Capitalism is not just a system of trade. There are many systems of trade which are not capitalist. It is an organised system of domination, politics, economic power, and approved econmic action.
Capitalism tends towards producing vast inequalities of riches, that depend upon a person’s place in the system, and not only on a person’s hard work or talent.
Riches are largely, although not always, influenced by birth. Bill Gates, Elon Musk etc already came from well off families.
Accumulation of riches tends to lead to oligopolies, in which small numbers of business control most of their specific markets, and deliberately wipe out competition.
If capitalist ‘free markets’ could exist, they would destroy themselves.
In capitalism profit is the only virtue and only mode of evaluation
Capitalism is also a system in which profit is the main virtue and main goal.
If it helps make or protect profit, then pollution, ecological destruction, low wages, industrial accidents, deception, low income misery, low income bad health, and political marginalisation of the populace will be encouraged.
Capitalism reduces all virtue and tradition to profit.
Religion becomes a way of justifying the extraction of riches from the world, or it becomes a promise that God favours the saved with riches, and hence that the rich are, as a class, the favoured of God.
This glorification of monetary profit, leads to a sociopathic system which has little care about the damage it produces. The system rewards, and selects for, those people who find it easy not to care for others or the world. Those people then select people who are like them. Consequently the system selects pathologically harmful people to lead it, which intensifies the problems with the system.
A fundamental drive of capitalist profit making is maximising cheapness of production (through low wages, cheap destruction, cheap ecologies, cheap pollution, cheap resources, cheap dispossession of poorer people etc.) and raising the price of sales.
Capitalism, government and the State
This accumulation of riches leads to plutocracy, where riches can buy any other form of power, and the rich dominate over everyone else and structure the market in their favour.
Capitalists will collaborate with each other and the State to achieve the aims described above, which benefit nearly all of them, because this is how business has to behave within the system.
Collaboration amongst capitalists makes what is called ‘crony capitalism’.
Crony capitalism is not an addition to, or blemish on, capitalism, but fundamental to its political workings and its domination over the State and over government.
As a system, capitalism cycles through boom, bust and bailout.
The rich arrange it so that ordinary citizens and tax payers protect their companies from their unrealistic, destructive or deceptive profit making practices, and the rich have bought the power and credibility to make this assumption fundamental to capitalist practice.
If poorer people suffer from the bust, that is just the price that has to be paid to keep the system going, so who cares?
Without the State to prop it up, capitalism would collapse, or decay into the rule of open violence.
To protect capitalism, the populace have to be misinformed (which is normal given corporate ownership and control over the media, advertising and PR), and people have to be convinced not to co-operate to constrain capitalism in any way.
The people are then led to find scapegoats for the troubles of the system – this can be people of other ‘races,’ other religions, other sexualities, other politics etc. It does not matter who the scapegoat is, as long as it is not the capitalist class in general. It can easily be a billionaire who makes it clear they do not worship capitalism.
Consequently, capitalism destroys social trust, constructive co-operation and compassion, as a matter of course.
If it seems impossible, or too dangerous, to overthrow capitalism then, for society and its individuals to survive, some other group must organise to restrain capitalism’s destructiveness.
The ‘easiest’ way is to take back the State, and liberate it from lobbyists, corporate bribery and the assumption that corporate elites are the only important part of society, know how to run things and know how to organise every possible process.
Taking back the State, can lead to laws which apply to all business, and encourage sharing of wealth with the workforce, making work places safe, halting environmental destruction and pollution, increasing worker representation in parliament or congress. lessen inequalities of wealth and protect people from busts and the inevitable misfortunes of life as much as possible. This all lowers the likelihood of plutocracy and increases quality of life for most people. This is a minimum.
This actually happened in the 50s, 60s and early 70s of the last century, so it is not impossible.
It should be pretty obvious that some people and parties who pretend to be taking back the State for the people, are deeply embedded in capitalist processes and have no intention of cutting back its normal excesses, even if they criticise some sectors of the economy.
Other systems of resistance, suggest that people should withdraw their support from capitalism, and become self-providing and self-governing communities that deliberately exclude big business (shopping malls, polluters, arms manufacturers, mining companies etc) from their areas, and try to constrain local riches from taking over. When a few such self controlled communities exist, they can start teaming up to become a political force, struggling against surrendering control to capitalism.
There is no reason these two constructive responses to capitalist destruction and domination cannot work together.
To repeat capitalism is a system of power relations build on top of crimes and dispossession. It needs checking if we are to survive both social and economic collapse, and the collapse of the world’s ecologies.