Beverly Garside

Communism and Objectivism: Two Sides of the Same Poison Coin

   I believe the polar extremes of economic ideology - communism on the left and Ayn Rand's objectivism on the right, are mirror images of each other. And each is equally toxic. The extremists on the right and the left are asking us to choose between total redistribution of wealth and government control of the economy, and totally unregulated free enterprise. This is a false bargain akin to choosing between air and water. Each side has an unlimited supply of true examples of how toxic the other substance is. Water can drown you, so water is evil. Air can dehydrate you, so air is evil.
    What's evil is this kind of black and white thinking that characterizes ideology. Communism is a totalitarian nightmare that kills economies, therefore ALL redistribution of wealth and government intervention in the economy is evil and "communism." Or unbridled capitalism shifts all the wealth to the few at the top and impoverishes the masses, therefore ALL free enterprise is evil. There's an obvious appeal of such simplistic definitions. They avoid the complexity of admitting that what can kill you in too large a dose, is essential to life in smaller doses. You can ignore the inconvenient facts that drinking too much water at once can kill you, just like hot air can dry you into a corpse in the desert. And you can paint yourself all in white, and your enemies all in black, and play the role of the white knight fighting the hounds of hell.
     The more difficult task is to acknowledge the million shades of grey that compose the moral and practical universe.  To forge and navigate the middle path, accepting that perfection does not exist and putting all your energy into maintaining and defending the lighter shades against the darker. Creating an economy with the best combination of wealth redistribution, government authority, and free enterprise - and adjusting it according to a constantly evolving society - this is the hard stuff. This is what makes an economy, and a society, work.
     This is the transformation that my heroine, Sara Storm, is faced with in I and You. Having known nothing but the black and white, she nevertheless is honest enough to notice the greys. If only we all were willing to follow her example.

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