Socialism Art Nature

i.e., capitalist

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Can we stop the tipping point? Every week seems to bring new and frightening evidence that what scientists call the “tipping point”—when greenhouse gas emissions cause irreversible and disastrous climate change—is fast approaching, if not already here. Yet the multinational energy giants in the U.S. and beyond, aided and abetted by political leaders, are continuing their mad drive to drill, mine and frack.

But the polluters and the politicians are facing growing discontent and a grassroots challenge to their policies from activism emerging in every corner of the U.S. and around the globe. Ahead of the upcoming Global Climate Convergence—10 days of action at the end of April between Earth Day on April 22 and May Day—SocialistWorker.org talked to some of the activists and writers involved in the environmental justice movement today—to ask about the tipping point and what we can do about it. Dr. Jill Stein, Chris Williams and Joel Kovel give their answers below—the second installment will be published tomorrow.

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… Facing World War Two, the United States radically transformed its system of production, and in a remarkably short time became a mega-machine capable of destroying the Axis powers. Today, the technological prowess for doing this is exponentially greater; but the political will is weaker and faces a radically different task.

President Roosevelt was able to enlist the support of the capitalist classes to interrupt business as usual with the promise of global dominion after victory; and this proved to be so. The struggle for global ecological integrity, however, is one for the bringing down of the capitalist class, and not its triumph. It also proposes a global society beyond nationalist chauvinism, and not the triumph of any state over others. And it has to do so by liquidation of the death-dealing instruments of war, while building the life-affirming organs of eco-centric production.

This seems outlandishly difficult, even impossible. But there is nothing, in this way of looking at things, that is beyond human capabilities. Each woman and each man comes into the world with a transformative power that is the legacy of the universe acting through us. And there are a lot of us out there—billions to be exact—capable of restoring ecological integrity if well organized.


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http://socialismconference.org/

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Paul Robeson: On colonialism, African-American rights (Spotlight, ABC,1960)

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"Imagine Living in a Socialist USA”: New Book Envisions Greater Democracy, World Without Capitalism


We end today’s show looking at a new book titled “Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA.” The book features essays by many prominent people, including Michael Moore, Angela Davis, Frances Fox Piven, Paul Le Blanc, Martín Espada, Rick Wolff and Democracy Now! co-host Juan González. The book comes out at a time when polls show Americans aged 18 to 29 have a more favorable reaction to the word “socialism” than “capitalism.” The book is co-edited by the legendary book agent Frances Goldin, who has worked in the publishing world for more than six decades and will turn 90 years old in June. In 1951, at age 27, Goldin ran for New York State Senate on an American Labor Party slate headed by W.E.B. Du Bois. Goldin joins us now along with one of her co-editors, Michael Smith. He is a New York City attorney and a board member of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

"Imagine Living in a Socialist USA”: New Book Envisions Greater Democracy, World Without Capitalism

We end today’s show looking at a new book titled “Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA.” The book features essays by many prominent people, including Michael Moore, Angela Davis, Frances Fox Piven, Paul Le Blanc, Martín Espada, Rick Wolff and Democracy Now! co-host Juan González. The book comes out at a time when polls show Americans aged 18 to 29 have a more favorable reaction to the word “socialism” than “capitalism.” The book is co-edited by the legendary book agent Frances Goldin, who has worked in the publishing world for more than six decades and will turn 90 years old in June. In 1951, at age 27, Goldin ran for New York State Senate on an American Labor Party slate headed by W.E.B. Du Bois. Goldin joins us now along with one of her co-editors, Michael Smith. He is a New York City attorney and a board member of the Center for Constitutional Rights.


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http://www.socialismconference.org/

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The world’s 67 richest individuals now have as much wealth as the bottom 50% of the entire global human population. Democracy anywhere becomes impossible when such economic inequality prevails everywhere.

The further progress of our species urgently depends upon the supersession of capitalism.

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IT GOES without saying that capitalism causes economic inequality.

This is actually a point of pride for defenders of the system—they believe that the free market thrives because the deserving few are rewarded. The Marxist critique of capitalism takes the exact opposite position: The tiny few who live so well compared to the rest of us are completely undeserving of their immense wealth—they amassed their fortunes through systematic theft of the labor of the working majority in society.

But we also know that capitalism goes through periods in which economic inequality is more extreme and less so. So what kind of moment are we looking at now? What is the shape and contour of inequality in the U.S. today, six years after the recession that cratered in 2008?

… Since the 1970s, the productivity of U.S. workers has only increased while hourly compensation has remained more or less the same. This yawning gap between productivity and wages benefits the richest 1 percent, which owns 42 percent of the country’s financial wealth. The bottom 80 percent of the population, by contrast, owns barely 5 percent.

Taken together, these figures tell us that U.S. workers have worked harder and harder over decades, while gaining nothing more in wages—in fact, they have lost ground as a consequence of the Great Recession—nor in the financial wealth their labor produces.

This is not an accident—the increase in productivity alongside a stagnation in wages is a direct consequence of neoliberal policies having been implemented throughout the period.

