When the conversation gets around to the subject of which economic system is better for humanity, there is usually a “war” waged between capitalism and (socialism/)communism. This was the comment I left on a thread about how communism is horrible and capitalism is awesome (but only when it’s not regulated):
Capitalism and communism are only the systems we know best, we have experienced the fist on our own skin, the second from the News on TV… or our own skin in the past. So it seems that the choice is only between those two systems, and it's not.
One isn't better than the other. Neither work.
Capitalism doesn’t work because it's based on unlimited growth amongst other things (more about them here including the doubtful "benefits" of unregulated markets), and in reality we live in a finite planet where we are now seeing the effects of this capitalistic unlimited growth. In fact minimalism is degrowth, which goes against the essence of capitalism itself!
Communism doesn’t work because it doesn't take into account human nature when faced with scarcity, commonly created amongst most citizens in communists countries that are usually semi-dictatorial regimes (which is not really communism by the way, to me communist is only possible as a theory not applicable to humanity).
You say: “poverty followed by death was the only outcome of communism, just look at Cuba as the ongoing example”, but it's just in that country that something beautiful happened when the USSR went bust. The isle, its people as well as its government, had to go back to a more human-scale economy to survive, they had to adopt a system based on local natural resources for local consumption, and they did so quite successfully! By “success” I mean living a life which is worth living, not making tons of bucks, that's another concept we should revisit.
You might want to have a look at The Power of Community - How Cuba Survived Peak Oil.
Capitalism is destroying the only environment that allows the existence of us human beings by exponential growth.
Communism doesn't work because it basically relies on a few people's will to distribute "equally" available resources, and of course they come first.
Neither the former nor the latter is the solution.
On top of it, what you are all doing here, minimalizing your lives, goes absolutely against what capitalism NEEDS to exist. As a system, capitalism requires more and more production, and consequently more and more consumption. The issue is that not only do we live in a finite world, but our real needs are also finite. Of course, if we limited our consumption to those needs, capitalism would simply crumble.
The basis of capitalism is purchasing something at a price and selling it at an increased price, it can be a physical object or a service, in which case one "purchases" education. To the purchased object one adds value, be it through manipulation and manufacturing into a new product, or simply by adding convenience to it (i.e. transportation). This is how we all earn our wages.
So we have created a mechanism that generates unnecessary needs, and by believing that those unnecessary needs are indeed necessary to be happy, we are all pushed to buy and buy, allowing more products to be created (“adding value” to them at each step of the manufacturing system). Only like this, within the capitalistic system, can be ensure that we will be receiving our paycheck at the end of the month, which allows us to go out an buy more and more.
If the only way to “earn our living” is by manufacturing and consuming more and more, but our resources are finite, it should be clear that something is deeply wrong with the system.
There are other alternatives, and they all have many things in common to what happened in Cuba with the Organic Revolution: a return to life on the human scale. "Life" intended as everything, from the economy to all relationships.
Have a look at the Economy of the Common Good (more here) and the Universal Basic Income (more
It's not surprising how people (especially ones living in a capitalist environment) think that nobody would "get out of bed, or live at all" without "the carrot" that capitalism wants one to believe he/she can reach: we were raised like that. In reality, and there are many examples of this, we would happily "get out of bed and live" (and even be more “productive”, but in a really positive sense), if we didn't need to worry about spending 8-10 doing a job we hate to pay for our living needs… This was an eye-opener for me, I also thought capitalism was OK. Now I know it's not.
Meritocracy (the carrot dangling if front of your nose) in capitalism is one of the greatest illusions that allows the system to go on. This one is quick (of course one can keep on investigating on the matter): On a Plate, a comic by Toby Morris. Yes a comic :-), it shows the basics of the issue very efficiently.
Communist doesn't work, and we have all seen that.
Capitalism doesn't work, and I hope we don't go extinct before understanding that.
The other systems, will they work? No idea. Until we have implemented them we won't know, but there are two things that we do know. The first is that nothing is perfect, and that any other system we might adopt will have its flaws, we will have to iron them out with time (and if the new system also doesn’t work, adopt another one). The second is that if one thing is sure, is that we can't go on as we are living now. We are degrading the planet at a rate that will not allow our life in a very short time. Something must change to stop this trend, capitalism ain’t it.
One last thing (yes I know...): Lowsumerism (from Low Consumerism). There is a very interesting video about the capitalistic consumerism and Lowsumerism, a movement born in Brasil recently, really educational. By the way, for its very nature, capitalism IS consumerism.
In the Minimalists documentary there's a clip where president Carter talks about overconsumption on national TV... After 9/11 president Bush went on national TV asking the nation to go shopping to support the economy...
A Mind full of Ideas