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.