Tag Archives: Capitalism

Is America’s future capitalist or socialist?

By Ezra Klein – In American politics, and particularly in the Democratic Party, the primacy of capitalism is, for the first time in ages, an open question.

Sanders is expected to run again in 2020, and to run with the support of a grassroots movement that thrills to his break with capitalist convention. He’ll face, among others, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who says one key difference between her and Sanders is that she’s “a capitalist to my bones.”

But what are the actual differences between liberal reformers of capitalism, like Warren and Pearlstein, and democratic socialists, like Sanders? I invited Pearlstein to discuss his book, and the broader capitalism vs. socialism divide, with Bhaskar Sunkara, editor of the journal Jacobin, and author of the forthcoming book, The Socialist Manifesto. Their debate follows, lightly edited for style and length.

A CEO like Charles Wilson could say “what was good for the country was good for General Motors and vice versa,” but he was responding to the same exact market pressures as CEOs today. The only difference is that he was constrained by unions and a liberal political coalition.

Social democracy was always predicated on economic expansion. Expansion gave succor to both the working class and capital. When growth slowed and the demands of workers made deeper inroads into firm profits, business owners rebelled against the class compromise. And they were in the structural position to force their own solutions, even in countries like Sweden where there were experiments with wage-earner funds and other left-solutions to the crisis. more>

Citizens’ Wealth Fund To Tackle Inequality

By Stewart Lansley – The 20th century trend to greater wealth equality is now in reverse. Wealth is much more unequally distributed than incomes. Capital ownership is even more concentrated—so much for a share owning democracy.

Because of such concentration, the considerable returns from wealth (in dividends, rent and interest) accrue disproportionally to the already rich. The more wealth booms at the top, the more it undermines the life chances of those left out of the party. Moreover, because of rolling privatization, wealth is increasingly privately owned. Today, the public holds only a little over a tenth of total wealth, well down on the post-war decades.

Tackling these issues requires some big policy shifts. First, the level of taxation on wealth needs to rise. Wealth is hugely undertaxed compared with income: the combined revenue from existing capital taxes accounts for less than one per cent of total economic output. To spread capital ownership, we need to expand the role of alternative business models—from partnerships to co-operatives—which distribute economic gains more equally. more> https://goo.gl/RuUSFz

The Soviet InterNyet

Soviet scientists tried for decades to network their nation. What stalemated them is now fracturing the global internet

How Not to Network a Nation: The Uneasy History of the Soviet Internet, Author: Benjamin Peters.

By Benjamin Peters – First proposed in 1962, the All-State Automated System, or OGAS, was intended to become a real-time, remote-access national computer network built on preexisting and new telephony wires. In its most ambitious version, it would span most of the Eurasian continent, mapping itself like a nervous system onto every factory and enterprise in the planned economy.

The forces that brought down OGAS resemble those that eventually undid the Soviet Union: the surprisingly informal forms of institutional misbehavior. Subversive ministers, status quo-inclined bureaucrats, nervous factory managers, confused workers and even other economic reformers opposed the OGAS project because it was in their institutional self-interest to do so. Without state funding and oversight, the national network project for ushering in electronic socialism splintered in the 1970s and ’80s into a patchwork of dozens and then hundreds of isolated, non-interoperable factory local-area control systems.

The Soviet state failed to network their nation not because it was too rigid or top-down in design but because it was too fickle and pernicious in practice.

There is an irony to this. The first global computer networks took root in the US thanks to well-regulated state funding and collaborative research environments, while the contemporary (and notably independent) national network efforts in the USSR floundered due to unregulated competition and institutional infighting among Soviet administrators. The first global computer network emerged thanks to capitalists behaving like cooperative socialists, not socialists behaving like competitive capitalists.

In the fate of the Soviet internet we can glimpse a clear and present warning to the future of the internet. Today the ‘internet’ – understood as a single global network of networks for advancing informational liberty, democracy and commerce – is in serious decline. more> https://goo.gl/Ha9MmF

Are You Ready To Consider That Capitalism Is The Real Problem?


The Divide: A Brief History of Global Inequality and Its Solutions, Author: Jason Hickel.

By Jason Hickel and Martin Kirk – A full three-quarters of people in major capitalist economies believe that big businesses are basically corrupt.

Why do people feel this way?

It’s because they realize—either consciously or at some gut level—that there’s something fundamentally flawed about a system that has a prime directive to churn nature and humans into capital, and do it more and more each year, regardless of the costs to human well-being and to the environment we depend on.

