Christmas Isn’t the Capitalist Wet Dream

I’ve seen a lot of posts and articles in the past few days from libertarians and other capitalists that suggest that Xmas is some kind of Uber Capitalist Celebration, like it’s just this zenith of capitalist ideas and a wonderful, grand thing. In the interest of religious friends, I want to draw a distinction between Xmas and Christmas, because I’m not sure they’re the same thing. Christmas is a holiday about love, family, and friendship–regardless of where it may have its roots. Xmas is a holiday tied to Black Friday and is directly at odds with family and friendship because of this.

There were Facebook posts this year of people asking businesses to not open their stores on Thanksgiving Day, to at least wait until Friday to open up their Black Friday sales, but we all knew they wouldn’t do that, and we all knew that half of those people posting such things would be the first in line. It’s this hyper-competitiveness that destroys the Christmas spirit and replaces it with the Xmas spirit. People abandon their family and friends to go stand in line, rampage over old ladies, punch little kids, and all manner of other horrible things.

In most ways, Christmas has been replaced with Xmas, and it hasn’t been a good thing. It has invaded Thanksgiving–and it threatens to invade Halloween. Now that we have allowed the day to successfully sink its teeth into another holiday, there is likely no end to it; give it a few more decades, and Xmas will have devoured everything from December 25 to September 25. People get so caught up in it, but it’s not because of friends and family–it’s because of gifts, omg, gifts!

One could say that this is a good thing–the spirit of giving and all that, but it’s not the spirit of giving, is it? No, it’s the spirit of buying. We all know this to be true, even if we don’t say it. My father, being perpetually broke, spends each year making fudge and other sugar-loaded crap that he gives out, and it’s never stated but it’s always there, underlying the entire gift-giving process: “These aren’t real gifts.” I believe my nephew has outright stated that. But we don’t make gifts, and none of us has any interest in making gifts. Those who do give such gifts are looked upon strangely, and why? Because this isn’t a season of giving; it’s a season of buying.

There are outliers, of course, and nothing is universally true. But it’s never “Make your loved ones something special this holiday season” that we see, is it? Not anywhere do we see such messages. We’d expect advertisers to jump on the “NO YOU HAVE TO BUY YOUR GIFTS” train–we’d expect them to be in charge of that train, in fact–but their subtle propaganda has been so effective that the masses of people believe it. You’re weird if you make people gifts. That’s too personal, too emotional, too… weird.

But I didn’t mean to get into that.

I’m more concerned with the libertarians and capitalists who have so misunderstood economics and capitalism that they think Xmas is this wonderful season. I’ve even seen people call it “CapitalisMas.” It’s sad that people who profess to understand capitalism show themselves to be so extremely confused about it.

Capitalism is about taking resources and using them to generate a profit. It is quite literally about acquiring resources and turning them into capital.

Realistically, we have to draw a distinction between Consumer Goods and Capital Goods–one is not an investment, and one is. A consumer good is something that is consumed–slowly or quickly, it doesn’t matter–and that won’t return any value beyond the gluttonous value of having consumed it. Chocolate, televisions, video games… The list is practically infinite. A capital good, on the other hand, is something that is an investment, something that will return a profit–or, at least, has the potential to return a profit. No matter how many televisions you buy for your children, those televisions will never become profit, because they aren’t investments. The moment that box is opened, the value plummets, and after 2 or 3 years the value of that television is no better than twenty or thirty percent what it was when purchased. The same is true of phones, computers, and other electronics. Houses, vehicles, stocks, bonds… These are capital goods.

The more consumer goods a person purchases, the fewer resources they have with which to purchase capital goods. Consumer goods, in a very real sense, are the equivalent of pissing away money–except the money isn’t really pissed away, is it? No, it simply changes hands, transferred from the Buyer to the Seller. In exchange for your capital good of “money,” they provide you with a consumer good that is guaranteed to become worthless at a rate that makes the USD look like a good investment.

