By Michael Emero
Mar 18, 2017
"Capitalism is Evil!"
"No, socialism is Evil!"
"You must love oligarchy!"
"You must love communism!"
Sound familiar? That's what passes for "debate" these days- beating each other over the head with divisive labels and any extreme straw-man arguments handy. Ideas become categories, points of view turn into almost religious fixations, and all mature discourse is rendered impossible while we normalize and encourage mass ignorance and discord.
Like most entrenched antagonism, the reality lies somewhere between. It isn't actually some either/or choice. Combining elements from both ideas has worked well in the past, here and abroad. Socialism protects us, while capitalism innovates; surely one cannot continue sustaining itself healthily when the other isn't also equally empowered?
Unrestrained capitalism, just like unfettered socialism, cannot stay successful long-term. To the majority, neither one by itself works all that well in the short or long term, for that matter. Just like cancer, all uncontrolled growth spreads until it kills the host- which is quite similar to what America's globalization efforts are looking like now.
No one system or organization is the answer nor the problem. Nobody is more valid, wrong, or right based on what specific, narrow ideology is defended. They are just concepts- capable of both great good and great evil depending on individual usage, goals, and perspective. The problem is corruption, and anything man-made is susceptible there.
This gets into the empathizable but drastically oversimplified Libertarian / Anarchist mentality, which claims having any government is a violation of our Freedom. While somewhat true, not everyone sees unchecked pollution or the Wild West as functional civilization. Having a rigged system of 'representation' doesn't mean they all must be.
Corruption doesn't "come" from regulation any more than leaks are caused by plumbing. Removing all the rules from any society is sort of like removing all the malfunctioning parts of your car- does it run better afterward? All corruption comes down to there being a weak spot in the system, utilized and exploited by unethical individuals.
When going on for a long time by many people, it's true that corruption often becomes normalized and self-defensive, like our current political parties. We allowed sponsorship and accepted "lobbyists" to manufacture political millionaires via legalized bribery- that opened the door, wide. Capitalism is indeed a weapon, but only because we let it be.
Facing the daunting task of overcoming our entrenched crony-capitalist oligarchy certainly makes misused ideologies easy targets for blame. But while understandable, it's just giving the domestic terrorists who are actually responsible a free pass. Individual accountability has degraded into never-ending false conflict, pitching us against each other.
If you want an academic discussion, I'd liken our situation most to the fall of the Roman Empire. We're creating a ton of enemies from economic and military expansion, ignoring the needs of our citizens and infrastructure, and have conquesting con artist corporate banking sponsored "leaders" selling bravado as 'Greatness' to cover up class wars.
King-of-the-Hill style factional supremacy is a recipe for eternal struggle. The only way to keep power under such a system is by manufactured consent or corruption- which is what's already going on. To correct it, we must rise above it, and recognize the value in listening, learning, and praticing humility before attacking our fellow countrymen.
I find polarized black-and-white thinking to be our biggest problem; choosing to adopt any rigid views without accepting the possibility of new information is just another form of religious extremism. Defining your beliefs using any label is dangerous as intellectual perspective and critical thought tend to become radically limited, thus flawed.
In my view, we don't need debates. We need discussions which open our eyes to wider points of view, so we can relate to and understand everyone's individual positions. Those refusing to listen, only dictating their own indoctrinated ideologies, are the individual divisionist elements we all need to respectfully stop giving any power or weight to.