Mr. Ringland (“Leftist academics sure hate capitalism,” May 26) is as uninformed about “leftist academics” as he is about capitalism, socialism and governance. Equally misleading is the painting of both with the good-bad brush as if within those domains there aren’t nuances, extremes and interpretations as theories translate to practice.
Because Ringland provides no definitions or context for communism, socialism or capitalism, I will provide some here.
A communist system is achieved when the laborers or workers, appropriate and distribute the profits or surplus labor from their production. In its simplest form, it can be translated to from each according to his ability to each according to his need. Socialism is considered the transition phase between capitalism and communism. Today’s society consists of multiple governments to include the U.S. that have features of socialism (public roads, Medicare or universal health care, public libraries, national parks, postal systems) that even Mr. Ringland enjoys.
A capitalist system is when property is privately owned and those property owners (capitalists) appropriate and distribute the surplus labor/profit produced by workers. Today in capitalist societies, corporations own the property and boards of directors appropriate and distribute the profits produced by their non-capitalist workers. American capitalism has some of its roots in 17th century philosopher John Locke’s belief in the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of property which was conveyed to the U.S. Declaration of Independence to the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That all men are free and not a monarch’s subjects redeems Locke. But Locke’s pursuit of property sanctioned European colonialism in North and South America and Africa, a process that in earlier times robbed indigenous people of their natural resources and in contemporary times will rob our children and grandchildren of their future.
The Cold War and McCarthyism and features of Chinese and Soviet societies did much to discredit socialism to the detriment of a critical examination of capitalism’s strengths and weaknesses. The COVID-19 experience has exposed the weaknesses of the U.S. for-profit/capitalist driven health care system yielding globally the greatest number per-capita casualties. Not only U.S. health care should face scrutiny ... for the past three decades socialist critics have gutted public education and social services, reduced the minimum wage, public universities, libraries, pension systems, and environmental protections.
Call me a “leftist academic’” or a “communist” for recognizing these failures. I stand guilty as accused.
SARAH G. WILTON