Capitalism has a really bad reputation.
And you know what? That’s a shame. Capitalism has been good to us, and despite the hiccups in the systems and all the abuses that take place and the misguided goal-setting that has become endemic in capitalistic societies, it really is pretty damn effective.
Because of all those caveats, however, capitalism is a bit of a mixed bag. It’s a bit like democracy in that way, and as Winston Churchill so famously said, democracy is the worst system of government ever…except for all those other ones we’ve tried.
There are capitalistic rumblings even deep within the belly of hardcore dictatorships like China (I don’t care if they call themselves Communists — a dictatorship is a dictatorship), and because of this they’ve taken to the economic world stage with a gusto that has shocked the experts and rattled the foundations of the world.
So at this point in human development, capitalism is doing pretty well by us. The epic failures the come with it are the result of people who treat it like a religion: they imagine it to be the perfect excuse to misbehave, the ultimate source of forgiveness, and a way of life worth becoming dogmatic over.
These shady business-people tend to blame anything that they do wrong on the capitalistic system.
“It’s just business!” they say. “No hard feelings!” Except that there are.
“Well we had to do it, for the company.” Gee, thanks for that.
“Come on, it’s so much money.” Well good! Hopefully you can buy some morality with all that hard currency.
It’s as if capitalism has become an excuse for its own existence. Usually you have to justify your beliefs, but capitalism has become a god to many people. Too omnipotent, too omnipresent, and too obviously necessary to ever warrant explanation.
And this, they feel, should assuage their guilt over screwing their friends, inciting wars and generally doing everything they can to be worse human beings than their neighbors, all in the pursuit of more capital.
At this point, this philosophy has become so ingrained that it’s ceased to be a mere belief system and has become a religion. Most of the adherents base their beliefs on faith, not a firm understanding of the complex systems that make the whole thing function, and therefore there is seldom any evolution.
I propose that anyone reading this put an end to blind faith and start to be involved, analytical capitalists who are ready and willing to make changes to the system as necessary.
It would be foolish to think that capitalism is the last economic step, but while it’s still here, we may as well do it the best way possible.
Update: December 13, 2016
I still largely agree with this. I think capitalism has been a stellar economic system in many ways, and much of the trouble we have with it today is a consequence of its success (and the corruption that works its way into most things that are successful).
That said, I’m also more and more interested in what iterated or evolved versions of capitalism might look like. We don’t know for sure what a large-scale Guaranteed Basic Income might look like, but it would probably be worth trying, particularly as we automate progressively more of our lower- and middle-income bracket jobs. It may be that a ‘next step’ would stem from a series of smaller changes to capitalism as we know it, rather than through some kind of revolution or uprising.