Capitalism is a system which generates extreme inequalities in wealth, and repeated economic crises which cause misery for millions but leave the top echelon unaffected. One of the arguments of Polanyi — summarized in my previous post — suggests that capitalism cannot survive without a massive propaganda effort to make it appear good, and to hide its defects. This propaganda is amazingly powerful and effective. Even the unemployed and the ones hurt by capitalist medical industry have an unthinking allergy to the idea of socialized medicine and government provision of a living wage for everyone. It is a wonder how propaganda trumps even self-interest,
In this context, introducing alternative views with effective arguments is an essential part of the battle to win hearts and minds, in an effort to create a better world for humanity than the one currently created by capitalism — where a handful of rich people own more resources than the bottom billion.
Because the message is aligned with the self-interest of the masses, reaching them with the news of good alternatives to capitalism should be easy. However, the dominant media sources have been purchased by the wealthy, so that dissenting voices cannot easily be heard. The top twenty journals do not publish articles critical of orthodoxy, and similarly a very small cluster of billionaires owns the leading newspapers.
Nontheless, especially in this electronic age, there is room for manoeuvre. For example, I recently wrote a newspaper article with the title “The Crisis in Economic Theory” This was published with the title changed to “Waiting for Keynes” in the News, one of the leading newspapers in Pakistan. In writing for popular media, one has to assess how much the public can accept — this article of mine is merely meant to sow seeds of doubt into the minds of an audience which idealizes capitalism as a nearly perfect system. In the comments on the article, one of the readers referred me to “Why Capitalism?” a book defending capitalism by Meltzers. Accordingly, I also wrote a review of this book and posted it on Amazon.
To sympathetic readers, I would suggest a few strategies that are essential in engaging in this battle for hearts and minds. Firstly, we should not be discouraged by the overwhelming odds against us — the billions of dollars being spent on glorifying capitalism. The Truth is a powerful weapon, and in any case, fighting an honorable battle for a good cause is worthwhile for itself, whether or not we win or lose. Secondly, we should start with easy tasks. Use uncontested forums of low visibility — publish in the lower ranked journals instead of aiming for the top twenty. Focus on getting the message across to a sympathetic audience, rather then trying to convert Wall Street. In this connection we should make an effort to use the opportunities available, by publishing comments, as well as creating pointers to useful materials. This involves posting links to interesting articles on social media, up-voting useful articles debunking common myths, posting comments where useful, and otherwise doing our little bit in spreading the light to fight the darkness which surrounds us. The third element in a coherent strategy is to attempt to create unity within diversity. One important weakness of the heterodoxy is that each dissenter has his own different point of view, while the orthodoxy is united. So a rainbow coalition which focuses on commonalities and treats differences as a strength rather than a source of division is essential. We should take our inspiration and courage from the many examples where the few have prevailed against overwhelming odds.