A dispute about the nature of capitalism: The new divide in Western society

The financial crisis 15 years ago, which undermined confidence in free market capitalism, is only now producing a swing of the global pendulum, writes Marek A. Cichocki

editor: Grzegorz Adamczyk
author: Marek A. Cichocki

The global changes that are taking place, with China and its allies such as Russia turning against the West, as well as the conflicts tearing the West apart, have created a whirlwind. Instead of the end of history, we have a new unknown chapter, and the future is now more uncertain than ever. 

When we talk about the conflicts taking place within the West, we usually think about culture wars. However, the recent struggle over the future shape of capitalism is much more interesting. Only then do we become aware that the financial crisis 15 years ago, which undermined trust in free market capitalism, is today reaping a grim harvest. That harvest is a swing of the pendulum in the direction of making capitalism subordinate to progressive ideologies. 

Former EU Commissioner Gunther Oettinger recently said that we no longer have a single market in Europe but have returned to centrally planned economies.

This is a monster that Central Europeans got to know only too well during Communist times, and one that was fought tooth and nail by economic liberals. It has now returned in a new guise in both Europe and America. 

The problem is that it’s not just about subverting the free market and free competition in favor of state capitalism or corporate bureaucratic capitalism favored by the EU, it’s really about shaping capitalism in a direction desired by progressive ideologies.

The big question in the U.S. today is whether giant corporations should protect the money of their shareholders and their profits, or whether their investment policies should be guided by climate goals, diversity and inclusivity, and the ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) principles.

It’s a dispute about the nature of capitalism, one about real money and interests, and it’s becoming the key dividing factor in Western society.

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