Both capitalism and communism have decentralized voluntaryism as their promised endgames, but both ideals corrupt in practice to centralized rent-seeking and use of lethal force. Thus, society was never so much about ideal distribution of resources, as it was about the centralized use of force vs a decentralized voluntary trade and resilience to such force. The Internet and blockchain technology is the best promise of decentralized resilience we've had in 500 years.
Acceptance of socialism is back on the rise, as a New Left of millenials in the US has forgotten the horrors of the Soviet Union and the millions of people murdered for not fitting in, and this New Left believes - understandably at the superficial level - that any inequality problem can be fixed by force and governmental regulation of a perceived injustice.
This is a horror to us old enough to remember large-scale socialism and how people were literally shot for trying to leave their oppressive country. Not to mention the 45 million starved to death in China during Mao's mass murder of peasants. At the same time, it's easy to understand the frustration with today's Western utterly corrupted ivory-tower policymaking, detached from reality, especially when it's called "capitalism": a better term would have been "outlawing competition and innovation to pander to vested interests who fund your next election campaign to continue the cycle". This is true for Washington DC as well as for Brussels.
But what's striking about capitalism and socialism are not so much the differences, but the similarities.
Capitalism - or rather, the voluntary decentralized free market, to avoid connotations to Big Corpocracy - brings 179,000 people out of extreme poverty, every day. It is not morally justifiable to not support this, the best tool we ever had to eradicate poverty. It beats any redistribution by force that has ever existed, for jaw-droppingly simple reasons I'll return to in a future post.
Meanwhile, socialism (the Marxist precursor to communism) promises to reduce poverty by use of force - ultimately lethal force - through redistribution of resources. It only works in very small proportions of a society - basically, as long as there's still enough free market to feed the intended redistribution with new resources to redistribute by force. When there isn't, only the lethal force remains, as we have seen time and again.
So how are these two possibly any similar at all?
They're similar in the promised endgame. For the promised endgames are one and the same, even though they're described in vastly different languages.
Both communism and capitalism have decentralized, voluntary free trade without use of force as their ideal outcome endgames. But what happens in both systems, instead of this decentralized outcome, is a corruption to centralized rent-seeking and use of lethal force on completely different paths.
"Communism is a highly organised society of free, socially conscious working people a society in which public self-government will be established." -- from the Ideology manifesto of the Communist Party of the now-collapsed Soviet Union
In capitalism, the bureaucracy keeps expanding to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy. What starts out as supposedly-benign regulations are quickly subjected to regulatory capture, where the supposedly regulated parties quickly become the ones setting the rules for use of force for its own benefit and to suppress competition, destroying any idea of a future free market.
In communism, the Marxist idea is that society passes through a number of phases (class war, dictatorship of the proletariat, socialism) until it ends at the "communist" endgame of decentralized voluntaryism. Now, it can easily be argued that Marxist communism is a pipe dream - specifically the part where everybody has unlimited access to every single luxury, where scarcities no longer exist at all and every single consumption good practically exists in unlimited quantity. ("I'll have a yacht, please. Make it two. Do they come in blue?") But that's still beside the point.
The observation to be made is that practical society-building was always about decentralized voluntaryism vs centralized corruption, with the former being used as a lure for the a reality of the latter.
The implications for the Internet in general, and blockchain technology in particular, should be apparent. For the first time in 500 years (since 1453), there is a radically decentralizing technology upending power structures. We don't have the resulting civil wars yet, but the power tensions are certainly there. To win, just like with the printing press, we need decentralized resilience to the centralized use of force.
By the time the corrupt rent-seeking centralized powers understand what's hitting them, we may have already won.
"Anarchy is not an absence of order; it is an absence of orders." For the first time in history, we may actually create more power in decentralization than in centralization. While that was always promised by power and philosophy, it may be this technology we're using right now that brings the promise to fruition.