We don't need to destroy capitalism, we need to evolve it. In an enlightened economy, Left and Right will combine their best qualities: sound regulation of corporate excess with the creativity of the business entrepreneur.
After all, what is the alternative? Anarchy? Socialism?
Even in the midst of anarchy, people will need to eat, build shelter, find warmth and fuel. People will make things and trade them. Markets will arise. A means of exchange will develop. And primordial capitalism will start again. If you are an anarchist, or a child of the Left, you may believe that you can't live with capitalism. But you will soon find that you can't live without it.
In fact, as a truly free market regulated by the people's government to prevent corporate monopoly, there is no more egalitarian economy than capitalism, and no more effective way to raise human beings permanently out of poverty.
The other alternative is the gray cloud of the centralized socialist state. Do you really want to live under the hand of a federal bureaucracy which prevents you from freely marketing your skills, selling your craft, or start your own business? Is it healthy to live in a nation where the vast majority of the population forfeits its creativity for dependance on centralized authority? That compromise may tempt us with the promise of security; but in exchange, we sacrifice our spirit, and settle for the mediocrity of the flock. Socialism is just the secular version of a monolithic Church.
Economic freedom means freedom for creativity, and is only possible with a thriving
middle class. We need a government that gives us the freedom to buy, sell and hire, promoting and not depressing the market. The role of government is not to
control the economy, but to regulate corporate power.
The role of government is to break down mega-cartels and monopolies, stimulating the growth of small
business. Ironically, good government keeps free markets
, maintaining a dynamic balance between regulation and capital growth. Consumers rights must be protected: but producers must be free to produce.
Socialism cannot lift workers into the middle
class, because it suppresses the energy of capital growth. What we
need from government is not redistribution of wealth, but redistribution
We need to stimulate people out of poverty by funding entrepreneurs with low-interest seed-loans, promoting jobs
in depressed areas, both rural and urban.
of wealth without the stimulation of markets only results in fiscal entropy: everyone becomes equally
poor. You may end up with a classless society, but it will be a lower class.
This was demonstrated by the now-defunct socialist economies of Eastern Europe. The socialist economies of Western Europe fared better, not because they were socialist, but because they combined socialism with free markets. Yet in Western Europe too, the socialist model now sags under the weight of its cost. Greece, Spain and Italy are collapsing, and France may soon follow. There are even riots in the streets of Sweden.
Capitalism is the only viable solution. But it must evolve into a more conscious capitalism.
What would conscious
capitalism look like? Here are a few elements:
* Invest to Grow Markets
Smart long-term investors invest not just in their own profits, but in new markets. Investment becomes seva
, service to society, when we invest in growing the market instead of growing only our profit. And this ultimately brings greater benefit to the investor. Conscious
investors know that there is no future in profit alone, for profit
soon cannibalizes itself, ruining the environment and making workers too poor to buy
Workers are not mere laborers in the market: they are
the market. When our corporations offer only minimum wage jobs without healthcare and pension benefits, they choke their future to death, since their workers are also their markets. Henry Ford not only wanted workers to make cars, he wanted every worker to own one, and he invented the two-day weekend so that workers would do more driving.
Conscious capitalism sees that workers must share in profits and become prosperous
middle class consumers. Any corporation that widens the
disparity between investor profits and worker wages has no future. Conscious capitalists invest in corporations that are sustainable, both for environment and labor. This is not just doable, it is necessary for our survival.
*Invest in Worker-Owned Corporations
The most sustainable model for business is a company owned by workers, not investors. Follow the example of
the Mondragon Corporation in Spain (http://tiny.cc/yjuz0w). Worker-owned corporations are not socialist, because they are not owned by the government. They are private enterprises owned
and administered by their workers. Investors can still invest in them, but cannot own them.
Replace Mega-Banks & The Federal Reserve with Publicly Franchised Credit Unions
Local credit unions operate within their means, reflecting the wealth and labor of their own bio-regions, without professional speculators or
debt-leveraging schemes that cheat workers out of their savings. These local credit unions can link in a network that draws on mutual resources. They must be publicly franchised: executives will be well-paid public servants, but not post-industrial feudalists. Under this system, receiving a line of credit to start a new business will be a basic human right.
* Replace Competition with Cooperation by Forming Business Collectives
Whether they be
artist/artisan cooperatives, organic farm cooperatives, or
collective grids of local energy producers, we can replace the
intrusion of the mega-corporation into our business with a network of
cooperative local enterprises, where entrepreneurs communicate, share resources, and empower each other through collective action. The small business collective will become the alternative to the corporate cartel.
* Defund the Military Economy: Invest in Peace
Transition to a healthy economy is directly related
to our concern for world peace. However, peace movements will only succeed when they cease acting as mere mouthpieces of protest and become economic movements, investing in new markets.
In a Market Peace Movement, peace-makers will transfer wealth out of the weapons industry into sustainable, green, local production. It is not enough to march in the streets waving "Peace Now" signs. We must educate conscious buyers, who purchase products that sustain the environment and nourish non-violence. We must boycott corporations that contribute to war. People don't really protest with their signs and shouts, they protest with their pocketbooks.
In the 20th century, we evolved from the concept of national
economy to global
economy. Now we must evolve from the global
to the local
. This may sound like devolution, but it is evolution. The local is far more humane, efficient, sustainable, and spiritually nourishing than the global.
Global corporations grew at the expense of local markets, creating a devastating post-industrial corporate feudalism that robbed local workers of dignity and opportunity. Now it is time to replace global corporations with a network of local markets. The world economy will be one grid, one collective, of small businesses. Grass roots.