19 votes

Capitalism isn't 'broken'. It's working all too well - and we're the worse for it

9 comments

  1. alyaza Link
    this is an op-ed by Maria Svart, who is the national director of the DSA; for a contrarian opinion to this one that this has been informally bundled with it by the guardian, see Don’t believe the...

    this is an op-ed by Maria Svart, who is the national director of the DSA; for a contrarian opinion to this one that this has been informally bundled with it by the guardian, see Don’t believe the naysayers: Capitalism is healthier than it appears o'er yonder by the American Enterprise Institute's Michael Strain

    5 votes
  2. [4]
    aphoenix Link
    This seems like "ackshuallyism" to me - when people say "Capitalism is broken" what they mean is that it acts in this way. The fact that exploitation exists in Capitalism is what is broken. To say...

    This seems like "ackshuallyism" to me - when people say "Capitalism is broken" what they mean is that it acts in this way. The fact that exploitation exists in Capitalism is what is broken. To say it is a feature of capitalism is kind of missing the point.

    Moreover, switching to fully democratic / socialist systems categorically do not work either. We need to find middle grounds that use the best of the systems that we have to make the best changes. Capitalism is broken. Socialism is broken. Communism is super broken. There are drawbacks to all of the systems, and we need to find ways to use what works in each of them so that everyone benefits.

    Look at the places in the world that have the best systems (Canada, the Nordic countries, etc); they're all capitalist countries that are regulated with socialist constructs to protect the people. That's less of a step away from the unbridled capitalism of the US, and a better solution than just trying to destroy the rich and change who owns everything.

    4 votes
    1. [3]
      NaraVara Link Parent
      Most of the countries established these systems after 2 world wars that basically killed off huge swathes of the people who owned everything and had massive, nationwide mobilizations where they...

      Look at the places in the world that have the best systems (Canada, the Nordic countries, etc); they're all capitalist countries that are regulated with socialist constructs to protect the people. That's less of a step away from the unbridled capitalism of the US, and a better solution than just trying to destroy the rich and change who owns everything.

      Most of the countries established these systems after 2 world wars that basically killed off huge swathes of the people who owned everything and had massive, nationwide mobilizations where they collectively managed almost everything in their economies.

      In countries where that didn't happen, the only places where systemic economic reform ever actually took were places that enacted ambitious programs for land reform which, functionally, is expropriating the property of the rich and redistributing it.

      This is all borne out in painstaking detail by Thomas Piketty's work. At some point you just get a critical mass of too much market power being in too few hands and it sets in motion a feedback loop that leads to them being able to skim more and more of the fruits of everyone's labor. The only way around this that has worked we've had that has worked is exogenous events that scatter out these agglomerations of ownership and control. Barbarian invasions, political revolutions, world wars, and plagues have been the process historically (there is a ton of scholarship about how the Black Death might have contributed to Europe's industrialization).

      Collectivizing and redistributionist programs are the civilized, non-violent means to achieve similar results without needing to have paroxysms of violence. But how well that can work depends entirely on the willingness of the people at the top to make the short term sacrifices for long term social stability.

      6 votes
      1. [2]
        aphoenix Link Parent
        Doesn't Piketty suggest a progressive tax on the rich and government constraints? That's not what the author of this article seems to be looking for:

        Doesn't Piketty suggest a progressive tax on the rich and government constraints? That's not what the author of this article seems to be looking for:

        Desperate times call for radical measures. This starts with upending a system that was built to redistribute wealth and power from the many to the few. Working people and our families will not only survive, but thrive, from the jobs created by massive public investment in restructuring our energy grid and transforming our world. And we know the only ones willing to make that demand are those of us who are currently being squeezed by private interests for every last drop of profit. Young people know this, especially, but it will take all of us. Rather than trying to fix capitalism, we should be seeking to replace it.

        1 vote
        1. NaraVara Link Parent
          The scope of Piketty's analysis is constrained to understanding the roots of wealth inequality. Not all the ills in society. Climate change will still be a thing that demands grand solutions...

          Doesn't Piketty suggest a progressive tax on the rich and government constraints?

          The scope of Piketty's analysis is constrained to understanding the roots of wealth inequality. Not all the ills in society. Climate change will still be a thing that demands grand solutions itself, but fixing wealth inequality will fix some political inequality that will make it more possible to muster the political will to do something.

  3. krg (edited ) Link
    Hmm..I felt both articles too shallow to be convincing one way or another. The economy is a nebulous beast where cause and effect is hard to pin down. Well, the current state of the economy is...

    Hmm..I felt both articles too shallow to be convincing one way or another. The economy is a nebulous beast where cause and effect is hard to pin down. Well, the current state of the economy is maybe the effect that results from those with "ambition" rising to the top. I'm not suggesting they belong there in a "social Darwinism" sense, more that their greed has put them in a position to set the rules (to an extent), which is why we're where we're at. So, in a new system how do we stamp out the desire for an accumulation of wealth and power? Without removing this desire I feel any system will eventually be dictated by a handful of people willing to take advantage of the masses.

    Edit: I read the article @BruceHad linked to and it explores the ideas I was thinking in a much more eloquent and reasoned way.

    1 vote
  4. [3]
    BruceHad (edited ) Link
    So, communism? Edit to try to add something constructive: This article by George Monbiot is in the same vein but, I think, does a better job of analysing the problem.

    build a global economy based on democratic control of production

    So, communism?

    Edit to try to add something constructive:

    This article by George Monbiot is in the same vein but, I think, does a better job of analysing the problem.

    3 votes
    1. [2]
      alyaza Link Parent
      no, because communism would have to involve the end of class, money, and the state. what you're quoting there would be the basis of an international socialist system if it were put into practice.

      So, communism?

      no, because communism would have to involve the end of class, money, and the state. what you're quoting there would be the basis of an international socialist system if it were put into practice.

      3 votes