On Privatizing Gain and Socializing Loss

Though capitalism has had a longer lease of life than some of us would’ve predicted or that many of our ancestors of the socialist movement did predict or allow, it still produces the fax machine and the microchip and still able to lower its costs and still able to flatten its distribution curve very well. It’s central contradiction remains the same; It produces publicly, it produces socially, it conscripts and it mobilizes and educates whole new work forces of people, it has an enormous transforming liberating effect in that respect but it appropriates privately. The resources and the natural abilities are held in common, the earth belongs to us all. You can’t buy your child a place at a school with better ozone. You can’t pretend that the world is other than what it is which is one and human and natural and in common. Though capitalism must do that because it must make us all work until the point when the social product is to be shared. When suddenly the appropriation is private and suddenly Donald Trump outvotes any congressman you can name and anyone with a vote because of the ownership of capital and its that effect, that annexation of what we all do and must do — the influence of labor and intelligence and creativity on nature; the same air, the same water that we must breathe and drink. That means that we may not have long in which to make this critique of the system sing again and relevant again and incisive again.

Christopher Hitchens, Is Socialism Obsolete? (Recorded in Washington DC on October 11, 1989)