Trevar is impeccable and undemanding, pre-consuming his commeasuring or pruning snootily.
Does inequality threaten capitalism? Is inequality undermining European democratic capitalism? The answer, at least in the medium term, seems to be in the negative. For the first time in human history, a system that can be called capitalist is dominant over the entire globe.
Such a system is conventionally defined as consisting of legally free labor, private ownership of capital, decentralized coordination and pursuit of profit. One does not need to go far back into the past, or to have a great knowledge of history, to realize how unique and novel this is. Centrally planned socialism was only recently eliminated as a competitor.
And nowhere in the world do we now find unfree labor playing an important economic role, as it did until some years ago. Such is the hegemony of capitalism as a worldwide system that even those who are unhappy with it and with rising inequality — whether locally, nationally or globally — have no realistic alternatives to propose.
Forms of state capitalism, as in Russia and China, do exist, but this is capitalism nevertheless: Private profit motive and private companies are dominant. But since no ideological alternatives currently exist — and even less, political parties or groups to implement them — the hegemony of capitalism looks pretty unassailable.
Of course, nothing guarantees that it would look like that to our children or grandchildren, for new ideologies can be invented. But this is how it looks to a reasonable observer today. Is democratic capitalism sustainable?
This is already a different question. Note first that these two words — democracy and capitalism — were not often combined in history. Capitalism in the absence of democracy has been a common feature throughout history.
It even occurred in the United States via the exclusion of blacks from the body politic, and in England with its severely limited franchise based on ownership of property at levels sufficient to include only the elite.
Thus, it does not take huge leaps of imagination to see that capitalism and democracy can be decoupled. And inequality can play an important role in that.
It already does so by politically empowering the rich to a much greater extent than the middle class and the poor. The rich dictate the political agenda, finance the candidates who protect their interests, and make sure that the laws that are in their interest are voted in. The American political scientist Larry Bartels finds that U.
It is simply that the middle class had an interest in limiting the power of the rich so that they would not rule over them and of the poor so that they would not expropriate them. Large numbers of a middle class also meant that a lot of people shared similar material positions, developed similar tastes and tended to eschew extremism of both the left and the right.
Thus, the middle class provided for both democracy and stability. All of this is under attack by rising inequality. The middle class in Western democracies is today both less numerous and economically weaker relative to the rich than it was 20 years ago.
This means that approximately one out of every four persons who were in the middle class is no longer there. Inthe average income of the U.
Now it has dropped to only three-quarters of the mean. The combined result of the decline in relative numbers and relative income is a sharp drop in the economic power of the middle class.
Inthe U. That is a decline of one-third. The political and economic importance of the middle class has accordingly dwindled. It is not difficult to project into the future the current trends, most vividly seen in the United States.
There, financial support from rich individuals and companies ensures political success. Rome seamlessly grew to be an autocratic Empire, while masquerading as a Republic ruled by a Senate.
More recently, a bureaucratic class ruled Eastern Europe, while claiming that both economic and political power was in the hands of the people. Every dictator today argues that he embodies the will of the people — that is, believes himself to be a democrat.A new study from Harvard Business School shows that economic inequality and stagnant middle-class incomes are big concerns for America's business elite.
And while it shows that the rich believe.
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