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Wed Oct 1, 2014, 11:04 AM

Can Civilization Survive "Really Existing Capitalism"? An Interview With Noam Chomsky


from truthout:



.......(snip).......

Since the late 1970s, most advanced economies have returned to predatory capitalism. As a result, income and wealth inequality have reached spectacular heights, poverty is becoming entrenched, unemployment is skyrocketing and standards of living are declining. In addition, "really existing capitalism" is causing mass environmental damage and destruction which, along with the population explosion, is leading us to an unmitigated global disaster. Can civilization survive really existing capitalism?

First, let me say that what I have in mind by the term "really existing capitalism" is what really exists and what is called "capitalism." The United States is the most important case, for obvious reasons. The term "capitalism" is vague enough to cover many possibilities. It is commonly used to refer to the US economic system, which receives substantial state intervention, ranging from creative innovation to the "too-big-to-fail" government insurance policy for banks, and which is highly monopolized, further limiting market reliance.

It's worth bearing in mind the scale of the departures of "really existing capitalism" from official "free-market capitalism." To mention only a few examples, in the past 20 years, the share of profits of the 200 largest enterprises has risen sharply, carrying forward the oligopolistic character of the US economy. This directly undermines markets, avoiding price wars through efforts at often-meaningless product differentiation through massive advertising, which is itself dedicated to undermining markets in the official sense, based on informed consumers making rational choices. Computers and the internet, along with other basic components of the IT revolution, were largely in the state sector (R&D, subsidy, procurement, and other devices) for decades before they were handed over to private enterprise for adaptation to commercial markets and profit. The government insurance policy, which provides big banks with enormous advantages, has been roughly estimated by economists and the business press to be perhaps on the order of as much as $80 billion a year. However, a recent study by the International Monetary Fund indicates - to quote the business press - that perhaps "the largest US banks aren't really profitable at all," adding that "the billions of dollars they allegedly earn for their shareholders were almost entirely a gift from US taxpayers." This is more evidence to support the judgment of Martin Wolf of the London Financial Times, that "an out-of-control financial sector is eating out the modern market economy from inside, just as the larva of the spider wasp eats out the host in which it has been laid."

In a way, all of this explains the economic devastation produced by contemporary capitalism that you underscore in your question above. Really existing capitalism - RECD for short (pronounced "wrecked" - is radically incompatible with democracy. It seems to me unlikely that civilization can survive really existing capitalism and the sharply attenuated democracy that goes along with it. Could functioning democracy make a difference? Consideration of nonexistent systems can only be speculative, but I think there's some reason to think so. Really existing capitalism is a human creation, and can be changed or replaced. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/news/item/26538-can-civilization-survive-really-existing-capitalism-an-interview-with-noam-chomsky



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