Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Inadequacy of a Failure's Opposite

What follows is an article I threw together real quick when my editor asked me for an additional article. By the time that I finished it, he decided he didn't need it after all. It's basically just a reworking of an old post, but I saw no reason not to post it as it presently exists. Here goes.

Although there are still a core of True Believers, as with any heresy, Communism is generally disregarded as a solution to the world's ills. It was not always so, of course, but Communism is all but extinct on the earth. Exceptions include Cuba, waiting on the death of Castro, China, a crude hybrid of Marxian theory and the market theory of the west, though still a closed society, and Vietnam, whose dark rule shows no sign of ending, and serves to remind the world what may happen to the friends of America once she chooses to go back on her word.

The death of Communism was a magnificent achievement. It was disheartening that the wretched ideology wreaked havoc for so long, but it was merciful that it had last ended. But the overthrow of a poisonous system of belief is of little use if it is replaced with another, equally poisonous. Many westerners assumed that the death of Communism was a triumph of capitalism. And so it was. But it need not be so. Capitalism is not, I am sorry to say, a wholly beneficent economic system, Ayn Rand to the contrary notwithstanding.

At heart, capitalism and Communism stem from the same line of thinking. Both tend to judge human affairs according to a wholly economic rubric. I should say rather that the latter always does so, and the former threatens to do so. And while men are economic creatures, we are far more. Communism professes that if goods were distributed equally amongst men, they would be happy. Ignoring the utter impracticality of men actually playing nice with each other, it is utterly preposterous to believe that having things makes one happy. Americans have more things than they know what to do with, and it has sometimes struck me that there must be happier people on this planet.

If Communism puts too much faith in men, Capitalism puts too much faith in the market. Capitalism often makes the same mistake. It does not suffer from the idyllic naiveté of its sister heresy, but it still focuses too acutely on things economic. Capitalism professes that if all men are allowed to work so as to get what they want, they will be happy. But in the utopia of Ayn-Rand, wherein everyone must work for everything, happiness is all but absent.

Men are not just machines, to set about working at tasks to buy things which we may consume.

Solomon, in all of his riches, did not declare himself happy. He found vanity in all things. Something is still very much missing, something capitalism cannot offer. May we find it.


donald said...

so you're not going to submit the article anyway? who says that the paper doesn't need it? let the people decide!

A Wiser Man Than I said...

I want to rework this for later, that's all.

Basically, I'm rarely happy with the finished result and if I have time to go back over and make some corrections, I'll make some use of that.