Friday, January 16, 2009

The Failure of Capitalism

A common expression on the political and economic right is "discredited marxism."

Following the fall of the Berlin Wall the right - and many in the center left declared that leftism, Marxism, socialism, social justice liberal Christianity - and even liberalism - were all "discredited." I can understand the urge to declare a set of ideas and ideals "discredited" when an actual expression - an always tainted actual expression - of those ideas and ideals fails to work. It is a hasty generalization, but an understandable generalization.

Back in my undergraduate years I recall my American Christianity instructor quoting A. N. Whitehead's view of history. History, actual lived history, always had a combination of high ideals and disgusting alliances. Human beings, my religious training tells me are always driven by our concupiscence, our tendency toward sinfulness. Why should communism, socialism, any type of utopianism be any different.

It is understandable that, following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the failure of Soviet Socialism, right wing idealists should declare that the ideology they opposed was "discredited." It did, after all, fail.

What, I wonder, will right wing ideologs now say about capitalism? Hasn't it proven itself as big a failure as Communism? And will business schools revamp their curricula in order to teach people what actually works? It doesn't seem that what's being taught in our MBA programs - from which the captains of our finance and industry have graduated - works.

Will that happen? I'm not holding my breath.

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