Capitalism works for me! invites us, anyone who is willing to take part, to vote True or False. It is a participatory art work and platform created by Steve Lambert that can be installed anywhere. The idea is to entice us to think and talk about capitalism, beginning with our personal situation and experience, overcoming a taboo. For many people in the West ‘capitalism’ is a red flag. It is such an ideolgically and emotionally loaden word that it is difficult, and often impossible, to engage in an informed discussion about it. People who try to do it are easily stigmatized and pushed to the margins; the debate is closed before it can begin. Steve Lambert’s installation and platform is designed to overcome this impass. In his words: “This is what art is for. This is what art does well. It creates a space where new ideas and perspectives can be explored. A space unlike any other.” Voters can have their portrait taken and explain why they voted True or False. People’s interactions and thoughts are documented by video, website and book. To engage in the first question: Does capitalism work for me? inevitably leads to following questions: Does it work for my family, my parents, my friends, other people, other countries? Why does it work? And if not, or not anymore, are there alternatives? What’s next? Something better or worse? Game over?
As Lawrence Wittner writes, “The (second world) war rejuvenated American capitalism.” The biggest gains were in corporate profits, which rose from $6.4 billion in 1940 to $10.8 billion in 1944. But enough went to the workers and farmers to make them feel the system was doing well for them.
It was an old lesson learned by governments: that war solves problems of control. Charles E. Wilson, the president of General Motors, was so happy about the wartime situation that he suggested a continuing alliance between business and the military for “a permanent war economy.”
That is what happened.
Source: Zinn, Howard. 2005. A People’s History of the United States. New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics, p. 425.
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The New Putney Debates 2014
One topic debated was whether capitalism can work for society, true or false. Mark Goyer and David Dewhurst argued it can, David Graeber and Ann Pettifor argued it cannot.
Is capitalism part of the answer?
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The Putney Debates 2014
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