- Capitalism and Alternatives -

More utopian words

Posted by: Samuel Day Fassbinder ( Citizens for Mustard Greens, USA ) on October 15, 1999 at 13:26:41:

In Reply to: Less ambivalent words posted by Stoller on October 14, 1999 at 17:33:16:

: '[R]evolution is impossible without a nation-wide crisis (affecting both the exploited and the exploiters).'
: ---Lenin.

: Let us again consider the axiom that 'the distinction between the beneficiaries and victims of capitalism has become less clear.' I think this is true at present. But what is the present? Public opinion is not inflexible. A war, a recession, the two back-to-back, such events have dramatic results.

SDF: The above "axiom" is of course the product of p. 239 of Craig Calhoun's book The Question of Class Struggle, which I quoted here, and the reader should be reminded of this fact because the other reason Calhoun gives for the erosion of revolutionary mobilization in the "most advanced countries," and the strength of reformism, is stronger, and worth quoting once again:

What it does mean is that the social strength of workers' communities, their links to each other, and their dependence on a traditional way of life incompatible with modern capitalism have been greatly reduced... On the contrary, the question is what workers have had to defend.

Calhoun further guesses that workers today are more likely to be reformist than revolutionary because, as he says,
Some defenses need to be radical, even revolutionary, because workers (or peasants, or "the people") cannot both save what they value and adjust to capitalist, colonial, or imperialist conditions. Other defenses can be reformist, because there is no fundamental and immediate contradiction between what workers want and what elites need, only a quantitative competition.

If you want to have revolutionary mobilization, you've got to have a group of people who has a problem with capitalism, and THEY HAVE TO BELIEVE that it can't be resolved with more capitalism. My point: a crisis is not itself going to produce revolutionary mobilization. The problem of revolutionary mobilization has to be considered by those who want it, before anything is going to happen.

That's why I've spent so much time debunking anti-environmentalist cornucopianism. Group survival depends upon belief in carrying capacity, and adjusts its social systems accordingly by ending capitalism.

That's also why intentional communities are important. Maybe some of those folks see that have something to lose with eco-devastation, and maybe they see that capitalism won't solve their personal problems (like maybe a transaction or two would erase my student loan debt).

There's of course the notion Skinner floated in Walden Two, that the commune can be a "test pilot" of a much larger design. Utopianism furthermore supports the notion that there is a "somewhere else" or a "tomorrow" where our problems can be solved. Isn't half of More's Utopia a complaint about 16th century politics?

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