In hindsight, the term "capitalism" was always a misnomer, coined paradoxically by its critics in the nineteenth century. The term misleadingly suggests that the existence of capital produces a unique economic system or that capital itself is governed by economic laws. But that's an illusion. In truth, we do not live today in a system in which capital dictates our economic circumstances. Instead, we live under the tyranny of what I would call "tournament dirigisme": a type of state-directed gladiator sport where our political leaders bestow spoils on the wealthy, privileged elite.
We need to displace this tournament dirigisme with a new legal, economic, and political paradigm that favors coöperation and collaboration between those who create, invent, produce, work, and serve others. Rather than corporations that extract capital for the few shareholders and managers, we need coöperatives, mutuals, and nonprofits that distribute the wealth they create widely to everyone in the shared enterprise.
The COVID-19 pandemic and economic crash must not prevent us from working together to address the other crisis – climate change – still looming on the horizon. On the contrary, these times call for a legal, political, and economic revolution to ring in a new epoch of coöperationism. This will demand political will. It will not come from our political leaders, so beholden to corporate contributions and capital. It will have to come from us all united.
Banking and Finance Law | Bankruptcy Law | Business Organizations Law | Civil Rights and Discrimination | Environmental Law | Law | Law and Economics | Law and Politics | Public Law and Legal Theory | Securities Law
Bernard E. Harcourt,
For Coöperation and the Abolition of Capital, Or, How to Get Beyond Our Extractive Punitive Society and Achieve a Just Society,
Columbia Public Law Research Paper No. 14-672
Available at: https://scholarship.law.columbia.edu/faculty_scholarship/2708
Banking and Finance Law Commons, Bankruptcy Law Commons, Business Organizations Law Commons, Civil Rights and Discrimination Commons, Environmental Law Commons, Law and Economics Commons, Law and Politics Commons, Public Law and Legal Theory Commons, Securities Law Commons