First, Seasons Greetings and Happy Holidays from ZNet!
Second, though submissions are a bit slower this time each year, there is plenty of 
new material on ZNet, so please visit when you have the time -- 
There is one large scale innovation in particular, we wanted to bring to your 
attention. Michael Albert of Z and Alex Clallinicos of the British SWP have engaged in 
an online debate which is now up in its entirety at 
They each have an opening statement, that appear below to close out this communique.
Under Callinicos's opening statement, Albert replies with queries and comments, 
Callinicos rejoins, Albert replies a second time, Callincos rejoins again, and Albert 
replies, and then Callinicos offers a final Statement. 
And the same pattern occurs, with the roles reversed, under Albert's opening 
statement. Callinicos replies with queries and comments, Albert rejoins, Callinicos 
replies, Albert rejoins, Callinicos replies again, and Albert has a concluding 
So, all told, there are eight statements or comments by each participant so that 
though there are word limits throughout to avoid going on excessively, the exchange 
does allow for at good degree of depth and range. 

Here then are the opening statements...

Participatory Society and The Trajectory of Change 
Opening Statement By Michael Albert

Assuming we agree that a society built on authoritarianism, patriarchy, racism, and 
capitalist exploitation is abysmal, what new social systems do we want and how do we 
expect to attain them?

People in civilization inevitably combine efforts to accomplish social functions. We 
establish institutions which delimit what society can and will provide us. Among the 
functions people's institutions fulfill are culturally establishing identity and ways 
of communicating and celebrating, socially procreating and nurturing the next 
generation, politically adjudicating disputes and arriving at shared norms and 
projects, and economically producing, consuming, and allocating goods and services. 

The central institutions in the derivative cultural, kinship, political, and economic 
spheres of social life centrally determine our human condition by providing role slots 
we must choose among (or rebel against) in our life pursuits. These roles (including 
cultural, familial, political, workplace and consumer) in turn affect what we do, what 
we have, and who we are. By these means institutions have so far in history divided us 
into (or determined the nature of) groups that impose on us opposed interests and 
socially constructed self perceptions, including dividing us into different cultural 
communities, races, and religions; into men and women, gay and straight, elderly and 
young; into members of different political bureaucracies and parties; and into members 
of different classes. 

The vision task is to describe values we hold dear and then the central institutions 
for these spheres of social life that can accomplish their prescribed functions while 
simultaneously furthering those values. 

The strategic task is to win improved conditions for the worst off constituencies of 
society in a trajectory of non reformist reforms that raises consciousness, enlarges 
commitment, and builds and strengthens organization, leading in time to movements able 
to establish wholly new institutions.

My work mostly refers to economic vision, so let me start there as a basis for later 
addressing vision more broadly and finally moving on to some issues of strategy. 

All social institutions, and certainly the economy, impact the way people interact 
with one another. The relevant value that I and virtually all leftists aspire to is 
solidarity. We feel that for institutions to cause people to care about and mutually 
benefit rather than trample one another, is, other things equal, very desirable.

Institutions also impact the range of options actors have to choose among and enjoy. 
The left value for that is diversity which we favor both to pick among more choices, 
and also to enjoy vicariously what others do that we don't as well as to avoid putting 
all our eggs in one basket. 

These first two values, solidarity and diversity, are uncontroversial, not only on the 
left, but also more generally. Indeed, only the pathological  would say that greater 
anti-sociality and uniformity, all other things equal, are preferable to greater 
solidarity and diversity.

A third way that institutions impact us is by affecting the conditions we endure or 
enjoy in our lives, which include what we receive from society both in things and in 
settings. For the economy, this is about income as well as circumstances in our 
economic activity. The value most people on the left aspire to is equity, but not 
everyone agrees on what this means. Some say that people should get income for the 
property they own or their bargaining power, but no serious leftists that I know of 
say that, so we can simply set that view aside. Many people, however, including on the 
left, say that we should be remunerated for the output we contribute to the overall 
economic product. We should get back income equivalent to the value we produce. If you 
produce more output, you get more. If you produce less, then you get less. 

