SINGAPORE - Assistant political editor Robin Chan asked whether capitalism can deliver an egalitarian society ("A future for S'pore I would like to pledge to"; last Saturday).
The same question was raised by Karl Marx, who identified surplus labour as the ultimate source of capitalist profits, which gradually increase the gap between the rich, who own the means of production, and the poor, who participate in production to earn a meagre income.
In the early and mid-20th century, governments tried other economic models, with limited success, and capitalism was hailed by developed nations as the best model for bringing wealth and happiness to the common man.
Globalisation in the last two decades has brought many people out of the clutches of poverty and made the rich richer. But the repeated economic meltdowns and collapse of financial institutions have triggered massive recession and unemployment, causing misery and loss of wealth to many people in developed nations.
The issue of whether capitalism is the best model is still being debated.
Now, the "spirit" of Marx's Das Kapital has come back in the book, Capital In The Twenty-First Century, by French economist Thomas Piketty.
So the issue of whether capitalism can deliver an egalitarian society is relevant and should be debated in Singapore too.
This article was first published on May 28, 2014.
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