Sample Economics Paper on Facing Capitalism

There are increased variations to the history of capitalism with different people and groups engaging in consistent deliberations about its roots. However, most scholars believe that the fully-fledged capitalism emerged from Northwestern Europe, particularly the Netherlands and Great Britain, and in the 17th century. Primarily, merchants acted as the link between the customer and the producer/manufacturer. However, the subsequent gradual developments included them dominating the producers through the placement of orders and payment in advance, then supplying the raw materials and paying for the labor involved in the production of goods[1]. These developments characterized the nature of capitalism as the following centuries would see a prevalence in a new range of methods and variety of scales attributed to capital accumulation. Today, the culture of capitalism is associated with the concentration of wealth and economic power and it has become the dominant economic system throughout the world. Unfortunately, its dominance does not reflect its reception, especially in the contemporary world. Even though it has been the key economic framework for a long period, there exists substantial opposition towards its core principles and philosophies. Capitalism has influenced a culture that promotes the accumulation of capital and the sale of commodities with the individuals involved all defined by their association to the business and the market[2]. Therefore, capitalist culture comprises of people who do not only conduct themselves based on a predefined set of learned rules but also believe their actions are imperative for survival[3]. Typically, the mindset of business and corporate culture, consumerism, and working class as influenced by capitalism raises significant issues. Resolutely, given the core principles and philosophies of capitalism and the resultant culture, an exploration of why it invokes an endemic of rebellion and protest and how it deals with the problems it causes provides substantial insight that can be utilized in better addressing any complexities associated with it.

Culture of Capitalism

In the 1970s, there was global rise in liberal market capitalism with its ideology of neo-liberalism meant to be a rejoinder to the crisis of profitability prevalent then.  Given the nature of customary capitalism, the primary objective of the new hegemony was restructuring national economies and communities to reduce the influence of labor while simultaneously optimizing capital accumulation[4]. These developments were imperative given their contribution to new powers of production, influenced by new information, and communication innovations and technologies that characterized contemporary class relations and cultures. Since the start of the 21st century, capitalism has proved to the prevalent economic framework on the international level. Notably, in 1991, the collapse of the Soviet bloc resulted in the reduction of socialism’s influence, particularly as the primary alternative economic system. Even though socialism is still predominant in some parts of the world, capitalism remains predominant[5]. It is at the epicenter of influencing how class is restructured at the national and global level and the emerging social forces of political change. In a world influenced by globalization, capitalism has become extensive as an element utilized by political organization to influence change.

Even so, an analysis of the contemporary culture of capitalism, the means of capital accumulation, and their influence on people and society provides a clearer understanding of what it represents. According to Robbins, the culture of capitalism existent today alludes to an economic framework where nation’s trade, markets, and profits are all controlled by private companies[6]. The subject practices and processes take place at the expense of the people that invest increased resources such as time and labor into these organizations. Most of the world leading countries such as the United States are capitalist countries even though there are other economic systems. Still, the culture of capitalism is characterized by a formulation of economic activity into an intertwined core and periphery. For instance, in countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom, wealth production in their core economies was mostly dominated by the financial services industry[7]. However, recent changes have seen industries such as the knowledge, service, and cultural sectors being driven by new technologies and innovations into ascendency. They have shaped the economic future given the new approaches to production and consumption; most of which have been incorporated into the customary segments of the economy. Notably, since the 1900s, the conception of a knowledge economy has been at the center of new economic strategies with skills and innovation applying in the generation of a force of independent autonomous entrepreneurs instead of the reliant employees[8]. However, due to the extensive and complex nature of capitalism, the education and supple labor market have mostly augmented class inequality. The outcome has mostly involved a re-organization of the class and social relations of production.

Causes for the Rebellion and Protest Endemic

Today, a capitalist state is subjected to progressive marketization as the foundation for facilitating new forms of capital accumulation, which is influences the rebellion and protest endemic faced by the widespread culture. Moreover, the markets and corporate profit-making is extended into the public sector and non-market social realms of life[9]. The culture of capitalism existent today limits its capacity for global expansion but remains at the core of economies for ‘inward’ expansion into the psyche and emotional life of people who are not benefiting. The participation of the larger percentage of people is principally limited to the exploitation of their human potential. Rutherford elaborates that capitalism has formulated forms of communicative labor that acts as conveyers of information, care, symbolic meaning, and learning. Honesty to sentiments and the ability to feel are exploited as economic functions[10]. Capitalism’s grip on the social functions of society instigates increased protest, especially since they are primarily used for commercial purposes.

