On democratizing the economy through ownership

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“ And democratizing the economy means challenging the most important fundamental of capitalist economics: the primacy of private ownership. In particular, private ownership of capital, of all the things — the buildings, the machines, the tools, the hardware, and the software — that we use to make other things. Without a say in how tools are used, workers themselves become passive tools. Being able to actively participate in decision-making and ownership go hand in hand. Democratizing means taking ownership ”

Michal Rozworski, ‘Democratize This’, Jacobin Magazine

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On the neoliberal ideology and how the Left can defeat it

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“ Policy in the decades after World War II was rooted in a Keynesian ideology that saw capitalism as the best possible system and markets as generally efficient, but also advocated an active role for the state in shaping the economy. An active state was justified as necessary to prevent depressions, limit income inequality, increase individual economic security, and prevent such ‘market failures’ as environmental pollution. By the late 1970s, however, an extreme version of classical liberal beliefs had replaced Keynesianism as the dominant ideology. The newly ascendant neoliberal ideology held that individual freedom of choice in markets is the fundamental basis of human welfare, while the state is an enemy of individual freedom, a threat to private property, and a parasite living off the hard work of individuals (…)  A third possible direction of change, besides right-wing nationalism and progressive reform of capitalism, is the one every socialist wants: a transition beyond capitalism, to a system in which human wants and needs guide production rather than the profit motive of a small class of owners. We have learned a few things since 1917, among them the need for socialism to empower the people rather than just deliver some goods to them, and that priority must be given to building an economy that is environmentally sustainable. The critical need to move quickly to an environmentally sustainable path might not even be possible with capitalism’s powerful profit and accumulation drive, but it would be possible under socialism. Such a transition would resolve not just the crisis of neoliberal capitalism but the many contradictions of the inhumane system of capitalism itself, which has long since outlived its usefulness ”

David Kotz, ‘The Specter of Right-Wing Nationalism’, Jacobin Magazine

On using a common human nature to counter the alt-right’s discourse

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“ The alt-right’s self-appointed leaders have exploited real economic pressures in service of their ideology. They hype dubious crime statistics, Islamophobia, and general racist and sexist nonsense to channel the real suffering that neoliberal policies have created over the past thirty years. People seduced by the far right experience this economic warfare, but they understand the struggle in racial or civilizational terms. Thus, they cannot perceive their common interest with the oppressed of other races and nationalities. Simply responding to economic pressure obviously does not suffice; we need to comprehend these pressures themselves. Against the alt-right, how do we assert that class struggle is more fundamental than membership in a particular racial or ethnic community? How do we argue that everyone should care about the exploitation and suffering of those from different cultural backgrounds? It is by advancing the one premise that racist and xenophobic ideologues most vehemently reject: a common human nature. Of course, positing a shared human nature will not guarantee political struggle either. Cheerily shouting “we’re all in this together” will not establish peace and harmony among all peoples. Handing a police officer a soft drink will not abolish racism. At best, this manner of thinking belongs to the utopian socialism of the nineteenth century; at worst, it bolsters today’s consumerist liberalism. The Left must both recognize our common humanity and perform a clear-headed analysis of oppressive societies’ historical contradictions. By acknowledging the invariant drives shared by all human beings — drives for physical well-being, education, and community — we can measure society’s relative progress in meeting those demands. At the same time, by understanding existing contradictions and current historical movements, we can chart the course toward greater human flourishing. We need to carefully determine the relationship between human nature — what Marx called “species being” — and its development in time and place. Human nature is not elevated to some heavenly ideal that can never be achieved in the fallen, material world. Instead, by human nature, we mean all the real and still latent capacities of the human species. (…) The Left cannot view these sites of conflict cynically — as mere instruments for class struggle — but recognize the role they play in building class consciousness. By demonstrating how diverse forms of oppression have a common root in capitalism, these struggles reinforce the fact that abolishing capitalism is the necessary condition for overcoming these forms of injustice ”

Harrison Fluss & Landon Frim, ‘Dialectical Enlightenment’, Jacobin Magazine

On the EU’s embracement of the neoliberal model

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“ All of the southern countries face the same dilemma: the European Union is configured as a major obstacle to any political, social, or economic change that challenges the neoliberal model. The true colors of the integration proposed by the European Union are revealed when any government tries to defend social rights, economic democratization, and popular sovereignty. Then it is exposed as the “Europeanness” of the ruling classes. No government is permitted to challenge neoliberal capitalism with the German state as custodian. To put it more precisely, whereas previously the fear was a military clash organized under the supervision of a US-led NATO, today the coup d’etat comes from the European Central Bank, organized by the troika and reinforced by the German state, always taking the ruling classes of the states themselves as strategic allies ”

Manolo Monereo, ‘What’s Next for Podemos?’, Jacobin Magazine

On why the market economy won’t protect the environment

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“ …market mechanisms cannot protect the environment or the welfare of humankind. They are not tools that can be put to the service of any cause: they belong to a mode of production based on competing for the rights to profit from the exploitation of human labor and natural resources. Nicholas Stern wrote that ‘climate change is the largest market failure the world has ever seen.’ This failure does not come from any fault in the market but from the market’s very nature. Trying to use market mechanisms to combat a climate disaster caused by the market economy is as counterintuitive as proposing we build tanks to build hospitals or schools ”

Daniel Tanuro, ‘The Right’s Green Awakening’, Jacobin Magazine

On bourgeois ‘rule of law’

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“ The thing about the rule of the bourgeoisie is that it is just that — the way the bourgeoisie rule. As an instrument of capital and empire, the law could be read or stretched to allow all sorts of thuggery and mischief. And as the crises of US hegemony grow and magnify, it perpetuates the urge toward more expansive power and brutality. The “rule of law” was nurturing the seeds of its own abuse. In the coming months and years, the legal front will be an indispensable part of the struggle against Trumpism. The unlawful conduct of Trump’s presidency should be watched and fought vigorously. But we should not content ourselves with formalistic checks against the most obscene expressions of power. We need a genuine, transformative, and radical mass politics to confront capital and empire head-on. For there is nothing innately good or bad about the “rule of law,” except how it is used. Because at the end of the day, the court answers to the king ”

Jordan Von Manalastas, ‘The Rule of Law Won’t Save us’, Jacobin Magazine

On how an international minimum wage can prevent competitive exploitation

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“ Unlike playing countries off against one another, improving international minimum wages are in the interests of all populations, not merely because they improve the living standards of workers, but because they enable greater income tax revenue to government treasuries and more capital to flow through markets at the end where discretionary spending makes a difference. If globalisation allows multinational corporations to base their operations where a worker’s value is a mere $10 a week, it sets up a situation ripe for competitive exploitation that becomes everyone’s problem. Without an international minimum wage, we’re all worth 10 bucks ”

Van Badham, ‘Worker exploitation: without an international minimum wage, we’re all worth 10 bucks’, The Guardian