The largest problem with Capitalism is that it is driven by greed. John Maynards Keynes said it best: "Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone." Capitalism is the expectation that a person driven by the profit motive will somehow do what is best for society, while at the same time exploiting society. It's completely mad. Capitalism has often been the reason that technology is underdeveloped (the development of the technology will hinder company profit/growth), a good example is solar technology. The development of that technology would most certainly be good for society as a whole and yet it is not being developed at a fast rate because there isn't a lot of money in it for companies (the only money to be had is the initial purchase of the solar paneling, and, possibly maintenance/repair. The actual energy is free!). I'm sure that if some time was spent, we could come up with 100's of other technologies that have been stunted, hindered, or completely shut down due to capitalism's profit motive.
It strange to read comments that relate development to capitalism. We have been developing since the beginning of times, whilst capitalism is relatively new! What it does is accelerate development, which is can be good in certain contextes. However, when the speed of development is so fast that it doesn't even hold for an entire generation (i.E. You train to become sometime that will be obsolte in 10 years), we are becoming a society in which our elderly (and soon, our middle-aged population) will be dependant on the youngest, putting enormous pressure in society as a whole and leading us to a world order that requires even more organizing and planning, paving the way to authoritary regimes.
If capitalism drove innovation, we would have advanced in heathcare in ways that are more focused on prevention, made use of sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels, would have created goods that are durable and not designed to be obsolete and discarded, would make goods out of biodegradable materials instead of plastic, etc, etc. The better technologies we need are all discovered but because they aren't as profitable and don't fit into an infinite growth scheme based on infinite or mass consumption, they are repressed by the market.
Look at the repeat in technology lately. It isnt that we arent improving on it, we're doing it at a controlled rate, to make sure we can profit off it. Anything that doesnt create a long term way of profit is blocked from innovating our society lately. We could end world hunger with modern day farming techniques, yet we dont, why?
A book can be written on this topic, but I will focus on the defining factor of capitalism, private ownership. One of the major tools of capitalism are patents and trade secrets. By their very nature these are designed to hinder progress.
The scientific method, which is used to advance our understanding of the world relies on shared knowledge. Each researcher uses the understanding developed before him to advance even further. In capitalism this is prevented. Corporations are required to work on their own , duplicating the efforts of others.
Regarding Einstein, he couldnt even get a job! He thought of himself as a loser, and even wrote to his own father about how he wished he was never born. We know about Einstein because luckily he was discovered by Max Planck, but how many Einsteins did we miss out on?
Without currency or the need for profit in a currency based economy, what would come next which hinders our progress? I think we will need to expand in ways which aren't one or another type of economy. We can't keep centralizing our economies like we see with capitolism. For the sake of sustainability we will still find ways to translate, trade and serve the needs of one another and the earth, yet not necessarily with currency. Technology will be a biproduct of this particular innovation (if it comes to pass).
Mainly by competition it has boosted creativity and new ideas that are up to the general public to buy, Moore's law is a good example of this ever improving technology by competition. It has created an economy that is based in exponential growth rather than a always the same world. And I think it's great 👌.
On a small scale, innovation is needed to stay competitive within a specific market. It is the human-experience changing innovations: vaccines, space exploration, the internet, the US interstate system, all resulting from other than market forces. The argument goes, if there is a need, the free market will fill it. Yet throughout history you can easily find a counterexample.
At the end of the day, companies are driven by financial success. The technology or advancement in technology is just a biproduct of that endeavor. For example, the CERN hadron collider, is the result of not capitalism or one company trying to "beat" another company to market, but rather a group of independent scientists from dozens of countries all coming together for one objective. This would have never happened if left to capitalism. It simply cannot by capitalisms very definition. And list goes on. ISS and space exploration as another example, is only now turning to private industry. 70 years after the technology had already been invented to put a rocket into space. There was simply no reason for a company to risk investment on something that could spell financial ruin for them. There was no money to be made during that time, at least not as a single company. Is capitalism bad? No, absolutely not. It does a lot of other very good things that, otherwise for lack of anything better, would not be possible. And leaving technology solely in the hands government alone is a very scary proposition. But capitalism fueling innovation and saying there is absolutely no better alternative is fundamentally flawed. Companies do things that are in the interest of building and securing an environment to make money. There are always exceptions but by a very large standard this is the case. They don't care about making the product as best as they possible can or could be. They don't care about what technology they could advance to bring you the absolute best experience with their product available. They do care about what makes financial sense for the bottom dollar, as they should. They are here to create a livelihood and will only "compete" against another company if it makes financial sense to do so. This does not cultivate an environment for technology in which to thrive.
