Historically, African, Latino, Asian, and Native Americans have suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous economic fortune in the United States. Africans were enslaved; Latinos’ were victims of larceny in violation of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution and were economically exploited under the Brocero program of 1942; Asians’ land and property was taken in direct violation of the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution; and criminal larceny was committed against all Native American tribes . We could go on but just these few facts reveal something very important.
Let’s face an undeniable fact about the theory of capitalism. Capitalism is not natural law; it is a theory. A rational theory differs radically from a ‘law of nature’. A rational theory is imperfectly applied to ever changing circumstances whereas natural law is constant.
The law of gravity, for example, is a claim that asserts a direct relation between the sum of masses and an indirect relation to their distance from one another squared. Gravity has been proven to exist naturally by experimentation. It holds true everywhere in the known universe according to astrophysicists. The gravitational relation between masses is not guided by an ‘invisible hand’ in the universe not even the hand of God.
Capitalism on the other hand is not natural, it is artificial. Capitalism is a rational belief system; it is guided by human hands.
The theory of capitalism is the brain child of Adam Smith. Adam Smith was not a scientist; Adam Smith was an ethical and economic philosopher. If you have gone to college then you know that your first course on economics taught you some fundamental assumptions about the market place as it is assumed to work in an open market. First there is supply and demand.
Understand that there is no ‘natural relation’ between the supply and demand of goods and services. That is because according to Adam Smith, both supply and demand are mediated by an ‘invisible hand’ in the market place. Supply can be anything natural or artificial and demand may or may not exist from moment to moment or even from season to season because it depends on human choice. So, the relation between supply and demand is a game of chance; it is not universally constant as gravity is. Your best example is the depression of the 1930s.
Furthermore, you were taught something about the value assigned to goods and services that are distributed to you through the market place. You were taught some other correlations. You were told that as demand for goods and services increase there is an increase in their ‘price’ or value, but that if the supply of goods and services is greater than demand for them then prices for goods and services will decrease. Do you remember all of those red, green, and black curves in the book!
Here is something you probably came to understand while taking notes in that class. One, the course was taught like it was physics when it was presented to you. That is the ‘mystique’ of the system as presented to you.
And two, if there is an ‘invisible hand’ manipulating the supply of goods and services in the market place by reducing production of goods and rolling back services or increasing them, then prices can be manipulated to go up or down at will. Therefore, capitalism is not natural law; Capitalism is an art.
If capitalism is an art then it can be done away with and replaced by another kind of economy or it is a system which can be adjusted depending upon human needs under any given circumstance at any time. What that means is that our priorities must be rearranged.
Which is more important? Do human beings collectively and individually have greater value than the market place or do the products in the market place have greater value than the human beings who made them? I think you know the answer to those questions.
History suggests that in each generation some people are recruited and socialized to think illogically about the value of all human life. They arrive at the conclusion that they are inherently better than other people and indeed the total environment. We have evidence to prove that.
America was founded upon capitalism. Any serious student of the United States Constitution knows that.
We Americans know that during the era of slavery, indentured servitude, and later under ‘Jim Crow’ and ‘share cropping’ in the southern states, the exploitation of others’ labor was qualified as more important than human rights.
So we know that pure capitalism can place the market place above entire ethnic and gender classifications of human beings as a more important priority. That very qualification which capitalism implies is that without capitalism a quality life on earth would not be possible. That is a lie and here is why it is a lie.
It we follow the logic of that propaganda then what kind of justice would we be compelled to validate? If justice has to do with how, when, where, how much, and to whom we distribute benefits to people in society then by our sentiments and actions we are certainly not validating equal justice because in our market place the ‘invisible hand’ has caused extreme inequality of resource distribution in the United States and all over the world. Most people have barely enough to subsist on or nothing at all.
The ‘invisible hand’ is the hand of exclusion. It pushes some people away from the fruits of their labor and allows others to indulge in fruit that they do not deserve.
In fact, the invisible hand may be a metaphor for ‘power’. If that is so, then the market place is tied to instinctually based anxieties which give rise to conscious rationalizations for discriminatory use of power by the haves against the have-nots.
Capitalism is used to justify the discriminatory use of state power. The ‘invisible hand’ snatches from most people their time and energy used to produce benefits and gives to a minority of other people benefits they do not deserve.
Market place exclusion by the ‘invisible hand’ is the result of intentional injustice. That kind of injustice is criminal. It is criminal because it is intentional and because it wrongs human beings and more generally it wrongs nature so that a few people can control and benefit from all of the wealth produced by the majority of people. That kind of market place is not the result of natural law.
If we do not follow the logic of that kind of propaganda then what kind of justice would a more precise of kind logical reasoning compel us to validate?
If justice has to do with how, when, where, how much, and to whom we distribute benefits to in society then a more just society would result from the application of proportionate justice. That would be a form of justice predicated on a person’s belonging to humanity not on an artificially measured kind of worth.
Proportionate justice is a method of distributing the values of society according to what a person deserves as a result of his or her own efforts in his or her life time. We do not have such a system of proportionate justice in the United States. We do not have a system of justice based upon merit. For example, most wealth in the United States is inherited wealth. Twenty-seven (27%) percent of all wealth in the United States is inherited by 1% of the population or wealth is owned by corporations or some form of government.
And here is yet another example. Most African Americans are the descendents of slaves. Slave labor was exploited to build up the capital base of the United States. But the descendants of slaves have not been given any financial proportionate justice in the form of reparations to them for unpaid wages justly due to slaves during slavery.
As a consequence, the total average amount of wealth owned by African Americans today in the United States is about $4,000.00 dollars compared to Euro-Americans’ average of $88,000.00 dollars. African Americans were cheated by a capitalist market place wherein they do not get proportionate justice.
It is amazing that right wing conservatives in the United States will criticize the theory of evolution but cannot tolerate criticism of the theory of capitalism. Evolution assumes that change is inevitable while the one percenters struggle to prevent change.