Most Americans would argue that a capitalist economy is one of the strongest factors in forming a nation, however Karl Marx and Comte de Saint Simon, two enlightened philosophers, found major flaws in this system. Marx points out in his essay “Estranged Labor” how a capitalist economy alienates certain workers. Specifically he pointed out how some workers do not own the goods they produce and solely work for others, which in turn lends to a loss of self.1 Comte de Saint Simon criticized capitalism as well, however focused less on the worker and more on how capitalism could affect the people as a whole. He hypothesized that the competitive nature of capitalism would only allow a small elite group of people to gain from the system and it would also lead to people making fewer honest decisions in order to gain.2
These two men have very opposing views from Adam Smith, the English philosopher that we as Americans draw most of our influence of capitalism from. Smith argued that a capitalist economy would increase production and instigate innovation.3 Neither Comte de Saint Simon nor Karl Marx necessarily disagreed with these points, the question they ask is; at what cost? They ask if we would rather risk our honest work and our sense of self for a few individuals to succeed?
The question I now pose is one based on a term we learned in class the other day: jingoism. Are Americans so strong willed to believe that we are right no matter the obvious issues with our economic system that we would never consider changing it? Comte de Saint Simon and Karl Marx might say so.
I believe the answer to your question about the jingoist tendencies of Americans to be yes; Americans on the whole are far too stubborn to ever willingly adopt a different economic status. We can not even change our system of measures, something completely objective, partially because it’s what everybody else does. Most Americans consider capitalism to be a foundational principle of this nation, and thus, defend the system to their deaths. Complementing the concept of capitalism as a founding principle, is the American terror of all things “socialist.” “Socialist” policies in some Americans minds are essentially anything that is not completely unbridled, free-market capitalism.
I agree with Ali. When looking at the United States’ decisions regarding foreign policy, it is rare that they have considered the interests of other nations. The United States has the largest military in the world and has bases located internationally. We are not a nation that is afraid to showcase our supremacy and, often, we impede upon others cultures while displaying this strength. These actions showcase our jingoistic tendencies and the belief that all other nations should follow our lead.