The countries of Europe discovered a long time ago that both capitalism and communism, if adhered to in their purist forms, will eventually destroy the societies which adopt them. This is, in my opinion, because capitalism is an economic system and communism is a socio-political system and both actively work against the type of system that they are not. At best, communism will provide enough for every citizen to live on but will never create enough communal wealth for the pursuit of happiness. At best, capitalism will provide wealth for a minority of the people and enough for the majority to survive on but will always condemn a minority to a miserable existence. Europe has responded to this fact by adopting a hybrid system of the two which is basically democratic socialism. Sometimes this is more people orientated and sometimes it is more money orientated depending on the political and economic situation at each general election. This is why, to an outsider, and often to insiders as well, mainstream, European conservative parties appear to be almost socialist in many of their policies and the left seems to adopt a capitalist approach in much of their economic strategies.

Even so, we have not yet got the balance right as the following article from THE LOCAL (Germany) shows only too well.

A new study presented in Berlin on Tuesday showed that even young children’s future hopes are affected by poverty, with 20 percent of children in Germany reporting they feel disadvantaged.

According to the second annual World Vision children’s study, most of the country's children (80 percent) between six and 11-years-old have a positive outlook for the future. But the remaining 20 percent of children, who suffered from poverty and little encouragement at home or in school, learned early not to expect a bright future.

“Children from the privileged classes can take advantage of their better chances from the beginning,” co-author of the representative study Professor Klaus Hurrelmann said.

More than 2,500 schoolchildren took part in the study aimed at finding out for the first time how younger kids see their world. Results showed that even younger children realise they are underprivileged and wish to have their voices heard. A healthy self-esteem and the experience of being an effectual person are fundamental aspects positive child development that these children often do not experience, Hurrelmann and his co-author Sabine Andresen said.

“But the lower fifth is breaking away from us,” Hurrelmann said, explaining the situation had worsened since 2007. “These children see their futures negatively and don’t trust in any successful educational system. Their daily lives are spent in large part alone in front of the television or other forms of media consumption. Boys are particularly at risk here.”

Meanwhile more privileged children not only get more support at home, they also have more free time options. While 43 percent of wealthier children reported taking part in creative and musical activities after school, only five percent of poor children did the same.

“But the bridge to this greater educational orientation currently happens through the school,” Hurrelmann said.

Other aspects of the study showed that parental attention was very important to the younger children, but not constantly desired. Instead it should be short and intensive, Hurrelmann said, adding that this should be a relief to working parents.

Most children reported having two working parents, but said this made no negative impact.

“On the contrary, the children wish for parents who are socially integrated. It’s the children with unemployed parents and little structure in their daily lives who complain about too little parental attention,” Hurrelmann said.

The researchers were particularly concerned about this in single parent homes.

“These are still massively underprivileged in our society,” Andresen said, encouraging more state spending on full-day schools with attractive free-time offerings.

From a European, social democrat perspective, this proves that not only does capitalism rarely work for the poorest in society but it works against itself by taking an increasing number of people out of the wealth creating enterprise. Poverty and lack of opportunity creates more poverty and lack of opportunity within a fixed, and expanding, underclass.

However, the answer is, almost certainly, not to ditch capitalist economics altogether. In my opinion the answer is to increase the socialist component of social democracy drastically (almost to the exclusion of the capitalist element) when addressing the problems of the poor and that this should be paid for by the rich minority. Capitalism, as this report proves, will never rescue the poor - it only ever maintains the middle class and over-provides for the already wealthy. There may be some movement between the middle class and the stinking rich but there is rarely movement between poverty and the middle class that doesn't involve some criminality, winning the lottery or being able to play football well.

I think we understand this in Europe and the only thing that is stopping us grabbing poverty by the horns and creating a society where all children can look forward to a "happy" life is our lack of will, our greed and the tenacious belief that perhaps capitalism could just work for everybody if we tweak it a little bit.

But in the United States this will never happen unless the national zeitgeist undergoes a major sea change. One of the myths of Americanism is that anybody can become rich. But, as Europe has shown, this only true in the "winning the lottery" sort of way. Some people will move from the underclass to become reasonably well off, maybe even stinking rich, but the number that do will always be insignificant and the system that promotes such a possibility will always create an underclass whose lives are dominated by poverty, unhappiness and a complete lack of hope. This is because money and human beings are two completely different types of things.

