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Uncle Travelling Flash

Sea, Surf & Socialism

FRANCE | Friday, 13 January 2012 | Views [887]

The basic tenet of Marxism and therefore socialism, as defined by Karl Marx:

“To each according to his need, from each according to his ability”

The basic tenet of capitalism is basically the opposite and could be described as:

“To each according to his ability, from each regardless of their need”.

In a surfing lineup, the capitalist system generally prevails, which roughly translates to the best surfer using his skill and experience to bag the most waves. Meanwhile, the snake is also a capitalist. He is taking waves that don’t belong to him, purely for selfish reasons. There is no redistribution of wealth (waves) to the poor (surfers less able) as we would expect from a socialist.

Occasionally, usually while surfing an un-crowded, consistent point or reef, I have had the pleasure of experiencing a socialist system in action. It’s sometimes referred to as ‘first cab off the rank’. The surfer at the front of the lineup takes their wave, then joins the back of the line and waits patiently for their turn. The skilful surfers give (from each) tips and encouragement to the beginners (to each).

The beginners catch more waves because they are being helped, not hassled. The expert never blows a wave because they were forced too deep, snaked, or dropped in on out of ignorance or frustration.

It’s an ideal system of mutual cooperation and harmony. And, like socialism itself, it is all too fragile. As soon as the supply of waves is outstripped by demand from surfers, socialism goes out the window, and capitalism comes in through the door.

Tags: capitalism, economics, snaking, socialism, surfing

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