Capitalism has not failed, it’s only been implemented globally, rooted in white supremacy. Adam Smith, “the father” of Economics, in the 1700s, envisioned a moral economic system that worked from the ground up, was “inclusive”, and took care of the most vulnerable.
Hello everyone, I’m back again. I’m coming to you because I’m seeing so much—COVID-19 is bringing out so much angst and, to me, misinformation about what capitalism is. I just saw a tweet that was like, “Now that it’s out in the open that capitalism is a failed system,” and then—I don’t need to go into the rest of what they’re talking about—but capitalism isn’t a failed system. This is where my research is going to be going in the future, particularly when I finish my doctorate degree, because I don’t believe that capitalism is a failed system. Where we’ve failed is, everywhere we’ve implemented capitalism, as is socialism, as is communism, as is fascism, has always been centered around white supremacy. So when that’s the base of everything, of course capitalism looks like the enemy, but capitalism is only a theory.
I’ll just read the basic definition from the dictionary, and then I’m going to get into why I find my research so important and why it so excites me, because there are so many people—people who even study economics—and they don’t look at capitalism from my perspective. So again, it’s a theory, it’s where my future research is going to take me, but let me just give you the definition out of the dictionary of capitalism.
Capitalism: an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit rather than by the state.
That’s it! That is all that the definition of capitalism is. The implementations, or the manifestations, or the demonstrations of capitalism that we see, have always been about, rooted in, and promoted white supremacy, in the United States and around the world.
So my research has started… it’s a beautiful day outside, so I’m just on my porch, it’s quiet—it’s relatively quiet—so I just wanted to come out here if you hear the birds and all this other stuff going on.
But I wanted to just briefly talk about some of the roots of my thesis and how it excites me as I do more research on Adam Smith—who people consider the “grandfather of economics”—who wrote two books; the first was “The Moral Sentiment,” and the second was “The Wealth of Nations.” He was a member of what they called the Scottish Enlightenment era, after the revolutionary—actually, “The Wealth of Nations” came out in 1776, and if you know anything about the history that we’re taught, that was when this country got its independence, and in its independence, trying to come up with a government system, a political system, economic system, many of the founding “fathers” actually studied Adam Smith, actually tried to implement some of his ideas into the forming of the US as a nation and an economic system.
So I just want to read you a little bit—because again, I want to challenge people when they say just blatant “capitalism is evil”—no, capitalism as a theory is not evil, it has only been implemented around the world rooted in white supremacy. So my thought is, can we have—I want to know—can we have an antiracist capitalist system?
So when I look at some notes that I’ve taken, this is a quote from Adam Smith: “He is, in this as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote the ends which was no part of his intention.” So he’s just talking about how he’s coming up with these ideas of economics—and I want to go back, because when I said he wrote the book “The Moral Sentiment”—Adam Smith, who again people consider the grandfather of economics, talked about moral economics. His first book was about morality, and his second book was about economics. So even then, the 1700s, there was somebody actively researching, studying the moral—how can economics be moral.
So he talks about the invisible hand. So he says, when the baker sees that we want to buy bread, she makes the bread so she can make a living, and the other side of the coin is that we get bread. There is more to competition than price alone. One of Smith’s great contributions to humanity is the realization that things didn’t have to be planned in order to be orderly. He believed that many complex systems can be generated by local behaviors.
So this is telling you about how he believed in a bottom-up system. They don’t have to be—and actually can’t be—created from the top down. So even in his thinking in 1776, Adam Smith was thinking about an economy that was based on the bottom up, not the top down, so the fact that we have in our capitalist system the people at the top that we idolize and we aspire to be, billionaires and whatever, that’s not how Adam Smith saw a moral economy. He saw it as coming from the bottom up.
