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What Was Capitalism?

The economic crisis of 2008-09 and the pandemic of 2020-21 delivered devastating blows to a market society that was already staggering – hollowed out by the “financialization” or “dematerialization” of assets. And those perched at the commanding heights of today's economy seem no less hollow.

NEW YORK – What isn’t ending nowadays? What isn’t on the verge of extinction? The list of exemptions is short, and we – human beings – aren’t on it.

Neither are bees, butterflies, coastlines, childhood, civility, coral reefs, democracy, elephants, facts, families, frogs, gender, glaciers, God, the humanities, love, morality, middle classes, minibars, national borders, objectivity, party systems, patriarchy, religion, science, whiteness, work, and much more. According to activists, journalists, and writers of every political persuasion, all of it is endangered.

And now, if we are to believe Quinn Slobodian, Clara E. Mattei, McKenzie Wark, and Yanis Varoufakis, capitalism, too, is past its expiration date. Once upon a time, as the saying goes, it was easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism. No longer.