A lot of people seem to think that Democracy and Capitalism are the same things. I’m not sure when that happened. Maybe it’s always been assumed?
The truth is Democracy and Capitalism have nothing to do with each other.
Capitalism can exist without Democracy (China is an interesting example of this), and vice versa. It’s not related to governmental structures of any kind.
I’d go so far as to say Capitalism is cancerous to Democracy1. Once it metastasizes, it’s ultimately fatal.
“No, you’re wrong. Capitalism is like oxygen,” you say, “Democracy can’t exist without it!”
Okay, fine. Maybe that’s true. It is hard to find a good example of a Democracy that exists without Capitalism (maybe Denmark or Ancient Athens come close).
So yeah, say it is oxygen. Let’s consider that for a second.
Prolonged exposure to even small amounts of oxygen is corrosive. Too much oxygen is volatile, literally becoming explosive.
I think you get my point. After careful consideration, I’m forced to conclude that:
Unchecked Capitalism is dangerous to humanity as a whole.
Yes, it is that simple. In fact, it’s hard to come to any other conclusion. Most of society’s ills can be laid at the feet of rampant Capitalism2.
Before you have a stroke, I’m not saying we should ditch the free market and welcome a return of feudalism. On the contrary, just like oxygen, perhaps Capitalism is vital to Democracy. And we all have cancer cells in our body, right? It’s only a problem when they mutate out of control. So it’s the “unchecked” part of my conclusion that’s key, that’s the real problem.
It comes down to balance.
Checks and balances. Sound familiar? It should. It’s what the founding fathers sought to achieve; A way to keep any one particular thing from overwhelming the Democracy. But that job is never done. It’s just passed on to the next generation to continue the fight.
Which brings us where we are now. We’ve been bad stewards. We’ve allowed so many checks to be removed that balance now seems impossible. But it’s not. It’s just going to take work, perseverance, and once ultimately attained, constant vigilance to maintain.