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I have noted a tendency when Communism or Socialism is discussed to immediately bring up the millions of lives lost under various regimes.

Can we talk about death by capitalism?

Can we talk about the massacre of millions of the native peoples by European settlers in the Americas and other lands such as Australia?

What about the brutality of slavery? The millions of lives lost on the journey from Africa and subsequently in horrific conditions in the New World?

Let's not forget the brutal colonization of African countries, which caused untold misery and led to the death of millions - 10 million in the Congo alone.

What about the World Wars? Were they not predominantly wars between capitalist nations?

What about the Holocaust? Was Nazi Germany not capitalist?

Let's talk about US interventionism that has directly and indirectly killed millions in Korea, Vietnam and most recently, Iraq. What about the dirty wars funded and backed by the US in Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, pretty much most of Latin America? What of the brutality of capitalist regimes like US-backed Suharto in Indonesia that massacred between 0.5-1 million people?

What about the 7-8 million that have died in the Congo due to the various proxy wars of Western capitalist powers?

What about the millions who die of hunger every year, in a world that produces enough food to feed everyone?The millions who die from inadequate healthcare and preventable disease, including right here in the US? One estimate is that 18 million die every year from poverty-related causes.

I have only listed the instances I could think of off the top of my head. I'm sure that there are plenty others.

It's called death by capitalism. Capitalism, if anything, has probably caused more death and human misery than the former communist/socialist regimes. The worst thing about it is we ignore the violence and evils of capitalism, living in a relatively wealthy country that hides it from view. We need to acknowledge that capitalism is an inherently destructive system that has crushed millions in its wake.This is especially true now for those living in poor countries.

I'm in no way diminishing the brutality of various communist/socialist regimes. But let's stop pretending that capitalism has somehow been less vicious. Let's work to build a more humane system.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I don't think brutality (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joieau

    is any more or less implicit in any ideology.  Any society that permits consolidations of power and/or concentrations of wealth (same thing) is inevitably going to raise the most competitive (and thus most prone to cruelty) into positions of authority.  

    Power is the enemy no matter what song it sings.

  •  Aijaz Ahmad, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OleHippieChick

    in Whose century? Whose millennium?, compared the relative economic growth curves of the USSR and USA in the mid-twentieth century, noting that for any comparison to be valid it would have to consider that the "USSR" as an economic entity included both center and periphery (i.e., the many SSR border states), while the "USA" includes the center but specifically excludes its periphery of direct domination in Central and South America.  Such sleight of hand always makes the USA look good, when our economic system was/is founded on high rates of impoverishment and, as this diary shows, mortality at the periphery.  

  •  As we learn more through our lives (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    serendipityisabitch

    about history's realities (and our own lives become long enough that we know from experience how history gets twisted), I don't think there's much point to endless bickering about who's ideology or political system or social policies cause the most DEATH.

    ...because another thing that makes itself 'given' over time in life is that human beings are ALL mortal. We all die of something, one way or another, when our time is up. All but a handful of us before we get into triple digits. A better way to talk about these things is, I think, how people live. Even in the very worst of regimes and theocracies there are a lot of people - majorities in most cases - who manage to live long enough to die of something other than social/ governmental oppression. Even when the average age of (white) women in colonial America hovered around 26, cause of death was childbirth or 'fever' (general term for malaria or just another flu), not being hung as witches by pig-ignorant, superstitious rubes.

    To be fair, I'm developing the same opinion on the issue of "Millions of Lives Saved!" from either medical technological advances or launching wars of imperialist intervention or government-sponsored genocides (in which millions are killed to justify the claim that millions have been saved).

    Doing meaningful things to eliminate causes of death we as a society view as 'unjust' and/or otherwise unwarranted and/or needlessly violent is good. It shows us the progress we can make via social evolution that is always in conflict with our slow and brutal physical evolution. The simple and entirely evident fact that we manage to end up two steps back after we've taken a brave step forward highlights this tension.

    Perhaps someday we'll succeed in net forward movement, we do have an obligation to try. But we'll still be mortal, and life will still be unjust to a large subjective degree. Time is the gift. Too many people get theirs stolen by tyrants (any description here).

    •  In don't think you should place (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eikyu Saha, Joieau

      medical technologies on the same plane as wars/genocides(did you mean to?) I mean advancing meaningful medical breakthroughs can hardly be equivalent to intervening in Iraq, for example.

      •  That's of course a subjective opinion. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        winnerforlife

        Which is as I mentioned in somewhat of a flux. I'm only in my early 60s, that intertoob "How Long Will You Live?" survey tells me I'll most likely live to be 99. And I was honest about my bad habits. So there's that (who would WANT to be 99?).

        I had leukemia when I was seven. Missed almost all of the third grade (one of those 'earlies' because of a June birthday). Nobody talked about it at home, but I did call the doctors I had to deal with weekly "Vampires." They call what happened to me Spontaneous Remission, it happened sometimes for no apparent reason in an age when there weren't any treatments at all. Doesn't happen that much (not that it was ever much) now that they can defeat the initial onslaughts with serious toxins/radiation and/or marrow transplants. Now we have 'cures'.

