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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

after capitalism? « Previous | |Next »
April 19, 2009

Geoff Mulgan in After Capitalism in Prospect asks if one dream is over, what other dreams wait in the shadows? Will capitalism adapt? Or should we be asking again one of the great questions which has animated political life for nearly two centuries: what might come after capitalism? Mulgan responds by saying that:

I do not suggest that capitalism will disappear any more than war has. Complex, interconnected market economies will continue to generate huge surpluses, fuelled by the continuing flow of new scientific knowledge. But just as monarchy moved from centre stage to become more peripheral, so capitalism will no longer dominate society and culture as much as it does today. Capitalism may, in short, become a servant rather than a master, and the slump will accelerate this change. Past depressions were cruel but they also hurled ideas from the margins up into the mainstream, speeding their motion through the three stages that Schopenhauer described happening to all new truths, being first ridiculed, then violently opposed, then treated as self-evident.

He says that it’s only through crisis and institutional reform that capitalism adapts to a changing environment and rediscovers the moral compass that is so vital for markets to work well. He adds that the there are various indications of the transformation of capitalsim. The first is that the new technologies—from high speed networks to new energy systems, low carbon factories to open source software and genetic medicine—have a connecting theme: each potentially remakes capitalism more clearly as a servant rather than a master, whether in the world of money, work, everyday life or the state.

Other indications of transformation are less consumption, greater accommodation between work and family, and states being pulled back into much more active roles as the global recession bites. zMulgam offers a civilizing capitlalism perspective:

The result is that a large political space is opening up. In the short run it is being filled with anger, fear and confusion. In the longer run it may be filled with a new vision of capitalism, and its relationship to both society and ecology, a vision that will be clearer about what we want to grow and what we don’t. Democracies have in the past repeatedly tamed, guided and revived capitalism.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 7:59 PM |