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Utopie en bevrijding

Voorkant Wright 'Envisioning real utopias' Erik Olin WRIGHT
Envisioning real utopias
London-New York: Verso, 2010; 394 blzn.; ISBN-13: 978 18 4467 6170

[Wright is een Amerikaans auteur met een achtergrond in de burgerrechten-, antioorlog- en antikapitalismebeweging in de VS. Hij geldt als een belangrijk persoon van de New Left Review daar. Hij heeft zich gespecialiseerd in het Marxisme - vooral in het aspect 'klasse' en 'klassenstrijd' - , maar heeft ook belangstelling voor utopische en emancipatorische stromingen en ideeën. Dit boek is een heel helder geschreven en heel goed opgebouwde analyse van de schadelijke kanten aan het kapitalisme en van mogelijke emancipatorische alternatieven die leiden tot een werkelijk democratische en egalitaire samenleving. Ik vind het een indrukwekkend boek en laat daarom vooral Wright zelf aan het woord.]

(ix) Preface

Het Real Utopias Project waarmee hij begin 1990-er jaren startte was een reactie op het neoliberale en kapitalistisch marktdenken na de teloorgang van de planeconomie van het communisme en probeert een reëel alternatief te vinden voor dat kapitalisme. Hij beschrijft achtergronden, deelnemers, publicaties, en zijn eigen ontwikkeling en activiteiten (waaronder heel veel lezingen).

"Everywhere people seemed to appreciate the institutional pluralism of the conception of socialism I proposed and the moral vision of social justice I defended, but also, everywhere, people were skeptical about the possibilities of social power rooted in civil society providing a basis for transcending capitalism, especially under conditions of globalization."(xiv)

Vandaar de gedetailleerde uitwerking van die kwestie in dit boek.

"I want it to be relevant both to people whose intellectual and political coordinates are firmly anchored in the socialist left as well as to people broadly interested in the dilemmas and possibilities for a more just and humane world who do not see the Marxist tradition as a critical source of ideas or as an arena for debate."(xvii)

(1) 1 - Introduction: Why real utopias?

Vroeger geloofden mensen nog in een alternatief.

"While the right condemned socialism as violating individual rights to private property and unleashing monstrous forms of state oppression, and the left saw socialism as opening up new vistas of social equality, genuine freedom and the development of human potentials, both believed that a fundamental alternative to capitalism was possible.
Most people in the world today, especially in its economically developed regions, no longer believe in this possibility. Capitalism seems to them part of the natural order of things, and pessimism has replaced the optimism of the will that Gramsci once said was essential if the world was to be transformed."(1)

Wat wil Wright met dit boek? Hij geeft vier voorbeelden die dat duidelijk maken, waaronder coöperaties van arbeiders en het idee van een onvoorwaardelijk basisinkomen. Hij noemt dat 'reële utopieën'

" The idea is to provide empirical and theoretical grounding for radical democratic egalitarian visions of an alternative social world."(1)

"A vital belief in a utopian ideal may be necessary to motivate people to set off on the journey from the status quo in the first place, even though the likely actual destination may fall short of the utopian ideal. Yet, vague utopian fantasies may lead us astray, encouraging us to embark on trips that have no real destinations at all, or worse still, which lead us toward some unforeseen abyss. Along with 'where there is a will there is a way', the human struggle for emancipation confronts 'the road to hell is paved with good intentions'. What we need, then, is 'real utopias': utopian ideals that are grounded in the real potentials of humanity, utopian destinations that have accessible waystations, utopian designs of institutions that can inform our practical tasks of navigating a world of imperfect conditions for social change."(6)

De radicale opvatting is dat sociale instituties kunnen veranderen, de conservatieve opvatting is dat grootste sociale reconstructies altijd tot een ramp leiden.

"The conservative critique of radical projects is not mainly that the emancipatory goals of radicals are morally indefensible – although some conservatives criticize the underlying values of such projects as well – but that the uncontrollable, and usually negative, unintended consequences of these efforts at massive social change inevitably swamp the intended consequences. Radicals and revolutionaries suffer from what Frederick Hayek termed the 'fatal conceit' – the mistaken belief that through rational calculation and political will, society can be designed in ways that will significantly improve the human condition. Incremental tinkering may not be inspiring, but it is the best we can do.
Of course, one can point out that many reforms favored by conservatives also have massive, destructive unintended consequences. The havoc created in many poor countries by World Bank structural adjustment programs would be an example. And furthermore, under certain circumstances conservatives themselves argue for radical, society-wide projects of institutional design, as in the catastrophic 'shock therapy' strategy for transforming the command economy of the Soviet Union into free-market capitalism in the 1990s. Nevertheless, there is a certain apparent plausibility to the general claim by conservatives that the bigger the scale and scope of conscious projects of social change, the less likely it is that we will be able to predict ahead of time all of the ramifications of those changes.
Radicals on the left have generally rejected this vision of human possibility. Particularly in the Marxist tradition, radical intellectuals have insisted that wholesale redesign of social institutions is within the grasp of human beings. "(7)

"We now live in a world in which these radical visions are often mocked rather than taken seriously. Along with the post-modernist rejection of 'grand narratives', there is an ideological rejection of grand designs, even by many people still on the left of the political spectrum. This need not mean an abandonment of deeply egalitarian emancipatory values, but it does reflect a cynicism about the human capacity to realize those values on a substantial scale. This cynicism, in turn, weakens progressive political forces in general.
This book is an effort to counter this cynicism by elaborating a general framework for systematically exploring alternatives that embody the idea of 'real utopia'. "(8)

(10) 2 - The tasks of emancipatory social science

"Envisioning real utopias is a central component of a broader intellectual enterprise that can be called emancipatory social science. Emancipatory social science seeks to generate scientific knowledge relevant to the collective project of challenging various forms of human oppression. To call this a form of social science, rather than simply social criticism or social philosophy, recognizes the importance for this task of systematic scientific knowledge about how the world works. The word emancipatory identifies a central moral purpose in the production of knowledge – the elimination of oppression and the creation of the conditions for human flourishing. And the word social implies the belief that human emancipation depends upon the transformation of the social world, not just the inner life of persons.
To fulfill this mission, any emancipatory social science faces three basic tasks: elaborating a systematic diagnosis and critique of the world as it exists; envisioning viable alternatives; and understanding the obstacles, possibilities, and dilemmas of transformation. In different times and places one or another of these may be more pressing than others, but all are necessary for a comprehensive emancipatory theory. "(10)

Dit boek is inhoudelijk opgebouwd naar die drie onderdelen.

Diagnose van en kritiek op sociale instituten

"The starting point for building an emancipatory social science is identifying the ways in which existing social institutions and social structures systematically impose harms on people. It is not enough to show that people suffer in the world in which we live or that there are enormous inequalities in the extent to which people live flourishing lives. A scientific emancipatory theory must show that the explanation for this suffering and inequality lies in specific properties of institutions and social structures. The first task of emancipatory social science, therefore, is the diagnosis and critique of the causal processes that generate these harms. "(11)

"Diagnosis and critique is closely connected to questions of social justice and normative theory. To describe a social arrangement as generating 'harms' is to infuse the analysis with a moral judgment. Behind every emancipatory theory, therefore, there is an implicit theory of justice, some conception of what conditions would have to be met before the institutions of a society could be deemed just."(12)

Sociale rechtvaardigheid zoals hier beschreven heeft te maken met 'human flourishing' (mensen in bloei, welzijn, welbevinden), met de materiële en sociale middelen die daarvoor nodig zijn en met de toegankelijkheid van die middelen.

"The idea of human flourishing is neutral with respect to the various ways of life that can be constructed around particular ways of flourishing. There is no implication that intellectual capacities are more worthy of development than physical capacities or artistic capacities or spiritual capacities, for example. There is also no supposition that in order to flourish human beings must develop all of their capacities: people have many different potentials, and it is impossible in general that all of these potentials can be realized, regardless of the access to material and social means."(14)

"While the conception of flourishing proposed here does not privilege particular ways of flourishing, it is not neutral with respect to those cultural conceptions of the 'good life' which inherently deny some categories of people equal access to the conditions to flourish. A culture which designates some ethnic or racial or caste groups as unworthy of having access to the material and social means to develop their human capacities is unjust. This conception of social justice is also violated by cultures which insist that the highest form of flourishing for women is to be attentive wives serving the needs of their husbands and dedicated mothers raising children. Women can certainly flourish as dedicated mothers and attentive wives, but a culture which pressures women into these roles and restricts the ability of girls to develop other capacities and talents violates the principle of equal access to the material and social means to live a flourishing life. Such a culture supports an injustice by the standards proposed here."(16, zie ook voetnoot 9 over het verwijt van eurocentrisme)

Het tweede normatieve principe dat in dit boek gehanteerd wordt heeft te maken met individuele vrijheid en democratie.

