Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Great Capitalism vs Communism Debate (revisited)

It appears that the Umno home ministry has come up with a new political strategy. It wants to associate the Chinese-dominated Democratic Action Party (DAP) with the creeping return of communism.

Indeed, this vile strategy is laced with the usual Umno brand of racist arsenic. It seeks to create - or, rather, resurrect - the illusion that all Chinese are actual or potential communists. Which is patently an infantile, stupid and shallow notion easily rebutted.

Russia and Cuba are known to be communist nations - yet there aren't too many Chinese to be found in either country. Of course, this has never occurred to the rabidly racist editors of Utusan Malaysia, Umno's propaganda rag.

Communism as a political ideology transcends race - just like its Siamese twin, capitalism.

Being infantile, stupid and shallow is par for the course when it comes to Umno politics. To anyone outside Umno it must be clear as crystal that Umno isn't really interested in anything apart from ferociously clinging onto the political dominance the party has enjoyed - or, rather, abused - since 1957. Nothing else matters to Umno: certainly not issues of justice, human rights, fair play, accountable government, and democratic space (without which no healthy mental, moral or social development can occur).

The most intelligent contribution to the capitalism versus communism debate I ever came across was from a most unlikely source: I read it in a 1976 book by Osho (then known as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh) titled I Am The Gate.

I can't find the book in my library. Someone must have pinched it "by accident," as often happens with so-called friends who solemnly swear they will return my books and then disappear from my event horizon for years, until I've forgotten those books once existed within easy reach. So I shall have to paraphrase instead of quote Osho verbatim. What he said on the subject immediately struck a chord and has remained permanently embedded in my memory.

Communism and capitalism are actually two ends of the same stick, Osho said.

They are two extremes of a pendulum's swing, the apparent beginning and end of what is essentially a connected circle, the in- and out-breath of the respiration cycle. How so?

Let's say that capitalism involves the accumulation of energy, experience and expertise. We shall call it the inhalation phase.

It must be followed by an exhalation phase wherein the accumulated capital (in this case the intake of air) is redistributed to all parts of the body via the lungs, while carbon dioxide is released as exhaust, so that the plant kingdom can breathe. Isn't it extraordinary that the plants then exhale oxygen which animals (including humans) vitally need?

Well, says Osho, breathing out - redistributing and sharing - may be regarded as the communist phase of the breathing cycle. It usually follows a capitalist phase, simply because we must have some something before we can attempt share anything with anyone.


What happens when you attempt to hold your breath indefinitely without exhaling? You die. Same effect applies if you breathe out and don't bother breathing in again. In effect, there really is no conflict or contradiction between these ideologies.

Capitalism recognizes that genius - the curiosity to explore and the capacity to innovate - resides in individuals, never the collective. Therefore, the unquantifiable value of the human individual must always be honored - because each of us has the unlimited potential to creatively contribute to the whole. Classic examples of capitalists would be Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Steven Spielberg.

Communism recognizes that experience, expertise, knowledge and wisdom - which constitute our real capital - have to be shared as widely as possible. Otherwise the accumulated capital will turn toxic and kill the hoarder. Anything of genuine value - say a loaf of bread - has to be shared and consumed before it becomes moldy and therefore potentially hazardous to health.

Same goes for fuel, whether you're talking about huge tanks of petrol or a massive woodpile. Those who hoard fuel are only endangering themselves. Would you be able to sleep peacefully knowing there's a stack of 50-gallon tanks of flammable substance right under your bed? And if you accumulate a 10-year supply of firewood and keep it carefully hidden from your neighbors shivering in the cold, what happens a few years down the line is you'll discover termites have eaten their way through most of your fuel stockpile and have now digested your roofbeams. Don't be too surprised if the entire roof crashes down on your head while you're fast asleep.

How about those who hoard cash? Well, if you stash a few million US dolars under your floorboards, chances are you'll find the currency notes are worth less than 10% of their original value after an unforeseen depreciation triggered by a financial meltdown like the one that happened less than a year ago.

The moment you understand the simple truth of what Osho stated, you'll realize that capitalism and communism are natural expressions of dynamic cyclical processes - like wet and dry seasons, hot and cold spells, day and night, inhalation and exhalation, expansion and contraction.

In other words, we are all at different times capitalists as well as communists.

So what's the problem? The confusion often arises when capitalism is equated with democracy, and communism with totalitarianism.

I can't imagine what would make a sane and rational human being opt for tyranny over freedom - but the amazing fact is, some do. I hear people opine that they prefer a strong leader who will govern with an iron hand. Leaders who tend towards egalitarianism and democratic ideals are regarded as weak and wishy-washy.

Perhaps those who choose despotic and authoritarian over democratic and accountable government are the ones who feel lost without a parental figure to guide them. Often, their loyalty to even the cruelest, harshest leader makes them identify the state as a father figure. The fear of losing their patriarchal deity turns them aggressive. Like a bird in captivity that has gotten accustomed to its confinement, they might even peck your eyes out if you attempt to open their cage door so they can experience freedom.

So what do we do? Well, we can either leave them to die in their (mental) cages... or wear protective glasses when undoing the latch on the cage door... just in case the bird panics and turns vicious... or starts calling you silly names like Sylvester.

[First posted 7 June 2009]

11 comments:

DancingDove said...

