What Will Post-Capitalism Look Like?

We tend to forget that there was a time before capitalism. Capitalism, which is different from the so-called “free market”, came on the scene a few hundred years ago, and it will leave the scene, probably not long from now. Capitalism is not a force of nature, present at the dawn of time, and preordained to continue forever. Nature, in fact, will force capitalism to either adapt or pass out of the scene. We don’t yet know what will take its place, but it will happen. (For some hints, look here, here, here, and here. There are lots more.) If we are wise, we will try to be prepared for this. Capitalists will try to prevent our being wise.

We tend to forget that there was a time before capitalism.

Unprecedented changes are happening in the world, and they will require a new way of understanding things like “wealth”. It simply will not be possible for either a tiny part of wealthy nations’ populations to hoard vast amounts of money, or for wealthy nations as a whole to use the biggest part of the world’s resources, at the expense of everyone else. To do so risks eventual violence in civil or worldwide war, or the possibility of worldwide catastrophic death, or both.

The single most important thing that will compel us to change, regardless of what Republicans think about it, is climate change. It is instructive that the people who refuse to realize the existence of global warming have the most to lose by acknowledging reality: American capitalists, who are almost by definition Republicans. Capitalists embrace the rules of capitalism, the most germane one of which calls for infinite growth. I will repeat once again what every environmentalist in the past two generations has said: Infinite growth is impossible in a finite world. Perpetual growth is a sign of economic and environmental illness, like cancer.

Perpetual growth is a sign of economic and
environmental illness, like cancer.

I will also repeat what I myself have said: It doesn’t matter whether Republicans “believe in” climate change. It is happening all around us, is increasingly evident, and at this very late date cannot be stopped by anything we can do. The best we can do is to ameliorate its worst effects. Republican obstructionism can only make everything worse, which is exactly what they are doing.

I suggest that the most beneficial post-capitalism world will be one in which we all learn to live within the limits of nature, and those who refuse are punished, so they don’t hurt the rest of us. The distribution of the world’s resources must be vastly more equitable, which, we now know, would benefit rich and poor alike.

Pity the poor rich people, who are unable to imagine the possibility of a vibrant and happy life in which large sums of money aren’t available for their unimportant spending. What countries have the most happy people? Among the top ten, the Scandinavian countries (those terrible, awful socialist prisons) always rank highest, along with some other European countries. Guatemala, where 36% of the population lives in poverty, is always in the top ten. The US is commonly toward the bottom of the top twenty, with some surprising countries above it. Equality is what the top countries have in common. Countries with the lowest rankings, 185 and thereabouts, are characterized by gross inequality from post-colonial capitalist exploitation or post-Soviet collapse.

High income is not a requirement of happiness. Equality is.

In summary, high income is not a requirement of happiness. Equality is. People don’t like being cheated. That’s why so many Americans are furious at those Wall Street bastards. Republicans first started complaining that we are marching straight into the hell of socialism in 1856, and have never stopped, but those countries with the strongest social programs always rank in the top ten in both happiness and quality of life, and we never do.

If we are to have a better world when capitalism has run its course, we must strive for far greater equality. We must learn to live with the natural limitations of our beautiful blue planet. We must begin to understand that true wealth does not mean an accumulation of money, but the cultivation of a number of other factors, most of which are within our control.

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hi Uncle John! I showed my Dad your face book post and he would like me to pass along his comment. Bob says Capitalism no longer exists now, what we have is a controlled economy . Your post is completely true but we are further along than you state.Our system no longer has the opportunity of achieving wealth.And the economy is completely controled in every facet by the wealthy. Signed BobBob

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  2. I agree that we have an economy controlled by the very rich for the benefit of the very rich. But they are capitalists operating in a capitalist system.

    What I and many others are trying to do is look over the horizon to see the shape of the economy, democracy, the environment, and the world. I don’t think capitalism is up to the task of managing the world economy.

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  3. I agree with you about the problems created by capitalism and their consequences But we should search for the solutions in the arrested agenda of the promises of French Revolution . once the capitalism consolidated its position ,it abandoned the promises of equality ,freedom and fraternity .All the ideals of the revolution were abandoned.Democracy has been distorted by various manipulations to monopalize power .Equality and freedom has been crushed in the name controlling communism ,Islamic fundamentalism or terrorism.Orwellian tactics has been used to create scares at national and international levels.the obsession with growth has increased to a level that has become an addiction among the masses . Increase in the productivity has concentrated further the surplus of the society in few hands with disastrous consequences for the most marginalized sections of the society.It is necessary to go back to the basics to find the solutions to the problems of New Dark Ages — virinder singh,Back to the Basics

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  4. If we’re to save this planet, the best thing we can do is to start moving off of it ASAP.

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    • Isn’t that what The Rapture is supposed to do?

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