Some call our economic civilization a market economy. Others call it a free enterprise system, or a market-based democracy, depending on where they live. Still others call our global civilization capitalism, and capitalism is now global. So, global capitalism. If we live in such a system, what is it? What are the visible and invisibles rules and forces that affect and shape our daily lives and decisions? How should we plan, make decisions and do our best to live a long and prosperous life in this system? Our motivation to ask these questions - and to ask them now - is driven by four factors. While many civilizations have come and gone over the past 10,000 years of recorded history, global capitalist civilization faces existential threats on a planetary scale, such as Climate Change, environmental degradation, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, extremely high degrees of inequality, economic crises and pandemics, extreme political movements, anxieties related to rapid technological change, and the problem of living on a crowded planet. At the same time, global capitalist civilization appears to have reached the end of a certain identifiable phase or stage in its historical development – some call it the Neoliberal phase, or Neoliberalism – that began sometime in the late 1970s and early 1980s and appears to have ended with the election of a new President in the world’s largest economy and still-dominant military power.
We also live in an extremely hectic, specialized and technologically-infused world that has alienated or distracted many of us from the “big picture” of global capitalism in which we live, leaving us less and less able to see forest of civilization from the trees of daily living, working and surviving. On top of this, the revolutionizing of information brought forth by the Internet and Social Media has made it possible for geographically disconnected people to communicate continuously and instantaneously for the first time in human history. It has also blurred the lines between objective truths and outright lies, between facts and opinions, and between reality on the one hand and misinformation, propaganda and outright delusion on the other. Finally, for the first time in living memory, the entire world is living through and reacting to the same event – the COVID-19 pandemic. This has revealed or highlighted economic, political, social, and even racial fault-lines within and across global society. It has has accelerated the shift to a digitalized world. It has marked the end of one era and the beginning of a new one. It has awakened many people around the world to the vulnerability of our interconnected economic civilization to the wider political, social and natural worlds in which our economic life is embedded. COVID-19 is not only an agent of destruction, but also an agent of global change. That is why now.