Here's Why Capitalism Has NOT Failed
[Editor's Note: On August 21, 2001, Alternet ran a piece entitled "5 Reasons Capitalism Has Failed," by The Smirking Chimp's Bob Burnett. Below is a reader's response.]
Cosmopolitan Magazine may be able to get away with running the same diet articles issue after issue, with only the author, headline and gimmick changed. Alternet should not imitate them by printing the same “ Evils of Global Capitalism” articles issue after issue, and merely changing the author and headline. Moreover, even though Burnett’s article is right on the facts, it is howlingly wrong in its conclusions.
FIRST, global capitalism has not failed: it is a great success for the 1/10th of 1 percent of the globe who designed, operate, and profit from the system.
SECOND, Those who have the power to change the system are the very same ones who benefit from not changing it. Therefore, it is dispiriting to see that the author (and evidently Alternet) has internalized the ludicrous belief that -- by yet again pointing out the obvious -- the Powers That Be will gratefully exclaim, "Oh, Wow! Thanks for letting us know, fellas. Now that we see the problem, we'll change our ways ASAP."
THIRD, contrary to the author’s belief, the markets are self-correcting -- only not self-correcting in the way that Milton-Friedman/Chicago School graduates would have us believe. When a dot-com or real estate bubble over-inflates, it will eventually pop, shredding the economic security of millions of ordinary people -- self correction! When population outruns food supply, the excess population will starve and die until a new balance is reached -- self correction! When workers in foreign countries are forced to work for pennies because their rulers have been cowed by Western bombs or corrupted by corporate payoffs, jobs and factories quickly flow to the country with lower wages, leaving millions jobless and destitute -- self correction!
So it is not that the markets fail to self-correct, it is that the majority of the world's population does not like the corrections. But those who own the global economy like the corrections just fine, and will not change them -- or allow them to be changed -- no matter how many dead-on, but deadly-obvious, articles are printed by progressive media like Alternet or The Nation. The under-fed and over-taxed peasants of pre-revolutionary Russia used to comfort themselves with the self-delusory thought that, "If only the Tsar knew, he would change this.” Well, the Tsar did know, and he was no more predisposed to change the system that supported his lifestyle than are our current Tsars.
Therefore, to wring one’s hands and moan, “If only Obama knew … if only Bernanke knew … if only Geithner knew” is not a path to change. They know! And they approve.
That’s why things are getting worse. Personally, I don't see any other solution but revolution -- hopefully a peaceful one, but more likely not. For it is obvious from history that the “haves” will not share with, let alone turn over what they have, to those who have not.
The Unites States -- the preeminent global capitalist country -- is still (so far) a democracy, at least in theory. But it is not a functioning one. The polls indicate that as many as 60%-80% of the voters oppose the policies and practices of our elected representatives. But those elected representatives ignore the voters and continue on the same course. So clearly they are no longer afraid of the voters. Instead, they are afraid of the corporate interests that paid to elect them, and will pay to defeat them in the next election if they fail to follow orders.
Until those who suffer under the present system actually take hold of the levers of change – instead of merely writing about the need for change – nothing will change. Unfortunately, the only ones mad enough to do that, so far, have been those who self-identify as members of the Tea Party – which is not even a party. Sadly, the primary glue that holds the Tea Party adherents together is resentment. Resentment at being – there is no other word for it – screwed. And although their resentment is justified, it is unfocused. That means their allegiance is up for grabs by the first credible Man on a Horse that promises to redress their grievances by empowering their resentment. As Hitler did so well.
When that happens, it will happen worldwide. So even moving to Canada will no longer be an option. Until then, despite my negative comments about the Bob Burnett article above, Alternet is still the best website of its kind on the internet. As Woody Allen once remarked about sex: “Even when it’s bad, it’s still better than everything else.”