Capitalism’s excesses belong in the dustbin of history. What’s next is up to us

‘We can adopt regenerative agricultural solutions to help us to live in balance with the environment on which we all depend for our survival.’ Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

August 1 2017
By  for The Guardian.

It’s time to dethrone capitalism’s single-minded directive and replace it with a more balanced logic, laying the foundations for a better, more equitable world.

Back in February, a college sophomore called Trevor Hill stood up during a televised town hall meeting in New York and put a simple question to the House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi.

Citing a study by Harvard University that showed that 51% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 no longer support capitalism, Hill asked if the Democratic party would contemplate moving farther left and offering something distinctly different to dominant rightwing economics? Pelosi, visibly taken aback, said: “I thank you for your question,” she said, “but I’m sorry to say we’re capitalists, and that’s just the way it is.”

The footage went viral on both sides of the Atlantic. It was powerful because of the clear contrast: Trevor Hill is no hardened leftwinger. He’s just your average millennial – bright, well-informed, curious about the world and eager to imagine a better one. By contrast, Pelosi, a figurehead of establishment politics, seemed unable to even engage with the notion that capitalism itself might be the problem.

It’s not only young voters who feel this way. A YouGov poll in 2015 found that 64% of Britons believe that capitalism is unfair, that it makes inequality worse. Even in the US it’s as high as 55%, while in Germany a solid 77% are sceptical of capitalism. Meanwhile, a full three-quarters of people in major capitalist economies believe that big businesses are basically corrupt.

Why do people feel this way? Probably not because they want to travel back in time and live in the USSR. For millennials especially, the binaries of capitalism v socialism, or capitalism v communism, are hollow and old-fashioned. Far more likely is that people are realizing – either consciously or at some gut level – that there’s something fundamentally flawed about a system that has as its single goal turning natural and human resources into capital, and do so more and more each year, regardless of the costs to human well-being and to the environment.

Because that is what capitalism is all about; that’s the sum total of the plan. We can see it embodied in the imperative to increase GDP, everywhere, at an exponential rate, even though we know that GDP, on its own, does not reduce poverty or make people happier and healthier. Global GDP has grown 630% since 1980, and in that same time inequalitypoverty and hunger have also risen.

The single-minded focus on the growth of the capital supply is why, for example, corporations have a fiduciary duty to grow their stock value before all other concerns. This prevents even well-meaning chief executives from voluntarily doing anything good, such as increasing wages or reducing pollution, when doing so might compromise the bottom line – A\as the American Airlines CEO, Doug Parker, found earlier this year when he tried to raise workers’ salaries and was immediately slapped down by Wall Street. Even in a highly profitable industry – which the airlines are, despite many warnings – it is seen as unacceptable to spread the wealth. Profits are seen as the natural property of the investor class. This is why JP Morgan criticized the pay rise as a “wealth transfer of nearly $1bn” to workers.

It certainly doesn’t have to be this way, and we don’t need to look backwards to socialism, or any other historical system, as an prebaked alternative. Instead, we need to evolve. The human capacity for innovation and fresh thinking is boundless; why would anyone want to denigrate that capacity by believing that capitalism is the final system we can come up with?

Martin Luther King spoke of a “higher synthesis”, that takes the best of historical systems, draws on this boundless capacity, and creates something new. There is no shortage of ideas. We can start by changing how we understand and measure progress. As Bobby Kennedy said, GDP “measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile”. We can change that. We can adopt regenerative agricultural solutions to help us to live in balance with the environment on which we all depend for our survival. We can introduce potentially transformative measures like a crypto-currency-based universal basic income that could fundamentally improve the money system.

Measures like these and many others could dethrone capitalism’s single-minded prime directive and replace it with a more balanced logic. If done systematically enough, they could consign one-dimensional capitalism to the dustbin of history.

We need our political and business leaders to go from clinging on to the myth that growth will solve all our problems, to joining the conversations that social movements, progressive forces, and young people like Trevor Hill are having about how we can lay the foundations for a better, safer, more equitable post-capitalist world.

Read the original article HERE.