I reject this option, however, because it rewards people for genetic endowment, better 
tools, better workmates, and luck in what they produce, among other variables, none of 
which seem to me morally warranted or economically desirable. In place of remunerating 
output I favor rewarding effort and sacrifice only. We should get more income if we 
work longer or harder, or if we work at worse conditions so that our sacrifice is 
greater. If we had doctors and trash collectors in our new society (though, as we 
shall soon see, I don't believe we should), then the latter would earn more per hour 
due to their greater effort and the lesser fulfillment value, or, put otherwise, the 
greater sacrifice that is involved in their labor.

A fourth impact of institutions, including the economy, is on how much decision making 
say over outcomes people have. I favor what I call self management. It seems to me 
that each of us should have a say in decisions proportionate to the relative impact 
those decisions have on us. There is no moral warrant for anyone who isn't mentally 
incapacitated to have either less or more than that level of influence. We shouldn't 
have rule by one individual alone, or one-person-one-vote fifty percent plus one 
rules, or two-thirds is needed, or consensus, or any other decision pattern all the 
time, though each has its place. The point is, these are tactics for attaining the 
real goal, which is self management. We choose among these decision-making approaches 
depending on the attributes of the situation.

It is right that I should decide what color socks I wear with Stalinesque authority, 
and likewise, that I should decide all by myself whose picture to put on my workspace 
wall. But when decisions impact people more widely, decision making power is 
appropriately (which is to say proportionately) distributed. If I want to listen to 
music at work, now those who will hear it should have a say. If I want to consume 
something, or produce something, now those who are affected, other producers and 
consumers and possible recipients of by-products, all should have a say as well, one 
that is proportionate to the degree they are affected.

These four values - solidarity, diversity, equity, and self management - are 
obliterated by capitalist ownership, corporate divisions of labor, profit centered 
schemes of remuneration, and market allocation. Thus, if we take the values seriously, 
we are economic revolutionaries because to fulfill our values we must seek new 
institutions that further rather than subvert our preferred values. 

When I try to conceive such new institutions for the economy I come up with what I 
call participatory economics, or parecon. How do we summarize it? 

First, in any parecon we have worker and consumer councils. We have said that we are 
going to have self management of economic decisions and, if that is the case, then 
economic actors will of course need a place to express their preferences - and even to 
develop them - so they can proportionately influence outcomes. This occurs in the 
councils, which vary in size from individuals, living units, and neighborhoods, to 
regions and countries, and from work teams, divisions, and workplaces, to industries 
and whole economies. Within the workers and consumers councils communication and 
decision making occurs by different means in different cases and contexts, but the 
overriding principle is always that the means chosen should apportion decision making 
say to actors proportionate to the impact of outcomes on those actors.

Second, in a parecon we have balanced job complexes to replace the corporate division 
of labor that we now endure. In any economy, we take all the tasks in a workplace and 
combine some into one job, some into another, and so on. The change from capitalism to 
a participatory economy is that in a parecon we choose a mix of tasks for each job 
such that every job has an empowerment effect and a quality of life effect like every 
other job - a balanced job complex. 

You do a job and so do I. We don't do the same things, most likely. People have 
different jobs in different workplaces and in each workplace, both to get things done 
sensibly and because we have different tastes, talents, and preferences. But the mix 
of tasks that you do composing your job has the same overall quality of life and 
empowerment "rating" as the mix of tasks I do composing my job. There is no longer a 
class of actors who monopolize empowering conditions and circumstances - I call these 
the coordinator class - while another class of actors (workers) does only rote, 
tedious, or otherwise unempowering work. 

There is still surgery, but those who do it do other balancing tasks as well - perhaps 
cleaning bedpans. There is still answering phones and working in mines, but those who 
do it do other tasks as well, either in their main workplace or elsewhere - with the 
total that everyone does balancing out regarding empowerment and quality of life 

In other words, parecon not only eliminates capitalists as a class (by eliminating 
private ownership of productive property), it also eliminates coordinators as a class 
(by eliminating monopolization of empowering circumstances). In a parecon we are all 
workers with balanced job complexes - there is one class, only.

