Leftists don’t hate the ‘benefits’ of capitalism
It’s that they don’t exist
By Aidan Bridgeman
Image courtesy of Luke Price via Flickr
Many skeptics of socialism and marxism worry about the implications of moving towards a fairer society. They believe that highstreets will be wiped out, businesses won’t exist, and we’ll somehow go back in time, and technology will become more and more primitive. The countless years of lies they’ve been fed by those in power have worked. It has worked to trick their minds. It’s not directly, however, that capitalists say ‘socialism is inefficient!’ or ‘marxism means no innovation!’; it’s from their constant advertising and lying campaigns to paint capitalism as the best and most efficient system that people associate socialism with the opposite qualities.
But is free market capitalism actually efficient? Well, it depends on your definition. Helpfully, capitalists have their own definition that is completely opposite to most others’. To them, it is efficient if it involves reducing costs as much as possible (oftentimes through immoral means) while producing as much as possible. It’s one that doesn’t take into account longevity, resource degradation and humanity, of which it’s not very effective at not exploiting. They’ll tell you that supply and demand keeps everything in check though; companies will only produce what is wanted by the consumers. Then how would that explain the ludicrous amount of waste from supermarkets? Or from Amazon warehouses? Or from farming? Even car manufacturers? These businesses exist in a system where they are incentivised to produce far more than what is needed. Often, it is the case as well that they’ll destroy excess produce to either dispose of it in a way that doesn’t lose them money or to create artificial availability. It’s not awfully efficient to require millions spent on marketing efforts instead of actually improving your product or service either.
Moreover, this unhealthy obsession with high profits at all costs leads to shoddy products. I don’t mean cheap toys or half-assed tech, oh no. I mean accommodation, infrastructure, health services, etc. Surely it would be more efficient to invest in their sustainability. Or shall we keep cutting costs at every turn? It’s not efficient to overproduce and create mountains and mountains of waste. It’s not efficient to never plan ahead, and, equally, it’s not very efficient to destroy the planet with insane profit motives and squeeze the working class of every penny they have—which is ultimately where all your value comes from.
How about innovation? It’s quite the extraordinary claim to suggest that the only reason society has moved on from our primitive ways is because of profit motives. Indeed, much of what society relies on today comes from public funding and university research—not private corporations. Profit motives are very good at thwarting innovation in reality. They serve to direct funds away from any new research and keep the status quo, that being producing products with only acceptable quality (though often this metric is hardly even met) with high costs in order to turn a profit.
The ‘competition’ lie kind of relies on the other two I’ve already stated. Many think that competition is analogous with capitalism, thus bringing innovation and efficiency. This could not be further from the truth. Consolidation is the name of the game here. City centres in the UK are mostly chain cafes, restaurants and shops now. The entertainment industry is owned by a handful of large corporations—ones that would happily merge or buyout one another if it weren’t for the already-lax anti-competition laws. In a system that accelerates the accumulation of wealth towards those at the top, the little guys can’t ever compete. They cannot be competitive at all. So, of course, there’s no incentive for big businesses to innovate or be truly efficient.
The owner class continue to pedal these myths about capitalism and espouse the supposed benefits when, in actuality, it is that very system that actively discourages them.