        That was atmospheric bomb testing days. Now when you get cancer clusters it's usually some energy or chemical conglomerate dumping known carcinogens into the air, water and food supply. The rate of cancer has risen even against bomb test days. We're better at poisoning our environment than we were even as my generation ran laughing through the fog sprays the DDT trucks released back when everybody thought it was cool as fluoroscopes.

        And then there's still - seemingly always - things like malaria and ebola and whatever jungle fever is ravaging the third world today. Or starvation and pure neglect. Polio was an issue when I was a kid. So was Thalidomide... we are such filthy critters.

        In my years I've seen enough to have concluded that Time is the gift. Some people use and/or spend it well, some people don't. But once I started viewing things as if Time was what mattered, I saw that some people do a lot with a little time, and some do nothing with a lot of time. And most of us are somewhere in between, just trying to matter at all.

        You just got me thinking, always dangerous. Thanks for that.

        •  Wow. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Joieau

          It seems you have a much deeper revelation of time an death and human mortality, which I hope to get more of. I'm not sure I'm making much use of my life now. That being said we as a nation are hardly doing enough to alleviate suffering or avert death beginning with here at home, but especially in the Third World. A good chunk of poverty-related diseases and conditions can be eliminated today, but we choose not to. I think the truth is human life in the First World is worth more than that in the Second and Third Worlds. It makes me very sad.

  •  A number of logical fallacies in this diary (3+ / 0-)

    Don't confuse capitalism with a political theory or a form of government (or the government itself.) Just off the top of my head I can tell you that the first westerners who practiced genocide of native americans did it in the name of religion or because some foreign crown (in a serf-based environment) gave them license to do so. Nationalism is what brought the Nazis to power, not capitalism.

    And what do you blame when a country like Israel, which practices capitalism, socialism, and communism commits what some would say are atrocities? Which -ism is at fault?

    Any -ism can be used by the powerful and/or rich to shortcut their way to more of the same by exploiting or killing the people under their control. One country wanting to conquer another is as old as time and pre-dates any of these -isms. The powerful will use whatever is at hand: capitalism, religion, communism, nationalism.

    Our Founding Fathers thought a Democratic Republic filled with a free and vigorous people who were able, through their representative government, to regulate "free" trade and who had a free press at their disposal would be the best guard against the corruption inherent in a powerful ruling elite.

    Americans were supposed to find balance and be able to maintain our pursuit of happiness. We were supposed to maintain laws and regulations against corruption, whether it was government or business. They gave us the Commerce Clause TO BE USED against corruption just as they gave us the First Amendment. They hated monopolies and believed the only way to prevent an elite class from forming was to take people's money away (see history of the death tax.) They weren't socialists or communists or even capitalists. They were nation builders who wanted us to survive and thrive under any combination of economic -isms. For awhile it was looking pretty good for us.

    But the problem isn't capitalism, it's corruption.

    •  What is the logic of capitalism? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eikyu Saha, radmul

      It is based on the exploitation of labor for the purpose of profits. Plain and simple. Exploitation is inherent in the system which means that even in the most humane societies e.g. Scandinavia, the very fact that they practice a form of capitalism means they are directly and indirectly exploiting not only their lower classes but even more damagingly Third World nations which bear the brunt of this exploitation. You cannot claim that capitalism is a neutral agent; that is the height of misunderstanding of how capitalism works. The pursuit of greater and greater profits is the logic of this system, which will forever cause death and anguish.

      Your last two paragraphs reveal much:

      a free and vigorous people
      I take it you mean white males, preferrably of the Anglo-Saxon variety. Black people are non-human and the Native people are virtually massacred to advance this illusion.
      through their representative government
      I suppose representing the interests of the white elite can be termed to be "representative government"
      to regulate "free" trade
      I hope you were not trying to argue that America practiced "free trade" which led to its current prosperity,because the opposite is true.

      The last paragraph ignores the vast number of Americans who were prevented and systematically excluded from pursuing "happiness".

      For awhile it was looking pretty good for us.
      Who exactly, is "us"? And at whose expense? Are we going to ignore the Monroe Doctrine and subjugation of the rest of the Americas?
  •  Are you kidding me? (0+ / 0-)

    almost every example you provide was carried out by governments that were either monarchies, facist or kleptocracies.  The exception being slavery, for which a war was fought that killed 500,000 people in our country.

    By your standard North Korea is capitalistic, since they counterfeit US dollars and co-ordinate drug deals for hard currency.

    Get a life!  If you hate this country so much, LEAVE.

    BTW - on balance, capitalism has done more to raise the standard of living on this planet more than anything else in human history.

    it ain't pretty sometimes, and when it's dog-eat-dog it works best, but there it is.

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