Capital and a new model of 'capitalism'

By Eugene Clark
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, March 16, 2013
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After the Global Financial Crisis in 2008 there has been much discussion and writing about the future of capitalism and new models of capitalism. Perhaps part of the problem is that too often we think of capitalism narrowly and most often solely in economic terms. We need to remind ourselves that there are many forms of "capital."

Social capital

Perhaps the most valuable capital of all is that of social capital – the network of family and significant others that share bonds of love, friendship, common values and belonging. A huge body of research demonstrates that this kind of capital is the major factor in academic success for students. It provides the roots that make us strong and resilient from generation to generation.

Cultural capital

There is also cultural capital. Sadly, many of today's youth, focused on the here and now, are not as knowledgeable and aware as they should be of their history and culture. Yet, Schools, businesses, government departments will come to learn that "culture" trumps strategy and compliance plans every day of the week. As Malcolm Gladwell states:

"Cultural legacies are powerful forces. They have deep roots and long lives. They persist, generation after generation, virtually intact, even as the economic and social and demographic conditions that spawned them have vanished, and they play such a role in directing attitudes and behavior that we cannot make sense of our world without them."

Security is capital.

For China, that means finding a way to develop the food, water, energy, and national security that will enable China to realize its great potential as it further develops its economy and improves the standard of living for all Chinese citizens.

Sound institutions are another source of capital.

Educational institutions, courts and legal system, financial institutions, universities and schools, non-profit organizations and government departments are dedicated to the highest levels of public service –all of these are also valuable forms of capital.

Environmental capital

We are also learning that it does little to achieve economic success if the price for that success is that we wreck the environment. Development must be sustainable and the size of our paycheck will mean little if we can't breathe the air or drink the water.

Education is capital.

In a time of rapid change and when all societies are becoming learning societies, China needs talented, resilient, entrepreneurial people who can find solutions to the significant problems that must be solved as China advances.

There is the capital required to start and grow a business.

While China now attracts more foreign direct investment than any other country, small businesses that generate the most jobs, still find it difficult to acquire the capital they need to grow into middle and large sized businesses.

Trust is another form of capital.

That is why corruption is such a serious problem. It is also a major challenge facing new forms of business such as the Internet. People need to trust the system, believe in the quality of the brand and the accuracy of the labeling. Otherwise the system breaks down.

Towards new models of capitalism.

When we thus expand our notions of what truly constitutes "capital" in the broadest sense of the word, China and other countries, too, will re-invent the power and magic of "capitalism" in this broader sense. They will forge on the anvil of that wider context new systems and new models of economic, social and political practice that will light the way towards a better future.

The author is a columnist with For more information please visit:

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of


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