A New Socialism


A socialism for the 21st century must include and stress the importance of micro-level social transformation at the base of society in the workplace. Ending exploitation in workplaces is that transformation. Instead of workers producing surpluses for others to appropriate and distribute, they must now do that for themselves collectively.

As “producer cooperatives” or “democratized enterprises” (among other names), such transformed workplaces represent a priority goal of a new socialism.

Government revenue, for example, to the extent it depends on taxes on enterprise surpluses, would then flow from (and hence be responsive to) workers in their capacity as enterprise self-directors. The state would then become directly and financially dependent on the organized (in and by their enterprises) workers in a way and to a degree unequalled in human history. Correspondingly, the risks of power passing from the mass of people in their residences and workplaces to a state bureaucracy – a serious problem for traditional socialism – would be reduced.

Capitalism[‘s] spokespersons and defenders forever celebrated (and still do) a democracy that is rigidly excluded from the system’s enterprises (where most adults spend most of their active lives). Capitalism’s history repeatedly demonstrates that the absence of democracy inside enterprises undermines it elsewhere in society (or else yields caricatures, as in “democratic” elections corrupted by the system’s economic inequalities).

Imagine democratic enterprises interacting with democratic residential communities – economic and political democracies reinforcing one another and making one another real, not merely formal. Jointly they would co-determine how society functions and changes

    Any attempt by 21st Century Socialists to take over existing production will founder on current capitalist-friendly laws and governments, barring revolutions, which tend to be nasty affairs and don’t always attain the desired results in any case.

    To my way of thinking, local production could be established based on socialist principles and simply out-compete capitalist-based production for one simple reason – it would not have to have a huge part of its ‘excess earnings’ siphoned off to support the rentiers. The excess can be reinvested or distributed among the producers.

    Such a system could be established in parallel with the existing capitalist system and is actually in progress now in a small way – farmers markets, CSAs, Makespaces, co-ops of various sorts. However, it lacks widespread proselytizing, planning, support and teaching.

The current awareness of gross income inequality can be a strong support for a more equitable socialist arrangement.
The disconnect people feel between themselves and their political ‘representatives’ is a second support – people are more comfortable dealing with people they know and iive/work with daily, not to mention the utter distrust most people have of politics and politicians.
The resentment of being at the mercy of huge, impersonal corporations and their money-hungry ways is a third support for being independent from the capitalist economy.

    One advantage of managing the change this way is it can occur in parallel with capitalism. We can stay on the power grid until we get our own local grids operational; we can still get products we have not yet been able to produce locally; we can enjoy the [expensive] benefits of capitalism while minimizing our requirement of them. One of those mixed blessings of capitalism is employment, and we can establish a ‘shadow economy’ in our spare time, with the full-time work spread among the unemployed or retired until the local communities become well-established. Eventually, with enough building at the grass-roots level, a national coordination could occur and would have enough political muscle to further the cause.

    As the need for the products of capitalism shrank, the wealth and influence of capital/capitalism would shrink. If the moguls of agriculture, oil, banking, etc. saw their profits dwindle, their ability to buy the government might likewise be reduced. My guess is that in the face of losing both their captive workforce and their captive consumers, they would be forced to downsize, reduce the income inequality and treat both their workers and customers better.

    Of course, if they decide to double down, they would try to outlaw anything outside their domain. For example, they have gotten courts to declare that a farmer could not eat his home-grown produce because it wasn’t certified by the state; sale of raw milk is often prohibited or tightly regulated, etc. But I might point out that if push ever comes to shove and a revolution turns out to be necessary to establish a more humane and equitable society and to take control back from the rentier class, the revolutionaries would be a lot better off with a network of relatively self-sufficient communities scattered over the land and a people less dependent on the products and whims of the capitalists and their bought government.

7 Replies to “A New Socialism”

  1. Some of the things you describe are happening but not so much in older generations, and among the young, not on large scale.

    The system is so pervasive, I don’t see how these goals can be accomplished absent catastrophic collapse first.

    As a rule, humans don’t make changes until changes are forced upon them.

    It would be nice to be wrong on this assumption.

    For what it’s worth, a small town in Maine legalized the sale of non-inspected locally grown produce. I wonder how long it will be before the guys with guns arrive.

    1. We could only hope that “As Maine goes, so goes the nation”, but I’m not holding my breath. The FDA has organized raids against farmers who sell raw milk. And it gets worse:

      he International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) have filed a petition with the FDA asking the FDA to alter the definition of “milk” to secretly include chemical sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose.

