The Neo-liberal culture of competition

Two new books explore how the globalised world has come to accept the logic of competition as the overarching key to the good society, not just as an engine of the economy. This link leads to a short summary of the key arguments in the second of these books by its author – Will Davies The Limits of Neoliberalism: Sovereignty, Authority and the Logic of Competition.

Imagine a Spaceship with a culture that accepted the sharp division of the crew into winners and losers and which concentrated wealth and power into ever fewer hands (the 1% or even the 0,1%). Not really a recipe for general well-being. Davies and Thomas Piketty Capital in the 21st Century throw much light on a highly topical concern about the relationship between the culture of competition that has filtered into most social as well as economic arenas, and the gross and accelerating inequalities of wealth and power distribution on our finite planet. The central thesis of Piketty’s book is that inequality is not an accident, but rather a feature of capitalism, and can only be reversed through state intervention.  The book thus argues that unless capitalism is reformed, the very democratic order will be threatened, The dominance of consumerism and market forces in recent decades over citizenship and and state regulation to ensure a fair society seems to be bad news for the well-being of Spaceship Earth and its passengers .

In this short blog Paul Ehrlich links what he terms’faith-based economics’ (i.e. the belief that capitalism’s faith in economic growth can use more growth to solve the problems that growth has caused) to the end of civilization. This logic has the problem as the solution to the problem!

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