Capitalism will eventually be superseded. It is fraught with many problems, which are coming to a general crisis level. At this point we can’t see what will take over from there, but we have some clues, and lots of reasons it must happen.
The modern world is run by bankers and capitalists as if money and profit were the reason for life. These very rich people seem to have no understanding of how the natural world functions, or that they are part of it, and that they too have responsibilities to society and the planet. The world cannot continue indefinitely in this direction without creating a disaster. We are in stark need of a theory of wealth to replace capitalism, because capitalism resists all efforts at control, and denies any responsibility for the wellbeing of others and the planet.
The reason for life, for most of us, is not money. Since the rest of us outnumber the bankers and capitalists by a huge margin, it would seem that we would have the power to simply forbid their distortions of our lives. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple, because they not only have more than half the wealth of the world, they also control the laws and procedures that give them all that money, create poverty, and destroy the natural world that allows us to live.
Capitalism came about simultaneously with the mass production of “stuff”, tangible products that were sold on the open market, with all the wage minimization and stifling of competition that capitalism demands. Production of tangible products was the entire reason for capitalism.
In more recent times, the focus of capitalism has shifted away from tangible products like cars and electronics to financial products, which often have no connection to manufacturing or products used by people, and are important only to the rich. There is almost no labor force at all for these products. Virtually all the profit from them goes to capitalists alone.
As of 2015, the 1% most wealthy own as much as the entire rest of the world, a distortion that will continue to worsen with no apparent end. Once private wealth reaches a certain point it becomes a sort of self-propagating automaton. Obviously, this cannot continue forever, that is, until one person owns everything, but at this point there is nothing on the financial horizon that tells us what will change it.
Modernization of manufacturing has from the beginning been a long progression of automation that reduced large numbers of largely unskilled workers to a point where even skilled labor plays a minor role in most manufacturing. Whole factories are run with a few skilled workers, whose job it is to manage the machines that do the actual work.
But the profit from these plants still goes to the capitalists, and with the diminution of numbers of laborers, profit is considerably greater than before, a further concentration of money where it is not needed. The real social cost is borne by people who are locked out of the cycle entirely, and where the money is needed.
Since money is finite, the greater the wealth of that small percentage, the less money there is for everyone else, and consequently, the more suffering. Moreover, the extraction of natural resources that drives capitalism’s endless need for “growth” has already run smack up against the natural limitations of the planet, to the detriment of all, including capitalists and bankers. Unfortunately, as Upton Sinclair noted, it is very hard to convince a man of something when his income depends on his not understanding it, so capitalists pretend they have no responsibility for the decline of the natural world necessary for our survival, or the malignant injustice of inequality.
The people of the world do have an interest in how money is managed, but that is not their reason for living. No one expects perfect equality, that long-dead pipe dream of communism. But people do not want what is happening now, gross inequality that worsens inexorably, gradually excluding everyone but capitalists from the money cycle.
Capitalism’s successor must have the primary goal of attending to the wellbeing of all people as well as the planet itself, which is the virtual opposite of the current condition. It will allow for the accumulation of significant wealth, but there must be a mechanism of limitation, both because infinite growth is not possible, and because wealth beyond a certain point accomplishes nothing, and becomes a cancer that will destroy its host.
Capitalism’s successor must create a broad leveling, which will mean that there will not be a tiny fabulously wealthy elite, nor will there be an enormous population living in extreme poverty.
Capitalist demand for profit is infinite. No amount of wealth is ever enough. When capitalists gain too much, wages fall, people tumble into poverty, and the demand for capitalist products drops, thus creating a vicious cycle, which can be temporarily postponed by shipping manufacturing off to poorer countries where cheaper products can be extracted.
This is the situation we find ourselves in now. Capitalism doesn’t accept that there is any value to the lives and wellbeing of most of the population, because most of the population is irrelevant to the accumulation of wealth, which is the entire purpose of capitalism. This is morally unacceptable.