avatar
Gloves Off


I guess I am all out of patience and running dry on civility as well.


Is it unreasonable to want to know where the left stands regarding capitalism and “other worlds”? Are various movements, institutions, media outlets, and constituencies anti-capitalist, or are they only eager that we get the best brand of capitalism imaginable?

“Another world is possible” means different things to different people, ranging from “we want a redistribution of income and power within existing defining economic structures” to “we want completely different defining economic structures.”

Okay, that’s fair enough. But why keep where one stands in this range a secret, or only a vague intimation?

For those who don’t seek a systematic alternative to capitalism, shouldn’t they say that that’s their view and indicate why? Shouldn’t they call themselves social democrats with pride and passion, and explain what is wrong with those of us who instead seek revolution?

And for those of us who do reject social democracy as insufficient and who do want another economy as part of another world – shouldn’t we say so and explain why that is our view? Shouldn’t we call ourselves revolutionaries and either indicate what other economy we want, or, if we are unsettled about that, at least indicate our views on various possibilities and be part of an on-going discussion seeking to arrive at some new commitments?

These responsibilities seem to me so utterly obvious–for reasons of integrity, for reasons of strategy and morale, for reasons of democracy and participation, and particularly for reasons of motivation–that I grow weary of repeating the point every few weeks, over and over, to a silent left. There is no rebuttal. There is no response at all, in fact. If there was a rebuttal, convincing or not, perhaps I would shut up about it on the grounds that at least the point had been heard. But no, there is virtually nothing. (And I should add that I think this need to clarify what we are for holds for other parts of social life as well as for the economy, such as culture, polity, and kinship, but the economy is our subject here.)

In the U.S., where I am from, is the Nation Magazine anti-capitalist? How about the Progressive, ITT, or Mother Jones, among others? If they are anti-capitalist, what do they advocate instead? If they aren’t anti-capitalist, then shouldn’t they say they aren’t? Here is a selection of media institutions culled from the links on ZNet’s Alternative Media pages. Can you say, with confidence, whether each of these that you are familiar with is anti-capitalist or not, and why – and, in particular, if it is anti-capitalist, then what it favors in place of capitalism? If you feel that one or another of these is a mixed bag, having diverse writers, that’s fine. Can you answer the same questions regarding the writers at these periodicals, in that case?

Adbusters / Against the Current / Briarpatch (Canada) / Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars / Canadian Dimension / City Limits / CounterPunch / Democracy and Nature / Die Tageszeitung (Berlin) / Dissent / Dollars & Sense Magazine / Eat the State! (Seattle) / Extra / FAIR / Faklen / The Torch / In These Times / India Left Newspaper Online / La Monde Diplomatique (Paris) / La Raza (Chicago) / Labor Notes / Left Business Observer / Monthly Review / Mother Jones / Multinational Monitor / New Internationalist / New Left Review / New Politics / off our backs / Race Traitor Home Page / Rachel’s Weekly / Radical History Review / Ragged Edge
Rebelión (Spain) / Red Pepper / Rethinking Schools / Synthesis/Regeneration / Texas Observer / The Boston Review / The Nation / The New Internationalist (Oxford) / The New Observer (Japan) / The Progressive / The Radical Teacher / The Realist (Paul Krassner) / Tikkun / Utne Reader / Women’s Review of Books

Hmmmmm . I am letting my friends off the hook too easily. Consider prominent left writers and activists. Doesn’t the same question aptly and appropriately apply to them? Shouldn’t we know if our preferred writers and activists are anti-capitalist, and, if they are, what they want instead? Okay, hitting closer to home this time, here is a list of frequent Z/ZNet writers – not Nation, not progressive, not ITT, not Mother Jones – but Z/ZNet. Do you know with confidence where they stand about economics, or for that matter other dimensions of society?

