Contradictions in capitalist systems

Experimental visualization of narrower problems

Advanced capitalism is characterized by contradictions, namely the emergence of conditions -- through the very success of capitalism -- which are fundamentally antagonistic to capitalism itself, intensify with time, and cannot be resolved within the capitalist framework. In short, the development of capitalism produces changes that call into question the social desirability of the drive for profits. Raw capitalism becomes incompatible with the further development of human potential and capacities. Such contradictions include:

  • Capitalism promises to meet basic needs but is increasingly unable to meet that promise, especially in developing countries. By its very nature is creates unequal development and is unable to institute economic reforms that would co-opt burgeoning anti-imperialist struggles for liberation.
  • With continued economic growth, especially in the industrialized world, consumption fades in comparison to other dimensions of well-being, such as the availability of creative and socially useful work and meaningful individual development. But because capitalism must continually expand, the realization of these needs is incompatible with capitalist relations of commodities, production and consumption.
  • Capitalist economic growth becomes increasingly predicated on irrationality and production of waste (eg military expenditure and planned obsolescence of consumer goods), thus exhausting natural resources, threatening the ecological balance and undermining the asset base of industrial productivity.
  • The expansion of capitalist production draws an ever-increasing share of the population within a country into alienating wage and salary work, sensitizing them to the oppressive conditions under which they are being called upon to function.
  • The internationalization of capitalism creates a corresponding world-wide proletariat which becomes progressively sensitized to the way in which the capitalist mode reinforces exploitative relations between countries.
  • Through its increasing need for a more educated labour force, workers become increasingly capable of grasping the essential irrationality of the system, the inequitable distribution of power within it and the associated social division of labour.
  • The rise of capitalism has mirrored a "hollowing out of meaning": Marx and Engels wrote in The Communist Manifesto that capitalism ‘has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation.’
Problem Type:
F: Fuzzy exceptional problems
Date of last update
04.10.2020 – 22:48 CEST