Take capitalism. It consists of moving elements such as the relative freedom of capital, contractual labor, the commodity form, and market/anti-market forces. But this complex (or “axiomatic” as Gilles Deleuze would call it) is both incomplete by itself and connected to other force-fields upon which it depends or which may intrude upon it. These include climate patterns, weather systems, animal-human disease jumps, the availability or [pg 37] depletion of clean water, fertile soil, oil, and other “resources,” educational systems, scientific activity, adventurous investors, medical practices, religious evolution, collective spiritual priorities, consumer trends, asteroid showers, and many other processes. All these partially open systems are linked in varying ways and degrees to the evolving system of capitalism. To treat capitalism as an (ideally) closed system periodically disrupted by “externalities” would be to commit the fallacy of misplaced concreteness. The very idea of an externality suggests an illegitimate intrusion into a system that would otherwise be self-sufficient and internally balanced. Indeed, neo-liberal economic theory is compromised fundamentally by its tendency to isolate “the market” as _the_ consummate or unique self-balancing system. But the world consists of innumerable force-fields with differential powers of self-maintenance, many of which interact periodically to augment or destabilize one another. When this feature of the human condition is admitted, the need to radically reformulate neoliberal economic theory becomes clear.
This means that you can’t define capitalism as a pure system, either in the sense advanced by some versions of neoliberalism or in that advanced by those versions of Marxism that reify the base/superstructure relation. It means that when a new possibility or crisis emerges, you must often experiment to ascertain where and how to engage it. It never occurred to Marx, Keynes, or Milton Friedman, for instance, to address the relation between capitalism and climate. This is fair enough for the first two, but Friedman wrote after the issue had been posed. Nonetheless, if each had folded into his theory a greater appreciation of the relatively open and incomplete character of capitalism in a larger world of becoming, the advocate of each theory would have been more alert to changes in other force-fields that can impinge profoundly upon the operations of capitalism. Connectionism, inter-involved systems of multiple sorts, and a world of becoming help to define each other. Capitalism is exempt from non of them, in my view.
– William Connolly, A world of becoming, chp 1 “complexity, agency, and time” p36-7