chapter  8
21 Pages

Humanising Capitalism: Which Way Forward?

People everywhere dream of better days to come, when poverty is no more, discrimination and violence have been banished for good, the air is clean and all are free to enjoy life to the full. Of course, we all wake up to a very different reality, but that has never stopped us from trying to change it for the better. Utopians apart, we know that we can never have a perfect world, but why can’t we find a better balance between economic growth, political freedom, social cohesion and the preservation of what we care for in ourselves and the world around us? In theory this is an easy question to answer, but in practice we have not been able to demonstrate a viable non-capitalist route to sustained economic growth. There is nothing in history to suggest that capitalism is anything but disruptive, dirty and unequal, however many material and technological advances it brings. Yet the alternatives we have tried have turned out even worse (like centrally-planned economies), and the others we still talk about (like co-operative selfreliance) lack a constituency to put them into practice. So we are left with the task of humanising capitalism, that is, preserving the dynamism of markets, trade and entrepreneurial energy while finding better ways to distribute the surplus they create and reshape the processes that produce it.