US and World Politics

Cruelty of Capitalism

By Bonnie Weinstein

The human condition

Friedrich Engels (November 28, 1820-August 5, 1895), a German philosopher, historian and political scientist developed the ideas of scientific socialism together with Karl Marx (May 5, 1818-March 14, 1883). The two were lifelong friends. In fact, Engels, born to a wealthy family who owned a textile mill, gave financial support to Marx so that Marx was free to do the necessary research to write Das Kapital. The two co-authored The Communist Manifesto in 1848 and in 1884. A year after Marx died, Engels published a very important little book, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State based on Marx’s scientific research on people, their environment and the structure and origins of human social organization and culture.

Before his death Engels was working on a book about scientific thought process, The Dialectics of Nature, which he left unfinished but was compiled and published in the USSR in 1925. In chapter IX titled “The Part Played by Labor in the Transition from Ape to Man” he wrote about human interaction with nature:

“Let us not, however, flatter ourselves overmuch on account of our human victories over nature. For each such victory nature takes its revenge on us. Each victory, it is true, the first place brings about the results we expected, but in the second and third places it has quite different, unforeseen effects which only too often cancel the first. The people who, in Mesopotamia, Greece, Asia Minor and elsewhere, destroyed the forest to obtain cultivable land, never dreamed that by removing along with the forests the collecting centers and reservoirs of moisture they were laying the basis for the present forlorn state of those countries. . . Thus at every step we are reminded that we by no means rule over nature like a conqueror over a foreign people, like someone standing outside nature—but that we, with flesh, blood and brain, belong to nature, and exist in its midst, and that all our mastery of it consists in the fact that we have the advantage over all other creatures of being able to learn its laws and apply them correctly.”1

These words sum up the fundamental relationship between our species and all life on earth. Marxism—socialism—is a guide to living on the earth without destroying it—by creating an economic system of equality based upon production for the needs and wants of all instead of production for the private profit of the few.

Socialism is a system that does not waste labor and resources on producing things built to destroy life or self-destruct—but on creating useful things of the highest quality—and still be able to provide the necessities for a comfortable, bountiful, enriching and creative life free to all. It is a system that is a protector of the diversity of life, not in competition with it.

War, poverty and racism—the products of capitalism

Racist and class-based police murders, mass incarceration, vast economic inequality, healthcare and educational inequality and the degradation of our environment from wars and polluting industries are just a few examples of the cruelty of the capitalist private profit system.

Capitalist production for private profit syphons wealth from the masses of the working class into the coffers of the elite .01 percent of the worlds’ population who are the owners of the means of production. They pay workers as little as they can get away with, and sell the products workers produce at a cost significantly higher than the cost to produce them—making themselves a tidy profit.

Every decision made by business interests is designed to exploit workers in order to increase their own rate of profit and to do all they can to inhibit workers’ ability to unite and fight in their own common interests.

Any and everything to make a buck

The extent to which the capitalist class carries out cruel injustices to make a profit boggles the mind.

In a September 29, 2020 New York Times article by Caitlin Dickerson, Seth Freed Wessler and Miriam Jordan titled, “Immigrants Say They Were Pressured into Unneeded Surgeries,” about unnecessary invasive gynecological procedures performed at the Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Georgia—a private Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center for immigrant women:

“The Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Ga., drew national attention this month after a nurse, Dawn Wooten, filed a whistle-blower complaint claiming that detainees had told her they had had their uteruses removed without their full understanding or consent. Since then, both ICE and the hospital in Irwin County have released data that show that two full hysterectomies have been performed on women detained at Irwin in the past three years. But firsthand accounts are now emerging from detainees…who underwent other invasive gynecological procedures that they did not fully understand and, in some cases, may not have been medically necessary. …The Times interviewed 16

women who were concerned about the gynecological care they received while at the center, and conducted a detailed review of the medical files of seven women who were able to obtain their records. All 16 were treated by Dr. Mahendra Amin, who practices gynecology in the nearby town of Douglas and has been described by ICE officials as the detention center’s ‘primary gynecologist.’ …Independent doctors that provide treatment for ICE detainees are paid for the procedures they perform with Department of Homeland Security funds. Procedures like the ones that Dr. Amin performed are normally billed at thousands-of-dollars-each. …Data from ICE inspection reports show that the center, which is operated by a private prison company, Lasalle Corrections, refers more than 1,000 detainees a year for outside medical care, far more than most other immigration detention centers of the same size.”

