A recent article at Aljazeera by the noted leftist commentator Belén Fernández exemplifies the perverse mindset that leftists have toward what they call “capitalism.”
In her article, which is entitled “Why Does Mexico Have the World’s ‘Most Violent’ Cities?” Fernández attributes the massive violence in Mexico to the U.S. government’s war on drugs.
So far, so good. She is right on that count. There is no doubt that the drug war has decimated Mexico, in the process killing hundreds of thousands of people and destroying the liberty and security of the Mexican people. The same applies, of course, to other Latin American nations.
But then Fernández goes off the rails. She says that the drug war is part and parcel of America’s “capitalist” system, which, she says, “thrives on the proliferation of strife in general and the marketing of superficial non-solutions to problems.” As part of this so-called capitalist system, she points out that “the US response to the narco-showdown it created across its southern border has been to throw heaps of money at corrupt and violent Mexican security forces who are often in bed with – who else? – the cartels.”
There is one big problem with Fernández’s analysis, however, one that afflicts many leftists and, in fact, also afflicts many conservatives and, for that matter, many non-ideologues as well. That problem is that she honestly believes that the United States has a “capitalist” system.
Let’s define some of the characteristics of a genuine capitalist system.
It’s a system in which people are free to keep everything they earn. In other words, no income tax at all. Savings are converted into private capital, which raises people’s standard of living.
It is one in which there is no mandatory charity at all. In other words, no Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, farm subsidies, education grants, foreign aid, and welfare.
It is one in which there are no trade restrictions, including minimum-wage laws and price controls.
It is one in which there are no immigration controls. In other words, the free movements of people across borders.
It is one in which there is no central bank, i.e., Federal Reserve.
It is one is which there are no occupational licensure laws.
It is one is which there is a limited-government republic with just a basic military force rather than a vast and permanent military establishment, foreign interventionism, imperialism, CIA, NSA, and FBI.
Now, does that sound like the kind of system Americans live under today? It sure doesn’t sound like it to me. It sounds to me like the type of system under which the American people lived in, say, 1885 — a system that was commonly known as “capitalism.”
Yes, I know that there were exceptions, such as government-business partnerships (i.e., “crony” capitalism) and land grants to the railroads, but the fact is that those were violations of a genuine capitalist system, not part and parcel of such a system.
Oh, I almost forgot something important. Genuine capitalism is a system in which there are no drug laws. Thus, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that there were also no drug laws in 1885 or, for that matter, throughout 19th-century America.
In the early part of the 20th century, the United States was converted into a welfare state, one that was characterized by the adoption of the federal income tax (and the IRS), the Federal Reserve, Social Security, and, later, Medicare and other socialist programs.
It also was converted into a government-managed and government-regulated economy, one that could be labeled as economic fascism. The National Industrial Recovery Act comes to mind.
In fact, a good book along these lines, one from which Fernández and other leftists could greatly benefit, is Three New Deals by Wolfgang Schivelbusch, which compares the extreme similarities between the economic policies of Hitler, Mussolini, and Franklin Roosevelt. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Hitler actually wrote Roosevelt a letter commending him on his economic policies and pointing out that Germany was following much the same road.
In the middle part of the 20th century, America was converted from a limited-government republic to a national-security state, which is a totalitarian type of governmental structure, one in which federal officials acquired omnipotent powers, such as assassination, torture, indefinite detention, denial of due process, coups, and the like.
Need I mention that the drug war that Fernández rightly condemns came into existence as part of these conversions?
The problem that afflicts many leftists — and, for that matter, many conservatives — is that they have been taught to believe that America’s conversion to a welfare-warfare state and a managed-regulated economy did not, in fact, constitute a rejection or abandonment of America’s capitalist system. Instead, they are have been indoctrinated, mostly in public (i.e, government) schools, into believing that these massive transformations constituted nothing more than “reforms” of the capitalist system.
That could explain why Fernández is convinced that the death, suffering, and destruction wrought by the U.S. government’s war on drugs is part and parcel of America’s “capitalist” system. Like so many other leftists, she is unable to bring herself to see that the drug war is actually part and parcel of the welfare-warfare state that both liberals and conservatives brought into existence.
Reprinted with permission from The Future of Freedom Foundation.