This essay will examine a core principle of most American patriots, conservatives, and libertarians. Most Americans seem to consider the terms “free market” and “capitalism” to be interchangeable. But is that accurate? We often think of capitalism and communism as being polar opposites. Are they really opposites or just two pincers attacking the middle class? I think that we have missed something fundamental. I am going to examine this issue from a variety of angles and political perspectives, with quotes from a variety of men. Prepare to be ideologically shaken.
First of all, how does the dictionary define communism and capitalism? My Webster’s 1828 does not list the word communism, as it came into vogue about twenty years later. Likewise, Webster’s 1828 does not list the word socialism.
Webster’s does not list the word capitalism, but it does list the noun “capitalist”. In 1828 it was understood by Webster that a capitalist was “A man who has a capital or stock in trade, usually denoting a man of large property, which is or may be employed in business”. Under the noun “capital”, which denotes head, Webster’s lists the third definition as: “A stock in trade, in manufactures, or in any business requiring the expenditure of money with a view to profit”. Further, under the adjective “capital” Webster’s 1828 lists a subordinate term, that of “Capital stock”. Webster’s states that “Capital stock, is the sum of money or stock which a merchant, banker or manufacturer employs in his business; either the original stock, or that stock augmented. Also, the sum of money or stock which each partner contributes to the joint fund or stock of the partnership; also, the common fund or stock of the company, whether incorporated or not”.
In Webster’s definitions I see much about wealthy men, banking, factories, and investment -but nothing about family farms, craftsmen/artisans, or small business.
But let us again attempt to define communism. My 1949 copy of The American College Dictionary by Radom House of New York does list communism! It defines it as follows: “1. a theory or system of social organization based on the holding of all property in common, actual ownership being ascribed to the community as a whole or to the state. 2. a system of social organization in which all economic activity is conducted by a totalitarian state dominated by a single and self-perpetuating political party. 3. communalism”.
Furthermore, the Communist Manifesto of 1848 seems to me to use the terms communism and socialism somewhat interchangeably. Are they interchangeable, or is socialism simply a watered down version of communism, a step in the process of transition?
One often hears the terms “free market” and “free enterprise”, often connected to capitalism. Webster’s 1828 does not list either of those two terms. Radom’s 1949 American College Dictionary does list “free enterprise”, but not “free markets”. Radom’s ACD defines “free enterprise” as follows: “the doctrine or practice of a minimum amount of government control of private business and industry”. Okay, so the ACD thinks that free markets are not necessarily totally free. Are you confused yet?
What did the Founding Fathers think? In the U.S. Constitution there is absolutely no government authority to incorporate a business. The so-called “interstate commerce clause” (Article 1 Section 8 Paragraph 3) would appear to allow for nothing except for the regulation of trade treaties and tariffs between the several States, foreign nations, and Indian tribes. However, it is absolutely clear that Congress does have the authority to lay a tax on goods made in or imported into the U.S.A. (Article 1 Section 8 Paragraph 1).
If one considers free trade with no tariffs as a required condition to free markets or capitalism, then the Founders were neither free market, capitalist, or communist! What were the Founders, and does their position correspond to any position held by any prominent group today?
The well-known author and college professor Clyde N. Wilson, in an August 10, 2016 online article titled A Southern Political Economy vs. American State Capitalism on the website of the Abbeville Institute, made some very interesting observations. In this article, Professor Wilson stated the following: “From its beginnings, the U.S. government was regarded by Southerners as a matter of liberty, honor, and American mutuality. From its beginning, the predominant class in the North regarded the government as their money making machine. Southerners saw the Constitution as the people’s control over government power. Northerners saw it as an instrument to be manipulated to their advantage. This difference first came to a head with the struggle between Hamilton and Jefferson. Hamiltonians wanted a strong central government built on patronage to the wealthy. The patronage was to be paid through national debt, manipulation of the currency by a “national bank”, and various types of business subsidy, which were falsely claimed to be necessary and beneficial to all Americans”. Professor Wilson also refers to our economy as “state capitalism”.
Capitalism and communism were not terms used when America was founded. Communism, and socialism, presupposes government regulation or ownership of the means of production -aka the entire economy of an industrialized nation.
Before the Industrial Revolution a bit over two centuries ago, the world was agrarian. Most people lived on farms. Among the lower economic classes, barter was common. People produced, or traded with neighbors and the local store, to obtain their necessities.
