This book is a completely rewritten version of the author's earlier Capitalism or Worker Control? . Its central thesis is that, despite the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and the break-up of the Soviet Union, capitalism cannot be justified on either economic or ethical grounds. There is in fact an alternative to capitalism that promises greater efficiency, and equality, and more rational growth, democracy and meaningful work. This alternative, Economic Democracy, is market socialism with decentralised investment planning and workplace (...) democracy. Professor Schweickart compares this model with other models – laissez-faire conservatism, the Keynesian welfare state, and 'neo-liberalism' – and argues that it is really superior on every count. He also sketches out a possible transition from advanced capitalism, from what is left of the centrally planned economies, and from Third World underdevelopment, to Economic Democracy. The author concludes with some reflections on Marx's communism, as historical materialism, and on the future of Marxism. (shrink)
David Schweickart moves beyond the familiar arguments against globalizing capitalism to contribute something absolutely necessary and long overdue—a coherent vision of a viable, desirable alternative to capitalism. He names this system Economic Democracy, a successor-system to capitalism which preserves the efficiency strengths of a market economy while extending democracy to the workplace and to the structures of investment finance. Drawing on both theoretical and empirical research, Schweickart shows how and why this model is efficient, dynamic, and superior to capitalism along (...) a range of values. (shrink)
The subtitle of Joel Kovel's The Enemy of Nature (originally published in 2002, revised edition 2007) states his thesis bluntly: The End of Capitalism or the End of the World? Kovel thinks we need a revolution--although he is fully cognizant as to how remote that prospect seems.
Schweickart argues that Gould in her most recent book seems to have shifted away from the notion of economic democracy as “one person, one vote” to a less radical modified stakeholder view in which the various constituents of the economic enterprise, including employees, stockholders, and managers, share in decision-making power. Noting that Gould does not explain why she holds that workplace democracy is a too stringent participatory demand, Schweickart brings up a variety of arguments that might be offered in support (...) of her claim and finds them all clearly wanting. More briefly, he addresses Gould’s normative analysis of terrorism, concluding that it raises, but does not address, the difficult question, “Should we empathize with the [suicide] terrorists?” [Abstract prepared by the Editors.]. (shrink)
“Economic Democracy: A Worthy Socialism that Would Really Work” laid out a model that was to form the basis of my book Against Capitalism, published by Cambridge University Press in 1993. The article, like the book itself, was a theoretical response to the triumphalism of the TINA crowd that followed the collapse of Soviet Union and the rejection of socialism by its satellite states in Eastern Europe. “A Worthy Socialism” was intended to demonstrate rigorously that there is an alternative, at (...) least in theory: an economically viable form of socialism that would be more democratic than capitalism and at least as efficient. Against Capitalism made the same point, but extended the argument further. Economic Democracy would be not only as efficient as capitalism and more democratic, but also more rational in its growth, more stable, more egalitarian, less prone to high unemployment, more ecologically friendly. I was sick of hearing even progressives say that “we are going to have to stop using the term ‘capitalist economy’ as if we knew what a functioning non-capitalist economy would look like.”. (shrink)
My interest in China was rekindled several years ago by an invitation to a conference, "Modernization, Globalization and China's Path to Economic Development," to he held in Hangzhou, July, 2002. The conference was organized by Cao Tian Yu, a philosopher of science at Boston University and his wife Lin Chun of the London School of Economics--both deeply concerned about the future of China. It was attended by a number of Western Leftists (Samir Amin, Perry Anderson, Robin Blackburn and myself), by (...) China specialist Joseph Fewsmith, by representatives from Singapore, Taiwan and India, by representatives from China's developing "New Left," (among them Wang Hui, whose book China's New Order was recently published by Harvard University Press1), by the president of Hangzhou College of Commerce (where the event was held) and by three retired, once prominent government officials, among them Du Runsheng, a principal architect of China's agricultural reform of the late 70s, early 80s. (shrink)
What are we to make of the "Parecon" phenomenon? Michael Albert 's book made it to number thirteen on Amazon.com a few days after some on-line promotion.1 Eight of the twelve Amazon.com reviewers had given the book five stars. It has been, or is being, translated into Arabic, Bengali, Telagu, Croatian, Czech, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish.2 The book has been endorsed by Noam Chomsky, who says it "merits close attention, debate and action," by (...) Arundhati Roy, who calls it "a brave argument for a much needed alternative economic vision," by Ben Bagdikian, who finds it "a compelling book for our times," and by Howard Zinn, who sees it as "a thoughtful, profound meditation on what a good society can be like."3 Yet it is a terrible book. (shrink)
Growing numbers of people are beginning to realize that capitalism is the uncontrollable force driving our ecological crisis, only to become frozen in their tracks by the awesome implications of this insight.
As we all know, Marx's powerful and compelling critique of capitalism provided no explicit model for a viable alternative to capitalism, no "recipes for cookshops of the future," in his disdainful phrase.1 Marx shouldn’t be faulted for this omission. He was a "scientific" socialist. Although there were sufficient data available to him to ground his critique of capitalism, there was little upon which to draw regarding alternative economic institutions. No "experiments" had been performed. We no longer have that excuse.
