The question was recently posed to me: “Is there a way to improve unity in a capitalist society like Marx claims will happen in a Marxist society?”
I was struck first by the thought that anyone with a cursory knowledge of Marx would believe he was seeking unity. The sum of Marx and his works is less about unity and more about eliminating perceived inequality to create a utopia. A place where there is no need and wants are supplied by the production of the members of society.
I suspect that the real question behind the question is seeking to ascertain whether capitalism can create a better society than Marx claims will be created via Marxism and communism. Is it possible that capitalism will result in a society devoid of inequality where class is a thing of past and the needs of the many are equal to the needs of the few? Will the capitalist ever be a perfectly unified society?
In short: no.
Before moving on, we must understand that Marx is not primarily interested in unity; he is claiming to seek equality. Marx’ complaint against capitalism is that it creates inequality. He was seeking to devise a system that would eliminate inequality and create equality. However, he’s not really interested in equality either. Marx needs to paint a rosy picture so people will accept his ideas (sound familiar?). Marx is most interested in power. He wants to consolidate power into the hands of the government in order to control everything: the means of production, money flow, wealth, education, healthcare, cultural norms, etc.
Ultimately, Marx knows that whoever controls the means of production, education, healthcare, and the money system, will control everything and everyone. Socialism and communism are primarily about power.
5 Reasons Capitalism Cannot Produce Unity:
First, inequality is necessary for society to exist and thrive. If everyone is economically equal, no one will be willing to work at the fast food restaurants, or clean houses and mow lawns. But these are necessary jobs that serve society and provide people with income, while also allowing entrepreneurs the opportunity to own and operate a business. It is through entrepreneurship and business that much wealth has been created. Many lives have been enriched by the fruits of those businesses (technology, medicine, automobiles).
The inequality created by capitalism produces competition and market forces that provide opportunity. One business fails and leaves a gap where another can take its place.
Second, economic inequality is not only necessary, it’s not bad. No one is guaranteed an economic position in life. Such a notion is a “bourgeois” idea, the very idea Marx hated so much and sought to destroy. Our economic position is largely a result of our efforts. Through hard work, dedication, sacrifice, and consistency over time, people have the opportunity to create their own economic position and future. Being “wealthy,” by any arbitrary cultural standard is not a right.
Economic equality is not guaranteed by the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. To guarantee anyone a specific economic position is the very definition of elitism.
Third, no service, such as education or healthcare, is a right. These are, by definition and nature, services. And because they are not rights, no one has the authority or is in a position to force another person to provide these services. It is the opposite of freedom, to demand that another person render their services under duress, which is what we would call a government threat. The idea that an educator can be sued because a student failed should terrify every sane person. That medical professionals must carry large amounts of liability coverage is equally alarming.
If the government can force one person to render services, it can force any person to provide (or withhold) any service; this is tyranny at its worst and to be rejected in favor of freedom and liberty.
Fourth, capitalism is dependent on discrimination. Of course, culture currently tells us that discrimination is bad. However, every person discriminates on a daily basis. We choose brand of coffee over another, one type of car over the competitor, and one style of clothing over many others. IN making these choices we discriminate against those we choose not to do business with. This discrimination is both good and necessary for a free market to work. Eliminating the ability of consumers to discriminate will necessarily reduce their choices, and erase competition.
Fifth, unity is achieved by people. Regardless of their intersectionality or any other external factors, unity in a society or even a neighborhood is the responsibility of the people. The government cannot force unity via any economic system. But the poorest and the richest can walk side by side, united one banner if they choose. This is clearly seen in certain communities (such as fraternal organizations, clubs, and churches) where members serve one another regardless of their economic position or other cultural labels. No government or economic system can create unity, only people can.
Economic systems are a product of worldviews. Depending on how one sees the world, the economic system will be an attempt to create that world (society). As long as societies are constructed by imperfect people for imperfect people, no perfect society (or economic system) will ever exist. But we can make strides towards being better and creating a better society than we had yesterday. The best economic system currently in existence for this task is capitalism.