      They want the very definition of milk to be changed and specifically want it to not be listed in the label. Same for other milk products like sour cream, yogurt, ice cream, etc. Just like Monsanto et al fighting food being labelled as GMO, they not only want to fill you with garbage, they want to keep you from knowing about it.

      If I were paranoid, I’d think it was a plot to reduce the surplus population instead of just another example of sociopathic aggrandizement.

      1. Milk is the most overrated food on the planet. We should just stop drinking it. Calcium can be obtained from many other food products.

        I’ve stopped using all milk products. In soups I replace milk with unsweetened coconut milk. It tastes delicious.

        Yogurts are poisoned with sugars.

        The hardest thing to give up was cheese. I still indulge once in a while.

        1. I find baking with milk better than with water but haven’t tried coconut milk because I’m the only one in my family that likes anything coconut. My wife tasted coconut water for the first time last week and didn’t like it, and it’s not particularly ‘coconutish’.
          Am not a big fan of soy milk or almond milk. Never tried milk from goats, yaks, camels, mares, water buffalo, etc. 😀

          I make my rare tomato soup with milk, but aside from baking, it’s mostly in my coffee or a ‘2¢ plain’.
          There are indeed excellent sources of calcium in all the veggies I don’t like. My wife eats all sorts of greenery, but I eat junk food, depending on the preservatives to preserve me. So far, it’s worked. 😀

          Re cheese & yogurt: make your own, from raw milk if possible.

          1. So you’re a good cook but a poor trickster? 🙂

            My kids dislike coconut milk too.

            However, despite the fact I replace milk with coconut milk, which they don’t know, my soups are always a hit. The coconut milk makes the soup creamy without providing an overpowering taste. It is merely one taste out of many. It blends in well. You should try it. (Hide the container from your wife).

            Re: Goat’s milk – it contains far more nutrients than cow’s milk since the diet of a goat is more varied. (Grass, shrubs, buds etc.) So occasionally I buy goat cheese and goat yogurt.

            Another reason not to consume dairy products, especially with respiratory ailments, is that they produce mucus and tend to aggravate inflammatory conditions.

        2. Real plain whole milk yogurt is one of the most wholesome and health-promoting foods anywhere. My local grocery store has something like a hundred-plus varieties of “yogurt”, but so far I have found just two kinds that are made of whole milk and starter culture only. And those are often sold out.

          I think coconut milk bears more comparison to butter than to whole milk. Coconut milk tastes good, and makes a fine ingredient, but you can’t live on it. You can live on milk– everybody did at some point.

          1. It appears you have been successfully brainwashed by the dairy industry.

            We are the only species on Earth that regularly and happily consumes the breast milk of another species. At the same time, sitcoms and humorous books make light of many people’s “gross factor” when it comes to the breast milk of human women; it just doesn’t make any sense.”

            What Michael Dye says makes perfect sense.

            It would appear that promoters of cow’s milk are creating advertising statements that are meant to appeal on a subconscious level to our positive feelings and experiences with human breast milk. All mammals, including humans, are intended to be nourished during infancy by milk from their mother. Part of the very definition of a mammal is that the female of the species has milk-producing glands in her breasts which provide nourishment for her young. Each species of mammal produces its unique type of milk designed specifically to strengthen the immune system and provide nourishment for their babies, which are weaned after their birth weight has approximately tripled.

            So, absolutely yes, “milk is a natural”… in the proper context. It is perfectly natural for infant mammals, including humans, to be nourished exclusively by milk from their mother’s breasts. So if we are talking about human breast milk for babies, yes, “milk is the perfect food.” And yes, during infancy when we have no teeth for eating solid food, and as we need to strengthen our immune system, “everybody needs milk.”

            I have just quoted three of the most popular advertising slogans of the dairy industry and they are undisputably as true as any words that could be spoken on the subject of nutrition… if they are applied to a baby’s need for human breast milk. In fact, not one of the doctors I have quoted in describing the terrible problems caused by cow’s milk would disagree that milk is a natural, milk is the perfect food or that everybody needs milk, in this context.

            But whoa.

            The dairy industry has begun with these three statements that we all know are true about a baby’s need for human breast milk, and twisted them out of context to apply them to a completely different product they are selling. And the sad result is that most Americans still think these noble statements about our babies needing to suckle their mother’s breast milk are true when applied to the advertising claim that humans of all ages need to buy and drink cow’s milk.

            So, in an effort to undo the damage caused by this manipulation, let us consider the differences in human breast milk versus cow’s milk, and further examine the physical problems caused by humans trying to subsist on the milk of another species well past the age when any mammal should be drinking any milk.

            More here

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