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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: March 2020

10 - Conclusion

Summary

Capitalism proved itself to be a peculiar organism that survived cycles of expansion and crisis, mutating with new challenges and giving rise to innovative sparks that kindled the new wave of expansion. Spheres of production and finance attracted capital in successive phases and at predictable sequence in search of profit, giving rise to a dynamism often supplemented by the rise of a new technological paradigm. It seems we arrived at a phase of capitalist growth that manifests contradictory tendencies in its various aspects – ignoring those might indulge pragmatic pretence but actually do not contribute to resolving persistent problems. We need industrial growth, but industrialisation cannot be a goal in itself. Delinking of industrial production from employment is not a problem of industry per se, but of a mode of industrialisation that invokes an exclusionary trajectory. It is indeed true that the communication and information revolution reduces transaction costs to almost zero and, therefore, human interaction is bound to be globalised. Developing countries participate in global trade and production, ideas flow across borders, workers migrate, capital's movement becomes seamless, but all these transactions are embedded in a structure of asymmetry in which human contributions are valued in different ways, exploitation and expropriation continue with a recreated institutional structure. Capitalism, in its highly financialised phase, can earn profits without producing and it appears that financial transactions and profits emerging out of it do not require labour exploitation as it used to be in twentieth-century factories. The apparent invisibility of labour and exploitation in the maze of financial transactions is because it is seen as separated from the ‘dirty’ world of production, a real non-hazardous, technical, neutral face of capitalism. It is also notable that the information revolution has permeated every bit of productive activity and is increasingly corrosive to the institution of private property and appropriation of private gains. Information is abundant and, hence, price mechanisms which are only capable of sensing scarcity are gradually losing acceptability in many social transactions. Knowledge commodities, being ‘non-rival’ in nature, can only be owned through a continuously growing monopoly structure which prevents use of knowledge, excluding its potential users. Neoliberal capitalism falls apart as newer technologies demand less hierarchical collaborative production structures that rising monopolies fail to offer.

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