What is a Capitalist?

By admin November 25, 2022

Written by Asa Shaw

An Article from WARTIME Issue No. 4

There is a specter haunting our people. It covers our eyes and prompts us to play a never-ending game of “guess who” while it laughs all the way to the bank, pushing us to live check to check in communities that are impoverished, schools that are half empty, and housing that costs too damn much. We’ve been losing at this game for a while, struggling to guess the culprit of the issues we face every day. But, it’s high time we forcefully removed its hands and turned to face our enemy. To lay its motivations and inner workings bare. It’s time we got clear about CAPitalism.

To be clear, we are not the first to expose capitalism as the opposition. We are a part of a long history of Black revolutionaries that speak truth to the world’s economic situation. Malcolm X said, “Show me a capitalist and I’ll show you a bloodsucker.” Martin Luther King said, “The evils of capitalism are as real as the evils of militarism and evils of racism.” So it seems we are in good company with our critique. 

But first…what is capitalism?

Capitalism is the current economic system that we live in. It is the dominant mode of economy across the world. Capitalism’s chief priority is the accumulation of massive profits through the private ownership of the means of production and the exploitation of workers or employees.

Black blood watered the soil that capitalism grew out of and it would not exist in its current form today without the enslavement and free labor of African peoples.

Now, who are these bloodsuckers that Malcolm X referenced? Capitalists are those who own the means of production and use it to extract profits from the masses and dominate society. Some of the capitalists that walk the earth and rule our countries are the Waltons, owners of Walmart. Jeff Bezos, owner of Amazon, The Koch Brothers, owners of Koch Industries, Warren Buffet, owner of Berkshire Hathaway, Elon Musk, Owner of Tesla, SpaceX, and Twitter, Mark Zuckerberg, owner of Meta (facebook), Whatsapp and Instagram as well as the web of investors and institutions that run Lockheed Martin. 

The capitalists mentioned above are a part of the cabal that represents our true enemy. They and their way of life are the biggest obstacles to Black liberation because they not only exploit the tens of thousands of workers at their companies but they also use their profits to influence government decisions on everything from minimum wage and healthcare to international wars of aggression.

We must be clear: these capitalists are very different from the aspiring capitalists in our communities that own businesses. These smaller businesses operate under a capitalist framework so they are still fundamentally exploitative, but these business owners are not our real enemy and they aren’t really capitalists. In order to be a capitalist you must own the means of production that moves society and these folk do not. Just because you read Bill Gates book (or Donald Trump’s), have a business, and wear the Jamese clothes everyday like he does, doesn’t put you on par with Bill Gates by any stretch of the imagination. There are clear financial measures that make someone a capitalist and the family that owns a chain of soul food restaurants in Atlanta doesn’t fit the bill. But, they should definitely pay their workers more and give them better benefits and decision making on the job.

Lastly, a comment to the brothers and sisters in the streets screaming they’re capitalists and holding money to their ears like those big ass cell phones from the 90s: You are not a capitalist. You just want security and a dignified life and the only way you have been taught to survive and get out of poverty is through amassing a ridiculous amount of wealth by exploiting those around you. 

2pac has a line in “Changes” that goes

“You gotta operate the easy way

‘I made a G today,’ 

but you made it in a sleazy way,

Sellin’ crack to the kids (Oh-oh),

‘I gotta get paid’

(Oh) Well hey, well that’s the way it is.”

This line speaks to the conflict of survival that capitalism puts us all in. Our people aren’t capitalists, they are just trying to thrive with the hand they were dealt. It’s up to us as people to reveal the realities of our economic situation and give language to what we really want. And that ain’t capitalism. We want security, we want peace, we want power and we want coexistence.

So, to answer the question clearly again: What is a capitalist? A capitalist is a bloodsucker, a leech, a parasite. And the only way to rid our people of this poison is through the transformation of ourselves and the political organization of our communities. All other solutions fall against these like waves on rocks. 

Glory and resilience to all those who dare to struggle, because if you dare to struggle, you dare to win.