Is capitalism sustainable? Watch

there's too much love
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#41
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but what's the point of being socialist from that point of view if the rest of the world isn't socialist?
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Lampshade
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#42
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(Original post by Oswy)
Absolutely not, I'm simply making the observation that the emergence of industrial capitalism as the dominant mode of production is very much associated with the accelerating growth of the human population to the extent that we can reasonably suggest that the efficiencies unleashed, and their organisation, is the cause of that accelerating growth. Obviously at some point the human population will end up levelling out as, even factoring increasing efficiencies in the production or organisation of food and other essential resources, such resources are ultimately finite. The point at which the human population does level out, however, given the skill with which we are able to exhaust what is available and our willingness to do it within the capitalist paradigm, might not be a very attractive situation. Neither of us is likely to find ourselves having to live in a world where there are no rain-forests, or polar-bears, or where many species of plant and animal have been rendered extinct because they lose out in the battle for resources with humans, but our grandchildren, and their grandchildren might well be facing that situation. In this regard capitalism isn't going to help us, it is the antithesis of restraint for future 'ethical' reasons, it is instead a way of organising life for the benefit of immediate (or near-immediate) profit.
Look how some "socialist" states have been treating the environment. I'll take China as an example (I'm going to work on the basis that the Chinese Govt. only gives the illusion of capitalism flourishing) - China was at one point earlier in the year, opening 2 new coal powered powerplants every week. In some coal mining towns, the health of the population is unfathomably low due to awful working conditions and clouds of black smoke and smog produced by the overly intensive mining operations. Now these are state run enterprises.

The way government is structured will not play too much of a part in controlling world population - but nature will.

As soon as unsustainable levels of human population are reached, the world pushes back. Be it through global warming, global cooling, diseases (H5N1 bird flu? other potential pandemics?) - which all result in population decrease.

Of course no-one wants to end up living in a world with no rainforests and no polar bears, but you can't blame capitalism for the reduction of both of these. Unless of course, you blame social/cultural development and globalisation - which have (on the most part) only been possible with capitalism. - Do you suggest we go back to living in huts?
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Oswy
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#43
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(Original post by there's too much love)
but what's the point of being socialist from that point of view if the rest of the world isn't socialist?
To lead the way?

Capitalism is a historically situated form of human organisation, it's not 'natural', it's a product of specific political, social and economic forces which sustain it and which emerged in a specific time and place, and had a specific trajectory, just as feudalism had before it, and as slave-societies had before that. It's easy to think that the way the human world is organised right now is the way it has always been organised and always will be, but we only have to read a little history to be suitably sceptical of such an assertion.
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there's too much love
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#44
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there are different types of socialism, I might be wrong but I'm pretty sure Sweden and Spain are, relativity, good with environmental factors. That said it's been a whilst since I looked into it.
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Elrobi
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#45
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Depends upon the responsibility of said capitalists.
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I_Am_Abbas
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#46
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(Original post by Oswy)
The fact that the destruction of the environment, if profitable, is rational from a capitalist's perspective is a sobering point and one to bear in mind when evangelical capitalists are telling us how lovely everything is in the hands of the businessmen! Capitalism has generated huge wealth and stimulated useful technologies and played a part in the advancement of medicine, sure, it's also unleashed a huge population explosion, seen some of the most devastating of wars and been responsible for the the highly asymetrical distribution of economic power across the globe. It's wishful thinking to suggest that capitalsim is on its way to making everyone's life comfortable, if anything it's easy to argue that given the huge increase in human population it has stimulated there is more experienced misery than ever before, if we're talking about sheer numbers. Again, your suggestion that the internal rationality of capitalism will at some point 'align with the perceived ethical strategy' is wishful thinking on your part - it hasn't happened yet; the rainforests are still being cut down, the seas polluted with oil, the air filled with green-house gasses. I find your last paragraph a little vague. You seem to have agreed with me that capitalism has no morals, and that it cannot itself do anything other than pursue the maximisation of profit. How can capitalism thus have its 'edges softened' if this is in conflict with its central aims? All you've got to implementing such 'softening' is government - and government regulation and supervision of markets in the wider interests of society (to protect them from the destructive potential of capitalism) is easily a step in the direction of socialism.
Population growth is a social problem resulting from economic success. If anything, the benefits such as improved technology, medicine and living standards are to 'blame' for population tensions. Which is more valuable?