"These two ideas are linked here because they both concern the power of people to make choices about things which affect their lives. This is the core principle: people should control as much as possible those decisions which affect their lives. 'Freedom' is the power to make choices over one’s own life; 'democracy' is the power to participate in the effective control of collective choices that affect one’s life as a member of the wider society. The democratic egalitarian principle of political justice is that all people should have equal access to the powers needed to make choices over their own lives and to participate in collective choices that affect them because of the society in which they live. "(18)

"Mostly, in contemporary society, people hold a fairly restrictive view of democracy. On the one hand, many issues of crucial public importance are not seen as legitimately subjected to democratic decision-making. In particular, many economic decisions which have massive affects on our collective fate are seen as 'private' matters to be made by executives and owners of large corporations. The demarcation between 'public' and 'private' is anchored in a relatively strong conception of private property which significantly insulates a wide range of decisions over economic resources and activities from intrusive democratic control. On the other hand, even for those issues which are seen as legitimate objects of public control, popular democratic empowerment is quite limited. Electoral politics are heavily dominated by elites, thus violating democratic principles of political equality, and other venues for popular participation are generally of largely symbolic character. Ordinary citizens have few opportunities for meaningfully exercising the democratic ideal of 'rule by the people.'
Radical democracy, in contrast, argues for an expansive understanding of democracy. The ideal of political equality of citizens requires strong institutional mechanisms for blocking the translation of private economic power into political power. The scope of democratic decision is enlarged to all domains with important public consequences. And the arenas for empowered citizen participation extend beyond casting ballots in periodic elections."(19)

De wenselijkheid, levensvatbaarheid, en bereikbaarheid van alternatieven

"The exploration of desirable alternatives, without the constraints of viability or achievability, is the domain of utopian social theory and much normative political philosophy. Typically such discussions are institutionally very thin, the emphasis being on the enunciation of abstract principles rather than actual institutional designs."(20-21)

"The study of viable alternatives asks of proposals for transforming existing social structures and institutions whether, if implemented, they would actually generate in a sustainable, robust manner, the emancipatory consequences that motivated the proposal. A common objection to radical egalitarian proposals is 'sounds good on paper, but it will never work'. The best known example of this problem is comprehensive central planning, the classic form in which revolutionaries attempted to realize socialist principles."(21)

"The history of the human struggles for radical social change is filled with heroic victories over existing structures of oppression followed by the tragic construction of new forms of domination, oppression and inequality. The second task of emancipatory social science, therefore, is to develop in as systematic a way as possible a scientifically grounded conception of viable alternative institutions. "(24)

Transformatie van het bestaande in de richting van die alternatieven

De derde taak van een emancipatorische sociale wetenschap is de uitwerking van een theorie van sociale transformatie. Vier componenten zijn belangrijk: een analyse van de sociale reproductie van onderdrukkende structuren; het vaststellen van de ruimte die sociale reproductie laat voor nieuwe mogelijkheden; een theorie van de dynamiek van niet bewust nagestreefde sociale verandering; een theorie van collectieveven van actoren, van strategieën, van de strijd om veranderingen voor elkaar te krijgen.

(31)

I - Diagnosis and critique

(33) 3 - What's so bad about capitalism?

"... since capitalism so pervasively and powerfully structures the prospects of both egalitarian conditions for human flourishing and democratic empowerment, any radical democratic egalitarian project of social transformation must come to terms with the nature of capitalism and the prospects for its transformation."(33)

Wat, dus, IS kapitalisme. Het kenmerkt zich door een typische klassenrelatie, globaal die tussen kapitalisten en arbeiders (even afgezien van allerlei nuances), en doordat de markt een grote rol speelt in de coördinatie van allerlei economische activiteiten.

"The combination of these two features of capitalism – class relations defined by private ownership and propertyless workers, and coordination organized through decentralized market exchanges – generates the characteristic competitive drive for profits and capital accumulation of capitalist firms. Each firm, in order to survive over time, must compete successfully with other firms. Firms that innovate, lower their costs of production, and increase their productivity can under-cut their rivals, increase their profits and thus expand at the expense of other firms. Each firm faces these competitive pressures, and thus in general all firms are forced to seek innovations of one sort or another in order to survive. The resulting relentless drive for profits generates the striking dynamism of capitalism relative to all earlier forms of economic organization. "(35)

In de praktijk is er een grote variatie in hoe het kapitalisme gestalte krijgt (afhankelijk van overheden van landen, etc. Maar in gortelijnen: waaruit bestaat de kritiek op het kapitalisme? Mumford zet dat eerst op een rij en werkt vervolgens genoemde kritiekpunten uit:

"The central criticisms of capitalism as an economic system can be organized into eleven basic propositions:
1. Capitalist class relations perpetuate eliminable forms of human suffering.
2. Capitalism blocks the universalization of conditions for expansive human flourishing.
3. Capitalism perpetuates eliminable deficits in individual freedom and autonomy.
4. Capitalism violates liberal egalitarian principles of social justice.
5. Capitalism is inefficient in certain crucial respects.
6. Capitalism has a systematic bias towards consumerism.
7. Capitalism is environmentally destructive.
8. Capitalist commodification threatens important broadly held values.
9. Capitalism, in a world of nation states, fuels militarism and imperialism.
10. Capitalism corrodes community.
11. Capitalism limits democracy."(37)

"Two other preliminary comments: First, critics of capitalism are sometimes tempted to try to make all of the serious problems and harms of the contemporary world - such as racism, sexism, war, religious fundamentalism, homophobia – as consequences of capitalism. This temptation should be resisted. Capitalism is not the root of all evils in the world today; there are other causal processes at work which fuel racism, ethno-nationalism, male domination, genocide, war, and other significant forms of oppression. Nevertheless, even in the case of those forms of oppression which capitalism may not itself generate, capitalism may still be implicated by making the problems more difficult to overcome Capitalism may not be the root cause of sexism, for example, but it could make it harder to overcome by failing to allocate sufficient resources to good quality, publicly provided childcare services. In the critique of capitalism, therefore, the critical task is to identify those harms which are directly generated by the specifically capitalist mechanisms and to understand the ways in which capitalism may indirectly contribute to impeding the reduction of oppression.
Second, many of these eleven criticisms of capitalism can also be leveled against those economic systems in the 20th century that were typically labeled 'socialist', or what I will call in chapter 5, 'statist'. For example, one of the criticisms of capitalism (proposition 7) is that it is environmentally damaging, but we know that the authoritarian central planning apparatus of the statist economy in the Soviet Union also gave little weight to negative impacts on the environment. If the only possible alternative to capitalism were statism – an economic structure in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state and coordinated through a centralized bureaucracy – then the critique of capitalism in these terms would lose some of its force. But, as I will argue in chapter 5, there is another kind of alternative, a conception of socialism anchored in the idea of meaningful democratic control over both state and economy. The central argument of this book is that an economy so structured enhances our collective capacity to mitigate the harms discussed in the eleven propositions below. "(38-39)

1. Capitalist class relations perpetuate eliminable forms of human suffering

De mythe is dat het kapitalisme de armoede heeft opgeheven en dat de welvaart ongekend hoog is. Hoe kijk je naar die armoede?

"It is possible that poverty in the midst of plenty constitutes simply a sad fact of life: 'the poor will always be with us'. Alternatively, it might be a temporary state of affairs which further economic development will eradicate: capitalism, given enough time, especially if unfettered by state regulation, will eventually eradicate poverty. Or, perhaps, the suffering and lack of fulfillment are simply the fault of the individuals whose lives go badly: contemporary capitalism generates an abundance of opportunities which some people squander because they are too lazy or irresponsible or impulsive to take advantage of them. But it is also possible that the situation of poverty existing in the midst of plenty is a symptom of certain fundamental properties of the socioeconomic system. This is the central claim of the socialist critique of capitalism: capitalism systematically generates unnecessary human suffering – 'unnecessary' in the specific sense that with an appropriate change in socioeconomic relations these deficits could be eliminated. The harshest anti-capitalist rhetoric denouncing capitalism in terms of oppression and exploitation centers on this theme."(39-40)

"This fact – that capitalism is a growth machine and that growth can have significant positive effects on the living standards of large numbers of people – is one of the reasons capitalism remains such a robust social order."(41)

Maar het kapitalisme mag dan de situatie verbeterd hebben wanneer je vergelijkt met eerdere omstandigheden, het houdt de ellende in stand wanneer je vergelijkt met de mogelijke stand van zaken in de wereld. Dat doet het in de eerste plaats door exploitatie van arbeiders om zo veel mogelijk winst te maken.

" In order to maximize profits, therefore, capitalists also have an interest in maintaining labor market conditions which both ensure ample supplies of labor and which undercut the capacity of workers to resist pressures to intensify labor effort. In particular, capitalists have an interest in there being large numbers of workers competing for jobs, which will tend to drive down wages, as well as there being sufficiently high levels of unemployment to make workers anxious about the prospects of losing their jobs. In other words, capitalists have a strong interest in increasing the vulnerability of workers."(43)

Verder is er onder het kapitalisme sprake van een voortdurende innovatie die vaardigheden en banen overbodig maakt en die arbeiders buiten spel zet. Dat marginaliseert bepaalde groepen arbeiders en er zijn geen niet-kapitalistische processen die dat tegengaan. In de derde plaats leidt dat zoeken naar winstmaximalisatie tot competitie tussen bedrijven en ook dat marginaliseert bepaalde groepen arbeiders (denk aan de verplaatsing van werk naar lagelonenlanden).

"Taken together these three processes – exploitation, negative social externalities of technological change, profit-maximizing competition – mean that while capitalism is an engine of economic growth, it also inherently generates vulnerability, poverty, deprivation, and marginalization."(44)

Capitalism blocks the universalization of conditions for expansive human flourishing

"The elimination of material deprivation and poverty are, of course, essential conditions for the full realization and exercise of human potentials, but it is that realization which lies at the core of the emancipatory ideal for socialists. This, then, is what I mean by the expansive sense of 'human flourishing': the realization and exercise of the talents and potentials of individuals.(...) Three issues are especially salient here: first, the large inequalities generated by capitalism in access to the material conditions for living flourishing lives; second, inequalities in access to interesting and challenging work; and third, the destructive effects on the possibilities of flourishing generated by hyper-competition."(46)

Capitalism perpetuates eliminable deficits in individual freedom and autonomy

Kapitalisten zeggen dat het kapitalisme de vrijheid om te kiezen bevordert.

"Capitalism generates stores filled with countless varieties of products, and consumers are free to buy whatever they want subject only to their budget constraint. Investors are free to choose where to invest. Workers are free to quit jobs. All exchanges in the market are voluntary. Individual freedom of choice certainly seems to be at the very heart of how capitalism works."(50)

Maar dat is natuurlijk een illusie. Alsof arbeiders zo maar hun baan kunnen opgeven en alsof het niet zo is dat ze dan elders weer afhankelijk worden van wat de eigenaren van de productiemiddelen beslissen.

