The present discourse on Capitalism has two kinds of people, a pessimist and an optimist. A pessimist is one who says, ‘things are so bad that it cannot get any worse’, an optimist is the one who butts in here and says ‘wait, it can..’; well when an economic system can be reduced to the previous joke, it is certainly time to transform the system.
Transforming Capitalism is a timely intervention which provokes us to wonder what the priorities and objectives of an economic system should be, and the attributes it should show. The book is not a treatise on these enquiries but gives us direction on how to answer them. And I personally was very happy to find ‘Kautilya’ being mentioned in the introduction itself and being noted in the book as the world’s first economist, and I may add this first economist may well help in the transformation.
Enterprising spirits are very important, and any system which would like to curtail that will faces a problem. While capitalism requires transformation, we have to understand what the problems with present day capitalism are; if we understand capitalism, even if incorrectly, as the free market’s enterprising systems of economics, then the financial crisis of 2008 has nothing to do with real capitalism or free markets, the problem was the nature of international banking, probably more importantly American Wall Street investment banking. The crisis of 2011 in Europe was in government bonds and the structure of the EU monetary system, nothing to do with the free markets per se. We have to have a notion of capitalism in mind; if we think that capitalism is an economic system in the western hemisphere, that notion might not be entirely correct.
Then what is capitalism? Well, it was a term founded by Karl Marx to criticize a socio economic system prevalent in his time in Europe which was not an equal opportunity society, and he felt that the system was being managed by the wealthy. However, this definition would have found few takers especially in the West in the 1970s when Milton Friedman and his like were heralding a new economic structure from the Chicago school of Economics, which proved to be a worthy system which stood against the Soviet structural economics. Capitalism became a system where a person with ideas is free to take ...
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