What happens when the house that capitalism built burns down

From the introduction to the Intellectual Origins of the [2008] Global Financial Crisis, Roger Berkowitz explains how he uses the example of Hannah Arendt's study of totalitarianism to better understand why our economic system melted down a decade ago.  

Arendt didn't want to understand or explain totalitarianism from a historical point of view, which would have not only made it seem natural and premeditated, but also would have normalized it. (In a way you can normalize or justify any action from the past.) You have to look at the issue in a new light, and (he quotes Arendt) “the unpremeditated, attentive facing up to,
and resisting of, reality— whatever it may be.” We need to Berkowitz quotes again "think about what we are doing."

To look at the 2008 financial straight in the eye, Berkowitz found it was born not from easy money, nor the allure of easy money or the lack of regulations, although each of them played a part. Rather, Berkowitz took the problem and made it larger: The 2008 global financial meltdown was caused by capitalism taking over our lives. 


At the heart of Max Weber’s account is his claim that the rise of an unnatural and specifically capitalist ethic—to earn more and more money
combined with the a strong work ethic that limits the spontaneous enjoyment of life outside of work— is rooted in the increasing rationalization
of society, culture, and humanity itself. What capitalist rationality demands is that humans act according to the reason of profit and loss.

Capitalist rationality is enormously powerful in allocating resources efficiently and increasing general prosperity. But such rationalization is
also dehumanizing. For if humans must act rationally, they must abandon spontaneous feelings, passions, instincts, even commonsense moral sensations— all of which are rejected as irrational. Th e great paradox that Weber discovered in capitalism is that the pure rationalism of capitalist activity is irrational. And yet, the power of capitalist rationality is, it seems, irresistible.

The irresistibility of capitalism is part and parcel of the demand for certainty. Capitalism offers the certainty of a balanced ledger and the clarity of profit and loss. Capitalism thus offers objective criteria on which to rationally evaluate all decisions. In its promise of objective certainty, capitalism is a symptom of what Hannah Arendt calls the experience of homelessness. Our world, the world defined by the loss of the authority
of religions and the decay of traditions, is also a world defined by the loss of a spiritual home. Capitalism— the social system that defines good and bad, winners and losers, status and power, by clear and certain criteria of salary and wealth— is one way that a homeless humanity sets itself on a
certain and stable foundation, albeit one of its own making.