Capitalism greed harms democracy

Published 10:42 am Tuesday, July 24, 2012

“No use in sitting alone in your room, come hear the music play,” “Life is a cabaret my friend, come to the cabaret” from the musical “Cabaret” that explored the attitudes of Berliners as they slid into fascism and World War II.

Our current situation invites comparison: our economic malaise, the death of our dreams and our frustration with institutions. Our cabaret consists of casinos, computer games, cocaine, etc. We are not motivated by the slogan, “When times are tough the tough get going.”

Instead we deny inconvenient truths, create new tools for financial speculation and inflate economic bubbles trying to perform CPR on the corpse of consumer capitalism. One can’t deny that this system allowed things that dignify human life: education, public health and medicine.

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Capitalism’s failure is its inability to see that its benefits are universally shared and its failure to eat its environmental and social costs.

No system, ideology or religion can guarantee results. Uncertainty produces anxiety. Anxiety once assuaged by participation in meaningful work is intensified by the meaningless money-grubbing that increasingly characterizes today’s economy. Opinion makers can channel public anxiety into hatred of their enemies displacing rational thought necessary to the maintenance of democracy.

“Democracy is a system that creates the economic, political and cultural conditions for the full development of the individual,” per Erich Fromm.

If we would preserve democracy we must develop an economic system that allows all citizens to share in the world’s meaningful work and in the opportunities for personal development our technology provides. The system must nourish the human being, not the fictitious corporate person.


John E. Gibson

Blooming Prairie