Here we look at four different types of governments: Capitalism, Socialism, Fascism and Communism. As a quick review, Capitalism is an unplanned economy based in private ownership, driven toward profit. Socialism is a government- planned and regulated economy, allowing limited private material ownership by free and equal people, however eliminating (Orwell decides) the unnecessary surplus and waste produced by a capitalistic society. Fascism is totalitarian and militaristic; it's based on conquering other nations out of ideals of racial and national purity. Individuals are allowed to thrive capitalistically with deference only to the state, making individuals more managers than citizens. And lastly, Communism is the complete egalitarian and classless state where all goods are equally distributed quantitatively, not via percentages or any other qualifier. Each family gets two loaves of bread a week, no matter if they have three members or eleven.
Capitalism sure has its faults, which Orwell is quick to illuminate. First, since it's based in private ownership, competition is inevitable. The dark part of competition is that there are limited economic resources in the world, and since competition is win/loss, not sharing-based, someone or group will be deprived. For this reason Orwell thinks of Capitalism as a Caste system, but I'm not convinced. So what that the rich can buy more than the poor; Capitalism--unlike Fascism or Communism--allows the poor the opportunity to train, seek out alternatives, and save their way into the pool of resources. Caste systems constrain the lower classes, whereas Capitalism at worst oppresses them, but cannot dominate them.
Why can't a system driven toward profit work? Yes, in some scenarios its propagates a dog-eat-dog scenario, which can distract us from seeing that a drive for competition streamlines the market, making more efficient and accessible products for everyone. Profits don't destroy others, it simply rewards those most useful to the market. Who decides the market? Well, Orwell and other skeptics of Capitalism would say the rich, whom yearn to funnel all wealth, resources and power toward them. An economy cannot function like that though, mechanically or in theory. People have wants and needs no matter their financial situation, and are going to act upon them, should they be given liberty to do so. This means private ownership--no matter how many assets one has--is in closest alignment to our natural incentive structure. Orwell loves Socialism, but I can't shake how a "planned economy" can incentivize humans better than their own minds. Capitalism isn't inherently chaos, unlike what its skeptics think, it's a market with the least amount of restraints placed upon the participants.
Socialism is marketed as a cleaner solution to the world's financial woes because it hides under the ruse of strategy, humanitarianism, and foresight, rather than a conditional ethic that will support anything that brings profit. Page 319: "To prevent war material from reaching the enemy is common sense, but to sell in the highest market is a business duty. Right at the end of August 1939 the British dealers were tumbling over one another in their eagerness to sell Germany tin, rubber, copper and shellac--and this in the clear, certain knowledge that war was going to break out in a week or two. It was about as sensible as selling somebody a razor to cut your throat with. But it was 'good business.'" I admit this wasn't the Capitalists' most prudent decision, however, this does not mean that all Capitalists take the same path. It simply demonstrates that they can take that path. Can Socialism not over-regulate the economy to the point of snuffing creativity and entrepreneurs, which can help everyone? Orwell even mentions in the previous chapter that millionaires can't light the streets for themselves without lighting them for others. Capitalism surely breeds some bad apples, but it also allows the flexibility for people to reveal themselves which other governments would've suppressed and enabled.
England screwed up Capitalism because they retained a semblance of a caste system. (Anytime you have a legitimate aristocracy, you're there). Aristocracy is not Capitalism, it's capitalistic. Big difference. Fascism was capitalistic, but does that make it Capitalism? So long as you weren't a Jew, you could hold wealth, which is an uncommon truth. The English aristocracy screwed it up because they loved their money but they loved their status more. Capitalism, since it's individual based and profit driven, makes status secondary because profit is a commodity and status is a subjective reputation. Orwell knows England's biggest battle was stepping out of its capitalistic and aristocratic tendencies, but I'm not so sure that means stepping toward Socialism is the solution. Granted, that society was too screwed up about money- theory to embrace Capitalism in the individual, consumer sense, but again that doesn't mean a "planned economy" would allow people to thrive. They'd simply survive. And that's one thing Capitalism's competition innately demonstrates.
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