Arch Stanton Guest Posting: Teen Vogue Takes On “Capitalism”

Earlier this week I stumbled across a primer on “capitalism” by beacon of critical economic journalism, the Wall Street Journal…the Economist…Teen Vogue (https://www.teenvogue.com/story/what-capitalism-is). Yes, Teen Vogue is now branching out from “Cardi B’s Fashion Nova Collection”, “5 Hottest Prom Trends”, “Beginner’s Guide to Coachella”, and “Your Weekly Horoscope” (I swear these are all currently on their front page) to instead tackle THE REAL ISSUES, like capitalism versus competing methods of economic systems, despite our Dear Reagan having concluded this debate when he karate kicked the Berlin Wall down. Seeing this blasphemy being forced fed to me and our nation’s youth (really, one in the same), I had to take a look at this bullshit. You’re not going to believe this, but it’s not very good, poorly researched, and of questionable journalistic integrity. Let’s review some of the more pertinent sections:
“Capitalism is defined as an economic system in which a country’s trade, industry, and profits are controlled by private companies, instead of by the people whose time and labor powers those companies.”
This third-grade-presentation-ass introduction includes a hyperlink to merriam-webster.com, and already has misattributed the quote. Per the hyperlink, capitalism is defined as “an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market”. Hmm. That seems a bit less biased than the one our revered author Kim Kelly manufactured. One sentence in and we have identified a fabricated definition and the writer’s biased opinion. Certainly this will improve!
“The United States and many other nations around the world are capitalist countries, but capitalism is not the only economic system available; throughout history, other countries have embraced other systems, like socialism or communism…”
Interesting how she chose to refer to these other systems in the past tense.
“CNN recently reported that 66% of people between the ages of 21 and 32 have nothing saved for retirement.”
This CNN (FAKE NEWS) article cites a study completed based on 2014 Census data, or, shortly after the Great Recession, so the statistics are dubious. With one Google search, conflicting information was identified, including the New York Times saying Millennials save more consistently than previous generations (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/26/business/retirement/millennials-retirement-saving.html) and Fortune stating 1 in 6 Millennials already have over $100,000.00 invested for retirement (http://fortune.com/2018/01/24/millennials-saving-money/) and further stating Millennials have shown to be more rigorous in investment planning than their parents. Again, this was ONE search before we disproved this notion.
“The millennials Salon spoke to expect to see a grand societal shift in their lifetime, either toward socialism — a political and economic system in which the means of production are collectively and equally owned by everyone — or toward a sort of dystopian Mad Max nightmare in which resources have dwindled, rich plutocrats own everything, and ordinary people need to band together in small, autonomous communities to survive.”
Lots to unpack here! The shift towards socialism is a very fair and understandable point to consider. As many capitalist nations continue to expand social programs in order to care for their poorest and most disadvantaged, there is a legitimate discussion to be had here. For the record – I am not arguing against these programs. But the thought of shifting towards ever-growing government agencies responsible for my well-being… isn’t this more of a reason to save and fend for yourself?
And the second part – whooo boy! If Mad Max manifests itself in this world, all the Baby Boomers will be dead in a month, and the rest of us will be hanging out at Burning Man Plus.
“…socialism has become increasingly popular among young people in the past several years, following Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders’s underdog run for president and the authoritarian creep of the ultra-capitalist, anti-socialist Trump regime.”
Oh, so young people are just getting into socialism the last few years? Not Baby Boomers in the free-love era of the 60’s? Bernie was popular for the same reason Donald Trump was – he wasn’t Hillary Clinton (and the free college for everyone thing too, people seemed to like that). I don’t even know where to begin an approach on “authoritarian creep” and “ultra-capitalist”, but I can agree with Trump on the anti-socialist thing. A first time for everything!
Hey wait a second — isn’t this article supposed to be defining capitalism? So far we’ve spent three paragraphs with made up definitions and questionable statistics, but I still don’t understand why I’m supposed to hate capitalism! That is the point here, correct? There is still SO MUCH left here.
“You have probably heard the word “capitalist” floating around in the past couple of years…”
You maaaay have heard about capitalism, the agreed-upon best approach by countries and economists around the planet to managing a global economy, or in, ya know, middle school, since that is the target demographic for this article. Are you sure you wouldn’t rather look at pictures of ‘nose art’?” (again, a real article).
“The origins of capitalism are complicated, and stretch back to the 16th century, when the British systems of power largely collapsed after the Black Death, which was a deadly plague that killed off up to 60% of Europe’s entire population. A newly formed class of merchants began trade with foreign countries, and this newfound demand for exports hurt local economies and began to dictate overall production and pricing of goods. It also led to the spread of colonialism, slavery, and imperialism.”
Very nuanced, this Kim Kelly! I wonder what else we can irrationally extrapolate? Let’s see… humans domesticating animals has led to the Middle Eastern crisis. Prove me wrong. The Treaty of Westphalia has led to the explosion in the popularity of the Fast and Furious franchise. The Taco Bell I had last night led to the diarrhea currently plaguing me. Okay maybe the last one is true.
Kelly notably stands up for “local economies” of the Middle Ages. I imagine these local economies were basically John Cleese dressed as a peasant woman in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” stacking mud. At the direction we’re heading, we can logically expect the writer to conclude with a defense of Chinese tariffs, deconstructing NAFTA, and #MAGA since she is so concerned with “local economies”. Remember, we’re free to conclude anything we want!