Third, in a parecon we remunerate workers for effort and sacrifice only. Those who 
can't work of course receive their income by right, an innovation that even social 
democracy and variants of capitalism respect. But interestingly, parecon, by virtue of 
having balanced job complexes, makes remuneration conceptually trivial. We work at 
jobs with comparable quality of life implications, and thus comparable overall 
sacrifice. Therefore we earn more or less only by virtue of working longer or working 
less long, or of working harder or working less hard. Decisions, as in every economic 
case, rest with the councils.

Fourth, and certainly most complex, we need a new allocation system. The one that I 
advocate as part of parecon is called participatory planning. I reject markets because 
they promote anti-sociality, they reduce variety, they remunerate power or at best 
output (and of course property in capitalist variants), and they skew power to the 
ruling class (which is capitalists in one variant and the coordinator class in market 
socialism). I reject central planning also, because it is authoritarian and again 
skews power to the ruling coordinator class. Indeed, the central point is that we want 
classlessness but these existing allocation options, like the corporate division of 
labor that goes with them, produce class division and class rule. Thus arises the need 
for a different approach.

Participatory planning uses a cooperative negotiation process to arrive at inputs and 
outputs for each workplace and at consumption items for each individual and also for 
each consumer council. Workers and consumers councils present their preferences. These 
are communicated and also summarized in diverse ways. Councils then make new proposals 
for inputs and outputs. This occurs through a number of rounds or iterations 
facilitated by various techniques and structures - mostly what are called facilitation 
boards. Relative valuations account for full social costs and benefits, transcending 
market incapacity to address goods with impact beyond the buyer and seller. Budgets 
are met, remuneration is equitable, outcomes are arrived at to directly pursue human 
well being and development. 

But there is no center and periphery, and there is no top and bottom. The incredible 
claim for participatory planning is not only that within workplace units there is self 
management, but that there also is self management for the economy as a whole. 

Yes, every economic choice affects everyone. At the very least when one thing is done, 
other things that I might prefer are not done and so it impacts me. More emphatically, 
I might have to spend my time working on the thing decided, or I might directly 
consume it, or I might be impacted by its by products. Yet the claim is that not only 
is economics intrinsically entwined, which is one of the few insights of mainstream 
economics that is accurate and highly instructive, but participatory planning 
apportions influence appropriately, nonetheless. 

Of course the above is barely a description of parecon, much less a supportive 
argument on its behalf and rebuttal of counter fears and claims. Still, the few 
paragraphs reveal, I hope, the idea and essence of parecon and also of what I take to 
be the vision issue. 

We don't need, nor does it make any sense to think we could generate a future 
blueprint. That would transcend our knowledge and violate participation in the 
creative tasks of the future. And further, in a desirable future there will often be 
many ways of proceeding even toward the same basic goals. But, the future will not be 
anything goes. In every sphere there will be some key defining shared structures, 
perhaps more than one set but likely not many more, within which all this diversity 
holds sway. Most relevant, a future economy will not have two different logics of 
allocation, remuneration, division of labor. It won't both have classes and class rule 
and not have classes. It won't have authoritarian structures of political adjudication 
and decision making and also participatory ones. It is the defining structures that we 
need to compellingly envision, at least in their broad properties, to have hope, to 
gain insight into the present by contrast, and to be able to discern what will (and 
won't) strategically get us where we wish to go. 

For the economy I desire classlessness and advocate parecon and in contrast to Marxist 
Leninists and for that matter most Marxists as well, I reject what has been called 
market socialism and centrally planned socialism as each being ruled by a class of 
about 20 percent of the populace that currently resides between labor and capital, but 
which rises in what is called socialism to alone monopolize empowering labor and 
thereby dominate decisions and remunerate itself accordingly high. 

