A notorious critic of the current capitalist model, the street painter Banksy, known as the “faceless artist” has his works stamped on walls all over London. Even with his origin, name and profession hidden from the public, his powerful work impacts generations beyond European borders and raises the debate about the also invisible hand of the market. With the world altered by an ongoing pandemic that has already claimed the lives of nearly 4 million people, bringing light to capitalism gained urgent contours and for this economists, businessmen and politicians proposed to be at the forefront of this change that involves, in in short, putting human capital ahead of finance.
There are many examples of giants who are willing to open a dialogue about contemporary capitalism. Apple, Amazon, E-Bay, Facebook, Pepsi, Tesla and Wal-Mart are some of the examples of conglomerates willing to rethink capitalism. To condense this thought, economists Michael Jacobs and Mariana Mazzucato wrote Rethinking Capitalism. In-depth study of the advances that the economic model has brought to society and the cost of this growth. “The performance of Western capitalism in recent decades has been deeply problematic in relation to inequality and environmental damage.” Proof of this are Oxfam numbers. According to the organization, last year, the richest 2,100 people in the world concentrated the wealth of 60% of the world’s population. In the 1980s, the proportion was 45%.
And this is not a communist discussion. Proof of this is that one of the main supporters of the revision of capitalism is Paul Tudor Jones, an American billionaire and manager of one of the biggest hedge funds in the world. According to him, American society needs to understand that there is a problem with the way capitalism has evolved. “It’s like a person who has drug problems. First you have to accept that something is not right,” he said at TED Talk California. Days later, on his social networks, he stated that the problem was the idea that profit must be immediate. Christina Garlin, an economist and researcher at the US Center for Economic Development, is moving in the same direction. “The rampant use of fossil fuels and deforestation in Europe are proof of this,” he told DINHEIRO.
FUTURE But not everything is lost. According to Mazzucato, there are viable solutions for a renewal of capitalism without taking its essence from it. And that’s where big companies and civil society come in. Before the pandemic there was a social upheaval erupting protests America, Africa, Asia and Europe and despite appearing in different political spectrums, all were asking, in essence, the same thing. A review of how the market treats the individual. Whether in the search for rights, jobs, or political demands, the focus of the discussion was the economic liberalism of supply designed in the post-war period with the creation of the Mont Pèlerin Society.
The problem with this model that allowed the world to grow after World War II is that it is only aimed at accumulation. For Paul Tudor Jones the proof of this is in the United States. Since 1980, the American poorest class has had the same purchasing power, while the ultra-rich rose by 6%, according to the United Nations Program for Human Development (UNDP). And this data is what concerns companies. In order to make a profit in the future, everyone needs to have more money.
In this sense, Jonathan Porritt, author of Capitalism As If The World Matters, defends the construction of “five capitals” essential for a more inclusive capitalism. They are Natural, Human, Social, Manufactured and Financial and they all fit into current models. Thus, actions that lead to greater worker satisfaction, better employment conditions and environmental compensation would already be in place in at least 180 companies willing to rethink capitalism. With profit at stake, they know which capital needs to be worth more. In one of his panels, Banksy wrote that “Art must comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable”, trading art for capital, it is clear the directions that capitalism can take in the coming years.