Taken and edited from ‘Is Evolution the only Threat to Capitalism?’ By Rip William
“This is not about the politics of left or right, it’s about common-sense prevailing over greed, selfishness and ignorance. The current system will never deliver a world freed from poverty, a place where everyone has the right to the benefits of a civilised society, where concern for the planet is not compromised, and all those we share it with are given the respect they deserve. It’s important to also appreciate our world is wealthy enough for all of us to enjoy a high standard of living with the freedom to express our individuality. It only needs a change of attitude, a reassessment of our values for this to happen.”
The twentieth century saw capitalism establish itself as the principal tool used by governments to manage the economy, and today ‘liberal democratic capitalism’ is considered by most people as the only viable way to create and distribute wealth. Marx and Engels are no doubt rolling about in their graves at the abysmal reputation Socialism has, thanks to the former USSR, China, and sadly, Cuba. Capitalism is, however, more than simply an economic instrument, it has a significant influence on the way we choose to live. To many people it’s the root of all evil, responsible for the incredible imbalance between rich and poor, encouraging corruption and nepotism, fostering the greed and avarice that’s destroying not only the environment but the planet itself. The softer view is that capitalism is providing incentives for people to better their lot, and is slowly paving the way to utopia. After all, over the last hundred years hasn’t it been responsible for a significant rise in the living standards of millions of people?
If capitalism is to remain the driving force of the economy – which, given the lack of alternatives seems the only option – there is little doubt that we we need to improve on the accompanying principles associated with it. For example capitalism’s need to create continual ‘growth’ for sustained prosperity drives unnecessary consumerism, encourages business to put vested interests ahead of the common good, and ruthlessly exploits the world’s resources. It’s also worth noting continued sustainable growth is proving elusive in first world nations, and living standards, in most circumstances, are falling as a result. A range of environmental issues further compounds the problem, including climate change denial. However, of even greater importance is capitalism’s attitude to the accumulation and distribution of wealth. While incremental changes over time, mostly a result of union pressure, have ensured the benefits derived from private enterprise have had greater social benefits than would otherwise have been the case, a more creative response is required to meet the challenges of the future.
The question is – can we evolve?
As a society we’ve put many obstacles in the way of tackling the worst aspects of capitalism. None, however, is more damning than the fact the vast majority of people living in the relative comfort of the middle-class, or a more privileged life beyond that, have become overwhelmingly desensitised to these shortcomings, and, instead, more attracted to the promise of glamour and prestige private enterprise promotes as the reward to those with huge wealth. Yet ask almost anyone today if we should be doing more to make the world a fairer place and you will find the answer is an emphatic ‘yes.’ So, can we change our thinking so wealth is distributed in a way that allows everyone the world over the opportunity to enjoy a high quality lifestyle?
Asking people to forego enormous wealth voluntarily, and watch it distributed in a fashion which may seem to many of them as undeserving, is not going to be an easy thing to achieve. However, unless this happens the current system will never deliver a world free from poverty, a place where everyone has the right to the benefits of a civilised society, where concern for the planet is not compromised, and all those we share it with are given the respect they deserve. You can’t have it both ways, one extraordinary life requires thousands of extraordinary sacrifices by others. Enormous wealth is simply greed! It’s important to also appreciate our world is wealthy enough for all of us to have a high standard of living with the freedom to express our individuality. It only needs a change of attitude, a reassessment of our values for this to happen.
It is in the above linked documents that we explain how we see some of the worst aspects of capitalism evolving for the better. Without going into them here, let us simply say why The Evolutionary Party believes that society will at some point adopt these changes – common-sense. Rational thought has, by and large, over the centuries won out. Looking back on the past fifty or so years we have seen the world progress on civil rights for minorities, feminism, animal welfare, and environmental issues. Good work that needs to continue, brought about predominantly by individuals prepared to unite for a worthwhile cause and help persuade the majority of people to accept these new standards of behaviour. History is littered with unsung heroes, and over time more and more people will make selfless sacrifices in the hope of creating a fairer, safer, more tolerant, and ecologically sound world, pushing the human race up the evolutionary ladder.
Evolution, unfortunately, is a slow process, even slower than conservatives trickle-down economics, and so it’s unlikely the vast majority of people alive today are going to witness substantial change in how capitalism operates, and it may even be the case conservatives take us backwards before common-sense finally prevails. But if things are so bad, why wait? Shouldn’t progressives take up arms? No! Change can’t be unilaterally forced on people; bloody revolutions replace one bad regime with another. Progress is a gradual development, so we must wait until society as a whole embraces the need for a philosophical overhaul of the structures that bond us together. Bringing about a world where living without material comforts, for example, becomes a choice and not a trap will require, as stated before, a paradigm shift in attitudes.
In conclusion, let’s note the fact that in reality our current economic system, democratic capitalism, has only been around for a short time. We’re still getting to know it, and starting to appreciate the fact it’s got serious problems. By confronting these shortcomings and promoting new ideas for tackling them, solutions will emerge. If you look at sport in its infancy it was pretty much all about humans killing one another, but over time it has evolved, for the most part, into an entertaining and socially responsible pastime, so why not capitalism…?
Change the way we think and we can change the way we live!
The Evolutionary Party is an Incorporated Association in Victoria Australia.