Regarding other spheres of life -- culture, kinship, and polity -- I am vague about 
vision. I suspect we need new approaches to rearing the new generation if we are to 
overcome sexism. I am sure we need ways for cultural communities to feel secure but 
mutually respectful if we are to transcend racism and religious intolerance. I am 
confident we need new institutions of political decision making if we are to attain 
self management in that sphere and not only the economy. I know I would like new 
institutions in these other spheres of society to enhance solidarity among actors, to 
broaden our range of options, to distribute costs and benefits in all things 
equitably, and to provide self managing decision making influence. This certainly 
doesn't mean we should have cultural homogenization ot no culture. It doesn't mean we 
should have patriarchy or no gender. It doesn't mean we should have authoritarianism 
via one party rule or even nominal democracy, but nor does it mean we should have no 
political institutions. As to what it does require in each sphere - that is the vision 
problem for these other spheres of life. 

What about strategy? How do we win a better world?

We struggle against existing oppressive institutions and repressive consciousnesses 
and against those who would battle to preserve either. We do it partly by fighting for 
improvements in people's lives now in ways that leave us with new footholds, enlarged 
commitment, empowered organization, and escalated inclination to fight for still more 
- all the way to a new society. We also create new institutions of our own embodying 
the values and structures of what we seek for a new society, partly to learn more 
about that sought future, partly as a model to inspire hope and commitment, and partly 
for the direct benefits that can accrue. 

Since I see not only economics but also race and culture, kinship and gender and 
sexual relations, and political structures as each demarcating people into groups that 
can come to fight for or against change - I see a need for our movements to be 
multi-issue and multiply empowering and inspiring in order to be congenial to people 
moved by race, gender, sex, political power, or class issues. 

Advocating parecon has important strategic implications. We should seek equitable 
remuneration in our organizations and in society. We should seek balanced job 
complexes, council self management, and participatory decision making in our 
organizations and in society. We should highlight the possibility of monopolization of 
information, skills, or positions that empower - and protect against impediments to 
our movements taking us where we wish to end up. 

Bearing on the discussion about to ensue, all this leads me to reject a good part of 
the core of Marxism Leninism and its many variants.

I reject elevating economics to domineering conceptual or programmatic importance. I 
think race/culture, gender/kinship, and political affiliation/polity can be and in 
modern societies generally are equally central not only to how we live but to 
prospects for change - and likewise for the conceptually somewhat different 
relationship to the natural environment and between societies internationally. I think 
it is not only necessary to say and feel that sexism, racism, and authoritarianism are 
centrally important - but to have concepts and visions regarding these that 
continually propel us into taking that stance even as conflict heightens and personal 
tendencies push us in other directions.

I reject understanding the economy with an emphasis that under-accounts for the human 
and social products work. But mostly, I reject trying to comprehend modern economies 
emphasizing only two classes and without reference to the comparably important 
coordinator class. I reject as well what is called market socialism and centrally 
planned socialism - and virtually every serious presentation of socialism that I am 
aware of, where by serious I mean including specification of allocation - as being, in 
fact, coordinator ruled economies. I reject democratic centralism, as well, as a form 
of organization that tends to reproduce coordinator economic dominance as well as 
political authoritarianism. Indeed, while I think nearly all rank and file advocates 
of Marxist-conceived socialism have over the years actually wanted to achieve real 
justice and liberty, I think Marxism itself and even more so Marxism Leninism, are not 
"the ideology of the working class" but, instead, the ideology of the coordinator 

This final deduction stares us in the face, it seems to me. Marxism's concepts obscure 
the existence of a third class. Leninist strategy employs organizational forms that 
play into elevating the coordinator class. The economic vision Leninism proposes and 
has repeatedly arrived at is, in fact, one that inexorably elevates the coordinator 
class to ruling status. I think Marx himself would make precisely this argument about 
what is called Marxism and certainly about Marxism Leninism were he alive today, 
consistently following the same logic and method he would take were he to assess 
modern political science or neoclassical economics finding them to be ideologies of 


