I have similar concerns with the second video. Here, the narrator (a communist) argues that the power of “the community” should be greatly increased through the Internet and new forms of living. The narrator argues that protest movements like Occupy Wall Street illustrate a clear trend toward individuals communicating and organizing in pursuit of collective interests. Unfortunately, the narrator completely neglects to mention protest groups like the tea party, which have very different objectives. He doesn’t seem to understand that most people probably don’t share his view of “utopia.”
Interestingly, he argues that the key advantage of communism is that it enables individuals to support each other in ways that, from his perspective, escape the bondage of monetary pursuit. The narrator uses the example of a lady looking for a dog in Argentina (I kid you not) who received help from her community to find the dog. He concludes that to these individuals, the lady’s interest in finding the dog superseded other less important interests that a capitalist society would preference instead. I have a major problem with this conclusion — it asserts that finding a lost dog is a more important social objective than the other pursuits that these individuals could be pursuing with their time. If society functioned this way, it would be rendered obsolete beyond the provision of a basic existence with basic interests. If everyone was looking for lost dogs, no one would be creating the next Google, or Apple, or high-tech health care device. Creativity would be subjugated to “the community,” which would be rendered a gray space of limited opportunities and poor services. What incentive would the entrepreneur have for pursuing a fantastic new product when the reward for his work was a society in which, instead of operating restaurants, or resorts, or retail outlets, most other individuals were growing vegetables and/or looking for dogs all day?
The beauty of capitalism is that it encourages entrepreneurs to develop new products and services that will benefit society by offering them opportunities to use their success to gain personal enjoyment from goods or services that other individuals are providing. In turn, these individuals are then able to pursue their personal interests. In essence, a capitalist society works because it rewards people for their services. Community in a capitalist state comes from common interests and beliefs, but in a manner that allows for higher living standards and diverse, expanding opportunities.
Ultimately, socialist and communist societies allow for a narrow understanding of collective interest, while capitalism allows social interest to be determined by personal choice. Where capitalism trusts in the ability of free choice to allow an individual to use her free time to grow a vegetable plot or, conversely, buy her own vegetables, communism subjugates freedom to the vegetable plot as a necessary mechanism for survival. Free choice and free society are important, but capitalism serves these ideals far better than communism or socialism ever could.
Tom Rogan is an American blogger and writer currently studying in London, England. He holds a BA in War Studies from King’s College London and an MSc in Middle East Politics from SOAS, London. His blog can be found at TomRoganThinks.com.