Tallying Capitalism’s Death Toll

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Capitalism has ruled contemporary society since the dawn of the industrial revolution. Capitalism organizes the means of production to generate profit for the few, rather than meeting the needs of the many. Capitalism has wreaked havoc on our planet, and our worth as individuals. Capitalism will not satisfy the needs of the vast majority, simply because it is not profitable to do so.

Because the basic needs of many people worldwide are being ignored by capitalists, millions of people are left to die each year.

The World Health Organization estimates that 3.575 million people die from lack of clean water, and that 1.5 million people die from vaccinable diseases every year. Mercy Corps estimates that nine million people die from hunger every year. By summing these deaths, it can be concluded that capitalism kills approximately 14 million people per year.

Why is capitalism the culprit here? All of humanity’s resources have been divided amongst one percent of the world’s population. These people hoard more than 50 percent of the world’s wealth. Because of this massive inequality, the one percent are able to control the means of production, value, and distribution of goods.  If the top 5 wealthiest business people gave only 10 percent of their net worth to ending world hunger, or only 3 percent to provide clean water everywhere on the planet, then these issues would be more than eradicated.

However, there is no profit for them in doing this. Therefore, they don’t fix these issues, and never will. Millions more will die because the wealthiest people on our planet do not care about humanity. The wealthiest people on our planet care only about amassing more power, no matter the human cost. Wealth in the capitalist system means power. 

Proponents of capitalism argue that the ideology’s alternative, communism, killed  approximately 100 million people between 1917 and 1997. However, the states who committed these horrendous murders weren’t actually practicing communism.

Following General Secretary Josef Stalin’s rise to power in the Soviet Union, the ideology of Stalinism took the East by storm.  States like Vietnam, China, and Cuba took hold of this new ideology, which dictates that the path to communism is through a massive bureaucratic state that controls and plans the means of production. Stalinism is not communism.

Karl Marx, the father of modern communist theory and co-author of “The Communist Manifesto” defined a true communist society as one where there is a total absence of government, social class, and money. He went further to state that in a communist society, the means of production are controlled by those workers who operate them, not by a few private owners or a massive state. The only reason these states are labeled as communist is because their central governments are run by “communist” parties. The West took this label and morphed it with its propaganda into the buzzword it is today.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that these totalitarian states were actually communist. Dividing the 100 million deaths that took place over 80 years into just one year results 1.25 million deaths. In one year, capitalism has killed 1020 percent more people than “communism” has.

The deaths due to capitalism each year fail to take into account work-related mortality, war casualties, suicides due to the pressure of the wage-labor system, and many more deaths that go ignored. The truth is, tallying the death toll of capitalism to prove how socially horrendous the system is would be like counting all of the atoms of every star in the Milky Way Galaxy. While it is theoretically possible to tally, it is totally unnecessary to develop an understanding of the massive scale that we are dealing with.

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