The Case For Revolutionary Socialism 
Opening Statement By Alex Callinicos

It's a media cliché that the anti-globalization movement is purely anti - that it 
knows what it is against, not what it is for. In fact, to be against neo-liberalism, 
corporate globalization, and imperial war is already to stand for quite a lot. This is 
reflected in the slogan of the World Social Forum -  'Another World is Possible': in 
other words, we can live in a world that isn't ruled by the market. In France the 
movement is now known as the altermondialistes - the people who want another world. 
But what is the nature of this other world and how do we get to it? Here indeed there 
is no equivocal answer, partly because people have different visions of the 
alternative to neo-liberalism, but also because many just aren't sure or because they 
think it would be divisive to be too explicit.

This uncertainty and disparity are unavoidable in a movement as diverse as ours, and 
in lots of ways it isn't a problem. It would be foolish and undesirable to strive for 
a uniformity of view that could only be achieved by draining the life out of the 
movement or splitting it. But that doesn't mean that discussion that seeks to achieve 
greater clarity about alternatives and strategies isn't both necessary and productive. 


What do we want?
One way of getting a handle on such debate is to ask what our values are. Even if we 
disagree or are unsure about what we want to achieve, what we say and do may still 
reveal what we hold to be of value. These values in turn set the standard by which 
alternatives to neo-liberalism can then be appraised.

In my view, the movement for another world is committed to four main values - justice, 
efficiency, democracy, and sustainability. Before discussing them in any detail, let 
me emphasize that in picking out these values I am making a judgement that other 
people may want to contest (Michael Albert, for example, has a different list of 
values governing the kind of self-managing society he advocates). I am drawing 
inferences from what activists and intellectuals involved in the movement say and do, 
but I think my interpretation is a reasonable one.

1.      Justice: One of the movement's names is the global justice movement. We 
constantly - and rightly - denounce the injustice of the present world, with the vast 
inequalities that it involves. But what is justice? This is a vast subject in its own 
right, but it seems to me that the movement is committed to an egalitarian conception 
of justice. This might mean, for example, that everyone is entitled to equal access to 
the resources that they need to live the life they have reason to value.

2.      Efficiency: This may seem surprisingly technocratic a value, but consider the 
criticism that we make of neo-liberal capitalism for its wastefulness - the resources 
squandered on packaging, advertising, etc., the failure of market prices to register 
the real costs (for example, to the environment) of economic processes, and so on. The 
implication is that any alternative society should seek to make the best use of the 
resources available, where 'best' doesn't mean (as at present) 'most profitable' but 
rather reflects both all our values and the constraints imposed on us both by nature 
and by the need to live together cooperatively.

3.      Democracy: We criticize contemporary capitalism for its lack of democracy, for 
the way in which the financial markets and the multinational corporations tyrannically 
rule the lives of most people on the planet. Moreover, the ways in which we organize 
seek to reflect the democracy for which we are striving. There is much debate over 
what democracy involves - representative vs. direct democracy, consensus vs. the 
majority principle, and so on. But we are agreed on the need for a radical extension 
of the scope and content of democracy.

4.      Sustainability: One of the main motivations informing the movement is horror 
at the environmental catastrophes that the present economic system is not merely 
driving towards but is already producing. Experts on climate change are beginning to 
suggest that - to judge by, for example, last summer's heat wave in the Northern 
hemisphere - the temperature rises caused by greenhouse gas emissions are likely to be 
at the higher end of their projections, with potentially appalling consequences with 
which the planet will have to live for decades even if radical changes were to take 
place now. We need a drastic reorientation in patterns of production and consumption, 
settlement and transportation to achieve sustainable forms of development.


