Capitalism is a ticking time bomb. It may suddenly collapse like a house of cards if things continue going as they are. Our fragile economy and our society must evolve if we are to live happily as a global civilization. Now is the time to look at how our world is run. But how do we change a system so ingrained in our way of life? What alternatives are there? Read on to find out why the death of capitalism is inevitable, and how we can rise up as one human family, to create a better system, and a better world.
A capitalist economic system involves the private ownership of assets and business through the use of free markets and trading. These markets evolve through the process of demand and supply leading to our current wealth and distribution of goods and services. Capitalism is unconcerned about equity unless this makes a profit. In the vast majority of scenarios, inequality is essential to encourage innovation and our economic development.
Most of our private businesses are owned by individuals or larger companies. Also, most of the world’s political power and economic freedom flows to the rich who own and control our markets. The owners demand their companies to cut costs so they can maximize efficiency and profit. This is often at the expense of the job security, health and wellbeing of hardworking employees. Companies will go out of business if they fail to keep up with changes or they don’t meet customer demands to create new products and services.
Capitalism has many flaws and problems. These include failing markets, inequality of pay and working conditions, environmental damage, excess materialism, and boom and bust economic cycles. Governments are not obliged to directly provide jobs and during recessions, unemployment can rise to very high levels. This has reached 20% in the time of the Great Depression and will likely reach similar levels in the fallout from COVID-19. Also, our consumer economy is based heavily on the exploitation of natural resources and fossil fuels, and nearly all of our wealth is controlled by the very small elite of super-wealthy greedy people. In short, we will experience worse catastrophes than COVID-19 unless we transform and evolve now.
In the past, there have been only two viable economic options – capitalism and socialism. The main difference between capitalism and socialism is the degree in which a government will intervene in their economy. Karl Marx was a leading pioneer of socialism and he made it look good as a system that is inclusive of everyone working together with the purpose of developing and supporting their society and country.
In the past, socialism has not worked with communism failing in many countries in the 1980s, and even the Nazis employed the ideals of socialism for controlling the people. It is human nature to be greedy and territorial and this desire for control and power infects every system of control and governance we have used so far. Capitalism unchecked consumes and destroys the environment and this causes more friction between people with a nation, and between nations. No one can agree to global cooperation when some nations cannot even afford to feed their populations and others are still at war.
Historians and researchers have proposed many ideas about how ancient civilizations have declined. Their studies have created many explanations of why societies collapse and civilizations die. They have discovered that the abrupt collapse of ancient economies was rare. For example, John Michael Greer has suggested that the disintegration of societies in the past was slow. He says it took about 250 years for each ancient civilization to decline and fall. However, Steven Pinker believes that humanity will continue to progress to more advanced ways of living. He thinks that life is better than ever and will keep improving with new science and technology.
There is more and more evidence that our technological progress is not guaranteed and it would be naïve to assume so. The industrial and technological revolutions form the foundation for our quality of life and global economic growth. We have despoiled our natural world globally for the sake of progress fueled by our lust for profit, power, and control. The progress of the past was at the expense of the future and now the future is upon us.
Modern civilization is global and human, not Roman or Mayan. Pre-industrial civilizations depleted their topsoil, felled their forests, and polluted their rivers. Their harm was temporary and geographically limited. Once market incentives harnessed the colossal power of fossil fuels to exploit nature, the damage became global. Human beings are the most invasive species ever known and we are often compared to a virus in the way we spread and consume the world. Human beings form only 0.01 percent of the planet’s biomass yet our domesticated crops and livestock dominate life on Earth.
In the last two centuries, the surplus energy supplied by fossil fuels has generated exceptional growth and enormous profits. Our modern civilization is the only one known to be powered by coal, oil, and natural gas which are rapidly running out. Exploiting fossil fuels invites our industrial civilization to enter a short cycle of unprecedented boom and drastic bust. The elite who own and control them don’t care about the rest of the planet. They also hold the patents for many of the alternatives and have the resources to buy out the competition or put them out of business.
Capitalism is unlikely to disappear when boom turns to bust. Starved of energy, capitalism will become catabolic and consume itself. It is feared that capitalism will consume the social assets it had previously created to keep itself going. Warfare, scarcity, ecological disasters, hoarding of resources, and pandemic diseases will become big profit makers. Capital will flow toward lucrative ventures including cybercrime, financial fraud, predatory lending, slavery, and organized crime.
Our civilization’s collapse will likely be abrupt and bitter as our capacity to confront the mounting crises is crippled by a fragmented political system. This is reflected by antagonistic nations who are ruled by corrupt elites who care more about their power and wealth than people and the planet. We are living precariously in a perfect storm of converging global calamities. These rapidly erode the foundations of modern life and include climate change, extreme inequality, food and freshwater scarcity, poverty, and the rise of global pandemics like COVID-19.
It is very important that we adopt the core principles of integrity, freedom, and equality before economic gain and power in each and every country in the world. We need a global revolution in the way the world is run, each country is run, and how you run your daily life. Otherwise, hostile rulers will fan the flames of nationalism and go to war over scarce resources. Remember World War II? We don’t want that again at any cost. Modern warfare is devastating, destructive, and toxic. Little would remain in its aftermath. Then it will be game over for human civilization.
For our society to flourish in the future, we will need to provide an optimum balance of social and economic outcomes. A social infrastructure with micro-economies based on the core principles would stand a much better chance of bringing in a more stable future where people and the environment come before profits, status, and economic power. This is an approach known as a social democracy where people are put before profit. Within this framework are markets that provide goods and services for an awakened, conscious, and environmentally clean society.
The challenges are monumental as we question why we are alive on Earth today. Our responses to the collapse of industrial civilization will determine what will replace it. We must put the survival of our species and our planet first. Otherwise, we will become divided culturally, racially, nationally, locally, and religiously. We can overcome our denial and despair and collectively kick our addiction to consumerism. This is achieved by working together as a society and accepting a simpler more sustainable way of life. To heal the world we will need genuine democracy, renewable energy, and a restructuring of our communities.
To safeguard our future we must act now and build a long-lasting foundation for a new society. To do this we must work together at local, national, and global spheres with micro-economies and a strong sense of community. We also need simple laws and rules of conduct based on 100% integrity, conscious education for all, and everyone included in voting and key decisions based on integrity, trust, and sustainability.
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