“We are orphans of an alternative to capitalism”

“We are orphans of an alternative to capitalism”
Written by on100dayloans

You have just published “Le capitalisme” in the famous edition “Que sais je? “. This is the 4th version that is offered to readers, the previous one having been written in 2011. So what justifies this new approach to capitalism?

The previous edition (1) was written under the influence of globalization and the financialization of the economy. Since the 2008 crisis and then that of 2020, it was necessary to review the copy because we got out of the financialization of the economy.

Ecological and societal concerns have become almost as important as the financial dimension of capitalism alone. Capitalism evolved by absorbing new realities.

To define capitalism, it was previously opposed to collectivism. How do you define it today?

It is true that we have often contrasted the two with for collectivism, the system organizing the public ownership of the means of production against capitalism, which organizes the private ownership of the means of production. But this vision has no longer made sense since the 1990s and the collapse of the Soviet bloc. Some even spoke of the End of History (2) because capitalism had finally taken over.

In fact, it’s not that simple. There are always means of production which are not private such as hospitals. Above all, I wanted to describe the different forms of capitalism today. Chinese capitalism is not that of the United States. English capitalism is no longer the same as that of the 19th century. The forms are therefore different with, however, a common structure where we find the nation state and companies.

“My position is to relativize capitalism”

You are therefore more inspired by the approach of another economist from Lyon, François Perroux, who in 1949 wrote the first “Que sais je? on capitalism…

I am indeed an heir of François Perroux. But he wrote his work when communism was very present. My position is to relativize capitalism.

It is a form of organization that will continue to evolve. But we also need to ask ourselves what kind of society we want. And that does not necessarily pass in the logic of capitalism. I believe that we should at least ask ourselves what should be kept from capitalism after having assessed what it brings positively but also what it destroys.

Among the candidates for the presidential election in France, there are no less than three candidates who declare themselves “anti-capitalist”. What do you think ?

I think this is proof of the vitality of our capitalist democracy. I respect their arguments, particularly on the effects of a system that can have negative effects, that’s obvious. Afterwards, we can always wonder why we are anti-capitalist and above all what is the alternative to capitalism. But it does not exist.

Criticism is essential but it is not enough. We are orphans of an alternative to capitalism. We always reason within the framework of capitalism as the question of purchasing power or the question of producing “greener”. We should be able to get out of this framework.

Precisely how do you imagine post-capitalism?

The civilization of capitalism has marked our history and it will be replaced by another civilization.

Post-capitalism can evolve through several scenarios: one of having a centralized, authoritarian, Chinese-style state; another consists in living in a neo-feudalism under the domination of large private groups of the GAFA type (3); it is also necessary to conceive of a post-capitalism marked by nomadism, that is to say with population movements that would call into question the notion of private property as it is defined today.

The story has no end.

(1): The 2011 version was written by Claude Jessua, that of 1977 by Alain Cotta and the first in 1947 by François Perroux.

(2) Francis Fukuyama, American professor of political science wrote “The End of History” in 1992.

(3) Gafa: acronym for the four major American Net groups for Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon.

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