SERIOUS THREATS OF GLOBAL CAPITALISM TODAY
The current world scenario
- Many of the major problems facing the world today are caused not so much by human greed as by an economic system that demands above everything else continual economic [GDP] growth if it is to survive at all. In the absence of continued growth global capitalism will almost certainly collapse into a severe and prolonged depression. At the present time the overriding need to avoid such a major catastrophe forces governments and the business world to work closely together to expand overall demand on an ongoing basis - even though they might well recognise that adverse environmental and/or social consequences will inevitably result. A pertinent example is that massive advertising campaigns are launched all the time to encourage people to buy ever more consumer goods despite wide recognition that the natural resources required for their production are already under considerable pressure.
- Most mainstream economists believe that even if the present economic system compels continued expansion in order to avoid collapse, this basic feature nevertheless does not make it inherently unsustainable. They argue that infinite material economic expansion is quite possible in a finite world (do they or do they merely avoid the issue?) because a combination of new technologies and relative price changes over time will enable the system to cope with whatever impaired social systems, polluted environments, or shortages of raw materials its functioning actually creates. Be that as it may, it is this narrow materialistic approach to development that is being strongly challenged by New Economics - in essence for seriously neglecting the destructive external social costs of production in today's market economy.
- With some notable exceptions the mainstream economics profession has not regarded it as necessary or useful to investigate what exactly it is about the present economic system that necessitates its continual growth, nor has it examined possible remedies. The profession has also failed to identify the key characteristics which an economic system should possess to be truly sustainable (i.e. capable of "continuing for hundreds of years") without causing environmental and/or social collapse. "Capable" is the key notion here: a genuinely sustainable economy will indeed change over the years, yet no economic system can be regarded as "sustainable" if at some time in its future it will be forced to make major [externally induced] alterations in the way it operates in order to avoid a massive collapse.
The SANE perspective
- The South African New Economics Foundation (SANE) has been established to fill the above substantial and important gaps currently being left by conventional economics and economists. Our aim is to promote and popularise analyses and research, focussing on today's economic system - especially as it operates in South Africa. Specifically SANE seeks to clarify: