Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Engine of Capitalism

Capitalism is driven by greed. This is acknowledged.

Thus, greed is the “engine” behind how capitalism works. It is the motivation.
However, if we take the analogy of an automobile further, we realize that it is only the engine. It is not the steering wheel and the brakes.

These parts of Capitalism – embodied in Government and Non-governmental organizations – and in the limits imposed upon us by the finite resources of our planet – must be used and considered an integral part of a capitalistic society, or else the entire society will simply accelerate without any control – and will eventually crash.

In fact we are seeing it all around us already. The economic “automobile” that we have been driving and continually accelerating has gone out of control and crashed -- and continues to skid out of control.
The wreckage that results from this high speed reckless “driving” (that results from an almost total lack of control – lack of regulation) is having enormous consequences for almost everybody – including the people in the car (the richest countries) as well as the pedestrians on the street (developing countries).

It also has dire consequences for our infrastructure, which we most certainly need to rebuild. We also need to rebuild the “economic automobile”… and this time we have to build in some speed limiters and traction control systems.

This means that we need a tight regulatory framework that acknowledges that civil society, as reflected through representative elected governments, should be at the wheel and in control of the direction and speed with which we move forward ~ and can even decide whether we need to stop and turn around at some point and head in a different direction, as circumstances change.

We also need to incorporate an acknowledgement of the finitude of earthly resources and build into economic systems a way of acknowledging this in order to assist in their fair distribution.

It is essentially an acknowledgement that sharing is a virtue. Something that is completely lacking in the current “greed trumps all else” model.

It is this virtue that is commonly acknowledged among all religions and faiths – and what ties us all together, no matter what your belief system is (whether you are Christian, Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Jewish, Baha'I or a Zoroastrian).

The biggest problems with the current system have come mostly because money == power.
And because power corrupts – and absolute power corrupts absolutely – it becomes very easy for capitalism to go astray.

But, then again, have we yet found any economic system that is not corruptible?
Certainly Communism was very corruptible. Certainly Fascism is and was extremely corruptible. Any system that concentrates power in the hands of the few can ultimately lead to corruption with potentially dire results.

Yet, in order to undertake large “communal works” – like building windfarms and railways – we need to somehow find a way of concentrating the capital. Individual people can’t build railways on their own – it’s impossible. Thus we need some sort of “collectivism” – some means of coordinating societal efforts toward a common goal.

Governments have not been good at it by themselves (too much politics). Businesses have not been good at it by themselves (if allowed to continue amassing capital unhindered they can end up raping the Earth of all its resources and causing enormous wealth discrepancies).

So what is a good model? Probably one that acknowledges both the need for large, strong and wealthy private capital while also acknowledging that we need large, strong and democratically controlled governments that work for ALL people – not for corporations or unions or any other kind of special interest, but for everyone.

This is why I joined the Green Party many years ago. It was the closest Political Party I could find that strove for this ideal.
And it is the only Global Political Party.

It is tied together by a set of universal values as described in the Charter of the Global Greens. (
Ecological Wisdom, Social Justice, Participatory Democracy, Nonviolence, Sustainability and Respect for Diversity.

The more I think about this the clearer it becomes for me. It just seems to make sense.