The concept of going out to a corporate shop (or factory) for eight hours a day to do a single specialized task for money (or valueless paper script like FRNs) to then go and buy everything they need would be incomprehensible to our ancestors.
Enter industrialism. Industrialism told people that life would be physically easier and they would have more money and things if they would only leave their farms and go to the city to be a little bee in the factory hive. Of course, the owner(s) of that factory were not little bees, and lived lavishly compared to the workers that they wished to “help” by giving employment to.
This disparity of wealth brought about by throngs of industrial workers laboring to barely get by as their masters lived decadently set up class antagonism. Human nature being what it is, unregenerate people in positions of power took advantage of the (now property-less) city workers. Long hours and low wages left many workers in poverty. Think of Irish immigrants who flooded America’s eastern cities, long before we imported Mexicans post 1965. With an influx of cheap immigrant labor, it often became a race for survival. What the workers did not realize is that when they left the self-sufficient farms, they left their liberty.
Marx exploited this class division in Europe to launch communist ideology in the middle of the 19th century. America had not yet progressed that far from her freeman agrarian roots, and was not ready to topple to openly socialist/communist ideology until the Great Depression.
Capitalism is not synonymous with free markets. Capitalism is wealthy men, corporations, and bankers controlling the economy for their own interest –the poor workers be damned. Capitalism, because of its size and strength, always results in monopoly- the death of independent small farms and businesses (aka the free market). Capitalism always brings about government monopoly privileges –incorporation, tax breaks for big business, sole public utility provider status, the NYSE, etc.
In the aforementioned article by Clyde N. Wilson, Professor Wilson also stated that: “Marxists love and encourage state capitalism because it is a step toward government control of the economy. The Jeffersonian tradition upholds private property and freedom of enterprise against their enemies, socialism and big capitalism –the dominance of government-enhanced wealth over general well-being”. But we must recall that Thomas Jefferson was an advocate of an agrarian republic of free citizens, as evidenced in his book Notes on the State of Virginia.
In the 1982 book Profiles in Populism, edited and with several sections written by Willis A. Carto, the late Willis Carto wrote the following as his definition of capitalism in the A Populist Glossary section of the book: “CAPITALISM. The economic system of democracy but often found in some form in military dictatorships. A degenerate form of free enterprise. The means of production, money, banking and the political process are controlled by a small group of oligopolist/monopolist capitalists for their own personal gain. Basically hostile to nationalism. Constant expansion through war, imperialism or tax-financed pyramid building required to feed the constantly-growing interest burden. Inflation is inherent in the system. Capitalism is incompatible with widespread competition in the economic, intellectual or political spheres. Because of the interest incentive and its common foundations with Marxism of equalism and monopoly, capitalism inevitably degenerates to crisis and Marxism. The word was coined by Karl Marx and ever since then has been defended by conservative and libertarian intellectuals”.
Willis Carto also blasted communism in that book, stating in part: “Basically, communism is nothing but a social system with all competition forcibly removed except the competition to control the system”.
Furthermore, Carto stated that: “International capitalism has far more in common with international communism than with free enterprise…The biggest business in the world is not General Motors…the biggest business in the world is called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, a business corporation presided over by a board of directors called the Politburo”.
On top of all this, Carto proclaimed that the Federal income tax is: “The indispensable money tree for capitalism, Marxism and Zionism, and created, perpetuated and endorsed by them. Paid almost exclusively by the white, productive middle class”.
There is a reason that Jacob Schiff could support the Bolshevik Revolution while being a fabulously rich international banker in America. Monopoly capitalism, communism, Zionism, the Federal Reserve System, multiculturalism for white countries, and the World Wars –all brought to you by the same Tribe!
Please recall the Michael Bunker quote from his book Modern Religious Idols that I used a few posts ago. Bunker wrote that “Socialism, whether it takes the form of Marxian socialism leading to communism, or the form of industro-capitalist socialism leading to fascism, is on the march”.
I have here attempted to define both capitalism and communism, and describe how the West slowly slid toward these two authoritarian systems. I think I have been successful.
I reject both socialism/communism and corporate businesses/state capitalism. I embace the concept of an agrarian based economy of propertied freemen –the republic envisioned by many of America’s Founders. I hold that big business corporations and their cronies in government have virtually enslaved us the same as the Soviet Union did. Now that is a radical position.
© Copyright 2016 by Joseph Charles Putnam of Orange County, Indiana. All rights reserved.