So he says, laws and government may be considered in this, and indeed in every case, as a combination of the rich to oppress the poor and to preserve themselves the inequality of the good. So even back then he was saying—he saw—what we see now. This is not new. There were choices made to root our economic systems in white supremacy, particularly in the United States. If you follow along, go back and listen to the #causeascene podcast book club episodes of “How to be an Antiracist”, I talk about that, and now picking up we’re doing “White Rage”, which specifically talks about that, those things instead of—”How to be an Antiracist” was more of a generalized book, but this talks about specific things.
He goes on to say—in the documentary I was watching—Smith says that both sides benefit from the transactions, both the buyer and the seller, and if you really want to increase prosperity, what you should do is to increase trade as much as possible, rather than try to prevent one side of it coming into you. So he’s even talking about monopolies. This stuff is not new, this is why I get so frustrated with folx who don’t want to study history, who just wanna look at things on the surface. Everything has a root cause. There’s always a cause and effect going into play.
Smith’s detailed studies of markets led him to realize that it’s the labor of nations’ inhabitants that is the major source of wealth. Now, in the United States, the founding fathers understood that, because that’s why they did not address slavery in the way that they could have at the start of this nation. There were conversations about whether this nation should’ve moved forward with—when they created the United States as it was at the time—whether we should have slavery as the bedrock of our economic system. And, y’know, they chose to. So this is again another frustration, people act like this shit just happened. It didn’t just happen, people made conscious decisions in the US and around the world to base their economies on the forced and harmful labor—free labor—of slaves.
So the question—one of the questions I have—was how do you shift from understanding of labor… [pauses to read a viewer question: “Smith may have predicted potential failures, but if we’ve committed those, are we not failed?”] …how do you shift from the understanding of labor as a physical undertaking—cause you know, I’ve been talking about how we’re not in an industrial age anymore, we’re in an information economy—to an intellectual undertaking, the knowledge age, which requires inclusion and diversity for business leaders to leverage it as an asset to create wealth.
So one of the last things that I want to leave you with is, it says before Smith, almost every school of thought taught people that one’s own interest always is contrary to someone else’s. But Smith changes everything. If trade increases our wealth, then other people of the groups in other nations are not our natural enemies. Tying the progress of modern society to productive people and open markets is a revolutionary idea. But he also speaks to the role of government in a free society. Little else—so this a quote from Adam Smith—“little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice, all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things.” So again, even in the 1700s, he was talking about how the economy should’ve been focused on peace, easy taxes—and not just easy taxes for corporations but easy taxes for all—and a tolerable administration.
And he talks about this—and this is why I know that he was focused on the most vulnerable, and then I’ll have a caveat to this—[reading] this displays a striking faith in the average human being. If we just give you some space and protect your basic rights, you can figure out how to improve your own life. We do not have to do things for you, we just have to stop doing bad things to you. So my question was, who did Smith define as the average human being? This is where things get off track because in Smith’s time, the average human being had to be a white man, because that was the only people who could own property, who had voting rights or anything. So I see how white supremacy got rooted in it, maybe unintentionally—I’ll just give the caveat of maybe unintentionally—because that was who the economy thought of, only white men. I say, in the 21st century, let’s extend this to – when we’re talking about the “average human being”, let’s extend it to a more diverse group of people.
So the next question I have is: it appears that all is here to create a just economic system. Only if the “average human being” is inclusive would this take a simple re-imagining. And that’s what I want to leave you with, because that was my final question after that: if, as I’m discovering, the roots of a just economy were thought about deeply—cause this was this man’s work—was written about extensively, and again, I’m going to read you the definition of capitalism again: an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit rather than by the state. If, as Adam Smith sees it, if our economics are morally based, then—and even in his day in the research he looked at the people that were being taken advantage of—again unfortunately in his time he only looked at white men. Like, who were the white men in the economy who were being oppressed and discriminated against and we need to lift those individuals up. If that is already rooted in the ideology of a moral economy, let’s just expand the definition of who we consider the average human being is. That’s the work I want to talk about.