Beyond capitalism
Realizing these values necessitates a challenge not just to neo-liberalism, but to the 
capitalist system itself. I follow Marx in maintaining that capitalism has two 
fundamental features: 
1.    It is based on the exploitation of wage labour - that is, on depriving people of 
the resources they need to live independently and thereby giving them no acceptable 
alternative to working for a capitalist on terms that lead to their exploitation; 
2.    It is driven by a blind process of competitive accumulation: the rival firms 
that jointly control most productive resources invest in the hope of winning greater 
market share and increased profits. 
These features are more deeply entrenched than some of the things that have been at 
the focus of anti-globalization critiques - e.g. financial market speculation. The 
achievement of neo-liberalism has been to remove many of the restraints imposed by 
efforts to regulate capitalism in the mid-20th century. We now live under a relatively 
'pure' version of capitalism.
Given the nature of capitalism, it's hard to see how any version is compatible with 
the values set out above. Not merely is capitalist exploitation unjust, but the 
present system involves a kind of lottery under which individuals' life chances can be 
changed radically for the better or the worse as a result of market fluctuations 
entirely beyond their control. Capitalism is a wasteful system: as I pointed out 
above, the price system doesn't reflect real costs; economic crises involve human and 
material resources going unused on a huge scale; at the global level, billions of 
people are surplus to the system's requirements, and therefore are left to rot in the 
most abject poverty. 

Capitalism is necessarily undemocratic since economic decisions are vested in the 
hands of small groups of corporate executives who are not accountable either to their 
employees or to the wider public. Finally, the very logic of competitive accumulation 
is inconsistent with sustainable development since the system is driven forward by a 
blind process in which firms and markets allocate resources on the basis of bets on 
what will prove to be profitable with no account taken of the environmental impact of 
these choices.

It's also hard to see how any attempt to return to a more regulated version of 
capitalism can remedy these faults. Many activists and intellectuals hope at best to 
humanize capitalism. This is, for example, a powerful motivation behind the Tobin Tax 
on international financial transactions. Its originator, James Tobin, believed that 
such a tax would slow down financial speculation, thereby restoring economic power to 
the nation-state and allowing a return to the Keynesian era after the Second World 
War. Such reasoning dovetails with a feature of the anti-globalization movement in its 
early phases, when it was common to accept the idea central to mainstream discourse in 
the 1990s that globalization was weakening the power of the state. But whereas 
neo-liberal boosters welcomed this development, activists and intellectuals argued 
that it was necessary to rebuild the power of the nation-state. This was one reason 
why the movement was baptized the anti-globalization movement.

It is much more difficult now, after 9/11, to see the state as part of the solution 
and not part of the problem. The 'war on terrorism' has reminded us that capitalism is 
also imperialism, that it involves geopolitics as well as economics, competition among 
states as well as competition among firms. Some leading figures in the movement (for 
example, Bernard Cassen and George Monbiot) have reacted to the conflict over Iraq by 
supporting the idea that the European Union should be strengthened to become a 
counterweight to the American 'hyperpower'. But the emergence of a rival superpower to 
the US could unleash a new arms race, with all the waste of resources and threat to 
human survival that the old Cold War represented.

Refusing to see a more regulated capitalism as the solution doesn't mean that we 
should never make demands on states, whether our 'own' one or groups such as the EU. 
When public services are attacked, we should defend them; moreover, we should put 
pressure on the state to extend and improve the services that it currently supplies 
and to finance them through a system of progressive taxation that redistributes wealth 
and income from the rich to the poor. But, while it is right to strive for reforms of 
the present system, the values set out above - and indeed humankind and the planet 
itself - cannot safely coexist with capitalism. The logic of competitive accumulation 
means that the restraints imposed on capitalism by reform movements are always liable 
to be thrown off with they conflict with the requirements of profitability: such is 
the lesson of the progressive dismantlement of the Keynesian welfare state over the 
past quarter century. 