It is a straight-up fabrication and an insult for political and business leaders to claim that the working-class majority or any section of it isn’t working, or isn’t working hard enough. The opposite is, in fact, the case. There is a historic robbery-in-progress undertaken by American business—the corporate boardrooms are the site of the real culture of freeloading.

… THESE ARE some of the stark facts about inequality in the richest country in the history of the world.

On the one hand, the U.S. does badly, particularly among industrialized countries, in terms of economic inequality, making it a terrible example for anyone interested in making the world a more equal and easier place to live. But precisely because of its staggering inequality, the U.S. ruling class provides a model to the rulers of the rest of the world for imposing the kind of policies that make inequality worse than ever.

This is not an abstract question. A recent study, funded in part by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, concludes that humanity is threatened not only by runaway climate change but the uneven distribution of wealth around the world.

It’s not enough to familiarize yourself with the enraging litany of statistics presented here. It’s not enough to know that the world’s main superpower is among the least equal society among its comparable peers. It’s not enough to understand how Corporate America and the U.S. political leaders who serve it export inequality around the world.

Instead, we need to organize for a different society that eliminates the vast gap between rich and poor by confronting the system that perpetuates the chasm: capitalism.


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Left-wing economist Doug Henwood writing in the New York Times on the revenge of Karl Marx:

"We didn’t expect that the 21st century would bring about a return of the 19th century’s vast disparities, but it’s looking like that’s just what’s happened."

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Phil Evans

Phil Evans


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In the coming weeks, the International Socialist Organization will host forums around the country on Marxism and the struggle for a different world. Here, Jen Roesch introduces the central themes of those meetings—Marxism’s explanation for the exploitation, oppression and violence at the heart of the free-market system, and its vision of another world based on solidarity, justice and freedom.

High school students on the march against standardized testing

THE BRITISH Marxist Terry Eagleton has observed, “You can tell that capitalism is in trouble when people start talking about capitalism. It indicates that the system has ceased to be as natural as the air we breathe, and can be seen instead as the historically rather recent phenomenon that it is. Moreover, whatever was born can always die.”

Certainly, in the last several years, “capitalism” has become a frequent subject of mainstream discussion. Radicals like myself are fond of citing opinion polls showing that young people today have a more favorable view of socialism than capitalism. But as remarkable as the results is the fact that the question is even asked. For decades, we were told that there was no alternative to the free-market system. But the financial crisis of 2008 shook capitalism so violently that questioning its legitimacy became acceptable.

There is no shortage of reasons to question that legitimacy. We can charge capitalism with being a profoundly unequal system; the world’s 85 richest individuals control more than half of the world’s wealth. We can charge it with being a racist system; the American gulag now houses more than 2.2 million men and women—disproportionately Blacks and Latinos.

We can charge it with failing to meet the basic needs for subsistence of the majority of its population; more than 80 percent of the world’s population lives on less than $10 a day, and 22,000 children die each day due to poverty. And—if not most damningly, at least most dangerously—we can charge it with threatening the very ecosystem on which all life of the planet depends.

The list of charges is long, and these are but a small sample. But the revolutionary potential of Marxism is not simply that it offers the most searing and comprehensive indictment of capitalism. It is that it is able to explain how this system came into being, how it organizes every aspect of our society—and, crucially, how it can be overthrown.

 … Capitalism has failed to meet even the most fundamental needs of its own population. For millions of people, the idea that another world is possible—or at least that this one is not sustainable—has gained resonance. We have seen the first waves of struggle against that system—whether in Egypt, Greece or here in the U.S. As a result, the questions of struggle and an alternative have re-emerged as a result of the concrete actions of working people.

Many people who were inspired by the struggles of the past few years—from the Arab Spring revolutions to the rebellions against austerity and inequality that took the form of the Occupy Wall Street in the U.S.—have become disappointed by recent setbacks, and even questioned whether the struggles are cause for hope at all.

But we could never expect to overcome such an entrenched system in one blow. Instead, we should see struggles such as these as tentative beginnings, which illuminate the possibilities and the difficulties ahead. Daniel Singer described the process by which ordinary people will attempt to take control of their society:

They are the product of circumstances, but also, within the limits set by their physical and social conditions, products of their own action. The “associated producers” on whom we rely to forge a different kind of society, will not be proletarian heroes, red knights in shining armor, with a purity and political consciousness out of hagiographic tales. They will be ordinary people, like you and me, with all our quirks and imperfections, our habits conditioned by the world we live in, our tastes distorted by television and advertising.

As these ordinary people search to gain control over their work and their fate, they will begin to reshape society, they will be affected in the process, and, so transformed, will resume their task. In this mutual reaction, in this advance of step by step and stage by stage, lies both the difficulty and the grandeur of the project.

Singer describes the messy, complex, difficult, uneven and halting—but nonetheless hopeful—process that has opened up in the last several years. It is the only way forward; there is still a world to be won.


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Natural and social scientists develop new model of how ‘perfect storm’ of crises could unravel global system.

A new study sponsored by Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution. 

Noting that warnings of ‘collapse’ are often seen to be fringe or controversial, the study attempts to make sense of compelling historical data showing that “the process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent cycle found throughout history.” Cases of severe civilisational disruption due to “precipitous collapse - often lasting centuries - have been quite common.”


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