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Re: Will Hutton: there is no alternative to capitalism
Posted by David Bracewell [User Info] on October 2, 2011, 5:58 pm, in reply to "Re: Will Hutton: there is no alternative to capitalism"
Capitalism has little in common with the way humans act naturally. It is unresponsive to people and unadaptable, requiring society to entirely change its patterns and priorities for it to work.
It is the utopian project par excellence and requires brute force and eventually vast disparities in wealth to peel off the wealthy layer to keep it in place against the rest of society, for which the wealthy cease to have any empathy or common goals.
The archeological evidence of people like David Graeber and Caroline Humphrey show that almost all of our pre-industrial ancestors have never lived in such a way before - transactionally as opposed to socially - and Karl Polanyi's analysis, which is similar, has been vindicated.
Studies on political equality with small wealth differentials by people like Bruno Frey and Alois Stutzer (used to be Uni of Zurich) and Stephen Bezruchka (Uni Washington) tend to confirm that, given a certain modest level of wealth, society at all levels is happiest in such conditions. This is confirmation that our pre-archaic-state, genetically predisposed nature is not compatible with the exigencies of capitalism.
I think the involuntary human energy with which capitalism must be sustained for it to even vaguely work, it's complete inability to do so without everyone else having to adapt by state force (it's like a rare orchard it needs so much sacrifice to keep it alive) is an indicator of how short a time capitalism has left. While in the past it could still spread into the world to impose its misery while enriching its middle classes in its originating centres, it had a future. But now that most people have pretty much been or soon will be screwed by it, it can no longer divert its misery beyond its borders as it has always previously done.
It's only a 250 year old system. That's not a very long time. And since it cannot set prices in the market or allocate scarcer and scarcer resources efficiently, its two justifications are really a busted flush. It must now exist entirely in the face of the world population, including, perhaps most importantly, the educated ex-middle class and much of the ex-communist educated elite.
There is a massive pool of disaffected and able people in the world now, able to understand and use non-military assets much better than the state and corporate sectors. This makes a difference. This leaves capitalism with just one tool, pure force, much as this same tool had been left to the Western empires - including the US currently - and before it its ancien regimes.
What we move to may be messy, but it won't be capitalism, because too many in the middle class are slated for poverty as things stand. The most successful economies, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland, where capital is constrained by either civil society or, in the latter case political rights, may be in our futures, but I think that leaves in place the ability for Capital to once again hijack society. That means, I think, a system that comes out of this next crisis that is not subject to Hyman Minski's eventual ponzification of capital which in turn means that capital must cease to be the tool by which we consolidate our societies.
This is the only time in history that almost the entire world has been subject to capitalism's misery. There are few fresh fields abroad, no western frontiers and few people suppressed by other types of social organisation who capitalism can buy off with promises of wealth.
I believe a more root and branch replacement will be in place within 20 years.