The implication of all this is that we need to develop an alternative social logic, a 
non-market alternative to capitalism. When I say 'non-market' I'm not advocating 
banning all economic exchanges among individuals. What I'm rejecting is a market 
economy as it is understood by two great Karls, Marx and Polanyi - that is an economy 
where resources are allocated as a result of the competitive struggle between rival 
capitals that jointly control these resources. Such a system, as Polanyi shows in The 
Great Transformation, seeks to commodify everything: we can see this today with 
neo-liberalism. This system also rules out in principle any democratic process to 
decide what overall outcomes production should aim to achieve and the appropriate 
means for achieving these outcomes. In other words, it rules out planning. But this is 
crazy: how can we address problems like global poverty and climate change without some 
sort of democratic political process to determine, among other things, how resources 
should be allocated in order to solve them? 

We need planning. But it has a terrible name these days, as a result of the experience 
of Stalinism. Several reviews of my Anti-Capitalist Manifesto dismissed it out of hand 
on the grounds that the collapse of the Soviet Union and the theoretical critiques of 
Friedrich von Hayek proved that planning is impossible. But, when you think about it, 
this is a somewhat bizarre way of reasoning. Because one kind of planning - in fact a 
bureaucratically centralized command economy than many experts argue didn't merit the 
label 'planned' - failed, for reasons that are a matter of enormous historical debate, 
does it follow that any form of planning must fail? Surely not - unless we really 
think that history ended when the Berlin Wall came down and humankind's future will 
unfold within the horizons of market capitalism (in which case history probably would 
come to an end pretty soon thanks to war and environmental degradation).

There are various models of a democratically planned economy. Here resources are 
allocated on the basis of a democratic process that involves horizontal relations 
among networks of producers and consumers - a radically different form of economic 
coordination from either capitalism (where allocation is the outcome of competition) 
or a Stalinist command economy (where resources are allocated dictatorially). One of 
these models is Parecon, developed by Michael Albert. Another, somewhat more 
centralized model is Pat Devine's 'negotiated coordination', first outlined in his 
book Democracy and Economic Planning (1988). The relative merits of these and other 
models are a matter for discussion. Nevertheless, their existence indicates that 
serious and concrete thinking is going on about what a systemic alternative to 
capitalism would look like. A democratically planned economy conceived along these 
lines represents, in my view, the best way of realizing the values to which the 
movement is committed.

I think this alternative is best called 'socialism'. It is true that this word has 
been devalued by the Stalinist disaster, but the Bush administration daily debauches 
words like 'democracy' and 'freedom' that it would be mad for us to surrender. There 
are two positive reasons for sticking by the term socialism. First, I think that the 
models referred to above embody what the best in the socialist tradition has aspired 
to - for example, the tradition to which I belong, what Hal Draper called 'socialism 
from below', the red thread of revolutionary Marxism that runs from Marx and Engels, 
through Lenin and Luxemburg, to Trotsky and the Left Opposition. 

Secondly, one important component of the idea of socialism is the proposition that 
material productive resources should generally be socially owned. Currently, the 
movement is involved in countless struggles against privatization, but these are 
usually couched defensively. The other side - the big corporations and their lobbyists 
- have a much clearer grasp of the importance of economic ownership: look at how 
aggressively they fight for intellectual property rights, for example. We shouldn't be 
afraid of saying that in the kind of economic system that would realize our values the 
main productive resources would be socially owned, on a democratic and decentralized 


How to we get there?

 It's simply a recognition of reality to say that achieving a democratically planned 
economy means a revolution. Indeed, in one sense this is just a tautology. Replacing 
capitalism with an economic system consonant with our values requires a radical social 
transformation - a revolution, in other words. But to say this is not to settle the 
means by which this revolution would come about. Central to the tradition of socialism 
from below is, as the name suggests, the idea that revolution cannot be imposed from 
above: only the vast majority who are exploited and oppressed by capitalism can 
liberate themselves. As Marx put it, socialism is the self-emancipation of the working 

The common sense understanding of revolution equates it with violence. The conception 
of revolution that I have just set out is very different. It's about people freeing 
themselves and creating a new form of society. This doesn't mean that violence doesn't 
figure in the equation at all. There is - to put it mildly - a very high probability 
that those who currently dominate the world would violently resist any serious attempt 
to remove their power and privileges. Look at the ferocity with which the Bush 
administration and allies like Tony Blair are waging the 'war on terrorism', not just 
invading Afghanistan and Iraq, but systematically trampling on civil liberties. And 
al-Qaeda is many ways a socially conservative movement, one with no beef against 
private property. What would the rich and powerful do if there were a really serious 
threat to their economic power? The 'other 11 September' - the US-backed military coup 
that overthrew Salvador Allende's Popular Unity government in Chile in 1973 - gives a 
hint of the answer.

