Reading Response 2 / Adam Stafford

Although the end of capitalism has been predicted time and time again by critics in varying forms of opposition, the stranglehold it seems to have on the modern world persists. One could argue that capitalism in it’s current form is nothing like the capitalism of old, but at the end of the day it is still the same dog-eat-dog system that it’s always been, perpetuating inequality and driving down the growth of our economy. What would a society, or a world, without capitalism look like? Would things quickly devolve into structureless chaos, or would there be a suitable alternative in place? Could something so intrinsic to our current way of life truly have an end?

I believe so, however, when capitalism may come to a full end is still a mystery to me. Perhaps in my lifetime, perhaps not. But I believe this is true, and plenty of research and discussion has been conducted to support this sort of claim. In fact, according to Streeck’s essay, the end of capitalism may already be under way. Streeck sheds light on a number of symptoms pointing to crisis on the horizon. Among them are declining economic growth, rising debt and inequality in regard to income and wealth. One of the most notable symptoms is capitalism’s unwieldy tendency for expansion and exploitation while ignoring one key fact- that the lands, people and the wallets of those people being exploited are limited. How can a system based primarily on the expansion of markets carry on when there are no more goods to sell and no more resources to exploit? I imagine that the end of capitalism will come in two forms: the instability of the economy and a loss of faith on the part of the people it is meant to serve. As capitalism continues to perpetuate issues of social and financial inequality, eventually, the people will have had enough if it does not collapse on itself first.

What I find both very interesting, but also a bit alarming about Streeck’s article is the idea that when the end of capitalism arrives, there may not be a suitable replacement ready to be implemented. This is typically where visions of a dystopic future tend to enter the imagination. It is hard to imagine the end of capitalism in the first place, but without it or an alternative model, what will our world look like? Are we even in the position to simply switch to a new model? I get the feeling that many of the issues at hand do not have clear enough solutions for that, and it would take some time before a new system could be implemented.

One way or the other, I believe that the trend toward the end of capitalism is a very real one. Economic growth has become stunted, inequality of wealth is causing higher and higher tensions everyday, and worst, there seem to be no signs of it stopping or correcting itself. It is time that we start developing real solutions to these problems because resources and livelihoods are at stake.

Reading Response 2 / Margot Harknett

To be very honest this subject is out of my element and the article, at times, had me lost on the point it was trying to make. With that being said Streeck talks about the different ways capitalism might end pointing out it’s symptoms of decreasing growth rates, increasing public and private debt, and increases in inequality. Because of these things capitalism is not able to keep it’s promise of progress for the community. He also mentions though that capitalism was brought about because of the successful Cold War and neo-liberal political forces. With the economic collapse in 2008 though Streeck believes that policies put in place then were just a stopgap and we need to figure out ways to stabilize markets other than sitting on fiat money. When the capital’s money intake slows it causes problems with the working population. This leads to exploitation and democracy handing over power to independent agencies and individuals. As long as corporate profits remain high then we get shared prosperity for higher productivity.

From that Streeck gets into what he calls the five disorders of the capitalist system. Those are stagnation, oligarchic redistribution, plundering of the public domain, corruption, and global anarchy. With stagnation he talks about slow long-term growth rates and how things are exploited to keep profits up. Oligarchic redistribution some capitalists are moving away from the people and looking overseas. Plunder of the public though underfunding and capital gain depends on public goods. Corruption is rising when boundaries between legal and illegal, corporate and political are blurred. Finally global anarchy is being threatened in the US with our military being over stretched and our dollar value dropping. Essentially what Streeck is saying is that capitalism is being hit from all sides and the economy is holding on through a life-support of unlimited assets. Instead of history repeating itself and capitalism being overthrown by other views Streeck suggests it will end through suicide.

Reading Response 02/Andy Millard

In this essay, author Wolfgang Streeck covers the many reason capitalism is doomed. He explores the many economic struggles dating back to the end of the second World War and the most recent crash of 2008. He speaks about the blueprints for ‘reform’ after 2008 and how the financial industry has miraculously staged a full recovery with all profits, dividens, etc.. back to where they were before the crash. He touches on capitalism and democracy and how at one time, they seem to be aligned with each other but more recently there have been doubts.

This essay was difficult to comprehend and such an extreme flip from the previous reading Speculative Everything. It was a complete change of gears but was a very informative exploration. What was most interesting to me was the impact of inequality throughout the United States. “There is mounting evidence that increasing inequality may be one of the causes of declining growth, as inequality both impedes improvements and weakens demand. Low growth, in turn, reinforces inequality by intensifying distributional conflict, making concessions to the poor more costly for the rich.” Streeck talks about how the little growth that has been documented is made relevant by the top one percent of income earners.