In Europe, "social" is not a dirty word. In fact, for most people, in respect of human politics, it just means "human." The people of the USA need to rid themselves of their paranoia in respect of social policy, which has, been subversively installed in them by the stinking rich through the clever manipulation of the media and the deliberate perversion of the ideology of the nations political and philosophical founders.

But more than this, the people of the USA need to drop their isolationist and downright arrogant view of themselves and learn, not just from the mistakes of the old world, such as Soviet communism, but also from the things we have done well or, at least, aspire to do well.



  1. Dear Mad Priest,

    I hope this finds you well.

    As an American working-class kid who avoided jail, and kept going to school till they made me stop, I have an interesting vantage of having a foot in two worlds, while being comfortable in neither one.

    To this, “…subversively installed in them by the stinking rich through the clever manipulation of the media and the deliberate perversion of the ideology of the nations political and philosophical founders….” I would add that the stinking rich are not just clever and cynically Nietzschean about this. They are materially committed to it; putting their money where their self-interest lies. They invest very large sums of money into it, e.g., the Fox News-Wall Street Journal production/profit center is one obvious example. Not only does the Dear Leader Rupert invest heartily in this endeavor, but his products are avidly supported with very lucrative sponsorship. Not to mention retaining, supporting, sponsoring and endowing think-tanks, political-action committees, lobbyists, public-relations firms, political strategists, political campaigns, as well as the opportune political-fringe rabble-rousers, etc. To them and for them, all this is money well spent.

    The stinking rich, while an unsavory lot, ain’t dumb. They know full well which side their bread is buttered on, and intend not only to keep it that way, but they spend a prudent amount of their energy, focus and resources to trick their servants to more or less willingly work, even against their servants’ own self-interests, baking the stinking rich ever more loaves and churning the stinking rich ever more cream.

  2. It’s part of a culture war that has been going on since the 1950s and has intensified every decade since. Educated people who know better pander to the paranoia that will help their party or movement’s political fortunes. We don’t even have a major social democrat party here, as the Democratic Party is largely center to center-right.

  3. The paranoia is being sold to the comfortable and less comfortable middle and lower middle class – the mushy middle. Teabaggers are on average better educated and wealthier than the general populace. These people hope to dominate the discussion of politics and governance, and may also get some vanity desires fulfilled by calling themselves patriots and calling their opponents and the poor unAmerican.

    The poor simply don’t participate in the political process. There is a great deal of cynicism about politics and government – the system doesn’t work for them, never worked for them, and it all seems a waste of time.

    Furthermore, attempts to suppress the vote are common in the poorest or blackest districts. Anything from police cars placed in front of the polling place building to delaying processing voter registrations from poor people to providing the poor areas half of the voting machines needed for the population of the district (while giving well-off areas ample numbers of voting machines) to ….

  4. The United States of America is no longer truly a capitalist company – it is very much a corporate socialist economy. Corporate welfare far outweighs social welfare. For all the whining about free market policies – our government digs deep into the treasury far to often to benefit that unique class of individual, the corporation.

    As for our arrogant view of ourselves, we learned from the best – the citizens of the formerly great British Empire. Of course, once the sun set on THAT empire it took a wee bit of wind out of your sails.

    As such, when our empire finishes crumbling to be replaced no doubt by the Chinese – we will have our comeuppance.

  5. I doubt you ever learnt anything from us, Renz. I think greed, arrogance and imperialism are innate characteristics that we all possess.

  6. Perhaps you need to leave Newcastle for a spell and come over here and see the place for yourself. Places like Queens, Tampa, and Taos are as different from each other as Italy, India, and Kenya.

    You could come see the Mississippi Delta where all that music you so rightly love was born.

    Besides, it’s cheaper here and the food is better.

  7. “But in the United States this will never happen…”

    As I recall, we were never supposed to torture prisoners of war or elect a black man to be President.

  8. There is a widespread phenomenon in the West wherein when poorer people and younger people get older and more financially secure, they go for the more conservative party/parties in the belief it will be more beneficial to their new status. In the US, people continue to believe that if they work hard and vote conservative that they can be really rich. And it isn’t really so much conservatism at heart as it is plutocratic corporatism. If anyone missed this (I know Michael Moore put it in his last movie), try reading the document below.

