Tuesday, 17 March 2009
the problem with capitalism
I have just been listening to a very good talk by Peter Schiff where he concludes by saying that the dollar will soon collapse in value, and then it will be the Chinese who are buying cars, and the Americans who are riding bicycles!
I have been guilty before of blaming the current financial and economic meltdowns on the actions and excesses of capitalism, but really this is not an accurate picture. True free-market capitalism would not have created the current mess - it is the result, not of free markets, but of interference in those markets. The housing bubble was created by artificial lowering of interest rates in the wake of the dot com bubble burst, and was also encouraged by tax policies that favor buying against renting. In the US, things were made far worse by the government guaranteeing mortgages, first implicitly, and now explicitly, through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. And the results of the bursting housing bubble are now being expanded and exacerbated enormously by giant government bailouts. Such market manipulations are entirely against the spirit of free market capitalism. Unfettered free market capitalism would have allowed the bankrupt institutions to fail, driving the bad debts out of the system. Those who had made bad decisions would have suffered the consequences of their own actions. In fact, if interest rates had been set by free market forces, there would not have been such a giant asset bubble in the first place.
However, capitalism is old paradigm, being based on competition, power, and rigid hierarchical structures of command. In a capitalist system the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. The vices of greed, selfishness, and lust for material possessions, produce an advantage in capitalism - in general terms, the more voracious you are, then the more rich and powerful you will become. The greedy take control of everything, and most people become pawns in their power games.
What we are witnessing now with the US is the end game of capitalism - the decadent phase, whereby the US (and the west in general) have become like very spoilt children, accustomed to indulging every perverse whim, and growing fat and inert and inept on the backs of Chinese and Indian workers. The developing world toils and sweats, and the developed world consumes the spoils. We are now too fat and lazy to do anything much ourselves, other than play increasingly twisted tricks on our eastern worker slaves, as we persuade them to lend us all their money so we can keep buying their goods. We have no means to pay back these loans, and finally the Chinese are starting to realise this - in future they will sell their goods to their own people, and in so doing they will progress from being our slaves to enjoying the fruits of capitalism for themselves. In theory. In practice, there is unlikely to be a functional capitalist system remaining after it hits the concrete wall of global financial collapse, and even if there is, it will then run immediately aground in the sand trap of scarce resources.
The end result of world-wide capitalism, if it were allowed to reign unfettered by governments, would still be the raping of planet earth - the destruction of the forests, the killing of the soil, the poisoning of the oceans, the depletion of mineral resources, the cheapening of culture, and the subjugation of spirituality by material values.
The problem with capitalism is not the freedom or otherwise of the markets, but rather it is a problem equally inherent in communism and socialism - the lack of virtue in humanity itself. It is corruption, now more endemic than ever in the human race, that dooms us to suffering and self imposed misery. If we all looked out for each other, instead of looking out for ourselves, and if we all understood that, as spiritual beings, we are all one, then we would all understand the value of virtue. If I hurt my fellow man in order to help myself, then in fact I hurt myself also. If we, as a race, are not honest and caring and loving and giving, then we suffer, and we destroy, ultimately, everything we touch. This is the big lesson for us in the current destruction of our old "civilization". We have brought it on ourselves through false values. We have been like a plague of locusts, intent only on feeding ourselves right now, at the expense of having any food left for tomorrow.
I have said before that capitalism has eaten itself. And I will say it again in future, I am sure. But it is not actually capitalism that has done the eating. We did the eating ourselves, and it is our lack of humanity which has led us to embrace such a system. We lost sight of what we are - divine beings incarnated in human bodies, playing games in paradise, at one with the loving embrace of mother nature - and instead we have come to define ourselves in terms of physical appearances and material possessions, driven by fear and selfishness, greed and lust, and desperate to "get ahead" of our neighbors.
We should not blame capitalism, and we should not blame our governments, and we should not blame our neighbors, or our fellow citizens in other countries. Instead, we should take full responsibility ourselves, each and every one of us, for the hell that we have created from the paradise that we were given. We have destroyed our garden, and we must rebuild it according to a better methodology, or else we perish.