The section on how ordinary people no longer think that politics can make a difference in their lives. Who these ordinary people are, i’m not sure. This seems to be a somewhat ground breaking discovery. If ordinary people don’t believe politics can make a difference in their lives, it seems as if we need a new system that serves the people and makes them feel as if their opinion is valued in their society. We are currently dealing with a major result/symptom of a discouraged society, and that is the lack of voters, resulting in declining electoral turnouts…It is fascinating to me, that we have discovered these issues, yet have nothing in place for what is to come.

Neither a utopian vision of an alternative future nor superhuman foresight should be required to validate the claim that capitalism is facing its Götterdämmerung.” How there has been speculation or even declaration on the death of capitalism dating back to the mid–1800s, yet it is still the basis of our society in 2017, is beyond me. I understand it is one of the most complicated transitions and not having anything to transition in to makes it seem impossible. What is most fascinating about this portion of the essay is when he says “…even capitalism’s master technicians have no clue today how to make the system whole again.” Shouldn’t that say enough? that something drastic has to change?

What will it take for a change like this to occur? Im not sure, but I am growing with fear, excitement, and fascination thinking about it. This reading touches on so many aspects of capitalism and its steady implosion. All of which are difficult to wrap you head around especially if this is your first dive in to a subject of such complexity, as it is mine.

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Reading Response #2 / Rachel Adkins

Before even delving into the text, the title of Streeck’s essay, How Will Capitalism End?, elicits a vision (at least for myself) of an anarchy fueled, dystopian future where capitalism has suddenly been eradicated. As if one day it will just suddenly disappears unbeknownst to anyone, and the world will be thrown into panic and discord. How will we know what to do when that day comes, since as we all know, consciously so or not, capitalism has always been the only solution?

Well fear not, because that definitely is not how it’s going to happen. In Streeck’s analysis, he makes it pretty clear that the end of capitalism as we know it is already underway. He talks extensively about the various ways in which capitalism is progressively degrading, and how the chance for improvement or rebound is highly unlikely, as virtually all of the problems that modern capitalism is facing are problems that the system has brought upon itself.

Capitalism thrives off of the exploitation of labor, land, and money, but it is not an unknown fact that all of those things are limited in quantity. As Steeck state, markets “…have an inherent tendency to expand beyond their original domain, the trading of material goods, to all other spheres of life, regardless of their suitability for commodification.” Essentially, capitalism has always been set to implode on itself, because of its inability to recognize that it has simply gotten too big, too insatiable. Capitalism has consumed everything in sight, and yet there is absolutely nothing that can keep it from wanting more.

One of Streeck’s points that I found most interesting is the notion that capitalism is most likely going to end without a backup plan already in sight. Socialism is probably the most reasonable answer, and is currently what most people today claim to support. But it makes me think, are our problems so easily solvable as to just switch to something else? As of right now, I think I agree with Streeck in saying that we cannot possibly imagine what the alternative to capitalism will be, mostly because it probably does not exist yet. Even though my personal views fall to the far left, I find it absurd to assume that any change will ever occur, and have long lasting impact, without being able to think outside of the systems we already have in place. I suppose this relates back to the essence of speculative design, in being able to imagine multiple paths or scenarios for the future, even if they do not necessarily lead to something objectively “better”.

An article from The Nation presents examples of how small organizations of people across the country are already beginning this process of re-imagination. In California there is a collective called the Food Commons Fresno project, that is bringing together landowners, farmers, food processors, distributors, retailers, and workers “…to support a shared mission: high-quality, safe, locally grown food that everyone can afford.” In a time when government continually fails its people, individuals are taking it upon themselves to create new forms of cooperatives and unions that support a collective whole. While these efforts may seem small and dispersed, they provide a positive outlook on what the future may hold. While the concept of shared wealth and public services are inherently socialist values, what we might eventually see take hold is a system that is inspired by socialism, but with a completely new set of rules to better suit the crises that we now have to deal with.

