To my dismay, I’ve been hearing these views a lot lately…
“Capitalism is neutral”. “It’s neither good nor bad. It’s people who abuse it”. And, “it is possible to redeem capitalism and business”. “We should strive to use it for good”.
In one conversation, someone observed:
“Capitalism is good at making money but bad at distributing it, while socialism is bad a making money and good at distributing it”.
Here’s what I’m wondering… for those working for a more just and equal world, is the only option, as many have begun to do, to co-create a benign form of capitalism? Or has the time come to re-imagine a different, more utopian world system?
Is it time to hold “the man” to account?
Personally, I don’t think that capitalism is neutral. It is run by powerful corporations (mostly men) to a right wing ideology and agenda. So, even if we are able to co-create a more humane model, it will still be based on right-wing assumptions about how the world works in relation to rights, entitlement, money, wealth creation and the privilege that comes with ownership of resources.
Unfortunately everything, even capitalism, does not stand still. The capitalism that originated from the industrial revolution is now very different. New capitalism, is now fuelled by technological advances and has given rise to the unrestricted, undifferentiated economic growth that we see today. According to Capra and Luisi, 2014, the global market “… is not a market at all but a network of machines programmed according to a single value – money making for the sake of money making – to the exclusion of all other values” – just like a casino. However, there are two major differences:
- This global casino deals in abstract financial products such as “futures options, hedge funds and derivatives”; and
- The gamblers are not ordinary people but major investment banks, pension funds and multinational corporations.
Most commentators are agreed that is what led to the unprecedented global financial crisis of 2008-2013. Rather than hold the financial institutions to account, in a desperate attempt to mend the system, many governments including our own bailed them out with public funds. Little wonder that “the man” is back in the casino, and up to his old tricks. I’ll leave the last words to Shirley Bassey:
The newspapers shout a new style is growing,
but it don’t know if it’s coming or going,
there is fashion, there is fad
some is good, some is bad
and the joke is rather sad,
that its all just a little bit of history repeating
…and I’ve seen it before
…and I’ll see it again
…yes I’ve seen it before
…just little bits of history repeating.
Capra, F. and P. L. Luisi (2014). The systems view of life : a unifying vision. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.