Friday, July 09, 2010

Death of Liberalism

Share some of the writings from different interesting courses in University over the years. Here from, Power and Environment, second term in Human Ecology, School of global studies, Gothenburg University, spring 2007.

The end of the current world order

Jeremy Bentham used the phrase "greatest happiness for the greatest number" about the human ideology which is called Liberalism. Liberalism partly ignores conflicts of interest and the fact that the man's happiness can assume another's misfortune. Wallenstein's book After liberalism and the book The end of the world as we know it from 1995 and 1999 discussing this fact.

Immanuel Wallerstein is known for his "one world-system" theory, and mean that such as first world or third world is unnecessary to talk about. He argues that there have been many historical world systems that has held together politically and economically. The most common are small empires that have been led by an emperor who has been at the core of society; all neces came from the the areas around. He also means that all systems have a beginning and an end, as the contradictions and weaknesses tend to be larger with time.

In the late 1400 in late Middle Ages, the capitalism world system began, which differs from the previous systems with no single "emperor" who rule from the center. The system is driven by the economy. The system is divided into center and periphery, where the center exploits the periphery. The system is constantly expanding and need new workers and new customers. Marx's thesis on the absolute exploitation is true everywhere when the system has meant less happiness, less wealth and less freedom for the majority of the population on earth.

Wallerstein argues that in former times, it was easy to attract people to the cities because of the jobs, now there are not many places left that can be "fooled" - not given resonable salaries. In order to keep the dangerous classes, the workers under control, the Liberals offered a reform program with three points: voting rights, welfare and national identity. This could give the people the feeling of belonging and create a calm environment, where they do not demand their freedom and full equality. States tames the dangerous classes, through repression and concessions. The system are important for ideologies that convinces the masses to be reasonably patient. He also believes that in recent times, the system could spread, taking resources, emit pollutants, but nowadays such spaces are running low.

The main idea of capitalism is the expanding phenomena, but we live in a world with boundaries, then, capitalism has an end. Capitalists invest their profits in their business instead of spending it on luxury goods or other non-productive goods, so capitalism is in itself expantivt; an increase of resources and production is a must for it to work.

The limits that holds back an ever expantiv grow, thus capitalism as a system are:

  • Organic, which is perhaps the most significant, since they can be destroyed and never come back again. Wallerstein writes "to the end, there is no more to pollute the rivers, or trees to fell without serious consequences for the health of the biosphere. This is a situation we find ourselves in after 500 years of such activity
  •  Reduced availability of cheap labor
  • The greater the gap between rich and poor, the more ports in the interlayer, the interlayer drain on profits
  • The greater the gap between rich and poor parts of the world, the greater migration to areas with better welfare, resulting in a increasing stess on the system's higher level

Main point is that capitalism is not sustainable. Boundaries are something that the capitalist society does not want but which are on earth, therefor the system must think again. To have a sustainable business is to have a business in the future. The free society, with individuals who do as they feel like to, at the expense of others, will soon backfire.

A change is in the detail. People with capital will fight but this will repel. Wallerstein argues that many theories will be presented and in the confusion, we will not know what is right and wrong. But capitalism has an end and so Liberalism. What comes after this world order that we know, is up to all of us to fight for.

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