Socialism Or Capitalism? An Erroneous Debate


Socialism or capitalism? Many simple minds love that one quandary. One could as well debate whether the Moon is red like a bathtub, or green like charcoal. A war of the red herrings [1]. All political systems in existence are socialist, all are capitalist. Civilization is impossible without having high enough capital per capita to build walls. Civilization is all about socialization too. And the socialism it entails.

Interestingly the Greco-Romans did not make a difference between socialism and capitalism, so they probably already realized the distinction was meaningless. Instead they distinguished seven sorts of political regimes according to the degree of authoritarianism. Most prominent were, in practice:  

  • Democracy – power (kratos) to the people (Demos; adult male citizens).
  • Oligarchy – rule by few (oligos) individuals.
  • Monarchy – rule (arkhein) by one individual (inherited, or not).
  • Tyranny – rule by an individual who had seized power by unconstitutional means.

Marx appeared, and advocated “dictatorship”. Of the “Proletariat”. It is not clear he understood what he was talking about. Its modern emulators in China seem to understand that “proletariat” means “army”. In which case, apparently, the Roman emperor Augustus, who was pretty much put in power by his own army (and he couldn’t have said no), was then a… Marxist?

Dictatorship in the Roman Republic was an office attributed in extreme emergency. An individual was given constitutionally all and any power to fix a crisis (typically a military crisis). It was expected that the dictator would resign promptly after fixing the crisis. Some generals were made dictators several times (Camillus), some served as little as 12 days (Cincinnatus). However Caesar did not resign after his second dictatorship (he could argue the military emergency was still on-going in the North East and East of the Roman empire, which they were)… And then Caesar made himself dictator-for life (he had good reasons for this). Thus the office was so blemished that it was never officially reinstituted: emperors became dictators in practice, but not in name.

Until Marx, who thought dictatorship was glorious, and apt to fight “capitalism”. The persons who, in 1945, mustered the most capital at their command were the US president and the Soviet dictator… the latter supposedly a “Marxist”. Capital can be human, or material.

Vice Presidents from hell…

In any case, the obsession of Marx with “Das Kapital” was misplaced. The capital at the disposition of humanity has augmented. Exponentially. That’s a problem for us through its impact on the biosphere. Impact is controlled by policy, and policy should be controlled… spiritually, by the best mind available, not by dictators. Indeed how to get the best mind? Through the best debates, and a better debate involves the largest best educated multitude.

Here is a description of Xi Ji-Ping, the Marxist dictator. As a youth, at fifteen, he was sent seven years to a destitute small village of cave dwellers. There was no school. He brought books with him:

He brought two suitcases of books with him and borrowed many more, reading them obsessively and absorbing ideas, according to people who have spoken with him. Some of the frayed volumes are displayed in one cave, including “Lenin on War and Peace,” Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea,” two books on foreign policy by Henry Kissinger and the collected writings of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, who pioneered Nazi Germany’s blitzkrieg tactics.

Years later, he would mention his reading frequently, quoting from foreign or Chinese classical works and boasting that he mastered the core tenets of Marxism in the village.

Some who know him see that as a conscious emulation of Mao, who prided himself on his literary prowess. Others detect a sensitivity about his lack of formal schooling. A former secretary to Mao, after meeting Mr. Xi in the 2000s, described him as having “elementary school level” education.

Mr. Xi won a place to study chemical engineering at a university in Beijing in 1975, but as a “worker-peasant-soldier,” selected before competitive entry exams and regular teaching resumed.

So the world’s second most powerful man has only a formal elementary school education, and is full of vengeance and anxiety, as he saw his family being mistreated: Xi went from “Princeling” to being threatened three times with execution by “Red Guards” (much admired by addled brain great philosopher Jean-Paul sartre…)  So now Xi has established a dictatorship, rather than aiming at democracy. The wall Street Journal pursues in

How the U.S. Misread China’s Xi: Hoping for a Globalist, It Got an Autocrat
Early hopes that Xi Jinping would want closer integration with the U.S.-led global order have become one of the biggest strategic miscalculations of the post-Cold War era

Visiting Mexico as vice president in 2009, Xi took a thinly veiled swipe at the U.S. “Some foreigners, with full bellies, who have nothing better to do, point fingers at our affairs,” he said. China didn’t export revolution, poverty or hunger, he added: “What else is there to say?”

