It’s a phrase which is becoming more frequent in day to day life purely because more people are becoming more aware of the flaws it brings with it. Late Capitalism is a collective phrase which sums up all that is undermined by what we know of contemporary capitalism. It is a term which was coined back in the 1930s by European economists and it has been used to refer to capitalism since the end of the Second World War.
In the 1950s and 60s representatives of the Frankfurt School argued that their views on late capitalism would hinder any move towards socialist economy. Theodor Adorno argued that “late capitalism” might lead not to socialism, but away from it, by blunting the proletariat’s potential for revolution. “The economic process continues to perpetuate domination over human beings,” he said in a speech on late capitalism in 1968. Adorno felt that the way capitalism works has little compassion for human life.
Examples of late capitalism include job adverts which celebrate sleep depravity or festival outfits which cost more than the ticket itself. It is a term for the collective absurdities which current capitalism has produced. A further example would be a juicer which costs hundreds of pounds which does no better a job than human hands and a bit of elbow grease.
It is pointless inventions and concepts put out into society at the claim it will improve the lives of people at a usually great cost. What has a society come to when one of its beer companies spends $5 million on an advertisement campaign to say they will pledge $100,000 to clean water charities.
Late Capitalism is this idea that there is significant inequality between social classes, therefore the concept gained traction after the 2008 housing market crash when those who were sold unrealistic mortgages by the rich. The latter enjoyed a wealthy period as they took advantage of vulnerable people desperate to put a roof over their own head.
Despite the near criminal activity from some of the biggest in the housing business, few were held accountable for their actions. It is a housing crash which affected people far and wide, and one which many are still yet to fully recover from.
The term late capitalism is one which is often said to be used by leftist critics to point a judgmental finger at capitalism and state faults without being specific. These examples, as well as countless others in the last century, highlight the ignorance and shallowness of capitalist cooperation when it comes to providing customers with what they think they want.
Arguably the most depressing aspect of late capitalism is that it offers little benefit to anybody apart from those already wealthy enough to be above financial struggle. It brings about unnecessary gains for those least deserving.
The advancement in technology and most specifically the rise of robotics in industry could jeopardise capitalism within its ‘late’ stage. If there are less and less jobs for the proletariat then there may be consequently more reason for a rise in protests. If capitalism has reached the point in which money is being thrown into pointless commodities for no good reason, then the critics will only grow in number.
The need to buy, buy and buy some more within modern culture is growing constantly. High-profile names, celebrities and influencers are only adding to the issue through advertisements and social media. Due to this trend within society it feels as though late capitalism is a phrase which we will continue to hear for some time yet.