Through the eyes of an anti-capitalist
So I'm an anti-capitalist. Worse, I'm an outspoken anti-capitalist. How horrible, especially in a capitalist society! I've been told I'm crazy, stupid, ignorant, spoiled, delusional, and I forget what else now. Nothing good anyway, except from fellow anti-capitalists.
Here, then, is an honest look at why I behave the way I do.
Capitalism is exploitative. Speaks for itself really. (So the link goes to an anarchist site. Bite me. The lower levels of capitalism - sweatshops and the like - are most definitely exploitative. The upper ones too, but the constant rhetoric of living in freedom and luxury and the fact that we do have relatively more luxury make the exploitation a little less obvious.)
Capitalism is unsustainable. Or, to put it more precisely, the growth caused by capitalism is unsustainable. Two reasons for this: firstly, left to its own devices, capitalism will consume everything, including itself, because it just wants to blindly accumulate MORE. Secondly - and following on from my first point - we live in a world of finite resources. Capitalism would like to accumulate an infinity of stuff - infinite growth. Crucially, and really quite obviously, you cannot get an infinite amount of things when you only have finite resources to start off with.
Capitalism gets everywhere. What I mean by this is that everything becomes about money. You end up with career politicians (and yes, they are career politicians, they're not average people who do a stint of politics and then step down to a normal life), mostly drawn from the richer ranks of society - those with enough money to send their children to elite private schools. Most of them are also overwhelmingly white and male here in the UK, but that's another story. Anyway, said career politicians are the ones with enough money to finance a successful campaign, and sometimes (by which I mean quite a lot of the time) have ties to businesses or interest groups (for example, being shareholders or directors - I am not actually joking about this, take a look at some declarations of interests as of 30th April 2012). They might have potential conflicts of interest there, so...not great, is it? Same goes for large corporations lobbying - their money gives them more clout, and they're not willingly going to give up their influence. For example, we could have done more research into green technology, made it more efficient and widespread - but no, one squeal from the energy lobby and the politicians pipe down. Mature capitalism is an unfair system in which those with the most money have the most privilege and can influence those around them for the promise of money; it is not as easy to fight the system as some think, definitely not through really really really hard work. Some who work hard get lucky and are held up as shining examples - but most don't. Most slave away at a shitty job with only fatigue, a bad back and a bad ankle to show for it. That's not because they haven't worked hard but because they don't have the connections and privilege. And no, the current economy and lack of social mobility does not help.
Right, that's that over with - those are my three main reasons - and now to clear up some misconceptions.
Because revolutions are so bloody, violent and messy, I can't possibly support them. As I keep saying to everyone who keeps telling me this, I did my homework. I know revolutions are bloody, violent and messy. I am not actually hopeful that they will work. I used to be a reformist. I would still be a reformist if I thought our problems could be fixed within the current system, and I don't think they can. Ignorant? Um, given that I'd like to end capitalism and have direct rather than representative democracy, on a moderate day, maybe not - though if I thought I could achieve those ends via reform I would.
Being an anti-capitalist means I support China and North Korea. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA NO. My reaction should tell you just how wrong you are, but now for a little more analysis...I don't support authoritarianism, dictatorships or human rights violations. That in a nutshell is why I don't support either, or indeed any of the "bad" "non-capitalist" (good and evil are pretty damn relative, and I'm inclined to think that the regimes of today aren't really anti-capitalist, or at least are too hellishly authoritarian for me to support) countries that people like to say I agree with. I like freedom and compassion. This is why I don't like the unfree, compassionless system that is capitalism.
I want to go back to a mythical golden age. No, I don't. I like technology and raised living standards. I don't like feudalism.
Capitalism is the best system of a bad lot. Systems implemented in the past have been shit. Systems in the future may not be. I am willing to take a chance on the future. Also, saying that denies the ingenuity of humanity.
I have no alternatives. I don't know what you want. False. I know what I want and I'm planning how to get it. I screw up because I am human. I fix my mistakes because I care that they exist. Capitalism is a mistake, definitely.
I'm ignorant of how good my life is thanks to capitalism. No. I know just how shiny capitalism can be. I also know how exploitative it is. I do not really want to exploit other people.
I hate liberty and want to oppress everyone because I think I know better than them. No, I like liberty and hate oppression. I don't think I know better than people. I don't turn to violent revolution gladly - I would use violence only as a very very very very very very very last resort - and I don't like the idea of forcing people into doing what I think is right without their consent.