Why Save Capitalism?

The oft-prophesied collapse of capitalism is looming over our world’s daily supply of goods. The global economic system is on the ropes and must not be allowed to fail. So proclaims government, financial marketeers, tottering czars of industry, media mandarins, and just about everybody else who can pay to be heard. But since their efforts to avert failure have so far inspired little confidence, some attention might be given to Plan B. After all, despite its arcane procedures, capitalism is really just an accounting system, a way of ensuring that the world’s work gets done and that those who do it are properly compensated.

Now I’m not stupid enough to forget that capitalism is also a system that has allowed a substantial though relatively small group of human beings to amass titanic wealth and, so to speak, to capitalize on that wealth by exercising transformative power over the whole planet and everyone on it. If they were all wise and benevolent, that might be a satisfactory arrangement; they aren’t, and it isn’t. So any discussion of how human history (let alone human well-being) might continue after the demise of capitalism must get a good fix on the roots of greed and why it has persisted despite the abundant evidence of its perversity.