Streeck – Why Capitalism needs counter movements

“Capitalism, that is to say, is indeed always embedded in that it takes place in a society, subject to social constraints and opportunities. Also, capitalism in an important sense depends on remaining so embedded as it thrives on the rule of law, mutual trust, normative coordination and institutionalized cooperation, creative intelligence and the like. Nevertheless, and at the same time, capitalist actors always struggle to escape from their social containment and free themselves from obligations and controls. Ideas of solidarity and
institutions of social regulation are as a result at a permanent risk of erosion, with capitalist patterns of action spreading like cancer in the body social even though capitalism as such, pure and simple and liberated from social constraints, cannot exist. In this sense capitalism feeds parasitically on the society that it inhabits or befalls, with its expansion ultimately amounting to its self-destruction unless checked by social and political opposition.
Sometimes, as in the neoliberal era, the capitalist advance may capture the very politics that should contain it for its own good, and turn it into a vehicle of its own self-destructive progress; this, I believe, is what Polanyi meant when he described the expansion of ‘market society’ as a ‘frivolous experiment’ of states and governments.”
Wolfgang Streeck – How Will Capitalism End? (2016)


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