Commentary | Leibnizian capitalism

Re: “Capitalism with a conscience” | Commentary | October 18

I take issue with Koay Keat Yang’s characterization of capitalist greed as excessive and unwarranted. Your logic echoes the 1960s call for “socialism with a human face;” is that not exactly your “conscientious capitalism?” The problem is that capital is the governing mechanism of a system which is inherently greedy, founded on exploitation, and unviable without recourse to profit and growth. To call its greed excessive is redundant: capitalism by definition requires excessive greed, or else it is not capitalism.

Are microloans a new arm of the liberal-democratic charity brigade, out to save sorry slum-dwellers from themselves? Or are they a sinister tool for the continued imperial subjugation of the Third World? Ultimately, both questions fail to recognize the assumption on which they are grounded: that late capitalism as it is, is the best and (in the case of the latter question) only organization of labour relations that human beings are capable of. We shouldn’t choose one side of the coin over the other; we should reject the whole coin: these microloans have the distinct capacity to disrupt capitalist labour relations, but they must be recognized as doing so. To allow them to be sublated into the ever-expanding maw of late capitalism would be a terrible loss, but an unavoidable one if we talk about them as though they are the harbingers of a “new” capitalism.

Mathew Powes
U1 Arts


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