Author: Alex Miller
There is no such thing as Capitalism. There are only differing degrees of Socialism.
When politicians rail against “American Capitalism and Imperialism” they are using terms which neither they nor their audience understand. We probably shouldn’t let the enemies of freedom define the terms we use because it puts us on the defensive to start with. But since we have the terms, the least we can do is understand them. I searched the title after I wrote it, and I found someone else had already noted this truth (http://ibloga.blogspot.com/2010/04/theres-no-such-thing-as-capitalism.html)
The explanations are a little long, but they are as succinct as I could make them without oversimplifying them. And once you understand the terms, you will have the ability to understand, and defend yourself from, any political advocate. Unlike academic theorists such as Marx or Engels, my purpose here is to edify rather than impress.
Imperialism is a reference both to rule over territory and to the system of government by an emperor. There is no habitable place on earth not ruled by some government. Therefore, objections to American imperialism on Amerrican soil are objections to America and not to imperialism as it is defined. So what is it about America that they are denouncing? We, as in you and I, are the American government. We practice government by the people for the people. America puts the local citizens in the place of the emperor and our highest government officials answer to us as ministers and aides have historically answered to an emperor. This is accomplished by a design that depends upon the concept of rule by law. Theoretically no one person can ignore, change or subvert the written law for any reason. To some degree, all other countries have some class or person who is recognized as above the law. We have the Rockefeller family, but they don’t flaunt their power publicly. So when you object to America, either you are promoting government by an imperial class, an emperor or as it is popularly phrased ‘a strong leader,’ and you are insulting the American citizens as unworthy to govern themselves.
References to American imperialism on foreign soil, such as Iran or North Korea, refer to the influence of wealth. Commerce is not imperialism. When a deal is offered by either the government or a business in one country to a group of people in another country, some people in each country will want the deal and others will not. The deal may benefit either the rulers or the citizens, one group more than the other, and threaten the existing equilibrium between the two groups. If the performance and subsequent payment is either too beneficial to one group or too detrimental to the other, the deal even if refused can cause strife between the rulers and the citizens. This effect has been inaccurately referred to as imperialism, when in fact it is a symptom of the disparity in power and the social separation between a country’s government and its people.
Capitalism is not a system. If each individual is allowed to pursue their own interest or happiness, and they interact in a mutually agreeable manner, the activity is called capitalism. If their pursuits involve trespass against others (for example, stealing), that is called anarchy. Free people may choose to delegate some of their legitimate authority by setting up a government. Or, someone may seize power from them and direct in some degree their economic activity. The result in either case of this ’sharing’ of ‘power over private behavior’ is named socialism. If the degree of socialism assigns only the minimum needed power to a government body to perform only those duties that are more efficiently done in unison, such as preventing anarchy leaving private pursuits mostly un-molested, that ‘minimal degree of socialism’ is called capitalism. If the portion of private power shared via a government body increases to a point where individuals ability to pursue their own interests are hampered, that is called socialism.
Some people don’t want to compete in the marketplace, yet they covet the advantages that flow from thrift and industry. Obtaining sustenance without either work, theft or charity can only occur under some degree of socialism. People who rail against ‘capitalism’ are demanding that government take from those who are busy working and give to those too lazy or afraid to do for themselves.
In the light of this understanding of the terms being used, we see that the politicians, who rail against American imperialism and Capitalism, are promoting their preferred brand of imperialism. So who is it that they trumpet as more moral than Americans are? What person or group of people can be better imperialists than we can? Who is more deserving of power, to direct our activities, and of reward than the thrifty and industrious among us? Surprise! Many political organizers in this part of the country are advocating that the Mexican government could better govern us than we do on our own. Americans make what rules we must but mostly we reject what rules others offer, so the Mexican government is an interesting choice. I have been there and seen the results of Mexican imperialism. Looking at the economy of Mexico, no rational person could explain how we would benefit from having Mexico exert its imperialism here. And the same argument goes for every other country on the planet. The only explanation has to be ‘cultural preference,’ or, as it is often better known ‘racism’. They are appealing to the lowest parts of our character – greed and hate. People here have the opportunity to excel despite their skin color, national origin, family history etc., because that is the essence of the capitalism that our self-imperialism allows. But some Americans cheer politicians when they proclaim the wonders of _____(fill in the blank country’s) socialism and its ‘right’ to assert its imperialism over them and us.