Capitalism violates liberal egalitarian principles of social justice

Onder het kapitalisme is er geen sprake van gelijke kansen.

"... so long as there is inheritance of private wealth, and so long as investments in children’s human capital is strongly linked to inequalities in parental resources, equality of opportunity will be a fiction. Capitalism, since it necessarily generates such inequalities in the conditions of life for children, is thus incompatible with equality of opportunity."(53)

Capitalism is inefficient in certain crucial respects

Een andere mythe van het kapitalisme is dat de markt en competitite de efficiëntie bevorderen. Maar ook dat is betrekkelijk.

"Six sources of inefficiency in capitalism are especially important: the underproduction of public goods; the under-pricing of natural resources; negative externalities; monitoring and enforcing market contracts; pathologies of intellectual property rights; and the costs of inequality."(56)

"For well-understood reasons, acknowledged by defenders of capitalism as well as its critics, capitalism inherently generates significant deficits in the production of public goods. The notion of public goods refers to a wide range of things satisfying two conditions: that it is very difficult to exclude anyone from consuming them when they are produced, and that one person’s consumption of the good does not reduce another person’s consumption. Clean air and national defense are conventional examples. Knowledge is another example: one person’s consumption of knowledge does not reduce the stock of knowledge, and once knowledge is produced it is pretty hard to prevent people from consuming it. Capitalist markets do not do well in providing for public goods, since it is hard to capture profits when you cannot easily exclude people from consuming the thing you have produced. And, since many public goods are important for both the quality of life and for economic productivity, it is inefficient to rely on markets to produce them."(56)

"The same kind of argument about positive externalities can be made about education, public health services, and even things like the arts and sports. In each of these cases there are positive externalities for the society in general that reach beyond the people who are directly consuming the service: it is better to live in a society of educated people than uneducated people; it is better to live in a society in which vaccinations are freely available, even if one is not vaccinated; it is better to live in a society with lots of arts activities, even if one does not directly consume them; it is better to live in a society with extensive recreational activities for youth even if one is not young. If this is correct, then it is economically inefficient to rely on capitalism and the market to produce these things."(57)

Omdat de kosten voor niet-duurzame natuurlijke bronnen - en soms ook voor duurzame bronnen (denk aan overbevissing) - niet reëel ingeschat worden worden deze bronnen uitgeput. Andere negatieve effecten ontstaan door afwentelijng van kosten op anderen.

"The problem in capitalist economies is that capitalist firms have a strong incentive to displace as much of their costs on other people as possible, since this increases their ability to compete in the market. As already noted, pollution is the classic example: from a strictly profit-maximizing point of view it would be irrational for capitalist firms not to dump waste material into the environment if they can get away with it. The same can be said about expensive health and safety measures that might affect the workers in the firm in the long term. Unless unhealthy conditions have an effect on costs of production, there is an incentive for profit-maximizing firms to avoid these costs.(...)
Capitalism itself cannot solve such problems; they are an intrinsic consequence of private profit-driven economic decisions. This does not mean, of course, that in capitalist societies nothing can be done about negative externalities. The widespread attempts at state regulation of capitalist production are precisely a way of counteracting negative externalities by trying to prevent firms from displacing costs onto others.)"(59)

"The massive amount of money spent on lawyers and litigation over such things as contract disputes, civil suits, enforcement of intellectual property rights, and challenges to government regulations of corporations are obvious examples of ways in which capitalist property rights generate efficiency losses. "(60)

"Intellectual property rights include a variety of legal rules that prevent people from having free access to the use of various kinds of knowledge and information: patents restrict the use of inventions; copyrights prevent the duplication of intellectual products and artistic creations; trademarks protect the use of brand names. The justification for these forms of private property rights is that without them there would be little incentive to produce inventions, intellectual products and artistic creations. Inventions require the investment of time, energy and resources in research and development, much of it quite risky. Intellectual products like books and artistic creations also require much time and effort, and sometimes financial investment as well. Unless the people who make these investments know in advance that if the products turn out to be valuable they will have rights to the economic returns on the products of those investments, they will not bother making the investments in the first place.
This certainly seems like a plausible argument. It turns out, however, that there is very little empirical evidence to support the claim. There are three major issues here. First, while intellectual property rights may provide incentives, they also impede the diffusion of information and use of new ideas to generate further advances. The net effect of patents and copyrights on invention, creativity and intellectual production therefore depends upon relative magnitude of these two opposing forces – the positive impact of incentives and the negative impact of impediments to use and diffusion. There is no reason to assume that the former generally outweighs the latter.
Second, the defenders of intellectual property rights assume that the only reliable incentive for creativity and invention is monetary reward, but this is simply not the case. A great deal of research and development is done in publicly financed projects in universities and other research settings. Scientists are driven by a range of motives other than monetary rewards: prestige, curiosity, solving problems for humanity. Most artists and writers, even the most dedicated, do not receive large financial rewards from their work and yet they persist because of their commitments to aesthetic values and a need to express themselves. This is not to say that financial reward plays no role, and certainly if producers of intellectual products receive no financial rewards for their creative work it may be difficult for them to continue. But for many – perhaps most – people engaged in creative intellectual activities, monetary incentives protected by intellectual property rights are of secondary importance.
Third, it may also be the case that the emphasis on monetary incentives and the strong protection of intellectual property actually undermines some of the other motivations that are important for innovation and creativity. There is good empirical research demonstrating that monetary incentives can undermine altruistic motivations for cooperation, thus having the net effect of reducing cooperation. This could also affect scientific and artistic creativity: the presence of strong financial rewards for commercially profitable creative efforts may undermine the motivation to pursue more free-wheeling artist work and scientific research.
While it may be true that some limited protection of intellectual property rights is needed for incentive purposes – for example, to insure proper attribution of authorship – the strong regime of private property in intellectual products that characterizes capitalism probably on balance fetters innovation and creativity. What has come to be called the 'open source' movement in information technology is a practical demonstration of this. The open source movement is best known for the development of the Linux computer operating system. There is no patent or copyright on the source code for Linux. It has been created by thousands of programmers cooperating and contributing new codes and ideas to its development. By most accounts this has resulted in an operating system that is technologically superior to its main rival, the PC operating system developed by Microsoft."(62-64)

Zo hoeft ook een betere distributie van goederen en meer gelijke kansen niet per se samen te gaan met minder efficiëntie. Ongelijkheid kan net zo goed efficiëntie remmen, bijvoorbeeld omdat er sociale conflicten ontstaan (denk bijvoorbeeld aan de kosten van ordehandhaving), of omdat solidariteit om zeep geholpen wordt.

Capitalism has a systematic bias towards consumerism

"One of the virtues of capitalism is that it contains a core dynamic which tends to increase productivity over time. When productivity increases, there are two sorts of things that in principle can happen: we could produce the same amount of things with fewer inputs, or we could produce more things with the same amount of inputs. The criticism of capitalism is that it contains a systematic bias towards turning increases in productivity into increased consumption rather than increased 'free time'. There are times, of course, when the best way of improving the conditions of life of people is to increase output. When an economy does not produce enough to provide adequate nutrition, housing and other amenities for people, economic growth in the sense of an increase in total output would generally be a good thing. But when a society is already extremely rich there is no longer any intrinsic reason why growth in aggregate consumption is desirable."(66)

"This output bias is enshrined in the standard way in which 'growth rates' are reported: the growth in the gross national product or gross domestic product is evaluated in terms of market prices. In such a calculation, free time is given zero value (because it is not sold on the market), and thus a process of economic growth in which productivity was turned into more time would be viewed as stagnation, and a country in which people worked shorter work weeks and had longer vacations than another country with similar levels of productivity would be viewed as a “poorer” country.
A defender of capitalism might reply to the criticism of consumerism by arguing that the basic reason capitalism generates growth in output instead of growth in leisure is because this is what people want. Consumerism simply reflects the real preferences of people for more stuff. It is arrogant for left-wing intellectuals to disparage the consumption preferences of ordinary people. If people really preferred leisure to more consumption, then they would work less hard.
This reply rests on three incorrect assumptions about the conditions under which people make choices between leisure, work and consumption. First, the claim that consumerism simply reflects what people really want assumes that the preferences of people for consumption and leisure are formed in an autonomous manner, unaffected by the strategies of capitalist firms. This is an implausible assumption. What people feel they need in order to live well is heavily shaped by cultural messages and socially diffused expectations. To imagine that preferences for consumption are formed autonomously is to claim that advertising, marketing and the promotion of consumerist life styles in the mass media have no effects on people.
Second, the claim that people would work less hard if they really wanted to assumes that there are no significant institutional impediments to people freely choosing the balance between work and leisure in their lives. This is simply not the case; there are significant obstacles other than individual consumerist preference which prevent people from freely choosing the balance between work, consumption and 'free time'.(...)
Third, the argument that consumerism is simply a preference (rather than a systematic bias) assumes that if large numbers of people were to choose a much less consumerist lifestyle, this would not have significant disruptive macroeconomic effects of the sort which would eventually make anti-consumerism itself unsustainable. If somehow it were to come to pass that large numbers of people in a capitalist society were able to resist the preferences shaped by consumerist culture and opt for 'voluntary simplicity' with lower consumption and much more leisure time, this would precipitate a severe economic crisis, for if demand in the market were to significantly decline, the profits of many capitalists firms would collapse. In the absence of an expanding market, competition among firms would become much more intense since any firm’s gain would be another firm’s loss, and, more broadly, social conflicts would intensify. For these reasons, the state in capitalist economies would adopt policies to counteract anti-consumerist movements if they were to gain sufficient strength to have a significant impact on the market.
The state’s role in promoting the consumption bias inherent in capitalist economies is particularly sharply revealed in times of economic crisis. In an economic downturn, governments attempt to 'stimulate' the economy by, in various ways, encouraging people to consume more by reducing taxes, by reducing interest rates so borrowing is cheaper or, in some cases, by directly giving people more money to spend. "(66-68)

Capitalism is environmentally destructive

In feite blijkt dat al uit het voorgaande - zie het stuk over winstmaximalisatie en het negeren van milieu- en andere effecten ervan. Zie ook het stuk over de neiging het consumeren en de groei te bevorderen, ook al hebben mensen genoeg om prettig te leven.

