Featured image, and project pictured, by Steve Lambert. Used under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Apparently I’m in a voluble mood* so here’s another post–albeit a very brief one–with a summary of a point I’ve been making for years. (I think it came to me when I first was teaching Environmental Policy back at WSU Vancouver.) Taken from the facebook wall of AgroEcoPeep Rafter Sass Ferguson, it seemed useful and uncharacteristically short (for me; though of course it includes several references to book-length works).

Although “What comes after capitalism?” is not a new theme for me, being brief is:

The most interesting thing to me is: if history is ANY guide, we know with near-certainty that capitalism is not the last (world-)economic system we will develop. There is also no particular reason to think that it will [have been] the *best* one. So even if we agree to disagree on the benefits of capitalism to this day (or rather, disagree that the benefits reaped by some necessarily entail the costs borne by others – see https://www.researchgate.net/…/317603137_Introduction… and linked pieces there), it is a non sequitur to presume we can’t improve on capitalism. And just as capitalism, in reality, evolved piecemeal (Adam Smith, after all, represents just the stylised “beginning” but nothing changed over night), the next system is already lurking and developing and being proposed, debated, honed, experimented with, and developing coherency (one attempt at doing this consciously is the Next System Project – https://thenextsystem.org/).

There is perhaps wisdom in the old phrase, “Dance with the one what brung you,”** but I don’t think it necessarily applies to economic systems. The feudalists and mercantilists demonstrably believed they had elevated civilization and did not uniformly or even mostly welcome “capitalism”. Were those who did resist the “next” system wise to do so?

 

*Ha ha ha, everyone who said “when aren’t you?”
**Though on reflection, it perhaps reflects a problematic sense of entitlement. Patriarchy, it’s everywhere.

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