It’s Not Socialism or's Society

One of the most controversial debates in society today, and for the past 100 years really, has been the debate between socialism and capitalism.  While there is validity to both systems, thus the reason for the debate, sadly, proponents of both seldom acknowledge the benefits and detractions of each, often attacking each other’s characters instead.  

Over and over again, societies have seen the explosive growth that can occur with a free market, only to also see the accompanying greed and domination that can take place within that same free market.  The naturally resulting, and compassionate, response to capitalism is normally some form of socialism, a system that attempts to help balance the wealth of a nation to the benefit of all.

Part of the reason these two ideologies clash is that they are viewed from the same foundation, that foundation being money.  In capitalism, those at the top can become very, very wealthy, while those at the bottom can be very, very poor.  While in socialism, the theory is that the gap between the top and bottom rungs of the financial ladder can be much closer as the wealth of a society is balanced more equally among its members.  

Here is where the fundamental flaw takes place between the two theories -- it comes with the understanding of money.  We tend to view money as the ultimate measurement of how well members of a society can live.  If everyone has money, then by default everyone can live well.  But what if we took this thinking all the way out to the end?  What if everyone in a society could be wealthy?  

The key to wealth is the ability to purchase things and, theoretically, the greater ability one has to purchase things the more wealth that person possesses.  But if an entire society was wealthy, if wealth was spread evenly across a society so that everyone had the same, then money would essentially become worthless.  Why bother with a monetary system when everyone has the same amount?  At this point, the success of that society would shift from how much money people had, to how much work they were willing to do.  

When we really break it down, money does not actually represent how much one can purchase -- its actually a way to measure work.  We assign different values to different types and amounts of work. That value is measured as money.  The flaw in arguing socialism vs capitalism is that it's not an argument of money vs money as it is so often presented.  It’s actually an argument of work vs money.  If tomorrow all the money in society was gone, and everyone still went to work, and everyone still took the same amount from the conglomerate amount of work that was done (same amount of groceries, gas, products, etc), society would still function.  

But if everyone in society was suddenly given enough money that nobody had to work, it wouldn’t matter as nobody would go to work and therefore there would be nothing for anyone to purchase with all that money.  While capitalism has its flaws...and let's be honest, it's still the best thing we have come up with so far.  No other system has done more to bring the whole of a society into a more comfortable standard of living.  Are there winners and losers?  Yes.  Is it perfect? No. But is it the best thing we have at this point?  Yes.  And the reason why is capitalism is not rooted in money....its rooted in work.  And that it is work that generates money, not money that generates work.  

The current argument for socialism is rooted in money, and that's why it makes sense in theory but often breaks down when applied to societies.  If the argument for socialism was work....that if we all worked, we would have no need for money... then it would be operating from a premise that is more consistent with what its root message actually is.  The concern is it requires a truly intrinsic society, all of whom are willing to go to work for everyone else and trust others will do their part to take care of them as well.  It’s a beautiful and selfless theory that could actually work in a utopian society.  

This doesn’t make socialism naive or foolish. It makes it a beautiful system in which money is no longer needed.  A system that itself isn’t flawed so much as the world we currently possess is still too flawed to pull it off.   Therefore there is validity to both systems -- one system will work once society as a whole reaches a point of true intrinsic selflessness. The other is the best working thing we currently have for a broken world where self preservation is the prevailing mindset. Once society is selfless, there will be no need for money.  But until then, capitalism is the best thing we’ve got.    


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