Capitalism breeds more than just class inequality

Inequality is inherent in capitalism. Of course, in capitalism, power is unevenly distributed, lying in the hands of the few individuals who manage to own businesses and amass capital. But that power inequity breeds inequity in other areas.

Because so few people can amass capital in capitalism, people assume they amass that capital through their own efforts. It’s why individual property rights are foundational to capitalism. Individualism is behind rational choice theory, for example, the idea that individuals pursue what’s in their own best interests.

If one believes that rich people are rich because of their own labour, then it’s easy to believe that we are all rewarded for our own labour and that people who are rich performed more labour, or at least performed their labour more efficiently.

Conversely, if we’re not rich, we simply didn’t work hard enough. If we lack anything, it’s because we lacked labour.

And if you believe that rewards follow labour, then it’s easy to believe that labour is never hindered by institutional barricades, such as sexism, homophobia, and racism.

It’s no coincidence that those who most strongly support capitalism are the ones who are most likely to be oblivious to institutional oppression. They’re the ones to claim that the justice system is not racist. They’re the ones to claim that it’s not sexist that most politicians and CEOs are men. They’re the ones to claim that giving LGBTQ+ people equal rights is “destroying the family”.

It’s why capitalists deny racial privilege. It’s why they deny gender privilege. It’s why they deny class privilege. It’s why they deny privilege in general. After all, if privilege exists and actually prevents people from finding success, then it proves that the idea that we can find success just by pulling up our bootstraps is just a myth.

And if the idea that we are rewarded solely because of individual labour is a myth—an idea that is foundational to capitalism—then it exposes capitalism as nothing but a scam.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news stories, focusing on politics and labour.

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