 

Reading Response Two // Heather Weyda

Capitalism, as suggested in Wolfgang Streeck’s How Will Capitalism End?, is at critical point to where it is almost inevitable that we will stray from the capitalistic economy that we’ve become accustomed to. Due to the array of US economic crisis people have lost faith in the economy, particularly after the housing crisis of 2008 where banks and loan companies took an unethical advantage of people’s trust in the predictable housing market. Unfortunately, people have just become used to this unpredictability and ramped economic crises and simply try to adapt to the ever changing economy. There are three main symptoms of a crisis. The first is a constant decline in economic growth. The second is a rise in overall debt in leading capitalist states. Lastly, is economic inequality of income and wealth. Inequality is one of the most detrimental to the economy because it impedes the improvement of productivity and also forces cuts to everyday public services. Capitalism is supposed to have a sense of spreading the wealth in areas that need it in order to continue to build a stronger economy. When the capital is not shared it creates economic inequality and stunts the growth and weakens the economy.This will cause stagnant wages and weakens demand.

Although the economic crisis of 2008 was detrimental and devastated many homes in America and economies around the world, nit much has been done to prevent another similar crisis. The Obama administration enacted the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, but many argue that is would not prevent another problematic economic decline. Much of the act was not even supposed to go into effect until 2017, but it was recently repealed by the Trump administration. So what is keeping the housing crisis from happening again? Absolutely nothing.

When there was an attempt to taper the injection of flat money into the economy due to its dangerous and problematic effect but there was a huge response in a plunging of stocks and caused it to be postponed. This is a natural reaction in a capitalistic economy, but prevents from major changes and reforms from being put into place and prolongs the weakening of the economy. Capitalism is so dependent on Wall Street that it gives a lot of power to the top investors on what changes in politics do and do not happen. This gives people and overwhelming sense of distrust of the government and furthers the idea of corruption in politics. When democracy and capitalism are combined it allows for money to have a huge influence in policy changes and elections.

A combination of the distrust and instability of the current state of our capitalistic economy I agree that it will more than likely not continue forever. However, letting the economy fail on its own and playing it out when we get to that point, as suggested in this article, seems somewhat irresponsible. The fallout from a failure of capitalism would be unfathomable and destructive to virtually every economically developed country around the world. Although it’s almost impossible to consciously develop a plan for the inevitable fallout I think it’s necessary to have some sort of safety net put into place.

More on Dodd-Frank Act

 

Reading Response 2 | Kat Fenton

Capitalism has been in decline since the end of the Vietnam war and the economic crisis was the most recent example of it’s decline. The normal 5 year cycle of decline and recovery in the economy isn’t happening. You can see this through the persistent decline in the rate of economic growth, the increase in nationwide debt (government included), and the economic inequality of income and wealth. These factors are also innately linked. They must all be doing well for a society to prosper under capitalism. However, once one starts to fail, they all will. Many nations have discussed this problem but steps to fix it have been few and far between. Some industries, mainly financial, have recovered but their recovery is hindering the recovery of other aspects of the market. Banks are biting off more than they can chew, making claims to help large parts of the economy when they can’t.

Many of these problems are compounded with other less obvious effects. One of the large one’s is people’s general opinion of the government is in decline. They don’t believe politics make a difference in their life. This leads to less voter turnout, higher extremism in politics, and overall greater government instability. This coupled with an increase in overall public debt despite a rise in taxation, is preventing the democracy and capitalism from fixing the economy. It’s not just the general public that’s struggling with what is going on today. Our elite are beginning to believe, “that market capitalism cleansed of democratic politics will not only be more efficient but also virtuous and responsible.”

Another major aspect in the decline of capitalism is the rise in corruption and extremism. According to Max Weber capitalism should be based on “self-discipline, methodical effort, responsible stewardship, sober devotion to a calling and to a rational organization of life” not greed. However, due to the rise of the financial sector, this view has twisted into something new. These institutions benefit from illegal activities, pay and experience are irrelevant, and companies are too big to fail or be stopped. They bribe others for good rating, evade taxes through offshore accounts, and launder money.

The fall of capitalism hasn’t just happened overnight. It’s affected by corruption, public disapproval, economic downfall, and more. It’s incredible that even though it’s hard too see each of these aspects compounded, I see them individually nearly everyday. I turn on the TV and can barely stand to keep it on due to all the fighting between our political parties. I know how corrupt wall street is. The charts that show our declining economic growth don’t lie. All you have to do is turn to social media to understand why people are so cynical. I simply googled “ridiculous tweets by US government officials” and nearly all of them were from our president.

It’s increasingly difficult to have faith in the system when your elected officials behave like children in middle school. Not to mention the number of official that don’t even do their job. My biggest example would be the Obamacare act. It had over 2,300 pages filled with mistakes and loopholes. Things that should have been reviewed, pointed out, and resolved before it was enacted. Now our government is trying to completely retract this bill, taking away help for millions, without even trying to fix the underlying problems that are preventing this bill from becoming a huge success.