Further, in an October 6, 2020 New York Times article by Amol S. Navathe and Harald Schmidt titled, “Why a Hospital Might Shun a Black Patient,” the authors noted:

“Research shows that doctors are more likely to choose procedures and treatments that are more profitable for them, whether these are better for patients or not. For example, cancer doctors frequently recommend higher-cost chemotherapy because they profit handsomely from it. And hospitals do more of the kinds of surgeries that come with high profit margins, like hip and knee replacements and heart valve procedures… in the 1990s, the New York State Department of Health began grading surgeons who performed coronary bypass surgery and making their report cards available to the general public. The aim was to make outcomes more transparent and to help surgeons improve. But to this day, the initiative makes it harder for Black patients to get surgery. Why? Because statistically, outcomes are generally worse for Black patients because of larger issues of systemic racism. So, surgeons avoid them to protect their scores. …since people with worse living and working conditions are readmitted more frequently, hospitals that serve more worse-off racial and ethnic minorities were more frequently penalized.”

These two examples illustrate how the profit motive works to the financial advantage of the capitalist class and to the outright detriment to the lives of workers—including performing dangerous, debilitating and unnecessary surgery and dangerous treatments on people just to make money—whether the patient is harmed or not.

Competing for the basic
necessities of life

Under capitalism, everyone is in competition with each other. Even families will compete with each other for the last few grains of rice if there is not enough to go around.

We must compete for jobs, food, housing, healthcare, quality education, because capitalism sees to it that there is not enough to go around and that it is expensive.

They lay waste to vast amounts of resources through industrial carelessness, and intentional wars. They profit most off of the sale of weapons of mass destruction.

The U.S. war industry is the most profitable of all industries on the planet and it costs the capitalist owners of these corporations little to nothing to run it. And it serves three purposes—to make lots of money for capitalists, to exploit and control the world’s resources, and to divide and thus control the masses of workers of the world.

The capitalists do not pay for the manufacture of these weapons—workers pay for this industry through taxation that capitalists themselves, are able to avoid by creating tax laws that benefit them at workers’ expense.

The whole economic system of capitalism is designed to keep the wealthy in power by keeping the working class in competition with one another for the basic necessities of life.

Racism and bigotry serve the rule of capital not the needs of humanity. Every human being needs the same things—healthy food, comfortable housing, good, quality education and healthcare. We need a clean and healthy environment in which all can thrive—a society where the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all—a world of cooperation, careful planning and conservation, not plunder and war.

What humanity is capable of

In his book, The Revolution Betrayed published in 1937 Leon Trotsky wrote of socialism:

“The hypocrisy of prevailing opinion develops everywhere and always as the square, or cube, of the social contradictions. Such approximately is the historic law of ideology translated into the language of mathematics. Socialism, if it is worthy of the name, means human relations without greed, friendship without envy and intrigue, love without base calculation.”2

Socialism—an economic system based upon production for human needs and wants instead of profit—changes the whole dynamic of human interaction both between each other and nature.

Socialism is in the interests of everyone. It eliminates competition for survival, and in its place, encourages cooperation and democratic planning to create the best possible conditions for the full development of each individual—to each based upon need and want and from each based upon individual talents and skills. Socialism is necessarily a non-competitive, cooperative system that benefits everyone and the planet.

Socialism is necessary—not only to survive—but to flourish.


2 Leon Trotsky, The Revolution Betrayed, p. 155, Pathfinder, 1972 (Chapter VII, Family, Youth and Culture)