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I type this on my Macbook Pro having found this link through Google. Capitalism made this possible. Was google the first search engine? Was Apple the first maker of the portable computer? The list of examples is endless. Ask yourself what is the real motivator behind creative thinking, is it purely the benefit of society itself, or the unique enlightened mind, the creative individual who stands to gain the most while helping society progress as a hugely important side effect? With capitalism we all end up benefiting.
Competition to mass produce the best quality products for the cheapest amount of money has engendered the creation of hulking machines of mass production. Also, the rich stratus of society has patronised personal technological devices such as laptops and cellphones, enabling their development. This rich stratus would not exist in any other economic system.
Due to competition, progress is sped up. As an example, before government intervened in the automobile industry with new regulations on emissions and safety, cars were becoming more safer and fuel efficient. This was due to the fact that much of the public wanted safer and more fuel efficient speechless.
Furthermore, look at the American Industrial period. The Country had a never before seen amount of wealth creation and technological advancement.
Capitalism is arguably the greatest facilitator to technological advancement in all of human history. Although imperfect, there is no known greater aggregate economic platform through which industry and technology is able to thrive under. Associating the profit motive with deceptive practices and greed that could possibly inhibit innovation is actually counter intuitive under a capitalist system, because individuals are free to not choose that inferior product or service. Another firm could easily step in to 'capitalize' off of such a greedy or deceptive firms inability to meet that markets unmet needs.
Capitalism seems to have a POSITIVE effect on everything we use, and everything we use tends to improve over time because of the need to efficiently allocate resources in a capitalist system. Inefficiently allocating resources hurts everybody. Because everything we purchase with money required the work of other people. When firms compete to make something cheaper at a price people are willing to pay for, they've in effect provided that market (individuals who will buy a certain something) a good or service with less required work. You can directly see this effect all around you if you live in a free market dominated economy. Compare the price of whatever device you are using to read this sentence, to what it might have cost if you purchased a device with the same features ten years ago. Odds are,
it was much much much more expensive.
Whether or not innovation and technological achievement are directly caused by the profit motive, is irrelevant to the question of capitalism's impact on humanity's technological achievement. The reason, is that any innovation or technological achievement large enough to benefit the aggregate of humanity, requires a magnitude of resources and distribution efforts on a scale of economic efficiency that which capitalism is undoubtedly better at providing over any other known economic system.
Capitalism has almost certainly accelerated humanity's technological prowess, not least because it's what capitalism does best. Capitalism isn't good at a lot of things. Capitalism can't do equality well. Capitalism can't do stable markets well. But capitalism can do innovation very, very well. Consider the next leading brand of economic system - socialism.
In a socialist system, innovation is not sufficiently rewarded. If everybody can rely on a steady wage, job security and prospects for advancement within a system, then why try to innovate? Contrast with capitalism, where competition between firms drives them to out-perform each other. How do you improve both the quality of a product while making it cheaper to produce? Innovate. How do you create features which the competition cannot provide? Innovate. How do you even crack open and invent new markets? Innovate.
Under socialism, this competition-driven innovation simply wouldn't occur - except, perhaps, in a limit form in a market socialist system. Of course, socialism isn't the only option on the table. There are many other weird and wonderful (?) alternatives to capitalism, but with few exceptions they all fall into the same trap of limited competition and rigidly defined markets.
Innovation is what capitalism does best because of competition which socialism etc. cannot provide.
Capitalism has accelerated humanity's technological achievements, because most of the best accomplishments have occurred in a capitalist system. The capitalist system gives people a reason to want to innovate. Capitalism works to our advantage by preying on people's greed. People want to advance because they want self-benefit, and because of this, we all benefit.
In the system of capitalism, technological achievements are accelerated because competition leads to further advancements regularly. Companies and individuals strive to outdo their competitors or solve a given problem. They do so to earn a profit or recognition, two things that are fueled in part thanks to capitalism and its values.
Capitalism has accelerated humanity's technological achievements. The act of market competition that is so prevalent in societies that have a capitalist system allow for opportunities for people to create and invent new things. If they do well in the market, they can change things accordingly, which is beneficial for a society's technology.
The capitalistic system has a lot of flaws, especially as it has evolved over time. But one thing it has contributed to is individual achievement. It has encouraged people to invent and industrialize, including the introduction of the newest technological devices that required that sort of initiative and began the bigger tech firms.