Rand Paul challenged Bernie Sanders to an hour-long ideological debate on the merits of capitalism vs socialism. Paul, who is currently polling around 2–4% and in seventh place in the 2016 GOP presidential field, said that he and Sanders — who is polling around 31% and firmly in second place for the Democrats — represent “the diametric opposites of viewpoints in our country.” While that would be an interesting debate, we don’t have to wait to see if it actually happens to find out what socialism and capitalism would have to say to each other.
Capitalism: (shouting) Hey, Socialism! I’m better than you!
Socialism: Hello, Capitalism. You’re looking even more aggressive than usual today.
Capitalism: I’ve had a few Monster energy drinks mixed with a few Bicardi Limon malt beverages, and I’m ready to take you and your boy Bernie Sanders down.
Socialism: Well, I’ve had some refreshing Norwegian lutefisk followed up by a Swedish massage, so I’m feeling quite relaxed. Also, technically Bernie Sanders is a Democratic Socialist.
Democratic Socialism: Yeah, Bernie is with me.
Capitalism: Whoa, you two are different? I thought you were the same thing?
Socialism: I’ve taken many forms over the last 100 years. At this point, saying “socialism” is fairly non-specific in terms of practical political arrangements.
Democratic Socialism: And Bernie is more about my steez. I’m into stuff like strong labor rights, progressive taxation to combat economic inequality, and a robust array of public goods like providing all citizens with child care, health care, and higher education.
Capitalism: Man, that sounds like higher taxes which means less money to spend on buying stuff aka anti-capitalism aka anti-me!
Democratic Socialism: Bernie actually wants to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, which from a standpoint of Keynesian economics would actually lead to increased consumer purchasing, which would help the economy. You should be into that, Capitalism!
Capitalism: I dunno, feels like you’re trying to trick me so you can get rid of me!
Democratic Socialism: I’m just trying to make you a little more humane, Capitalism. I don’t want to get rid of you entirely.
Communism: But that is what I want.
Socialism: Oh hey Communism!
Capitalism: Oh great, who let you in here? Is Bernie with you too?
Communism: No. I’m an extreme ideological goal of establishing a socioeconomic order structured upon common ownership of the means of production leading to the absence of classes, money and the state.
Democratic Socialism: So yes, Communism is all about a revolution that does away with you, Capitalism. But that’s not what I’m about! You ever been to Norway? They have money there. Shit tons of it, actually. They’re fucking rolling in that oil money. When you think of me, Democratic Socialism, you should think of the Scandinavian socioeconomic systems.
Capitalism: You guys are just trying to trick me. I know that Socialism is bad! I know about, like, the stuff you did, Socialism, in, um, Russia and stuff.
Socialism: Actually, I wasn’t really what was going on in Russia.
Capitalism: Oh yeah? Then what was?
Marxism: What’s up.
Stalinism: Hello. Also, I will crush my enemies!
Capitalism: Uh, who are you guys?
Marxism: I’m a form of academic study based on the work of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels that seeks to analyze society via a materialist understanding of historical development with a focus on class conflict.
Leninsm: I was a political theory developed by Vladimir Lenin based on the academic lessons of Marxism that sought to implement a so called “dictatorship of the proletariat” as a step towards achieving a communist society. Marx didn’t say shit about a “soviet premier,"though, but that’s what Lenin made himself after the Russian Revolution in February of 1917 and for five years I was the modus operandi of the Soviet Union.
Stalinism: And I am the means of governing implemented by Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union that lasted from the removal of Lenin and Leninism in 1922 to Stalin’s death in 1953. While supposedly based on the teachings of Marx, my policies had more in common with a fascist regime, with forced rapid industrialization, a powerful centralized state, and the collectivization of agriculture all achieved through systematic state terror. I’m bad!
Capitalism: That’s what I’ve been saying! Socialism is bad!
Socialism: But Stalinism is not Socialism. Stop equating them, it makes you seem ignorant. I want a democratic political system, I don’t want a dictatorship! Have you not been listening at all?
Democratic Socialism: Socialism is not a bad word. You just think it’s a bad word because of the lingering legacy of the Red Scare and McCarthyism propaganda campaign of the 1950s.
McCarthyism: Hey, McCarthyism in the house! Yeah, I am extremely problematic, it’s true. Really fucked things up in our country. You see, my deal is basically -
Democratic Socialism: Shut up, McCarthyism. This is getting needlessly abstract. Please leave.
Capitalism: Hold up. So you’re saying that … Bernie Sanders doesn’t want to turn America into a Soviet-era hellscape where we don’t get to choose what color pants we wear and we have to wait in line for a loaf of stale bread?
Democratic Socialism: He does not want that. Nobody wants that.
Capitalism: Huh. Bernie just wants things to be more like the Scandinavian socioeconomic systems?
Democratic Socialism: That’s right. I think you’re starting to get it.
Capitalism: But…isn’t Europe bad? He wants us to be more European! And that’s bad! EUROPE IS BAD AMERICA IS GOOD!
Socialism: Shit, we’re losing him again.
Democratic Socialism: Capitalism, listen! You and me, we both like Democracy, right?
Capitalism: (cautiously) … Yes. Well, I like maximizing profit most of all, but I also like Democracy.
Democratic Socialism: See? We both want a democratic political system. We just have some differences in opinion about what economic priorities should be.
Capitalism: I dunno, seems like that’s an over simplification to call it a difference in priorities. I mean, I want private ownership of the means of production and you want public ownership of the means of production, right?
Socialism: OK, wise guy, so you were listening.
Oligarchy: Um, dudes?
[Everyone turns to Oligarchy. A record scratch can be heard.]
Oligarchy: Sorry, Democracy couldn’t make it. But, I’m here! And really, I’m more relevant to the conversation at hand, since Capitalism as actually practiced in the U.S. today is not in conjuction with Democracy, but actually with me, Oligarchy. See, a recent study found that the U.S. was more of a me, an Oligarchy, than it was a Democracy. You know, since a small percentage of a rich and powerful elite actually have more say over political and economic policy than the vast majority of Americans with less money. Like, the study found that if a very tine percentage of rich people want a certain policy to be put in place, even if it isn’t what most Americans want, most of the time we’re able to make that policy happen.
[Everyone is quiet a moment, taking this in.]
Oligarchy: So, you guys want to do some shots?
[Everyone present considers if they want to do shots or not.]
[Everyone does shots.]