Can Capitalism Be Saved in the Automation Age?


The world is made up of systems. Economics, politics, religion, and more. These larger systems are very powerful. When designed and implemented efficiently these systems are generous, but when they fail to  understand their primary function they can become most harmful to the population. Regardless of anyone’s political stance, we can all agree that the main goal is to avoid harm to the population.

Our systems have done very well for us, despite all of the chaos, our world is healthier and more intelligent than it has ever been. All these systems have helped us achieve the technological advances we have today. But now we are faced with the conundrum of our technology surpassing our systems. In the 1990’s we were waiting around for our computers to finish their work. Today, if our computer isn’t waiting for us, it’s already off working without the aid of a user. People have become the bottleneck in the system.

The problem that Capitalism faces is that it is designed to encourage investment. That all works well and good when the investor is a human being who is going to turn the rewards of that investment into jobs and services in the community. But since the majority of the trades are now automated, there are no ethical intentions to be considered. This is why we see all of the capital being funneled into fewer and fewer monolithic corporates, who are then in turn investing heavily in automation. It is building itself with or without your permission.

Wealth doesn’t grow when ore is cut out of the ground or when a new train is built. It grows when money changes hands from person to person. It grows when people don’t think about bills, food is on the table, and someone gets on that train and goes somewhere. Wealth is spending time with the people you love and exploring new adventures in humanity. If Capitalism can’t provide this function, then its failure is imminent.

There are new jobs being created. But they are being created by people and most of them are government busy work that is completely unnecessary. The government is failing to create anything innovative and the entrepreneurs are stifled because they cannot raise the large amounts of capital needed for these jobs. The days of the garage shop heroes are over unless something changes soon.

The automated corporations are creating things, but no one can afford to buy them. Huge amounts of expensive education are needed to overcome the leap from minimum wage employment to the first rung on the ladder. People need to each be taught individually, while with automation it only has to be taught once and you can have as many workers as you need. The work force is hugely overpopulated with intelligent people with no work to do.

To put it in perspective of the concept of money in the hand, the consumer class of shopper who fuels the local need for services is shrinking, while the survivor class shoppers are growing in number, which supports non-local and automated services. The prosumer is mainly small business entrepreneurs who are growing, but at a snail’s pace and have a tendency to spend more than they can sustain.

This ball is already rolling. If Capitalism can’t address these problems that are growing exponentially, another system will come in and try to take its place. Right now, Socialism is trying to fill the vacuum in the functional economy that Capitalism has left behind. Often this is the sign of the end of a civilization.  Ayn Rand was right about that. But she wrongly identified Socialism as the cause, when in fact, it was only a symptom of a failing system. Capitalism is failing faster than we can manage and if we cannot solve the root of its problem, we may soon see hard times ahead.

If Capitalism is a commodity on the unregulated market of world systems, it’s shares bought and sold with the public opinion of the people, then its value is severely plummeting. What is Capitalism going to do to restore confidence in it’s ability to deliver, not jobs or work, but a wealthy living to the American people?

About Author

Punk Rock circus star Ken "The King" Poirier is currently working on theories of philosophy and system design.