Capitalism, and a Rational Economic System

Capitalism has many internal contradictions. The basic one is that the profit system does not allow enough purchasing power to come to the market to purchase the value that is brought to the market in the form of goods and services. As a result, there is a continual glut of so-called over-production. This is actually only over-production in terms of the capitalist system and the capitalist market and of course is never as much as people could use in terms of use value.

I don’t know how much of the overall total corporate worth goes into profits and is not reinvested. The ideal, of course, always is that it is reinvested. However, in practice, this runs up against the basic contradiction, so the banks get stuffed fuller and fuller with money, and finally only the government is able to borrow and put it back into the market enough to keep the market going, with promises to pay in the future. When this runs out, that is when lack of confidence in the government’s ability to pay puts a stricture on the ever-increasing national debt. Then things are in bad shape* indeed.

We don’t know whether non-oppressive economic systems could be instituted without going through slavery, feudalism, and capitalism. They never have been. Certainly on a new planet we would not expect to have to go through the same systems.

A rational economic system would, I think, include public ownership of all the enterprises that involve more than one person, or one family working together. Individual enterprises, family enterprises, could certainly persist—that is, there would be room for artisans, artists, craftspeople, and so on—but eventually I think even those would be done as group work, simply for the greater satisfaction. Dwelling places and personal effects would certainly be individually owned. Law, constitution, bureaucracy, international relations—all would have to change to be directed not toward profits but toward the welfare of everyone in the world. Ingenuity would not have the limitations now placed on it by the profit system and would flourish. Medical care would greatly improve and would lose its bureaucratic character. Education would become rational. Religion would perhaps find its real role instead of being caught up in the struggle between the oppressed and the oppressors.

A rational economic system would not include wages, since by definition wages are only a portion of the value produced. People would work. Some people would earn more than others, certainly in a transition period. Eventually, and perhaps quite quickly, there would be enough for everyone to have everything they rationally wanted.

In the transition period, pay would certainly be based on skills. After that, I think that everyone should have what they need and would produce what they enjoy. Certainly there would be people who do not do physical work because of handicaps; otherwise, I think everyone would work with their hands as well as with their heads.

The capitalist system is well into a state of collapse right now. It is not going to be one decisive point but a long series of things.

Our job is to ameliorate and lower the level of violence and destruction as much as possible, not set ourselves the impossible task of absolutely preventing it. That is too unrealistic.

I don’t think we can say ahead of time what role programs by thinking RCers might play. We’ll just have to put them together, circulate them, and find out how effective they can be.

If we do everything right, we can accomplish everything in twenty years. We should not blame ourselves if it takes a couple of hundred.

Harvey Jackins
From a letter written in 1980

* “Shape” means condition.

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00