Muhammad Baqir as-Sadr (excerpt from the book ‘Iqtisaduna – Our Economics’)

The capitalistic doctrine is based on three main elements which constitute its peculiar organic entity which distinguishes it from other doctrinal entities. These elements are: Firstly, adherence to the principle of private ownership in an unlimited form. Thus, while the general rule in Marxist doctrine was the collective ownership, not to be forsaken except in an exceptional case, the question is entirely reverse in the Capitalist doctrine. Thus private ownership, under this doctrine, constitutes the general rule extending to all the fields and different fields of wealth, which could not be violated except under exceptional circumstances, obliging, at times, nationalization of this project or that and making it a property of the State. Therefore so long as the collective experiment did not prove the necessity of nationalization of any project, private ownership remained the general rule in force.

On this basis, capitalism believes in the freedom of ownership (possession) and lets private ownership raid all elements of production such as land, tools, buildings, mines and other forms of wealth and the law in the capitalist society guarantees safety of private ownership and preservation thereof by the proprietor. Secondly, opening the way for every individual to exploit his ownership and possibilities as he likes and to allow him to develop his wealth with different means and methods he can. If he owned, for instance, an agricultural land, he was entitled to exploit it himself in any way of exploitation. He had also the right to hire it out to another person and make such conditions to him as he might deem important. He had similarly the right of having it unexploited.

This capitalist freedom which the doctrinal capitalism grants to the owner aims at making the individual the only worker in the economic movement as no one was better aware of his real benefits than he himself, nor was anyone else more competent to gain them. And nobody could be in such a position unless he was provided freedom in the field of exploitation and the preparation thereof and as long as interference from any side, Government or otherwise, was not removed from his way. In this way, therefore, everyone had a sufficient opportunity to choose the method of exploiting his wealth, the profession he should adopt and the methods which he might adopt for realizing greatest possible amount of wealth. Thirdly, guaranteeing freedom of consumption in the same way as freedom of exploitation is guaranteed. Thus every individual enjoyed the freedom to spend his money and wealth as he liked, to satisfy his desires and meet his needs. He was free to choose whatever the goods he liked for consumption and he could not be prevented therefrom by the Government banning, at times, the consumption of certain commodities for considerations relating to public interests, such as the consumption of an anaesthetic.

So these are the main signposts of the Capitalist doctrine, which could be summed up in three freedoms: Freedom of ownership, freedom of exploitation and freedom of consumption.

At the very first sight there appears the glaring inconsistency between the capitalist doctrine and the Marxist doctrine, which lays down collective ownership at the principle instead of the individual ownership and ends the Capitalist freedoms based on private ownership and replaces them with the State’s control over all the utilities of the economic life. It is generally said that the variance between the two doctrines, the Capitalist and the Marxist, in their signposts, reflects the difference existing in the nature of the view with which they look at the individual and the society because the Capitalist doctrine is an individual doctrine, which sanctifies personal impulses and regards the individual as the pivot for whose interest it is incumbent on the doctrine to work and whose interests it must guarantee. But the Marxist doctrine is a collective one which rejects personal impulses and the ego, extirpates individual into the society and adopts the society as a pivot for him. For this purpose it does not recognise individual freedoms but ignores them for the sake of the fundamental issue, that is the issue of the society as a whole.

As a matter of fact both the doctrines rest on individual view and depends on personal impulses and ego. Thus Capitalism respects fortunate individual’s ego by ensuring him freedom of exploitation and activity in different fields unmindful of the injustice and the evading that might result from the freedom let loose for that individual so long as others enjoyed the freedom in principle, as did the exploiting individual and while Capitalism provides fully for the satisfaction of the personal impulses of the fortunate ones and promotes their propensity, Marxists turns to other individuals who are not fortunate enough to have those opportunities. Its doctrinal call, therefore, centres round inciting personal impulses and their ago and the satisfaction thereof. It tries to promote these impulses with different methods, regarding it the power used by history for its development, until it is able to exploit them in a revolutionary way. It explains to those with whom it comes into contact that the others steal their efforts and wealth and therefore it was not possible for them to confirm (accept) this theft in any case as it constituted a blatant aggression on their peculiar (private) entity.

Thus we find that the fuel on which the Marxist doctrine depends is but these personal and individual impulses which Capitalism adopts. Thus both the doctrines adopt (adhere to) satisfaction of personal impulses and promote them. They only differ in the matter of the kind of the individuals whose personal impulses and ago respond to this doctrine or that. As for the doctrine which deserves to be described as being a collective doctrine, it is one which depends on a fuel of another kind, that is, on powers other than the ago and personel impulses.

The collective doctrine is that which cultivates in every individual a deep consciousness about the responsibility towards the society and its interests and which makes it incumbent on him to forego something of the fruit (benefits) of his work and efforts and his private wealth for -the sake of the society and others, not because he had stolen others’ property and consequently they had risen against him to regain their own rights but because he feels that this was a part of his duty and on expression of the values he believes in. Indeed the collective doctrine is that which safeguards rights of others and their welfare not by raising their personal impulses by collective impulses in all and by letting springs of good come forth in their minds. In the future discussions would see what that doctrine is.

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