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Who Wins?

Entry 2072, on 2020-08-30 at 20:16:42 (Rating 4, Politics)

Which groups usually win in society today? Actually, why do we even need the concept of winners? Why can't we all get equal rewards for our participation in the "system"? Is that even possible? Yeah, probably not.

Maybe it's a bit like the famous line from George Orwell's novel, "Animal Farm", where he said: "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." It's a proclamation by the pigs who had political control in the novel, and who abused that while maintaining the use of convenient politcal slogans insinuating true equality.

The book was an allegorical criticism of Stalinist Russia, but it could be interpreted as a condemnation of any regime where one group is given privileges above others. Communist Russia was a failure in almost every way, including the noble aims of giving the lower classes more political power and greater wealth, but a similar criticism could be made of any political system, including American-style capitalism, where inequality in wealth has escalated greatly in recent years.

The advantage of capitalism - at least in its pure, theoretical form - is that there is no central bureaucracy controlling distribution of wealth and power. If an individual can work within that system, he will be rewarded as a result of market forces. Make a product or produce a service that the market wants and you will be rewarded with wealth, and that often leads to greater political power as well.

In a socialist system rewards come as a result of arbitrary rules controlled by a central government. This clearly can lead to greater corruption and inefficiency, because the activities rewarded by such a system are essentially capricious and unaccountable, and can be manipulated through any inclination of those in control.

Defenders of socialism/communism will say that every example of its use has been flawed and that none have demonstrated the true benefits possible. But how many times do we need to see socialist states fail before we conclude that, even if socialism works in principle (which is itself doubtful) that it never works in practice.

Look at Socialism's outcomes in states such as USSR, China, Cuba, Laos, North Vietnam, and North Korea. Are these shining examples of how people prefer to live? Where would most people prefer to live: North or South Korea? I think the evidence is undeniable: socialism in its more pure forms is a disaster.

But a case could be made to criticise capitalism in similar ways. Is there true equality in political and economic power in a primarily capitalist country like the US? Are the continuing violent riots there really because of alleged police violence, or are they actually a result of gross inequity in the economic and political system there?

To answer my own question: I think the riots are really a result of perceived lack of opportunity and equality. To what extent this is real is a matter of opinion. There have undoubtedly been both overt and surreptitious forces at work in the past which prevented certain groups from succeeding to the same extent as others. And yes, I agree that black people and women have been disadvantaged, but that is largely a matter of history. Primarily today any failure to gain equal status, wealth, or power is the fault of innate factors within the group involved.

Clearly this is a controversial view. I might be accused of "victim blaming" in this instance, but is that fair? If I am blaming a victim then the person must actually be a victim and not just someone who is inadequate in some way. But, to be fair, I would have to concede that both points of view are true: some people are unsuccessful because they are victims, some are unsuccessful because they have personality, cultural, or intellectual flaws, and in some (probably all) cases, both are true to some extent.

And the same applies to successful people; they might succeed despite being victimised because of personality attributes such as persistence, self-belief, or intelligence. Others might succeed because they are given an unfair advantage by society, despite having personality flaws (although I doubt whether there are many of those).

In general there are two types of factors which influence a person's degree of success: innate characters of personality and the culture they live in, and exogenous factors which they have little or no control over. A more socialist system can help overcome the unfair effects of these factors.

But people who have exceptional abilities which might improve society really should be encouraged to utilise those abilities. How can this happen in a political system where everyone is considered to be the same and must have equal outcomes? It seems unlikely that encouragement of that sort is possible in that situation. Maybe that explains why socialist societies sink into mediocrity and decline.

But here's one negative final point I must concede about the alternative, capitalist system: it rewards people who can manipulate the free market for their own benefit. Is that really what's best for society as a whole? Well, probably not, but compared with the main alternative which seems to encourage mediocrity, it doesn't seem so bad.

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Comment 1 (5515) by Jim on 2020-10-19 at 09:32:11:

Well not that your socialist leader is back in power we will see how it works out for you.

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Comment 2 (5516) by OJB on 2020-10-19 at 11:59:16:

Yeah, sure. I'm currently preparing a blog post on my reaction to the election. So, if you are genuinely interested, take a look when it is posted. Of course, you should subscribe to my blog using the RSS feed so you will never miss anything!

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