In 2010, he visited Chongqing and endorsed the Maoist revival championed by Mr. Bo, the city’s party chief, which included mass performance of revolutionary songs.

The following year, the party was thrown into turmoil when a former Chongqing police chief fled to a U.S. consulate in China and alleged that Mr. Bo’s wife had murdered a British businessman. She was convicted and jailed for life. Mr. Bo got a life sentence for graft and abusing power.

The scandal eliminated from contention for the Standing Committee the one person with comparable clout to Mr. Xi’s, and gave him an opening to target other powerful individuals in coming years for allegedly conspiring with Mr. Bo to seize power.

It also brought to a head the internal debate over China’s future. Critics of liberalization, especially among princelings, prevailed, arguing that only a strongman could save the party.”

There you have it: murders, extravagant corruption, life incarcerations replace elections. This is what dictatorship entails. This sort of abuse of power in a few hands may also have been why Rome’s founder and first king, Romulus, may have been assassinated (and he was not the last). Now when it is possible to kill others among the elite, who are well defended, it is even easier to kill Uighurs. Plenty of them (not that I suddenly adore Muslim Fundamentalism… But there are better ways to fight it…).

Ah, well, all “globalists” are fundamentally “autocrats”, because globalism does not profit the Natives (when it is more prominent than localism). So, when someone, presumably elected somehow, becomes “globalist”, that someone betrays its electors…

***

Hitler Hier Kommen Wir:

Xin Ming, a Party School professor, said in an interview arranged by the government press office that Mr. Xi’s Marxism was an updated version that incorporated some Western and traditional Chinese thinking, and considered Communism a distant, yet-to-be-defined ideal that would not be realized even by the centenary of Mao’s victory in 2049.

Other scholars studying Mr. Xi’s doctrine say its Marxist content is limited, noting that he doesn’t advocate class struggle or eliminating private property, and that he has cracked down on both Marxist student activists and liberal voices.

They see it as a fusion of Mr. Wang’s thinking with new left, neo-Confucian and other illiberal ideas in an attempt to unify the party, legitimize Mr. Xi’s concentration of power and forge a new model of authoritarian government.

Some detect the influence of Carl Schmitt, a German legal theorist whose ideas the Nazis used to justify unlimited executive power. Chinese scholars who advise the government have invoked Mr. Schmitt in recent years, including Jiang Shigong, a Peking University law professor who helped devise Beijing’s policy on Hong Kong.

In a recent essay, Mr. Jiang described Xi Jinping Thought as a “new system for comprehensive party leadership of the state,” arguing that the introduction of the rule of law in China after 1979 had undermined the party’s authority.

“This new party-state system is undoubtedly an important organizational part of the China solution” whose ultimate goal was “creating a new order for human civilization,” he wrote.”

Mr. Xi faces a mounting backlash abroad, especially from democracies alarmed by his Muslim internments, Hong Kong crackdown and aggressive diplomacy.

Even some in the party think he has overreached and may face resistance to any effort to continue ruling after 2022. Few people, inside or outside the party, would bet against him though.

“There’s something about Xi Jinping’s political schoolcraft which suggests to me that he is capable of navigating what I think will still be a stormy period ahead,” said Mr. Rudd, the former Australian prime minister. “There’s a steeliness to him.”

Rudd met several times with Xi, because China needs coal, and Australia has it. In all this, what is amazing is the power of a few to lead the planet by the nose. The critique should not be just directed at Xi, who is a half educated parrot (parroting Marx, Confucius, and Mao, in increasing order of importance). In the West the most advanced and powerful democracies, expertly advised by their corrupt and, or, incompetent medical authorities, are contemplating more than one million dead from COVID… A disease born of China, but essentially eliminated from there.  