That is where I challenge—and continue to challenge people, and will continue to challenge people—on “capitalism is evil.” No, capitalism is only a theory. It is how it’s been implemented around the world that is rooted in white supremacy and this is the thing that people don’t wanna talk about.
So as we sit back now and look at what’s going on with the coronavirus, and you have these statesmen, you have these people who are saying “The old people should be willing to go back to work in service to the young generation,” and “if the young generation are expected to go back to work then what are they going to get in return for their putting themselves at risk?” That’s not a moral economy! That is rooted—even the idea of putting those words together and putting those and thoughts together and writing them down—is rooted in white supremacy. It’s the whole… it’s the belief… our current economy—form of capitalism—is rooted in there’s not enough, there’s scarcity, so we all have to do what we need to do to take, steal, borrow and never give back, but it’s all rooted in that whiteness gets to do that and everybody else gets the crumbs.
So even now what we’re seeing are white people who are finally being impacted by white supremacy, in ways that they have never been impacted by white supremacy, freaking out and wanting to do what whiteness does, because whiteness and white supremacy are designed for chaos, there is no bottom. So I am not surprised that they want to feed off the elderly in this. That they want to sacrifice the elderly in this, because white supremacy is designed to sacrifice, to kill, to harm, to oppress, to discriminate. It is not ever in service to good and morality, ever, ever, ever.
I want to see, I believe that we can have an economy that is in service to the most vulnerable and to the morals of—not Christian morals, not that kind of morality—but the… Well, I can take that back, because I’ve studied many religions, and at the root of many religions, once you get past the dogma and the doctrine, at the root of all religious prophets, Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Mohammed, it’s all about love, and they always prioritize the most vulnerable. So this is not new for us. It is when, you know, we just root everything in white supremacy, is what we get…
[pausing to read a comment on the screen: “misogyny as well. expecting the free labor of women”]
Well it’s not just expecting free labor from women; see, this is where we need to stop. It is not that. It is everything being in service to white supremacy, including white men. No one escapes white supremacy unharmed. So, it’s not about—and this is where white feminism fucks up, because they make it about white women—it’s not, it’s about all of us. No one escapes white supremacy unharmed, and until we realize that we’re in this together, or that we get there together or we don’t get there at all, we will continue to struggle, and the noose around—hmm, I’m not going to use that term because that’s… Ok I won’t use that one. [Pauses to think] No, I am going to use that. The noose around the neck of whiteness—I’m not talking about individuals—of whiteness, the noose of white supremacy, that has always been around the neck of brown and Black people, is now getting on the neck of whiteness and you don’t—no one knows how to handle that—but you don’t have the skills of a history of being targeted.
So, it’s not about women, it’s not about just Black women, it’s not about trans individuals, it’s not about just LGBTQA+ individuals, it is all of us. And this is what I love about the lynchpin in Adam Smith’s work. It’s not about the individual. It is about honest, moral trading systems that include the most vulnerable and come from the bottom up and does not tolerate what we see of companies that “cannot fail” and all this other bullshit that we turn ourselves inside out to protect. That’s not what a moral economy does.
So I know I’ve said a lot, I have no idea how long I’ve been going, but you know how I do this. So I just really wanted to just document my thoughts every time I see this whole “capitalism is evil,” and “we should just throw out capitalism.” We could go to a fully fuckin’ socialist system—I mean, the most socialist system right now is Sweden, and they are having issues now that with immigration it’s not an all white country, they’re having issues with trying to lock down because there are more immigrants coming in. Socialism as it is practiced in Sweden is rooted in white supremacy.
So that is my point: we can’t—just tossing out something to do with something else is not the answer. Democratic socialism does not fundamentally talk about rooting out anti-racist—I mean being anti-racist—and creating a moral economy. You cannot create a moral economy until people are ready to face the fact that our world’s economy has been built on the oppression, the slavery, the killing, the stealing from the most vulnerable. Have a wonderful day.