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Capitalism vs Darwinism


So capitalism sucks right? Encapsulating the worst qualities of humanity: greed, narcissism, self-interest. Capitalism kills people and destroys the planet (or more aptly, we kill people and destroy the planet - but capitalism certainly facilitates a lot of that).


Recently in a lecture I was struck by how similar the rules of capitalism are to the 'survival of the fittest' logic of evolutionary Darwinism.


Darwin believed that every species, including us, evolved by genes mutating and creating beneficial physical attributes that would increase or decrease our likelihood of survival - those traits that were beneficial, helped that person to live, who would therefore live long enough to pass on their genes, and eventually everyone would have this beneficial trait. Or at least that's what I understood of evolution from GCSE Biology.


When this reasoning is compared to free market logic, there's a remarkable amount of similarities (insert all that weird "invisible guiding hand of the market" - whatever that means. Thanks for nothing Adam.)


A free market economy, like the one we have, states that the better a product is (the more beneficial qualities it has) the more people will buy it, which will allow the company to grow and franchise around the country and the world. And the reason this product will be able to grow and be sold, and make so much profit, is based on its advantageous qualities.

If a product is bad, then it will not sell, and the company will make no profit, and shut down (theoretically). In just the same way that a mutation that does not result in a beneficial way, will mean that animals dies quicker and does not pass on their genes, thereby eradicating that genome.

These similarities are particularly interesting when you consider the myriad of studies that claim capitalism is "innate" to our species (see Alan Greenspan - "It's human nature, you can't do anything about that") and present the politics and economy of capitalism as innate and instinctive to humanity.

Indeed, this idea has become so commonplace that theorists like Reiner call it "Capitalist Realism," saying that the principles of capitalism (self-interest, narcissism) have become so ingrained that we don't even realize that these are weird.

Don't really have any wise conclusions on this. Just thought it was spookaloo.