This article was originally published on Truthdig and is reprinted here with permission.
Chrystia Freedland, the prominent Reuters editor just recruited by the Liberals to contest the nomination in the Toronto Centre riding vacated by Bob Rae, remarks how capitalism deserves credit as "the best prosperity-creating system humanity has come up with so far." True enough, it has done better than feudalism, slavery, hunting, fishing and food gathering. The issue is whether it is time to move past profit seeking as the answer, and on to a better economic system, or whether capitalism just needs to evolve.
I keep encountering anthropologists (mostly but not only in print) who help more in understanding how the world works today than other experts do, even in their own fields. For example, Debt: The First 5,000 Years by young U.S. anthropologist David Graeber, who did fieldwork in Madagascar, illuminates more about the current economic crisis than anything I know by economists. It even points to ways out. U.K. anthropologist Sir Jack Goody, who's 93 and studied tribal cultures in West Africa, has expanded the idea of democracy far beyond a thing invented in Athens, and then perfected in the U.S. and U.K.
Our current incarnation of capitalism -- variously referred to as savage capitalism, extreme capitalism or euphemistically as the "free market" (free of any constraints) -- is in one of its periodic crises. For years many assumed that the smart people who ran the system and benefitted from it would find a practical way to fix it. The problem is that the solutions are all framed within an ideology that makes that extremely unlikely. Neo-liberalism is like a religion and once you are a true believer you see other solutions as heresy.
Highly regarded former Toronto mayor David Miller says he is "very excited" about becoming the new president and CEO of the World Wildlife Fund-Canada in September.
"They've made such a difference," Miller told The Toronto Star, "and to be part of an organization that knows how to make real change is a unique opportunity."