The Case for Social Capitalism
America has long endured as a powerful democracy, a testament to the will of our people to remain loyal through centuries of near fatal conflicts, none of which broke our resolve to maintain the Union. We are at another decisive moment in history testing whether our nation can endure, at war within ourselves over ideology and maintaining a status quo that only benefits a few who have stained our democracy in the name of personal gain. On the precipice of destroying our planet, spilling blood in civil unrest, and weighed down by a constant burden of despair within a modern feudalist system, the American people must decide to either come together or continue with our backs turned on each other. The latter would be to the benefit of a ruling class whose greed knows no bounds, and isolate us further from creating an America that lets every citizen prosper regardless of race, religion, or upbringing.
We the people must come together in order to form a more perfect union, recognizing the harsh reality that in America not everyone is created equally no matter how thick the veneer over our eyes is. Our country was founded upon the idea of representation for all citizens, a bloody revolution over unfair taxation and economic manipulation by a distant few. And yet the American people are as misrepresented now as we have ever been, that reality weighs heavily on our shoulders as we struggle to keep up with the costs of life as we watch our establishment put mere bandages on wounds that cut to the country’s arteries. This nation has so much potential, yet the dream that lives in myth is being held beyond our reach by a few who have consolidated complete control of our federal system. We live disregarding the lives of others, intentional or not, as we struggle under an unequal economic structure saddled with debt, live in echo chambers that preach binary thought, view our neighbors as enemies, and stray further from each other as we seek immediate reactionary answers to the disenfranchisement felt.
Going back to our brothers and sisters oppressed under the yolk of slavery, all that Americans have wanted is to find a sense of community and purpose, being free to live a life surrounded by those we love with financial security to pursue our passions. Our unique drive and diversity as a nation has been turned against us as the individuals in power weaponize our feelings of hopelessness, channeling our frustration from lack of progress through a manipulative media sphere to keep us divided, allowing maximum exploitation while we feel paralyzed and unable to seek solutions outside of reacting to the next manufactured outrage since it feels as though nothing will matter in 20 years anyways.
This work is an exposure of these forces holding us back and an effort to educate readers on the ways in which the federal institutions of our America have failed us, toppling the country from a position of world respect while creating a plutocratic government that is of the people and by the people, but only functions to further the interests of a few. I want to examine our reality through a lens of social and empathetic capitalism; normalizing the notion that caring about others should be something of pride while elucidating the root causes of disenfranchisement to help us step outside of white supremacy and savage capital pursuit as the status quo. Love always outlasts evil.
Human rationality and decision making is guided by a concept called the OODA Loop; observe, orient, decide, act. In this monumental period of transition wherein old orthodoxies are ending and people feel change on the wind, our establishment has been able to successfully interrupt the OODA Loop for Americans by turning us against each other, thrusting us into uncertainty as the world rapidly evolves. While we have no clear path forward, as a people we must accept that the country and world are in post normal times, understanding that the division among us is being manufactured by forces who are scared of set hierarchies being challenged and wish to bring us back to a status quo that they gain most individually in. By beginning on a small scale, reflecting on our own actions and roles within the systems this work discusses, we can build a strong base of understanding which cuts through cognitive dissonance and recognizes that most every American shares similar experiences or frustrations about the federal system. Shifting our metacognition to be aware of and respect the needs of our fellow humans will allow us to see through surface level prejudices while educating ourselves on the true roots of disenfranchisement rather than identity based distractions we know all too well. This is the best way to transition towards a society that bridges gaps between status quo and new, enabling us to find the best collective solutions for the American people and reframing our legacy as a nation to allow prosperity for all, not a few.
Our founding fathers provide answers as to how America devolved into a plutocratic gun republic that maintains a status quo of white supremacy and savage capitalism, specifically in discussions regarding an individuals’ relationship to the federal system. State’s rights (synonymous for individual freedoms) and their relationship to the federal government have always battled over proxy issues regarding these two standards because it was a silent given among our founders that all men mean white men, and this unspoken hierarchy was enshrined into our constitution and foundational documents. Madison acknowledged that “the interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place,” yet constitutional freedoms were only extended to landowning white men (even in the Bill of Rights), African Americans were enslaved, women didn’t have suffrage, autonomy, or property, we destroyed indegenous cultures in westward expansion.
“It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices [checks and balances] should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” Madison was correct in this, and America has become a reflection of extreme individual greed and a feeling among the populace of needing the status quo because they wouldn’t know what to do without that ingrained hierarchy.
“It has been found in various countries that, in proportion as commerce has flourished, land has risen in value. And how could it have happened otherwise?” In Federalist 12 Hamilton lays out a vision for the country’s future prosperity, the liberation of white men through the fruits of their labor (worshiping at the altar of commerce), and much of this has come to fruition over generations as a certain segment of the population has seen their wealth grow to unimaginable heights. It is necessary to acknowledge that much of the wealth and compounding opportunity the upper class has experienced sprouted from a foundation of slave labor and always holding the majority of power, but as the nation has evolved and grown that hierarchy has become disproportionate beyond our wildest fears. The “angry and malignant passions” that Hamilton warned of have sprung up in defense of our unequal structures, “an enlightened zeal for the energy and efficiency of government” has been “stigmatized as the offspring of a temper fond of despotic power and hostile to the principles of liberty” emerged from the toxic identity based culture that weaponizes the disenfranchisement America pushes upon the majority. It keeps us from collectively advocating an interpretation of the constitution that entails all humans being truly equal.