Capitalist commodification threatens important broadly held values

Commodificatie betekent dat bepaalde menselijke activiteiten aan de markt worden overgelaten - voorbeeld: zelf eten verbouwen, opslaan, en klaarmaken tegenover kant-en-klare maaltijden kopen of uit gaan eten.

"Markets may be an economically efficient way of organizing the production and distribution of many things, yet most people feel that there are certain aspects of human activity which should not be organized by markets even if it would be 'efficient' in a technical economic sense to do so."(71)

Voorbeelden zijn: een markt voor het produceren en verkopen van babies, of slaven, of menselijke organen.

"So, even in highly commodified capitalist societies, most people believe that there are moral limits to the domains in which capitalist markets should be allowed to organize our activities. Human beings should not be treated like commodities.
If commodification threatened important moral values only in a few special cases, then the critique of capitalism in these terms would be relatively limited. This is not, however, the case. On closer inspection there is a fairly broad range of activities for which commodification raises salient moral issues."(72)

Voorbeelden: kinderdagverblijven (winstmaximalisatie zou kunnen leiden tot slechte kwaliteit van medewerkers of alleen rijke mensen zouden ze kunnen betalen), productveiligheid (kost geld, dus wordt niet nagestreefd)), de kunsten (alles voor de kijkcijfers en commercieel succes), de commercialisatie van religie, en zo verder. In de meeste gevallen is duidelijk dat overheidssubsidie een bijzonder belangrijke factor is om commerciële verarming tegen te gaan.

Capitalism, in a world of nation states, fuels militarism and imperialism

Voorbeeld van militarisme: de Verenigde Staten sinds de vijftiger jaren, aldus Wright. Imperialsisme via militaire middelen gaat al samen met het kapitalisme vanaf het begin: de perioden van mercantilisme en kolonialisme maken het het duidelijkst.

"Imperialism refers to strategies of states in which states use political and military power for purposes of economic domination outside of the state’s immediate territorial jurisdiction."(76-77)

"In addition to militarism being fueled by capitalism because of its link to imperialism, militarism is also connected deeply to capitalism through the economic importance of military spending. This is particularly central in the US where military spending plays a critical role in the capitalist economy and underwrites the profits of many large capitalist corporations, but even in countries with a less militarized state such as Sweden, the production of military hardware can be a very profitable sector of capitalist production. While it would be an exaggeration to argue that the direct interest of capitalist firms in military spending explains militarism, the economic importance of military spending creates significant, powerful constituencies who oppose demilitarization."(78)

Capitalism corrodes community

"The market cultivates dispositions in people that sharply contradict the kinds of motivations needed for strong community. This does not mean, of course, that community and market cannot coexist: there is no sociological law that states that societies cannot exist with deeply contradictory principles at work. But it does mean that in capitalism a large domain of important social interaction is dominated by motives antithetical to community and thus in order to strengthen community one has to struggle against the pervasive presence of markets and market thinking. The scope of community, therefore, tends to be narrowed to the level of personal relations and local settings rather than extended to broader circles of social interaction.
Capitalism also undermines community through the ways in which it fosters economic inequality, particularly given the underlying mechanisms of exploitation within capitalist class relations. In an exploitative relation, the exploiting category has active interests in maintaining the vulnerability and deprivations of the exploited category. This generates antagonisms of interests that undermine the sense of shared fate and mutual generosity."(80-81)

Capitalism limits democracy

Dit komt in drie kwesties tot uiting:

"First, by definition, 'private' ownership of means of production means that significant domains of decisions that have broad collective effects are simply removed from collective decision-making. While the boundaries between the aspects of property rights that are considered private and the aspects that are subjected to public control are periodically contested, in capitalist society the presumption is that decisions over property are private matters and only in special circumstances can public bodies legitimately encroach on them."(82)

"Second, even apart from the direct effects of the exclusion of democratic bodies from control over the allocation of investments, the inability of democratic bodies to control the flows and movement of capital undermines the ability of democracy to set collective priorities even over those activities which capitalist firms themselves do not directly organize."(83)

"Third, the high concentrations of wealth and economic power generated by capitalist dynamics subvert principles of democratic political equality.(...) The key to political equality is that morally irrelevant attributes should not generate inequalities in political power. Capitalism violates this condition. While this violation of political equality may be more severe in the United States than in most other developed capitalist countries, the wealthy and those who occupy powerful positions in the economy invariably have a disproportionate influence on political outcomes in all capitalist societies."(84)

(87) II - Alternatives

(89) 4 - Thinking about alternatives to capitalism

In dit hoofdstuk stelt Wright twee strategieën aan de orde om tot een theorie te komen voor eeb emancipatorisch sociaal alternatief voor het kapitalisme. De eerste werd uitgewerkt door Marx, een unieke benadering die echter niet op alle punten bevredigend is.

Allereerst dus Marx, die de opvatting koesterde dat het kapitalisme op lange termijn aan zijn eigen tegenstellingen ten gronde zou gaan en dat er dan een alternatief bedacjt zou worden door de arbeidersklasse. Wright kijkt naar vijf argumenten.

"Thesis 1. The long-term non-sustainability of capitalism thesis.
In the long run capitalism is an unsustainable economic system. Its internal dynamics ('laws of motion') systematically undermine the conditions of its own reproducibility, thus making capitalism progressively more and more fragile and, eventually, unsustainable.
"(90)

Marx baseerde dat op vier empirische trends uit de 19e eeuw, waarvan hij ook de oorzaken onderzocht.

"Thesis 2. The intensification of anti-capitalist class struggle thesis.
The dynamics of capitalist development systematically tend (a) to increase the proportion of the population – the working class – whose interests are pervasively hurt by capitalism, and at the same time, (b) to increase the collective capacity of the working class to challenge capitalism. The result is an intensification of class struggle directed against capitalism.
"(93)

"Thesis 3. The revolutionary transformation thesis.
Since capitalism becomes increasingly precarious as an economic system (thesis 1) while the principal class arrayed against capitalism becomes increasingly large and capable of challenging it (thesis 2), eventually these oppositional social forces will become sufficiently strong, and capitalism itself sufficiently weak, that the institutions designed to protect capitalism will no longer be able to prevent it from being overthrown.
"(95)

"In the Marxist theory of capitalism, capitalist society is more than just a capitalist economy. It also contains an array of institutions which, among other things, act to protect capitalism from various kinds of threats. In the classical idiom of Marxism these institutions are referred to as the 'superstructure'. Of particular importance in this regard are the state - which helps to reproduce capitalism through a variety of mechanisms, particularly the use of force to protect capitalist property rights and repress organized challenges to capitalism -, and ideological and cultural institutions, which help to reproduce capitalism by shaping ideas, values and beliefs."(95)

"Marx was relatively vague about the actual process through which this destruction of the political superstructure of capitalism would occur. Typically Marxists have envisioned this process as involving a violent revolution which 'smashes' the capitalist state and creates a relatively abrupt rupture in the basic organizing principles of both the economy and the state."(96)

"Thesis 4. The transition to socialism thesis
Given the ultimate non-sustainability of capitalism (thesis 1), and the interests and capacities of the social actors arrayed against capitalism (thesis 2), in the aftermath of the destruction of the capitalist state and capitalism through intensified class struggle (thesis 3), socialism, defined as a society in which the system of production is collectively owned and controlled through egalitarian democratic institutions, is capitalism's most likely successor since the collectively organized working class will be in the best position to insure that its interests are embodied in the new post-capitalist institutions.
"(97)

"Marx provided only the slimmest of hints about what socialist institutions would look like: socialism would replace private ownership of the means of production by some collective form of ownership (although the precise meaning of this idea remained vague), and the market would be replaced by some form of comprehensive planning - although again almost nothing was said about the mechanics of such planning, how it would work and why we should believe it was sustainable."(98)

" In effect this means that Marx proposed a highly deterministic theory of the demise of capitalism and a relatively voluntaristic theory of the construction of its alternative."(98)

"Thesis 5. The communism destination thesis
The dynamics of socialist development gradually lead to a strengthening of community solidarity and a progressive erosion of material inequalities so that eventually classes and the state will 'wither away', resulting in the emergence of a communist society organized around the distributional principle 'to each according to need, from each according to ability'.
"(99)

"This final thesis can be considered a utopian affirmation of the normative ideal of radical egalitarianism. While it is plausible that community solidarity would increase and material inequality decline in a socialist economy (defined in the general manner of thesis 4), there really is no sustained argument for why in such a society the state would wither away to the point where social order would be insured entirely through voluntary cooperation and reciprocity, with no coercive authority and no binding rules."(99)

Hierna werkt Wright de kritiek uit op Marx' argumentatie / theorie.

