I was out walking this morning, cool crisp air, thinking in my mind, as the sun began to rise over Montana. It was quiet of vehicle traffic and the birds were active, chirping and tweeting, and their songs settled on the icy roads and snow-covered yards.
My thoughts turned to the biblical words of Jesus, stating that he was the chief cornerstone, and those that built their “house” on him would not be washed away. I recalled that masons frequently use a chief cornerstone when building a structure, and it is this cornerstone that guides and otherwise gives strength to the entire building.
My mind lept from there to economics, politics, and Karl Marx. To be clear, I am not a “Liberal.” I don’t fancy Hillary Clinton nor Oprah Winfrey, nor am I out to make the case for homosexuals, minorities, or environmentalists.
What I am about is an alternative economic system to rogue capitalism. Allow me to explain.
What Marx suggested is that any society’s economic foundation serves as a kind of chief cornerstone. The economic foundation sits on the bottom, while all other structures of society build up from the foundation. Marx suggests that it is the economic foundation of a society that influences all other structures and relationships in society.
Capitalism, as it were, gives rise to all structures in US society. The relationships and structures of society take on the characteristics of capitalism.
So, for example, a notable feature of capitalism is competition and ownership of private property. Consider the competition to get young children into elite private schools, or how relationships are viewed through an ownership lens, as if we own our spouses and they are “ours.”
If we had to boil capitalism down to it’s essence, it’s central and eternal maxim, it would be this: make a profit. Capitalism concerns itself with profit making, it is the nature of the capitalistic economic system.
When profit is the only criteria for a business existence, it unfolds in competition, deregulation, privatization, decreased social spending, decreased wages, decreased benefits, exploitation, etc.
The capitalist is going to whittle his operations down to ensuring that every move decreases operating expenses and increases profits.
So what’s the problem? The problem is that we are social beings. Period. We live together on this planet and we have the mandate to care for one another.
Could you even imagine if the essence and core maxim of business and government were: care for one another?
What socialism therefore advances is a reconsideration of economic foundations, such as local food movements, worker cooperatives, non-profits, and public distribution of services, such as police, fire, parks, libraries, utilities, etc.
When Donald Trump announces at Davos that America is open for business, given the nature of our underlying economic system, what he is really expressing is, come exploit our workers and environment so that you can make a profit.
The number of examples of transnational and national corporations that have lied and done great harm to people and environment in order to increase profit margin is ridiculous.
When I argue for socialism, I want to be clear that I am not arguing for authoritarian communism. What I am arguing for is a local, cooperative, generative economic system that spawns structures which reflect the social nature of our existence. I am arguing for a new maxim, one that values caring for others over profit.
When the economic system, the chief cornerstone, is based on a maxim of social concern, then the challenges of identity politics in society will largely self-correct. Black lives really will matter, as will homosexual lives. The environment and our relationship to it will matter.
If one reads the corporate-controlled media, right and left, I believe that at least one latent function is to sow divisiveness in society. When society is divided, then we fight each other rather than the power structures that need focus.
To this end, someone on the “right” might say to me that I am a: “bleeding-heart liberal who want’s to use my hard-earned tax money to support fat, lazy black people who don’t want to work, and who wants to allow terrorists into our country, and who wants to abort babies and take our faith away, and who wants a massive government telling me what to do!”
It’s a good narrative, it’s easy to run with, and it’s the manufactured consent that keeps us divided.
What’s more the case is that I am well-read, well-lived, and I envision a society, a world, that is based on genuine care for fellow man, and I only see that this is possible by setting a chief cornerstone and foundation that reflects care for one another and our human, social character.
In closing, if one really, really understood Jesus, they would understand that a local, generative, cooperative economic model based on our social togetherness is more Christlike than a competitive, for-profit economic foundation that pits one against the other in a race for finite resources on a closed-system. Meaning to say, if Christ really is the Chief Cornerstone, then capitalism is not compatible with a gospel faith, much to the consternation of many.