Alternatives to capitalism
Well, many of us are against capitalism. Some are not entirely completely against it, but rather want to reform it, limit it, whatever. But it's often asked of those who are against capitalism whether there is a viable alternative. After all, the Soviet Union collapsed, right?
Of course, those who consider themselves socialists can attempt to set the record straight as to what socialism is about. But that's not what this post is going to be about.
Now don't get me wrong, I have a strong socialist inclination. I think a socialist model would be infinitely preferable to attempting to reform capitalism. But this is terrain that has been well-covered by others. Socialism may be considered a fringe view in the US, but it still has enough of a presence that we've all heard of it and anyone interested in it can find plenty of resources.
Now, capitalism and socialism are the big two. In fact, many view them as the only two alternatives. If you have to think of the next one, maybe you'd think of anarchism. Of course, anarchism is more often associated with breaking windows than with an alternative to capitalism. Still, it is there. And I sometimes also have anarchist thoughts, usually with a Daoist tinge of some sort. But let me set anarchism aside, as well. Though it is less talked about than socialism, it is not that rare to see it discussed (e.g. Dmitri Orlov recently had a thee-part blog post about it). And, with it, let me discard the spectrum of socialist-anarchist hybrids.
So what's left? Confucianism, perhaps, and many others. It would be great if people were willing to present neglected alternatives in comment here or (better yet) in their own blog posts. I will merely mention one, which is to be found in the writings of the Victorian thinker, John Ruskin.
There are several reasons I want to highlight Ruskin. First, because I think he was damn good. Second, because he has been entirely neglected. But another important reason is the following: Ruskin presented a novel conservative alternative to capitalism. What he proposed was light-years away from socialism. But it was also light-years away from capitalism and classical liberalism. And it most certainly was not in the middle between them.
Now, Ruskin was a terrific writer. So I'm actually not going to try to explain his views. I can't do them justice, anyway. I'll just give the references. He has several works on political economy. I will focus on two types:
1. Critiques of classical political economy:
2. A sketch of how he thinks society should be organized:
All of these are in the public domain, so you should be able to find them in the format of your choice (txt, pdf, html). And, of course, he also has writings on topics other than political economy (he was one of the top art critics of the time). What I recommend is just to take a peek at several of the above and see if anything there tickles your fancy. It's been tickling mine for a few years now.
And, for the hell of it, a picture of Ruksin: