A scorpion asks a frog to carry it across a river. The frog hesitates, afraid of being stung, but the scorpion argues that if it did so, they would both drown. Considering this, the frog agrees, but midway across the river the scorpion does indeed sting the frog, dooming them both. When the frog asks the scorpion why, the scorpion replies that it was in its nature to do so.
Or, the leopard cannot change his spots.
What, exactly, am I talking about? A major part of our world functions under the cloud of capitalism. We notice the few benefitting at the expense of the many; we notice that capital is respected and honored while labor and sweat have relatively little value; we notice the growing disparity in income and wealth between the haves and the have nots; we notice the continuous wars and conflicts being fought by the sons and daughters of working people around the globe as the capitalists compete for control of governments, resources, and markets. Why is the US/NATO attacking and bombing other countries? The cover story is that these are exercises of “humanitarian intervention.” Rather, It is actually the nature and need of capitalism to expand in order to sustain their profits. Capitalism does not function in response to human need but rather to the profit to be derived for the rulers. This profit can only be maintained by creating and controlling new markets and ensuring access to the world’s resources.
If we are able to have our consciousness raised and perceive the injustices of a capitalistic system, we strike out at the capitalists. This is what we are experiencing today as the US as well as other nations target Donald Trump and the billionaires he has surrounded himself with. The thrust of our efforts is to get rid of Trump and, therefore, his cronies in the cabinet.
Donald Trump, as a capitalist, is doing what capitalists do . . . negotiating deals, trying to make a profit and benefit personally as much as possible from the terms of the deal. This is the prism through which they see the world.
To focus on Trump personally and attempt to replace him misses the point. Trump and his cronies are the end results of life in a capitalist system. If they are replaced, there will be many other capitalists with similar values and goals to take their place. We must go beyond individual personalities and understand that these individuals may not be our best friends, but replacing one with another does not solve the problems we, as a society, face today.
Most capitalists attempt to justify their perceptions, values, and agendas by claiming that their behavior is consistent with man’s true nature. They point to the competitive behavior, the striving for personal gain, the lack of concern about those less fortunate, etc., and claim this is who we, as a species, are. Unfortunately for them, there is no evidence to verify such claims about our true nature.
If we were to take the time to look at the history of humankind, we find that survival depended on community and cooperation . . . that humans, as a species, did not have the strength nor speed to compete with other species for survival. What we were able to use was intelligence, planning, and cooperation.
But, capitalism changed all that. We are encouraged to function on our own, strive for personal success (which usually refers to financial success), and that we are all responsible for our own welfare. Therefore, the poor are poor because of personal deficits or for lack of trying to succeed.
Growing up in a society dominated by capitalist values would tend to produce people with those values. The capitalist does not reflect the true nature of humankind. We are not born capitalists, we are reared to become capitalists. This explains why so many laborers, people exploited by the capitalist system, accept and support this system, often denouncing a fairer system of socialism or communism.
It is not the individual capitalist we must fight, it is the system of capitalism. The “true” nature of man is reflected in the society in which he/she lives. The “true” nature of capitalism dictates the behavior of the capitalist. The capitalist, including Trump as well as George Soros, Warren Buffet, Mark Zuckerberg, etc., etc., etc., do what our capitalist society has taught them to do. It has become their nature.
Reform of this system, as we have experienced in the past, allows for temporary, limited relief while ensuring that the system continues to function for the benefit of the one percent. To look for reform only, indicates a lack of understanding of capitalism and the fact that it is the nature of capitalism to exploit the labor of the working class in order to produce at the lowest cost possible in order to maximize the profits of the ruling class. No amount of reform will ever change that.
The only long term, substantial benefits to the 99% will be through the overthrow of this system to be replaced by a fairer system of true socialism.
Dave Alpert has masters degrees in social work, educational administration, and psychology. He spent his career working with troubled inner city adolescents.