Thursday, February 16, 2006

Alternatives to capitalism

Norm has a post about a lecture given by Erik Olin Wright on Socialist alternatives to capitalism. He summarises Wright's critique of capitalism.

The basis for claiming that we need to look for alternatives to capitalism included (from my notes again, though there is a similar list in the paper linked to) that capitalism perpetuates eliminable forms of human suffering, blocks human flourishing, perpetuates deficits in individual freedom and autonomy, violates liberal principles of social justice, is inefficient, is environmentally destructive, and limits democracy.
Now Norm has forgotten more about the history and makeup of idealogies than I'll ever know. However, I would just ask this. If we accept that capitalism is guilty of the crimes listed above, what system in history has ever done better in those areas? What system has created more and delivered more to a greater number of people? Of course, if you compare it to what we can imagine, it is criminally inadequate. But, then, so is all of history, all of what has actually happened. However, compared to every other system that has clawed its way into bloody existence, capitalism has done pretty well. Together with liberal politics, it is the most 'adult' system ever: by 'adult', I mean that it leaves more to individual autonomy and choice; the state as a withdrawn authority; the citizen as the judge of its performance (just the things we are most in danger of losing in the present climate). Socialism, for the very reason that it seeks as a system to make the citizen's life better, fails and must fail to do just that because it takes away from the citizen the power and autonomy to do what only the citizen can do.

1 comment:

John Steinsvold said...

An Alternative to Capitalism (which we need here in the USA)

Several decades ago, Margaret Thatcher claimed: "There is no alternative". She was referring to capitalism. Today, this negative attitude still persists.

I would like to offer an alternative to capitalism for the American people to consider. Please click on the following link. It will take you to an essay titled: "Home of the Brave?" which was published by the Athenaeum Library of Philosophy:

http://evans-experientialism.freewebspace.com/steinsvold.htm

John Steinsvold

Perhaps in time the so-called dark ages will be thought of as including our own.
--Georg C. Lichtenberg