As a faithful reader of many so-called 'progressive' magazines and books, my frustration with the Empire into which I was born increases daily. Such much hand-wringing to so little effect! So many voices in the wilder-ness! So many groups devoted to decisive change, each with its own leader and agenda, often acting together but incapable of forming an organized whole. A mortally wounded European welfare state facing real fascists can still call upon the vigor and might of trade unions harking back more than a century. Yet when Volkswagen tries to get trade union elections in its U.S. factories, the bosses can defeat it, caring little that the German car manufacturer could pass on creating more U.S. jobs.
Now Francis Goldin, an intellectual who has not hesitated to join the barricades, has edited a book that in the best revolutionary tradition combines analysis, theory and practice. In her preface Goldin suggests its range when she confesses that it is one of two things she has wanted to do before passing from the scene, the other being to see Mumia Abu-Jamal freed. Typical of a work that combines theory with practice, are two quotes:
The mainstream media and the powers that be have made the word "socialism" frightening, foreign, unpatriotic, and menacing. It threatens their ill-gotten gains, so the idea of workers sharing in the wealth that their sweat and toil has generated has to be labeled "un-American.
Democracy and capitalism have very different beliefs about the proper distribution of power...One [democracy] believes in a completely equal distribution of political power, 'one man, one vote,' while the other [capitalism] believes that it is the duty of the economically fit to drive the unfit out of business and into extinction....Capitalism is perfectly compatible with slavery. Democracy is not.
For someone who spent six years behind the Iron Curtain (voluntarily), the analysis of a crucial element that explains the failure of the Soviet system was particularly enlightening:
Soviet state enterprises largely retained the basic four-part capitalist organizational system. Instead of corporate boards of directors, a council of ministers reserved for itself the same basic decisions. As in a capitalist corporation, the council was a different group of people from those doing the direct work of producing goods and services-- so the relationship between it and those direct workers was also exploitative. Instead of private shareholders choosing a board of directors, the Soviet government and Communist Party selected the members of the council of ministers and influenced its distribution of the surpluses that it appropriated from state enterprises. Finally, the council basically hired the enterprise's workers.
One of the greatest faults of the American left is its failure to acknowledge the overarching importance of the climate crisis. This issue is confronted head-on by Joel Kovel in the second chapter: "The Future Will Be Ecosocialist, Because Without Ecosocialism, There Will Be No Future".
At the other end of the spectrum of political concerns, in "Personal, Emotional, and Sexual Life Without Capita-lism", Harriet Fraad and Tess Fraad-Wolff describe how: