The past year has seen an accelerating awareness, a growing anger and realization of the bankruptcy of capital to contend with the crisis it has spawned. How can it, when to overcome the crisis would mean its own liquidation? There is now a widespread assumption, which was much more limited five years ago, that the problem is not this corporation or that, or “industrialization,” technology, or just plain bad luck, but all-devouring capital. This is a salubrious truth, a truth that sharpens the mind and can be worked with and built upon. The human intelligence can be daunted, but it cannot be erased. As the ecological crisis grinds on irrespective of capital’s propaganda system and its massive apparatus for fixing the environment, so does capital’s legitimacy begin to fray. With this, the possibility of new thinking emerges and begins to flower. On one side, a predictable inevitability, that the system will collapse; on the other, no more than a hope, grounded however in reality, that a new form of society may emerge no longer dependent upon accumulation and its progressive breakdown of ecosystems.
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