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Why I Loathe Capitalism

Of all the political communities I have ever been involved in, the people I met through Gonzo Times are my favorite. I have been involved with these guys for about four years now and Luis and Josh especially, the latter of whom will be contributing here soon, are some of the most sensible people I've ever met. At the most critical part is that we come from the same place.

All three of us are former libertarians. I was at CPAC in 2010 and met Ron Paul - I volunteered for Campaign for Liberty. I used to write for websites like United Liberty and Liberty Papers, writing impassioned naive stuff influenced by all the libertarian literature I read in school and elsewhere. When you're in your 20s, libertarianism makes alot of sense - you've been a ward of your parents so long that you want to prove you don't need anyone else telling you what to do. Libertarians also are some of the most sanctimonius and self-righteous assholes you will ever meet - most of them seem physically incapable of seeing the viewpoint of anyone besides themselves, so it's no wonder that they are comprised overwhelmingly of socially awkward twenty something males.

Reality mugged me though. I lived in a third world country, I was homeless and I had to take care of a loved one who was mentally and physically sick (more than one actually - part of my healing from my own madness was caretaking for an older man on Guam). I felt what it was like to be dependent on others and to have them dependent on me. That's the reality of the world - not some individualist nonsense written by an emotionally retarded and economically privileged third rate Russian novelist.

My socialist, radical views got cemented by recent life events. The loss of my fiance, Jennifer, was not unforeseen. She was playing with the worst forms of addiction a long time and rejected attempts for help by more than a few loved ones. (It's worth noting as an aside that the sort of medication she was addicted to, opioid painkillers, are a product of the opium trade that exploded two hundred years ago thanks to one of the most raw surges of capitalism, British colonialism.) The roughest part in the healing process wasn't consoling her dad or going to the viewing or even dealing with her many mentally ill Canadian friends - it was selling and donating her many items, some of which had quite a bit of monetary value.

In "Free To Choose," Milton Freidman shows a pencil and talks about how it was the collaboration of various people across the planet, some of whom wouldn't like each other if they were in the same room. It's the magic of capitalism, he says.

The computers and brand new shoes I sold told a different story. Without knowing me, my name or why I was selling these things, people would assume I was hustling them. Buffalo Exchange staff suggested I needed to sign papers of authenticity since I was selling brand new shoes (they didn't have me sign them when they learned that these shoes belonged to someone recently deceased). Another individual, who I sold Jen's computer to, was freaking out - totally anxious about the computer, the money he was spending and worrying that I was hustling him or that I thought he was hustling me. Both calmed down when they knew how and why I had these items and were even friendly after that but nevertheless, America's capitalist system created this anxiety and fear. They were going in to the exchange with that mentality of fear.

Far away from what Freidman said, capitalism doesn't create voluntary cooperation. It creates social compulsion and a near constant fear of being ripped off. Everyone is potentially a racketeer just for trying to participate in it because that's all it really is.

There is hope, however. Whatever backwards libertarians may say, the extremes we saw in communist takeovers of countries that had not yet attained development in the twentieth century are not the only choice versus Social Darwinist capitalism. Switzerland and many other European states have healthy basic minimum incomes, something which actually helps the marketplace by making sure that everyone has their basic needs taken care of and doesn't have to trade with others with the fear that they will lose everything. (It's worth noting that Milton Freidman supported this idea with his "negative income tax" but when I've brought it up with some libertarian friends, in all their glory, they have said "Basic income? WTF? What reason will anyone have to work?" - unknowingly admitting that the primary compulsion for participation in capitalism is fear of losing everything.) Countries like Switzerland are also largely free of the various financial crisis that America has made in to a cyclical sport, occurring every four years like the Olympics or World Cup.

If I'm really "free to choose," I'll try being free to choose and explore the possibility of something else. That is my right, right?


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About Radical Second Things

Michael Orion is a blogger, writer, artist and photographer based in the Bay Area. Besides his maintenance and promotion of Radical Second Things, he contributes to the San Francisco newspaper SF Western Edition, where he writes about local non-profit organizations.

Mark Cappetta is a practicing Catholic and active LGBT activist. He has been instrumental in keeping Radical Second Things and updates the Facebook account almost daily.

Eva Gnostiquette is an artist, programmer, "future scientist," bi-trans girl and graphic designer. She voluntarily helped to create the first print issue Radical Second Things and designed our beautiful banners. Thanks so much, Eva!

Jordan Denato is a professional artist based out of Iowa. He took the initiative to illustrate both Jennifer Reimer's story and Michael Orion's Oscar Romero work. He has his own art studio, Tar and Feather Studios, and is a critical part of Radical Second Things.

Radical Second Things is a liberation theology themed blog that has clear cut goals - we see the structural decline of the United States and much of the west and hope to present alternatives that will offer "a preferential option for the poor" as more become vulnerable.

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