A few days ago a friend of mine shared a ridiculously hyperbolic post from a Facebook page called “Capitalism Kills.” I used Facebook’s handy feature to hide all posts from that page (not my friend’s posts… just posts from “Capitalism Kills.”)
Why did I do that? I knew that my voice was not going to be heard or valued on my friend’s post, or on a page like “Capitalism Kills.” I’ve been trying for the last decade to form constructive dialogues on these pages and each time I try I fail.
The person who shared that post is someone I respect and admire a great deal (even with our political differences). And Facebook is mostly great in that it allows me to maintain my relationships with people all over the country. But Facebook sucks too because it wants us to reinforce our biases.
It is ironic that pages like “Capitalism Kills” exist in one of the most valuable capitalist intellectual properties to ever exist
“Capitalism Kills” is an echo chamber by design. That is the brilliance of Facebook. Social media generally allows us to curate the voices we value most. So while I could have engaged in that post, attempted the break the echo chamber (for the thousandth time), I instead chose to create an echo chamber of my own and write about it here… in the relative safety of this snowflakes personal frozen tundra.
My question for “Capitalism Kills” is simple: what doesn’t kill?
A goldfish could kill you if you swallowed it incorrectly, although I don’t know why you would swallow a goldfish.
Spiders kill people — and should be eradicated from existence.
Life is hard. Every day is a struggle for survival, and within that struggle the various categories and mechanisms of our existence can, theoretically, kill us. So from a purely philosophical point-of-view I will admit that yes, capitalism kills. But only in ways in which anything else can/will/could/might/wont kill us.
Some things are more effective killers than others, communism for example. Just typing/seeing the word makes me hungry.
If capitalism kills, and I am saying this broadly, it also gives life. It is much like fire. Fire kills people, it is currently causing drastic destruction in California. But fire is also the single most important discovery in the history of man. None of us are here without ancient man’s discovery of the flame.
And like fire, it is only because of capitalism that I am typing this right now. It is only because of the profit motivated innovation which capitalism delivers to us that our life expectancy is greater than “died in child birth” or “died of plague.”
The free market and the voluntary (keyword — voluntary) exchanges provided therein have revolutionized our existence. Those of us who live within a capitalist society, which is virtually every individual reading this, all four of you, owe our daily creature comforts to the successes of capitalism.
In fact, I would go so far as to argue that our continued survival and cultural/societal evolution is based on the continued success of capitalism. If capitalism fails we will all suffer greatly. I think it it will only fail through the force of arms that is democracy — that, however, is another topic entirely.
How many of you are capable of farming your own food? Foraging? Hunting? How many of you can provide your own clean water? How many of you are capable of building your own shelter? How about vehicles? Can you cultivate livestock or domesticate horses?
Probably very few of you have even one of these skills, hardly anyone has all of them. And yet capitalism provides us with the tools necessary to not only learn these skills, but also teach them to everyone else around the world (YouTube).
I know that I am not sufficiently capable of survival alone, and if my survival was based on my ability to subsist without the voluntary cooperation of others in a free market, then I would die. I could teach myself these skills… but it is more efficient for me to utilize capitalism. This allows me the freedom to pursue my interests — such as writing, drinking craft brews, and eating Doritos as I watch Season 2 of “Ozark.”
Beyond capitalism’s significant abilities to keep me (and all of us) alive, it does so much more. Capitalism is actively and dynamically improving our quality of life every single day. Amazon is the perfect example of this.
This past week I created a comprehensive wish list on Amazon. Whenever I come across a book that sounds interesting I save in my wish list. This allows me to manage my next read (currently I am reading Jim McInerney’s “Bright Lights, Big City”). I do this because Amazon allows me to connect to booksellers across the world who use Amazon’s platform to provide their goods to people like me.
What struck me, however, is Amazon’s recent creation of “AmazonSmile”:
AmazonSmile is a website operated by Amazon with the same products, prices, and shopping features as Amazon.com. The difference is that when you shop on AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products to the charitable organization of your choice.
If you visit smile.amazon.com you will automatically be prompted to select a a charitable organization. I selected the Alzheimer’s Association, an organization dedicated to eliminating Alzheimer’s disease and reducing the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. I chose the Alzeimer’s Association because my grandmother had Alzheimer’s, and I have both of the genetic markers for the disease.
Amazon is the only website I use for online shopping. Without me prompting them to do anything other than provide me an efficient and affordable platform to buy their products (and the products of thousands of vendors around the world), they are doing an incredible good for a cause that I care about on a deeply personal level.
But… you know… evil capitalist swine, don’t you know that “Capitalism kills?”
Thanks for keeping the flame burning bright for the rest of us.