I think the only thing that will stop our mass extinction is for the vast majority of people to realize that capitalism will not save us.
People keep getting sold the same lie over and over, that it’s better this way, that it will help us. Never has, never will. You get a few generations that get in on an early cycle who get nice trinkets, but the lives of later generations always suffer.
There are those who will tell you “but capitalism is defended by reason!” There cannot be a more wrong-headed statement. Capitalism is not defended by “reason” because “reason” implies stability and certainty, of which capitalism has none. Its cycles ebb and flow in a state akin to natural law. It is merely the Law of the Jungle, enshrined in the quasi-rational trappings of civilization.
But what of our alternatives? What can we do besides capitalism, if it is so much akin to natural law?
Our present crisis stems from the fact that Marx’s alternative to capitalism proved even less appealing in practice. It made the error that human nature was inherently rational inasmuch as the need for altruism is greater than the selfish impulse. Rand attempted to rectify this by saying that the human being was inherently selfish, and instead created a society where antisocial thugs are looked upon as the cream of society because they had the base animal cunning to get rich on the labors of others. We must therefore embrace the proposition that human nature is not rational per se; the selfish impulse and the altruistic impulse exist, simultaneously, and they cannot be separated from one another, or one nourished at the expense of the other, without producing a mutilated human being.
And so Marxism proves no alternative; neither does Fascism, which is merely capitalism at the end of its life cycle before it either renews itself under the guise of liberal capitalism once more (as we saw at the end of WW2) or collapses into some form of petty autocracy with one lone parasitic despot as head of a ruined, impotent state (as in the case of Zimbabwe).
Herein is the crisis of our generation: we cannot continue the scourge of capitalism, but at this time no alternative exists.
This is where religious fundamentalism becomes a terrifying thing, because it is the only cohesive force in our world that is unaffected by markets. It is affected only by the willingness of the masses to either believe a message or to obey the orders of those who do. If capitalism comes to complete ruin in a world where there is no other alternative, theocracies will soon spring up, and these theocracies will begin to fight each other for dominance. And at this time we are seeing, in the appropriation of crusader identities by fundamentalist Christians and of Caliphate identities by Islamic fundamentalists, the beginnings of a world that may, in a hundred years time, go careening straight into a bloody religious war in which all forces of cosmopolitan values, all people of irreligious alliance, all people of faith who do not revel in fundamentalism, and all institutions which stand in their way will be destroyed.
We cannot let that happen. The idea of the whole of human history coming down to a war between fundamentalists is a terrifying prospect if you are not a fundamentalist and I, for one, am calling for another way before it’s too late.
What I propose is not an economic philosophy but a social philosophy aimed at uniting as many sane, reasonable, empathetic, intelligent, and enlightened people as possible. It must be able to reach across lines of race, religion, and nationality and abide by values that are both cosmopolitan and well-defined. It must give value and dignity to people who are very different from each other, and unite them in reclaiming the world. It must find some balance between the need for individual rights and self-actualization, and the eternal reality of the survival of the culture through altruism and sacrifice.
More than that, It must be steadfast, resistant to entryism by reactionaries, and have a strong definition of what it considers good leadership rather than an aversion to leaders. But above all the integrity of its guiding principles should be held far above the dignity of any leader, lest it degenerate into a cult of personality.
I call this movement the Cosmopolitan Union and it may be the only hope for any of the good aspects of liberal values to survive the likely self-destruction of capitalism, should it ever materialize.
Time will tell.