Home Economics Capitalism Doesn't Have To Do Something, Capitalism Just Is

Capitalism Doesn’t Have To Do Something, Capitalism Just Is

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As is normal when anything at all happens this is being taken as proof that capitalism must change. Inequality is rising – it isn’t, but – therefore capitalism must change. Gender inequality exists therefore capitalism must change. The Sun rose this morning therefore capitalism must change. We can see the logic here, capitalism must change and any occurrence is a decent enough excuse to trot out the mantra.

That gender inequality – in terms of cash income derived from labour – is a product of different propensities to childcare in a sexually dimorphic species, not a result of any form of economic organisation, matters not. That inequality is falling globally matters not either. The world turning is also not something subject to variance dependent upon the private ownership of property. But, you know capitalism must change:

Capitalism must adapt and evolve if we are to end this crisis

The real mistake here is to have absorbed into the basic worldview this idea that capitalism is a thing, a system, something that is either managed or directed. It ain’t. Sure, Marx – and thus all too many others – insisted that it was this rock ribbed structure that must be endured until it succeeded. That actually was what Marx said at least, that true communism would emerge once capitalism had solved the problem of economic scarcity. Others have often enough not grasped that and tried to insist that it is something to be resisted right now.

But this mistake is evident in this insistence, ever, that “capitalism” must do this thing or other. Or we must do this thing or other to “capitalism”. It’s simply not a system nor a thing that can have anything done to it.

It’s entirely possible to argue – and I would too, I might just differ how and whom – that some people should do things differently. But this idea that capitalism should or even can fails at the very first fence, simply because there’s no there there that can be directed.

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  1. Capitalism, as I understand it, is a system whereby everything is owned by someone. Hence everything can be used by that someone, destroyed by that someone, given away by that someone, exchanged by that someone for whatever that someone will accept.
    The alternative is communal ownership. The commune, usually identified with the state, owns everything and the individual is allocated stuff according to his needs.
    So how many anti-capitalists believe that their underwear is communally owned, and hence up for reallocation?
    In common parlance a capitalist is someone who owns a lot. But if the poor wish to hang on to their underwear they need to embrace capitalism.

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