What Do the Capitalist and the Communist Really See Respectively?

I ran across this quote by Phelps Adams, chief Washington correspondent for the New York Sun and later executive as United States Steel: “Capitalism and communism stand at opposite poles. Their essential difference is this: The communist, seeing the rich man and his fine home, says: ‘No man should have so much.’ The capitalist, seeing the same thing, says: ‘All men should have as much.’”

Capitalist do not see a rich man and his fine home and say, “All men should have as much.” The capitalist sees the rich man and his fine home and thinks, “He (and I) need to always make sure others do not have access to the means that allow us to live in fine homes.” The communist sees a rich man and his fine home and says, “The means of production with which labor produces the wealth that creates rich men and fine homes shall belong to everybody.”

What the communist objects to is not the rich man and his fine house, but the reality that the rich man and fine house exist because the majority of men are enslaved by the wage system. Capitalism is a system in which the means of production are concentrated in the hands of a few men who use this power to subjugate the masses and compel them to labor for the capitalist. This is the reality of capitalism. The notion that capitalism makes everybody rich is completely and utterly false. It is the opposite: capitalism makes a few people rich because it makes most people workers.

Published by

Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

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