At the world Economic Forum, David Cameron called for ‘capitalism with a conscience’ but can capitalism ever have a conscience?
Capitalism is built on a single motive; the motive for profit. The only thing that controls the spiraling greed from driving the world to dust is the market. The market acts as a restrictor of capitalism, basically countering various capitalist forces with other capitalist forces, allowing them to cancel each other out. But capitalism being capitalism, in any meeting of the forces, one force will walk away better off. One person will walk away with a profit, and become stronger as a result. so the world as a whole, through that transaction has taken one more step down the road to monopoly.
The market consists of people, who are capitalists also. They work for the big capitalists and they feed off them trying to gain as much as possible for themselves. They demand ethics, yet they will forget those same ethics and argue against provisioning for them when they are demanded by a different group of people. And it is all decided in the end depending on who has the greater market power.
If the people demanding ethical behavior have more power, then the market will have no option but to provide provision for those ethical concerns. The green revolution is a good example. Plagued by fears of massive tidal waves and ‘destruction to the planet’ more people everyday are demanding firms to be more environmentally ethical or friendly or whatever you like to call it.
But then we have to look at the fact and understand that the underlying fear of global warming is not the destruction of the planet per se, but the destruction of the human race itself. The planets been through shit before, I’m sure it’ll be fine in a few million years after every single human being is wiped out.
So capitalism has catered to the people’s (or the market’s) conscience. We are worried about killing ourselves, and feel guilty about it so we change demand patterns in the market, and manage to slowly restrict the bad influence of the big corporate on the environment. How great is that?
So while capitalism itself having a conscience is quite impossible, because each of us in our capitalist persona do not seem to have an inkling of one (just talk to someone working in CTC of Glaxo) the collective conscience caused by an overriding threat to all of us seems to be able to make some change.
Which, when it comes down to the nitty gritty, tells us that it is not exactly capitalism that drove the world into the worst recession we’ve seen since the 1930’s, its greed and downright unscrupulousness and all of us, as a species, are probably guilty of it. Cos there’s no use blaming Lehman Brother’s if you’re not going to turn down a 2 million dollar bonus working for them.
Some say the 1930’s depression ended with the world war, we hope for something shorter, cheaper and more humane – some economist at Davos