One of the greatest and most frequently overlooked (or perhaps eclipsed, given the more direct and inhumane atrocities) evils committed by the likes of the despicable totalitarian governments of China and the USSR was the defamation of communism. When Karl Marx envisioned communism, he envisioned a necessarily and inherently democratic system of liberation for all people. Though he would argue that the ultimate end of communism would be a stateless, and therefore technically non-democratic, society, the idea of communism has always been shared ownership in society’s goods and means of production. With this sharing comes a necessary rule by those who share, so democracy, though technically excluded from communism’s ultimate end as envisoned by Marx, is closer to being of the same essence than opposed thereto. In any case, such a goal is completely incompatible with the communism-by-name-only totalitarianism wielded by the unimaginably corrupt governments which have so far claimed the label for themselves.
I recognize that wading into Marxism is dangerous territory for any political commentator, not only on account of the rampant misconceptions regarding the subject, but also its genuine failings. While I believe Marx’s view of religion is to be absolutely rejected, for instance, such failures are entirely separable from the valuable, demonstrable insights he offers regarding the reality of our modern economic circumstances. Insofar as they are true, these insights should prompt action in citizens of our modern, free society, for they point to some of the most serious problems which are yet to be overcome.
The most critical understanding which a modern human must have regarding our capitalistic system is the primary source of profit. While modern markets afford occasions wherein profit may be accrued simply from the exchange of goods (i.e. the acquisition of goods at a low price and their resale at a higher price), and there are certainly instances in which a laborer takes it upon himself to reap the benefit of his own labor surplus, a major source of capitalistic profit in our modern society is the exploitation of the laborer. It is when a laborer produces for the capitalist more than said laborer’s wage costs said capitalist that the capitalist reaps profit.
It seems Marx may have considered this more fundamental and unavoidable to capitalism than I. Of course, being one whose economic education is still in progress, it may be that I simply do not yet understand, or that he is incorrect. But it seems that this is, at the very least, a real and far too frequent occurrence in our modern society. Further, this insight is not unique to Marx, though it is perhaps on his account that it is most popularized. It is, it seems to me, a simple enough observation whose proof is ubiquitous. Owners of the means or production hold jobs over the heads of those without such ownership, and by our legal system we are compelled to seek and take those jobs offered to us. There is no alternative for a person born in today’s society but to become part of the economic system, lest one choose to live the ignoble life of a criminal. Frequently, that system still works to enslave for profit, and it is the laboring party from whom this profit is stolen. So frequently does this occur, in fact, that I understand the inclination to claim that it is essential to capitalism as we know it.
It must be said that I do not view capitalism as inferior to all alternatives. I am quite glad to have been born in a time after such immense progress has been made to disrupt and depose those who ruled over feudal systems of days past. However, in today’s political environment, the opposition between the moneyed capitalists and those they oppress should be clear to those sufficiently educated to take note. This recognition is not some silly conspiracy theory, nor does it require adherence to any of the loony far-left movements. That “class warfare” has become a rallying label of condemnation among fox news and those of their ilk for those who point out the horrifying reality of modern wealth distribution should give pause to any who believe along with them.
The reality is that our current form of capitalism depends strongly on the exploitation of laborers. Members of our society are compelled to work forty hours a week, sometimes for as little as $18,000 a year. That is preposterous. The lives of human beings, particularly those who devote themselves to honest labor, are worth more than this. No person who works diligently and honestly at the socially agreed-upon rate of time and pay should be condemned to such an uncomfortable, strenuous life as one must be when based upon such insufficient resources. That any member of the world can make millions, if not billions of dollars while his or her brothers or sisters toil endlessly for such slight pittance is demonstrative of the extremity of human callousness.
It is up to us, the laborers of the world, to correct this great injustice. It is a difficult, strenuous task which requires of us extreme vigor of life. We must put ourselves to the task of self-cultivation in every waking moment so that we grow to take control of the machinery available to us. Every day we see new breakdowns of old modes of production, particularly in information technology. Whereas the design and distribution of operating systems and applications was once afforded only to those capitalists with the resources necessary to bring together the components required for such an endeavor, free and open source software has exploded onto the scene, breaking old models and ushering in new, more productive, and more communist models. I am, in fact, using these free and open resources to produce this free and open article which can be freely and openly accessed by others making use of the same tools. Power has shifted from a minority of privileged owners to a growing population of laborers who have the opportunity to take on equal roles in the production, maintenance, and dissemination of these resources.
It seems to me that the world is trending and will continue to trend in the general direction of Marx’s central predictions. Technological advancements are becoming so powerful as to utterly disrupt the systems of control required for the subjugation of labor. When every person can make for oneself every thing, economic focus will be displaced from what one owns to what one can do. As the free and open source models so successful in software development mature and move into the realms of hardware development, this will become more and more of a reality.
This is the noble solution to the theft of capitalism; to cultivate oneself to the extent that one’s abilities are so thoroughly refined and powerful that one becomes capable of resisting oppression from within the capitalist system. The insurrection of Mind on behalf of freedom is manifested in human excellence. The savvy citizen of modernity will seek out and take part in those waves of power rolling through our environment, employing them to further the end of Mind by sculpting from oneself a monolithic testament to freedom.
And that was the basis on which this blog began. We are not yet of a time in which the above is so easily accomplished, and I intend to share and develop knowledge in the hopes that together, we can make ourselves sufficiently strong as to overthrow the would-be plutocrats infesting our political systems. The crux of life is the movement of Mind whose greatest expression is perhaps the labor of righteous human beings. We cannot allow our societies to oppress and exploit this activity for the sake of their own profit.
So work for a greater minimum wage and a stronger progressive tax. Work to keep resources more evenly distributed among those who are honest and good. Work to defy those who would have others worship money as though it were freedom. Work in remembrance that it is we who shape our social, political, and economic systems in support of the ultimate end of freedom of Mind.
But above all, work to cultivate thyself, for without us, none of these ideas will change the world.