Reading Response 02 / Jack Thrun

As the article implies, the main focus of Wolfgang Streeck’s essay is explaining how capitalism will end. His first order of business is to outline the three “crisis symptoms” of a dying capitalist economy. Included in that list are: “a persistent decline in the rate of economic growth,…a persistent rise in overall indebtedness in leading capitalist states,…[and the increase in] economic inequality,…rising debt and declining growth” (35). According to Streeck, all of these symptoms appear to be present in the “gradual decay” of capitalism. It’s not just about capitalism, though. The problem seems to be democracy as a whole. The rising doubts of the current system have to to with the “compatibility of a capitalist economy with a democratic polity” (40). To be completely transparent, a lot of what I read went straight over my head. I’m not a political science major. Surprise. But there was a term that I did recognize, although, being transparent, don’t totally understand. There is a whole paragraph on page 41 about Keynesianism. The only other time I’ve heard this term used before was in a debate between Ben Shapiro and Cenk Uygur at Politicon a couple of weeks ago. Shapiro starts by making the claim that Keynesian economics doesn’t even work in theory. He goes on to state that taking “all of the money from the rich people who are saving all of their money, and giving it to the poor people…doesn’t help spur the economy. What spurs the economy is the creation of new products and services, and that is only going to be done by people who have expendable capital to actually invest in new products and services that we all enjoy. This is what creates economic growth.” So how does this compare to the text of How Will Capitalism End? To be honest, I’m not completely sure. I just thought I would share what I was thinking about when reading the passage from Streeck. Strike ends his essay with the explanation of what he describes as “five systemic disorders of today’s advanced capitalism” (55). The first one, stagnation, talks about how the spread of information technology doesn’t boost the economy as well as big innovations of the past such as running city water and the increased speed of transportation. Streeck’s second point, oligarchic redistribution, addresses the issue of “extracting resources from increasingly impoverished, declining societies” when redistribution should really be “serving a collective interest in economic progress” (58). “The plundering of the public domain through underfunding and privatization” (59) makes up the third disorder. Streeck goes on to talk about corruption within capitalism. He mentions that “capitalism was based not on a desire to get rich, but on self-discipline…[and] a sober devotion to…a rational organization of life” (61). It’s safe to say Capitalism has changed course from its original intentions. The essay is wrapped up by claiming that “Global capitalism needs a centre to secure its periphery and provide it with a credible monetary regime” (62). The main concepts of this text is that capitalism is dying but Streeck is able to break it down for the reader by explaining whats wrong with today’s advanced capitalism and how it will lead to its own demise.   

http://www.dailywire.com/news/19165/watch-shapiro-schools-cenk-how-taxes-and-markets-hank-berrien#exit-modal

Reading Response 2/Zack Sickman

The tone taken in this piece resonates with the rhetoric from political talk radio. Though there seems to be interlocking support through the argument, the author’s style and personal opinions clouded the argument.

One of the main areas of focuses from the piece was inequality, its origins and its connection between the wealthy and the poor. There was a point to be made that inequality simply becomes something someone grows to accept beyond the point of noticing it. Maybe before the days of being so connected with each other, inequality was unnoticeable because your daily surroundings were perceived only through the reality in front of you. Today we are able to see how people of different income levels live without having to change our current finical standings and so it could be understood by inequality today seems to re unraveling daily life.

Examining capitalism and democracy, the author does construct how these two topics are not only interconnect but establish the lives we live. Fordism was mentioned and how this can be linked to the forward spiral of exchanging our time for money and in turn constructing the world in which desire is constructed forcing us to continue exchanging our time for money. Democracy then is the guardian of this system except it has progress toward a central moment of control seen both in who holds the chips and who really benefits from controlling power.

I believe that the possibilities of these things existing stems from the birth of cities. Cities allow for the wealthy to retreat backwards without notion of their wealth while still being able to continue forward with the things they need despite marginally contributing to the common good. Before cites, everyone had a role that could be accounted for because everyone knew each other and what they did. In cities today you may not even know your neighbor and this notion can be stretched as macro as city to city.

Capitalism maybe simple as a concept but in practice its not. This is something that I don’t think people grasp beyond their own bank accounts. To continue this I’d say that there is reasons why economists exist and to that credit, reasons why most economists hold at least a masters degree. Most have a broad understanding to market forces but remain concentrated on particular markets where they have greater knowledge. The few that continue forward with further education in a sense do become the individuals that orchestrate the entire playing board and that is for good reason. Little failures of the system happening on a wide spread would cause the system to collapse and it is those that construct it that need to remain steadfast in catching these failures before they grow beyond control. A lot of this in a way is managing greed from people as they try to take advantage of the system.

