NOTE: Put down the flame throwers and your custom crafted skull bludgeoning copies of Atlas Shrugged. I am not going to defend the entirety of
Socialist style government or economic systems, as the versions that have been attempted to date have been largely untenable clusterfornications run
by dictators or were administered in environments of genuine as opposed to artificial scarcity. While I do believe that the country would be better
served by a hybrid system that consists of a comfortable socialist style base level existence available to all paired with a capitalist strata for
those who wish to improve on the more humble base level lifestyle, this post is not dedicated to laying out that theory. That's for a future post.
This post is about shooting down one of the most irritating canards in the ongoing war between capitalism and socialism.
I often hear people say that without the capitalist game of wealth building, there is no reason for people to strive for better and (most annoyingly)
that there would be no innovation because people would just be content to suckle off the system while doing the bare minimum required of them.
People who think this way have, more likely than not, never had an innovative thought in their lives. While it is true that millions of people would
indeed wallow in the basic lifestyle and lowest common denominator pleasures that wold be made available to them while contributing an absolute
minimum to society in the process, this is no different from the way the world works now or the way the world works in a capitalist system. Truth be
told, millions more people are stuck in a very similar lifestyle while maintaining the appearance of being what capitalists would call good and
After all, I --the middle manager who works 8-10 hours a day shuffling paperwork, employing buzzwords, and attending meetings in exchange for a
paycheck--am considered by proponents of the American version of capitalism to be vastly superior to the person who spends 8-10 hours a day watching
reality TV in exchange for welfare check. Yet at the end of those 8-10 hours, what have either of us done to better humanity or innovate in any way?
Nothing. And the vast majority of American jobs are similarly non-productive. So capitalist "employment" is not in and of itself a driver for
As a matter of fact, in the example I illustrated above the capitalist pseudo-employment of my hamster wheel financial existence hinders innovation.
By the end of my day/week I have precious little time or energy to work on anything other than relaxing and spending time with my family. Sure, I work
when I can on writing to try and improve humanity by adding to the culture of the United States (the art of a civilization being one of the major
factors in determining its "greatness"). I have a few ideas for innovative projects, ventures or undertakingsm yet the capitalist system (which offers
the potential of financial reward) drains me of the energy to pursue these passions.
Can you spot the important word in the above sentence? I'll give you a moment.
Passions. The things innovators, creators, dreamers, and true producers of a new and improved world would like to do in order to contribute to the
betterment of society or at least enrich the lives of others are things that they would often pursue regardless of financial benefit. They are
Passions. Hell, I even had a short-lived but artistically vibrant literary magazine that ended up costing me more money than it made.
Now, the modern caricature of a socialist/communist system involves the oppressed people working long arduous hours at back-breaking toil such that
clearly people are too broken and exhausted to do anything beyond feeding the horrible machine. And that is a charming snapshot of bygone days. The
simple fact of the matter is that if every person of reasonable working age was put to productive work (manufacturing, farming, information fields for
those physically unfit for manual labor), the average work week could only realistically be 10-20 hours a person. The means of production are such
that we DON'T NEED to squeeze 40+ hour weeks out of everyone. We would have too much stuff manufactured, grown or created.
The only reason we are still locked in the 40 hour week work model is that we have been locked into the capitalist $/hour system that says 40 hours is
the minimum to support a nominally secure lifestyle. That model has been outmoded since the mid-80's at the latest. This is why there are so many
non-productive jobs. Because there is nowhere near enough productive labor to go around.
So with a 10-20 hour work week that comfortably provides for our most fundamental needs, what do we have? Time. Energy. These are the most vital
resources for innovation. The guy/girl who invents the hoverboard is not going to invent the hoverboard because they want to be rich. They're going to
invent it because they want to live in a world where hoverboards exist. This is the key to innovation. Letting people pursue their Passions.
There would still be people creating and innovating and improving the world under a well designed socialist system. In fact there would be more people
pursuing such ventures than ever before because the most basic requirements of innovation: time and energy would be available in great abundance. True
innovators innovate for the sake of innovation. They create a better world because they want to live in a better world. Yes, doing so can (and should)
have material rewards, but suggesting that eliminating the time and energy destroying hamster wheel of modern capitalism would squelch innovation is
Again, I acknowledge that socialism/communism as administered in the past is a ridiculous nightmare. I posit that it is no more hellish than the road
crony capitalism is taking us down today. Both systems are laid low by the corruption of the human character. A new and better system needs to be
established. I believe it would need to be a hybrid of known systems.
I am not socialist/communist. I am a theorist. This is not about Obama or any other president or administration. Modern American politicians have
crammed themselves into such a narrow ideological box (in which all of them fit regardless of bogus left/right affiliation) that they are irrelevant
to real thought or progress. This is about dismissing myths in the interest of keeping all the cards on the table as we ponder the betterment of this
edit on 15-3-2013 by RobertAntonWeishaupt because: Grammar
edit on 15-3-2013 by RobertAntonWeishaupt because: More