Capitalism's future

What, then, is capitalism’s future? Our current, damaged system is not, despite Marx’s hopes, to be replaced by a totally egalitarian, communist society (such arrangements might be there in life after death). Our future political economy will probably not be one in which Smith or his present-day disciples could find much comfort: there will be a higher-than-welcome degree of government interference in “the market”, somewhat larger taxes and heavy public disapprobation of the profit principle in general.

Schumpeter and Keynes, one suspects, will feel rather more at home with our new post-excess neocapitalist political economy. It will be a system where the animal spirits of the market will be closely watched (and tamed) by a variety of national and international zookeepers – a taming of which the great bulk of the spectators will heartily approve – but there will be no ritual murder of the free-enterprise principle, even if we have to plunge further into depression for the next years. Homus Economicus will take a horrible beating. But capitalism, in modified form, will not disappear. Like democracy, it has serious flaws – but, just as one find faults with democracy, the critics of capitalism will discover that all other systems are worse. Political economy tells us so.

- Paul Kennedy, 'Read the big four to know capital’s fate'.


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