Magpie [these webnames!] offered the following comment to my brief post about hitting the 500,000 mark in visits to this blog:
"To give you something exciting to read:
BBC's Paul Mason on Prof. Manuel
Castells From networked protest to
I followed the link and found a conversation about groups of people around the world who are not waiting for "the Revolution" but instead are opting out of capitalism, working in cooperatives, offering one another interest free loans, and so forth. I always have mixed feelings about stories like this. On the one hand, I am cheered by the evidence that sensible progressive people are taking matters into their own hands and are trying to build communities that are guided by something other than the dictates of The Market. On the other hand, I know that such experiments, some of them quite elaborate, have been a constant accompaniment of the implacable advance of capitalism, in the nineteenth as well as the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and have not measurably softened the blows of capitalism nor altered its direction of evolution. Marx spoke contemptuously of the theorists of such experiments as "Utopian Socialists," to which he contrasted his own "scientific socialism." If I may invoke a botanical image, these small communities are like exotic flowers growing in the shade and underbrush of forests dominated by huge trees. They are pleasant to look at, and do indeed sustain little communities of butterflies, but they are virtually invisible from the sky and make very little impact on the forests. [This is just a feeble attempt at a metaphor -- don't go all E. O. Wilson on me and tell me about the central important of ants to the ecology of the forest!]
There have been two effective counterweapons to the depredations of capitalism in America -- labor unions and Federal legislation to enforce progressive tax rates, regulatory controls, and the like -- and not surprisingly, they have been the prime targets of right-wing reactionaries. Neither union organizing nor legislation has stopped the evolution of international capitalism, nor can they, I believe, but both have made life for those living in capitalist America better, more humane, more adequately protected. I have tried to write about this systematically in my essay, "The Future of Socialism," and as readers of that essay will testify, I am not optimistic.