Friday, October 24, 2008

What we don't have

We still have a lot...

We have hundreds of millions of people who are willing and able to work, to produce not only the necessities of life but also luxuries and the technology and infrastructure to create even greater production. We still have productive labor. We have working farms and factories, shops and stores, trucks and trains. We still have the means of production. Thus we still have supply.

We still have hundreds of millions of people that need food, shelter, clothing, transportation, medical care, entertainment and all the normal needs and desires of ordinary life. We still have demand.

We still have our houses, our cars, our appliances, our stuff. We still have wealth.

We have everything we ought to need to have a functioning economy.

We do not, however, have a way for the ruling class to realize a profit on matching supply and demand. We do not have a way of determining to which faction of the ruling class to give what profit we can realize.

For this lack, millions will starve and die — millions more than were already starving and dying when capitalism was going well — and the rest of us will be incredibly impoverished. Meanwhile, members of the ruling class, the ones who have "failed", will have to sell off their second yacht, their seventh home, and perhaps cut the gardening staff. The "winners" will, in material terms (if not financial terms) control an even greater portion of the world's wealth.

Yes, making drastic changes to our political economy will cause tremendous suffering; all drastic changes cause suffering. But we know, because we've seen the suffering that occurs when capitalism is going well (not to mention what will happen now that it's failing) that not making changes will perpetuate even more suffering.

Insanity, it has been said, consists of doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. There is no longer any reasonable hope that capitalism can deliver what it promises: a world free of unnecessary and unreasonable suffering, a world where material wealth is, if not distributed evenly, is at least distributed well enough that no one has to starve amid plenty. It's just not going to happen.

It's time to abandon the problems of capitalism, unsolvable precisely because they are inherent to the system, and try a drastically new set of problems. Maybe we can do better; it doesn't seem possible we could do much worse.

1 comment:

  1. We do not, however, have a way for the ruling class to realize a profit on matching supply and demand.

    We -- don't? This statement confuses me. This is the whole point of running a business, yes?


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