Magazine of Socialist Action in Australia

Socialism v Capitalism: FAQ

Reading Time: 2 minutes

A new generation of young people, disgusted by the absurd inequality of capitalism, are rallying around socialist ideas. In response, capitalist ideologues have trailed out the same old, tired and baseless slogans to defend their system. Below we take a brief look at some of the most frequently asked questions.

But, isn’t capitalism human nature?

How often have we heard this? That there is no alternative. Capitalism is, has been and always will be innate to our species. Our earliest human ancestors, hunting and gathering for survival, were unlikely to be very concerned with talk of quarterly dividends for shareholders. In truth, capitalism has only existed for a few hundred years, global capitalism even less so. For most of human history, our ancestors organised in egalitarian, communal tribes where everything was shared on the basis of need, not profit.

In contrast, today, we produce 2.5 times as much food as is required to feed the world’s population. Yet people starve. Every major city is lined with vacant, unused buildings. Yet people freeze sleeping on the streets. We are staring down the barrel of an environmental crisis that demands immediate work to be done in the development of green energy. Yet people struggle to find even the most demeaning of jobs. Workers today create so much wealth, only for it to sit inactive in the offshore accounts of the super-rich. Could anyone fathom a system as shockingly unnatural as capitalism today?

Capitalism is democratic, socialism is dictatorship

Despite the facade of democracy and neutrality, the capitalist state is connected by a thousand strings to the heads of giant multinational corporations, and all the capitalist parties are united in doing their bidding. These “masters of the universe” are the ones who truly run the economy, buying off the politicians who depend on their funding.

In dimly lit boardrooms, CEOs undemocratically make decisions affecting the lives of millions. The world’s food and drinks industries are dominated by a mere ten corporations. Through complex webs of subsidiaries, paperwork and branding this is obscured from us. Products owned by the same corporations falsely compete on the market, so we are presented with the false idea that there is a vibrant and varied economy. But in reality, it is controlled by a small cabal of largely white men.

Socialists demand the democratisation of the economy, for every decision that affects society to be made by the people, for the people. The authoritarianism of the Stalinist counter-revolution in the Soviet Union and the rolling back of the historic gains of the Russian revolution was a grotesque caricature of genuine socialism, born out of imperialist invasion and isolation. We say, “You can’t have socialism without democracy and you can’t have democracy without socialism”.

But haven’t the capitalists earned what they’ve got through hard work?

This year, the richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos, made as much in a second as the average Amazon worker in India made in a year. This hyper-exploitation is no coincidence – it’s the reason for his massive wealth. While Amazon workers are falling asleep standing up on 55-hour work weeks, exhausted by targets, Bezos does nothing and makes a fortune off their backs.

Capitalists feed off the value created by their workforce, creaming it off for “profit” and paying workers a pittance of what they make. It is the workers of Amazon who provide the goods and services, not Bezos. Just as it’s the workers of the world who put in the hard labour to make society function, not the idle capitalists.

By Christopher Stewart


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