"While there is much in the Marxist tradition of social theory that is of great value – particularly its critique of capitalism and the conceptual framework of its analysis of class – its theory of historical trajectory has a number of serious weaknesses. Four problems undermine the adequacy of the traditional Marxist theory for building a theory of alternatives to capitalism: crisis tendencies within capitalism do not appear to have an inherent tendency to become ever more intense over time; class structures have become more complex over time, rather than simplified through a process of homogenizing proletarianization; the collective capacity of the working class to challenge structures of capitalist power seems to decline within mature capitalist societies; ruptural strategies of social transformation, even if they were capable of overthrowing the capitalist state, do not seem to provide a sociopolitical setting for sustained democratic experimentalism. Since each of these themes has been extensively treated in contemporary discussions of Marxism and social change, I will only briefly review the core arguments here."(100)

Er is reden om sketisch te zijn over dat idee dat het kapitalisme zichzelf zal vernietigen. Marx en marxisten onderschatten de betekenis op dat punt van overheidsingrijpen. Vandaag de dag zou je wel kunnen wijzen op de gevolgen van globalisering (een crisis wordt een mondiale crisis daardoor), op het spanningsveld tussen kapitalistische groei en de vernietiging van het milieu, etc.

"All of these arguments could mean that the long-term trajectory of capitalism will culminate in its self-destruction. These arguments, however, remain speculative and underdeveloped, and for the moment it does not appear that there is good reason to believe that the internal contradictions of capitalism render it, in the long run, an unsustainable economic structure. Capitalism may be undesirable for all the reasons as outlined in chapter 3, but still be reproducible. This does not imply, it must be stressed, that capitalism is untransformable: even if it’s internal dynamics do not generate a trajectory towards self-destruction it could still be transformed through collective action. But such collective action will not necessarily be abetted by the increasing fragility of capitalism."(103)

Een ander probleem is de theorie van proletarisatie: er is niet één homogene klasse ontstaan als antagonist van het kapitaal. Klassestructuren zijn een stuk complexer geworden.

"The working class, however it is defined, has become more internally differentiated rather than more homogeneous.
None of these forms of complexity in class relations mean that class is of declining importance in people’s lives, or that class structures are becoming less capitalist in any fundamental way. They simply mean that the structural transformations predicted by the intensification of class struggle thesis have not occurred."(105)

Daarnaast is het niet zo dat de arbeidersklasse een toenemend vermogen heeft ontwikkeld om het kapitalisme aan de kaak te stellen.

"This capacity has had, if anything, a tendency to decline within developed capitalist societies. Partially this is the result of the increasing heterogeneity of interests among employees, both because of complexity of the class structure and stratification within the working class itself. Such heterogeneity makes the task of building solidarity and forming stable political coalitions more difficult. But the weakness of system-challenging class capacity also reflects ways in which capitalist democracies have offered people real opportunities to organize for significant improvement in their conditions of life within the constraints of capitalism."(105)

Verder zijn de revoluties die er waren om het kapitalisme omver te werpen in zoverre mislukt dat gelijke democratische participatie nergens ooit gerealiseerd is voor de lange termijn.

"Revolutionary parties may in certain circumstances be effective 'organizational weapons' for toppling capitalist states, but they appear to be extremely ineffective means for constructing a democratic egalitarian alternative. As a result, the empirical cases we have of ruptures with capitalism have resulted in authoritarian state-bureaucratic forms of economic organization rather than anything approaching a democratic-egalitarian alternative to capitalism."(107)

"In the absence of a compelling dynamic theory of the destiny of capitalism, an alternative strategy is to shift our efforts from building a theory of dynamic trajectory to a theory of structural possibility. Let me explain this contrast. A theory of dynamic trajectory attempts to predict certain features of the future course of social change on the basis of an understanding of causal mechanisms that push society in a particular direction. By charting certain developments which we know will happen (assuming the theory is accurate), such a theory helps define the conditions for exploring things which can happen. Capitalism will (eventually) destroy itself, so socialism could be the alternative. A theory of structural possibility, in contrast, atempts not to predict the course of development over time, but simply to chart the range of possibilities for institutional changes under different social conditions."(107)

"Alas, there is no map, and no existing social theory is sufficiently powerful to even begin to construct such a comprehensive representation of possible social destinations, possible futures. It may well be that such a theory is impossible in principle – the process of social change is too complex and too deeply affected by contingent concatenations of causal processes to be represented in the form of detailed maps of possible futures. In any case, we don’t have any such map available. And yet we want to leave the place where we are because of its harms and injustices. What is to be done?"(108)

"The key to embarking on a journey of exploration and discovery is the usefulness of our navigational device. We need to construct what might be called a socialist compass: the principles which tell us if we are moving in the right direction. This is the task of the next chapter."(109)

(110) 5 - The socialist compass

"In this chapter I will argue that the idea of the 'social' in socialism can be usefully employed to identify a cluster of principles and visions of change that help differentiate socialism more precisely both from capitalism and what could be called a purely statist response to capitalism. This, in turn, will suggest a way of thinking about principles of transformation that may be used to guide challenges to capitalism."(110)

Allereerst wil Wright wat begrippen verhelderen. 'Macht' wordt hier gezien als het vermogen van actoren om binnen een bepaalde structurele context iets gedaan te krijgen in de wereld, vanuit bepaalde belangen, gericht op bepaalde doelen. Het kan hier gaan om economische macht, politieke macht ('state power' zegt Wright), en sociale macht.

"Using slogans, we can say that there are three ways of getting people to do things: you can bribe them; you can force them; you can convince them. These correspond to the exercise of economic power, state power, and social power. And as we shall see, these are closely linked to the distinctions between capitalism, statism, and socialism."(113)

Een ander begrip is 'eigenaarschap' ('ownership'), waarbij de actoren (degenen die de eigendomsrechten hebben), de objecten (die in eigendom - kunnen - zijn), en de rechten (welke rechten geeft het eigendom van objecten) van belang zijn. Hoe complex dit begrip is blijkt wanneer je nadenkt over wat 'privé-eigen dom van de productiemiddelen' nu precies betekent vandaag de dag.

"Because of this complexity of the allocation of specific property rights within the bundle we call 'ownership', it is not always a simple task to identify who 'owns' the means of production – different rights are assigned to different actors. The issue is further complicated by the well- known distinction between 'ownership' and 'control' in many economic contexts. Large capitalist corporations are owned by shareowners, but the actual control over the operation of the firms is in the hands of managers and executives."(114)

Maar het is dus wel mogelijk om na te denken over privé-eigendom, staatseigendom, en sociaal eigendom.

"Common ownership means that people collectively have the right to decide on the purposes to which the means of production are put and on the allocation of the social surplus – the net income generated by the use of means of production – and this is consistent with a wide range of actual allocations.
The term 'society' in this definition does not mean a nation-state or country. Rather, it refers to any social unit within which people engage in interdependent economic activity which uses means of production and generates some kind of product. "(116)

En dat weer valt samen met economische macht, staatsmacht en sociale macht.

"The State is the cluster of institutions, more or less coherently organized, which imposes binding rules and regulations over a territory. Max Weber defined the state as an organization which effectively monopolizes the legitimate use of force over a territory. I prefer Michael Mann’s alternative emphasis on the state as the organization with an administrative capacity to impose binding rules and regulations over territories. The legitimate use of force is one of the key ways this is accomplished, but it is not necessarily the most important way. State power is then defined as the effective capacity to impose rules and regulate social relations over territory, a capacity which depends on such things as information and communications infrastructure, the ideological commitments of citizens to obey rules and commands, the level of discipline of administrative officials, the practical effectiveness of the regulations to solve problems, as well as the monopoly over the legitimate use of coercion.
The economy is the sphere of social activity in which people interact to produce and distribute goods and services. In capitalism this activity involves privately owned firms in which production and distribution is mediated by market exchange. Economic power is based on the kinds of economically relevant resources different categories of social actors control and deploy within these interactions of production and distribution.
Civil society is the sphere of social interaction in which people voluntarily form associations of different sorts for various purposes. Some of these associations have the character of formal organizations with well-defined membership and objectives. Clubs, political parties, labor unions, churches, and neighborhood associations would be examples. Others are looser associations, in the limiting case more like social networks than bounded organizations. The idea of a 'community', when it means something more than simply the aggregation of individuals living in a place, can also be viewed as a kind informal association within civil society. Power in civil society depends on capacities for collective action through such voluntary association, and can accordingly be referred to as 'associational power' or 'social power'."(118-120)

Dat weer ligt in één lijn met de opvattingen over kapitalisme, statisme en socialisme (niet in de traditionele betekenis, maar in relatie dus met werkelijke sociale macht).

"The definition of socialism offered here in terms of social ownership and social power does not preclude the possibility that markets could play a substantial role in coordinating the activities of socially owned and controlled enterprises."(122)

"Socialism, understood in the way proposed here, is thus not equivalent to the working class controlling the means of production through its collective associations. Rather, social empowerment over the economy means broad-based encompassing economic democracy."(123)

Het gaat uiteraard niet om zuivere typen. In de meeste landen is sprake van hybride vormen: bijvoorbeeld kapitalisme in combinatie met sturing door de staat en invloed van de vakbonden.

"To recapitulate the conceptual proposal: socialism can be contrasted to capitalism and statism in terms of the principal form of power that shapes economic activity – the production and distribution of goods and services. Specifically, the greater the degree and forms of social empowerment over ownership, use and control of economic resources and activities, the more we can describe an economy as socialist."(128)

Een socialistisch kompas zal daarmee drie richtingen hebben om te bepalen of een economie zich ontwikkelt in de richting van een socialistische economie: toename van sociale macht ('social empowerment') over de manier waarop staatsmacht invloed heeft op economische activiteiten; toename van sociale macht over de manier waarop econmische macht economische activiteiten vorm geeft; en toename van sociale macht rechtstreeks over economische activiteiten.

Vervolgens laat Wright allerlei uitwerkingen zien van de mogelijke verhoudingen tussen die drie zaken. Hij geeft zelf aan dat aan bepaalde voorwaarden voldaan moet zijn om een democratisch en egalitair model te kunnen realiseren en dat er goede redenen zijn om skeptisch te zijn over de mogelijkheid daarvan.

