The Capitalism Papers: Fatal Flaws of an Obsolete System
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Mander argues that capitalism is no longer a viable system: “What may have worked in 1900 is calamitous in 2010.” Capitalism, utterly dependent on never-ending economic growth, is an impossible absurdity on a finite planet with limited resources. Climate change, together with global food, water, and resource shortages, is only the start.
Mander draws attention to capitalism’s obsessive need to dominate and undermine democracy, as well as to diminish social and economic equity. Designed to operate free of morality, the system promotes permanent war as a key economic strategy. Worst of all, the problems of capitalism are intrinsic to the form. Many organizations are already anticipating the breakdown of the system and are working to define new hierarchies of democratic values that respect the carrying capacities of the planet.
practices that have something to offer. I agree that at the same time that we need to give primacy to local systems and self-sufficiency, we also need a greater degree of central planning and management of crucial services—from healthcare to energy, transportation, media, disease control, education, environmental protection, social welfare, and the like. But this can be achieved only if we can recover a higher level of trust in government, free of corporate and oligarchic domination. In the
repressed, there is often pressure for “give-backs” in other costly areas, such as healthcare or retirement benefits, even at times when corporate profits are very high. Corporate executives have many tools to express pressures on workers, including constant threats, often acted upon, to move company operations to lower-wage countries. (The WTO rules of free trade encourage companies to freely move among countries. Capital may also freely move. But labor may not move. If they try to do so, they
words of film director Oliver Stone: “Money never sleeps.” There are many international variations on the system. For example, there is considerable diversity of “state capitalist” expressions (in China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Japan, India, Vietnam, Venezuela, and others) where countries permit capitalist enterprises to operate for private profit and to compete within domestic and international markets. But they permit this only within certain pre-defined spheres of activity, and not others, and
high-net-energy ratios. Today, the grim reality is that no current energy systems, and no systems even remotely contemplated, can begin to approach such ratio numbers, including those same fossil fuels. The difficulty and expense of retrieving and processing remaining supplies has reduced net energy for oil down to an estimated 20 to 1, and that ratio is sinking fast. The terrible ecological and financial costs of tar sands are a clear example. Natural gas is little better now; it hovers near 10
society has clearly identified the causes of the problem. In the case of climate change, for example, the prime cause is obviously the continuous, concentrated, and expanding impacts by certain technologies, notable among them energy systems based on fossil fuels, which are dedicated to maintaining our hunger for growth. A rational society would try to solve the climate problem by eliminating fossil fuels, as well as by diminishing the use of all energy systems, since they all conspire to further