The remarks that follow are not the work of a China specialist. I am a philosopher who has spent most of his scholarly life--from my days as a graduate student in the early 1970s to the present--grappling with one of the great lacunas in Marx=s work. As everyone knows, Marx thought that capitalism will eventually be replaced by a higher form of society that will resolve humanity's economic problem. He characterized this ultimate Acommunism@ in various ways: rather whimsically as a (...) socio-economic order that allows us to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, criticize after dinner, without ever becoming hunters, fishermen or a critical critics; more seriously, in accordance with the need for a compelling political slogan, as one that allows us to work according to our abilities and consume according to our needs; more philosophically, as one that reduces the realm of necessity to a minimum so as to maximize the realm of freedom. But Marx was no utopian dreamer. He knew that we would have to pass through a transitional stage to get from capitalism to this truly human society. This would be a stage marked by its origins, hence imperfect, even in theory, and yet capable of surmounting the fundamental contradictions of capitalism. (shrink)
Democratic Socialism -- The relationship between democracy and socialism is a curious one. Both traditions are rooted philosophically in the concept of equality, but different aspects of equality are emphasized. Democracy appeals to political equality, the right of all individuals to participate in setting the rules to which all will be subject. Socialism emphasizes material equality--not strict equality, but an end to the vast disparities of income and wealth traceable to the inequalities of ownership of means of production.
We are facing a terrifying moment in human history, but also a miraculous moment. At the very time when climate change threatens our species with extinction, we not only know that we face an existential threat, we have the means not only to avert catastrophe, but to provide virtually everybody on our planet with the material means for decent life. This paper asks, and attempts to answer, a series of questions: Why are we not doing what needs to be done? (...) Is there a viable alternative to our current economic order? What then should I do? (shrink)
When the relative importance of the national exploitation from which a working class suffers through belonging to the proletariat diminishes continually as compared with that from which it benefits through belonging to a privileged nation, a moment comes when the aim of increasing the national income in absolute terms prevails over that of the relative share of one part of the nation over the other. From that point onward the principle of national solidarity ceases to be challenged in principle, however (...) violent and radical the struggle over the sharing of the cake may be. Thereafter a de facto united front of the workers and capitalists of the well-to-do countries, directed against the poor nations, coexists with an internal trade-union struggle over the sharing of the loot. (shrink)
Scott Arnold's recent paper, “Marx and Market Socialism,” advances a provocative thesis: market socialists are advocating an economic system that has a strong, internally generated tendency to revert to capitalism. They are, in short, “capitalist roaders”.
This paper argues that Marx’s critique of capitalism is not, as commonly believed, a critique of the “free market.” I argue that the “market” under capitalism should be understood as a three-fold market—for goods and services, for labor and for capital. I argue that Marx’s critique is essentially a critique of the latter two markets, and not the first. Hence theoretical space opens up for “market socialism.” I proceed to elaborate briefly what specific institutions might comprise an economically viable socialism (...) that would not be vulnerable to Marx’s critique. (shrink)
Professor Arnold's reply to my reply seems not to have touched the substance of my argument. Perhaps I have been unclear. Arnold contends that any form of market socialism, if unchecked by central authorities, would revert to a system essentially undistinguishable from capitalism. Against this contention I have argued that a democratic, worker-controlled, market socialism that generates its investment fund by taxation exhibits no such tendency. Specifically, I argued that in such a society 1. there exists no tendency for socialized (...) property to revert to private property ; 2. the ability of private individuals to accumulate vast wealth is sharply curtailed ; 3. the authority structures within enterprises are much more democratic than under capitalism; 4. intra-firm income differentials will be far more egalitarian than under capitalism. (shrink)
I T I S S T A R T L I N G T O realize that the concept of economic exploitation, which has been the focus of intense philosophical debate for what seems like decades now, was barely touched on in John Rawls's 1971 masterwork, A Theory o f Justice, the book that ushered in the present era of Anglo - American social and political philosophy. The subject was broached just once by Rawls, and only to be dismissed as (...) being of such secondary importance as to be "out of place here."1 The concept, however, had begun to attract the attention of a generation of students and young faculty who were rediscovering Marx, to the point that it could not much longer be ignored, not even in Harvard Yard. Robert Nozick, in his famous juniorcolleague, neoconservative rebuttal to the liberal Rawls, devoted a full nine pages to attacking "Marxian exploitation," concluding that "Marxian exploitation is the exploitation of people's lack of understanding of economics.". (shrink)
If we look at world history over the course of the past several centuries, it is hard to miss the fact that democracy has been advancing. Not steadily. There have been fits and starts, setbacks as well as gains, but it can scarcely be denied that the world is more democratic now than it was three centuries ago, or two centuries, or one century or fifty years ago or even twenty. There is scarcely a country in the world that does (...) not at least call itself democratic. To be sure, there is a lot of hypocrisy here, but as we know, hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue. The notion that people have the right to rule themselves is an idea of near-universal currency right now, and it shows no signs of weakening. (shrink)
Abstract David Ramsay Steele's From Marx to Mises argues correctly that the standard account of the economic calculation debate is a misrepresentation. Mises and Hayek were not bested by Lange and Taylor. However, it is not true, as Steele claims, that socialists have yet to face the Misesian challenge, nor that the debate over socialist calculation sheds much light on the recent collapse of communism. Steele's critiques of market socialism and worker self?management and his treatment of Marx are, moreover, deficient, (...) as a consequence of his ?Libertarian Panglossism.? Tout est an mieux . . . dans ce meilleur des mondes possibles. (shrink)
Capitalism causes staggering inequality, rising unemployment, growing poverty, and the degradation of democracy. But is there any viable alternative? Is there a form of socialism that would preserve the strengths of competitive capitalism, yet mitigate its worst evils? This paper argues that there is such an alternative -- economic democracy. An economic democracy keeps competitive markets for goods and services, but dispenses with labor markets and capital markets. It replaces labor markets with worker ownership, and capital markets with democratic control (...) of investment. These mechanisms will preserve the principal advantages of capitalism, while mitigating its worst evils. (shrink)