At The Intersection Of Capitalism Kleptocracy Democracy And Socialism

We humans have many conflicting impulses of which each is good in its own time and place and even sometimes together. When it comes to government none is more important than the individual good vs. the collective good. In economic terms it is expressed in capitalism vs. socialism.

Now, there are ideological self-interests that will rant about the evils, one side against the other, on this impulse divide, both sides being hopelessly blind to the reality that when these two impulses are creatively balanced they are mutually reinforcing to all sides — less of course in the minds of the exceedingly greedy.

For instance when the economy has been shaped in ways that puts money to burn in the pockets of the average Jane and Joe, capitalists have reason to smile because there exists, because of such surplus monies broadly awash, a viable market for capital’s goods and services.

On the other hand when capital is only focused on short-term gains — I want it all right now (a hatchet job on the goose that lays the golden eggs) — accumulating and squirreling away gains faster than average folks have the capacity to spend, the economy becomes strangled into collapse. The most glaring indication of such a trend is a rapidly rising income inequality. The rich and powerful begin to buy up the government and shape it in ways favorable to only them, leading to kleptocracy and corruption, that which Presidents Putin and Trump seem to want to relentlessly fantasize about.

One of the great hopes and promises of the democratic form of governance is that it would somehow automatically balance out the short term interests of the powerful few with the long term interests of the many; and in past times following the Gilded Age of the 1890s with Teddy Roosevelt’s anti trust push and the 1930s with FDR’s vast array of social programs benefiting the many, interests have balanced out.

Today, it would seem that we have reached another point of super imbalance whereby the many once again feel a need to move aggressively against the few. In fact the “election” of Donald Trump was in part an attempt by the many to address the excesses of the 2008 Wall Street inspired economic and housing debacle. Unfortunately Trump turned out not to be Little Red Riding Hood come to do good things for grandma. (Who could have seen that coming — sure)! He turned out to be the con man predator he’s always been — the wolf.

So with the wolf having merged with the GOP as a colossal bid for kleptocracy over democracy, the Democrats are proposing a powerful correction course in which roughly 70% of average Americas are pretty much in agreement. And as could be expected the thieves and their political representatives on the right are screaming — socialism.

Yes, there is bound to be a lot of smoke and fire erupting as this rebalancing of the individual good of the few vs. the collective good of the many rolls headlong into the 2020 election cycle. Power never gives up power willingly. But if our democracy holds and the forces of destruction are put back in their cages, an upgraded American way of life will likely prevail for at least another few decades until the next adjustment is required, meaning, when we once again arrive at the intersection of capitalism, kleptocracy, democracy and socialism.

Jim Ridgway, Jr. military writer — author of the American Civil War classic, “Apprentice Killers: The War of Lincoln and Davis.” Christmas gift, yes!

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