The Decline of Capitalism
Coupled with the Industrial Revolution, capitalism brought enormous change to the world. It was far more efficient than previous systems, as it stimulated investment and production. However, what was an advantage at the beginning, led to its decline when pushed too far. The seeds of its disintegration were sown around the same time as the collapse of the Soviet Union, its counterpart and foe for decades: it will be argued below that, in the early 1980s, Margaret Thatcher (British prime minister, 1979–90) and Ronald Reagan (US president, 1981–89) helped deliver a fatal, albeit unintentional and slow-burning, blow to capitalism.
Even if we agree that the system is in a downward spiral, it may be just a phase, not necessarily the sign of a terminal decline. The end of capitalism has already been prophesied many times (arguably rivalled only by predictions of the Second Coming of Christ). So what is the difference this time? Why can this period be legitimately called the final stage of capitalism?
The pressing question now is whether or not the system has passed the point of no return – in other words, whether it can still be repaired and saved. Perhaps we can modify or improve it from within? Alas, this doesn’t seem very likely. The corporate and finance capitalism that has been unleashed in the last forty years has gone too far, and actually against some basic tenets of the system such as thrift, competition, and innovation.
Throughout history, those who wanted to make a change would usually focus on overthrowing the existing system and smashing the resistance to change. The argument goes that we need to deal with those who have power and want to preserve the old system, as they will not give it up willingly. This type of revolution can be called the negative revolution.