Blog Post: UNBRIDLED GLOBAL CAPITALISM IS A POWERFUL SOCIOCENTRIC FORCE IN HUMAN LIFE

Linda Elder
Sep 07, 2020 • 22d ago
UNBRIDLED GLOBAL CAPITALISM IS A POWERFUL SOCIOCENTRIC FORCE IN HUMAN LIFE

{"ops":[{"insert":"Capitalism is the predominant economic force on the planet. Almost all humans and other sentient creatures now experience implications of capitalism. Even countries with socialist governments are intertwined with capitalism. In his book "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"A Theory of Global Capitalism"},{"insert":", William Robinson (2004) argues that we are now living in a new economic system of global capitalism, the theory of which he details:\n \nGlobalization is the underlying structural dynamic that drives social, political, economic, and cultural-ideological processes around the world in the twenty-first century. … Global capitalism has generated new social dependencies around the world. Billions of people who may have been at the margins of the system or entirely outside of it have now been brought squarely within its confines. The maintenance of the system is very much a life-and-death matter for millions, indeed billions, of people who, willingly or otherwise, have developed a stake in it. (p. xv)"},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" \nThough capitalism has its strengths, the many negative implications that result from unrestrained capitalism are largely passed over or played down in today’s mainstream western cultures and beyond. In developed countries, people tend to assume capitalism is the best economic system; those who argue for public ownership and cooperative management of the means of production, through what are frequently stereotyped as “socialist” programs, are often marginalized and even demonized. People in capitalist countries generally fail to see capitalism as one choice among several viable economic systems. Born into capitalistic societies, they tend to uncritically accept capitalistic ideology.\n \nAnd capitalism represents a tremendously powerful sociocentric force in human life today. One problem with capitalism, according to Robinson, is that it naturally expands. “In order to survive, capitalism requires constant access to new sources of cheap labor, land, raw materials … and markets” (p. 3). In his concluding chapter on the contradictions of capitalism, Robinson (2004) points to some of its far-reaching problems:\n \n… as capitalism produces vast amounts of wealth, it also generates … social polarization and crisis … workers produce more goods and services than they are actually able to purchase with their wages … at some point capitalists as a group … are left with more goods and services produced by their workers than they are able to market. … This is the point at which economic recession typically sets in. … The polarization of world income, downward mobility, and declining purchasing power among broad swaths of humanity make it impossible for the world’s majority to consume all the goods being churned out by the global economy … two processes germane to capitalist development have intensified through globalization. One is the secular process by which the spread of capitalism uproots precapitalist classes such as peasantries and converts them into members of the working class. The accelerated incursion of capitalist production into the countryside around the world in the second half of the twentieth century uprooted hundreds of millions of peasants and threw them into the capitalist labor market, often as unemployed or underemployed workers. (pp. 147–149)"},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" \nOne implication of unbridled capitalism is the growing disparity between the rich and the poor, not only in the United States, but across the world. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (June 25, 2010) reports: “The gaps in after-tax income between the richest 1 percent of Americans and the middle and poorest fifths of the country more than tripled between 1979 and 2007. … [T]he new data suggest greater income concentration at the top of the income scale than at any time since 1928.” The United Nations reports that “around the world more than 2.5 billion men, women and children live in grinding poverty on less than $2 a day. Such extreme poverty results in chronic hunger and malnutrition, preventable diseases such as malaria, measles and tuberculosis, environmental degradation, low literacy rates and countless other social, public health, economic and political problems.” According to the United Nations Development Report (1999), “Global inequalities in income and living standards have reached grotesque proportions.” The report goes on to say:\n\nThe richest countries, such as the United States, have 20 percent of the world’s people but 86 percent of its income … 82 percent of its exports and 74 percent of its telephone lines. The 20 percent living in the poorest countries, such as Ethiopia and Laos, have about 1 percent of each. The three richest officers of Microsoft—Bill Gates, Paul Allen and Steve Ballmer—have more assets, nearly $140 billion, than the combined gross national product of the 43 least-developed countries and their 600 million people."},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" \nWhen the market goes too far in dominating social and political outcomes, the opportunities and rewards of globalization spread unequally and inequitably— concentrating power and wealth in a select group of people, nations and corporations, marginalizing the others."},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"The challenge is … to provide enough space for human, community and environmental resources to ensure that globalization works for people, not just for profits."},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"One result of globalization is that the road to wealth—the control of production, patents and technology—is increasingly dominated by a few countries and companies … this monopoly of power is cutting poorer nations off from a share of the economic pie and, often, from decent health care and education."},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" \nApproximately 150 years ago, in a private letter, President Abraham Lincoln (1864) predicted that the wealth of the U.S. would increasingly fall into the hands of a few; in essence, he anticipated the term “überwealthy,” now in almost common use. He could see powerful and unethical forces, emerging through capitalistic thought during his lifetime, and hence predicted what has in fact come true.\n \nI see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country … corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands. … I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even in the midst of war."},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" \nGiven the increasing gap between the rich and poor, and the consequent inordinate power now in the hands of the wealthiest few, Lincoln’s fears, again, have been realized. The question is how can we change what now seems inevitable – the continuing thirst for more things - for more to buy, the growing disparity between those who have too much and those who suffer from not having enough, and the many other continuing problems in unbridled capitalism? Is there a more just, and at the same time feasible, economic system that could be embraced by human societies? What are your recommendations?\n \n \nThis blog is adapted from my newly release book: "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Liberating the Mind"},{"insert":" by Linda Elder (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2019).\n\n"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"References:"},{"insert":"\n \nRobinson, W. (2004). A theory of global capitalism. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins\nUniversity Press.\n \nThe Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (June 25, 2010), taken from the website of the United Nations, "},{"attributes":{"color":"#954f72","link":"http://www.un.org/works/sub2.asp?lang=en&s=17"},"insert":"http://www.un.org/works/sub2.asp?lang=en&s=17"},{"insert":", December 19, 2010.\n \nThe United Nations Human Development Report, found at http://hdr.undp.org/en/reports/global/hdr1999/\n\n \n"}]}


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Posted by: Preston Smith

{"ops":[{"insert":"I wish the quote was real. \n\nwww.snopes.com/fact-check/abraham-lincolns-capitalism-prophecy/\n"}]}