The facts rarely get in the way of absurd critiques of capitalism, critiques often made by those who would like to see the imposition of communism.
Who is to blame when a state-owned oil company, a company founded through the forced nationalization of private companies, has a rupture that causes a visually dramatic incident?
Capitalism of course.
That is, if you are one of the many people who took to social media to expose their own ignorance.
Here are a sample of some of the Tweets that caused ‘Capitalism’ to trend on Twitter recently:
“The sea is on fire but some people *still* think capitalism can be managed.”
The sea is on fire but some people *still* think capitalism can be managed. pic.twitter.com/akxbZzlNXs
— Laura Pidcock (@LauraPidcock) July 3, 2021
“Capitalism vs Communism,
Choose your future.”
“what stage of capitalism is setting the ocean on fucking fire”
what stage of capitalism is setting the ocean on fucking fire
— first-mate prance (@bocxtop) July 3, 2021
Another genius claimed this has something to do with needing ‘Progressive women’:
“Men had their chance. This is what they did with it. It’s time for women. Progressive women.”
Men had their chance. This is what they did with it. It’s time for women. Progressive women. pic.twitter.com/yF7UbXmqXa
— Jason Overstreet (@JasonOverstreet) July 3, 2021
“This ocean is one fire. This ain’t rocket science: it’s good old capitalism in display.”
This ocean is one fire. This ain't rocket science: it's good old capitalism in display. https://t.co/hlxqdMWdhO
— Gabrielle Merite (She/Her) (@Data_Soul) July 4, 2021
“The OCEAN is on fire? You know what congratufuckinglations capitalism, you’ve won – I’d like to leave this planet please”
The OCEAN is on fire? You know what congratufuckinglations capitalism, you’ve won – I’d like to leave this planet please https://t.co/z9kLXPHhOI
— HBHeaux (@nxmhle) July 4, 2021
For each of the Tweets I shared above, there are another hundred or so – probably more – with the same message:
‘Capitalism is to blame, and capitalism is bad.’
First, lets address the facts of the situation.
The pipeline that burst is owned by Petroleos Mexicanos, Pemex for short.
It’s state owned.
Not a private company at all.
Pemex was founded in 1938, when the Mexican government expropriated and nationalized every private oil company in Mexico.
Indeed, Pemex would seem to be rather the opposite of capitalism.
Funny how that was ignored by most of the people opining on how capitalism was supposedly to blame.
Further, all the overly-emotional and hyperbolic ‘the ocean is on fire’ messages may have gotten lots of attention, but people were acting as if this was some sort of apocalyptic event, rather than something that was brought under control relatively quickly.
Environmental record of the Soviet Union
To the broader point that some people were apparently attempting to make, a comparison between Capitalism and Communism, let’s take a look shall we?
While I would rarely quote ‘socialist-alliance.org‘ take a look at what one writer there had to say about the ‘the ecological disaster that was the USSR.’:
“In every paragraph of Adam Baker’s contribution (Alliance Voices Vol 11, No. 6) there is, I think, something I take issue with. But let me confine myself here to something I have particular experience of: the environment, and the environmental movement, in the USSR and post-Soviet Russia.
Adam asks, “Are we honestly saying that the entire Soviet Union was an ecological disaster?” Later, he asserts: “To suggest the environmental damage was on the same level as the rest [?] of the capitalist world is drawing a very long bow indeed.”
I lived for close to two years in the Soviet Union, and for a further seven in post-Soviet Russia. Reporting on the local environmental movement was part of my brief as a GLW correspondent, and also a personal enthusiasm. I got to know the Moscow environmental scene well, and interviewed activists from numerous republics and provinces. I also travelled, and saw some of it for myself. The Moscow sociologist who has made Russian environmentalism his specialty remains a close friend, and I’ve translated several of his books.
On this basis, let me agree with Adam that the damage done to the environment by the Soviet regime and its successor doesn’t remotely bear comparison with that in the West. It was, and remains, catastrophically worse. Particular countries elsewhere, especially in the developing world, have suffered one or another ecological disaster, sometimes of mind-bending dimensions. The USSR managed something in just about every sector of heavy industry to match the worst of them.”
This section of the article bears some disturbing similarities to the ‘incentive to hide information’ we saw in China as COVID spread to the world, a seeming feature of Communist States:
“In the USSR, enterprise managers had little reason to fear retribution from below, but faced losing their careers if they failed persistently to reach plan targets; the incentive was very strong for them to cut corners in areas such as care for the environment. “
I also want to bring attention to this section, as it makes a point that even few defenders of capitalism point out:
“There’s no point in trying to dress up the Soviet bureaucracy as anything except what it was: a grossly irresponsible clique that pursued its corporate advantage with little regard for damage to nature or to the health of the population. Capitalists, to be sure, do the same when they can get away with it, but most of the time they can’t; the human rights and elements of democracy that working people have often forced capitalism to concede impose certain constraints.”
