- Adam Engstrom
- United Kingdom
Service Learning Coordinatior, AmeriCorps
Possible Alternatives for Capitalism?
Lately, the current public discourse surrounding capitalism presents it as "bad" due to its propensity to create and maintain economic disparities and its poor management of environmental resources. This discourse was largely vocalized by the Occupy Movement (although I tend to agree with Dr. Martin Bauer of LSE ISP that it is more of a "rhythm" than a "movement", but that is another discussion entirely). However, what I think is really at the core of the Occupy Movement (Rhythm) is a critique of the competitive nature of the capitalism model, i.e. that the system tends to promote individual property/rewards than collective cooperation.
Taking a page from Professor Saadi Lahlou (also of the LSE ISP), one could argue, in contrast to capitalism, that socialism and communism focus much more the cooperative nature of humanity. However, the problem with just focusing on the cooperative part of human nature results in what is often called the "problem of the commons" or "public goods" in political science. In other words, while it is true that people can be cooperative, they also have a competitive side to them that often results taking advantage of others' work to benefit themselves.
So the question becomes (as aptly voiced by Dr. Lahlou, if socialism/communism overly focuses on the cooperative part of the human psyche, and capitalism overly focuses on the competitive nature of humanity, and this is the reason why neither (nor ultimately will the Occupy Movement be) are highly successful in a general, historical sense (apologies for the run-on sentence), then wouldn't the best system by a combination of both parts of the psyche, i.e. a system that simultaneously encourages both cooperation and competition within one unified framework?
Thus, I pose to you (the TED Community) to develop a workable system that allows for both parts of the human psyche to work together. Such a system would clearly be the best model for the future.