One of the fundamental problems facing those who have recognized the obligation that is theirs by virtue of birth upon Terra Firma, namely, civic participation, is distinguishing and maintaining the difference between reality and ideals. In other words, they conflate the idealized state of something with the present reality of how that something actually is.
A wonderfully accessible and immediate way to present this phenomena is Capitalism. Broadly defined it is,
an economic system in which investment in and ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange of wealth is made and maintained chiefly by private individuals or corporations, especially as contrasted to cooperatively or state-owned means of wealth.
That’s the technical or general definition, but is it in fact “capitalism as it really is?” That’s dilemma faced by many who wade chest high into the public arena and they must be able to parse out the differences lest they sound like lunatics. And by lunatics, I mean the crypto-libertarians of a radical ideological tributary masquerading as Republicans, waving their confederate flags in one hand and their AR-15’s in the air in the other as if that conferred patriotism upon them.
The same could be said about the attached clause of the “free market” that is supposedly the grounds upon which capitalism functions and it is, at least in theory, supposed to be self-correcting. And honestly, I’m no economist, yet I cannot for the life of me understand how a system that is supposed to be minimally regulated and geared toward promoting economic inequality or the deliberate concentration of wealth can simultaneously be the foundation of freedom and liberty that many on the right claim it to be. In fact, it would seem that the very intention of an unregulated market is to reduce competition by promoting monopolies so that uncertainties in the market itself can be minimized. I would even go so far as to describe our modern American economic and foreign policies as a Frankenstein monster put together by “The Cronies” from the grotesque pieces of neo-liberalism and neo-mercantilism, which in many ways makes us look a lot less like a Keynesian welfare state and more like a fascist one.
And I have to say, those are some of the reasons that I seem to cycle through disbelief, derision, and pity when I hear those on the right rant about how America is becoming a Socialist state and that we need to cut government regulation and public assistance to restore our liberty and freedom. Because in reality, the ultimate goal, whether enunciated or not, of a minimally regulated capitalism is the subversion of the government to the will of corporate interest and by consequence, the internment of the labor class into an economic caste system which few can move out of. These are people, sincere people, who are willingly and ignorantly assisting in their own disenfranchisement to what I think is to our horror on the left.
So what I’m trying to say is that it is a fundamental necessity that we base our ideological response in reality, we have to contextualize our hopes and dreams for our country and our world in a realistic appraisal of human nature, with all of it’s flaws and strengths. The right may be content to live in fantastic worlds of benevolent capitalists in a altruistic market, but I intend to live out here in the real world, even if it means trudging knee-deep in shit.