Why Another World is Possible
When I studied Sociology many years ago, one of the topics for discussion among Left Wing sociologists was why, if Marx's analysis of Capitalism was correct, there hadn't been a Communist Revolution in Great Britain (and, by implication, in other Capitalist countries).
One explanation offered was that the organization of labour into Trades Unions, the rise of Communist and Socialist political parties, then the Revolution in Russia and the establishment of what was proclaimed to be a Communist State - the embodied alternative to and forthcoming replacement for Capitalism - had induced the ruling Capitalist Class to introduce social welfare provisions to ensure all had access to the basic amenities, progressive taxation to ensure the gap between rich and poor didn't grow too wide, a range of measures to improve social mobility, and public ownership of some industries. What emerged, in different forms, were liberal, social democratic Capitalist States. Some had a veneer of welfare, others created a social system that was practically Socialist.
These measures, it was argued, had bought off the Proletariat. As I recall, many Marxists disliked this theory. It suggested that as long as the Capitalists and their followers were content to compromise, to allow the State to reduce the iniquities produced under Capitalism, it could remain stable. The Revolution would be postponed, possibly forever.
The logic appeared sound. The principal evil of Capitalism was the impoverishment of the workers at the expense of the Capitalist Class. If this wasn't occurring, the contradiction that would have doomed Capitalism was removed. If the workers are getting better off in real terms, if their bosses are not, on the whole, becoming richer more quickly, and if the workers feel secure in their employment and have the prospect of social mobility for themselves or their children , a Revolution, with all the attendant disruption, looks less attractive.
So, how might this explanation for the non occurrence of Revolution be tested?
Since the fall of the Soviet Union (not something to be lamented) and the popular discrediting of Socialism, Socialism and communism are no longer political forces to be reckoned with. With their fears allayed, the Capitalist Class have begun dismantling this framework of social support. They have begun the process of restoring Capitalism as a truly free market force, governed only by the laws of supply and demand.
The result is that we see the Capitalist system as it really is. We see its contradiction - the reliance on the labour of masses to keep it going, while the system works for their impoverishment and the profits are concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. The disappearance of smaller businesses and a few huge companies swallow up more and more of the world's economy.
But there is a new spirit abroad. It is a spirit of radical distrust of the neo-liberal consensus and determination to advance an alternative future founded on cooperation rather than competition and valuing the social importance of institutions more than their financial worth. This website is yet another small contribution towards realising that spirit.
It will take decades, of course, before this comes to fruition in the political sphere. And even then, politics being politics, disappointment and compromise will be more common reactions than relief or joy.
Nevertheless, it will be a better era than that offered by the current crop of politicians, whose thinking is ordered by the neo-liberal orthodoxies they imbided at university and whose privileged upbringing and personal wealth has sheltered them from the need to depend on state provision.
So now we are seeing the inevitable result. Socialism is returning . Welcome back.