It’s time to start talking about the end of capitalism

Recently there was an ordering mistake at the bakery and they ended up with about fifty pounds of extra bread. The pantries that we called just couldn’t handle any more bread donations.

But there was a man on the train last night asking me for food.

And there’s the Salvation Army a few blocks from my house that is currently not accepting clothes.

And the nonprofit in East Harlem that is trying in earnest to get rid of an abundance of wheelchairs so they won’t have to throw them away.

Meanwhile, someone somewhere is making more wheelchairs, using dirty energy to keep the assembly line running, barely making it home in time for dinner with her kids.

If the goal of capitalism is to efficiently connect needs and services it is failing every day. If its goal is to keep us healthy it fails every day. If its goal is to allow us free time to wonder, it fails every day.

It’s time to start talking about how growth is bad, how it kills our planet and ourselves. It’s time to stop saying that people need jobs. People don’t need jobs. Jobs are just things we invented like iPhone cases and plastic forks.

Maybe we should consider that capitalism doesn’t have the answer to the global warming problem. Capitalism is not transparent enough. It’s not honest enough. And I don’t think communism is either. And socialism even, won’t hesitate to make a buck off of some natural gas reserves. (What about something hyper-local, hyper-democratic, and utterly transparent?)

Here’s some inspiration for how to talk about the end of capitalism. (Some of these aren’t anti-capitalist per se, but all argue against unbridled capitalism as we know it.) The Next System ProjectAnand Giridharadas, Yvon Chouinard, Arundhati Roy, Paul Krugman, Sacred Economics by Charles Eisenstein, This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein.

2 Comments

  1. A big problem is that we don’t separate capitalism as a descriptive term to analyze markets from capitalism as an ideology to justify greed and exploitation. As an ideology it’s just a justification for cruelty but as an analytical tool it’s a good description of that cruelty. We don’t live in a capitalist either as if you take out the public goods that grease the rails you don’t even have capitalism. You have chaos, and, as you see with global warming, eventually something much worse. Adam Smith himself addressed this problem of spoiling the commons. As usual thanks for your wisdom.

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