A Tale of Two Capitalisms

by Bruce O’Hara

June 11, 2024

I find myself remembering E.F. Shumacher’s Small is Beautiful, a prescient book I first encountered 50 years ago. The book’s title had two referents. First, Schumacher argued that the world needed to return to a locally-based economy as soon as possible for environmental reasons. Second, Schumacher asserted that only small-business capitalism delivers the advertised benefits of capitalism.

That second idea goes a long way towards explaining something that is otherwise incomprehensible to me: the relatively high levels of support that unfettered capitalism still enjoys in North America. Despite a growing gap between the uber-rich and everyone else, despite the escalating costs of housing, groceries and fuel pushing millions of Americans towards bankruptcy, as far as I can see, most of the population is still grudgingly supportive of capitalism in all its incarnations.

I think that’s because most people haven’t really hoisted in the reality that today’s capitalism comes in two very different forms.

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