What this means is that any revolutionary movement has to be prepared to overcome the 
violent resistance of the other side. This doesn't mean engaging in military 
conspiracies or terrorism. The strength of any movement for radical social change 
depends on two factors: (1) the extent of its mass support; (2) how much that mass 
support is self-organized. The more that a movement consists of networks of workplace 
and community organizations that have the capacity both to resist repression and, if 
necessary, to take on the management of society in their own locality, the stronger it 
is. This means that there is an organic connection between the kind of society that we 
want to achieve, a self-managing society where people organize at work and in their 
communities to run their own lives on the basis on democratic cooperation, and the way 
we need to organize to achieve that society.

We're still a very long way from being able to challenge for power. Bernard Cassen, 
founder of ATTAC, the initially French movement against financial speculation, 
recently posed what he calls 'the 20 million person question': the European Social 
Forums, along with the trade unions and the left parties don't connect with 'those 20 
million people - unemployed, poor blue- and white-collar workers, small shopkeepers 
wiped out by the big chains, one-parent families, people in casual jobs, immigrants, 
etc. - who are "without" access to the effective exercise of citizenship' in France. 

This is a good question, and not just in France, even if Cassen's answer, which is to 
confine the Social Forums to education and propaganda, is manifestly the wrong one. 
The movement needs to sink itself much more deeply into the grain of working-class 
life than it does at present. This requires a lot of things. Let me mention just 
three. First, we need to learn how to link the 'big picture' - global resistance to 
neo-liberalism and war - to the everyday struggles against the effects of corporate 
globalization that are going on everywhere all the time. Secondly, we have to make the 
connections between the movement and the organized working class much more systematic 
than they are. In Europe there has been progress in this direction: with every 
successive European Social Forum the trade unions get more involved. People from both 
sides - anti-capitalist activists and trade unionists - have to learn to live with the 
differences in political cultures and organizational styles involved and to make the 
compromises required to achieve a stronger and more united movement.

Thirdly, and perhaps more controversially, we shouldn't be afraid of engaging in 
electoral politics. The war in Iraq dramatized the broader crisis of political 
representation. In countries like Britain, Italy, and Spain an enormous gap opened up 
between the movement on the streets and the official political system, where 
governments supported Bush in defiance of public opinion. This is a symbol of the more 
fundamental gap between political elites who are unanimously neo-liberal and the very 
large numbers of people who, seeing their views and interests completely ignored by 
official politics, either withdraw from voting or support candidates of the far right 
who pretend to be against the system. In some European countries the radical left is 
beginning to mount electoral challenges that seek to give a voice to the excluded. I 
don't know what the implications are for the US (though I'm sure it's a mistake to 
vote Democrat, even against Bush).

 In everything that we do we should be trying to knit together a movement that has 
three characteristics; (1) it's as broad and united as possible; (2) it has the social 
weight that can only come through the involvement of organized workers with the 
collective economic strength that they can deploy; and (3) it has a radical vision of 
profound social transformation. This may sound like a tall order, but think about the 
enormous distance that we have come, as a global movement, in the barely four years 
since Seattle. We've got a long way to go, but another world really is possible.


Much more supporting argument will be found in my two most recent books, An 
Anti-Capitalist Manifesto and The New Mandarins of American Power, both published by 
Polity this year, and in The Revolutionary Ideas of Karl Marx, recently reissued by 

[1]  B. Cassen, Tout à commencé á Porto Alegre ...(Paris, 2003), pp. 139-40.


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