    2006 Citibank memo on plutocracy

    Be sure not to miss the intro (page one to the top of page four), and while the middle portion may bore you, be sure to skip down to the sections “Risks–What Could Go Wrong” and “Conclusions” from the bottom of page to the middle of page eleven. Enjoy!

  9. You might find us less prone to “isolationism” if we didn’t find unrelenting hostility and a false sense of superiority every time we encountered a European.

  10. That’s even less likely.

    But there are couple of things we think you are better at than us – pop music and cop programmes. So, it’s not like we think you’re completely useless.

  11. Well, I’m being serious.

    This is one of the big problems, and we need to call it out in the open. This isn’t about The Episcopal Church, this is about snide, insecure snobbery toward anything from the United States.

    What’s going to wind up happening is that we will withdraw. Nobody is going to hang out with people that honestly think they’re less.

    Now, you can claim it’s just in good fun, and I do believe most Englishmen and Europeans couldn’t care less where you come from, just like Americans, but we also know there’s a lot of real perception in such jokes.

    You know, we’re Episcopalians, not the U. S. government, still less the caricatures of “Americans” conjured up. We can get hurt.

    I believe it’s bigotry, and needs to be dealt with or we do all need to go to our corners for a few generations.

  12. I’ve just read a blog about how the US engineered the recent resignation of the duly elected prime minister of Japan.

    You rule the world. You pretty much control every part of our lives. We respond by believing that, although we no longer have self-determination, we are, at least, morally and culturally, superior to you. It helps us deal with our impotence.

    So, in your own words, “Suck it up!”

  13. I rule the world?

    How unexpected!

    Or is it The Episcopal Church that rules the world?

    That’s good!

    I’m Mark. Not Mark the American. I’m certainly not King Mark of America. You’re dealing with human beings, individuals, and most of them want to be your friend.

  14. When Britain had an empire we believed everybody loved us. That was dangerous enough.

    But the world is now in a position where the people of the main imperialistic power believe everyone hates them and, I believe, enjoy the resulting sense of victimisation. Now that is really scary.

  15. I’m not talking about the U. S. – Europeans and Brits obviously love U. S. culture; you keep spending your money on it and keeping it there – I’m talking about people like Rowan taking out their frustrations on people who, by-and-large, are not that culture.

  16. Ah! Sorry, Mark. I thought you were having a go at me for having a go at your national ideology.

    We must start an OCICBW…. paranoids support group.

  17. Good Lord, no!

    Our “national ideology” really isn’t, any more. It was some time ago, and keeping it in weaker minds helps keep a certain power-grubbing type in power, but I’ve got no use for making the world one vast parking lot for the Mall of America!

    I think it’s largely the conservatives who have this particularly vehement kneejerk reaction to our being from the U. S. That could explain why our evangelicals and yours “feel” different to us – they’re more anti-American that pro-Bible. Still, it comes through in “neutrals,” like Williams, as well, and even some supporters – though they are likely unaware of it. You had linked it, as I recall, to a certain academic culture.

  18. I don’t think the problem is “capitalism” nor “socialim.” It is rather the failure to realize that either, taken to the extreme is a bad idea. Capitalism can and does produce amazing productivity, but unless it is moderated, damn few people participate in its rewards. Socialism does cost something, but without it a great many people are ignored.

    Back in the 1940’s there was a now largely extinct sort of person here called a ‘liberal republican.” I am I guess still one. I want a system that is fair, that makes sure there is a minimum life style level below which no one need fall, access to the education and other benefits needed to advance and a set of social services that provide healthcare, drug rehab, housing minimums (have you ever been to rural Mississippi?) day care and a range of other services.

    In fact, I think the two have to work together. Only with the productivity of a capital economy do we have the ability to pay for the social elements. That is why the combination has worked for Germany, and the Baltic countries.

    Too much capitalism is unfair, too much socialism is unworkable.

  19. Brits were (are?) notorious snobs concerning the little brown colonials as well as us Yanks.

    I (Renz) have learned much from the Brits (My major in college was English Literature afterall)

    Now where the heck did Adam Smith come from anyway?

    If you need to whine about America again – so be it.

  20. The Brits were imperialists.
    Americans are imperialists.
    There’s a subtle difference there which you seem to have missed, Larry.
    But if you need to assuage your part of the collective guilt by comparing contemporary US imperialism to something that had finished before I was born and was, therefore, in no way my fault – so be it.