"A skeptic can, with justification, reply: there is no reason to believe that the associations formed in civil society will be of the sort suitable for a pervasive democratization of control over the economy. There are two problems here. First, a vibrant civil society is precisely one with a multitude of heterogeneous associations, networks and communities, built around different goals, with different kinds of members based on different sorts of solidarities. While this pluralistic heterogeneity may provide a context for a public sphere of debate and sociability, it does not seem like a promising basis for the kind of coherent power needed to effectively control the state or the economy. Second, the voluntary associations that comprise civil society include many nasty associations, associations based on exclusion, narrow interests, and the preservation of privilege. Voluntary associations include the KKK as well as the NAACP, associations to protect racial and class exclusiveness of neighborhoods as well as associations to promote community development and openness. Why should we believe that empowering such associations would contribute anything positive to ameliorating the harms of capitalism, let alone a broader vision of human emancipation?"(146)

Resactie op het eerste bezwaar is dat Wright het niet heeft over anarchisme, maar over socialisme: een overheid is nodig.

"Socialism, in contrast, requires a state, a state with real power to create rules of the game and mechanisms of coordination without which the collective power from civil society would be unable to achieve the necessary integration to control either state or economy."(146)

En over het tweede bezwaar:

"The second objection – that civil society contains many associations inconsistent with radical democratic egalitarian emancipatory ideals – is more troubling, for it opens the specter of a socialism rooted in exclusion and oppression. It is tempting to deal with this concern by somehow defining civil society as only consisting of benign associations that are consistent with socialist ideals of democratic egalitarianism; social empowerment would then be the empowerment of popular associations that were at least compatible with emancipatory goals. Nasty socialism would be eliminated by fiat. I think this is an undesirable response."(146)

"There is no guarantee that a society within which power rooted in civil society predominates would be one that upholds democratic egalitarian ideals. This, however, is not some unique problem for socialism; it is a characteristic of democratic institutions in general. As conservatives often point out, inherent in democracy is the potential for the tyranny of the majority, and yet in practice liberal democracies have been fairly successful in creating institutions that protect both individual rights and the interests of minorities."(147)

"The second source of skepticism centers on the problem of institutional mechanisms. It may be true that if we magically had the necessary institutions to translate power rooted in civil society into control over the state and economy, this would advance egalitarian and democratic values. But why should we believe such institutions are possible? The arguments against such possibility are familiar: Most people are too passive to care about any form of real empowerment. We need experts to make decisions over complex technical matters. Capitalist firms driven by the profit motive are needed for innovation and efficient investment. Only centralized, professionalized state apparatuses, relatively insulated from popular pressures and special interests, can properly regulate the economy in a technically efficient manner.
Responding to this sort of skepticism is the central aim of discussions of real utopias: exploring the viability of specific institutional designs that attempt to realize emancipatory values. In the next two chapters we will examine a range of such real utopian proposals to give more credibility to the idea that there are viable institutional arrangements that make movement on the pathways of social empowerment a plausible goal.
The final source of skepticism is that even if there are imaginable institutional arrangements that would enhance social empowerment and contribute significantly to realizing democratic egalitarian ideals, it is impossible to create such institutions within capitalist society. Attempts at building such institutions in a serious way will inevitably provoke backlash from elites whose power is rooted in the state and capitalist economy. Social empowerment will only be tolerated so long as it is not a threat to the basic power relations of capitalism. A serious movement along the pathways of social empowerment, therefore, will confront insurmountable obstacles, not because there are no viable institutional designs for a radical egalitarian democratic form of social empowerment, but because such efforts will be defeated by powerful actors whose interests would be threatened by any kind of socialism. You cannot build such institutions within a society in which capitalism remains the dominant form of social organization of economic power.
This is the critique posed by revolutionary socialists. It argues that the power of capital and of the capitalist state has to be decisively broken in a system-level rupture in order for socialism to be possible. It could turn out that this argument is correct. If so, this almost certainly means that for the conceivable future socialism as an alternative to capitalism is simply not possible, either as a destination or as a direction of change. But these predictions may also be unduly pessimistic, reflecting an exaggerated sense of the power of capital and the capitalist class and an under-appreciation of the social spaces available for social innovation. These are issues we will explore in Part III on Transformations."(148-149)

(150) 6 - Real utopias I - Social empowerment and the state

In dit hoofdstuk dus een eerste voorbeeld van een reëel utopia. Maar eerst een paar waarschuwingen vooraf. De belangrijkste:

"A critical danger in this kind of analysis is that the study of such examples degenerates into propagandistic cheerleading. When radical critics of capitalism become desperate for empirical models that embody their aspirations, wishful thinking can triumph over sober assessments. The complementary danger, of course, is cynicism; there is great cachet among intellectuals in debunking naïve enthusiasm. What is needed, then, are accounts of empirical cases that are neither gullible nor cynical, but try to fully recognize the complexity and dilemmas as well as the real potentials of practical efforts at social empowerment."(151)

"Since most of the pathways to social empowerment outlined in the previous chapter involve the state, we will begin in this chapter by examining proposals for real utopian institutional designs for deepening democracy in the state. The next chapter examines designs for new economic institutions."(152)

Drie vormen van democratie zijn denkbaar: directe democratie, representatieve democratie en associatieve democratie.

Eerst gaat het over nieuwe vormen van directe democratie, door Wright 'empowered participatory governance (EPG)' genoemd, met als succesvol voorbeeld de stad Porto Alegre.

"One common criticism of participatory democracy is that people are too apathetic, ignorant, or busy to participate. Evidence from empirical cases discussed in Deepening Democracy, however, suggest that when there are opportunities for people to become involved in decisions that address practical problems that are deeply important to them, they do participate in substantial numbers. Poor people often participate more than wealthy ones when such opportunities are available."(162)

"In EPG, by contrast [vergeleken met besluiten op basis van meerderheid van stemmen - GdG], participants make decisions as much as possible through deliberation. In the ideal, participants offer reasons, appealing to common interests or commonly held principles, to persuade one another about the proper course of action or problem-solving strategy. In EPG decisions are made in a way that allows a significant place for listening to and perhaps accepting alternative arguments and good reasons, rather than simply engaging in bargaining, strategic maneuvering, exchanges of favors, and so forth. In deliberation, as social theorist Jürgen Habermas has written, the only force is the peculiar force of the better argument."(163)

Ook voor de huidige dominante vormen van representatieve democratie zijn alternatieven mogelijk. Belangrijk discussiepunt is de financiering van verkiezingscampagnes. Die mag niet gebaseerd zijn op privévemogens. Een techniek zou de 'democratiekaart' kunnen zijn:

"It might first appear that the democracy card proposal is really just a small, almost technical reform, mainly relevant to electoral systems deeply corrupted by the role of wealth in private campaign finance, as in the US. In many countries, without the peculiar constitutional rule that spending money is a form of free speech, there are sufficiently effective constraints on private funding that electoral democracy works reasonably well. A democracy card system might seem of little relevance in such cases. I think this is a mistake."(170)

"Traditional Marxist accounts of the sate and democracy are generally highly skeptical of the possibility of this kind of democratic deepening, so long as the economic structure remains capitalist. The central thesis of most Marxist theories of the state is that the state in a capitalist society has a distinctively capitalist character: it is a capitalist state, not just a state in capitalist society. This means that the institutions of the capitalist state are structured in such a way that they strongly tend to reproduce capitalist relations and to block anti-capitalist possibilities. Deviations from this functionally integrated configuration are possible, but when they occur they set in motion disruptions of the functioning of capitalism. These disruptions in turn tend to trigger counter measures to restore reproductive functionality. The limits of stable deviation of the capitalist state from a form that is functionally compatible with capitalism, therefore, tend to be relatively narrow."(189)

(191) 7 - Real utopias II - Social empowerment and the economy

Hier gaat het om voorstellen op het terrein van de economie. Vrijwel alle voorstellen laten ruimte voor een marktdenken.

"In most of the specific proposals we will consider here, the institutional designs for social empowerment leave a substantial role for markets, and thus in one sense or another they tend to envision some sort of 'market socialism'. This goes against the grain of traditional Marxian conceptions of socialism as the transcendence not only of capitalist class relations but also of the market itself.(...)
) Few theorists today hold on to the belief that a complex, large-scale economy, could be viable without some role for markets – understood as a system of decentralized, voluntary exchanges 1involving prices that are responsive to supply and demand – in economic coordination. This does not imply that an economy must be coordinated by largely unregulated 'free' markets, or even that the vast majority of economic needs will be met through market exchanges, but simply that decentralized exchanges involving market-generated prices will be a significant part of economic organization. To most contemorary critics of capitalism, comprehensive planning, whether organized through centralized bureaucratic institutions or through participatory decentralized institutions, no longer seems a viable alternative."(191-192)

[Ik vraag me af wat de rol van een intensief gebruik van ICT zou kunnen zijn in die kweste van al of niet centrale planning. In feite gebeurt zie je in het kader van globalisering van bedrijven en handel nu al een stuk centralisatie die mogelijk is door de inzet van ICT. ]

"I will define the social economy quite broadly as economic activity that is directly organized and controlled through the exercise of some form of social power. Social power is power rooted in the voluntary association of people in civil society and is based on the capacity to organize people for collective action of various sorts. The social economy involves the production and distribution of goods and services – economic activity – organized through the use of such social power."(193-194)

Wikipedia en Quebec

Als voorbeelden werkt Wright de volgende twee vormen van sociale economische activiteit uit: de Wikipedia en de opzet van zorgvoorzieningen voor kinderen en ouderen in de provincie Quebec.