Lets not bring wars into this - could there possibly have been any large scale wars before the growth of industrial capitalism? A mere coincidence of events cannot be considered a cause and effect relationship.

The distribution of economic power and resources is undesirable. You are correct. But capitalism will channel capital to areas which will make the best, most efficient use of it. Socialist policies do so inefficiently, thus reducing the potential gains to the masses. This balances out any increased focus on developing countries in socialism.

Of course my suggestion that economic and ethical strategies may align has not happened - it is a prediction. It is not wishful thinking, it is a probability, and a high one at that. Market forces are not blind, players of the game are neither perfect nor stupid.

Softening edges, an uninspiring poor choice of phrase by myself was intended to suggest a temporarily restrained growth - an extremely minor step towards socialism. If anything though, this step would only serve to show the subsequent gains after the restrictions have been lifted.

It may not even involve Government regulation - the G20 meeting and subsequent deliberations may shape a new world order, in which the BRIC and developing nations have an important say in world order. This may be a step towards your ideal of economic equality, and focus on those who need it, whilst maintaining the efficiency of the capitalist system.
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Lampshade
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#47
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(Original post by Oswy)
To lead the way?

Capitalism is a historically situated form of human organisation, it's not 'natural', it's a product of specific political, social and economic forces which sustain it and which emerged in a specific time and place, and had a specific trajectory, just as feudalism had before it, and as slave-societies had before that. It's easy to think that the way the human world is organised right now is the way it has always been organised and always will be, but we only have to read a little history to be suitably sceptical of such an assertion.
It just doesn't work though does it? History has shown us this?
You just have to look at it through a business mind to see how it doesn't and won't work. For starters - you'd lose a whole industry - Sales.

And you want to talk about saving the environment? What about the problems with farmers and the EU CAP that's imposed? Do you know how much land is wasted this way? how much food is wasted this way?
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4x4
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#48
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#48
(Original post by pretz)
living is based on consumption of finite resources. As those resources begin to run out how does life survive?

Discuss.
Anything which lives uses up resources, don't blame capitalism. The want for a good standard of living is what causes the problem, capitalism actually ensures that, in order to obtain that standard of living, the least amount of resources are wasted.
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Lampshade
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#49
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(Original post by 4x4)
in order to obtain that standard of living, the least amount of resources are wasted.
This.

Couldn't have put it better myself.
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Oswy
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#50
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(Original post by Lampshade)
Look how some "socialist" states have been treating the environment. I'll take China as an example (I'm going to work on the basis that the Chinese Govt. only gives the illusion of capitalism flourishing) - China was at one point earlier in the year, opening 2 new coal powered powerplants every week. In some coal mining towns, the health of the population is unfathomably low due to awful working conditions and clouds of black smoke and smog produced by the overly intensive mining operations. Now these are state run enterprises.

The way government is structured will not play too much of a part in controlling world population - but nature will.

As soon as unsustainable levels of human population are reached, the world pushes back. Be it through global warming, global cooling, diseases (H5N1 bird flu? other potential pandemics?) - which all result in population decrease.

Of course no-one wants to end up living in a world with no rainforests and no polar bears, but you can't blame capitalism for the reduction of both of these. Unless of course, you blame social/cultural development and globalisation - which have (on the most part) only been possible with capitalism. - Do you suggest we go back to living in huts?
China has been a capitalist endeavour for some time, albeit a state orientated capitalism; they have little interest in the environment because they are pursuing capitalist wealth, so you've chosen a bad example. As for unsustainable levels of population, sure a limit will be reached, but my point was that the condition of the planet is likely to be deeply impoverished by such a time - because capitalism doesn't stop until it is absolutely forced to stop. If you have children, or intend to have them, then it's worth considering how you want the human future to be organised; so that environmental disaster will be the means by which everything is 'put right', or by our rational reorientation to sustainable life so things don't actually end in such a disaster?

Steering away from capitalism doesn't mean 'living in huts', that's a false dichotomy that insults your own intelligence.
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I_Am_Abbas
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#51
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Originally Posted by Oswy
To lead the way?

