cj#1146,rn> Overcoming capitalism with new-society visions


Richard Moore

Bcc: a few colleagues

Dear friends,

What follows is an essay I just now posted to the
FixGov list, in response to some threads
involving bioregions, new kinds of governance, and the
general topic of architecting a new society.  The essay summarizes
some themes which have appeared before on these lists, and I
think pulls a few threads together in a focused way.  In
particular, there is a fresh attempt to approach the 'left
and right together' theme.  I hope you find the material


To: •••@••.•••
From: "Richard K. Moore" <•••@••.•••>
Date: Thu, 9 Nov 2000 19:24:42 +0000
Subject: [FixGov] re: bioregions, political issues, building a new society

Dear FixGov folks,

Several of us have expressed opinions on these inter-related
topics.  I suggest that what we are talking about is the
architecture of a livable world.  Permit me to suggest a
context for this discussion...

1) Overcoming the existing capitalist regime
Regardless of what new system we might want, the existing
system acts as a formidable counter-force.

We often refer to the forces of capitalism as
'conservative', but capitalism is anything but conservative.
 It is a radical force for change, eroding and undermining
whatever exists - 'developing' it into something else, and
then again into something else (eg, small shops ->
supermarkets -> shopping centers -> mega discount
warehouses).  Whereas aristocratic power acts conservatively
- defending what it owns - capitalist power pursues change
itself as the primary means of generating profit and
concentrating ownership.

Globalization is a typical example of this process. The
nation-state system served capitalism for centuries, but in
the late 1960s growth opportunities were drying up.  The
think tanks went to work, and globalization was what they
came up with.  Reagan-Thatcher were then hired to manage the
public release of the first phase of the new program.

My point is that capitalism cannot be eroded from within by
forming cooperative communities, bioregions, or by any other
such means.  It is precisely such organizational forms which
capitalism has for centuries been destroying.  Destruction
comes by means of land taxes , manipulations of economic
cycles, suppression of popular movements, promotion of
reactionary movements (eg, fascism), military interventions,
coup d'etats - or whatever else is necessary in any
particular case.  Capitalism is flexible, dynamic, creative,
determined, and ruthless.  There is no way to sneak around
it or to overcome it through any back door.  Capitalism
itself is the master of intrigue and subtlety - those are
not the weapons which can overcome it.

In order to replace the current regime by something better,
we need an overt _political movement with that express
purpose.  We need a society-wide movement comparable in
intentsity to the ones in Eastern Europe which forced out
the Soviet-era regimes - but with a better vision for the
future than those movements had.

2) Will capitalism collapse from its own contradictions?
Lenin predicted the collapse of capitalism. His argument
was based on the dynamics of competitive nation-state
imperialism.  He knew those dynamics would eventually run
out of growth room, and he was right about that.  But he
underestimated the flexibility and creativity of capitalist
elites.  He did not envision globalization - a process which
changes the rules and creates room for another round of
capital growth - beyond the dynamics of competitive

Today, many people predict the collapse of capitalism on
ecological grounds, population pressures, running out of
petroleum, and the like.  But again those predictions assume
that capitalist elites will simply stick to the same course
until the ship hits the rocks.  Again, capitalism is being
misjudged as a force operating with a fixed strategy.  If we
look around, we can see various tactics which are being
employed to manage some of these resource-exahaustion
problems.  Examples are the promotion of genocidal wars in
Africa, widespread sterilization of third world women, the
privatization of water supplies, the elimination of Southest
Asia as a global competitor, the raising of fuel prices to
extract more profit out of remaining oil supplies, and the
inreased use of military intervention to manage the process
of globalization.

It is not a fixed economic program that we are confronted
with, rather it is an intelligent elite who have monopolized
both power and ownership on a global scale.  'Changing the
rules' is the generic management strategy of this elite.  Within
the confines of capitalism, the rules have been changed whenever
necessary so as to permit more growth, with no concern for
who suffers.  But even capitalism itself is only a tactic, a
machine invented in late 18th century Britain, and which
automatically accumulates elite wealth.  If that machine
ultimately does falter, there is nothing to prevent the
elite from introducing a different economic model.  Perhaps
they'll take us back to old-fashioned aristocracy, and
abandon the growth paradigm.  We'd become some kind of serfs
instead of wage slaves, but we'd be exploited all the same.