Reading Response 2 / Niyah Jackson

It’s hard to imagine a time when there was a sense of equilibrium in advanced first world countries. That’s all I’ve known is crisis with global inflation and debt. So it’s news to me that in the article, they point out this has been normalized for 40 years, but prior to 1970, things weren’t as bad.

The article describes how the effects of inequality is stunting the growth of the economy. Debt rises because the poor are unable to pay, while at the same time the cost of goods rise, so the government compensates by providing lower wages to the same people who need the money most to be able to pay off their debt. This cycle doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when you look at the financial problems we’re having as a globe.

Another main point in the essay was about how although centralized banks bought time during the recovery of the financial crisis by providing “cheap cash,” it is only a bandaid-fix. These banks don’t have the capacity to sustain a strong, healthy, growing economy.

The author’s opinion on capitalism is that maybe it isn’t eternal, perhaps it’s on a continuous decline, slowly dying and will soon be replaced by something better.

Interesting point about how will capitalism end if there’s no alternative or anything in opposition to it like the way there was when communism was still around. Every seems to be encapsulated my consumerism, the poor and the wealthy. But this lack of competition could be capitalism’s worst enemy. It doesn’t have any systems to check it, if it’s the deciding factor. The article gave examples of when capitalism did have opposition and how it was stabilizing and beneficial.

This text continues to add onto our class discussion of whether or not capitalism can come to an end, and if so what does that new world look like. It also relates to the first reading from Fast Co about how capitalism is doing more harm than good for our society. Although, this essay focused more on how the poor are at a particular disadvantage, while the Fast Co one pointed its finger on it’s contribution to global warming.

While reading this I couldn’t help but think about a 4 part documentary I watched in a class Spring semester. The documentary is called “The Century of the Self” and explores how capitalism all started with Freud. It’s a really interesting watch and shows how deeply imbedded we are into this idea of consumerism, and just how trapped we are by the methods companies use to manipulate us into purchasing more.

Reading Response #2/Miranda Beitel

Although this reading was rather dense it was a really interesting topic. I have had a lot of building frustrations about capitalism that I have never been able to properly express but now I feel that I have a much better understanding. It seems that capitalism is not about making money anymore but about accruing more and more debt and bailing companies and banks out of debt. Which was obviously not it’s original goal and is a symptom of it’s decline. This only touches on two of three trends of decline that is pointing toward the end of capitalism which are: a steady decline in economic growth, social quality, and financial stability.
My major frustrations with capitalism stem from this idea that today, I feel we spend all of our time working to get more money only to spend it to try and make ourselves feel fulfilled. And in turn we have to work harder to make even more. We have just become a cog in this machine that is capitalism. And some would argue, my parents mainly, that if you only spend your money wisely then you won’t have a problem. Which is not entirely true due to inflation. We have to work twice as hard if not harder to get the same amenities that our parents could afford on a part time job when they were our age. But this is also anti-consumerism idea. We have been trained to over consume by marketers who were hired by corperations to make money. We over consume because we are taught that we need to in order to be happy. And in turn this also to feeds into capitalism. All the while we are either working hard to survive but also to buy things we don’t need. But because of this cycle we are also falling into serious debt.
I found it interesting when the author described how capitalism might fall. I always imagined flames and government decrees but they do make a good point:

The image I have of the end of capitalism—an end that I believe is already under way— is one of a social system in chronic disrepair, for reasons of its own and regardless of the absence of a viable alternative. While we cannot know when and how exactly capitalism will disappear and what will succeed it, what matters is that no force is on hand that could be expected to reverse the three downward trends in economic growth, social equality and financial stability and end their mutual reinforcement.”

I always thought that we would have to set a plan into motion. I felt that if capitalism were to end, we would have to do it by force and have a completely new system ready to take it’s place. But the author seems to think that it would happen on it’s own and what rose from it’s ashes might be the way we find out what supersedes it. Similarly, I found an article from The Guardian that discusses what economic system political advisor Jeremy Rifkin thinks will replace capitalism. He believes that from the ashes of capitalism there will be a new model powered by the amazing pace of innovation in energy, communication, and transportation. He believes that it already exists and is changing our world but we just haven’t “framed” it yet.  Interesting to think about. The answer we’ve been looking for might already exist and may already be in motion.