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Opinion Piece on Capitalism

Updated: Apr 4

Maximilian Kremer

Lately, if you have been feeling like it’s difficult to make ends meet, then please know that you’re not alone. Also know that despite what others may tell you, it is not necessarily your fault, rather it is the fault of the larger system we find ourselves within. Younger generations in particular have already had to face a recession with another one potentially looming, a pandemic, geopolitical tension, systemic racism, ableism, climate change, and the focus of this piece - a system that promotes the generation of wealth over the wellbeing of its citizens. What is this system you may ask? While some may denote it as a meritocracy, I prefer to call it by its more well-known name which is capitalism.

Capitalism as a system is based on the notion that privately owned means of production exist solely for the means of creating profit. Naturally, one may ask at this point, what is the issue with such a system? Isn’t profit necessary for the viability of a nation? These are very nuanced questions, but I will do my best to try to answer them here. The issue with capitalism is that it seeks to generate profit by any means necessary and is even willing to sacrifice morality to this end. Exploitation of workers can be seen as a victory if it means generating more profit in a purely capitalist structure.
Furthermore, since the means of production are not publicly owned, workers within a capitalist structure lack leverage and become subservient to the system itself. We saw this in the recent mass layoffs that have occurred within the tech sector for example. Even though these positions tend to be relatively well compensated, it is clear that the company that employs you possesses a great deal more leverage than you as an individual. Keep in mind also, that these mass layoffs occurred within what has been a tight labor market relative to history and past unemployment rates.
Tight labor markets benefit the employed over those who employ, and once corporations saw that workers were beginning to obtain bargaining power, they collectively sought to quell this sense of freedom. Hence, we see the issue with privately owned means of production since workers do not actually have a share in the vehicle that is affording them their livelihood.
Now what about the second question posed earlier, “isn’t profit necessary for the viability of a nation?” This is what capitalist conditioning has led us to believe, however, I think it wrongfully deflects our mindset and logical reasoning can bring us to a point where we see why this model breaks down. Companies like Meta, Amazon, Google, etc are built on the premise of growth and appealing to their shareholders. However, how can these companies continue to grow when there is a finite population, the majority of which are already employing their services. One answer to this is that current users can collectively increase their usage of the platform, however, this reasoning only extends so far, especially considering things like average screen time on social media being extremely high already. This is where we reach an impasse. Growth and profit can only reach so far. They have infinite ambition that is predicated on finite resources and a finite population.
Another glaring issue is where does this profit go? It is clear from this thought experiment that it becomes concentrated in the hands of corporations and wealthy business owners, and this has already become evident in our society due to the presence of ever widening wealth inequality. With no regulations on the redistribution of this wealth, the upper echelons of socioeconomic status become favored over the general welfare of society. Profit does not help a nations’ citizens if those citizens do not have equitable access to what is being generated.
I wish to address a point I stated earlier as well, with some denoting our current system as a meritocracy. Our current system as it stands now cannot be a true meritocracy since meritocratic society elevates participants on the basis of pure ability alone. However, our system is one that also provides deference to another aspect entirely, which is access to opportunity. Those who come from lower socioeconomic status for example, do not have the same access to opportunity as the wealthy and this puts them at a great disadvantage that is difficult to surmount. The unequal distribution of opportunity in essence, is what makes it nearly impossible to realize a true meritocratic society.
Understandably this is a lot to process, it has been a lot to process for me as well and is a topic that I continue to reflect on. The goal of this piece thus far has been to establish a definition for the system we live under, who it was intended to serve, and why it does not work for the promotion of general societal welfare. It can be overwhelming trying to contemplate ways in which to act and that is why I wish to introduce the concept of social evolution to help clarify goals and actions moving forward.
Social evolution is the notion that societal needs change over time and is the acceptance that if a current system is not working well for society as a whole, then it is subject to and is encouraged to change to meet the needs of the present time. Social evolution is what our platform, THRE, is based upon. In order for it to be effective, autonomy needs to be returned to the people in a way such that they are able to advocate for their own needs. Being united on a collective front like this is what really is emblematic of the power of the people.
To move forward, we must work together and collaborate on these issues and THRE hopes to help bridge this gap. Many can recognize that the system as it stands is working as intended, but is not working in general. This realization and collective consensus serves as a starting point for social evolution to come in and effect change.
We are now at a critical juncture where based on environmental factors like the vast increase in the cost of living outpacing the growth in wages, the status quo cannot continue. We humbly ask that if you support our movement and what we stand for that you walk with us as we attempt to reshape our society such that it enshrines previously aforementioned necessities such as food, housing, and healthcare.
Ways to support our movement include signing our petition, following our social media, or even volunteering to become a member of our team as we are always looking to expand and hear new perspectives. We hope that if you identify with any part of our message that you may support us in any capacity you wish. Thank you for taking the time to read this opinion in its entirety, and we wish you happiness, peace, and wellness for the future.

Here are two videos that expound upon the points delivered in the content of this article.

Economist Richard Wolff’s take on capitalism working exactly as intended -
AOC's take on the fundamental issues of capitalism -

For the full interviews where the above clips were taken from please see:

Richard Wolff "Economic Update: What's Wrong With Capitalism", Democracy at Work
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Interview with Influencers with Andy Serwer on Capitalism, with Yahoo Finance.
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