In this stimulating lecture (see full video), Professor Michael Miller, a Director in the Acton Institute, throws out with sparks of humour here and there a series of very interesting ideas to think about, related to this provocative question: Does capitalism destroy culture?
After trying to define what we can understand by these words, capitalism and tecnology, he starts to reflect about many areas:
He wonders if capitalism destroys the family and he admits that certainly capitalism poses a lot of threats to its stability: migrations, long hours at work, etc. He reminds us, though, that breaking of marriages only began to spread out in the US since the 60´s, a decade that has to do much with social contestation, new ways of life, but very little with capitalism.
What about technology? He considers that the boost in inventions in the XIX century was very related to two elements of capitalism: the rule of law and private property. Today, Blackberries make sometimes every member of the family be isolated even when sitting at a table where they are supossed to be together. But makes it possible to work from home and keep in contact while you are out. The issue is not so much with the means but with the use that we make of them. That you can do something doesn’t mean that you should.
Capitalism is often blamed as the source of an annoying homogeneity: every city looks the same in the globalised world. And in food. Mc Donalds provides a quality standard all around the world while some people praise the return to organic food and the “slow food” movement.
He tackles the effects on social mobility, using statistics from UK and the US versus those from Italy. The role that guilds had on this over time.
As a summary he concludes yhat capitalism creates dangers but also good things. It gives us wealth, freedom and prosperity but provokes real problems to real people: some industries fail (with real people affected) for others to flourish. It sparks consumerism too. He uses a powerful image to represent capitalism: a tiger, that reaches what he wants quickly and effectively, with great energy, but with also a powerful tail that whips out culture, and gives rise to the need of something to mitigate its effects.He considers that the state is not the right one to do it, but instead he calls for a vIbrant civil society; political decentralisation and religion.
Alberto Cornejo Pérez
(Many thanks, dear Alberto for this amazing contribution – Pedro Herrera).