In inimitable fashion, Jerry Mander attacks the principals, structure and operations of Capitalism without mercy. It is a convincing critique from a declared non Socialist or Marxist. Mander takes apart the fundamental drivers of the Capitalist system: the need for unending growth and the implicit faith in GDP as a measure of economic success, but he also lays bare the infiltration of the amoral giant national or international Corporation (the cornerstone of the capitalist economy) into all sectors of the supply of material goods and services. The single objective of creating wealth for shareholders, he believes, is held above all other values and motives. The book is very much a response to the north American economy and culture and looks towards the mixed economies of “some” European states as comparatively more benign when compared with the unadulterated Capitalism of the United States. However, as we become more committed to privatisation in all areas of support and supply, we move closer to the American way and should take note of what Mander brings to light about the undermining of values through advertising, the erosion of political objectivity by corporate support for politicians, the corporate take over of the “defence” industry and privatisation of the Commons.
In the end the mismatch between Capitalist economics and its values and the finite baring capacity of the Earth is central to his argument that Capitalism is an obsolete system. The antidote, he admits, is not easy to find and though he explores some interesting developments in the final part of the book he acknowledges that a convincing, more sustainable replacement for Capitalism is yet to be found. One wonders, as our politics becomes more sucked into the market economy and is increasingly dominated by market values, whether a powerful enough environmentally positive system will be found that can face up to the immense wealth, power and influence of the current corporate vested interests, who very much prefer ‘business as usual’.