Still, capitalism faces increased opposition since modern societies have selected its institute of production. The prevalent culture of capitalism is based on a system where private owners formulate enterprises and chose their directors who make decisions concerning everything about production and how to utilize the net revenues acquire from the sale of the product/output. The small percentage of persons make these economic decisions for everyone else, that is, the majority of the people who invest the most, particularly the actual productive work[11]. Moreover, the majority are expected to be content and live with the outcomes of all the clerical decisions made by the key shareholders and the select boards of directors who also select the replacements. Therefore, capitalism involves and replicates an exceedingly undemocratic culture of production in corporations, which poses increased environmental problems. Movahed notes that the world is finite with limited ecological and natural resources and as the production increases so does the depletion and exploitation of these resources[12]. On the other hand, the increased production also projects increased problems to the environment through the processes and practices involving manufacturing progressions and disposal of waste. Unfortunately, the supporters of capitalism overlook these aspects by persisting that no replacements to such corporations of production exist or would operate as well as they do, especially on matters of output, efficiency, and labor processes[13]. However, mutineers and protestors maintain that the falsity of the subject claim is apparent, especially given evidence from recent developments in countries focused on fighting capitalism.

How Capitalism Deals with its Problems

Most of the solutions used by capitalism to address the apparent problems are based on a fixation on production. Movahed notes that the production process of capitalism expands past output to enlisting culture, knowledge, and personal affect. The promotional culture is used in rallying thinking, imagination, and sensibility as corporations continue with their attempts to acquire customer loyalty[14]. Still, capitalism is an economic system that has always been known to seek intimacy through using the market to create relational cultures where consumers are recruited as co-producers of predefined cultural meaning. Even in the midst of rebellion and protest, capitalism creates social relations in an effort to implant commercial transactions in personal and daily life. These strategies focused on the industrial modernity of class and the manufacturers have given way to a more individualized society where the needs and stature of the consumer are used to foil the problems attributed to capitalism[15]. Today, employees and other non-management level stakeholders have been made to believe that their participation in the production and profit-making processes is key to addressing consumer needs and acquiring their loyalty.

In addition to production, capitalism is fixated on profit-maximization as the foundation for addressing the gaps instigated by its collective economic framework. The profit-maximization motif of capitalism is prioritized as sufficient incentive for entrepreneurs to augment productivity on large scale[16]. Even though some companies have publicly voiced their intentions to ditch shareholder-first capitalism, they continue to enable economic agents that allocate resources in ways that continue to facilitate growth and dynamism. Similarly, as a response to the adverse economic impacts of capitalism, companies such as Amazon have set goals to reduce their carbon footprint[17]. However, such resolutions and goals have been prevalent for a long time but the culture of capitalism influences a competitive force that compels even these leading organizations to continue with production and profit maximization. For instance, over the years, firms have found it more lucid to invest in cost-cutting technologies that allow them to address pressures from competition and the collective marketplace[18]. Typically, even when setting stringent social and environmental goals, companies still find their way back to the virtuous cycle of efficiency, productivity, and optimized profit.

Resolutely, even with the efforts and willingness to counter the problems associated with capitalism, companies can not overlook that its system needs consistent growth of production. The endless process is necessary not only for stability but also in raising the standards of living and producing jobs for a young and growing global population. Unfortunately, the production itself is dependent on consumption and its insufficiency would mean limited demand and the subsequent outcome of a paralyzed production cycle. Movahed elaborates that consumption is the other side of the production coin thus making it imperative to the production cycle[19]. However, even though capitalism fuels remarkable productivity rates, it will always favor productivity towards increased consumption to avoid the result of the manufacture process being impeded[20]. Consequently, consumerism is not a cultural phenomenon but a core tenet of a capitalist world. Therefore, when consumption is high, production will always be high and the main problems attributed to capitalism will continue to persist.

