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Monday, March 11, 2013

The Trouble with Capitalism

Like most European Social Orders, for lack of a better option, Capitalism has come the closest to fulfilling most of the socio-economic dreams of mankind. Everyone by now will pretty much agree that Capitalism is by far, the best system we've developed so far, with which to fund how we govern society. Pretty much.

But although hugely successful, and wildly popular, Capitalism, and certainly Pure Capitalism like anything too pure, has inherent weaknesses in its intoxicating purity, that can be strong enough to bring the whole system down. At times like clockwork. Cyclically in fact.

Mostly the success of Capitalism comes from the concept that a free and fair and aggressive and robust and energetic and enthusiastic competition is held among businesses. The idea being, everyone tries to beat the crap out of everyone else. This leaves the consumer and society at large the ultimate winner. With a low cost, high quality product, that makes its maker millions.

The problem is when someone tries to cheat in this no holds barred knife fight. And almost all of them try. They have no choice. They simply have to. Survival and fair play are naturally mutually exclusive.

And that is the main trouble with Capitalism. The bastards that win and survive are almost always the bastards that cheat. This is also connected to that whole other theory.

"The good die young, but bastards live forever".

Cheating in capitalism also predicates the other ultimate goal, namely becoming a monopoly. Capitalism that is left unchecked or pure, encourages cheating and breeds monopolies.

The other problem is that regulating capitalism or even attempting to control it stifles the very energy that drives its success. This is why most capitalist societies go through cycles of no regulation and then obsessively restrictive reforms.

Call it the "Circle of Strife" if you will.

May the best [bad] man win. Hakuna Metadata.

1 comment:

  1. Thats what we call evolution: whereas you are going to overtake marxism on the left side (which is acceptable in Europe and US, but not UK), I tend to find more and more excuses for why capitalism is so damned successful. I think very much the same as in Life Science, where entire biology only makes sense in the light of evolution, all the conflicts and disballances of capitalisms as you describe them in your post also makes sense only in light of the long-term evolution of mankind. And here, despite the unjustice of modern industrialized societies, one has to admit that the progress in technology, culture, science, personal freedom, possibilities for self-realisation, equal rights and so on are tremendous. This can not be neglected, even though people too often try to romanticize the past.
    And I think when it comes to the idea of finding a future alternative to capitalism, I have a positivistic view: If there is one indeed, it will prevail at the end. But my own experience with 25 years living in socialism were pretty dim, but not so much in relation to my own living conditions (I was young and at this age you always organize sufficient fun for life). But in terms of economic, cultural, scientific, technology stagnation on a society level, socialism simply could not survive for much longer, even though people started the experiment with huge enthusiasm (and not because they were under political pressure !!). But even the huge credit which all people gave to "their socialist project" in the beginning, when they were working under dreadful conditions for minimal salary and accepting a low material living standard, no luxury products (in fact people exploited themself for a "higher idea"!) this could not stop the slow but steady deterioation of the country.

    And on the other hand, the tendency to hide and cover-up all conflicts (in essence by indoctrination, oppression of critics, establishment of a "national identity", secret service to spy out the own people and so on) is absolute contraproductive for the progress of ideas. The attempt to "harmonize" a society unevitably causes stagnation in culture, science, technology. Such a society turns into a quiet sanatorium, but not into the melting pot for new ideas.

    best regards

    PS: If you say "The bastards that win and survive (in capitalism) are almost always the bastards that cheat" than this also might hold true in the short range. But look what happened to Lehmann Brothers, to Bernie Madoff, to the cheaters at Barclays Bank, to Jérôme Kerviel of Soc Gen, Bear Sterns, Nick Leeson of Barings Bank: of course nobody of us will ever know if this is just the visible peak of a global and fundamental system of cheaters. But at least non of them can be sure that they get along with it unnoticed.