That’s what capitalism is, at its root.

What might a better world look like? There are a million ideas out there. We can start by changing how we understand and measure progress.

We can change that.

People want health care and education to be social goods, not market commodities, so we can choose to put public goods back in public hands. People want the fruits of production and the yields of our generous planet to benefit everyone, rather than being siphoned up by the super-rich, so we can change tax laws and introduce potentially transformative measures like a universal basic income. more> https://goo.gl/ntiMQr

The Ambition Explosion


The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism, Author: Daniel Bell.

Age of Ambition, Author: Evan Osnos.

By David Brooks – The real contradiction of capitalism is that it arouses enormous ambition, but it doesn’t help you define where you should focus it. It doesn’t define an end to which you should devote your life. It nurtures the illusion that career and economic success can lead to fulfillment, which is the central illusion of our time.

To survive, capitalism needs to be embedded in a moral culture that sits in tension with it, and provides a scale of values based on moral and not monetary grounds. Capitalism, though, is voracious. The personal ambition it arouses is always threatening to blot out the counterculture it requires. more> http://tinyurl.com/nufkte3

China’s Smog Can’t Compete With London’s Pea Soup

By Stephen Mihm – Like so much having to do with China’s economy, this environmental degradation seems unprecedented. It isn’t.

One of the defining features of industrial revolutions past and present is the shift to fossil fuels such as coal, particularly in urban centers. Much like contemporary China, England became an economic powerhouse by relying on cheap coal to power its factories as well as to heat and illuminate the cities that would become crucibles of industrial capitalism: Manchester, Birmingham and above all, London.

Some creatures even adapted to the changed environment. The peppered moth, for example, which was white with gray flecks, evolved via a process that scientists dubbed “industrial melanism.” By the 1890s, almost 98 percent of the moths had switched colors. more> http://tinyurl.com/o4upumt

The fundamental flaws of capitalism

By Joseph S. Diedrich – The idea of capitalism is so riddled with flaws that it’s not even funny.

For starters, capitalism reduces prices. By necessity, producers must compete with other producers for business. Without sacrificing quality, they must make their good or service more attractive to potential customers. If prices continuously drop, though, how will there be any money to pay workers?

Capitalism benefits both the poor and the rich. Indiscriminately. The distribution of wealth based on achievement needs to be recognized for the sham it truly is. Capitalism doesn’t care who you are. It only cares about what you do. Unfortunately, however, that means you must do something. more> http://tinyurl.com/m3mwn8q

The Capitalist’s Case for a $15 Minimum Wage

By Nick Hanauer – The fundamental law of capitalism is that if workers have no money, businesses have no customers. That’s why the extreme, and widening, wealth gap in our economy presents not just a moral challenge, but an economic one, too. In a capitalist system, rising inequality creates a death spiral of falling demand that ultimately takes everyone down.

An economy such as ours that increasingly concentrates wealth in the top 1 percent, and where most workers must rely on stagnant or falling wages, isn’t a place to build much of a pillow business, or any other business for that matter. more> http://tinyurl.com/kuem9dk


China May Not Be A U.S. Ally, But It’s Also Not An Adversary

By Ali Wyne – Of the foreign-policy challenges that will confront the president of the United States on January 20, 2013 few are as complex and consequential as managing the ongoing rise of China–a continental country that will soon have the world’s largest economy and, within three decades, could be the world’s largest defense spender.

It is difficult to imagine a more different pair of countries that must accommodate one another.

The competitive dimension of their relationship is not particularly ideological. There is, to be sure, a pronounced gap between their core values, but it is not as stark as the slogans “capitalist vs. communist” and “democratic vs. authoritarian” suggest. Instead, China fuses state capitalism with adaptive authoritarianism. Despite the power of its state-owned enterprises, it is taking incremental, but important, steps to liberalize. more> http://tinyurl.com/d8cccpr

Global Drucker Forum Foments A Revolution In Capitalism

By Steve Denning – Among many other speakers, Roger Martin, Dean of the Rotman School of Management, will discuss the shift from maximizing shareholder value to customer capitalism. He will talk about: what went wrong with capitalism? Can it be reformed? What are the main axes to pursue?

My own contribution comes in an article on the Global Drucker Forum this morning, “The Revolutionary Tenets of Management 2.0“. more> http://tinyurl.com/8ejc7cd