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Socialism is Post-Capitalist. Not Anti-Capitalist.
It's time to progress to the next stage of human development.
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If you’ve spent any time in leftist circles or consuming left-leaning media (including this publication), you’ve undoubtedly heard a lot of anti-Capitalist rhetoric. Terms like “Smash Capitalism” and “Tear down the system” are commonplace on t-shirts and hashtags, reflecting a growing discontent with our current socioeconomic system.
And while this anger is well-intentioned (I’m sure I’ve expressed it myself), it’s important to recognize that Capitalism was a necessary step in human development. The problem isn’t that Capitalism existed, but that it still exists.
Stages of Development
According to Marxist theory (quote below), human progress has been a series of increasingly productive economic systems, each built upon the last. First, there were the pre-historic hunter-gatherer societies, which culminated in the Neolithic Revolution. This birthed the agrarian-based Asiatic mode of production found in ancient Persia, China, and Mesopotamia. From there came the slave societies, such as Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire, which relied on forced labor as the main engine of production. Next came European feudalism, which morphed into Capitalism after the enclosure of public farming lands in 15th-century England.
"But the philosophy of every epoch, since it is a definite sphere in the division of labour, has as its presupposition certain definite intellectual material handed down to it by its predecessors, from which it takes its start.” - Karl Marx
And though the 21st-century global economy looks much different from the Enlightenment-era system based on maritime trade and colonial expansion, its core Capitalist characteristic — the private ownership of the means of production — remains the same. It is in this Capitalist stage of human development in which we live.
Like its predecessors, Capitalism is brutal, exploitative, and dehumanizing. It incentivizes greed, trickery, colonization, and imperialism. By purposefully making resources scarce, its main motor is competition, an inherently wasteful practice as it relies on multiple parties completing the same task, with only slight improvements over each other.
And while this system has built great wealth and developed god-like technologies (such as the computer I am currently typing on), to say Capitalism is the culmination of human development is as naive as it is cruel. Those currently in power, who owe their high position to Capitalism, tell us it is foolish to think humanity can develop further. But this is nothing more than an echo of the same discouragements uttered by every king, pharaoh, tribal leader, and slave driver before them. For the people to believe it this time is to play the fool.
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Socialists such as myself seek to usher humanity to the next phase. One in which natural resources are collectively owned, the fruits of one’s labor aren’t stolen under the guise of “profit,” dictatorship is abolished from both the workplace and the government, and none are left to freeze or starve because they lost the lottery of birth.
What I have just described is Socialism, the successor of Capitalism. Once this system is brought into place, humanity can continue to progress onward and upward, achieving Communism, or “High Socialism” as Marx called it.
This track of progression is the reason I push back on the term “anti-Capitalist.” I am no more “against” Capitalism than I am “against” the bus I take to visit my friend in another city. Getting on the bus was a necessary step, but when my stop comes I want to get off. Riding the #15 for eternity isn’t my goal, and it won’t benefit my fellow passengers. Who it does benefit is the bus’s owner, whose wealth increases which each ride, and the bus driver who is made to feel special and empowered by their seat at the front and their hand on the wheel.
It is time for humanity to get off the bus. It has taken us to our destination, one of great industries and technologies. But now it is time to stand up, stretch our legs, breathe fresh air, and move to an improved system that remedies the injustices inherent to Capitalism.
This is post-Capitalism. This is Socialism.
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