The Evils of Capitalism

US $100 bills - John Guccione / Pexels

I was struggling with a title for this post, about the ways we can repair or replace the flaws of capitalism: extreme poverty, lack of basic necessities of life, lack of appropriate health care, financial insecurity, and constant exploitation, while the exploiters in the top 10% don’t have to worry about very much, except perhaps the hollow emptiness of alienation that they feel from lack of struggle.

Fortunately, today is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. day, so I found the perfect MLK quote to supply the title that I was looking for.

The evils of capitalism are as real as the evils of militarism and evils of racism.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mar. 30, 1967 (via @AminahSheikh on Twitter)

The MLK speech I’m reading today is Honoring Dr Du Bois (1968).

I’ve started reading The Sickness is the System: When Capitalism Fails to Save Us from Pandemics or Itself by Prof. Richard Wolff, who’s a highly intelligent and persuasive speaker on the topic of the evils of capitalism. It’s a system, and it’s sick. Here are a few other books that I’m currently reading, in the hope of being able to assist with healing the sickness of the system in a meaningful way.

There’s a project called CORE which is creating free economics textbooks that are relevant to today’s big challenges. Last year I tried to start reading their first economics textbook, The Economy, but it was a little bit too detailed to hold my interest, especially since I’m not planning to become an economics professor.

Fortunately, CORE has produced a second free ebook, Economy, Society, and Public Policy, which is written as an introductory economics textbook for students from any field of study, so it’s a lot more enjoyable for me to read, and exactly what I was looking for. I just finished unit 1 of 12, and I’m really looking forward to the remaining 11 units, since the book covers every single aspect of economics that I’ve had to grapple with in recent years to try to understand why inequality is increasing, rather than decreasing.

The third book that I’ve started reading to help me understand the state of the world today is Capital and Imperialism: Theory, History, and the Present, by Utsa Patnaik and Prabhat Patnaik. This book is really beneficial for me to learn how the British Empire and other capitalist projects have intentionally exploited the masses in order to prevent the workers from earning a greater share of the profits, or indeed all of the profits, if the economy were allowed to reach a steady state (no growth). So we live in an era of artificial growth that’s designed to keep capitalists from losing their fake wealth.

Into this already unstable situation stepped Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, promising to create new money—fresh, clean, pure, untainted by oligarchs or corrupt government bureaucrats. Of course their new money was parasitically constructed on the back of vast quantities of the old dirty money they claim to hate.

It’s a bizarre scene and I hope that the nightmare will end soon and the financial analysts all make clear that crypto is an evil scheme that’s designed to replicate the evils of capitalism, but without the capital goods or the improved standards of living. All evil, no good.

1 comment

  1. Here are a few more books I found captivating on the subject:
    – Adam Smith: the wealth of nations. Some parts are a bit long, but overall, it’s an interesting read.
    – Marx: the Capital (volume 1): not as easy to read, but tries to create a solid theory around capitalism. The volume 1 is also not very polical. The volume 3 is very different (could well be a different title) and in my opinion, boring as too political.
    – some Milton Friedman book: for example Capitalism and Freedom. More of a nice collection of stories, less profound on the theoretical side. All the arguments of neoliberalism inside.
    – Bernard Lietaer: the future of money. I likes this one because it explains the fundamentals of money. Not so great about the “future” part.

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