Humanity Is More Than A Debate Between Communism And Capitalism
The best forms of governance ever devised can be hell if the people who run them lack the skills to be humane.
I have read history. I am watching history unfold. I am watching terrible violence in a capitalist country. I have seen terrible violence in communist countries. I have seen terrible violence in countries that have something in between capitalism and communism. I really don’t think it matters what form of governance people choose, if people aren’t raised to be humane, they won’t be humane to each other.
We’ve all been told the stories of how many millions of people were killed in Russia under Stalin, in Germany under Hitler and in China under Mao. But few cheerleaders for capitalism will discuss DeBeers & Company and how many millions of people they killed. Few capitalists will admit that every war is a racket for big business.
I’ve seen numerous debates over whether capitalism or communism has been more effective at killing people. The best estimate I’ve seen to date indicates that capitalism has been by far the most effective exterminator of people. It should come as no surprise that the country with the world’s largest economy also has the world’s largest military.
Either system in the extreme can be bad. Extreme communism and extreme capitalism can both be effective terminators to human life and life in general. The misery that humans have caused to each other is agnostic as to the system of governance used by humans to organize themselves. I hold that it doesn’t really matter which system of governance you use, democracy, aristocracy, monarchy, anarchy, capitalism, socialism, communism, libertarianism, whatever…what really matters is the people who run the system of governance.
The fact that both communism and capitalism have killed hundreds of millions of people is plain enough to see. That fact alone proves that governments don’t kill people. People kill people. Religions, as a form of governance, don’t kill people. People kill people. It strikes me as somewhat ironic then, that gun rights activists insist that guns don’t kill people, yet still maintain that the system of government that they like to call “a republic” is superior to all others.
I honestly don’t know which system of governance is best. I think we’re still trying to figure it out. We’ve tried so many different kinds of government and failed so many times, that I don’t think anyone knows for sure what’s best for us. But one thing I do know for sure is that the character of the people who run the governments that we choose (or do not choose) to live under, is what really matters.
Day in and day out, I see the same thing over and over again. One person wants an advantage over another. One group wants to impose their will upon another. One country wants to impose its will upon another. One group wants to enslave another group. One group wants to kill another. There is a group of people who just wants peace. I’m in that one.
I believe that people who seek an advantage over one another learned that behavior from someone else. People who seek to enslave others learned that behavior from someone else. People who engage in violence learned that behavior from someone else. People who seek peace learned to live in peace from someone else. Where do they learn all of this?
In their families. We learned violence from our families. We learned how to be entrepreneurs from our families. We learned how to be industrious from our families. We learned might makes right from our families. And if we’re really lucky, we learned to live in peace from our families.
Human suffering is inevitable. We suffer from natural disasters, illness, famine, and old age, mostly as a natural consequence of living in a world that is already hostile without humans. A great deal of human suffering is preventable because most human suffering in this age is caused by other humans. We could choose to live in peace, but some of us are terminally bored. We could choose to live in peace, but some of us want more than what we have now. We could choose to live in peace, but some of us would rather drink than accept things as they are, in peace.
That human suffering that is caused by one human upon another, that’s a learned behavior. We learned to impose suffering upon another, as if it’s a right, from our parents. If you’ve ever been spanked or hit by a parent, you know what I’m talking about. If you’ve ever had personal property confiscated from you by a parent, you know what I’m talking about. If you’ve ever been grounded, you know what I’m talking about. If you’ve ever been conscripted into labor, we call them “chores”, you know what I’m talking about.
This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t discipline our children. I believe in discipline, just not that kind of discipline. I believe in non-punitive, non-confrontational practices of child-rearing. That means I assume ignorance before malice. I assume a deficit of skills or capacity before malice. I assume a lack of experience before malice. Kids are not that sophisticated. They are only trying to get their needs met, not rouse the anger of Mommy or Daddy.
I am personally an anarchist. I believe in getting my needs met without the use of force on another human being. I believe in voluntarism. I believe in voluntary transactions. I believe that both parties should be better off in any agreement. I believe that I can get my needs met without seeking or maintain an advantage over another human being. I believe in cooperation before aggression.
This is a form of governance that most capitalists have not contemplated. I believe that most communists have not contemplated a non-confrontational, non-punitive way of life, either. Most forms of government assume that confrontation, punishment, and reward are required to maintain order. These assumptions are made in government because they were made in the home, in the family of origin.
Confrontation, punishment, and reward are about dividing the people. If you are confronting someone, there is a division, a separation between you and them. If you are rewarding someone, then you are separate from them. If you are punishing someone, you are separate from them. If you seek advantage over another, you are not just separate from them, you seek to separate your fate from theirs. In confrontation, punishment, and reward, one person seeks to determine the fate of another with impunity.
When a parent punishes a child, he does so with impunity. When a parent chooses what a child should eat, she does so with impunity. When a parent rewards a child, she does so with impunity. Impunity. I see that word a lot.
Police brutality is evidence of impunity. War is evidence of impunity. Genocide is evidence of one party acting upon another with impunity. Political power is evidence of impunity. We learn that it’s OK to determine the fate of another with impunity from our parents if that is what they teach us.
If we truly want peace, then we must teach peace. One of the first things I learned about computers is “garbage in, garbage out”. Whatever you teach a computer they will do. The same thing is true of kids. If you teach them violence, they will be violent, they will condone it, they will accept it — as normal. If you teach them confrontation, they will be confrontational. If you teach a kid to read, they will read. If you teach kids math, they will do math. If you teach a kid industry they will be industrious. If you teach a kid peace, they will be peaceful.
If we really want to honor the Declaration Of Independence, we must start with our kids. If we really want to honor the Constitution we must start with our kids. If we want to honor the Bill of Rights, we must start with our kids. Someone really famous once said that real change comes from the bottom. Someone even more famous said, “follow me.”