Capitalism is a historically situated form of human organisation, it's not 'natural', it's a product of specific political, social and economic forces which sustain it and which emerged in a specific time and place, and had a specific trajectory, just as feudalism had before it, and as slave-societies had before that. It's easy to think that the way the human world is organised right now is the way it has always been organised and always will be, but we only have to read a little history to be suitably sceptical of such an assertion.


What do you mean not natural? Is money wrong as it was constructed to address social and economic difficulties? Of course it is natural.

Besides which - what makes socialism any less contrived or more natural than capitalism?


And Lampshade - I completely agree with your last 2 posts :yep:
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ScholarsInk
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#52
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(Original post by pretz)
Capitalism is based on consumption of finite resources. As those resources begin to run out how does capitalism survive?

Discuss.
Is anything but capitalism sustainable?
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Lampshade
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#53
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(Original post by Oswy)

Steering away from capitalism doesn't mean 'living in huts', that's a false dichotomy that insults your own intelligence.
Was meant to be a little tongue in cheek.
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I_Am_Abbas
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#54
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(Original post by Oswy)
China has been a capitalist endeavour for some time, albeit a state orientated capitalism; they have little interest in the environement because they are pursuing capitalist wealth, so you've chosen a bad example. As for unsustainable levels of population, sure a limit will be reached, but my point was that the condition of the planet is likely to be deeply impoverished by such a time - because capitalism doesn't stop until it is absolutely forced to stop. If you have children, or intent to have them, then it's worth considering how you want the human future to be organised; so that environmental disaster will be the means by which everything is 'put right', or by our rational reorientation to sustainable life so things don't actually end in such a disaster?
You don't seem to understand. Rational reorientation is a fundamental reason why capitalism has adapted and will continue to adapt to circumstances. If it is truly rational to be sustainable, sustainable development will result
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4x4
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#55
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(Original post by Lampshade)
This.

Couldn't have put it better myself.
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Liquidus Zeromus
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#56
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Is any development or consumption sustainable in the long run? No. Eventually all the "non-renewable" resources we have will become too scarce, and they will go sooner if they are over-used. Capitalism does have regulations preventing scarcity, but at the same time, growth rates can be problematic. The world can use up huge amounts of resources with little regard for the long-term, and then face shortages when they are least expected. I think that has to change. To a large degree, we can develop more efficient and less wasteful solutions, but at the moment, resources are finite. The only way to guarantee their supply is to expand into space.
Regulations tend to offset the worst of overconsumption, and protect the environment which could otherwise be abused for short-term gain. In the same way, the most "efficient" and profitable solution isn't always the best in the long-term. Capitalist free markets have a good way of making surpluses and making many individuals wealthier, but at the same time, aren't always the best at providing for the future, as people need produce here and now, and the value of currency declines over time, pushing people to develop right away. One thing that Socialist economies do best is equally distribute wealth and equip nations well for the future. They build infrastructure with the long-term in mind.
There are better economic systems than just plain old capitalist or socialist ones. They both have their shortcomings.
How do we establish a better way of sustaining economies and providing for the future? Perhaps we need to tier the economy and develop wealth in a different way. I'm not a firm believer that predominantly market or statist forces are the best way forward. Instead, we need a balance and combination of the two, according to their merits. In growth markets, enterprise is brilliant at expanding infrastructure. In mature markets, the government is often forced to intervene to stop economic decline. Where diseconomies of scale apply, it may be better to have the government in charge of certain industries to provide goods which would otherwise be unprofitable/impractical to provide, but are essential. In the same way, private industry can innovate and grow in ways that public industry cannot. The incentive of profit and wealth creation pushes people to develop new technologies, ideas, and production methods, which would otherwise be undesired by the public sector. If you want more growth and innovation, you want business to run an industry. If you want to prioritise stability and the long-term, you want the government to run an industry. There should be a harmony between the two, somehow.
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I_Am_Abbas
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#57
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(Original post by Liquidus Zeromus)
Is any development or consumption sustainable in the long run? No. Eventually all the "non-renewable" resources we have will become too scarce, and they will go sooner if they are over-used. Capitalism does have regulations preventing scarcity, but at the same time, growth rates can be problematic. The world can use up huge amounts of resources with little regard for the long-term, and then face shortages when they are least expected. I think that has to change. To a large degree, we can develop more efficient and less wasteful solutions, but at the moment, resources are finite. The only way to guarantee their supply is to expand into space.
Regulations tend to offset the worst of overconsumption, and protect the environment which could otherwise be abused for short-term gain. In the same way, the most "efficient" and profitable solution isn't always the best in the long-term. Capitalist free markets have a good way of making surpluses and making many individuals wealthier, but at the same time, aren't always the best at providing for the future, as people need produce here and now, and the value of currency declines over time, pushing people to develop right away. One thing that Socialist economies do best is equally distribute wealth and equip nations well for the future. They build infrastructure with the long-term in mind.
There are better economic systems than just plain old capitalist or socialist ones. They both have their shortcomings.
How do we establish a better way of sustaining economies and providing for the future? Perhaps we need to tier the economy and develop wealth in a different way. I'm not a firm believer that predominantly market or statist forces are the best way forward. Instead, we need a balance and combination of the two, according to their merits. In growth markets, enterprise is brilliant at expanding infrastructure. In mature markets, the government is often forced to intervene to stop economic decline. Where diseconomies of scale apply, it may be better to have the government in charge of certain industries to provide goods which would otherwise be unprofitable/impractical to provide, but are essential. In the same way, private industry can innovate and grow in ways that public industry cannot. The incentive of profit and wealth creation pushes people to develop new technologies, ideas, and production methods, which would otherwise be undesired by the public sector. If you want more growth and innovation, you want business to run an industry. If you want to prioritise stability and the long-term, you want the government to run an industry. There should be a harmony between the two, somehow.
So essentially you're saying developing countries need the faster growth prospects of capitalism, whilst affluent countries should focus on societal betterment through government regulation?

