Hearts, fine food and revolution
a butterfly brooch

19th century capitalism just moved offshore

(Photo - Jonny White)
Capitalism isn't working (Photo - Jonny White)


ADELAIDE - Bernard Corden is right (Wages of fear – Contracting out the danger’). Neo-liberal capitalism has very adept at outsourcing hard, dirty or dangerous work to the developing world.

Outsourced to places where the political elites are largely unconcerned about the welfare of their workforce, preferring to focus on the acquisition of wealth for themselves.

If some tailings dams burst and kill a few people, well, that is the price of progress. Plenty more where they came from. Ditto for large scale pollution, appalling working conditions, crap wages and so forth.

This is what people in the developed world understand to be a long abandoned 19th century capitalist outlook, except it has not been abandoned. It has merely moved offshore.

The same forces identified by Karl Marx in the 1840s as an inherent part of the laissez faire liberal capitalism of the time are still at work. This is shocking but not unexpected given that neo-liberal capitalism works the same way.

In essence, it relies upon the ruthless exploitation of cheap labour to generate massive profits for the capitalist or owner class.

If any reader imagines that there is not an owner class in this world, then they clearly do not understand the evidence that is before their eyes.

How do people imagine that the wealth of Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk or Bill Gates or many other multi-billionaires can be generated without necessarily exploiting the intellects and labour of many other people?

No matter how talented and clever these people may be as individuals, they have only become so immensely wealthy through the systematic exploitation of others.

As Marx would have said, they have taken most of the value of the labour of their workers for themselves.

Quite how you could possibly miss the blindingly obvious is beyond me, yet many people contrive to do so.

While I am not an advocate for socialism, let alone communism, I strongly believe that a better, fairer and more sustainable version of capitalism is not only possible but essential if we are to create the best possible living conditions for everyone and, indeed, if we are to survive as a species.

Neo-liberalism cannot deliver this outcome.

Eventually, my hope is that the left of politics will stop obsessing about identity politics and refocus its attention on the things that matter:

fairer and more just wages and working conditions (especially in the developing world)

a sensible rebalancing of the relationship between capital and labour, and

a serious attack upon the manifest causes of the dangerous climate change which threatens us all

I doubt that I will live to see this happen but happen it must if we are to survive and thrive as a species.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Bernard Corden

Free market fundamentalism or neoliberalism is underpinned by two fatally flawed concepts from the Chicago school of economics and has generated disaster capitalism.

Milton Friedman's doctrine reinforces that the only social responsibility of any corporation is to accrue profits for its shareholders and it is exacerbated by George Stigler's concept of regulatory or policy capture.

Friedman was a statistician with a focus on empirical analysis. This is often reinforced by the slogan what gets measured gets done but the outcome is typically manipulated, especially when lucrative performance bonuses are at stake and the metric gets managed as opposed to performance.

Common Law is essentially subjective although statutory legislation is considered right or objective but invariably protects the writer or the state and regulatory or policy capture ensures corporate interests are preserved at the expense of human or common law rights.

Rather than measure what we value, artificial intelligence with big data places an inordinate emphasis on valuing what we can measure. Moreover, not everything that can be counted counts and most of what counts cannot be counted.

Any quantitative attempts to measure noble and professional attributes such as trust, integrity, love, care and compassion destroys their intrinsic value. No wonder economics was disparagingly referred to as the dismal science.

"I love you twice as much as yesterday but only half as much tomorrow" - Anon

"Do what you think is right and let the law catch up" - Thurgood Marshall

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)