"Taken together these four characteristics of Wikipedia – non-market relations, egalitarian participation, deliberative interactions among contributors, democratic governance and adjudication – conform closely to the normative ideals of radical democratic egalitarianism."(199)

"The Quebec experience suggests four elements of institutional design to facilitate the expansion and deepening of these kinds of initiatives in ways that would contribute to the broader agenda of social empowerment:"(209)

De eerste betreft overheidsubdidie die gericht is op dit type sociale economie. Privégelden hebben zo hun nadelen:

"First, for many projects, private donations and foundations are unlikely to provide adequate levels of funding. It is hard to imagine the Quebec social economy of childcare and eldercare services reaching the scale it has on the basis of private donations. Secondly, private foundations typically have their own agendas derived from the priorities of their founders and boards of directors. Sometimes these can be quite progressive, rooted in democratic egalitarian ideals, but more often wealthy foundations have close ties to elites and corporations and their priorities are firmly rooted in existing structures of power and inequality. For social economy initiatives to be dependent on such foundations for financial resources, therefore, almost inevitably constrains their radical potentials.
Of course, it is also true that dependence of the social economy on the state for financial resources imposes constraints. Capitalist states are also deeply connected elites and corporations and their priorities are also firmly rooted in existing structures of power and inequality. But at least the state is a terrain for democratic struggle and contestation, and this can open the prospect for acquiring stable funding which allow for relatively high levels of autonomy."(209-210)

Wat betreft het verwijt van kapitalisten dat overheidssubsidie de overheid een voordeel geeft in de 'concurrentie op de markt voor welzijn van kinderen en ouderen' is het tegenargument:

"The appropriate response to this is to point out that state subsidy is a way of recognizing the positive social externalities that come from the cooperative, non-profit organization of production in the social economy. This is especially crucial in care-giving services in which the profit-motive is in inherent tension with the values of nurturance and care. The capitalist logic of meeting needs is that it is only worth doing when you can make a profit from doing so: I help you because it’s good for me. The social economy logic of meeting needs is other-directed: I help you because it is good for you."(210-211)

Verder is de ontwikkeling van investeringsfondsen voor sociale economie interessant gebleken, blijkt sturing door associatieve en participerende democratie mogelijk.

"Inherent in the construction of a social economy is the problem of potentially exclusionary and inegalitarian associations in civil society. Engaging in needs-oriented social production within the associational context of civil society is no guarantee of embodying the central emancipatory values of democratic egalitarianism.
In the United States there is a range of associationally organized economic activities that satisfy the general criteria for the social economy and yet have at best an ambiguous relation to the emancipatory project of social empowerment. Many of the proposals that go under the rubric 'faith-based initiatives' consist of social economy activities for the provision of needs: the state provides religious groups funding for a various kinds of social services which were previously run directly by the state. "(213)

[Het is onbegrijpelijk. Waar blijf je dan met je standpunt over de scheiding van kerk en staat? Je stimuleert op die manier religie. ]

"What the social economy really needs, then, is some way for a significant part of its core funding to become unconditional and noncontingent. One institutional device for this is unconditional basic income."(216)

Basisinkomen

"The idea of unconditional basic income (UBI) has a long pedigree, but has recently been revived, particularly in European discussions. (...) While the details may vary, the basic idea as already described in chapter 1 is quite simple: Every legal resident of a country receives a monthly living stipend sufficient to live at a culturally defined respectable standard of living, say 125 percent of the 'poverty line'. The grant is unconditional on the performance of any labor or other form of contribution, and it is universal – everyone receives the grant as a matter of citizenship right, rich and poor alike. Grants go to individuals, not families. Parents are the custodians of minority children's grants."(217)

Een basisinkomen verplicht met name arbeiders minder tot loonarbeid en maakt ze minder afhankelijk van de productiemiddelen van anderen. Egalisering van inkomen kan een gevolg zijn, omdat het loon voor minder aantrekkelijk werk zal stijgen. Ten derde gaat een basisinkomen arrmoede tegen en daarmee ook alle institutionele regelingen om de scherpe kantjes van armoede weg te halen. Ten vierde kan een basisinkomen leiden tot een herwaardering van ander werk: zorg voor de kinderen, mantelzorg.

"Basic income can thus be viewed as mechanism to transfer part of the social surplus from the capitalist market sector to the social economy, from capital accumulation to what might be termed social accumulation and cooperative accumulation – the accumulation of the capacity of society for self-organization of needs-oriented economic activity and cooperatively-based market activity."(220)

Skeptici kaarten twee problemen aan: als niemand meer zou willen werken of alleen specifiek werk zou willen doen als mantelzorg, dan zou heel het systeem kunnen instorten. Ook is kapitaalvlucht resp. desinvestering denkbaar, omdat de eigenaren van productiemiddelen geen zin hebben in de sterkere onderhandelingspositie van de werkers. Een oplossing voor dat laatste zou zijn om een vorm van sociaal kapitalisme op te zetten waarin allerlei instanties (bv. de vakbeweging) fondsen opzetten van waaruit ze kunnen investeren in een sociale economie. Maar er zijn ook andere constructies denkbaar.

"The oldest vision for an emancipatory alternative to capitalism is the worker-owned firm. Capitalism began by dispossessing workers of their means of production and then employing them as wage-laborers in capitalist firms. The most straightforward undoing of that dispossession is its reversal through worker-owned firms."(234)

Maar ook daarbij is een probleem denkbaar:

"Once a cooperative increases in size, complexity and, above all, worker-heterogeneity, democratic decision-making simply becomes too cumbersome and conflictual to allow for effective business practices. In short, the reason cooperatives are a marginal part of a capitalist economy is because they are less efficient than capitalist firms.
Defenders of cooperatives counter that this marginalization of cooperatives in contemporary capitalism reflects the lack of a supportive social and economic infrastructure for cooperative activity in capitalist economies, particularly the deep imperfections in credit markets which make it difficult for cooperatives to acquire adequate capitalization. Cooperatives characteristically face significant credit constraints because worker-owners lack the collateral of established capitalist firms and are thus seen as higher risk by banks. It may be true that in certain respects the governance structures of a democratically run firms are more cumbersome than that of hierarchical, bureaucratically organized capitalist firms, but it is also the case that there are other ways in which cooperatives are potentially more efficient and productive than capitalist firms: the collaborative processes within a cooperative can enhance its problem-solving capacities; the commitment of its worker-owners to the success of the enterprise can increase their willingness to work diligently and productively; the closer alignment of interests of workers and managers can reduce the “transaction costs” of monitoring work effort."(239)

Hierna volgen een (kritische) bespreking van de coöperaties in de Baskische stad Mondragón, en van twee modellen die een totaal alternatief moeten bieden voor het kapitalistische systeem - maktsocialisme.

"Market socialism, as envisioned by John Roemer, retains most of the features of a market economy but attempts to remove its distinctively capitalist character by blocking the private accumulation of capital and thus the private exercise of economic power. The idea, then, is that a market system without capitalist class relations would advance the egalitarian side of democratic egalitarianism by distributing wealth in a sustainably egalitarian manner and would also advance the democratic side by largely neutralizing the possibility of economic power undermining the democratic control of state power.
Michael Albert proposes a much more radical break with capitalism by completely eliminating both private ownership and market relations. The problem, of course, is how to do this without shifting power over economic activities to the state. Albert’s proposal - 'participatory economics', or 'parecon' for short - is to reorganize economic institutions through a complex array of participatory councils with the power to make all decisions concerning the allocation and use of society’s productive resources."(252-253)

"As a statement of the moral vision for an alternative to capitalism, Albert’s five principles of institutional design have much in common with the arguments of this book. While he uses a somewhat different language for discussing these issues, the deeply egalitarian and democratic values that animate the design principles of parecon are close to the normative principles underlying the analysis of this book:
Social ownership is similar to the way I framed the problem of social ownership as a contrast to both state and private ownership in the concept of socialism.
Democratic self-management is closely connected to the concept of political justice as equal access to the necessary means to control the conditions of one’s life.
Job complexes are a useful way of deepening the radical egalitarian principle of social justice as equal access to the necessary means to live a flourishing life, since interesting and meaningful work is an important condition for flourishing.
Remuneration to effort, when combined with the additional norm of remuneration for needs, is very close to the principle of equal access to the material means to live a flourishing life.
Democratic participatory planning as an ideal is a further expression of democracy as equal access to participation in decisions that influence ones life."(259-260)

Alleen is Wright het het niet zo eens met Albert's radicale weigering om markten te accepteren.

"Albert’s uncompromisingly extreme position against markets in anchored in two propositions. The first is the claim that ills associated with capitalism come as much from the fact that capitalism is a type of market economy as from the distinctive class relations of capitalism. It is for this reason that Albert believes that any form of market socialism, even if it completely eliminated capitalist ownership, would be at most a very modest improvement over capitalism ..."(261)

"I do not, however, think there are good grounds for this absolutist rejection of markets. Even if markets are corrosive of egalitarian and democratic values it does not follow that it is impossible to impose upon markets forms of social and political regulation that would largely neutralize these corrosive effects. Albert insists that we have unequivocal empirical evidence that markets as such generate all of these negative effects, but in fact all that we have unequivocal empirical evidence for is that markets combined with capitalist class relations generate these effects; we don’t know what the effects of markets combined with other forms of economic organization would be. "(262-263)

(271) III - Transformation

(273) - 8 - Elements of a theory of transformation

"Even if one accepts the vision of social empowerment we have been exploring as both desirable and viable, the question remains: how could this possibly be achievable? A skeptic might argue thus: If indeed these institutional arrangements constitute central components of a viable movement in the direction of radical democratic egalitarian emancipatory ideals, then the creation of these institutions would be massively opposed by elites whose interests would be threatened by such changes. And so long as capitalism remains the dominant component in the economic structure, those elites would have sufficient power to block or subvert any serious movement along the pathways of social empowerment.
This, then, is the fundamental problem for a theory of transformation: in order to advance democratic egalitarian emancipatory ideals it is necessary to radically extend and deepen the weight of social empowerment within economic structures in capitalist societies, but any significant movement in this direction will be a threat to the interests of powerful actors who benefit most from capitalist structures and who can use their power to oppose such movements. How, then, can significant movement on the pathways of social empowerment be accomplished? To answer this question we need a theory of emancipatory social transformation."(273)

En die probeert Wright hier verder uit te werken via vier componenten: sociale reproductie, de gaten in en de tegenstellingen binnen die reproductiemechanismen die veranderingen mogelijk maken, ontwikkelingen van niet bewust nagestreefde sociale verandering, en transformatieve strategieën gericht op verandering.

