The Link between Capitalism and Wanting to Kill your Neighbor

Let’s face it: we don’t know why we are here on this earth of ours. Biologists might say that we are here to procreate; economists might say that we are here to maximize profits; Christians might say that we are here to please God. However, on the level of humanity as a whole, no-one truly knows why we are here. And you know what? We will probably never figure it out, so we might just as well stop trying, right? Why don’t we focus all of our efforts on answering a question that we are actually capable of answering, such as the question: what should we do with our lives while we are here? Or more specifically: do we want to screw everyone around us, or do we want to look for another, more social option?

Let me tell you a short story. This morning I went to the grocery store, for which I had to cross the street. I saw a few cars driving up to the pedestrian crossing, so I decided to wait a second. When the cars had passed, I decided to give it a go. While I was half-way on the crossing, I saw – in the corner of my eye – a car approaching: quickly approaching. And even though the driver had plenty of time to slow down, he didn’t do so. Moreover, he accelerated and almost hit me while passing me by. While the driver passed me, I looked him in the eyes for a split second, and all I could see was a glance of utter indifference; a glance you would have when you accidentally drop your 5-year old phone on the ground. I shook my head and asked myself: ‘Is this the world we live in?’ So now I ask you: is this the world we live in? How come that we are  indifferent towards the life of others? Are we just hateful people?

We might very well be, but let’s try to find a different reason; an economic reason, for example. Let’s ask ourselves: what is the economic system we’re living in? There it is: capitalism! Capitalism is an economic system that fosters values such as individual value maximization, efficiency and competition. Those who are the most focused at maximizing their profits are the ones that are (regarded to be) the most successful. The capitalistic system has a tendency to create hatred towards the wealthy egocentric people living on the other side of town. Children are being urged to stand up for their property rights (‘That’s my ice-cream’) and not to trust strangers. And this indoctrination doesn’t stop with the dawn of adolescence. As a student being niggardly is a virtue; being free-handed is just stupid.

Socialism, on the other hand, is an economic system that is characterized by collective ownership of property. The value that your neighbor contributes to society benefits you just as much as his benefits him: his gain is your gain. This implies that it would be reasonable to help each other out. After all: why would you decide to cross the street if that would result in three other contributors to your wealth having to wait? Wouldn’t that – indirectly, via the ‘wallet of the state’ – harm yourself? It probably would, right? This observation makes values like camaraderie and cooperation being valued and fostered in a socialistic society. Growing up in a socialistic society will urge children not to stand up too firmly for their individual property rights, but rather to focus on the property rights of the collective. And, as you can imagine, this would create an entirely different (economical) world.

This article is not a plea for socialism per se. Nonetheless, if everyone could just be a little more social, the world wouldn’t stop turning, right?

But what do you think?

Written by Rob Graumans

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