2010-02-05

Capitalism vs. Socialism



I just finished watching this video about socialism and how it pertains to African Internationalism. Obviously I am not an African Internationalist in the terms she is probably referring to. She did however have some interesting points. Now this isn't fact, but rather based upon my experiences.

I live in America, where capitalism is embraced, it is loved, it is a "way of life", where as socialism is seen as an evil, horrible thing, that will crush America. Now we all know per the republicans, Tea Party goers, Glenn Beck, and Rush Limbaugh being a liberal, or democrat, or anything left of the right is considered being a socialist intent on destroying capitalism. Now I love capitalism, think it has it's good in America, but get this I don't necessary hate socialism. Socialism, like capitalism, cannot fix everything.

Now before you get out the pitchforks and declare I hate America, I will explain to you why I think I don't completely hate the CONCEPT of socialism. Mind you, I know socialism doesn't work in the ways it has been used in the past, but I don't necessary think capitalism is the salvation to all of America's problems either. I think in my experience, within my family history, the ideas of socialism have been implemented in American culture in the past.

I come from a family of country folks, they lived in small enclaves and communities mostly made up of black people, some on the land in which they were slaves. I still have many relatives that live in these enclaves. In the past these enclaves due to segregation had their own churches, schools, doctors, midwives, stores, and other businesses and services. They were self sufficient communities. For blacks, segregation forced people together, not by class like today; but rather race. So the doctors, teachers, nurses and other white collar/professional workers, lived near the janitors, cooks, maids, and others who worked more "blue collar" and "pink collar" jobs. They might not have lived next door to them, but they didn't live clear on the other side of town either. So what you had was a rather close knit small community, where every knew everyone else's business. This can be a good thing and a bad thing. If someone lost their job and their kids were hungry, the church would organize a food drive. If someone had to work, and had no childcare for their kids, there was always someone watching there kids, and if the kids were up to no good, always someone to tell the parents. If they couldn't afford to go to the doctor, the doctor would work out a payment plan. All in all, if someone was struggling, there was someone to help out, and you just weren't completely out on your own. People helped each other for the greater good of community.

Now when I say socialism, I'm looking at the moral commitment to community and equality. I'm not look so much at the economic model where the state is in control, I'm looking at the concept of the collective. The community or enclave in this case is the collective. In these enclaves there were rich and there were poor, but the commitment to community appeared to be greater than the commitment to just one's self. At least compared to today.

In today's world, people don't know their neighbors. We shop at big box stores instead of small, local businesses. We go to mega churches. Simply put, we focus on our immediate family now and we congregate with a sea of nameless, faceless people. Sometimes we donate and give to charity, but we give to major charities that give to people who we don't know, who might not even live in our own country, much less our own community. Everything this day and age seems to be focused more on the individual rather than the community. Is this because of our fear of socialism, or because we embrace capitalism?

Once desegregation occurred, blacks were no longer maligned to certain areas, we were free to live, school,and work where ever we wanted The enclave was no longer the enclave, race was no longer a factor in the concept of community (at least for black people). The upper class blacks could afford to live next to upper class whites. The black middle class could live where the white middle class lived. That left those who couldn't afford to move all by themselves. The community was now made up of mostly poor people. Since much of the money left, many of the businesses closed. The black doctor moved to the other side of town, so you went to the white doctor that was closer. The community disintegrated because the poor all by themselves could not sustain the community. Money provided more choice, and many people with money chose to leave.

So was this the fault of capitalism? Did capitalism or socialism cause the poor, in particular poor black people to have to rely on government assistance? Did it lead to the disintegration of black communities that at one time were vibrant and crime free? Or did socialism cause the rise of government programs to help the poor, since the community was no longer cohesive?

No Obama is not a socialist. No more of a socialist than George W. Bush anyway. :)