The former I agree with, the latter only if there is no need for further technological/medical etc breakthrough. At the moment, this is not the case
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roots
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#58
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Anything which lives uses up resources

[In proportion, Fairly?]

don't blame capitalism.

Dont Blame Us


The want for a good standard of living is what causes the problem, capitalism actually ensures that

[For A Few. Even Western Countries Have Large Poor Populations]

in order to obtain that standard of living,

[It is systematic]


the least amount of resources are wasted
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Liquidus Zeromus
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#59
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(Original post by I_Am_Abbas)
So essentially you're saying developing countries need the faster growth prospects of capitalism, whilst affluent countries should focus on societal betterment through government regulation?

The former I agree with, the latter only if there is no need for further technological/medical etc breakthrough. At the moment, this is not the case
No, that is not what I meant. It applies to all nations. However, developing countries generally grow faster as there is that much of a gap to fill. There will naturally need to be a different emphasis all around the world, and ideally, there should be a replacement for the constant cash flow system.
In mature markets, there is the problem that some goods are bought new less often, e.g. cars. It is generally much cheaper to buy a £1000 second-hand car than fork out £8000 for the most basic brand new one, which will usually depreciate up to 50% in value in the first year!

Perhaps it is a good idea that the amount of new cars is limited by high prices, but at the same time, the only prospect for actual growth in the car market is abroad in growing markets, at this stage. Thus, car manufacturers will find it harder to make gains when people don't want new cars. At this stage, it would probably be cheaper and more efficient to shift basic, bob-standard car production, of functional, not luxury/prestige/special vehicles to the state sector, and pay research companies and universities(where there is usually growth and demand for new technologies anyway) to develop new production methods in order to innovate and develop new methods. Of course, companies can still stay running if they are still able to generate sufficient revenue.
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Oswy
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#60
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#60
(Original post by I_Am_Abbas)
You don't seem to understand. Rational reorientation is a fundamental reason why capitalism has adapted and will continue to adapt to circumstances. If it is truly rational to be sustainable, sustainable development will result
No, I think it is you who does not understand. Capitalism's only concern is profit and it will happily pursue the exhaustion of resources to that end, even if this means at great environmental cost. Capitalism 'adapts' to circumstances only insofar as it moves on to another resource once exhaustion has occured or it has been forced to avoid exhaustion through government regulation. You seem to be unable to make a distinction between what is 'rational' for the capitalist and what is 'rational' for human societies as a whole. There are likely to be specific instances where the cutting down of rainforest is entirely rational for the capitalist who can make profit from that activity, yet the environmental consequences of that action for the rest of us are such that it is not in our rational interests in the least, nor for future generations not yet born.
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