Contemporary Capitalism

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Contemporary Capitalism

We live today in a crucial period in human history, of human thinking, in which one looks for new criteria, new concepts, new values and new certainties. The latest crises and the latest tendencies throughout the world have made the economists change their opinion about capitalism, the right political system, the perfect combination between the political order and the economical order, and so on. New tendencies like: globalization, regionalism, integration, and new technology. We also are faced with new psychological concepts such as, a world without frontier, a world fully open, lack of privacy, the new meaning of individualism, the new powers emerging, the “green” phenomenon (ecology), and immigration. All of these factors have led to some new (sometimes even controversial) theories about what is the right type of economy and political system of a specific country and how it can keep its sovereignty in this over connected world. We live in a period of history, in which everything is revised; new concepts are brought in to place, creating a new order. There is a search for new concepts, another paradigm, new values and new certainties. We live in postmodernist world. The economists live in a Babel tower, in which no one listens to one another and no one understands each other. “Leave three economists together and you can be sure that you will have at least four different theories about the economical politics that needs to be implemented”[1]. This has led to the following concepts, some of them best demonstrated in the recent party disputes in Britain.

4.1 The Third Way

The „Third Way” is a label for the need to update left-of-centre thinking in the light of the big changes sweeping through the world, especially the influence of globalization. A notable work on this theme is the one of Anthony Giddens[2]. He approaches one of the most provocative themes of public interest, from the post-communist period. He tries to look for a new political, theoretic and doctrinaire road, outside from the traditional distinction between left and right, a simultaneous transposition between old social-democracy and neoliberalism.

The “First Way” was the traditional left: traditional social democracy, which dominated political thought and practice in the early post-war period. It was based on Keynesian economics and upon the notion that the state should replace the market in major areas of economic life. That approach foundered as the economy became more globalised and as it came to be recognized that the state is often inefficient and clumsily bureaucratic. The “Second Way” was Thatcherism, or market fundamentalism or neoliberalism - the belief that the realm of the market should be extended as far as possible, since markets are the most rational and efficient means of allocating resources.[3]

Thatcherism produced some important innovations and restored British economic competitiveness. Yet it too succumbed to its own limitations. Poverty and inequality arose more sharply in the UK during the Thatcher years than in almost any other developed country. Privatization was the order of the day and investment in public services foundered. The legacy of Mrs. Thatcher was a society with growing social and economic divisions and deteriorating public institutions. It was absolutely necessary to look for a third alternative - a political approach that sought to reconcile economic competitiveness with social protection and with an attack upon poverty.[4]

“Some have seen the “Third Way” as a sound-bite, empty PR - a political outlook devoid of significant policy content. This view is quite wrong. Labor has won three successive elections for the first time in its history and could very well win a fourth precisely because the “Third Way” is policy-rich. Gordon Brown is unlikely to use the term, and I have dropped it myself precisely because it has been so widely misconstrued. But he will not revert to Old Labor,...
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