PARIS -- Be careful about how you interpret what you're seeing, as your eyes might be deceiving you. That's the advice I offered viewers the other day on Russia's global TV network's flagship program, "CrossTalk," when explaining that capitalism isn't facing any sort of crisis, but rather is just being subverted by socialists, Wall Street con artists and various anti-capitalist wishful thinkers who are corrupting the once-straightforward relationship between work and benefit.
It has become common to describe the now-defunct Occupy Wall Street movement as a rebellion against the perceived failure of capitalism. The Occupy movement fizzled out largely because the anarchists and various flakes involved with it were so collectivist that they denounced the very idea of any sort of leadership that might have propelled their lazy, entitled membership forward to an enduring legacy. Not only that, but Occupy members overtly considered themselves the North American counterpart of the Arab Spring. Such a perception is purely the product of wishful thinking and is divorced from objective reality.
In reality, the Arab Spring was not the American-style civil rights movement that many in North America imagined it to be, but rather just more of the same tiresome regional tribal warfare that has been going on since time immemorial -- only this time with a better public relations spin. Nor was Occupy Wall Street a revolt against capitalism. Instead, what protestors were really rejecting was the hijacking of capitalism by socialism. So while some have been quick to pronounce capitalism dead, it's really socialism that has failed.
Why so much misinterpretation? One of the intelligence field's most renowned scholars, Richards Heuer of the CIA, theorized that when an analyst sets out to explain observations, everything is filtered through the bias created by the analyst's uniquely personal knowledge and experiences. To ensure that an analysis comes closest to objective reality, the analyst must be aware of this inherent bias, Heuer said, and must deliberately examine all possible alternatives. Heuer taught that only by eliminating the implausible can the analyst weigh the value of whatever persists.
How many times have you heard that the media is "lying" to you? I know very few people in the media profession who would deliberately mislead an audience. More often, it's just a matter of not knowing what they don't know, as per Heuer's theory. And under the pressure of a 24-hour news cycle, going through Heuer's process is often a luxury media members can't afford.
Intelligence analysts can't afford blind spots that might cost lives. But in many other cases, there's little or no incentive to expand one's field of thought. In fact, it might be downright inconvenient to do so. Would the Occupy movement have been as attractive to its target demographic if it had attacked the corruption of capitalism rather than erroneously firing on capitalism itself?
Wall Street isn't synonymous with capitalism. In fact, the exact opposite is true: Wall Street has removed the "capital" from "capitalism" and replaced it with leverage, filler, empty rhetoric and other toxicities -- everything other than the result of productivity.
And when did Europe and its financial system suddenly become some sort of capitalist reference? It seems that everyone's talking about the continent formerly known as "socialist Europe" as if it's the epitome of capitalist failure.
Capitalism is quite simple and straightforward: the direct exchange of private payment for the product of a person or group's skills, talent and effort, as determined by the free and open market. There is no proof that capitalism itself is suffering, except by its subversion at the hands of socialism, corruption and meddling statists.
As much as the Chinese and Russians might want us to believe that capitalism doesn't work for the average Westerner -- and I think their "away game" on the international stage strongly suggests that they know better -- the average American's annual income is still about five times that of the average Russian, and about 12 times that of the average Chinese, according to the latest labor figures.
Capitalism is the ONLY system that works for the average person, while socialism is the choice of the state's favored few. And while the latter might be appealing to those who find themselves chosen ones in a centralized socialist state, just wait until the state changes its mind about your value, and your wealth, security and freedom crumble like the illusions they are.