That’s quite an interesting thing to note, and it is very true.
Because capitalism involves such relentless competition to fulfill the needs, desires, and wants of a population in order to profit (while also inventing those needs, desires, and wants through advertising/marketing), there tends to be more of a dynamic relationship between those in power and the general population.
Certainly, the governments of countries like Canada and the US often seem totally removed from the population, but that is even far worse in Communist States.
And let’s consider Chernobyl.
It had the potential to have been one of the deadliest events in human history, and could have led to mass death across the large swath of Europe. Soviet leaders initially tried to hide it from the world – similar to how China hid the reality of COVID-19 until it was too late for the world to contain it.
Communist States have a pattern of hiding internal environmental/health problems from both their own people and the world, until such time as things become so bad they can’t be hidden any longer.
In Capitalist states, problems tend to take place far more in the open.
Environmental record of China
Having mentioned China in the section above, let’s look more closely there.
To start with, while countries like Canada and the US get hit with endless guilt and economically damaging regulations by our politicians, China is the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter by far.
The Communist State accounts for 27% of global greenhouse gas emissions, compared to the US at 11%, and the EU at 6.4%.
In fact, China’s greenhouse gas emissions are more than the entire developed world combined:
“In 2019, China’s GHG emissions passed the 14 gigaton threshold for the first time, reaching 14,093 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent (MMt CO2e) (Figure 2). This represents a more than tripling of 1990 levels, and a 25% increase over the past decade. As a result, China’s share of the 2019 global emissions total of 52 gigatons rose to 27%.
In 2019, China’s emissions not only eclipsed that of the US—the world’s second-largest emitter at 11% of the global total—but also, for the first time, surpassed the emissions of all developed countries combined (Figure 2). When added together, GHG emissions from all members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), as well as all 27 EU member states, reached 14,057 MMt CO2e in 2019, about 36 MMt CO2e short of China’s total.”
The response to this is often to say that China ‘isn’t real Communism,’ but that’s what Communists say about every Communist State.
Apparently, every problem in the world can be blamed on Capitalism, but when a country that explicitly calls itself Communist does something wrong, or when Communism’s top leaders try their ideas out for over a century and end up with a death toll in the many tens of millions, it’s ‘not real Communism.’
And overall, China’s environmental record is quite horrendous, with labour standards and environmental regulations that are far below the standard in democratic, capitalist states.
Capitalism’s success makes it easy to attack
When an idea – or perhaps instinctual drive – leads to such success, it almost fades into the background.
Thus, the benefits come to be seen as simply part of life, while anything negative draws outsize attention.
So it is with Capitalism.
Without any doubt, Capitalism has led to the largest reductions in poverty, the most innovation, the extension of lifespans, and the biggest expansion of freedom and democracy the world has ever known.
It is so successful that poverty in many capitalist nations is now associated with higher rates of obesity.
Think about that for a second.
For most of human history, our species had to fight day after day after day to survive and get just enough food to keep going.
Now, we have societies where excess calories are a sign of poverty.
Further, the shocking abundance of capitalist nations may be taken for granted by those of us who have lived in it our whole lives, but people from Communist states can surely appreciate it, as you can see in the video below:
One of the reasons it seems Capitalism faces so much criticism is – ironically – that it lines up well with true human nature.
People like to acquire possessions and territory. People like to gain symbols of status. People want to provide for themselves and their families, and build a legacy they can pass down. People are both naturally competitive but also cooperative, and Capitalism harnesses those traits in the form of companies that both cooperate internally and compete externally to try and meet the needs of consumers.
By ensuring that people can profit and thus gain wealth, Capitalism harnesses the human desire to accumulate, and our propensity for assessing value and making trades.
None of that is ‘utopian,’ and it’s not a ‘feel good story.’ It’s simply reality.
By contrast, Communism offers the utopian ideal of an ‘equal world’ where nobody has more than anybody else.
Of course, that world is impossible, since people have different work ethics, different levels of intelligence, and different starts in life.
In short, Communism goes against human nature as it is, while appearing to line up with human nature as some wish it was.
Thus, to impose a Communist system, repression and a constant denial of basic reality is inherently required, and thus Communist States led to repression and violence on vast and horrific scales.
Further, that repression leads to desperation and fear on the part of government officials, which leads to a culture of secrecy and the crises we regularly see emerging from Communist States.
By ignoring this, and by claiming Capitalism is somehow the cause of everything bad, people only expose their own ignorance.
Unfortunately for common-sense people, that kind of ignorance has been rising, with people ignoring the lessons of history and seemingly trying to once again ‘give Communism another go.’
That’s why we need to call out ignorant critiques of Capitalism, and realize that – while no system is perfect – moving from Capitalism to Communism would be an absolutely horrendous mistake.
Photo – YouTube