Ezequiel Adamovsky / Katharine Ainger / Tariq Ali / Anthony Arnove / Jessica Azulay / David Bacon / Ben Bagdikian / Normand Baillargeon / David Barsamian / Frances M. Beal / Walden Bello / Phylis Bennis / Chip Berlet / Elaine Bernard / Bill Blum / Peter Bohmer / Patrick Bond / Jeremy Brecher / Michael Bronski / Dennis Brutus / Scott Burchill / Paul Burrows / Leslie Cagan / Doyle Canning / Noam Chomsky / Aziz Choudry / Ward Churchill / David Cromwell / Brian Dominick / Doug Dowd / Richard Du Boff / Radha D’Souza / Dave Edwards / Barbara Ehrenreich / Yves Engler / John Feffer / Bill Fletcher / Robert Fisk / Laura Flanders / Eduardo Galeano / Barbara Garson / Charles Glass / Ted Glick / Sean Gonsalves / Amy Goodman / Andrej Grubacic / Robin Hahnel / Serge Halimi / Betsy Hartmann / Sean Healy / John Hepburn / Doug Henwood / Edward Herman / Jim Hightower / Pervez Hoodbhoy / Dahr Jamail / Robert Jensen / Diana Johnstone / Boris Kagarlitsky / Naomi Klein / Saul Landau / Joanne Landy / Clarence Lusane / Rahul Mahajan / Manning Marable / Elizabeth Martinez / Robert / McChesney / Sam Mchombo / Russell Mokhiber / George Monbiot / Hector Mondragon / Leila Khaled Mouammar / Andrea Noll / Adele Oliveri / Greg Palast / C.P. Pandya / Geov Parrish / Cynthia Peters / David Peterson / Jim Petras / John Pilger / Justin Podur / Pablo Pozzi / Vijay Prashad / Milan Rai / Margaret Randall / Nikos Raptis / Michael Ratner / Judy Rebick / Tanya Reinhart / Carola Reintjes / Sheila Rowbotham / Don Rojas / Arundhati Roy / Justin Ruben / Marta Russell / Lydia Sargent / Danny Schechter / Kim Scipes / Molly Secours / Sonia Shah / Stephen Shalom / Vandana Shiva / Holly Sklar / Norman Solomon / Starhawk / Mark Steel / Paul Street / Noy Thrupkaew / Brian Tokar / Maria Tomchick / Marie Trigona / America Vera-Zavala / Sarwat Viquar / Andre Vltchek / Hilary Wainwright / Mark Weisbrot / Robert Weissman / Tim Wise /
Mickey Z / Howard Zinn

Doesn’t it also make sense that we ought to know where political movements and constituencies and organizations stand on this central matter? Certainly for the broad ones, but also for more narrow focused ones – say, media activists? Do various media organizations and pressure groups think the solution is a nicer CBS, NYT, or BBC, or whatever? Or do they think that these corporations can and should be forced to do somewhat better by a vigorous opposition, but ultimately that they need to be replaced by an alternative (different) media as part of another world? Shouldn’t they make clear where they stand, one way or the other? And doesn’t the same hold for groups that focus on ecology, education, health care, or what have you? Are we for ameliorating current ills by winning a bit better outcomes as the total of our aspirations? Or are we eager to win those somewhat better outcomes but as part of a process leading to a whole new social structure?

Bringing this discussion all the way back to me — it is one year, almost exactly, since Parecon: Life After Capitalism came out in cloth. It is over ten years since the participatory economic vision was made visibly public. Now maybe parecon isn’t even a plausible part of the answer, not even a worthy topic for discussion, for anti-capitalists, but how would anyone who reads the Nation, the Progressive, ITT, or Mother Jones know that? I know why the NYT Sunday Book Review and Oprah Winfrey’s handlers don’t rush to discuss alternative economic vision of any sort in their venues, much less parecon with its commitment to complete classlessness. But why is it that left periodicals don’t see evaluating such a vision as a task they ought to help contribute to? Why do they routinely have nothing to say about this or any other economic vision on their own initiative, and then when a real and coherent model exists, and they even receive submitted reviews, why do they ignore it?

Which makes more political sense: (1) The Nation, Progessive, ITT, and Mother Jones, among others, rejecting reviews of parecon so as to maintain a virtually complete and utter silence about it, on the one hand, as they have for over a decade now – or (2) The Nation, Progressive, ITT, and Mother Jones, among others, regularly undertaking reviews, explorations, debates, and exchanges in their pages about economic vision, including parecon, as part of the responsibility of providing useful communications for attaining a better world?

I am not saying these periodicals, among others, should devote every page of every issue to economic or other social vision. I am wondering why they have no inclination to spontaneously devote even the tiniest space to such matters, nor even to accept submissions tendered freelance, if they don’t want to exercise themselves about getting content.

I, for one, am sick of it. And I honestly think I would be, perhaps even more so, even if I weren’t the author and/or co-author of so many works the exclusionary approach leaves high and dry. Does anyone else feel that way, I wonder?

Leave a comment