Capitalism, socialism and social conscience

Then we have the philosophical positions

Capitalism, socialism and social conscience

Social consciousness is not the purview of the left. In fact the left’s concentration on more centralized government control puts constraints on the individual’s freedom to exercise what they believe to be right.

Having a social conscience is “one’s sense of responsibility or concern for the problems and injustices of society”. It is not a political stance. Then we have the philosophical positions: Marx’s (socialist) social consciousness. It has to do with the productive and economic relationships within that economy. It is fundamentally similar but a different concept to Adam Smith’s (capitalist) invisible hand.

The invisible hand refers to the unintended, but welcomed, greater social benefits and public good brought about by individuals acting in their own self interests. The Wealth of Nations was one of the driving forces behind the UK ending slavery and Adam Smith is on the UK’s 20 pound note for his work.

The textbook example is the cup of coffee you buy that benefits the barista, the coffee shop owner, the roaster and so on down the supply chain to the farmer that grew the bean. There is even the option of fair trade if you are not happy with the standard benefit distribution. In return the cup of coffee benefits you. Some people claim they can not function without their coffee.

This is also true for social issues. Capitalism is solution focused. My personal favorite is Habitat for Humanity. Dollar for dollar they have actually provided homes in a housing shortage, while our local government has only sent the issue for navel gazing. Also shopping at the ReStore I give money to help give peoples homes and in return I get something to improve my own home.

Where Marx’s concept differs is in the collective identity aspect. This scares me, as it leads to an us vs. them mentality. You can see this illustrated by some of the socialist contributors. The dehumanising of one group is the prerequisite for some of the greatest human atrocities ever committed.

Ending slavery and equality of gender and race before the law is the legacy of the right. The left can claim LGBTQ and Canadian universal health care.

S. Innis



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