The Jaded Prole

A Progressive Worker's Perspective on the political and cultural events of our time.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Moving Beyond Capitalism

As I stated in the editorial of the Fall issue of Blue Collar Review, the many seemingly insurmountable issues, from unemployment to endless war, to the plundered economy and the unfolding ecological crisis are like the branches on a tree. They are connected at the root by a strangling knot of corporate interests. We are facing a cumulative crisis of civilization and even species destroying proportions as the ecosystem
is in freefall along with the global economy which is dependent on it. Protesting the issues without connecting the dots is like trimming the leaves on an aggressive weed. We must go to the root. It is far easier to be anti anything that to be pro something but the time is nigh. The present economic system of global capitalism must be uprooted but it also must be replaced. Naive anarchism is not the answer. We cannot return to being hunter-gatherers. There are way too many of us and we are dependent on a complex technological society. That said, our survival depends on our return to the more egalitarian, community values of hunter gatherers.

In an article in The Nation entitled Beyond Corporate Capitalism: Not So Wild a Dream, Gar Alperovitz and Thomas M. Hanna write,

The destructive "grow or die" imperative of our market-driven system cannot be wished or regulated away. In addition to the overriding issue of global warming, countless studies have documented that limits to growth in such areas as energy, minerals, water and arable land (among others) are fast being reached. The energy corporations are desperately trying to crash through these limits with technological fixes such as fracking, tar sands exploitation and deep-water drilling, which are equally or more environmentally costly than traditional methods.

Yet the trends continue: the United States, with less than 5 percent of the global population, accounts for 21.6 percent of the world's consumption of oil, 13 percent of coal and 21 percent of natural gas. In the brief period between 1940 and 1976 Americans used up a larger share of the earth's mineral resources than did everyone in all previous history. At some point a society like ours, which produces the equivalent of more than $190,000 for every family of four, must ask when enough is enough. Former presidential adviser James Gustave Speth puts it bluntly: "For the most part we have worked within this current system of political economy, but working within the system will not succeed in the end when what is needed is transformative change in the system itself."

As a matter of cold logic, then, if some of the most important corporations have a disruptive and costly impact on the economy and the environment—and if regulation and antitrust laws in many areas are likely to be subverted by these corporations—a public takeover is the only logical solution.

Full article here.

Public ownership of social necessities is vital. These included the power grid, banking and finance, transportation, health care, the postal service, and food production. Industries must be at very least heavily regulated and publicly accountable if not publicly owned and democratically run for the common good.

Yes, we are talking about Socialism but this is not some abstract dream for a distant future. If we are to have a future, the systemic change over must occur very soon. This is not as big a stretch as it might have been even 5 years ago. As Alperovitz and Hanna write, many Americans are increasingly skeptical about the claims made for the corporate-dominated "free" enterprise system by its propagandists. A recent Pew Research Center poll found that a majority of Americans have an unfavorable view of corporations—a significant shift from only twelve years ago, when nearly three-quarters held a favorable view. At the same time, two recent Rasmussen surveys found Americans under 30—the people who will build the next politics—almost equally divided as to whether capitalism or socialism is preferable. Another Pew survey found that 18- to 29-year-olds have a favorable reaction to the term "socialism" by a margin of 49 to 43 percent.

No on can convince the public of the need for Socialism better than the insatiably greed bourgeoisie themselves. As we all feel the pain of a failing economy the writing on the wall becomes increasingly clear. Lenin once penned that in periods of revolution time seems to compress and events that would have previously taken generations happen overnight. Let's hope that is the case. I see much hope is the growth of the global Occupy Movement and the awakening of militant class consciousness it represents. This year is a turning point but we must all add our weight to the effort. To think otherwise, to ideologically parse and nit-pick or to engage in armchair slacktivism is to be a counter revolutionary.


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