I thought Capitalism by Paul Bowles was a great read. Bowles did an excellent job explaining and breaking down economic theories and concepts from the very start of Capitalism to the 21st century. I would recommend Capitalism as a guide book that contains a careful analysis of the capitalist system and also an almost history book for Capitalism. Bowels does an excellent job of highlighting the fact that even though Capitalism has evolved over time and continues to evolve, it will always have certain common denominators that are unchanging.
In the first chapter of Capitalism, Bowles, nicely sets the table with a mental framework of how to think about Capitalism. Bowles provides the following description of Capitalism– “Capitalism is a system for organizing production, which is based in the institution of private property and the market and relies upon the pursuit of private profit as its driving force”.
Since Capitalism has so many moving parts, it is easy for an uninformed user to perceive all of the motions as one fluid body; this, however, is not the case; it should be viewed as several moving parts. Bowels argues that a capitalist system ideally is not viewed with a mono-lens, because other processes take the form of the system as well as political and social networks. Bowles notes some defining characteristics of Capitalism, such as private ownership, markets, and the profit motive.
In the second chapter, Bowles puts forth several arguments to support the capitalist system, such as Capitalism being both free and natural. Bowels goes on to express that democracy and Capitalism historically have formed a symbiotic relationship to further and enhance the open world. Bowles also tries to convey that a capitalist country is not bound to democratic societies, which is not expressed as well in data. Bowels express that an economic system based on the markets, enforces humanity and freedoms. Bowles also notes that private property is a necessary motivator to fuel profit hunger, which is essential for Capitalism to run effectively. I found that the most moving argument for Capitalism produced by Bowles was that Capitalism is more effective and efficient than alternative economic systems.
In the third chapter, Bowles tries to rationalize his view of Capitalism by discussing and entertaining negative aspects of Capitalism. Examples would be that Capitalism is not a just system or that it is unfair, since it does not distribute wealth equally. Bowles reflects on the work of Karl Marks, who notes that Capitalism is founded on generating revenue for private individuals that is full of potential. But the working class is taken advantage of because greed will never end; therefore, employers will abuse employees if they have the opportunity too.
In the fourth Chapter, Bowels discusses Capitalism within the mid-18th century through the 19th century. Bowels, in the first half of the chapter, reviews the allegorization of Capitalism. The other part of the section talks about the 1930’s Great Depression and all the consequences it caused. Bowels makes note that World War 1 and the Great Depression caused a considerable decline in the utilization of Capitalism; however, there was an enormous turning which occurred in the two decades following the Second World War.
In the fifth chapter, Bowels overarchingly discusses post-1945 Capitalism. Bowels go over the adverse effects that were left after the great depression in capitalist countries. I think Bowls does an excellent job of capturing the remains in one sentence–“all capitalist countries were left with a legacy of the devastation of the previous 50 year“.
In the sixth chapter, Bowels continues his post-1945 era analysis and how Capitalism has evolved. Bowels notes the Post-1945 period there was an increase in state socialism that spread globally. Bowels also indicates that a fantastic growth period occurred in the years of 1945 to around 1973. However, what goes up must come down-capitalism saw a decline in the 1970s. In the 1980s ushered in a neoliberal framework which increased capital and labour. Bowels also highlights the failure of Bretton Woods, which caused a surge in oil prices and motivated discovery for free-market solutions, that set the table for neoliberalism ideology. Bowels concludes the chapter noting the rise of Capitalism due to technology and communication enhancements and the decline of state socialism.
In the seventh chapter, Bowles explains globalization through a capitalist lens. Bowels goes through some of the issues presented in global Capitalism, such as environmental issues, human rights, etc. As well, Bowels elaborates on major economic countries joining the global economy, such as India, Russia, and China. Bowles also notes some of the protests that occur because of large financial institutions like the world bank. The protests are generally motivated to banks viewing clients with inequality-giving more favor to higher-income business. Bowels also notes that there are four significant capitalist perspectives: The first view is that globalization weakens the nation-state. Bowels notes that technological advancements have fueled globalization, which tends to have more favorable results in poorer countries than more affluent countries. The second perspective Bowles provides is that the states have a significant influence over the investments and control. Thirdly, is that wealthy and influential countries tend to remain in power while poorer countries tend to stay have modest benefits. Lastly, is the importance of regionalism. Regional activities and politics tend to have a higher impact than global issues.
To conclude, bowels have shown that through its inception till present Capitalism has evolved and faced various precautions, competition, and the test of time it has proven to be one of the best forms of an economic system. I found that Bowels tried to emphasize that even though Capitalism has found success, it is far from being a wholly accepted model. History has shown there have always been those who have fought to end Capitalism in pursuit of a more equitable model. This is not to say that Capitalism has not evolved; it has there are different variants of Capitalism that differ throughout the world. Even though Capitalism is very susceptible to things like recessions and depression, due to various factors such as market adjustment Capitalism today is thriving. Even China, which is rooted in communism, is now embracing some forms of communism.
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