Capitalism and anti-capitalism

In: Uncategorized

9 Mar 2008

Dolan Cummings of the Institute of Ideas has an astute review essay on the Culture Wars website on contemporary capitalism and anti-capitalism. He argues that:

“That the defence of capitalism takes the form of an apology is nothing new, but the critique made today is very different from that of traditional anti-capitalism. While in the last century the pragmatic case for capitalism was made in opposition to calls for social change, in this case it is the opposite: it is capitalism that threatens to transform society and critics who seek to conserve the status quo, talking in terms of resisting change rather than taking control of it. Rather than debating which changes are or are not desirable, from more convenient shop opening hours to GM food, we are presented with a binary opposition: for or against this single relentless force, variously described as ‘neoliberalism’, ‘globalisation’ or simply ‘capitalism’? Worse, critics rarely expect to prevail anyway: ‘anti-capitalism’ has become a moralistic posture rather than a political challenge. Significantly, this almost-emotional critique has become mainstream only with the passing of the political alternative that once had capitalism on the defensive.”

Cummings touches on similar themes to me in my critique of growth scepticism. Among the authors he cites are Benjamin Barber, Daniel Bell, Frank Furedi, Clive Hamilton, Eva Illouz, Oliver James and Brink Lindsey.

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