Systematic Racism: The Virus. Capitalism: The Cure.

Six dollars and some change displayed on top of a desk.

In the wake of the tragedies of the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, politicians have searched far and wide for the answer to systemic racism. As of yet, none have found a way to fully eradicate this deeply-rooted system of oppression. As a capitalist, I suggest that the best way to address the enormous flaws within our political sphere is capitalism. 

Before I begin, I’d like to define the economic terms I will be using. According to Merriam-Webster, capitalism is defined as “an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market.” (1) The opposing economic system would be socialism. Socialism is defined as “any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.” (2) Socialism is also considered to be the step between capitalism and communism. While socialism and capitalism are opposing ideologies, they can coexist, and economic systems adopt aspects of both. Many nations, including the United States, have a capitalist marketplace containing features of socialism. 

In the modern age, no economic system has received more criticism than capitalism. Yes, capitalism does cause inequality; however, inequality itself is not inherently unethical. Inequality is a mere aspect of human nature. NBA players are more athletic, therefore, they are able to play professional basketball. Similarly, inequality of income and wealth is only unethical if the wealth was accumulated through illegal, immoral or abusive means. Additionally, although wealthy people can and do hoard wealth (and it is unethical), dealing with this issue is more complicated and is not the argument I am making. Regardless, how do I suggest that capitalism is the cure to systematic racism?

The answer to my previous question is simple: changes in societal attitudes toward race must and will begin from the bottom, rather than the top. This means that we as a society must change our attitudes toward race as a collective, rather than rely on governmental legislation to cure this cancer that is racism. Capitalism allows individuals to take actions, rather than a centralized committee (the government).

In his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, Martin Luther King Jr. said, “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character”. Capitalism is an economic system that allows individuals to act and make decisions, rather than the government. Why can police kill with apparent immunity? It’s simple: they are defended by the government. Since the government is the ultimate authority, the police can act with impunity. When you get a job, you enter a consensual economic agreement with your employer. If you do not like your employer, your employer cannot punish you; you are perfectly free to find another job. The competition pushes for employers to treat you better, and creates more companies who want to hire you, meaning that pay, treatment, and benefits will be better. If you do not like your police force, sure, you can move towns—but what’s to say that even worse police await you in another town?

The government can be racist. There is no way to combat that because the government acts with impunity. Certainly, that does not mean it should be; on the contrary, the government should be held to the highest standard of society. If one hopes to eradicate systemic racism, it must first decrease the influence of the government in our daily lives. The most consistent political ideology is simple. You want to defund the police, fine, then defund other governmental organizations, such as the United States Postal Service. Any government, United States or otherwise, must be held accountable and not allowed to act in such racist ways. By decreasing the government’s influence in the marketplace as well as our daily lives, we can begin to deconstruct this virus of systemic racism. 

  1. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/capitalism

  2. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/socialism

  3. https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/peace/1964/king/26141-i-have-a-dream/

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