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Future Sight - The Collapse of Capitalism

Submitted by Joel on Fri, 04/19/2019 - 05:43

All good things must come to an end. Capitalism is an amazing system for creating efficiency in society. It's not the best for humanitarian needs, but it capitalizes (pun intended) on humanity's driving urges... things like greed, sloth, vanity, and contentment. Through these things, capitalism can find ways to produce more with less, and that will just keep going and going and going... until it can't continue anymore.

That's impossible! Capitalism will last forever!

While there are many good things about capitalism, one thing it does besides provide efficiency and productivity, is to consolidate wealth. And that's actually a negative because as fewer people have wealth, their goods and services are purchased less and less. Which means they have more incentive to make it cheaper and cheaper. Which means more robots taking more jobs. Which means less money for the rest of the people... do you see where this is going? 

What can we do?! THE WORLD WILL END!

Well, humanity did survive a long time without capitalism, but it wasn't great. Fuedalism, tribalism... they aren't the most civilized economic structures. Capitalism replaced those methods in most parts of the world. Socialism is the other end of the spectrum, but you lose that efficiency. But there are things that can be done to slow down the decline of capitalism, but it's pretty unpopular. Redistribution of wealth.

BUT THAT'S SOCIALISM!! You can't save CAPITALISM with SOCIALISM!!!

Actually, capitalism vs socialism is about who owns the means of production. In capitalism, you have private industry owning it with government making rules to protect the population and other companies. In socialism, the government owns industry. So in a society that has pure socialism as the economic system, the government owns all restaurants and assigns citizens to work there. All money is controlled by the state. Taxes don't really impact anything, because money is given as a reward to 'good citizens' (or they might even just skip that step and give out goods and services). 

So when someone wants to collect taxes, that's not socialism. That's government. In fact, it's very much capitalism, since government employees do work, so they need to be compensated for their labor. Taxes are just a way to pay for the services that the government provides. But, that doesn't really cover redistribution of wealth, does it? What services are provided by those who lost their jobs to robots and can't find work? Isn't that the problem we're trying to solve? 

And the fact is... it's true. We'd be paying people for just being citizens in the HOPES that they'll be productive members of society. We will probably need something like Universal Basic Income (UBI) to ensure the survival of capitalism, because without the flow of money to people at the bottom, no one can purchase goods or services from people at the top. I've written all about UBI a while ago, and while it will give us more time, eventually, we will have to face the fact: capitalism will probably still end.

WHAT?!! But what will we do then?

It's hard to say. It might end because one company owns everything, which is really just socialism, isn't it? Wouldn't that company control all of the money, then? What happens if all work is robotic? Can we still have capitalism if there is no labor? It's possible that interstellar travel will make capitalism continue, as then labor will be needed again, but robots seem much better equipped to make that long trip. 

So I don't know what happens after that. Our system might collapse in a bloody revolution destroying all we've built in order to reduce efficiency so that we can increase it again using capitalism. Or we might transition into something... different. Perhaps better. Perhaps worse. We might all be explorers or artists. There might be a robotic rebellion enslaving us. It's hard to say. But one way or another, change is coming. Perhaps we should start preparing for the best possible future for humanity instead of letting nature run its course.

What do you think? Will capitalism end? If so, how long does it have? Give me your thoughts in the comments!