Revolution or evolution of capitalism? The power of consumption

The revolution of capitalism was one of the most shared stories on the BBC last week.

Philosopher John Gray’s basic argument is Karl Marx was wrong about communism but right that capitalism was unstable and would eventually destroy the bourgeois/middle class way of life. It surprised me an opinion piece about a clearly failed political concept still got so much interest.

Is capitalism the new communism?

But Marx saw communism as an evolution of capitalism – so it would horrify a lot of people to think he might be happy with what he sees today. “Capitalism has led to a revolution but not the one that Marx expected. The fiery German thinker hated the bourgeois life and looked to communism to destroy it. And just as he predicted, the bourgeois world has been destroyed,” says Gray.

If you wanted to take that analogy and run with it you could argue the case for Carrotmob and the social enterprise movement in general being the proletariat rising up against the bourgeoisie. We’re using consumer power instead of ineffective uprisings to force bourgeoisie change.

Or maybe we’re existentialists?

Cherry Bar announced yesterday they will be the first Australian venue to go carbon neutral. And they were honest enough to admit they’re hoping punters and bands will rock up in support.

Carrotmob participants  Streat, who  create jobs and skills for people who need them, say on their blog ‘As consumers our greatest power is the way we spend our money.’

In The Economist they’re arguing that existential threats are needed to save us from the rollercoaster ride that is capitalism. And which existential threat did they think fit the bill? Climate change -they even highlight the need for a carbon tax in order to do it. But while we’re waiting for that we can practice a bit of Carrotmob existentialism by demonstrating personal responsibility for what we purchase and who we purchase from.

And you thought you were just a consumer.

 

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