Sunday, February 05, 2006

Green Capitalism = Guided Market (?)

Notice of a Debate between Derek Wall (ecosocialist) and Professor Julian Morris (Institute of Economic Affairs).

LSE New Theatre, 6.30pm, Monday 13th February.
LSE Hayek Society and Lse Environmental society joint event.

Derek writes on the Green Party discussion list:

Capitalists may or may not be 'bad' people but are forced by competition to
increase profit levels by exploiting workers. This is because a company that does not invest in the most efficient machinery will find that its costs tend to be higher than rival firms. A firm must invest in order to survive turning money into capital and back again into money. The lazy or humane capitalist fails in the race and is put out of business, 'A benevolent capitalist who paid his workers wages that broadly corresponded to the amount of value they created would soon find himself (sic) out of business' (Callinicos 2003: 37).

The capitalist firm must keep on growing or it will die because it will be overtaken by other businesses. While competition is unlikely to be eliminated, the advantage given by economies of scale mean that smaller companies are likely to be replaced by larger.

Technological, cultural and social changes are the only constants of capitalism. Capitalism is like a bicycle. A bicycle tends to fall over if one ceases peddling; capitalism tends to collapse if it fails to grow. Although it might be said that capitalism demands, unlike a bicycle, that we peddle faster and faster forever and ever. It can be distinguished from other forms of society 'by dynamism and by instability' (Callinicos 2003: 37).

Thus capitalism is crisis ridden.

This is my response:

I can agree with Derek's analysis if I read "free-market capitalism" wherever Derek writes "capitalism".

The Green Party (so far as I can make out) is implicitly for "guided capitalism", that is, that a green society could allow (and even encourage) people the freedom to invest their surplus money ("capital") into enterprises that are beneficial to environment and society.

If there is anyone reading this who disagrees with this point, would they please spell out (briefly, not in a re-write of Das Kapital) exactly what they wish to put in its place, and also specifically how they propose to get from here to there?

Specifically, are they against personal posessions of any kind? In other words, do they hold that all goods should be commonly owned?

Because if not, then it follows that people can invest their wealth at their discretion, but the green party would seek to guide those investments into that paths of ecological and social righteousness by means of incentives, disincentives regulations and outright bans, as appropriate. By these means we would seek to turn the malign free-market growthist species of capitalism that holds sway now into a stable, steady-state guided market economy that exists in harmony with the natural environment.

In fact, I think that all this debate is beside the point because the whole free-market house of cards is heading for a Big Crash (Peak oil + American deficit+global warming+pandemic flu+cultural and religious conflict+ whatever unknown surprises that Fate has up its sleeve for us) and that we should really be planning for what action we should take when a loaf of bread is valued at £1,000 and rising.

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