  1. Tony Abbott was a Rhodes Scholar. (I have taught four, all of them smarter than him by far.) Cecil Rhodes was an imperialist elitist. Tony wants to play the good old ‘ Great Game’. Both belong to a school of arrogance and stupidity that will never see the introduction of fairness and equality, but that’s what imperialism has been about since Assyrian times. They need to be put in their place at last. All of us need a fair go. That’s being Australian!

  2. Present capitalism is US centric though we also have the worst of British thrown in. The whole thing abominated by media psyches and plays. The US has been a corporation since the late 1800’s. Wealth and corporate pathology is hoard the benefits, outlay the costs.
    The Whitlam dissmissal was a scam.
    Capitalsim today is still run hard with the institution’s early 1900’s aims and intelligence. And health and legal institutions figure prominently in that. The internet, relentlessly assaulted to get the same controls over the populace back that wealth, elite and power had in the 50’s and 60’s that was still better than what we experience today. Heights agenda and wants has not and will not change aside any rhetoric and placation.

    Just after the 2nd ww, 6 countries signed up and changed the status of human beings which was and is a war crime.
    Slavery was banned world wide since early 1900’s. Wealth, corporates and institutions now OWN the people as they made us , wothout asking, wards of THEIR state.

    If at any time you need to know what is going on, just look up the latest wealth chart statistics to compare with the mass of political rhetoric and platitudes , outright lies, distractions and mind numbing assaults on your intelligence.

    The Australian people have been heavily scammed for a few decades now. If you bother to research matters you will find that their is no Australia, only in your dreams.

    While I agree with all the sentiments about capitalism and excessive greed I think the biggest problem will be changing BASIC human greed — if average Joe Blow has a car and someone gives him “a good deal ” on a better car 99% of the time they will take it
    That sort of attitude may be the biggest obstacle to overcome — maybe a good start is to ban Credit Cards so people can only buy what they can afford to pay for , that might be a start but of course Credit Cards are so ingrained in capitalism to ban them would be impossible
    Like I said , LOTS OF PROBLEMS TO FIX !!

  4. the fundamental, objective of free enterprise ( the capitalist system) is to overcome all your opposition ( other company’s) and absorb them, ever growing, ever expanding till only one company remains. so that one biasness weather it is bhp, or Westinghouse or google, etc. need a buyer base and lots of them, that’s why no one is allowed to talk about population reduction. with out incurring the ridicule of the media, as its owned buy the big multinationals. who love the idea of a growing buyer base (population) so no change will come while economists rule in our political party’s just look at tony abbots statement( I love the look of coal mines. I have worked in them, they are a horrible black scar on the environment, and that’s before you burn the stuff . I don’t think tony is that stupid, was he not a Rhodes scholar, I only went to grade 10 tony , but know when someone is lying to me. tony was just saying what his masters wanted to hear( big coal, etc.)

  5. Where there is money and power there is greed and corruption, to say otherwise would be niave. We only have to look at the recent allegations of taxpayer money being “stolen” re: Murray Darling Basin. One of the big banks busted in it’s third scandal in recent years. A particular, now infamous, NSW family.. the list goes on. This is now the predominant norm in your capitalist model..
    The world has to make an about turn in it’s thinking.. robots, 3D printing, automation, AI are set to change the global labour market. If people don’t have jobs who will be able to afford and share in all this prosperity.. the future will have no need for money and power, like the dinosour, Capitalism has got too big to survive on the planet and it’s inhabitants.

  6. At last someone is addressing the real issue that we face . That is overpopulation on of our planet thus putting unsustainable strain on finite resources.
    Sustainability is the key word here, putting it simply the death rate of the populace should parallel the birth rate. With a stable numerical populace technology will ultimately improve the living standard of all constituents.
    Pointless endless development will destroy this planet and the very essence of what made it a worthwhile place to live.

    I support you Dick and will donate to your campaign.

  7. None of the above is close to understanding the problem. It has very little to do with the system – capitalism has been developed over millennia as the most efficient allocation of resources there is – it has to do with the vanity of elected officials who have lost the ability to scrutinise and regulate the market (however organised) and the players therein. The politicians we now elect have a desire to be “loved” by all and an inability to address the fundamental problem of reigning in companies that have too much market share and, instead of being subject to market forces influence markets, ensuring that companies serve the market and not dominate to the benefit of one group. Examples are all around us.

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