'Social reproducton'

"The term 'social reproduction' is used in a variety of distinct ways in social theory. Sometimes it refers to the problem of intergenerational reproduction of social status: social reproduction is primarily about the ways in which parents transmit status to their children, through socialization, education, wealth transfers, and so on. (...)
But more characteristically theories of social reproduction involve complex accounts of how people's subjectivities and mundane practices are formed in such a way as to help stabilize social systems."(274)

Dat kan op een passieve en een actieve manier gestalte krijgen.

"The basic (implicit) proposition of theories of social reproduction within most currents of emancipatory social theory is this: Social structures and institutions that systematically impose harms on people require vigorous mechanisms of active social reproduction in order to be sustained over time. Oppression and exploitation are not sustained simply through some process of social inertia rooted only in the mechanisms of passive reproduction; they require active mechanisms of social reproduction in order to be sustained."(276)

"What, then, are the central ingredients for a theory of social reproduction? Four clusters of mechanisms through which institutions of various sorts affect the actions of people, individually and collectively, are especially important: coercion, institutional rules, ideology, and material interests. These constitute mechanisms of capitalist social reproduction to the extent that they, first, obstruct individual and collective actions which would be threatening to capitalist structures of power and privilege, and second, channel actions in such a way that they positively contribute to the stability of those social structures, particularly through the ways in which the actions contribute to passive reproduction. The core problem of a theory of reproduction of capitalism is to understand the ways in which the institutions of capitalist society accomplish this.
Coercion, rules, ideology, and material interests interact in a variety of ways, some more effective than others in creating a system of coherent social reproduction. Two configurations are especially important, which I will refer to as despotism and hegemony. In the former coercion and rules are the central mechanisms of social control; ideology and material interests mainly function to reinforce coercion and rules. In the latter, ideology and material interests play a much more central role in social reproduction. In what follows we will first look briefly at each of the clusters of mechanisms and then examine the contrast between the configurations of despotism and hegemony."(278-279)

'Limits, gaps, and contradicitions

"There are currents in social theory which come close to this view. Certain interpretations of the work of Foucault, for example, see domination as penetrating so deeply into the fabric of everyday life that there is virtually no room for transformative resistance. Some accounts of ideology and culture make the hold of dominant ideologies and cultural forms seem so powerful that it is hard to see how meaningful challenge can occur. And some accounts of the repressive capacity of the state make it seem that even if people were somehow to break out of the straightjacket of the hegemonic ideology, they would never be able to organize collective actions capable of seriously threatening dominant classes and elites without triggering levels of repression that would render such challenges futile.
There are reasons to be skeptical of this radical pessimism. One of the central tasks of emancipatory social science is to try to understand the contradictions, limits and gaps in systems of reproduction which open up spaces for transformative strategies. There is, of course, no a priori guarantee in any time and place that those spaces are large enough to allow for significant movement in the direction of fundamental transformations of structures of domination, oppression, and exploitation. But even when the spaces are limited, they can allow for transformations that matter."(290)

Wright bespreekt vier thema's: de complexiteit van het systeem is zo groot dat er inconsistenties en onvoorspelbare ontwikkelingen optreden; ook sociale reproductie is mensenwerk en mensen maken fouten; omstandigheden kunnen veranderen waardoor onderdrukkende strategieën ineens minder goed of niet meer werken.

'Unintended social change'

"The problem is this: any plausible strategy for the fundamental emancipatory transformation of existing institutions of power, inequality and privilege, especially in developed capitalist societies, has to have a fairly long time horizon. There is simply no short-term strategy that could plausibly work. If we believed that the basic social structural parameters within which we formed our strategies would remain constant, then perhaps we could avoid worrying too much about how conditions change over time. But since this is not the case, in order to have a coherent long-term strategy we need at least a rough understanding of the general trajectory of unintended, unplanned social changes into the future. This turns out to be a daunting theoretical task."(300-301)

De klassiek-marxistische theorie van het historisch materialisme bevat voorspellingen die deels zijn uitgekomen, maar deels ook niet blijken te kloppen.

"Many of the predictions of historical materialism have in fact been born out by the actual history of capitalism. In particular, capitalism has become a global system of capital accumulation; corporations have grown in both absolute and relative size; and capitalist commodification penetrates ever more pervasively into social life. But other predictions do not seem adequate. Capitalism does not seem to be faced with a systematic tendency towards intensification of crisis; the class structure has not become simplified into a more polarized structure and the working class has not become ever more homogeneous; and the economic mechanisms of social reproduction that tie the immediate material interests of most people to capitalism do not seem to have been dramatically weakened. Historical materialism (understood as the theory of capitalism’s future), therefore, does not seem to be an adequate theory of the trajectory of unintended social change on which to ground the problem of strategies for emancipatory transformation."(301-302)

'Strategies of tranformation'

"In the next three chapters we will focus on three basic logics of transformation through which new institutions of social empowerment can potentially be built: ruptural, interstitial, and symbiotic. These logics of transformation differ both in terms of their visions of the trajectory of systemic transformation and in their understanding of the nature of the strategies needed to move along that trajectory. These differences are summarized in an idealized way in Figure 8.1."(303)

"These three visions correspond broadly to revolutionary socialist, anarchist and social democratic traditions of anticapitalism."(305)

(308) Ruptural transformation

"The question I want to address in this chapter is this: under what conditions is it plausible to imagine that there could be broad popular support for a ruptural strategy against capitalism in advanced capitalist countries? "(309)

Wright werkt dit uit en komt tot de conclusie dat dergelijke revoluties nooit samen kunnen gaan met democratische condities.

(321) 10 - Interstitial transformation

"The adjective 'interstitial' is used in social theory to describe various kinds of processes that occur in the spaces and cracks within some dominant social structure of power."(322)

"This vision of interstitial transformation has a long and venerable place in anti-capitalist thinking, going back to the anarchist tradition in the 19th century and continuing in various anarchist and 'autonomist' currents to the present."(324)

"There are two principle ways that interstitial strategies within capitalism potentially point the way beyond capitalism: first, by altering the conditions for eventual rupture, and second, by gradually expanding their effective scope and depth of operation so that capitalist constraints cease to impose binding limits. I will refer to these as the revolutionary anarchist and evolutionary anarchist strategic visions, not because only anarchists hold these views, but because the broad idea of not using the state as an instrument of social emancipation is so closely linked to the tradition."(328)

(337) 11 - Symbiotic transformation

"Forms of social empowerment are likely to be much more durable and to become more deeply institutionalized, and thus harder to reverse, when, in one way or another, they also serve some important interests of dominant groups, and solve real problems faced by the system as a whole."(337)

Een compromis tussen klassen is daartoe noodzakelijk. Maar is zoiets zelfs maar denkbaar?

"The central idea of symbiotic transformation is that the possibilities for stable, positive class compromise generally hinge on the relationship between the associational power of the working class and the material interests of capitalists. The conventional wisdom among both neoclassical economists and traditional Marxists is that in general there is an inverse relationship between these two variables: increases in the power of workers adversely affect the interests of capitalists (see Figure 11.1). The rationale for this view is straightforward for Marxist scholars: since the profits of capitalists are closely tied to the exploitation of workers, the material interests of workers and capitalists are inherently antagonistic. Anything which strengthens the capacity of workers to struggle for and realize their interests, therefore, negatively affects the interests of capitalists. The conventional argument by neoclassical economists is somewhat less straightforward, for they deny that in a competitive equilibrium workers are exploited by capitalists. Nevertheless, working class associational power is seen as interfering with the efficient operation of labor markets by making wages harder to adjust downward when needed and by making it harder for employers to fire workers."(338-339)

Na een uitvoerige analyse van de mogelijkheden geeft Wright de volgende conclusie:

"It is one thing to say that symbiotic strategies can potentially enlarge the space for social empowerment and create relatively stable forms of positive collaboration. But why should we believe that this also has the potential of cumulatively transforming the system as a whole? Why is a symbiotic strategy any more plausible than ruptural strategies or interstitial strategies as a strategy not simply for improvement of life within capitalism but for the transcendence of capitalism? After all, the historically most impressive examples of symbiotic strategies -- the first resulting in extending the franchise to the working class and the second in empowering the labor movement as a central player in the expansive welfare state -- both contributed to consolidating very robust forms of capitalism. As was the case for ruptural strategies and for interstitial strategies, therefore, it is difficult to make an abstract case that symbiotic strategies provide a basis for social transformation beyond capitalism."(364)

(366) Conclusion - Making utopias real

"Capitalism will survive, for the foreseeable future anyway. The disruptions following the economic crisis which began in 2008 may cause great suffering to many people, and the disastrous effects of the mania for deregulating markets may reveal the irrationalities of capitalism, but suffering and irrationality are never enough to generate fundamental social transformations. As in previous periods of financial collapse in the aftermath of speculative frenzies, so long as a viable alternative to capitalism is not actively on the historical agenda - and with broad popular support linked to a political movement able to translate that support into political power - capitalism will remain the dominant structure of economic organization.
This book has tried to contribute to the task of placing alternatives on the historical agenda. This has involved clarifying the diagnosis and critique of capitalism as an economic structure, elaborating a conceptual framework for thinking about emancipatory alternatives, and specifying the central elements of a theory of social transformation."(366)

Volgt nog een samenvatting van de belangrijkste punten die in de analyse in dit boek naar voren zijn gekomen.

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