Hold on. Don’t slaughter me just yet. I am not saying we should become another Soviet Union or even China. Neither am I saying that private ownership and enterprise should be abolished. I am however saying that if we want our future generations to survive and enjoy a comfortable life then we should probably switch to Socialism.
Let me explain why do I say so? Humans need to consume natural resources to survive. As human consumption increases fewer resources are available for future generations. Now if the pace of consumption is very high then nature cannot rebuild natural resources at the same pace.
All economic systems whether it is Capitalism or Socialism or Mixed Economy serve the single basic purpose of helping humans consume better and improve their standard of living. Capitalism is based on the assumption that if we drive consumption then the market forces will bring about better economies of scale. Socialism believes in social ownership and equality for all people. Therefore it tries to create a level playing field.
Therefore on the one hand Capitalism tries to increase consumption Socialism tries to restrict it probably making Socialism the lesser evil.
Is restriction good? Maybe. Just the way one father saves money to secure the future of his sons and daughters I think our generation needs to save the resources for our sons and daughters to survive. If we don’t then with each passing generation the resources available for consumption will keep reducing and one day humans will have to face the consequences of the mistakes of their ancestors.
The thing with Capitalism is that although it brings about greater efficiencies in terms of economics it brings about disparities in a lot of other ways. It makes people consume more than they need to. If the United States is the ideal capitalist state then how can one justify the fact that the per capita pollution in America is 10 times more than the per capital pollution in India? How can one justify that Americans generate upto 40 times more waste than Indians? You cant justify it. It is just that Americans consume more that any other individuals on this planet.
Lets look at public transport for a moment. Public transport is a concept which has roots in Socialism. It is a system where all individuals of society fulfill their travel needs on a system owned by the society as a whole. It is the cheapest way to travel. Now if one looks at London which is one of the more Capitalistic cities in the world then one will realize that it is the public transport system i.e London metro which is still keeping the city moving. If it wasn’t for this marvelous public transport system then the city would have come to a standstill a long time ago. On the other hand you now have to pay congestion charges for entering London in a car. So the so called propagators of Capitalism said build and sell more cars and that will lead to consumption which will lead to better standards of living. But has it really lead to better standards of living? No it has made things worse. The average speed of travel on London roads is lower than the average speeds at the time of horse carriages. London has become congested and a very expensive city to travel in. People in London prefer the tube any day than traveling by private transport.
Right now the world is going through a financial crisis. Why? The reason is simple. The moment the banking sector was opened to greed and profiteering and driven on consumption it was a disaster waiting to happen. The banking system is supposed to be the protector of public wealth. It is suppose the lubricant of the economy and suppose to work for the benefit of the society as a whole. When the banking regulations in the US were changed making banks more consumption and profits driven it lead to greater risks. So banks kept borrowing more and more money for more consumption, riskier investments and speculations in the hope of greater profits. At a certain point the money (resources) ran out and the banking system landed in a cash crunch leading to the sad state that it is in today.
What I am trying to say is that consumption is not the solution to making the standards of living better. Over a period of time it only makes it worse and there are a number of examples of prove that. I have just mentioned two.
Socialism on other hand is based on consumption as per ones requirements which means that these invaluable natural resources will be saved for as long as possible and utilized in a manner which is best for the society as a whole. So you may not get great gadgets to fiddle with but you will get to smell the freshness of nature. Although till now every single example of implementation of Socialism has been flawed with large scale corruption and other problems but as a school of though it makes more sense than Capitalism. What I hope is that someday someone finds of a way of implementing this novel idea of social ownership in a manner which can not only benefit the current generation but also take care of the generations to come keeping the deadly termite of corruption at bay.