Madison believed that “in a free government the security for civil rights must be the same as that for religious rights.” Yet the interpretation of that belief has entailed civil rights for a select group of people, a group that reacts with virulence whenever that interpretation is threatened to be extended, and the faith in our institutions has eroded away as we see the power of the people as a check on the government fading into memory while we see our elected leaders become nothing more than vehicles of enforcing a savage status quo. The people are aware that as Frederick Douglass said, “Fourth of July is yours, not mine,” yet we feel no options beyond complacency in the system because American culture has become individualism incarnated, and the zero sum idea of needing to lose something in order to take the risk of championing an updated framework holds us back.
America has been fortunate in the various resources, social diversity, and “genius of the citizens” that Hamilton described as “the wealth of nations depending upon.” Within our competing desires of either embracing change or fighting for the status quo we have lost sight of this, our melting pot has been scattered by a morally corrupt system that keeps us beholden to a higher power dictating the structures and opportunities in our life. The social contract under which we were founded has evolved as we’ve progressed into the modern age, but as we enter this period of non-normalcy with consequences of past actions coming back to haunt us, we must remember the underlying greatness that America has within her. The issue is not state vs. federal, left v. right, it is the American people against forces that wish to keep us subservient within a hierarchy that benefits them most.
We can exist with individual freedoms in a federal state and not sacrifice any comfort or opportunity, expanding our protection of civil rights and self determination to apply to all citizens. It will take a level of empathy and understanding others, an openness to discourse and changing the way we view the world. It will also entail coming to terms with hard truths about race and our positions in the world, looking past perceived slights in a zero sum culture to value human life, but we can do it. In the same manner our founding fathers wrote of a new country filled with opportunity, I am enamored with the possibilities around us and the land of prosperity America could be. It is necessary to acknowledge the faults of our founders and make reparations to help us come together, extending a vision of prosperity to all Americans regardless of various identities. Despite whatever perceived differences on the surface, we have the same deep rooted desires and experience similar emotions. Creating a prosperous society will first necessitate educating ourselves on the reality of disenfranchisement within America, instead of fantasizing about being rich while we refuse to risk any vulnerability and connect with those around us. Discussions about where we are and the path we envision ourselves heading down are difficult, but openness leads to trust and love, which conquer all.
Capitalism is the best system we’ve come up with for freedom and mobility, but as with anything there are various manifestations of it and America’s particular flair has led to rampant inequality, a rigged market that takes maximum advantage of consumers, and a society selfish beyond belief. Capitalism itself isn’t the issue but the culture of individualism and hierarchies ingrained in our zero sum thought have led us to an extreme version of exploitative enterprise. In this age of rapid change we need to step outside of the binary idea that everything is a personal gain or loss, reconciling our propensity to apply individualistic gain to every aspect of our life, even things that are supposed to contribute to the collective good. The desire to secure individual wealth is natural and capitalism encourages competition to achieve the best innovation humanity has to offer; I argue that the American dream should be a pursuit of gain through capitalistic endeavors, but also a collectively built society where nobody struggles to have basic needs of food and shelter met, everybody is treated equally with opportunities, and families are fully insured with a living wage. A society that allows everyone in the nation of the people, by the people, and for the people to prosper and find fulfillment.
In order to enable that vision it is necessary to identify our reality and the roots of the issues that plague our country most persistently. While reading this, know that when I call out racism and oppression, it is not a personal attack; it is combating the ideas of hate and disenfranchisement. I love and care about the individual underneath regardless of their beliefs, however aim to attack logical fallacies that lead them to that belief. To take full advantage of the greatest wealth and access to resources in human history we must first understand each other and identify those taking advantage of Americans’ infallible dedication to weaponize their passions. Additionally, we must know ourselves, recognizing our values and prejudices in order to put aside personal bias for decisions that will be best for all Americans.
Empathy isn’t weakness, it is an evolved trait that we are fortunate to possess. The ability to simultaneously care for, empathize with others, and use rational thought are powerful abilities that this book aims to combine in my analysis of reality. If we could center an ideological movement around faith in the sense of being an American and sharing a collective experience while binding it with values similar to those found in religions worldwide, we could do more than just survive the challenges facing us, we would thrive. Shouldn’t we ensure our society is prepared to support rather than discard others, especially in light of crises like COVID-19 that are leaving people with disabilities, or a climate that’s on the verge of collapse? As Madison wrote in the original Federalist, “Justice is the end of government. It is the end of civil society. It ever has been and ever will be pursued until it be obtained, or until liberty be lost in the pursuit.” We live short lives so we turn to the most immediately gratifying solutions, and too often hatred or shutting oneself off from other viewpoints is the easiest path; we can choose to use our time on Earth to ensure collective prosperity, and our federal system can adapt to fit the complex yet beautiful diverse landscape that is America.
“We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.” – Martin Luther King Jr.