Le capitalisme a-t-il un avenir ?

NEW YORK -ampnbsp; Alors que 2008 tire à sa fin, de nombreux Européens commencent à évoquer la fin du capitalisme. Ils oublient que le capitalisme en Europe a déjà cédé la place – souvent violemment – à l’étatisme et au corporatisme dans les annéesampnbsp;1930, pour n’être ressuscité que dans une poignée de pays dans les annéesampnbsp;1980.

Et pourtant, à la lumière de la crise actuelle – la dernière d’une série de crises que le capitalisme a connu – il est justifié de se demander si, dans les pays où il persiste, les bénéfices du capitalisme, s’ils existent, continuent à l’emporter sur les coûts. Bien que Marx ait avoué une certaine admiration pour le capitalisme, un courant de pensée voudrait maintenant que le bon côté du capitalisme – l’esprit d’entreprise – puisse être implanté dans un nouveau système économique sans le côté destructif auquel le capitalisme est prédisposé.

Le capitalisme a d’abord été apprécié parce qu’il était «ampnbsp;progressisteampnbsp;», comme l’a écrit Marx. Lorsque la productivité a augmenté, sa progression a été constante. En fait, avec l’émergence, pièce par pièce, du capitalisme financier autour de 1820, la productivité a décollé dans un pays européen après l’autre – la Grande-Bretagne, la Belgique, la France, l’Allemagne et l’Autriche. Aux États-Unis, où la productivité avait déjà un train d’avance, elle a progressé encore plus rapidement. Les rares données historiques permettant une analyse suggèrent qu’aux alentours de 1820, les salaires (ajustés à l’inflation avant les annéesampnbsp;1820 et à la déflation après les annéesampnbsp;1820) ont décollé de manière analogue.

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