“Any government with both the power and the will to remedy the major defects of the capitalist system would have the power and the will to abolish it altogether” said economist Joan Robinson analyzing the situation a generation ago. But her words are a call to create such a government now. Our global problem is not only a perpetually war making empire but also the economic basis of its imperial system. The evidence seemed clear to only some scholars in the past, but it is becoming more obvious to anyone who notes the signs of breakdown in the present. They are political, social and environmental, all due to the economics of private profit at public loss. This lethal combination threatens not just a crumbling empire, but all of humanity.
The market system under private control in which all goods and services are produced for purchase that profits some at the expense of many has gone as far as civilization can tolerate.
However rooted it might be in fiction or delusion, Capital has been able to maintain a trickle down program to keep a middle class comfortable enough to perpetuate its dream of a material equality which would prevail and grow. Workers in the western world could see the potential for a progressively better life since so many of them seemed to be living it under capitalist social democracy. But that era ended late in the 20th century and the sinking sensation many now feel is not merely personal or even national; it is profoundly social and global.
A generation in the west saw working people rise to a status dubbed middle class, representing gains for them at unnoticed loss for people in the rest of the world. Minority profits always come at serious loss to the majority, a reality that can no longer be hidden. Worse, the cultural environmental assault that reduces the foundations of life — earth, water and air — to no more than profit making commodities is causing changes that spell more general doom if the process is allowed to continue.
Even if consciousness controllers could keep us in a mental state accepting this system, a diminishing material reality is forcing us to note massive and growing problems that cannot be solved by belief systems. However we may be reduced to think ourselves personally or psychologically isolated, all of us are threatened by what was once air and water pollution and has now become rising sea levels, shrinking land masses and radical climate changes.
The problems created by capitalism have become so obvious that many of its true believer economists are forced to notice failings that are not aberrations but endemic to the system. They propose changes, but they call for a return to policies that helped the last near collapse of the previous century. At that time, enlightened capital – not a total oxymoron – saw the possibility of revolution if the contradictions of free market fundamentalism prevailed. So they created a more liberal economic structure that called for government investment in life support systems from which private enterprise could not turn a profit.
Working people could not afford to create profits for the private sector by purchasing housing, electricity and other necessities, so government would provide financing, job creation and services to take care of these things, at taxpayers’ expense. The rich paid a slightly higher tax rate, easily affordable to them, but the bulk of the financial burden for social services, as in diminished form today, was, and is born by the greatest mass of the population.
This primitive social democratic phase in the USA – more highly developed in Europe – has been under assault and led to austerity programs cutting social services and the entire public sector and leading to greater inequality than ever before. It is easy to depict the ruling wealthy as greedy or evil – though some of them are – but they are only doing what the system dictates:
Increasing private profits by lowering wages and benefits for workers while lowering taxes for themselves. This creates greater profits for them, which they, according to legend, use to create more jobs. The way the tooth fairy creates more teeth.
The illusion of a better future was possible for some workers in the developed world because billions of people in the less developed world assumed the horrendous burden of having greater profit accumulated on their continued poverty. That could not last.
We must not mistake this as simply an end to arrogant western power or specifically the domination of the USA over the world. Capitalism is moving at different speeds in the newer environs of Russia, China and other entries into private profit making assaults on the public and the natural environment humanity depends on for survival. But cultural differences in war making still mean mass murder and cultural differences in capitalism only use different languages to do the same thing:
Extract private profit from humans and nature that lead to the loss and detriment of much larger segments of humanity and the planet that is our home.
This can be called a free market, for some, an entry to riches previously inconceivable, for a few, and a host of other terms and buzz words that cloud a collective future of doom under a cover of psycho-economic-religious babble.
Whether life was created in six days, six millennia or six trillion years, whether by an explosion of nothing or an invention of something with a penis, it will come to an end if we continue using it to briefly benefit only some at ultimate cost to the many. That is the essence of anti-democratic capitalism and it must be radically transformed by a truly democratic government as called for in the opening quote. And it must happen everywhere, or humanity will wind up nowhere.