Capitalism: A Very Short Introduction

Capitalism: A Very Short Introduction

James Fulcher

Language: English

Pages: 160

ISBN: 0192802186

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

This Introduction explores the origins of capitalism and questions whether it did indeed originate in Europe. It examines a distinctive stage in the development of capitalism that began in the 1980s, in order to understand where we are now and how capitalism has evolved since. The book discusses the crisis tendencies of capitalism--including the S.E. Asian banking crisis, the collapse of the Russian economy, and the 1997-1998 global financial crisis--asking whether capitalism is doomed to fail. In the end, the author ruminates on a possible alternative to capitalism, discussing socialism, communal and cooperative experiments, and alternatives proposed by environmentalists.

About the Series: Combining authority with wit, accessibility, and style, Very Short Introductions offer an introduction to some of life's most interesting topics. Written by experts for the newcomer, they demonstrate the finest contemporary thinking about the central problems and issues in hundreds of key topics, from philosophy to Freud, quantum theory to Islam.

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however, the ‘vertically’ integrated corporation, which built a strong and secure competitive position by bringing together all stages in the production and distribution of a product, that became the dominant form in the 20th century. The centrality of the business corporation was paralleled by the distinctive character of American trade unionism. This was predominantly a ‘business unionism’ concerned not with social transformation or even the collective interests of labour as a whole but with

financial crisis has also triggered the bursting of a much bigger bubble. This is the debt bubble which has been building since the 1980s. More and more consumption, more and more economic activity, have been financed by debt. By the time that the crisis hit, total US debt had risen to well over three times the value of national income. It was cheap for consumers (and companies and banks) to borrow, because of low interest rates and the flow of money into the old industrial societies from the Far

greater mobility of capital, popular investment in the stock market, and the expansion of the financial services industry increased the importance of a company’s market valuation. According to the newly fashionable doctrine of ‘shareholder value’, the goal of management was no longer to invest in the future or build up a company or balance the needs of its various interests but only to maximize the value of its shares by increasing profits. Managers were given an incentive to do this through stock

competition have lowered the prices of the goods that they buy, but real wages in the old industrial societies have, none the less, been in decline since the 1980s. Furthermore, as capital has become more mobile, nation-states have had to compete for it. Anti-union legislation of the kind enacted in 1980s Britain was justified in part by the argument that it made Britain attractive to the Japanese and Korean capital moving into the European Union during the 1980s and 1990s. Global telework It is

seen, crises are part of the normal machinery of capitalism, but the ensuing crash of capitalist economies across the world, as cumulative mechanisms spread and deepened the crisis. Three main sources of this vulnerability can be identified. There was first the huge growth in productive capacity that had taken place over the previous century. This meant that equally huge levels of demand were necessary if production was to be absorbed and applied not only to the production of manufactured goods but

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