“The death of feudalism — a hierarchical system often seen as oppressive that kept poor people bonded to their masters’ land…”
Feudalism wasn’t so much “oppressive” as “you have a sword, and all these people keep trying to kill me and rape my wife – if I work for you, will you use your sword?”. History can be fun!
“By the 18th century, England had converted into an industrial nation, and the dawn of the Industrial Revolution saw an explosion of manufacturing overtake the island. It is within those smoky factories and flammable textile mills that our modern idea of capitalism — and the opposition to it — began to fully flourish.”
People were VERY MAD about having more individual freedom and the ability to earn higher wages! Why you could say they were furious they didn’t have to, uhh, stack mud (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wx7zI1W_5JI).
“A capitalist nation is dominated by the free market, which is an economic system in which both prices and production are dictated by corporations and private companies in competition with one another, and places a heavy focus on private property, economic growth, freedom of choice, and limited government intervention.”
Are you guys as turned on as I am right now?
“Generally, those to the right of the political spectrum tend to be pro-capitalist; those on the left veer toward anti-capitalism.”
Damn! She makes a great point here that could never be assailed. People on the left are rarely interested in the continuation of capitalism. People like Hillary and Bill Clinton (estimated net worth: $111 million), John Kerry ($200 million), Al Gore ($200 million), the Kennedy Family ($163 million), Diane Feinstein ($53 million), and Nancy Pelosi ($30 million) all have stridently fought against capitalism!
“How does capitalism impact people? The kind of impact that capitalism has on your life depends on whether you’re a worker or a boss.”
No fucking shit.
“The more profits your company brings in, the more resources you have to share with your workers, which theoretically improves everyone’s standard of living.”
I may be wrong (note – never the case) – but was that something POSITIVE about capitalism?!?
“The problem is that many capitalist bosses aren’t great at sharing the wealth, which is why one of the major critiques of capitalism is that it is a huge driver of inequality, both social and economic.”
Ah, shit.
Notably absent of the effects of capitalism are: global decrease in poverty, infant mortality, large-scale conflicts, and global increase in vaccinations, life spans, health, education, literacy, democracy, which has had a ripple effect in countless other aspects. Were these deemed not important, or did the University of Phoenix journalism degree make it difficult for you to find these?
“They view it as the only sensible way to organize a society, insisting that alternatives like socialism, communism, or anarchism are doomed to fail.”
I love this. “Guys if only communism was given a fair chance! Anarchy has never been truly attempted by any modern government!” Unrelated, but I was recently blocked on Twitter by @SocialistParty after responding to a tweet about how USSR was never truly socialist because Stalin was not a true believer with “are you sure that’s THE ONLY reason?”
“They also believe that the competition between companies benefits consumers by making products more affordable…”
Have you noticed any positives brought about by capitalism are phrased as unfounded opinions whereas the negatives are firmly stated as beyond reproach? But again, we’re critiquing someone free-lancing politics for Teen Vogue, so what did you expect?
“Anti-capitalists view capitalism as an inhuman, anti-democratic, unsustainable, deeply exploitative system that must be dismantled.”
This is cited with a link to counterpunch.org. If you click to their homepage, the current trending article is, “When Zionism Rubs Up Against Reality”. I don’t believe I need to further prove the validity of this statement.
“As German Communist philosopher and economist Karl Marx — perhaps the most famous opponent of capitalism in history…”
…until Bernie showed up mumbling like Steinbrenner from Seinfeld.
“The essential anti-capitalist argument is that “the hallmark of capitalism is poverty in the midst of plenty.””
This quote is attributed to Jacobin magazine. If you were hungover staring at the girl sitting in front of you during your European History class (note – definitely not a biographical circumstance), Jacobins were a party during the French Revolution who turned a noble revolution into the Reign of Terror where they got reeeeeal flippant about the use of guillotines. Again, I don’t think we need to spend more time addressing the credibility here.
Unrelated, but when people talk about bloodthirsty monsters from history, we always hear Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot, but everyone always leaves out Robespierre. I got you buddy, you and your estimated 16,500 executions in Paris in less than a year.
“Capitalism and socialism are generally seen as polar opposites, and discussions of either system are often framed as in opposition to the other. There are many forms of socialism, but at its root, socialism is an economic system in which a whole community — not just bosses or private companies — control the means of production equally. It assumes that people are naturally cooperative.”
Our writer has clearly never tried to get a drink at a busy bar on a Saturday night or been stabbed in a Walmart parking lot on Black Friday.
“In a capitalist country, the focus is on profits over anything else; in a socialist country, the public is seen to be more important, and social welfare is a major priority.”
This is the final paragraph. She prattles on a bit about Sweden, Norway and the Netherlands and how well socialism has worked for them. And – FINALLY – China and the Soviet Union (as well as Cuba) are addressed. Granted, that’s it. No mention how sensationally the Soviet Union failed, no mention how China, despite being the largest socialist country in history has far greater economic disparity than the US (https://www.ft.com/content/3c521faa-baa6-11e5-a7cc-280dfe875e28), and Cuba, who only suffered half a century of dictatorship and public executions as a result of their shift to socialism.
So what was the point of this article being on Teen Vogue? Aside from “no one else would publish it” (YES I KNOW I’M BITCHING ON A BLOG WHATEVER), it really only exists to pander to easily manipulable teenage girls into… “The RuPaul Drag Race Queen Are All “Team Eureka’s Knee”” – I GOTTA read this hold on.
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