Well, that’s a heavy title. I’m not going to say the last word about it in a blog post, but I would like to make a fairly simple observation: for at least a century, defenders of capitalism have argued that the two are inextricably connected. If you like modernity you have to like capitalism, and if you get rid of capitalism you will lose modernity with it. By modernity I mean a way of life that is science-based, rational and skeptical, technologically innovative, liberal, cosmopolitan and adapted to markets.
The traditional response of the left was to argue that modernity under capitalism is flawed and that a better, socialist modernity is possible. In other words, it rejected the identity and saw modernity as bigger than any particular version of it.
That position has been complicated by the collapse of traditional models of socialism that do seem to fail the modernization test: they were clunky and inefficient, closed to the outside instead of open, stultifying instead of dynamic. Now, I can already hear the cries of paleo-socialists in my ear: No! Socialism didn’t fail in Russia/China/Cuba/wherever; it was encircled by the forces of capital and betrayed from within. I don’t agree, but I won’t debate it here; my only point is that most of the left is not paleo-socialist, so they’ve had to figure out what it means to be left wing and anti-capitalist in a world in which capitalism and modernity (in their eyes) largely coincide.…Econospeak
Modernity and Capitalism
Peter Dorman | Professor of Political Economy, The Evergreen State College