Dealing with Capitalism and its Core Issues

Unlike popular opinion, the capitalist problems can be addressed without jeopardizing the imperative corporate aspects attributed to economic development and sustainability. As indicated from the assessment, intentions are not sufficient to influence the required systematic change. Primarily, the state could be at the forefront of solving these issues by introducing a contemporary system based on a cohesive and holistic approach to production and corporate decision-making[21]. Notably, the larger part of problems resulting from capitalism are influenced by a system that designates all the power to a specific group leaving those that invest more time and labor at a disadvantage. Consequently, the introduction of a balanced system where the workers are equally active and compensated fairly for their efforts would solve the disparities[22]. For instance, Wolff affirms that such an approach would be effective as indicated by evidence from the Mondragon Corporation in Spain. During an annual general assembly, the workers make significant decisions such as choosing and employing a managing director[23]. They retain the power to decide on all the basic elements of the enterprise, for instance, all factors concerning the production process and how the profits are spent. A similar approach can be enforced through the formulation and implementation of stringent laws by the state or other governing bodies that have substantial power over the proceedings of an economy[24]. It would form a foundation for addressing issues such as pay equity rules and job security while simultaneously facilitating partnerships with education institutions to address workforce matters. Notably, the security-focused system could transform the lives of workers, their families, communities, and society altogether.

On the other hand, for environmental and some production-related issues, a non-market approach could prove instrumental where social forces are utilized to influence positive change. The prevalence of technology and innovations that facilitate anomalous outreach provides a foundation where disruptive movements by environmental activists could be utilized in the demand for stringent regulations[25][26]. Since most firms and corporations have indicated their interest in changing their production processes for better environmental outcomes, a disruptive movement could compel the state to impose regulations on corporations with regular inspection enforced through law. However, even the social forces’ approach requires the state and federal governments to be at the forefront. Efforts by disruptive movements in the past have been futile due to pressure from capitalist corporations and lack of support from the government. Therefore, the subject non-market intervention demands increased efforts through massive public demonstrations to pressure both the government and firms. Additionally, cooperation at the international level could also fuel the pressure and act as an effective abatement[27]. However, based on past evidence, substantial international cooperation has always proven to be a challenge given the extensive nature of capitalism around the world. Resolutely, a combination of these approaches could form the required foundation to address capitalism and the problems instigated by its culture.

 

 

Bibliography

Galbraith, James, K. “Rebuilding the Economy Will Require Job Biden to Think Very Different than 2009.” The Intercept, Sep 1, 2020, https://theintercept.com/2020/09/01/biden-economic-policy-us-economy/

Movahed, Masoud. “Does capitalism have to be bad for the environment?” World Economic Forum, Feb 15, 2016, https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/02/does-capitalism-have-to-be-bad-for-the-environment/

Robbins, Richard H. “GLOBAL PROBLEMS AND THE CULTURE OF CAPITALISM, 3/e.” (2005).

Rutherford, Jonathan. “The culture of capitalism.” Soundings 38 (2008): 8-18.

Schmidt, Elizabeth. “Can capitalism solve capitalism’s problems?” The Conversation, Jan 22, 2020, https://theconversation.com/can-capitalism-solve-capitalisms-problems-130427

White, Micah. “Why I’m going to Davos – and why I’m hoping my peers don’t find out.” World Economic Forum, Jan 7, 2020, https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/01/why-im-going-to-davos-and-why-im-hoping-my-peers-dont-find-out/

Wolff, Richard. “Yes, there is an alternative to capitalism: Mondragon shows the way.” The Guardian, Jun 24, 2012, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/jun/24/alternative-capitalism-mondragon#:~:text=Yes%2C%20there%20is%20an%20alternative%20to%20capitalism%3A%20Mondragon%20shows%20the%20way,-Richard%20Wolff&text=Capitalism’s%20recurring%20tendencies%20toward%20extreme,because%20there%20is%20no%20alternative%3F

[1] Rutherford, Jonathan. “The culture of capitalism.” Soundings 38 (2008): 8

[2] Ibid.

