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

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Capitalism, the Absurd System A View from the United States

by Robert W. McChesney and John Bellamy Foster from Monthly Review. 

An outstanding review of the crisis of contemporary capitalism and the necessity, not merely the desirability, for change if the human race is to survive. 

The authors demonstrate what I have often argued--the propaganda organs (education and mass media) in the US have succeeded in raising an economic system to the status of a religion. Hence, the difficulties of getting people to examine capitalism and to consider alternatives are enormous. It's blasphemy to question it; and when one does, there are numerous punishments available by the enforcers of the system ranging from social ostracism to blacklisting and job threats. See also "The market : the new faith".
The question of how a socialist society would operate raised a horrible, dystopian image in this student’s mind. Such libertarian fears of a totalitarian state imposing socialism by force, even to the point of annihilation, on an unwilling people, who are presumed to be capitalist by nature, are all too common. This brings to mind Fredric Jameson’s comment: “Someone once said that it is easier [for most people in today’s society] to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism.”

I keep wondering how bad things have to become before people wake up. What I fear most is that there won't be enough time for this to happen before we pass several tipping points to catastrophe.