"Can capitalism survive?", asked Joseph Schumpeter in his seminal Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy. Schumpeter presented an extensive forecast that widespread prosperity and shared wealth would weaken the will of the citizenry to support the insecurity inherent in raw capitalism. Conservative ideologues admired Schumpeter, but since half of this classic explained the relevancy of Marx, two editions abbreviated out the objectionable Marx to leave only the pessmistic forecast: The citizenry will reject the rigors of capitallism for the security of the welfare-state. Schumpeter also forecast that poverty in the USA would be eradicated by 1975. All this was redacted from Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy by the champions of capitalism in the abbreviated Can Capitalism Survive?.
Free-market advocates behind Neoliberalism have refuted the Schumpeter harbinger. The domination by large corporations and supporitve mandarins of all kinds is at stake here, such as the capitalist State. I have long maintained that these corporate legal citizens (as declared by the USA Supreme Court) would provide lip service but continue to pillage for profit and thus economic growth will continue under the cover of Dark Money to cloak their real intentions and behavior. Corporate and ideological campaign donations enjoy free speech, under the aegis of SCOTUS.
The question posed in and about the USA questions whether Neoliberalism and sustainability can be reconciled. Sustainbility in the form of Ingegral Ecology defined in Laudato Si'. My self-defined challenge will be to discover a path through this maze. Now, I know of no such path, the Greek Aporia: There is no path through it, especially in the USA.
My manifesto responds that Neoliberalism and IE collide due to their irreconciliability. I introduced The Statement of Concern in 2007 without changing a word still. The NEL-IE impasse now must work within the timeline of CC.
The basic strategy requires that Neoliberalism morph into a softer version of capitalism less central to human activity, more fair, and split into an export-oreiented long-distance trade model complementing, not ruling, a locally cosmopolitan blend of local commerce and expanded social capital. Talk of shareholder capital giving way to stakeholder capital, mounting CSR and ESG campaigns, would thus soften capitalism. Nope.
So what can be done as Climate Change demands a societal, global, macro response a decade ago? No doubt, dear reader, you see the problem clearly. I scout for a feasible strategic solution, searching for a path through this Aporia, meaning No path through it. To Aristotle in his seminal Metaphysics, Aporia offers the most challenging endeavor in constructive thought.
By now, the attentive reader has grasped that this project focuses on the USA in a turbulent world that includes another Great Power, China, and a rising Asia. Further, I watch carefully the lurking authoritarians Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell, the slim Congressional edge available to President Joe Biden, and the inevitable Black Swans on the horizon. Beware.
Strategy: Soften Capitalism, Enlarge Integral Ecology
Here is my strategy:
Soften capitalism from above and enlarge the scope of Integral Ecology from below.
Envision the gap, or Overshoot, between the effects of rapacious profit-driven economic growth of commodities and the formation of social capital within Integral Ecology. Narrow this Overshoot to sustainable levels before the inevitable Tipping Points induced by Climate Catastrophe shrink Earth's carrying capacity.
Both movements could be active but hard to measure but easy to observe through cases and anecdotes, all subject to bias. The excess of anthropocentric load to carrying capacity must be radically and rapidly diminished. The Overshoot must be reduced, addressing the excessive stress to the Earth of human population, consumption, and production. Integral Ecology improves the habitation of Earth within its constituent bioregions, including cities and their hinterlands. Carrying capacity of bioregions can be restored and even enlarged through science, technology, behavior, and ethics. The know-how is there. Recall the pithy slogan of economist Kenneth Boulding: "If it exists, it's possible." Ideentify, replicate, and diffuse Best Practices. Some preliminary thoughts:
Perhaps with feasible adjustments, especially in the USA and China, a path to soften capitalism can occur. A potentially supporitve federated political economy flickers here and there but may not withstand reactionary opposition. If not, the reconciliation fails. (As I approach my 76th birthday, I would be happy to see a radical shift in these directions rather than climate induced catastrophes. I would like to be alive to observe 2030.)
Local and regional societies, ecologies, and economies require nurturing from within. Much exists within civil society and local small business from which to build. Bioregions beg for nurturing.
The gap between the top and the bottom layers could narrow, facilitating pluralist, prosperous commonwealths. Wins here and there within supportive governments might be adequately leveraged to forestall dire consequences to civilization and to nature --- life on Earth. To all my colleagues who advocate the elimination of capitalism: I wish you success.