Gerald Staack: Tweak capitalism, democracy for world tranquility


War with North Korea isn’t really necessary for capitalism to enrich itself. In 1961 President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned about the “Military-Industrial Complex,” that “it must use its power in the interests of world peace and human betterment.”

Capitalism can destroy nations by war, can force them into perpetual impoverishment or can actively lift them into incredible wealth through trade. China, a rising power with atomic bombs, once scared Western nations until China’s elite discovered the economic benefit of trade with a West eager to profit from China’s $2-a-day labor cost and 12-hour-day work ethic.

A win-win trade developed that should judiciously be tried now with North Korea. Trade barriers create friction, but the “prospects for wealth and recognition” are a carrot of incredible draw among elites of all nations.

So why not offer this carrot that can bring wealth to all nations? Mass migrations, illegal border crossings and “wall-building” would cease, and borders could open freely.

Kate Linthicum, the Los Angeles Times correspondent in Mexico City, in her Oct. 28, 2017, article “U.S., Mexico Ally on Migration,” explains those who want to discourage people from leaving and seeking asylum need “to improve their economies and security situation in their own country while reducing corruption.” Trade barriers and walls won’t stop desperate people.

While capitalism’s projection of wealth onto the world may be a great initial motivator for peace, it encourages competition and pits humanity against each other. Capitalism, by its very nature, is a system that is based on “survival of the fittest.”

Those “who can” – those with an economic edge, more intelligence, more greed, more deviousness and corruption – will always win in this type of system. Those “who can’t” get left out.

Dr. Richard Wolff, professor of economics emeritus for the University of Massachusetts, warns that “peace (within societies) only exists until elites enrich themselves to a point which makes everyone else poor.” Inequality swells and nations deteriorate into disobedience, anti-social behavior and crime.

People who work don’t think it’s fair to be taxed to take care of stressed jobless people. “We worked hard for our money, so don’t take it from us,” is the cry of those even one step above those on welfare. The obvious solution is to let the rich pay, but the rich insulated themselves by setting workers against the unemployed, ushering in an era of turmoil.

This raises obvious questions: 1) Why in the world do so many people live in turmoil in the first place? 2) Is there something fundamentally wrong with capitalism that needs correction? Philip E. Agre, an associate professor of information studies at UCLA, who in 2004 had answers to these questions in his classic essay “What is Conservatism and What Is Wrong with it?” (

He explains conservatism as historically being “the domination of society by an aristocracy,” and that is incompatible with democracy and prosperity for all. Today, in most nations, wealthy conservative aristocracies have hijacked democracy, sending the impoverished into turmoil and into asylum seekers.

Professor Wolff’s solution is to tame capitalism by “bringing democracy into the work place.” He expresses that “capitalism is socially destructive and socially divisive when it has one group of people working while another (is) not; everyone should have work and reasonable pay.” Co-ops existing in Spain today already do this.

The giant Mondragon Co-operative Corporation (, with hundreds of businesses owned and run jointly by its members, share all profits and benefits equally. They’re not like the old communist style-co-ops in which ownership and profits once belonged to the state.

Any government could easily follow Spain’s example by forming co-ops whenever corporate institutions plan a closure, a sell-out, or decide to move away. But there is another, tempting economic path for world tranquility today. It’s called “contributionism.”

Contributionism avoids capital as it brings unity and higher consciousness for a new world; it’s a new economic system that works for everyone “in spite” of our negative traits and frailties. South African author and politician Michael Tellinger, a proponent of alternative archeology and alternative theory of human origins, is the originator of the social movement called “contributionism” that is based on the African philosophy of Ubuntu.

Moving from a money-driven society, he envisions a society driven by people, their talents and their passion for life where everyone contributes their natural talents or acquired skills to the greatest benefit of all in their community.

Gerald Staack is a Newhall resident. He graduated with an electrical engineering degree from the University of Illinois in 1962. Now retired, he has a passion to resolve environmental and social-economic issues.

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