Yes, Capitalism is Still Progressive

Yes, I know that, as a Marxist, I’m not supposed to have anything good to say about capitalism, or so they tell me anyway. Although I spend much time criticizing capitalism and predicting its eventual destruction, I think it worth taking a moment here to briefly appreciate the good that it’s doing in the world. That’s right, capitalism is doing good by the world! (Okay maybe not by the planet, but by the human population I mean.)

I’ve spoken to the point that capitalism is NOT yet historically outmoded at length before and don’t intend to repeat my earlier arguments on that, but let me point out a couple of other things though that help reinforce the points I made there:

Point One: Since the Cold War, capitalism (an in particular the advent free trade and mass migration, a.k.a. globalization) has been shrinking the global wealth gap overall. What’s basically happening is that both the First World and the Third World are slowly disappearing in favor of the emergence of what we might call a global Second World; a situation wherein the vast majority of people live under the kinds of working class conditions that prevail today in southern and eastern Europe, while a caste of corporate aristocrats sits light years above the rest of the world in terms of social and economic well-being. This is generally similar to Marx’s prediction of where capitalism would lead, but with one important difference: that this new working class status actually constitutes an improved standard of living for most of the world’s population, where Marx believed that it represented a deterioration in living standards (as in simply the elimination of the property that the peasants owned). The protracted liquidation of the middle class that, in any meaningful sense anyway, exists only in First World countries definitely will result in declining living standards in those bourgeois nations though.

Point Two: Since the Cold War, the global poverty rate has also been shrinking at the fastest pace in history. In fact, acute poverty (as in the kind where people starve) could realistically be wiped off the face of the Earth in 20 years time. In other words, conditions for the world’s poorest people aren’t just improving subjectively (as in relative to the conditions of middle class First World populations), but objectively as well.

What does it all mean? It means there are indeed worse things than capitalism. Like the neo-feudalism that so many of the more reactionary jihadist groups out there (e.g. Al Qaeda, ISIS) represent. It also goes to further show that capitalism continues to play a mainly positive role in the unfolding of human history and thus that communism is not yet on the historical agenda. One can sense that this positive role will eventually be exhausted. Eventually we will, after all, have the aforementioned universal Second World and a superior, more productive alternative to the profit system that will prevail. (Here’s some further explanation as to WHY it will prevail.) And, as highlighted in these links, the Internet itself will be the communist government of the future. The Internet itself will be the global hub of economic planning and public policy formation. This right here that you’re using right now is the embryo of the future society within the existing one. But for right now, with the information revolution still in its youth, the objective of communists should be the reforming of capitalism, not yet the abolition of capitalism as such, I am convinced.

One thought on “Yes, Capitalism is Still Progressive

  1. Evolution is the course of all things. Capitalism included. I believe as you do that Capitalism has had a positive impact on the world’s population, generally speaking. But i also think (and hope) that capitalism as we see it today will evolve, (morph is a better word), into a system more beneficial and equitable to everyone.

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