My point here, as in section 1 above, is that we must first
and foremost think in terms of shifting political power. 
Until power is wrested from wealthy elites, there can be no
improvement in our situation, nor can we avoid things
getting a whole lot worse.  We cannot count on capitalism
to collapse, nor can we expect it to leave us alone to build
our own ecotopias and micro economies - at least not on a
sufficient scale to make any real difference.

3) New-world architecture as a means of causing change
Ironically, my arguments for a more politically-oriented
movement bring me full circle back to endorsing the efforts
on this list to develop a new world architecture!  Not only
do we need such an architecture if we are to build a new
society, but we also need a _vision around which to build a
movement to overcome capitalist domination.  What I'm
suggesting is that we continue to work toward a consensus
architecture, but that we recognize that we won't simply be
able to go implement it on our own within the current
political regime.  Instead, we need to think of our
architecture as a rallying cry for a political movement - a
movement which will have other business to attend to before
it can turn its attention to actually building the new

Keep in mind the experience of the American Revolution.
_First there was a vision, as articulated by Thomas Paine
and others, _then the Redcoats had to be sent packing, and
only _then could the new American adventure (for better or
worse) be launched.

It is important to recognize the scale of movement that will
be required.  I alluded earlier to the East European
changes-of-regime.  In those cases the movements were
essentially universal.  Only direct military suppression
could maintain order, and Soviet troops were no longer
available for backup. The local militaries lacked the heart
for outright long-term suppression, and the movements
prevailed (although unfortunately they lost control after
that to German-backed corrupt regimes.)

In our case we need a movement that is _at least_ as
universal-  because the regime which suppresses us is not
weak as were the Eastern European regimes during the Soviet
collapse.  Instead, the current regime is at the height of
its power, is very well organized, and has fully developed
plans to deal with every imaginable kind of civil uprising,
non-violent or otherwise - as we saw for example in Seattle,
Los Angeles, and Prague. Only a movement which includes
every segment of society can hope to prevail under these

If the movement only includes Greens, or Cultural Creatives,
or progressive lefties - or any other such segment - then it
cannot prevail.  As long as any significant portion of the
population is not 'on board' the movment, then the regime
will exploit divisiveness - as it does now between left and
right - and prevent the movement from becoming strong enough
to achieve victory.

If we are serious about wanting a new society, then I
suggest it is imperative that we find a way to work with
people whom we currently perceive as 'the other' - those who
don't priorize their values in the same way we do.  Perhaps
they think of jobs ahead of the environment, or perhaps they
think first of family values, or of public morality.  Does
that put them beyond the pale?  Do they remain useless until
the day they see the light and adopt our values?   I don't
think so.  I also want stable families, decent incomes, and
morality in public life, don't you?  How is it that such
issues end up being divisive?

What we need to do, I suggest, is to find ways to shift the
discussion from what separates us to what unifies us.  One
of the exciting developments in Seattle was the dialog that
occurred between environmentalists and labor groups - tree
huggers and hard hats.  The labor folks didn't become
tree-huggers, and the environmentalists didn't become union
activists, but together they came to understand that the
same corporate operators who were destroying forests were
also destroying jobs.  They kept their different value
priorities, but they found they could be allies in pursuit
of a better world.  Most important, lines of communication
were opened and people began to see the 'other' as real
people with valid concerns rather than as stereotypes. 
This, in my view, points the way forward.

If a new-society architecture is to be the rallying cry for
a universal movement, then it must be an architecture which
everyone buys into.  And the best way to get buy-in for any
proposal is to include the target audience in the
development of the proposal.  That is to say, we need to
find a way to expand our FixGov discussions, and those on
similar forums, to include new voices - voices we would
currently consider to be 'beyond the pale'.

How to do that is a question I don't have a particularly
good answer for.


Richard K Moore
Wexford, Ireland
Citizens for a Democratic Renaissance 
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