How is it that a large portion of the general European and North American populous still believe in democracy’s modern form is difficult to understand. The fact is that capitalism is inherently opposed to democratic social relations. This basic reality has reared its head once again, this time through what Henry Giroux labelled as Financial Authoritarianism. In other words: “The episode in Greece foreshadows a new kind of financial authoritarianism. Elections are now worthless since the financial institutions now control the economies of nation states. That is what this Greek debacle is all about. It is really a hard line message that the financial elite will not tolerate any left party arguing for social and economic investments against austerity.”
But the focus of this essay is not critique. The focus, instead, is a much more difficult course of reflection on how autonomous movements and leftist government policy might begin to subvert the current political and economic system from within, for the benefit of a fundamental transition out of capitalism.
We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up