So what is Xmas? It’s not the Glory of Capitalism that people make it out to be, because no one is out buying capital goods for the holiday season. They’re out buying consumer goods, which transfers money from their hands to the hands of people who sold them the consumer goods–the goods that will be consumed and discarded. It is the Glory of Consumptionism, and Consumptionism and Capitalism are actually at odds with one another–because every penny one spends on a consumption good is one less penny that one can spend on a capital good.

It is not consumption that is the driving force of economic growth. It is savings. Savings is the catalyst of economic growth and the destroyer of poverty. Think about it. No amount of televisions, iPhones, Xboxes, or chocolate will ever make a person wealthy. The expiration date on these things is simply too soon; they are terrible investments. However, even something simple like taking that money and instead burying it in a jar outside will begin the slow process of moving ahead.

If Bob makes $8,000 a year, Bob will never get out of poverty by spending all of his money. He can buy all the televisions and gaming systems that he wants; he will always be poor. What can Bob do? He can save his money. Every penny that Bob puts back is Bob’s profit–he has weighed his income against his expenses and has a surplus of capital. This is capitalism. Bob spending all of that money on consumption goods that he will consume and discard is not capitalism; it is a method of transferring wealth from the buyers to the sellers while leaving the buyers with nothing of value. If this is what you are advocating as a good thing, then you’re not a capitalist.

You’re a Cronyist.

So masses of people–I would hazard the guess that we’re looking at 90% of the American population–have been carefully and deliberately persuaded by the sellers to spend obscene amounts of money each year on consumption items. So parents buy toys that the kids will break or stop playing with, clothes the kids will outgrow, computers that will become obsolete, all because decades of advertising and blatant manipulation have left people convinced that if you don’t buy, buy, buy! then you’re a Scrooge, a monster, and “Bah, humbug!” to you.

Capitalism doesn’t work when masses of people keep themselves in poverty by transferring wealth to the manufacturers and sellers while only getting consumption goods–things that will be consumed and discarded. That is a recipe of careful wealth redistribution from the bottom to the top. It doesn’t matter that it’s not orchestrated by the state; it’s still a huge problem, creating a permanent caste of people who consume everything they can get their hands on, swapping out wealth for chocolate, and digging themselves deeper into poverty rather than lifting themselves out. We should not be advocating this. We should not be cheering for this.

We should be fighting tooth and nail against this.

We should be fighting hard against the propaganda that if you’re against Xmas shopping, then you’re a Scrooge and “just need to get into the Xmas Spirit!” We should be fighting to reveal the truth of the holiday, that it’s not about giving; that it’s about buying. We should be working to educate the masses of people and explaining to them that consumption goods do not and cannot end poverty, that consumption cannot end poverty, and that the only true catalyst of economic growth is savings, not consumption.

Capitalism is about taking a resource and turning it into capital–hence why it’s called “capitalism.” Xmas, on the other hand, is about taking a resource and turning it into nothing: clothes that will be outgrown, toys that will be broken, games that will be beaten. This isn’t to say it’s bad to buy things; it certainly isn’t. There’s nothing wrong with consuming or consumption. But an entire holiday dedicated to it? And loads of people mistaking it for some kind of capitalist Ramadan? No. Just no.

Taking a resource and consuming it–that’s like literally the opposite of capitalism.

Save, save, save!

Not “spend, spend, spend!”

This is Keynesianism versus Austrianism–Hayekism, if you like. Perhaps Misesian? And we have loads and loads of “capitalists,” “libertarians,” and “anarcho-capitalists” advocating Keynesian economic strategies. I wonder if these are the same people who have confused pro-market with pro-corporation, who have confused being a libertarian with being a corporate shill. As libertarians, capitalists, and anarchists, we should want nothing more than to see the poor lift themselves out of being poor.

But that will never happen as long as we foster this Keynesian mentality that spending is the catalyst of economic growth.

Keynesians, pretending to be capitalists.

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