End of the world as we know it?
I’ve been seeing a lot of “this is the death of capitalism” dire warnings as a result of the global financial hissy fit. I’m not sure this is a useful statement frankly. Perhaps it’s more the death of Thatcherite-Reaganite neo-liberalism. What we might be seeing is the birth of a new world order. So I found this article in the Guardian extremely interesting. Sales of Das Kapital are soaring as people mutter that the Marxian analysis of Capitalism was right after all. Apparently, Marx is hot in eastern Germany and he’s hit the bestseller lists again. I must admit to flicking through my copy over the last few weeks.
43% of former East Germans say they want socialism rather than capitalism. Let’s face it: they’ve had a rough trot since the Berlin Wall crumbled what with high unemployment and reunification issues. Stories are being gleaned with one former East Berliner saying:
“We read about the ‘horrors of capitalism’ in school. They really got that right. Karl Marx was spot on. I had a pretty good life before the Wall fell. No one worried about money because money didn’t really matter. You had a job even if you didn’t want one. The communist idea wasn’t all that bad.”
Even Nicolas Sarkozy has been snapped leafing through the writings of Marx. So are we heading towards new socialism? The article makes the very salient point that it is the free-market model that is snuffing it, not capitalism itself. So we don’t need to call each other Comrade just yet. What we’ve seen is the flagrant abuse of capitalism by greedy bankers, CEOs and..let’s be honest…we have all been complicit in the whole mess – wanting the McMansion, The Brands, bigger and better salaries. Unbridled capitalism has led to shockers like this – AIG‘s top dogs off on a partridge hunt at an English country Manor, spending $US86,000 at the same time the US Feds were bailing AIG out with taxpayer money and whilst Mom and Dad citizen were suffering through the humiliation of homes being repossessed. They wore tweed jackets, shot at poor defenseless birds and scoffed the finest of wines. One of AIG’s top executives had the gall to say: “The recession will go on until about 2011 – but the shooting was great today and we are relaxing fine”. Pity Dick Cheney wasn’t on this hunt. He might have missed his aim and shot at this idiot executive.
What we are seeing (I hope) is an end to the unethical, greed is good, morally repugnant, “hands off, don’t regulate us” free-market capitalism. To be replaced by what? Since the implosion of Communism and the erosion of the welfare-state, what model remains standing on the Left? People still believe in the natural right to own property and the right to trade property, ergo Capitalism will not die. Capitalism has been tarnished by the 25 years or so of Thatcherite-Reaganite neo-liberalism (not to mention the stupidity of George W). It’s been abused by shadowy bankers, arrogance and hubris. It’s been battered by the house of cards that were subprime mortgages. But it will remain standing.
The challenge will be for capitalism to attain a human face. To cater for the less-wealthy in society, provide education, housing and a working health system.