Success is somebody else's failure. Success is the American Dream we can keep dreaming because most people in most places, including thirty million of ourselves, live wide awake in the terrible reality of poverty.
See, this I totally disagree with. For me to succeed doesn't mean that someone else has to fail. It never has meant that, and it never will. It can be achieved at such sacrifice, but that doesn't mean it requires such.
There was a time when I would have agreed with you 100%.
And, if we were restricting the discussion to a purely personal
form of success, I still would.
But one thing I have observed, over the years, is that no matter how much we wish to talk about the desire
to play non-zero sum economic games, in reality, they inevitably morph into zero-sum games once they reach a certain number of players (usually somewhere around 5 or 6) competing for a share of the same pot.
So yes, our own individual success may not depend on somebody else failing or being made to do with less. But when the population of the United States (or the United States and Western Europe to be more correct) continues to consume total planetary resources vastly out of proportion to the population of the rest of the world, one has to wonder why.
And the answer that becomes most apparent is simply because (a) they want
to - and even more importantly - because (b) they can
There used to be the argument that the West could justify acquiring so much material resource because only the West
had the technology and manufacturing capabilities to properly use and derive maximum benefit from them. But now that the technology and the manufacturing (along with their environmental and human abuses) have been farmed back as some odd form of 'sharecropping,' this justification merits far less credence than it once did.
You could say (and many have) that such practices represent the return of feudalism, except this time in nation-state form, and on a global scale.
Truth is, much of the current western economy is dependent upon cheap labor and raw materials. Usually provided by corrupt governments that maintain their positions of power by effectively selling off their countries' natural resources and labor pool (on the cheap) to whichever power or superpower will back them with sufficient military and financial resources that they can remain in power.
The western democracies seriously do
believe they stand for freedom and democracy. But only insofar as it maintains their own internal status quo
. There is no interest now (or ever) in taking a smaller piece of the pie in order to give somebody else a bigger slice. The best those with a smaller piece can hope for is to buy into the capitalist argument that if only the pie itself
could be made bigger
, then everybody could get a better portion to enjoy. It's the age old "rising tide floats all boats" economic argument. True enough, when and if it happens. But that's not an automatic given.
However, at no time does anyone in a position of power ever seriously suggest that the proportion
of one piece to another
should radically change. That's what the socialists argue. Oh horror of horrors!
The real problem is we say we believe
one thing, yet do another. And when belief and behavior contradict each other, our most common response is to go into denial by saying things like" "It's not always
the case" - even if (in practice) it almost always
What a dilemma...
Unfortunately, EVEN the socialists don't have much to point to, since they too
have demonstrated a distinct talent for making a complete hash of things once they've been put in complete charge of a nation or economy. And if history is any guide, they've done considerably worse for the "common man" and "the worker" than capitalism ever has.
Barring a fundamental change in global awareness, I don't see anything changing for the better.
Even slavery and child labor, which were largely considered unacceptable during the last century, are now making a major comeback - all decked out in shiny new clothing and called something else
in order not to be too obvious about it.
Add in government sponsored religious persecution; genocidal purges and ethnic 'cleansing;' the reintroduction of detention without trial or (in many cases) a shred of legal authority; the sanctioned use of torture as an acceptable part of 'criminal procedure'; and the gradual centralization of all real authority in the executive
of many governments (i.e. the return of absolute kings and privy councils) - and you have some strong indications that the "bad old days" are making a big comeback.
Which means when the members of a society reach a breaking point (which they inevitably do) the fact they've been systematically disenfranchised and denied legal remedies will lead to the usual violent form of 'remediation' most human societal change comes out of.
Such a high tariff to pay for "low prices.'" You'd have thought we learned that lesson by now.