09 Mar The Convergence of Communism and Capitalism*
The Convergence of Communism and Capitalism
What happens when politicians embrace and blend the essence of both Communism and Capitalism? What strange potion do they brew?
Remember the Red Menace, the Soviet Union and Red China? Remember the Commie, Pinko, Liberal Leftists of the ’60s and ’70s who agitated for acceptance and change? Recall the subsequent successes consequences when their thinking was incorporated into law-making …, the belief in big government, central planning and profligate spending …, the exhortation that government planning is the only best solution to realize the American Dream help the poor and dispossessed …, that governments are smarter than the markets, smarter than the invisible hand of the people they govern, smarter than the entrepreneurial businessmen who had made, and who continue to make, America the West rich? Did they all suddenly vanish after the victory of the West, of Capitalism over Communism?
To the contrary. Those believers in bigger government now are the leaders not only of countries previously counted as part of the “Communist world,” but also of nations that had been counted as part of the “free world.” Today’s leaders may have changed their stripes are often talking “a Capitalist game,” but their actions more frequently are those of the central planners and profligate spenders of old who subjugated their peoples and bankrupted their countries’ economies.
Was Communism buried by Capitalism … or, contrary to conventional wisdom, is Capitalism being buried by Communist-era thinking? Perhaps the two have converged and … we now experiencing a new Centrally-Managed Capitalism (a contradiction in terms if ever there was one!) … or a new form of Communism – “Capitalism with Chinese [and/or American] Characteristics”? Is either an improvement over the Capitalism that made the world a richer one … and made America the greatest nation on Earth – and made American vulture capitalism the most successful economic model in history?
The “new Communists” (who, despite their self-serving labels for their political affiliations, now are both on the left and the right) have been hiding their true absolutist political and economic colors. They’ve been saying one thing and doing another, espousing Capitalism and democracy … and yet implementing “a new Communism.” The harsh reality is that they’ve been centrally planning a good part of their countries’ economies, trumpeting Capitalism’s success … and undercutting its foundations.
Have we all missed the revolution?
Capitalism – and the very Capitalist policies upon which America and Western success has been built –, has been perceived by voters as failing for some time. Free markets are messy. They create winners and losers and … uncertainty, and politicians feed on uncertainty, the angst and anguish of the losers, of those who feel left-out. Angst is a bringer-of-change. It provides a springboard for the aggregation of power by the power-hungry to fight uncertainty. It enables a leader – in fact, it requires a leader – to effect radical change. Voters search for a benevolent leader, someone who promises to, and who they believe can, cut through the uncertainty and deliver … whatever it is that will relieve their anguish (optimally, the benevolent despot described in Plato’s Republic). As a consequence, central planning becomes the accepted solution … and, after all, what is central planning but the triumph of Communism, Communism-in-disguise, as an inevitable outcome of the uncertainty of the democratic process?
There are few leaders who still label themselves Communists. It’s a term that has lost favor with the public and central planners scrupulously avoid using it. Although the Chinese Communist Party has retained that vestigial title, it has been executing a public relations campaign to rebrand its style of governing as “Xi Jinping Thought.” (During the time it embraced Communism, its PR was Mao’s Little Red Book (“Mao Zedong Thought”), a central-planning dictatorship by another name.) As a one-party state, China can coordinate an all-nation approach through central government control of companies, technologies, academia and media. And yet the Chinese Communist Party also has embraced a limited form of Capitalism …, which has been called “Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics.” Economists now often refer to the Chinese brand of Capitalism as “centrally-planned Capitalism,” a clear non-sequitur! The U.S. is now embracing a similar-to-China form of Capitalism that might be called “Capitalism with American Characteristics,” which economists have labeled “state Capitalism” (another non-sequitur), which moves America towards the Chinese model. In the rapidly complexifying 21st Century, the invisible hand of Capitalism is being enfeebled by the barely-visible hand of government control and intervention. It seems that laissez-faire capitalism has created too many billionaire winners … and ever more “losers” who are voting for an egalitarian division a greater share of the spoils …, something that once was recognized as an integral part of Communism. No longer, apparently. In America, centralized-government-thinking is now embraced by leading politicians in both political parties.