[3] Robbins, Richard H. “GLOBAL PROBLEMS AND THE CULTURE OF CAPITALISM, 3/e.” (2005): 14

[4] Rutherford, Jonathan. “The culture of capitalism.” Soundings 38 (2008): 8

[5]Movahed, Masoud. “Does capitalism have to be bad for the environment?” World Economic Forum, Feb 15, 2016, https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/02/does-capitalism-have-to-be-bad-for-the-environment/

 

[6] Robbins, Richard H. “GLOBAL PROBLEMS AND THE CULTURE OF CAPITALISM, 3/e.” (2005): 14

[7]Galbraith, James, K. “Rebuilding the Economy Will Require Job Biden to Think Very Different than 2009.” The Intercept, Sep 1, 2020, https://theintercept.com/2020/09/01/biden-economic-policy-us-economy/

[8] Rutherford, Jonathan. “The culture of capitalism.” Soundings 38 (2008): 8

[9] Robbins, Richard H. “GLOBAL PROBLEMS AND THE CULTURE OF CAPITALISM, 3/e.” (2005): 14

[10] Rutherford, Jonathan. “The culture of capitalism.” Soundings 38 (2008): 8

[11] Wolff, Richard. “Yes, there is an alternative to capitalism: Mondragon shows the way.” The Guardian, Jun 24, 2012, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/jun/24/alternative-capitalism-mondragon#:~:text=Yes%2C%20there%20is%20an%20alternative%20to%20capitalism%3A%20Mondragon%20shows%20the%20way,-Richard%20Wolff&text=Capitalism’s%20recurring%20tendencies%20toward%20extreme,because%20there%20is%20no%20alternative%3F

 

[12] Movahed, Masoud. “Does capitalism have to be bad for the environment?” World Economic Forum, Feb 15, 2016, https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/02/does-capitalism-have-to-be-bad-for-the-environment/

[13] Robbins, Richard H. “GLOBAL PROBLEMS AND THE CULTURE OF CAPITALISM, 3/e.” (2005): 14

[14] Movahed, Masoud. “Does capitalism have to be bad for the environment?” World Economic Forum, Feb 15, 2016, https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/02/does-capitalism-have-to-be-bad-for-the-environment/

[15] Galbraith, James, K. “Rebuilding the Economy Will Require Job Biden to Think Very Different than 2009.” The Intercept, Sep 1, 2020, https://theintercept.com/2020/09/01/biden-economic-policy-us-economy/

 

[16] Robbins, Richard H. “GLOBAL PROBLEMS AND THE CULTURE OF CAPITALISM, 3/e.” (2005): 14

[17] Schmidt, Elizabeth. “Can capitalism solve capitalism’s problems?” The Conversation, Jan 22, 2020, https://theconversation.com/can-capitalism-solve-capitalisms-problems-130427

[18] White, Micah. “Why I’m going to Davos – and why I’m hoping my peers don’t find out.” World Economic Forum, Jan 7, 2020, https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/01/why-im-going-to-davos-and-why-im-hoping-my-peers-dont-find-out/

 

[19]Movahed, Masoud. “Does capitalism have to be bad for the environment?” World Economic Forum, Feb 15, 2016, https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/02/does-capitalism-have-to-be-bad-for-the-environment/

[20] Rutherford, Jonathan. “The culture of capitalism.” Soundings 38 (2008): 8

[21] Movahed, Masoud. “Does capitalism have to be bad for the environment?” World Economic Forum, Feb 15, 2016, https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/02/does-capitalism-have-to-be-bad-for-the-environment/

[22] Wolff, Richard. “Yes, there is an alternative to capitalism: Mondragon shows the way.” The Guardian, Jun 24, 2012, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/jun/24/alternative-capitalism-mondragon#:~:text=Yes%2C%20there%20is%20an%20alternative%20to%20capitalism%3A%20Mondragon%20shows%20the%20way,-Richard%20Wolff&text=Capitalism’s%20recurring%20tendencies%20toward%20extreme,because%20there%20is%20no%20alternative%3F

[23] Ibid.

[24]Galbraith, James, K. “Rebuilding the Economy Will Require Job Biden to Think Very Different than 2009.” The Intercept, Sep 1, 2020, https://theintercept.com/2020/09/01/biden-economic-policy-us-economy/

[25] White, Micah. “Why I’m going to Davos – and why I’m hoping my peers don’t find out.” World Economic Forum, Jan 7, 2020, https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/01/why-im-going-to-davos-and-why-im-hoping-my-peers-dont-find-out/

[26] Movahed, Masoud. “Does capitalism have to be bad for the environment?” World Economic Forum, Feb 15, 2016, https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/02/does-capitalism-have-to-be-bad-for-the-environment/

[27] Movahed, Masoud. “Does capitalism have to be bad for the environment?” World Economic Forum, Feb 15, 2016, https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/02/does-capitalism-have-to-be-bad-for-the-environment/