[Joyous Thirst goes political 😉 ]

On a teaching blog I read every week, a commenter left this comment on a post about the purpose of learning (“Why Do I Have to Learn This?“):

“Whereas the rules of capitalism said that if there were ten people on a riverbank and one boat moored nearby, they had to fight until one of them got the boat, the rules of Marxism said they all had to get into the boat at once, even if it sunk.” (kvennarad)

First, I had to laugh at the truth of the statement–capitalism does allow fighting for the boat while Marxism insists that everyone must sink together, since sinking is the only fair choice. Perhaps staying on the bank is another option, but theoretically no one wants to stay on the bank and everyone wants to get in the boat and so we must all get in the boat at the same time because taking turns presupposes an inequality. And above all things there must be equality.

My second thought was “wait, there’s a third option.” This is actually a false dilemma. There is something better than equality to be gained and to be practiced, and this something is “value” or “honor.”

Let me state it a bit more simply: it is possible for 10 people to not fight over the boat but to use to boat to help one another get to the other side. This helping one another is something that Marxism rules as improbable and therefore rules it out completely. This helping one another is something that is completely outside the domain of capitalism. I mean, capitalism does not and cannot dictate the morals of those that use its system. It’s only an economic system, after all! It can be practiced with disregard for others or it can be practiced with the principle of “do unto others as you would have others do unto you,” or better yet: “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”

See, if the people on the bank with the boat treat each other with honor, then they begin to think “how can we all get across the river without sinking the boat . . . and in the most effective, least time-consuming way?”

And if they treat each other with value, they begin to evaluate their own and each other’s strengths (who here knows how to manage a boat?), weaknesses (does anyone get seasick?), and needs (you’re a doctor on your way to deliver a baby? we need to get you across right away!). They also evaluate their assets (the boat) and liabilities (the river, the stormy night, and the limited capacity of the boat).

This allows them to use the capitalistic system of inequality in a way that benefits everyone. And yes, it is a system of inequality because, as kvennarad pointed out, complete equality either gets us nowhere or kills us all.

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