archive: was capitalism a mistake?
July 5th, 2017 ·
The question will induce howls of protest in some quarters but if a process generates a runaway train and threatens to destroy a planet even as it induces delusion in the social sphere then the answer to the question is fairly clear…. Let’s repeat the point: a process that threatens to destroy a planet as its executives are deluded is a mistake.
Where did we go wrong? Marx/Engels understood this point but retreated to calling capitalism a stage of history. But was it? Capitalism arose as a set of technical and financial innovations that fueled processes of economic growth but which were seen immediately to be problematic. How could this have been the onset of a new stage in history? All the basics of capitalism had existed for centuries, machine production, proletariat issues, factories, financial investment processes, the only difference was the
scale and the onset of the industrial revolution. The ideology that can came into existence at that point was an egregious distortion of the realities of world history, as Marx and Engels well understood. But instead of giving license to capitalism as a stage of world history it would have been better to have denied it any status at all save as a set of technical and economic innovations, and ones that needed integration into a larger system of social culture. Thinking of capitalism as some inevitable stage of history was nonsense: a rational system should have been the first prerequisite. Instead a false process was unleashed that has proceeded beyond control to the stage of ecological insanity, a sign the original conception was bogus or flawed.