Friday, September 19, 2008

Free, And Cared For

Whenever I oppose the idea of an unrestrained free market I am called a Communist and reminded that Karl Marx's theories foundered in the vicious, repressive, One-Party behemoth of Soviet Russia.

That is the argument of another century now.Soviet Russia is gone. Even China has become a quasi-capitalist state within the boundaries of its totalitarian rule; and in case anybody hadn't noticed, my vituperation is equally fierce when I'm talking about China.

The key to my opposition to an unrestrained free market lies, if it's really necessary to spell it out, in the word "unrestrained".

I am an individual, perhaps even an individualist (though I'm not so sure about that). I would probably live less successfully under a totalitarian regime than most, given that even in an atmosphere of supposedly complete freedom I'm still out of step. (I say "supposedly" because the pervasive influence of mass media in modern capitalist societies makes every third or fourth person look identical. And think identically.)

I would choke on the socialistic rhetoric spewed out by the propaganda machine in China. But probably only because it is as false there as it was in Soviet Russia. Let China open itself up to meaningful union activity before it can claim any genuine connection to socialism.

(Wo)man is designed for more than the accumulation of things. In that respect modern Capitalism and Socialism are both flawed, because they are both materialistic philosophies.

But if the production and exchange of crap is the only way human beings can come up with of organising our society, is it such a difficult balancing act to ensure that everybody in that society should be simultaneously free, and cared for?

After all, if it's important your dreams are fulfilled, how much more important is it that the billions of human beings around you should enjoy the same? In saying that, the Dalai Lama, vilified by China and tolerated politely by Western leaders, makes more sense than anyone I've ever heard.

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