Capitalism as Oligarchy: 5,000 Years of Diversion and Suppression
Capitalism as Oligarchy is an essay on wealth inequality that offers a simple lens by which to better understand our social world. It argues that the concept of 'capitalism' is an intellectual dead-end for it imposes unneeded complexity, wrongly insists on being new and thereby falsely severs links with the past, and functions as a cloak that hides the core hostility that's the essence of power. We gain a great deal of insight when we come to recognize the system not as capitalism but as inequality itself. Inequality-oligarchy-is a 5,000 year structure of concentrated minority power which operates according to its own oppressive logic. The book explains at an abstract level how it plays out in the modern world, examining such areas as finance, the market portfolio, profit, profit margins, competition, investment, money, taxation, public debt, trade, speculation, governance, and the ideologies of capitalism and individualism. Inequality isn't a side-effect of a wider system, an 'economic' means to allocate resources, a harmless reward for merit, or a sterile statistic. It's the core of what the system is and the root cause of our great social problems-war, poverty, insecurity, racism, environmental degradation, crime, exploitation, political corruption, fraud, and the lack of essential freedom. Understanding capitalism as oligarchy is a vital step toward achieving a better world. Jim O'Reilly is retired from a career in finance. He has an MA in Global Political Economy from the University of Sussex and lives in Boulder, Colorado.
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