According to Google it is defined as:
An economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.
So hang on a minute, the guiding principle to this system is profit, nothing more, nothing less. That doesn’t sound like the best guiding principle to me. I mean, sure there’s nothing wrong with wanting to make a profit per se, but to let that be your only guiding principle – that doesn’t sound like a recipe for a happy human race. The race to the finish line means you need to trample anyone and everyone who doesn’t make it along the way? That doesn’t sound like a system that is going to last to me.
My best example of what free untethered capitalism looks like on the global stage is undoubtedly the USA. That country is approaching a level of inequality that is somewhere between shocking and scandalous. But unfortunately in a country with a lot of people and a lot of money to be made I can kind of understand the level of greed that has developed, but that doesn’t mean that I agree with it. In fact I’d go so far as to say that it is a sad indictment of the tragic state of our species that we would put profit over everything (including I should add, our own planet).
Were VW thinking of the potential costs to the world when they rigged their cars to cheat emissions tests? Of course not, they, like all good capitalists saw ways to make even more truckloads of money and took it and to hell with the consequences. And now it even transpires that other manufacturers are in on this act! The brazen disregard to all inhabitants of this already fragile planet for the shameful deceit of lining ones pockets is not something to be celebrated. If that’s what capitalism has given birth to then it has given birth to a hideous monster.
The fact that there are individuals on this earth that have more money than most of the population of many small countries combined suggests that we as a species have reached a level of inequality that is far beyond what was seen since the dynastic rule of ancient times. Whilst wages stagnate, property prices increase and jobs become less secure than they have ever been one has to wonder when the revolution is going to happen. One might wonder if a change in our consciousness is long overdue. A whisp of a hint of the fact that we really aren’t going to make it with the current approach.
Proponents of capitalism will surely point to the fact that living standards have risen, everyone is living longer and has greater access to healthcare (although even that is debatable in the USA now!). There are improvements yes, but would those improvements have happened purely due to capitalism? Would they have eventually happened anyway perhaps? We shall never know for sure but one thing is clear, the improvements in what we now have available to us does not always mean that we are now clearly happier. I could argue that our unlimited access to things like social media and the competitive culture that comes with it has in fact caused us more mental health problems than we have ever known. In the last 45 years the WHO reports that suicide rates have increased by 60% worldwide and youth suicide is increasing at the greatest rate, what does that say about our current state of happiness?
The biggest rebuttal from any capitalist to this thinking in my experience tends to be calling someone a dirty commie/socialist scumbag. There is not a lot else to the argument other than shouting you down with accusations of being a Russia/China Marxist stooge and what’s wrong with wanting to make money if you earned it. My reply is honestly, there is nothing wrong with wanting to make money, but when your greed punishes everyone the cost is never worth the profit. I cannot point to communism or socialism as being the complete solution to any of these problems, they haven’t been so far as our innate greed always makes a re-appearance at some point. Russia and China are now themselves taking up much of the mantle of free market capitalism and whilst their economies have grown more than most they are reliant on a world that can afford to buy what they are selling. All the cards in this game are delicately balanced and the slightest gust of wind and this house of cards is going to come toppling down.
My actual thoughts on this matter are that we need to come up with something completely new that redefines our species at this pivotal moment in our existence. But I am well aware that this will not come without a catalyst and I believe that this catalyst is already on the way. The wheels are already in motion and we are going to get hit by something in the not too distant future and it is going to hit us HARD. We haven’t yet had to deal with a global disaster that affects literally everything. We think that normal service can always resume eventually and everyone just goes back to being greedy. I do fear that something is coming that will make our current interpretations of the word ‘disaster’ look like a walk in the park.
When something truly apocalyptic happens, only then will we likely stop and take notice. The level of suffering that our species may need to endure to wake us up to the flagrant disregard that we have exhibited for all life rather than just our own backsides is surely a sign of our inability to see what’s really going on around us. Capitalism is merely driving us off this cliff even faster than we might otherwise have done. For the ultra-rich capitalists in this giant pantomime all I can say is: keep stacking your coins, in the end it will all be worthless as you can’t take it with you.