Great article Antares. I have often pondered this subject and agree that the Cap/Com is the same thing just turned inside out. It's really time we stop thinking we have to chose between the two. I am an Anarchist in the purist sense and no Anarchy is not pure chaos and lawlessness but embraces the notion that communities can self-organize and self-manage with out any Cap/Com Big Brother... Please do some research on worker-owned cooperatives and specifically the Mondragon Cooperative in the Basque Country of Spain. All they need now is to succeed from Spain and print their own currency and they will have created a well-organizes Anarchist state with the BEST of BOTH! Rock on... Dancing Dove

Anonymous said...

Spot on! You nailed it on the head! Trying to destroy communism is like the right hand trying to chop off the left! Even the USA is turning left after the capitalists screwed up the economy!

Antares said...

DancingDove - Thanks very much for the upbeat comment. Ultimately, anarchy is the goal - but people have been brainwashed into fearing the word "anarchy" without any clear understanding of what it means. Good of you to mention it!

Anonymous @ 8:54AM - Truth is, Karl Marx and Freddy Engels were agents of the Illuminati (witting or unwitting I don't know). Communism as an ideology was introduced to the planet as a manufactured bogeyman, just as "Islamic terrorism" was deliberately created to strike fear into people's hearts and make them accept increasingly stringent forms of Big Brotherism.
Left wing or right wing... it takes TWO WINGS to fly! :-)

Gerald Wee Eng Kian said...

That would explain the late night reruns of "Bukit Kepong". I sense that the crumbling house requires a big dose of Vitamin C[ash], taken from the bottle of Vitamin C[ommunist] C[hina].

In order to make it more palatable, a decision to properly label the good Vitamin C[hina] and the Bad Vitamin C[hin Peng] came about. Kind of like how trans fats in food came about.

With the relabeling of these vitamins, just about anything can be tossed into the bad Vitamin C[hange] bin. Say opposition parties, newspapers/websites and especially businesses.

I'd look out for the business part in the near future. With high level hand shaking and head bowing, I would look out for giant companies and their BN frontmen flooding the local market with cheap goods and selling off natural resources well below market price back to them. Or worse, the sudden appearance of toxic waste imported from an over industrialised nation.

Worst case scenario here, guard against them all the same.

Singam said...

Before defining capitalism and communism as opposite ends of the same continuum, it is necessary to define what these terms actually mean.

From what I see, capitalism is not about rewarding effort. It's about accumulating wealth. The people who are most clever at manipulating the marketing of goods and services and at creating illusions of value are the ones who are accumulating the wealth. The free market, on the other hand, is about allowing the free flow of currency and of goods and services finding their own value according to the dictates of supply and demand. The free market rewards efforts as they are seen to be worth.

Communism purportedly looks after the people's interest. However, by removing the rewards system, effort is stifled. More than that, the State assumes control of resources and this leads to centralisation of power in practically every sphere of existence.

What the world needs is a system where the basic needs of food and shelter are available to everyone. Beyond that, efforts should be rewarded so that people can enjoy the extras they have earned.

Neither the central control of communism not the wealth accumulation of capitalism are necessary.

Some simplistic solutions...

1. No land ownership! Any unused plot of land can be utilised by any person so long as it is being worked actively. If left idle, it becomes available to anyone else who wants it. Active use includes (but not limited to) residence, agriculture and manufacturing.

2. Manufacturing plants to be owned by worker cooperatives that hire managers who hold no stake in ownership except for a profit sharing arrangement.

3. No derivatives and virtual financial transactions. Only real buy-sell transactions to be allowed. All others outlawed.

4. Governments to be run by committees made up of ordinary people, just like jury panels. People to be selected for committee duty by rotation followed by screening for suitability. No more full-time politicians.

Hmmm, sounds crazy, huh?

Gadfly said...

The economic terrorists like those involved in PKFZ scandal is so much more real than the 'communist terrorists' of a bygone era. Using false ideology to solve a false problem and to attack a false enemy is the paranoid delusion arising out of a false consciousness. Nowadays, sparrows are too smart to be scared of acare-crows.

Mr. X said...

How about some tips why Pakatan don't want our children to master English? Any idea?

KoSong Cafe said...

Thanks for linking my TM post. Did not know until I read your excellent article.

Who is Mr. X? Seems fixated with Pakatan not wanting children with English. I don't believe in blind loyalty with party leadership anyway.

Gadfly said...

Communism means different thing to different people and at different time.

To Osho, communism means anarchism. This is what he says in "Socrates - poisoned again after 25 centuries" : I love the idea of communism, but a communism can only be true ,authentic, when it is based on anarchism.If it is based on the dictatorship of the proletariat, it is not going to be authentic communism. It will be simply poverty distributed equally.

I would like no poverty at all; all the people should be rich in every possible way. My communism means equal opportunity for everybody to be unique and unequal - because psychologically nobody is equal, and if you want them to be equal you have to force them to be equal....My communism is individualistic, and my communism is anarchistic..."

If this is too heavy going, Osho's medidtation is quite mind- opening.

telur dua said...

The odds are low, but bright parents can and do give birth to moronic children. You only have to look at Mr Hisappudin @ Chrismuddin.

telur dua said...

While he was PM, didn't Tunku see a Communist in every Chinaman?

The moronic Chrismuddin is just a copycat.