William A Gardner
Fiction with a Theme
Flash fiction, or Scenes of Life and Travel
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The Killing of Capitalism (Ch 2)
The fog had burned off and the sun was chasing silent shadows beneath a blue sky by the time Edward climbed the steps to his front door. Inside, his butler was waiting to remove his coat and hat. Strux the butler would have been tall except for the stoop to his back which, combined with his habit of always rubbing his hands together, gave him the appearance of a short, wheedling obsequious sycophant. Edward liked to surround himself with employees like that. He knew that Strux had certain habits that wouldn't bear the light of day, thus providing Edward with a certain power and satisfaction.
"Did you have a pleasant walk, sir?" Strux inquired in his usual ingratiating voice. "The air did have a bit of a bite when I stepped out for the newspaper." He hung the coat and hat and stood back. "Breakfast is ready for you, sir. Considering the outside chill I prepared an extra rasher of bacon, if it please."
"Fine," Edward growled. "Pour my coffee and get a bowl of milk for Squeaky." He handed the rat's string to Strux and slid his cane into the umbrella stand. "And call Fronyn. Tell him to be here…" he checked his watch, "at nine-fifteen sharp." Edward was someone who lived by the clock. He also liked quotations and he thought of one now by Napoleon. Never plan a battle 'till after breakfast.
After his sparse meal Edward stepped into his office just off the front hallway. This whole Capitalism thing would be a complex project and he wanted to make some notes before his meeting with Fronyn. He settled into his high-back executive leather chair and placed his hands on the large and ornate oak desk. It had been in his family for generations and he briefly thought of all the great villainous plans that must have been conceived around its polished surface. With two long fingers he extracted a piece of paper from the drawer and, after sharpening a pencil (he had a distrust of computers), wrote Operation Sunflower – Killing Capitalism in large letters at the top. As he wrote he ticked off in his mind the essential elements of a successful Capitalist system.
Edward knew that Capitalism is characterized by the private ownership of assets including the means of production, the ability to buy and sell in free markets, the ability to accumulate capital from the profit of your endeavours, and the protection of private property including both physical and financial assets. The savings of ordinary people provided the capital for banks to lend out to entrepreneurs and businesses, creating new opportunities for jobs. It was evident that all this required a stable currency, sufficient competition, a high degree of privacy and an uncorrupted legal system that adjudicated and enforced contracts. And of course, the political leadership and public institutions must be reasonably honest, competent and willing to maintain a low tax rate.
In addition he knew there were other foundational elements within the society, elements that were not part of a strict Capitalist system but had become an integral part of what might be called Liberal Western Capitalism. These include a basic social support framework with a system of health care, some form of welfare, plus primary and secondary public education, all either subsidized or paid for by the State. People depended on these things. He would have to attack them all.
As he thought about these key elements of a free capitalist society he chuckled. Much of the work had already been done by Marxist organizations and their useful idiot followers. The soft socialism that had crept into the western democracies was financially unsustainable. The public institutions had few ethics other than self-preservation. Even the police and courts no longer respected people's rights and often ignored the Constitution. This would be easier than he first imagined.
Deep in thought, Edward was interrupted by a knock on the door. "Enter," he shouted. Strux stuck his head into the room and announced that Fronyn was here for the meeting. With the door open, squeaky darted into the room and ran to his cage. Behind him a dwarf-like goblin with shark-grey eyes sidled into the room and sat in one of the low chairs facing the desk. He remained silent, waiting as Edward wrote. After a few minutes, Edward glanced at his watch and looked up. "Your plan failed," he said acidly. "You're lucky I don't pluck out your finger nails. I do not like failure." He stared at Fronyn who wriggled uncomfortably, looking at the floor. "Lucky for you I have a new plan – Operation Sunflower. We are going to bring misery and conflict to the world to such an extent that people will revolt. That will be our opportunity to seize power."
"How'll we do that, boss?"
"By destroying the economic and social foundation of society. We will attack the roots of people's productivity and happiness by destroying Capitalism." Edward chuckled just thinking of the coming mayhem. "But we will need help. I need you to call a meeting of the Family." Family was the name of the group of lobbyists and enablers coordinated by Edward and who dealt in power and subterfuge on a global scale.
"All of them?"
"Yes, all of them. Coordinate with the members and arrange the meeting as soon as possible." He handed his notes to the assistant. "Here, type up my plan notes and send them encrypted to all the attendees. I shall expect them all to attend. Let me know the date."
"Yeah boss, right away Sir," Fronyn said. He almost smiled, incredibly relieved that the failure of his previous plan would not be pursued. He had heard rumours about the disappearance of his predecessor. He headed for his office in the basement.
Behind him, Edward strolled to the window and looked out on the street where people were going about their business. Paraphrasing Leon Trotsky he spoke out loud as if talking to all the little people scurrying throughout their busy lives. "You may not be interested in Economics, but Economics is interested in you."