During an online chat session, I was employing my views on Wall Street in an attempt to charm a girl, who described herself as a curvy blonde with glorious legs. I was later surprised to find out this supposed girl was actually a......communist.
Even while immersed in today's monstrous financial predicament, no one is visibly able to recommend something outside of the democratic capitalist model. If the fall of the Wall was capitalism's crowning political test, the present crisis may very well represent its major economical trial. We are now beginning to catch a glimpse of the pursued outcome. It couldn't be more clearly suggested than in Sarkozy's words (from his article for Global Viewpoint where he addresses the G20 meeting): This crisis is not the crisis of capitalism. On the contrary, it is the crisis of a system that has drifted away from the most fundamental values of capitalism.
What exactly are those values all about is never truly stated. It is hinted in the negative space of his following lines that they have something to do with solid responsible growth, but even more than the debatable values implied, there is a crucial characteristic in today's democratic capitalism that accounts for the way in which it preserves itself.
At the present economic turmoil, the most significant cases are not those found in the ensuing devastations, but precisely those where someone ends up winning. A recent, noteworthy example would be Larry Summers, who received a munificent amount of dollars in speaking fees from the very same banks that are now being rescued by the government. American capitalism has always been rightly boastful about the way in which politics do not mess with economic possibilities. Never the less, not much is ever discussed about the unprecedented ways in which economics seem to mess with politics.
The road to any reshaping of the system, as illustrated in the G20 summit, seems to understand the need for close regulation and the mitigating of far-fetched speculation (although the recent lifting of "mark-to-market" pricing is essentially the opposite). We are on the brink of a new phase in capitalism that may inevitably come around by the sheer force of necessity, but inspired decisions most effectively match the symbolic level invocated at the G20 meeting.
Pin-pointing aside, the London summit alone outlines relevant progress. Much like the World Wide Web, following its own crisis, embarked on the facilitation of communication, interoperability, security and collaboration, evolving into what is now call the "Web 2.0", it is clear how the global crisis will now propel the inclusion of emerging economic giants, like China and India, into the economic and political network. Both wider and closer regulation of the financial market is one of the clearest outcomes in the consensus.
Particularly, the new rules for credit card practices issued by the Federal Reserve Board constitute a fine step towards Capitalism 2.0. The bank bailouts, while understood as a liable urgency, are yet to prove the likelihood of a positive impact. In the midst of a general uncertainty about the future of major companies, an interesting factor will rise to the scene.
If GM is effectively conduced to bankruptcy, an important space will be opened for capitalism to preserve itself within its "2.0" status. The ideological shakeup prompted by the economic crisis is ultimately one to be dealt with by political agents, but the environmental threats now signifying a tragic climax and America´s hurting dependence on oil demand a bigger circumference on the lifesaver. When the company that was once the biggest car-maker in the planet discontinues its production, more than just another casualty that helps toll the alarm bell, there is a valuable opening to push for new industries, now baptized in alternative fuel and energy policies.
This, along with finer global interoperation and safer financial services for citizens, are all fundamental components of Capitalism 2.0. Some are already on the march; some are still unverified as true possibilities. Debate and vigilance are especially crucial now.
However, if the economical model that defined the 20th century is in fact about to dive into a new stage, there is probably one thing we can all agree on: although a useful metaphor, "Capitalism 2.0" would be a horrible name.