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Capitalists and Socialists of the World, Unite!

Although it can be politically expedient to draw a thick line between capitalist decentralization and socialist central planning, the truth is that these two systems have converged on many occasions. Moreover, each was conceived for the same purpose, and elements of both could be realized in today's digital economy.

PRINCETON – The world’s most dynamic economy is governed by a communist party, whereas its previous capitalist stronghold is under the misrule of a man whose companies have gone bankrupt six times. With leading political ideologies becoming increasingly incoherent, labels seem to mean little anymore.

In the United States, President Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans contend that only they stand between the American dream and a socialist revolution. Although Trump’s Democratic challenger in November’s election, Joe Biden, advocates no such thing, he does support putting “an end to the era of shareholder capitalism.” In any case, capitalism and socialism are once again front and center in the contest for public opinion and voters’ support.

But, unlike in past decades, the standard defense of capitalism has grown intellectually and politically weaker. While “woke capitalists” like the upmarket clothing brand Lululemon push marketing messages to “resist capitalism,” even traditional capitalists like the influential Business Roundtable – an organization of CEOs from America’s largest publicly listed corporations – are advocating fundamental reform. Similarly, Klaus Schwab, the founder of the World Economic Forum, denounces neoliberalism and free-market fundamentalism, and British Conservatives and US Republicans have taken to condemning the abuses of globalization and “the market.”

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