We live in a world that we’ve been conditioned to blame others when things go wrong, or do not go the way we want it. In Ghana, a dipsomaniac will blame his octogenarian grandmother, who should be waiting quietly for a rendezvous with the icy hands of death, for his inability to control his addiction to alcohol. It is not only in Ghana that we have such silly predispositions to dealing with the difficulties of life, and even the death of our love ones. In 16th century Europe, a crop failure could be blamed on a village witch. Well, the Europeans have become very sophisticated, and don’t believe such silly rationalisation anymore, but that fundamental desire to have others taking the blame is still alive and well. Here in Britain and most Western countries, it is the insurance companies that bear the brunt. For example, in England, an 86 year old grandmother dies of what any reasonable person will term as normal old age inevitability. Under normal circumstances, the family should grieve their loss in private and welcome the commiseration of well wishers. However, in the blame culture of England, the family of the deceased sues the NHS for negligence, that is, for leaving the mother to die without adequate medical care.
Those who blame capitalism for all the evils of the world come in legion, and they are very formidable. Even those who benefit from capitalism tremendously, contrary to normal reasoning, shamelessly blame it for the troubles of the world. Yet, they don’t give away the fortunes they make courtesy of capitalism. Russell Brand, a British comedian, is an archetype of people with such crass mentality. I will not hang you to dry; I will enumerate a few of them that was floated a couple of decades ago by one eminent writer. This champion of capitalism wrote and I am paraphrasing, atheism which was pioneered in the West, faults capitalism for the survival of Christianity. A Papal encyclical issued in the sixties, blamed capitalism for the spread of irreligion and the sins of our contemporaries. Protestant sects denounce capitalism for festering greed. Friends of peace considers wars as an off-shoot of capitalist imperialism, but during the thirties adamant nationalist war mongers of Italy and Germany indicted capitalism for its bourgeois pacifism, which according to them is contrary to human nature and to inescapable laws of history. Sermonisers blame capitalism for disrupting the family and festering licentiousness, however progressives accuse capitalism for the preservation of outdated sexual restraints. Oh no, which group have I not mentioned; don’t you think it is ridiculous? Oh yes, the environmentalist blame capitalism for the destruction of the environment. The global warming alarmists are in line. These warped views of capitalism, which are in total contradiction to each other, have been repeated so much most people do not stop to check the facts. The question is why these provincial views about a system that has liberated man so much from the drudgeries of life, and improved the quality of the many. The answer is simple; capitalism was named by its enemies. It has been made into a philosophy, which it is not; therefore, it lacks philosophical defenders.
Capitalism is not an ism; it is an economy in which the means of production and distribution is mainly controlled by private interest for profit. Of course, it is the most effective way, known to man, to produce wealth. Wealth means choice and more options, and who doesn’t like multiple choices? Yet, those who make the most noise about poverty, wealth distribution, the environment and what have you are the very people who frown on wealth. And the reason is the wealth of the world is in few hands. But think about it this way the consumption of Bill Gates is negligible. The rest of his wealth is available for those who have the skills and knowledge to produce more wealth. If you are still racking your grey matter his physical assets, like money, do not sit in his personal vaults, but in banks and it is loaned out to people who are willing to take a calculated risk to make more of it. Whiles you are there think about the fact that 20% tax on £1million income is much superior to £50,000. Those who make massive income carry a greater burden of the society for the taxes they pay on their earnings. And I think we should rather applaud them, but instead what they get in return is needless vitriolic criticism of the end product of their ability. Don’t you think we need more of those people rather than crush them?
I honestly believe the notion advanced by Jesus Christ that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for the rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God is what has poisoned our conception of wealth. As a result, we turn to see wealth as evil, sinful, greed, selfish and many more. That misconception has assumed manifold life of its own. As far as I am concerned, the intellectual fraternity disgust about capitalism and its consort wealth is nothing, but simply a shameful jealousy. Because most of the people who make multimillion incomes and ultimately become the billionaires of our time were the sort of people they wouldn’t talk to in school. I was a culprit myself. As a science student up to A- Level, I always felt erroneously and stupidly better to those who read arts and business. I now know that people have different skills and superior ability in different aspects of human life. The skills of Ray Kroc, together with founders: Maurice and Richard McDonalds that built McDonalds chain, is entirely different from that of Bill Gates. The most important fact is both transformed the world, though in diverse ways.
The history of capitalism has been distorted by people like Marx and Engels to the extent of grotesqueness. Many people who don’t even know anything about capitalism just hate it. Before the advent of capitalism, life expectancy in Britain was around 35years. Half of children born in Britain do not live to see their fifth birthday. It was through the enterprise of capitalism that remedied all these anomalies. I would say that the inadvertent aim of capitalism is to bring the luxuries of life within the reach of everybody. In the time of Queen Victoria it was only the rich and the nobility that could wear tight. It was the capitalist that brought what used to be a luxury within the purse range of the masses. Before Henry Ford came along owning a car was an absolute luxury. It was through his capitalist enterprise that brought the use of cars within the reach of the poor man. It is very strange that those who hate capitalism don’t think very deep.
The so called people Marx claimed he was fighting for, before the advent of capitalism, used to wear one single coat before it disintegrate with dirt, because they didn’t even have money to buy soap to wash them. It was capitalism that brought cheap coats within the reach of the proletarians and cheap soap to wash them – Marxism was nowhere near that transformation. It is capitalism which has brought all the creature comfort we enjoy. The computer that Mr Kwarteng uses to write his tripe was not invented in the communist world, but in a capitalist haven. Television, car, the locomotive train, micro wave, washing machine, even the common jeans that is the craze of the world were all invented in the capitalist world. Nobody should misinterpret me. I am not saying that the Chinese and the Russians are not innovative; they are but communism stifled all their innovative geniuses. Most of the Russian successes during the 70 years of communism were achieved outside Russia, for example, Igor Sikorsky who was famed for his helicopter. All the technology that made them popular like the space technology and the nuclear bomb they minted like sausages were all borrowed technologies. The Russians have been very good inventors and innovators, but most of them happened before communism. I made this comment because Marx said the capitalist exploit human labour and communism will rather be innovative and make the life of the proletariat much easier through machinery. For example, the washing machine that liberated women so much was not invented in Russia, but capitalist America. The ubiquitous internet, in its current form was conceived by Tim Berners-Lee in capitalist Britain not communist Russia or red China.
It is once reported that Leonid Brezhnev, who was once at the helm of the Soviet empire for
18 years, in a moment of frustration over their deplorable economic conditions complained bitterly about the tendency of Soviet enterprise managers to shy away from innovation as the devil shies away from incense. I did not say this; and this was not the thief Boris Yeltsin speaking. It was said by a leader of the communist world who was at the helm for 18 years until his death. This time too, Mr Kwarteng should tell me Brezhnev was a thief and all the nonsense and diversionary tactics he wrote about Yeltsin. Thank you and keep your fingers crossed for the second part.
Philip Kobina Baidoo Jnr