Capitalism and inequality: The negative consequences for humanity


This paper has attempted to reveal the degree of inequality which exists within the capitalist world system among nations, among regions of nations, among classes, and among various sexual, racial, and ethnic groups. For themost part these inequalities are the direct and inevitable result of the “normal” operations of the capitalist mode-of-production. I have attempted to integrate an existant body of literature within a neo-Marxist theoretical perspective. By using such a perspective, I have attempted to document that inequality in the twentieth century is largely rooted in the capitalist relations of production and the normal machinations of the capital accumulation process. I have also tried to show that capitalist inequality is a major factor in determining the physical and psychological plight of the majority of the human race, particularly in the areas of life expectancy, infant mortality, morbidity, physical illness, mental illness, and so forth. The implications of such an analysis are profound and threatening to many. For equality of the human condition to become a reality, and thus for these negative human experiences to be significantly alleviated, would require, it would seem, a major restructuring of our most basic and taken-for-granted political-economic institutions and values. The sanctity of private property ownership would need to be drastically interfered with in order to bring about the qualitative improvement of the living conditions and experiences of the world's peoples. It seems to me that we would have to entertain the notion that private property ownership must be abolished and a social ownership and control of the commanding heights of the economy established as a first giant step towards a humane world.

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Stevenson, P. Capitalism and inequality: The negative consequences for humanity. Contemporary Crises 6, 333–371 (1982).

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  • Infant Mortality
  • Capital Accumulation
  • Physical Illness
  • World System
  • Human Race