One of the latest Twitter trends being tweeted from our shiny new smartphones is #ResistCapitalism. Even when you see past the irony of who most of the people tweeting this are doing it from, the idea is very impractical. Instead, we should be looking to #ReformCapitalism.
Let's start with the irony of the situation. Whilst there are those who genuinely believe that capitalism should be resisted, as if it is a disease, I feel that many of those tweeting the hashtag are doing so because everyone else is doing it, so it looks cool.
"Yeh! Big corporations are all evil! Immoral companies not paying any tax!" is what the keyboard warriors (probably) say as they passionately explain why their latest iPhone is not the product of capitalism's competition-fuelled innovation. If they were tweeting from a pre-Industrial Revolution 18th century-inspired plank of wood then fair enough, but I don't think you can get Twitter on one of them anyway...
It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking capitalism is some evil force. I hate to admit it, but there was a time where after having binge-watched Michael Moore's documentaries, I despised all the big corporations. There was a brief spell in my life when I shuddered at the word capitalism itself. After a lot of thinking however, I slowly came to the inevitable conclusion that there is no better alternative; if capitalism is this so-called 'evil', then it is the better of two evils because a state controlled market is even worse. There would undoubtedly be fewer smartphones to rant on and fewer people able to buy them if we had a state controlled market because we would lack innovation and prices wouldn't be forced down with competition.
I do however understand why people are tweeting #ResistCapitalism. Why? Well, I do still believe that the Anglo-American capitalism that we have today has several faults, the main one being that it is composed of individuals and firms pursuing solely short-term profits with, ideally, minimal government intervention which results in the interests of the labour and stakeholders becoming secondary to those of the shareholders and management. The outcome of this is a very unequal and polarised society. Incidentally, the countries that have adopted the Anglo-American model of capitalism are also the ones most hard hit in financial crashes when compared to countries utilising the Rhine Model of capitalism. France, Germany, the Scandinavian countries (and the UK until Thatcher) all have the Rhine model.
In the Rhine Model, collective achievement and public consensus are vital for economic success in the long-run
The Rhine Model, broadly speaking, is similar to the Anglo-American model because both fuel and encourage competition and innovation, and neither are comprised of state-markets. Where the two free-market systems differ includes the welfare offered in the Rhine Model which acts as a safety net to get people in poverty back into work and hence out of poverty; the high rates of unionisation; free, or heavily subsidised, healthcare; and an economic policy that takes a long-term view with a focus on social justice as well as taking into consideration the needs of a spectrum of stakeholders. In the Rhine Model, collective achievement and public consensus are vital for economic success in the long-run. Whilst taxes are higher, which means there is some government intervention in markets, the benefits greatly outweigh the costs.
A re-modelling of our capitalism on that of the Rhine Model would mean less polarisation between the richest and the poorest whilst still enjoying the fruits of capitalism like aspiration, innovation and opportunity. Opting for a state-controlled market would just mean that the entrepreneurial spirit, the original philosophy of capitalism, would be quenched and everyone would ultimately be worse off. This 'entrepreneurial spirit' has been polluted in our system of capitalism with the "winner-takes-all" attitude to business because people are now so motivated by profit, they no longer seek to better society.
As a result of adopting the Rhine model, we would have a society where people no longer feel that harsh "winner takes all" effect of the capitalism we know, and therefore don't feel compelled to #ResistCapitalism. Rather, as in the Rhine and Scandinavian countries, the goal of collective achievement would be adopted. An interesting side-note too is that these countries, as well as Japan which is between the Anglo-American and Rhine Model, are all some of the most innovative countries in the world.
Capitalism is not a bad word and shouldn't be treated as one, despite the fact that our form of capitalism can have some nasty side-effects. The Twitter trend should instead be #ReformCapitalism if we really want to change the world for the better.