Make no mistake: if a dictator is really extremely smart and honest, it can be excellent for a country. Even if as brutal as Ivan the Terrible. Examples are Catherine of Russia (actually originally a German princess)… who may have been a murderess, but expanded Russia considerably. Another is Elizabeth I, who resided the Gran Armada splendidly, among other things… A dictator can even improve civilization significantly: consider Clovis of France (Consul and elected king… Though…). Or Peter the Great of Russia, who modernized Russia considerably, crushed the fanatical, obscurantist “Old Religion” Christian Church (executing some of the worst perpetrators with his own hand)… And smashed the Swedish army deep in the Ukraine… The greatest, most positive dictator of them all was Julius Caesar, of course. Caesar had engaged in a colossal set of reforms (not just the calendar and draining the swamps). Had Caesar lived, we may still all talk Latin.  

Caesar, having been exposed to maximal danger many times, was a weird dictator who was all too keen to pardon his most lethal enemies. That cost him his life, and may have set back civilization considerably (Caesar’s heir Octavianus, although extremely gifted, was no cosmic mind, and keen to insure his own survival as mission number one). 

Caesar, Elizabeth I, Peter and Catherine were superlatively educated and intelligent: their enlightened rules did not happen by accident. So, naturally enough, for one Caesar, we get hundreds of Philippe II of Spain, an Inquisition obsessed fanatic who got power from his honest father (Charles Quint, Charles V)… Ultimately dictatorship, in the average, makes civilization stupid. Caesar had inherited a severe dysfunctioning of the Republic caused, in part, by not enough centralization… that enabled the plutocrats to play the periphery against the center.

The split between the haves and havenots has grown so big that the haves, in the phenomenon of plutocratization, seem determined to require to ever more vicious methods of mind control, in full view in China, and which have been extended to the connected West (connected, Internet-wise, and also connected to China, that is Xi). But the more mind control, by the few over the multitude, the more stupid the population: consider the Late Roman Empire, with its dying intellectual activity. How did that happen? Dictators hated thinking.

Emperor Domitian banished philosophers from Rome, except the Stoics, as Stoicism is to wisdom what a carpet is to dirty footwear… Then, in the same spirit, or lack thereof, “He robbed Rome of her best and noblest sons, unopposed. No hand was raised to avenge them,” wrote Juvenal...

Fast forward two centuries, well passed the rule of Trajan, an enlightened dictator (circa 100 CE). While retired in Sicily, the superbly learned philosopher Porphyry wrote Against the Christians (Κατὰ Χριστιανῶν; Adversus Christianos) which consisted of fifteen books. Porphyry died in 305 CE. Soon after, the dictator Constantine (a Christian saint, and “apostle”, no less) condemned, and then banned and ordered to publicly burn Porphyry’s works. Some thirty Christian apologists, such as Methodius, Eusebius, Apollinaris, “Saint” Augustine, “Saint” Jerome, etc., responded to his exquisite critique of cretinism. In fact, everything known about Porphyry’s arguments is found in these refutations, largely because Theodosius II ordered every copy burned in A.D. 435 and again in 448

In the end, civilization collapsed. Civilization did not collapse from too much socialism, or from too much capitalism, or from socialism and capitalism fighting each other to death. Actually the filthy wealthy plutocratic families were often also filthy wealthy church families, as all and any really wealthy family could afford a bishop in its ranks, besides Roman  and Germanic noble ancestry.

What destroyed civilization was too much power in too few hands, because, if nothing else, it brings stupidity. This is what Xi proposes as a panacea, and what Biden has always lived accordingly to.  And “globalism” is both a convenient excuse, and a marvellous tool to do so…

Patrice Ayme

***

[1] Some linguistic philosophers argued that philosophical debates were often about displaced semantics (Wittgenstein, Austin, etc.), it made their fame. 

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2 Responses to “Socialism Or Capitalism? An Erroneous Debate”

  1. kathw Says:

    Excellent. Power – too little, too much. Global vs. Local – too little, too much. The ironies of tyrants and saviors – – the course of civilization if nothing else is built on oxymoron. But somehow we evolve.

    Like

  2. De Brunet d'Ambiallet Says:

    Great article. That cheap opposition between socialism and capitalism is obsolete. There is a typo by Elizabeth I she presumably resisted not resided the Spaniards. Happy new year and thank for all the hard work.

    Like

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