It’s not called Communism, but the shift in America to central planning nevertheless is well underway.
There may no longer be a clarion call for workers of the world to unite, but voters throughout the formerly democratic world who feel anguish and fear have united in their calls for
radical change. And that’s precisely what they’ve been getting from their newly-elected empowered leaders. (The odious trend can be seen in India (Modi), Brazil (Bolsonaro), the UK (Johnson), Poland (Duda/Kaczynski), Israel (Netanyahu), The Philippines (Duterte), Hungary (Orban), Turkey (Erdogan), etc.) Voters may remember understand that Communism – central planning for agricultural and industrial policy – was a catastrophe that resulted in starvation and declining, uncompetitive, inflation-prone economies. They may also understand that 21st Century workers are wealthier and freer than their 20th Century predecessors. But they still want new, strong leadership that will provide relief from actual and perceived ills … and will vote for whoever promises the types of changes they are persuaded could relieve their anguish and fears …, and who isn’t libeled name-called tarred with a pejorative label … such as a “Communist” or a “tyrant” or a “despot” … or a whatever.
Democratic Party voters in America want their government to eliminate poverty, debt and income disparities, and protect the environment …, and many don’t care how those goals are achieved … or even whether they can be accomplished without discarding American values. They want a bigger, more patriarchal government to give them more. Republican Party voters also want change. They too want to eliminate poverty, and also want an end to immigration, an end to America’s involvement in foreign affairs, an end to the trade deficit, and an end to drug addiction …, and are either indifferent to whether those changes are effected by a more patriarchal government or in favor of a stronger, more centralized, more controlling Federal government. That is, they also don’t care how their goals might be accomplished … or whether they can be accomplished without discarding American values. They are accepting of expansive government interventions despite the fact that the Republican Party was built on a foundation of fiscal responsibility, States’ rights, internationalism and small, not smaller, government. A Republican majority nevertheless is supportive of a spiraling deficit and a national policy that actively embraces central, Federal planning. For example, the recent China trade deal favors government-selected constituencies, precisely the types of Federal government largesse that Democratic Party leaders like Bernie Sanders also favor … and the precise type of policies that China, Russia, Cuba, etc., actively pursue. Protectionism – central government management of trade and production priorities – is government planning that puts handcuffs on the “invisible hand” of capitalism. Republican Senator Marco Rubio has proposed a Bernie Sanders-like industrial policy that would mirror China’s centralized industrial and technological planning by, among other things, having the government select and financially support national champions (a policy the Trump Administration is actively pursuing on behalf of Qualcomm (and others) utilizing a national security rationale). Immigration control policies being pursued by the Federal government are another example of central planning – the flip-side of the undemocratic, centrally-planned immigration policies previously pursued by the Obama Administration.
It’s therefore impossible difficult to distinguish the central-planning, anti-capitalist policies of the Democratic Party from those of the Republican Party! Both also require the Federal government to spend with abandon …, far greater abandon than ever before. Federally and fiscally, America’s two political parties therefore are on the same course, running parallel to their Chinese Communist and Russian autocratic foes counterparts. They both want the Federal government to manage the economy, ignoring the consent of both Congressional bodies and local governments, pushing aside “the invisible hand” of America’s Capitalists. Let government print as much money as it takes to relieve anguish and fear. Government knows best. “Xi Jinping Thought” is “Central Planning with Chinese Characteristics.” “Bernie Sanders Thought” is Central Planning with Sanders’ Characteristics. And “Donald Trump Thought” is Central Planning with Trump-ian Characteristics. What difference is there?
Unfortunately, very little. “Hyphenated capitalism is no capitalism at all,” says Nikki Haley. “The better name for it is socialism lite” … or perhaps, more accurately, Communism lite.
Finally (from a good friend)
*┬® Copyright 2020 by William Natbony. All rights reserved.