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Four Scenarios for the Future of Capitalism

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
25th April 2013


* Article: The Great Rebirth: The Future of Capitalism, Economy, and Exchange. Christopher Manfredi. Journal of Futures Studies, March 2013, 17(3): 127-130

The author writes:

“The world is still reeling from the shock of almost complete global financial collapse in 2008. Through the worried looks and furrowed brows, sprinklings of new forms of capitalism have emerged from this great financial collapse that has signaled not capitalisms end but its rebirth. This rebirth flourishes in different forms, buoyed by the basis of what made capitalism work in the first place: the power of people to affect enterprise both on an individual and governmental basis and the type of values place in their exchange. If the only ways for capitalism to change lies in these two sets of seemingly opposing forces than that means that a framework for the future of capitalism can be constructed based on the differences therein. The two main centers of focus for the different directions are the levels of government intervention and the type of exchange that will take place. The division of the forces creates four distinct orientations or inclinations for capitalism to fall into: Controlled, Unbridled, Personal, and Planetary.”

Here are his four Scenarios:

* Controlled Capitalism

The global economy has created vast wealth and prosperity for many around the world, but many countries see dangers in allowing free markets to be too free. In order to brace a public against the negative consequences of an off the rails marketplace, regulations, capital mechanisms and frameworks, and government and regional agreements and laws allow for capitalism to be guided and maintained. Controlled capitalism means using the combined power of government entities and world banks along with integrated market measures to ensure an efficient and robust economy.

The main interest in controlled capitalism is the ability to properly secure marketplace action and reaction with not only a set of regulations and rules, but the means of injecting large capital and investment where governmental or regional bodies sees fit. This mix of tight control through authoritarian decision constructs and large monetary bodies can be best seen up in three important factors that will influence this type of future capitalism: the increasing use social-market forces to affect economies, the cementation of the power of central banks to control market forces, and the gradual integration of world economy through monetary unionization.

* Unbridled Capitalism

In the world of unbridled capitalism, corporations and notable economic power players, large and small, can not only direct and hold their economic profit but are able to affect large scale initiatives for the good, and possibly detriment, of the public at large. The impact of a few companies or individuals affecting major monetary and marketplace changes means that the global economy can change rather quickly through the strategic intent of a benevolent corporation that seeks to help their fellow man or a crazed individual that whose economic leverage can bankrupt nations or empires.

Of course, not all of unbridled capitalism, however, will fit into the corporate and individual elite framework as the emergence of smaller-scale economic systems have begun to churn out worldwide. Much as corporate power and influence has the ability affect large scale social and economic change on a global level, microfinance, micro-lending, and the use of co-operative economic development does so on the smaller scale, bringing the global economy closer to home.

* Personal “Capitalism” or Exchange

New forms of capitalism or exchange has been achieved in personal capitalism, a means of subsistence based on an individual needs and desires. Even seen as an alternative to the welfare state, personal value exchanges, alternative currencies, and news ways of bartering could have the ability to not only reduce state, corporate, and individual welfare and charity by allowing creating a new system of local worth.

Wholly new ways of exchange has sprouted rather naturally as more emphasis has been made, away from the pure monetary needs. Local exchange transfer systems allow for economies to function without world markets. Neobartering continues at new paces in new areas of the world and even new ways of exchanging services such as raising one’s reputation to create ways of living through new economics forms has given rise to the many new forms of personal capitalism that innately have grown out of a need for people’s push for new vitalities.

* Planetary “Capitalism” or Exchange

The most opaque and less clear space in the future of capitalism and exchange remains in the spectrum of governmental assimilation and life value exchanges. As monetary exchanges gives individuals, governments, and corporations a value to perceive gains from, the life-affirming assessments of trade and barter has never been achieved on a global scale, which leaves many hopeful prognosticators of a whole Earth exchange program in the dark when it comes to the invention of such a system.

Out of this wonder and thought, new ideas have begun to be fleshed out such as a resource-based economy and a gift or sacred economy that all hope to advance a planetary force of shared values, ideals, and living conditions. The idea of a resource-based economy (RBE) stems from the underlying notion that money and credit evaluation are no longer needed to promote a healthy lifestyle for mankind as well as the Earth’s environment, and with the help of new technology, mankind has finally made it possible to share resources and allow for a true planetary equality. Coupled with the idea of a sacred economics or gift economy that brings humanity together rather than apart, planetary capitalism could be viewed as one of the greatest changes to the social paradigm in the world’s history.”

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