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Let's Just Admit It: Capitalism Doesn't Work


Let's Just Admit It: Capitalism Doesn't Work

John Atcheson

"In the Soviet Union, capitalism triumphed over communism. In this country, capitalism triumphed over democracy."—Fran Lebowitz

To comprehend the scope of corporate consolidation, imagine a day in the life of a typical American and ask: How long does it take for her to interact with a market that isn’t nearly monopolized?


As long as the average working class American buys into the myth of meritocracy, capitalism will reign supreme.

After all, we’re all just a bunch of temporarily strapped future multi-millionaires, right?


So exactly what is Atcheson advocating to replace capitalism? Can’t find his alternative in the article.


This basically sound article continues to imply that “constrained” and “regulated” capitalism can work, despite nearly 500 years of human history proving otherwise. At its “best” regulated/constrained capitalism works for a small portion of the working classes and poor - the vast majority of human beings, but in every case it relies upon imperial rape, robbery and warfare to maintain peace and (limited) prosperity in the “homeland.”

There is absolutely no way that accumulating wealth and power can ever result in positive outcomes for the vast majority of humanity that actually creates wealth. NONE.


Meritocracy? How about meritocrazy!


I agree- perhaps a form of capitalism worked somewhat in the fifties and sixties depending on where people were living , but it has not worked for a long time. The fact that businesses determine policy here in the US seems to separate us from other types of democracies.


Well, I have heard that the economist and professor emeritis Dr. Richard Woolf advocates for a system or coops - perhaps modeled on the mondragon society in a part of Spain.


It worked primarily for white people in the U.S., though African-Americans tasted a bit more of the “American Dream.” And always there was war to feed the economy and distract citizens.


Without population control no system will save us. Of course, we known that for 5-6 decades ( three generations ).
Can we finally catch a clue?


There’s a reason capitalism ‘worked’ for a larger slice of the American population in the three decades after WWII. The world demanded lots of stuff - reconstruction, manufactured goods, agricultural inputs, infrastructure, etc., and U.S. business had little competition for making all that stuff. Besides, in the wake of the New Deal, with strong unions and legislation like the GI Bill that expanded the white middle class, some of those tremendous profits were actually shared with working people.

Those material conditions no longer hold… and probably never will again. This is why economic inequality has been growing, both here and worldwide since the 1970’s.

The tragedy is that many Baby Boomers and Gen Xers think the postwar period was ‘normal’, because that’s the way it was when they grew up. They don’t realize what a historical aberration it was. So (old) people on the right yearn for the good ole’ days of the 50’s. (Old) people on the left yearn for another New Deal. But what is actually achievable on a planet where we’ve surpassed our ecological limits is not either of these mythical pasts - what we need is something new.


I like what Dr. Woolf said about coops . Yes, I remember the days of the fifties and sixties. Why wouldn’t we think it was “normal” if that is the way we grew up- right? If someone is younger then that person will think that greed et al is also normal- sad to say. The Mondragon Society with its coops however is over seventy years old which is amazing in itself, and the US actually has a few coops ( including some in Wisconsin and of course the old saw Ben and Jerrys), but not nearly enough. Also this “privatization” myth that so many people bought into only works for very few at the top . Notice also that politicians rarely if ever talk about people who are living below whatever is considered to be middle class. And also some wealthy people call themselves middle class because of the billionaires next door!


There was a big gap between the Korean War and Viet Nam so those of us who grew up in that period knew about conflicts in different parts of the world but not the US hegemony we have seen over the course of many years. We do seem to have a war based economy however pumped up by Wall Street and the MIC.


Please correct Atcheson’s reporting error on the estimated size of the derivatives market:

It is 1.2 QUADRILLION - not 1.2 trillion. That’s 1000 times bigger than 1.2 trillion.


No mention in the article of war or the military.

My dad often remarked: “It has never been shown that capitalism can work without wars.”

If you’re going to steal everyone else’s labor and resources then a “strong military” (and police force and criminal “justice” system) are required.

From the forced labor camps posing as federal, state and local prisons to the US govt’s never ending wars, capitalism has ravaged the people and the ecosystems of this planet.


Paul, and you, live in delusion. There is no world upon which such an idealized system exists, it has never existed, it will never exist.

It only exists as an imaginary carrot and propaganda tool by which to “justify” the existing horrifically exploitive and destructive system.


Thank you for addressing population control! I have been a supporter of zpg since the 1960s, and now they are called population connection! They are still here. Google them- I did some tabling for them a couple of months ago, and I will do more!


Fetishized chauvinism of capitalism is the economic version of glossolalia - a societal-like activity in the absence of meaning around which dissociative patterns grind mesmerizing ruts.

The magical wiggly fingered manipulations flash bright objects and lights to constantly distract from the fact that you are being manipulated in such a way that the system dominates to suck the life -literally ALL OF YOUR PRODUCTIVE YEARS- out of you and make you cheer it as success.

To sit in solemn silence in a dull, dark dock,
In a pestilential prison, with a life-long lock,
Awaiting the sensation of a short, sharp shock,
From a cheap and chippy chopper on a big black block!
To sit in solemn silence in a dull, dark dock,
In a pestilential prison, with a life-long lock,
Awaiting the sensation of a short, sharp shock,
From a cheap and chippy chopper on a big black block!
A dull, dark dock, a life-long lock,
A short, sharp shock, a big black block!
To sit in solemn silence in a pestilential prison,
And awaiting the sensation
From a cheap and chippy chopper on a big black block!

by W.S. Gilbert of Gilbert and Sullivan from The Mikado


Except for those who have benefitted from it- right? Would I like to see a cooperative system? Sure. Exploding human populations that also rob other species of their rightful spaces are also involved as well as wars. There are people ( especially from the fifties and sixties ) who actually benefitted from capitalism except those people were also either fighting in WW2 or Korea or were part of the families who were waiting for their loved ones to come back. Notice that the tribal people from the US fought in just about every modern day war and yet to this day many live in poverty on sovereign land.



We do have better birth control systems here, but the rethugs are even trying to go backwards there as well, and even through the gag rule suppressing the accessibility of proper birth control and availability of safe abortions if needed. What would YOU suggest as a replacement for capitalism? What we have also here in the US is consumerism. meaning the economy does well if people buy more stuff that at least some of the population does not even need.