The author provides a critical review of Jerry Mander’s new book The Capitalism Papers: Fatal Flaws of an Obsolete System.
In liberal punditry, the acceptable spectrum of discourse does not even permit use of the word [capitalism], and in the foundation-sponsored non-profit sector, such talk would be financial suicide. Nor are US trade unions, what’s left of them, anti-capitalist. (In fact their leaders explicitly claim their aim is to get capitalism to work better.) As he correctly points out, there is an unspoken consensus: “it is as if global capitalism” – a human creation – “occupies a virtually permanent existence, like a religion, a gift of God, infallible.”I have long thought that capitalism functioned as a religion, especially in the US. But, it is a very peculiar kind--a religion that none dares speak its name. Instead, public figures tend to use more socially acceptable words such as "free market system", "private enterprise", or even "democracy". I think this is intentionally done by capitalist propagandists to discourage any associations with socialist critics of capitalism like Karl Marx and Lenin, or anarchists such as Kropotkin and Bookchin.
Rodgers finds a basic flaw--typical of many contemporary American critics--in Mander's view that small, localized capitalism that existed in its earlier stages was just fine:
...the exploitation of human labor, and the creation of degrading and inescapable poverty are endemic to capitalism, and they are barely dealt with here. The attempt to defend small-scale capitalism as “not the problem,” means that a systemic critique is further weakened. Is it a totalizing system or isn’t it? All capitalism started out as petty capitalism. It will be replaced only by an evolution of society to a place where it is as irrelevant, at any scale, as a system of divine monarchy. We need some thinkers who are able to start envisioning such an evolutionary process, and are not limited by the inevitable cries of how “impractical” that is right now.