Capitalism Has Fallen Prey To Capitalists

Posted by Disha Rawal in Society
December 22, 2017

In 2003, Raghuram Rajan, along with Luigi Zingales, published a book called “Saving Capitalism from Capitalists”. The book talks about exactly what it promises: the fact that the biggest danger faced by capitalism is not from socialist politics, or artistic resistance to markets, or anything of that sort – but from capitalists, the money spinners, the well-to-do politically connected lot, themselves.

So firstly, why is capitalism worthy of protection?

This question deserves an answer, especially in light of the eminent scholarship and artistry, that condemns how capitalism commodifies everything and assigns every entity a price value. However, a spin-off to this is that capitalism gives everyone an opportunity to feel worthy, valuable and useful. You only pay the price for something that you consider valuable.

So, an 18-year-old teenager’s zany, scandalous artwork commands a price, and so does your oil mogul’s petrol supply. Both these people need access to other people, to markets, to sell their work. Both need basic resources like health and education to maximize their potential. However, the 18-year-old also needs a great internet connection at her place, to receive messages, upload her work on Instagram, and start a blog.

However, the most powerful capitalist in the world chose to kill her opportunities. As net neutrality has now been repealed by the purportedly ‘business-friendly’ Trump administration in support of large providers like Verizon and AT&T, small content providers like her, who can’t pay these corporations sums as large as maybe Facebook can, are thrown to the margins of the internet.

This means that very few people are going to see her blog because it loads way too slowly. Or that she will have to shift her entire base to social media websites, which may not allow her to distinguish herself from a flood of other artists who feed content onto the same screens.

Aside from being another proof of Rajan’s predictive genius, this is a classic example of capitalism being encroached by capitalists. Earlier, the artist could supply content whenever she wished, and to whoever she wished; now, her open playing field is lost to a cartel of businessmen in power and businessmen out of power. In fact, this is not the first time in history that something like this has happened, and is definitely not the last time that it will happen.

Fraudulent rewarding of contracts guaranteeing exclusivity, skewed regulations and unfair bids can always be used to curtail free-flowing market forces in an economy, by people who owe their growth to these very forces.

Thus, a business-friendly leadership does not imply being friendly to businesses – but being friendly to none. It implies open provision of resources like education, healthcare, food and, in this century – the internet to all individuals, so that everybody can set up a successful business. This may seem like a job that a redistribution oriented government will take up. However, if any state is truly committed to exploiting the full potential of markets, this is where they start.