged are evidence of Socialism working inside the Capitalist framework, but I think not. Despotic Kings as far back as the dawn of Mesopotamian civilization financed roads, building projects, sanitation, and gave charity to the unfortunate. These are all essential parts of Capitalism, and keep the mechanism of commerce from stagnating. I contest that in respect to this line of thinking Socialists are looking for something they have already found.

Through the ages collectivism often reared its head, many times wrapped in the guise of religious movements, specifically those that embraced the utopian image of global equality as synonymous with the utopian premise of the religion or culture in which it was practiced. In its most zealous forms, this manifested in the "disdain of greed" motif often presented in various religions as a sin or vice. This pairing should be of no surprise since it still continues till today, and religious people of all faiths are often taught to downplay wealth and to praise the poor as somehow more in line with "God's plan". As if God, or the Gods, wish their human "subjects" to suffer. That is clearly not a plan a deity would concoct, but rather the temporal powers that be. Nice try, though.        

In their true modern "canonized" forms, Socialism and Communism obviously start with Karl Marx in the mid-nineteenth century, and came into psychological existence as a rebuttal to the abuses of Capitalism and the inequities that Marx saw in the world around him. This entire line of thinking could have only been born out of a middle class mind born in a Capitalist society. Capitalism may be a competitive system, but it is a system that seeks to give everyone the chance to better their lives. As Capitalism creates social mobility, it destroys traditional class structure and forges equality based solely on success. This equality in turn encourages classical liberal values, which eventually lead to a counter reaction against Capitalism, most often in the form of Socialism. A full circle of sorts.

But, as we know, the ultimate goal of Socialism, according to Marx, was to set the stage for eventual national Communism, and thence, global Communism. Regardless of the protestations, Democratic Socialism, Marxism, and other forms of "Communism-lite", are designed to slowly entrench actual Communism, and if Socialists are honest with themselves, and others, in discussing their ultimate vision of what they think would be the "best future" for the world, I'm fairly certain that regardless of the terminology used, it reads like Communism.

Sadly, the one problem with this system, which on paper reads like a wonderful Star Trek-Like future of no currency, no war, no want, one fair global government, and utopian equality, is that it doesn't work. The reason is simple, by re-distributing wealth and forcing this utopia, Marxism coalesces all people in a society into a single class, most often defined by deprivation and food shortages, since the arm of Capitalist production, and Capitalist money soon becomes scarce. As Maggie Thatcher, PM of Britain in the 1980's was once famously paraphrased, "The problem with Socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money". As it often goes, Capitalism facilitates the funds and altruism that allow Socialists to gain political control and implement their collectivist policies. As long as nations keep riding the pendulum between fiscal Conservatives and Labor parties there will be money for Socialist entitlements. As soon as Conservatives are out of the picture, leftists run out of money and their systems soon implode. England, and many other European nations, have long leaned Socialist on the backs of their fiscal Conservatives. When pressed for best case scenarios, sycophants frequently cite Socialism as working well in nations like the Nederland's and Sweden, which admittedly it did, in the past. The reason it did work so well is because those states started the process of increasing Socialist policy within a relatively homogeneous and law abiding population who boasted very high standards of living. This allowed for the large taxes Socialist entitlements required. South America on the other end of the spectrum, swung to extremes, while the US has traditionally been in the middle - allowing for the push and pull of Socialist entitlements under Democrat big government thinking and fiscal cutbacks under small government Republican thinking. For those who contend that Capitalism is not working well in the US, I should probably point out that our economic problems stem from the growth of Corporatism facilitated by big government and lack of constitutional controls, which have led to the increasing diminishment of entrepreneurial zeal and manufacturing, and paved the way to coalesce the population into an unbridled consumer culture.

Today, instead of working together to compromise on the road to improving society, the left has swung generally further left, and as extremists of all sorts often display, their lack of tolerance for those who they feel are impeding their progress toward this wonderful utopia has become more acute. We normally call that fascistic, but the left truly believe that they are immune to being fascist, and as I specified earlier, they are still convinced that they are holding the torch of revolution, regardless if their street-fighting Antifa Communist heroes are as much fascist as the fascists they claim to be so against. We must recall that George Orwell, the prime literary anti-authoritarian of the twentieth century, held Communists in special disdain, and viewed them as no different, if not worse, than from the rightist fascist dictatorships he fought against. Animal Farm was a metaphoric indictment of Stalin, and ask yourself, if you have read the "futurist" cautionary tale of "1984"; what is the political system presented in that work which rules over Winston Smith and the faceless masses of workers, and guides them through food shortages, universal surveillance, Stasi snitches, the destruction of religion, and the rewriting of their history and language. If your answer is not Communism, I think you may have read another book.

While the Alt Left is all the more enamored with the notion "bringing down the system" and installing global Communism, the world has collectively moved away from this deceptive form of tyranny, and as a result, over a billion people rose up out of poverty and joined the middle class in the last few decades in nations like China and India, thanks to Capitalism not to Communism. Grumpy old Socialists like Bernie Sanders or MP Jeremy Corbyn might mutter "Bourgeois pigs" under their breath, but Socialism did nothing for this starving billion for a century-and-a-half. Likewise, the Paris Accords and Carbon taxes will not fix environmental pollution, Capitalism will. As these new middle classes become more powerful they won't put up with their children playing in filth, and China and India, will be forced to clean up their acts, literally.

