Ask Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT): “Corporations are citizens, friends.” SCOTUS enshrined corporations as citizens in its infamous Citizens United holding, thus creating another species of humanity, but giving life to Behemoths, a terrible prospect. Ever see a corporation go to jail? No, but the corporation is still vulnerable, despite its legal advantages, but that story is for later.
The Braudel global level is where these Behemoths roam, seeking (ironically as Lenin said) cheap labor, cheap nature (Moore), and markets, which consists of consumers with lots of money, typically dwelling in cities. I will use the shorthand TNC = transnational corporations to label the Behemoths.
Much propaganda and greenwashing depicts TNCs as the saviors riding to the rescue with leadership, capital, and good will towards all, but in reality TNCs, the most favored agents of capitalism, seek one goal: PROFIT, period. All else is propaganda.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR)? Milton Friedman, along with Ayn Rand the ultimate capitalist ideologues, would scorn such a position, as the NeoLiberal acolytes proclaim.
Aspects of this are covered well in Baumol, et al., Good Capitalism, Bad Capitalism, a neglected book, written and funded from a pro-capitalist perspective.
Some bleak opinions:
- Bad capitalism outweighs good capitalism, and crony capitalism with rule as capitalism and profit unravels.
- The historic situation will reveal itself within the coming decade, sooner and worse than expected. This working hypothesis must be documented and justified. Too conjectural as I write.
- Trump will be re-elected, advancing Fascism in USA.
Boeing, again, but no longer failure of precautionary principle, but example of Bad Capitalism.
Cases: Wells Fargo; Monsanto the seed company, Walmart; Deutsche Bank; trump corruption reveals cronyism. See Korten, AGLZ lit. Ray Dalio and Larry Fink and Mark Benoitt have emerged as good citizen proponents. More media hype than results.
[collect sites and cases]
Good Capitalism/Bad Capitalism
The world has been hooked by capitalism as if it were a systemic monopoly, or as Margaret Thatcher proclaimed: “There is no alternative,” branded as TINA, the battle cry of neoliberalism. Pure capitalism of the Milton Friedman, neoliberal variety enables cronyism, monopoly, plunder, exploitation, greed, and exclusion, as I see it. The free market myth does not work in the world that I inhabit.
However, the potential generativity of “good capitalism,” where all stakeholders and the earth benefit is essential, but rare. perhaps an oxymoron. A pro-capitalist version of this argument is made by Baumol, et al.: Good Capitalism, Bad Capitalism.
As climate woes deepen and spread, as capitalism loses legitimacy, as inequality grows, and as fiscal crises loom, enlightened leaders of capitalism, typically from the investor class, will recognize the imperative for corporate social responsibility and sustainability.
Should growth falter, capitalism will sour in global public sentiment and forfeit its already shredded legitimacy, especially among youth. Export-driven economies (Germany, Singapore, South Korea) now wobble.
Long Term Implications
Should recession hit in 2020 or 2021, the duration might well drive US capitalism through 2025.
Watch several trends:
- Growth and investment is down in China. If the US economy weakens, given fiscal and monetary policies are out of play, the two major global national economies can not lead growth. DT is down as well, indeed, EU as a whole. Brexit drags within fractured EU. Japan remains in a torpor.
- Look deeper into China. Article above’s headline not justified by data. Worrisome is shift from export to consumer econoomy. Bond defaults up.
- So long as $ strong, US exports will lag. Trump’s attempt to revive US PWII industrial economy has failed, broken the bank, despite advantages of low interest rates, low inflation, and big deficits. This will not last.
- Despite the technology breakthroughs, the tech sector, a narrow sector, has not produced increases in overall productivity.
- Next US recession will not be industrial cycle, rescued by lower interest rates and Keynesian pump-priming — these have been played out. If ROW can’t perform, the potential for stagflation looms for perhaps a decade, pushing us to 2030, past tipping points.
- Trade war creates awful environment that will spread and deepen over time.
The longer time horizon here states that the next two years, 2020 and 2021, will mark an secular inflection bending toward mid-century and beyond: slow growth, multiple crises, climate catastrophe, and potentially a historical move away from democracy and toward reactionary authoritarianism. Capitalisms of all sorts will experience stress comparable to 2007 and 2008.
Recession inherently resides within capitalism’s notorious business cycle as a permanent and inherent feature of the dynamics of capitalism. Sustainers must anticipate these gyrations and splinters within capitalism at both the macro and the micro level. A fine-grained understanding of these dynamics will disclose opportunities to leverage and to spot potential crises that will exacerbate ecological, social, and economic conditions. I call this approach strategic sustainability.
I contend that now must provide the moment that finally acts upon the emerging civilizational crisis, a harbinger of
This post contains a running commentary on a brewing uncertain but essential economic trend, the historical bane of economic downturns that have chronically, historically plagued capitalism.