Why Confusion: Capitalism doesn’t mean selling national interests
“A man owns what he creates; a Nation owns what it inherits!!”
A lot of people get confused by certain concepts as being against the principles of Capitalism. So this time, before I explain the above statement using a couple of relevant examples, let me assure you, neither the above statement nor the two examples are outside the purview of Capitalism. In fact, these two represent the balanced epitome of capitalistic virtues. So let us get on with the subject matter.
It is important to draw a distinction between what belongs to a man who is just a small part of the community he lives in, and what belongs to the community as an object of common interest or inheritance. The reason for this I will explain later in this write-up when I will explain how in democracy a Government, at best, is just a caretaker and not the owner of national wealth, resources and land.
Let us take an example of a farmer who has been awarded a piece of land as his own, whether by virtue of inheritance or by virtue of a purchase. The land listed against his name today was at some stage listed against the name of some member from the community’s past as a personal resource that can be transferred on to posterity. The intent for such a decree was to provide that member of the community an opportunity to create a resource for the community and generate income for self and family.
The individual thus, farmer in this case, puts in personal efforts by way of tiling, sowing, irrigating and harvesting, using the natural resources of soil, water and air to which he has no personal claim but are available in nature to one and all without any discrimination or private ownership. The resulting produce from these efforts belongs to the farmer who may sell it for money thus providing community with a food resource or otherwise. The farmer has only used nature and natural resources to create something that didn’t exist before but has taken nothing from the nature as such.
Now compare this to a scenario where a community, or rather Government, discovers tones of metal ore buried under soil. Who does this mineral wealth belong to? No doubt it belongs to the entire community or Nation within whose territory the find has been made. So who owns the right to exploit it if not the community or Nation itself?
This mineral wealth is a natural resource that has not been created by the efforts of any man using nature and natural resources, rather it was already present in nature and had passed on from one generation of the community to the next unnoticed until that time. It is inherited wealth of the community. Since no one man has created this wealth with his efforts, it belongs to no one man. So who has the right to exploit this wealth?
Mineral wealth that belongs to a community can only be used to promote the interests of the community in whose territory the wealth was found. It cannot be enlisted to one man or organization to exploit it and make a fortune for self. So who has the right to decide how this wealth is to be exploited for the best interests of the community?
Irrespective of the type of a society, whether it is Socialist, Capitalist or mixed, and irrespective of the type of Government, whether a democracy, aristocracy or dictatorial, it is generally the Government which makes decisions regarding exploitation of mineral wealth. So does a democratically elected Government hold a right to sell the national treasures to a private organization or entity by virtue of the powers imbibed in it by the constitution?
The simple one word answer to this question is an emphatic “No”.
A democratically elected Government is not an entity in itself. Its’ existence is subject to the whims of the community that elects it. A democratically elected Government consists of representatives whose position is provided by an instrument called vote. Those who make a Government in this term may not be there in the next term. The elected representatives have only been given a right and power so that they can exercise the two to make decisions for the entire community they represent. This right can be withdrawn via the same instrument at next election.
A democratically elected Government is at best a caretaker for the community and exists to serve the same. Such a Government is not the owner of what belongs to the community, which is the natural resources, land, water, man-power etc. The only authority a Government has is there to help it utilize these resources to the best of the capacities for the betterment of the community.
This above discussion is not contrary to but is rather a part of a better Capitalistic set up. As a Capitalistic society, it is well within the framework to let an individual or private organization to buy a piece of land, set up an industry, then buy minerals, utilize man and machine power to convert those minerals into processed goods to market and make a profit. In this case the natural resources have been utilized to create something with human effort and hence can be privately owned.
However, leasing a mining site is not the same as in that case a private organization is not creating something using man power but is rather using man-power to exploit what is already present in nature, something which neither belongs to that organization nor to the Government but to the community.
We all have a right to the air that surrounds us but none of us have the right to poison it and make it unfit for everybody else. Neither can we claim all the air to ourselves and charge everybody else for breathing it. That would be criminal and/or illegal.
The natural resources belong to the community and the only right a Government as a caretaker of natural resources for the community has is to exploit the resources in best possible way for the betterment of the community. No Government has the right to transfer these resources into private hands for exploitation as this causes irreparable loss to the community.
If this was not the case and the Government was the owner of everything and free to do as it pleases, then there would have been no way to stop a corrupt regime from selling the entire nation to a foreign power for money, thus accepting slavery for the entire community.
Thus a Government has no right to sell or lease a natural wealth site to a private organization or body to exploit for personal benefit. This is treason and can only be punishable by death. Any statutes passed by any democratically elected Government anywhere in the world that allows for such a selling of national resources are thus illegal and unconstitutional. A tenant, caretaker or a lessee cannot sell what he cannot own.
Capitalism means equal opportunity for everyone to create their own future, not a right to anyone to exploit what belongs to someone else. Providing opportunity to everyone equally to earn their living and destiny using what is available in the society and then putting own efforts to shape it is the essence of Capitalism. Letting someone take control of what belongs to everyone else for private benefits while everyone else suffers a loss, is treason.
I don’t think there is any scope or reason for confusion.
Fatal Urge Carefree Kiss
Amanpreet Singh Rai