Extraction is the enemy. NOT capitalism. NOT socialism.

All these memes flying around demonizing either are misidentifying both.

Capitalism can MORPH into extractionism. So can socialism. But neither is its equivalent. And extractionism will happily fly either banner, while accusing the other of its own ills.

Venezuela is not Socialism. The Age of the Robber Barrons was not Capitalism. Both are examples of Extractionism.

Extraction is the looting of wealth, through a comprehensive array of mechanisms, which essentially boil down to either HOSTAGE-TAKING, or DRUG-DEALING.

When you HAVE to work your brains out, at starvation wages, JUST to provide a leaking roof over your kids’ heads, a little bit of nutritionally-questionable food on their plates, some hope-and-a-prayer semblance of an education, a few threadbare articles of clothing; When you are so terrified for their very survival that you are happy — HAPPY — to have the chance to work two or three jobs and sleep two or three hours a night to ensure it; When you have no notion or even CARE what purpose your labor serves or into whose pockets its value goes because your ONLY concern is your family literally not DYING; THAT is hostage-taking.

When you are so distraught at the circumstances and conditions of your life that it is neurologically impossible to do the work required without numbing your legitimate feelings about your actual lived reality; When the entire culture — the food you eat, the shows you watch, the cars you drive, the clothes you wear, the ways you communicate with other human beings — are all specifically and intentionally engineered to maximize their addictive qualities, and to cost the most for the least value; When all our lives are organized around feeding the gasping need for distraction and avoidance; THAT is drug-dealing.

Conditions like these can pertain under either toxified “capitalism” or toxified “socialism.” People can be fleeced and used under either name. But it is the fleecing and using that reveal the true nature of the system. The correct name for either is Extractionism.

Good capitaism — REAL capitalism — generates real innovations and creative solutions of actual value that consumers who are NOT concerned for their existential survival can choose or not choose based on utility and improvement. That is what determines winners and losers in the marketplace — a healthy consumer base. People struggling for survival will grab at any straw, and take any drug. That is NOT a market. Healthy capitalism frees CAPITAL to spur innovations and solutions. Whether we are talking about a toaster or an x-ray machine or a completely new system of energy. Free, active capital is a very good thing.

Good socialism — REAL socialism — simply ensures that the basic survival needs of EVERY citizen are met, so that NO ONE becomes a drag on the system by being too sick or crazy or cold or hurt or destitute to contribute. And that every single person has benevolent enough conditions to reach something like their full potential. Because we never know where the next Einstein is going to come from. And, in the meantime, a healthy, sane, energized, engaged citizenry is the CHEAPEST population to serve, and the most inherently PRODUCTIVE. Free, active citizens are a very good thing.

Capitalism and socialism go TOGETHER. They are necessary for each other. They cannot function correctly without each other. They prevent the degradation of either. Capitalism without socialism degrades into a purchasing public struggling for its survival instead of manning the marketplace. Socialism without capitalism degrades into a culture of taking and a dearth of incentive that suffocates under its own weight. Subtract EITHER system, and we all end up fighting for our lives. And a few gross douchebags get sick on the spoils, no matter the label.

Socialism is for the necessities. Capitalism is for the luxuries. They are a perfect match, and work well together, when each stays in its own lane. As America’s own history from only a few decades ago so richly shows.

Extractionism turns the necessities into hostages, and the luxuries into drugs. And sucks the marrow out of all of us, through both. It turns life into fear and avoidance, under either label. And that is no way to live.

We do have to walk the talk, though. Entrepreneurs do have to actually INNOVATE for capitalism to work. That’s harder than selling people their own survival. And citizens do actually have to CONTRIBUTE for our social systems to remain solvent. That’s harder than collecting a government check.

Abdication of our creative productivity, on either end, is how extraction gets a foothold. What’s the saying? “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” Note: this applies to BOTH lazy capitalism and lazy socialism.

But let’s stop allowing ourselves to be played. Capitalism is NOT the enemy. Socialism is NOT the enemy. Extractionism demonizes both, to opposite audiences, and manipulates all of us to see theft in the other. Instead of seeing extraction ITSELF as the toxic, parasitic thief it actually is.

So let’s extract extractionism from our capital and social isms. So our productivity AND humanity can emerge. And peace and prosperity pertain.