As far as history goes, and when the high death toll of Communist or Socialist-led states are pointed out to believers, they are apt to insist that those states "just didn't get it right", and that at some point in the future someone will. But there is no getting Communism, Socialism, and even Democratic Socialism right. Whenever they are involved in practical political structures, they are drawn to create oligarchic bureaucracies, such as the European Union in Brussels. The EU is a perfect example of Socialist thinking - its ruling body is composed of highly educated, but absolutely un-elected, and a mostly faceless bunch of politicos, who live the high life while distributing other peoples money. In historically full Communist states, such as Cuba and Russia, Communist Party members prospered while the common people lived in misery. Add to it if you complain about the system, you were either imprisoned or shot by Che or Josef's firing squads, especially when being of African descent or Jewish.

India flirted with Socialism for nearly a century, and China went Communist about 70 years ago. Yet, until their governments embraced Capitalism, they were incapable of eradicating the rampant poverty that plagued their nations. On the other hand, South American countries swung back and forth from authoritarian military dictatorships to Socialist and Communist governments, and the people suffered either way. Only the states that have embraced Capitalism have been able to approach the first world's standard of living. The more those nations relied on a Socialist economy the more fiscal problems they eventually suffered. The current mess in Venezuela stands as a stark testimony to that failed endeavor.

I think most Socialists are aware of this increasingly clear paradigm, at least on some level, but in order to remain true to their ideology, they are forced to be adversarial to Conservatives based on sociological concerns, which they tend to ply by stereotype. Ironically, the right has become highly diversified, and many fiscal Conservatives are socially very liberal. In some cases, I would suggest that they are even more so than classical liberals, and certainly more so than far left nanny-state scions. Psychologically this friction between perception and reality causes cognitive dissonance, and encourages leftists to try and depict those on the right as against what they stand for, even when they agree on an issue. Thus, they envision the right as against the social values they prize, even though those values are shared.

I personally think there is room on the spectrum for both ideas in the Democratic process, though I guess it would be nice if the Democrats could formulate a list of principles as to what it is they actually believe. If they are not Socialists, then let's hear it, and if it turns out that Socialism is what distinguishes a Democrat from a Republican, then I guess maybe they need to rename their party to make it clear that they are indeed Socialists.

Saying that, I expect the culture war will continue for some time, and in my opinion, the further left the left swings, the more they will marginalize themselves. In the US that is certainly true, as the recent elections have shown that the "average Joe" has finally reached the end of his patience with indulging the Socialists and cultural Marxists. In Britain, as it has been pointed out, no working class people actually support the labor party anymore, and those who vote labor are actual what I like to call "Starbucks Marxists". If in this party reshuffling, Capitalism eventually destroys class divisions, I wonder just what will the Socialists fight against? Theirs is a movement whose engine is powered by a "collective" spirit that thrives on identitarian class, race, and gender warfare.
In response to the left's hegemony in the media and academia, the right has been forced to look elsewhere to share information and organize. This was first achieved in the US on "Talk Radio", which has become a bastion of Conservative pundits, with just a few notable leftist parallels. With network news and periodicals closed to them, the next endeavor became the Internet, otherwise "the wild west" as far as information dissemination goes. Here everyone is equal, sans the powers that be de-monetizing voices they disapprove of. But, those voices can always appear suddenly elsewhere. All it takes is a new forum, a blog, or video provider. 

Trolling is a reaction to the left's dominance in the culture war, and ironically, much of it comes from button pushing contrarians who are not even on the right. It is an openly subversive way to fight the narrative that has dominated media and academia for decades. Trolling is the skeptics means to undermine the ridiculousness of SJW nonsense. Of course, since it is the wild west, some actually not nice people do get in the mix, as well as some actual fascists and racists, regardless of the normative Conservative movement distancing itself from them. This is very unlike Progressives, who almost uniformly refuse to condemn groups like Antifa and their use of fascistic violence, sometimes against minorities they insist they are "protecting". I expect this failure to continue for some time because leftists secretly welcome them as armchair proxy fighters in their "struggle". Many Socialists, if they are true to their vision of the future, know deep down that the actual end game of implementing Socialist policy - is global Communism.

Meme "Magic" and comedic images like "Pepe the Frog", and the entire 4chan and Reddit liberal skeptic "shitposter" aesthetic, exists simply because it irritates those on the left, who think this all means something it does not. The more the left and SJW's are triggered by an image, the more shitposters will bang that gong, and the more that they contest that an image reflects fascism or racism, or what have you, the more this cyber-space banter will continue. This is literally button pushing 101 - a sad side effect of the culture war that is best left to the cancerous comment sections of Youtube videos.

As for the Gauntlet of Balthazar, I will continue in what I feel is the noble endeavor of combating the mutant twin bane of globalism and collectivism, and to fight for the rights of individuals to express their opinions and creativity in the most constructive manner possible. Till next time.   

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