On the Common Good

Anna Mercury
6 min readSep 23, 2018
Photo by mauro mora on Unsplash

I find myself frustrated by how often socialists refer to “the capitalist class,” as though the group of people itself were somehow to blame for society’s ills. It reeks of division, of scapegoating, and of a fundamental Us-versus-Them mentality that I feel hinders any actual liberation.

I hate to break it to you, but capitalists are not evil. Capitalism is the problem. The people themselves, and the group they comprise, are not the problem. You can hate the actions of, say, Jeff Bezos all you want (and obviously, I do too), but if you had his biology, his upbringing, his exact set of experiences of the world, you would make exactly the same decisions. Why? Because you would literally be him.

This is not to say that a different choice couldn’t have been conceivable anywhere along the line for Jeff Bezos to make, but simply that the fact that it did not happen was a product of circumstance.

We talk so much about free will without paying attention to the fact that our selves are not isolated, separate, or freely chosen things. Nothing that comprises you was your conscious choice. You did not choose your genetics, your family, the community you were brought up in, your early childhood experiences, or the experiences that followed them. Yes, you made choices, but the set of conditions in which your choices were framed were not chosen by you. I would go so far as to say that there is nothing that makes you you, except for… everything.

We are nothing but a uniquely concocted set of experiences and biology (and biology is, itself, a set of experiences) that is derived from entirely external factors. What is internal is not separate from what is external; we are nothing but the external.

So too, our very socialism was framed by the experiences and choices of the capitalist class, and of the working class, and our families, and our communities, and in some small way, the dog we might have had growing up.

The fault lies not with the unique capitalists, or The Capitalists as a class. The fault lies with power hierarchy in general. The very thing we are divided upon is division itself.

Which brings me to something I’ve been thinking about a lot: the common interest, or the common good. What interests can be reasonably said to be universal? Can any

Anna Mercury

Level 5 laser lotus, writing for a world where many worlds fit | www.allgodsnomasters.com