Has Global Capitalism gone One Step Too Far?

Grant PetersonStarred Page By Grant Peterson, 23rd Feb 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/3bkwxsvk/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Society & Issues

In its global expansion and influence it is necessary to question whether this system has now gone too far. Certainly corporations excerpt enormous power and it seems clear that their power is out of proportion, some are larger that mid-sized nations and can bend nations to their will - a good reason to question their power.

Part 3

In the preceding articles I have explored the impact of capitalist imperialism and the impact that economic system has on democracy, the purpose of this article is to to explore the question whether all of this economic consolidation is one step too far and in order to do that it will be necessary to look at some of the underlying developments we have seen over the course of the last hundred to 150 years.

The Capitalist Revolution

Going back to England of the 1640s we can see the birth of the first capitalist country fought through the battles of the English civil war, Cromwell's commonwealth parliament challenged the preexisting feudal order and it was this new order that supported the development of the subsequent industrial revolution over the next centuries. The Round-heads supported the new regime, the Cavaliers supported the monarchy and the old, outdated, feudal system ultimately the beheading of King Charles in 1649 represented the victory of the new system of government through a revolutionary civil war. Today we would probably not call Cromwell's parliament democratic but it represented a sea-change in that period and laid the foundation for new developments that have been possible up to the current day.

When the monarchy was restored in the 1660s, as attested by diarist Samuel Pepys, it was restored on the basis of the supremacy of parliament which in reality meant the supremacy of the interests of the capitalist system and its legal system. Since that time capitalism has developed into global phenomenon and made many huge advances, yet at the same time concerns itself only with the interests of the ruling elite, the rest of society can take advantage of the benefits during the boom times, yet their rights will will be trampled on when any recession hits. This is the challenge we face today as this recession deepens and the current era of leadership is incapable of getting economies moving forwards again.

Reform and the Communist Manefesto

By the time Marx published his manifesto the capitalist world had developed and changed a great deal from its origins and many reformers had made many proposals over the years yet in truth society was very divided between the elite that had everything and the working people that seemed to be enslaved by the system, between the two were a middle class that was beholden to the capitalists, many things may have changed since but these distinctions do remain true today. The challenge Marx stated was to fundamentally change society.

Reformists have made many subtle but also many bold changes over the years but the problem with most reforms is that they are mostly temporary in nature and do not fundamentally change the system. Now we can agree that many reforms were essential and that they have provided positive change, yet this does not change the fact that this system we live under is ideologically flawed, consider the fact that the USA considers itself locked in a war against terrorism at the current time and because of that state it limits people's constitutional rights because of a war that does not exist, indeed many western nations have limited the basic freedoms of their citizens on the basis of national security at this time on the basis of that same fictional war.

Let's be clear there are groups in the world that remain diametrically opposed to US, British, or in reality capitalist imperialism and consider the only recourse is to use the tactic of terrorism against their enemy. I would also count myself as diametrically opposed to capitalist imperialism, yet would never pick up weapons or bombs in order to fight that system because ultimately the only way to defeat such a system it to change how people view the system and change their allegiances then the will of the people will change the system.

Capitalist imperialism has always required an "evil" against which it can be seen in a favorable light, for the majority of the 20th century that evil was the Soviet system in so-called communist Russia, China, and Eastern Europe, yet that was an incorrect characterization of those systems the Russian revolution in 1918 may have setup a fledgling socialist state but by 1925, and certainly with expansion to Eastern Europe after the end of the second world war these were these were nothing but state capitalism, controlled by a bureaucracy that was simply interested in lining their pockets at the expense of the average person.

The Expansion of Imperialism

The majority of businesses up till about 1900 were small in size and limited in scope, having a single plant or workplace where all products were produced and this would be true whether the business was a dairy with a single bottling plant or a tool fabricator, some employers may have dominated towns, such as coal mines or steel mills such that the majority of jobs in the town were congregated in one location, which became the lifeblood of the town and cessation of works (for example when no more coal deposits could be mined) would be devastating to everyone in the community, yet this was an example of fledgling capitalist imperialism at work because it was prepared to devastate the local ecology for the sake of profit then the owners would move on to a new area, setup a new business and do it all over again.

There was one common characteristic of the majority of businesses at this time being that they were limited by the confines of the town or city in which they operated yet by the mid to late 19th century the shrewd capitalist saw opportunities by buying their competitors in neighboring cities and represented a change in how capitalism functioned they grew wealthier by limiting the rights of the workforce and having succeeded by expanding they would repeat the process often tightening the belt for each worker after-all it was now possible to threaten closure of any mill and simply move production to whichever location brought greatest profit. Of course not every employer functioned the same way but a large number did and that set the trend for business expansion during the later half of the 19th century and early part of the 20th century.

Companies have been concerned with growing their own power, indeed it is the nature of capitalism to become the best, the most profitable, the leader in a specific marketplace. It may seem positive that companies like Ford brought the automobile into the reach of the average worker, by the creation of mass produced manufacturing and to a large extent this was one of the positives of the system, yet it also ensured that car manufacturers became a worldwide concern and in doing so amassed more economic power than many advanced nations such as Belgium. During the 1990s one worldwide car manufacturer was able to close one of its European plants on the basis that it was not profitable, yet this plant had the most advanced automation in the world, yet it also had a strong union presence, long suspected to be the real reason for the closure. Today the majority of global corporations have massive economic power.

The Fundamental Flaw

This system is fundamentally flawed because of the fact that we regularly go from boom to bust. In the immediate aftermath of the second world war it seemed as if we could do no wrong everything turned to gold almost as if by magic, yet since 2008 there has been nothing but a downwards trend for all economies and the bankruptcies of Greece, Italy, and others is a testament to this and few indicators show any real signs of economic improvement.

One of the things we must bear in mind when discussing the economy is how things can go against the prevailing trend and allow so-called experts to misread to true state. If you take the post-war years between 1950 and the mid 1990s there was a general up-trend in the economy, yet there were many blips along the way when there were clear reversals, business closures, job losses etc., but these were temporary setbacks, because soon the trend was reversed and the economy was moving forwards again, possibly missing a dinosaur or two, corporations that were incapable of adapting to new business conditions.

Has global Capitalism gone too far

As a result of the recession we have seen a lot of campaigning for people to buy local and if you think about foodstuffs then whatever the economy buying local makes a great deal of sense yet it is possible to find in our local supermarket here in Toronto fruits grown in South America being sold for a lower price than that of locally grown fruit and part of the problem here is the price of a banana, that is shipped across the continent, that will sell for less than the price of a locally grown apple, we cannot grow bananas locally yet it must be recognized that they have dietary value but it does not make sense that they are the cheapest fruit in the market. Items like milk and eggs could never travel without the addition of preservatives so is generally only sold in local stores. Yet when we talk about products like consumer electronics or automobiles then economies of scale mean that products can be manufactured anywhere in the world at the right price, indeed the parts required to manufacture such a product will all be sourced from specialist manufacturers around the world so there is no guarantee that any advanced product is "made in America|Britain|Canada|etc." yet the corporations that make them have a powerful say in your country's economy.

Global capitalism is responsible for the majority of world trade today and it is the undeniable truth that it has too much power and has very little regard for developing the world economy in the way people like you and I would like, so it is easy to conclude that global capitalism is one step too far, it is certainly clear that this form of Imperialism is inconsistent with the rights of the individual person.

Rights of the Individual

The following article examines the limits on freedom of choice that we have in the capitalist system by examining the rights of the individual.

GP - Toronto 2014


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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
24th Feb 2014 (#)


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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
24th Feb 2014 (#)

Interesting post

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