Communism and capitalism - I choose neither

13 March 2012 - 11:20 By Bruce Gorton

The US right now kind of echoes the USSR in some ways – and it highlights to me the issue with communism and capitalism.

Cash. File photo.
Cash. File photo.
Image: Reuben Goldberg
Cash. File photo.
Cash. File photo.
Image: Reuben Goldberg

Under Barack Obama the concept of there being one law for the rich and another for the poor is getting pretty firmly cemented – with fiscally and politically inconvenient targets being left alone while those who reveal their wrongdoing are targeted.

Such is the case with the Stratfor emails, such was the case with HBGary, such is the case with Howard Dean – who has in fact looks to have lent material support for watch-listed terrorist group Mojahedin-e Khalq under the definition accepted by the US Supreme Court in 2010.

The failure of communism was a failure of balance. Government is required in any social system to be the balancing factor between business and labour, with communism government was business and thus labour got shafted.

The poor ended up highly exploited because government had a vested interest in exploiting them.

With the US the same problem is developing at an increasing rate – because now business is their government. Consider the Sopa and Pipa hearings, there were legislators seriously proposing legislation they did not understand because their backers liked it.

Those bills were not defeated by sanity in the house of Congress and the Senate - they were defeated by mass anger on the internet and the lobbying power of various internet companies.

Racism is still a part of the US financial services culture. A recent study showed that lawyers were more likely to recommend a less advantageous form of bankruptcy to black clients than white ones. Nothing much is likely to get done about this, because black people filing for bankruptcy don’t have as loud voices as the lawyers giving them bad advice do.

Economic disadvantage based on race can become very easily entrenched in a pure capitalist system – because generally the people with an economic advantage are the people politicians court for the sake of campaign contributions.

In South Africa at the moment we have a capitalist system – which means that while we have massive issues like our looming water crisis, we have the Information Bill being the major talking point in our politics.

We have not had an information leak with real serious implications for national security – but we have had leaks that have spilled cyanide in our rivers. It is the former that is getting prioritised because we have had major revelations of corruption in our government.

Corruption prevents economic empowerment and freedom except for the very few – because in a corrupt system the rich can dictate the laws. It is pure capitalism, and it is just as bad as communism, and ends in exactly the same places as communism.

The best systems we see around the world use both – and end in neither. We see it work in the Scandanavian model, where countries have high living standards because they don’t think of whether something is a capitalist or communist solution, but whether it is actually a solution at all.

We need government to govern, not be in business either through bribes or national coercion, because otherwise we will continue to face serious issues over our environment and while having a job is necessary for our way of life – water is necessary for our form of life.