A lot of people misunderstand capitalism. Capitalism isn’t about profit, or GDP, or getting rich, or greed, though they are all part of it. Capitalism is about property.
Many socialists and communists criticise capitalism with poor understanding and arguments, and few take on its foundation. I will now attempt to lay down its foundation.
You begin with the premise of property– each person may have complete control over what s/he owns, and may use that control to whatever ends they wish. As long as this is one of your premises, you will either end up with capitalism (anarcho-capitalism?) or a contradiction.
Now, within each person’s control of a possession, they have the power to hand over control. So you can trade.
And importantly, no object has any value of its own. This is a common misunderstanding. You never pay for anything in itself: you pay for someone else to hand over their power to you. If you paid for the object itself, where would the money go? And this value is subjective.
So, one man (we’ll call him No1) has an ornamental (but functional) tractor and many fields, and another (No2) has a field and bags of gold. No2’s field is on an island with No1’s tractor, and No1’s fields are on the mainland. No2 offers enough gold to buy a thousand better tractors on the mainland, because he doesn’t want to transport a tractor to the island, but No1 says no, because his tractor was his dead grandfather’s. The objects value was different to the two. Is there anything wrong with keeping your heirloom to make you happy?
It is the same with a business. A (monopolist) farmer might burn some of his crops, despite hunger around him, because he wants more money to be happy. It is in his power to do with as he will.
A nice note on capitalism, is that because value is subjective, so is the idea of being rich. For one man, money makes you rich, for another, it’s friends, family, kindness, or anything.
‘for where your treasure is, there will be also your heart.’
Each actor in the market uses their own power, to their own ends. Whether consumer, employer, investor, employee or anyone else. (If you accept the government’s possession of the land and the people, they do too)
Capitalism flows logically from ownership. Anyone who wants to attack capitalism, must attack property.
Peter Kropotkin, the great anarcho-communist, understood this. When other communists, socialists, and anarchists, suggested any form of ownership, trade, or money (“work notes”), he told them it would lead to tyranny or capitalism.
So what argument can be levelled against property itself?
Property is based on increasing freedom. The argument is that, if a man in his freedom can change an object, for his past freedom to be sustained he must have complete authority over the object. For the freedom to change an object to exist, that change must be protected.
But this premise is false. Freedom to do, doesn’t require the removal of the freedom to undo.
And property, in the privatisation of freedom over an object, is violent. You cannot remove freedom by free action in the past. It makes no sense.
How can property be gained by being first to act upon it? What would count as acting upon it? How come such a right is eternal, lasting beyond the actor’s life. No, property rights are nonsense. Property began when men threatened violence for touching an object.
That said, I respect that some things mean more to some people, and I don’t want to upset them. I call this, belonging. Heirlooms belong in families. Everyone belongs at their own home.
‘We belong together.’
When you respect possession, you respect violence, and papers. When you respect belongings, you respect people’s feelings, their hearts.
All that being said, I don’t intend on stealing (or expropriating) anything. Just living by love, regardless of the idea of property, but keeping in mind those who consider themselves owners. It’s still not kind to steal.
Arguably, using property in love would work out as not treating property as your own anyway. I like this idea, because it means the problem of what to do with property and of property being false, solve each other if you live by love (which I believe you should).
Love cannot be bought. It cannot be forced. It cannot be tempted out. It is definitively free. All things in love are free.
God bless you.