To the horror of my parents, I’ve always been a socialist of sorts, a wandering spirit looking for the government supporting its members as members, where people don’t die under bridges or in shabby nursing homes.
Before everyone trots out their tea party rhetoric and Fox and Friends viewpoints, let me say that this is pretty much a one-man debate, a personal deliberation. I’ll occasionally discuss the matter with my libertarian friend Jesse Markowitz, if only because he is one of the few people left who openly discusses things on merit rather than what passes for Yankee debates these days (an exchange of bullet points like petulant children trading baseball cards).
After all, the efforts I currently observe (public housing, public assistance) usually end in broken homes and horrible squalor. It’s hard to see how that works, but to me, its inconceivable to not make the attempt.
I’ve even brought it up with the Speakers Corner’s socialists when they take a break from their soapboxes, consulting with the prophets for my answers. But they don’t have any, outside of the idea that worker happiness will create overproduction and a flood of goods. No, I don’t buy that either.
The funny thing are the arm-crossers in such a debate, the don’t-tread-on-me capitalists who imagine that this (this place we live in, with traffic and concrete and pollution and noise and advertisement and competitive consumption) is the highest point of human existence. They will even argue this while standing in the beige cubes of the modern corporate officeplace, if ever a feudalistic world there was. If anything, that is a level below socialism, a move backwards. At least in socialism, you are a member by commitment. You are not a member from fear of exclusion, which is pretty much what feudalism/corpocracy is. Surrender to us your personality, wear a slave-collar/tie, bow to your lords and masters or its over the wall you go. Natch.
I do remember an old Ian Banks scifi novel from years ago, where a spy was sent to scout this mysterious computer-run socialistic empire. At first, he saw all he expected to see (and all the reader expected to see). But as time went on, as he saw more and more, he realized that it worked. With unprofiting sentient machines (who cared nothing for power, wealth, and prestige of office) running things, with high-tech organization of resources, with deliberate skill placement, people discovered their maximizing niches.
There were also the Mars books (Red, Green and Blue) where corporations were limited to only 1000 people, made up by groups who’d organized around the company’s required functions. Management, in this setting, was hired on by the teams for one-year contracts. It isn’t as we have it now, a hierarchy of nobility. Or, as Jesse would say, Crony Capitalism.
One must remember how unlikely your argument for capitalism would be in, say, ancient Egypt, this thought of full rights, liquid (and mobile) wealth, and rapid communication (for voting, laws, organization and regulation). Simply put, the ancient Egyptian shopkeeper would have a hard time understanding how our republic and our capitalism could ever work.
Just like the modern capitalist cannot see how future socialism could work.
I can only hope that future evolutions of consciousness and technology will bring about the changes needed to bring about true socialism. Not in my lifetime, but perhaps in some distant future year.