Sunday, November 03, 2013

The Capitalist Religion

Trying to distill Prof Harari's insights into capitalism and its intimate link to science is a challenge that I will doubtless flunk, but let me mention a few ideas I found striking:

Capitalism depends on growth. It makes little sense in a zero sum world.

Capitalism depends on credit and credit depends on faith in a more prosperous future.

Growth comes ultimately from scientific progress, which explains the intimate link between capitalism and science. Industry and governments fund science to promote growth.

The sacred law of capitalism is that profits of production must be reinvested in more production.

Capital and wealth are not the same thing. Capital must be invested in production. Wealth can be frittered away in conspicuous consumption.

If growth stops, the edifice collapses.

This last is hardly obvious to me, and I think at least arguable. I suspect that future arguments may hinge on this.