End of capitalism
After a lull, the anti-Wall Street rally is showing signs of escalating. The protestors of the alleged corporate greed of market capitalism have begun to raise flags and banners again, apparently riding on the warming weather. What prompted them to take to the street again, however, seems to be the chronic financial crunch facing them, rather than the mild air.
The world is still reeling from the financial crisis hitting Europe, in the wake of a similar crisis that battered the United States. The global stock market has seen a bullish trend in recent weeks. But the danger of a global double dip is still haunting the world economy though it has been surviving thanks to makeshift remedies adopted by countries vulnerable to the looming crisis.
Many economists concur on the notion that the United States is likely to face more serious economic problems in the future due mainly to snowballing state debts. The U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has frequently cited the need for quantitative expansion, referring to the circulation of more dollars to cope with the possible debt problems. Bernanke has been described as “Helicopter Ben” since he referred to a statement made by Milton Friedman about using a "helicopter drop" of money into the economy to fight deflation.
This is the reason why money-savvy investors have been eager to collect gold as the principal asset that can replace the U.S. dollar. Since the collapse of the socialist system some 20 years ago, the current capitalist system has been monopolizing the global economy. Market capitalism features the power of money.
Money has become virtually the only single religion today. With money, people can do anything. They can buy what they want. They can even manipulate public opinion and draw up policies with the power of the money. Capital has become the most influential power, even beyond political and media counterparts.
Journalists have been proud of their jobs and been called “uncrowned kings.” But they never dream of such lofty ideals these days should they fail to get support from the capital power, namely businesses. This is because they also need money to survive.
The United States has been undergoing the most exemplary path as the leader of capitalism. But it now faces a serious dilemma amid conflicts between the “1 percent versus the 99 percent.” This is the result of the arrogance and fallacy of market capitalism. The bi-polarization of wealth is ever-widening around the globe, intensifying the asset monopolization by the few while worsening the difficulties facing the underprivileged people. It is totally unfair that 99 percent of the population has been alienated from the beneficiaries of wealth.
Human beings have begun to recognize the need for alternatives to the current market capitalism as seen in the hot debate during the last Davos Forum in Switzerland. Most participants shared the need for a fundamental change to the current capitalism to bring in a more equal and fairer economic system. Some of the participants even said that the current crisis is the beginning of the end of capitalism and the looming rise of a new regime.
The new regime, whatever it would be, should focus on the sharing of wealth based on generosity, mutual survival and peaceful co-prosperity. Such values can be found in Buddhist scripts that put the emphasis on compassion while discarding selfishness and greed.
There is a growing need to recognize that we are all inter-dependent beings. Our prosperity is possible only with the support from others on the basis of an inter-dependency rule. Buddhism-based capitalism could be an alternative to market capitalism. There is apparently a misunderstanding that Buddhism is far away from capitalism with its alleged character of passiveness and reclusiveness, which is not true at all.
Advocates of Buddhism during the era of Sakyamuni Buddha were emerging merchants and manufacturers. Buddhism also encourages people to earn money, which it describes as the source of boundless happiness. Buddhism, however, cautions against selfishness and greed. It calls for the need to extend generosity and compassion rather than monopolizing wealth as done by the 1 percent capitalists today. It teaches sharing wealth is the best way toward peace, freedom and wisdom and eventually happiness.