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Transforming Capitalism Through
Real Utopias: A Critical
Engagement

TASC, Dublin
12 December 2013
It is not possible to leapfrog transitions.

The challenge for those seeking to transform the world is
to hold on to their...
It is not possible to leapfrog transitions.

The challenge for those seeking to transform the world is
to hold on to their...
Overall goal:
All people would have broadly equal access to the social
and material conditions necessary for living a flou...
Capitalism:
• Allows private wealth to affect political power
• Excludes crucial economic decisions from public
discourse
...
Possible counter-capitalist institutions and practices:
Wikipedia
Participatory budgeting
Public libraries
Solidarity fina...
Participatory socialism:
‘The transformation of power relations over economic
activity, both in terms of how social power ...
The fact that these alternatives have been around for so
long means that capitalism has had time not only to absorb
these ...
Financialization refers to the increasing importance
of financial markets, financial motives, financial
institutions and f...
“In the case of the United States, financialization during
the 1990s led to a closer alignment of large industrial
and fin...
“In the case of the United States, financialization during
the 1990s led to a closer alignment of large industrial
and fin...
“What [the wealthy], businesses and
banks share is a common interest in
supporting asset prices, a lack of
interest in see...
Over the past thirty years, despite
their being essential to human
life, neoliberal restructuring across
the world has pri...
The term social reproduction encompasses
all the means by which society reproduces
its families, citizens and workers. It ...
The term social reproduction encompasses
all the means by which society reproduces
its families, citizens and workers. It ...
The term social reproduction encompasses
all the means by which society reproduces
its families, citizens and workers. It ...
Two aspects of modern globalisation:
1. Concentration of capital in fewer
hands and the domination of TNCs
2. The growing ...
… right from its beginnings the capitalist
economy has been a world system, based
on colonialism and the marginalisation
a...
Colonies were not only necessary to initiate the
process of capital accumulation in what has been
called the period of „pr...
  Transforming Capitalism Through Real Utopias: A Critical Engagement
  Transforming Capitalism Through Real Utopias: A Critical Engagement
  Transforming Capitalism Through Real Utopias: A Critical Engagement
  Transforming Capitalism Through Real Utopias: A Critical Engagement
  Transforming Capitalism Through Real Utopias: A Critical Engagement
  Transforming Capitalism Through Real Utopias: A Critical Engagement
  Transforming Capitalism Through Real Utopias: A Critical Engagement
  Transforming Capitalism Through Real Utopias: A Critical Engagement
  Transforming Capitalism Through Real Utopias: A Critical Engagement
  Transforming Capitalism Through Real Utopias: A Critical Engagement
  Transforming Capitalism Through Real Utopias: A Critical Engagement
  Transforming Capitalism Through Real Utopias: A Critical Engagement
  Transforming Capitalism Through Real Utopias: A Critical Engagement
  Transforming Capitalism Through Real Utopias: A Critical Engagement
  Transforming Capitalism Through Real Utopias: A Critical Engagement
  Transforming Capitalism Through Real Utopias: A Critical Engagement
  Transforming Capitalism Through Real Utopias: A Critical Engagement
  Transforming Capitalism Through Real Utopias: A Critical Engagement
  Transforming Capitalism Through Real Utopias: A Critical Engagement
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Transforming Capitalism Through Real Utopias: A Critical Engagement

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Slides from a presentation given on Erik Olin Wright's Envisioning Real Utopias - TASC offices, Parliament St, Dublin 2. 12 December 2013.

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Transcript of " Transforming Capitalism Through Real Utopias: A Critical Engagement"

  1. 1. Transforming Capitalism Through Real Utopias: A Critical Engagement TASC, Dublin 12 December 2013
  2. 2. It is not possible to leapfrog transitions. The challenge for those seeking to transform the world is to hold on to their emancipatory ideals ‘without embarrassment or cynicism’ while remaining ‘fully cognizant of the deep complexities and contradictions of realizing those ideals.’ (Wright 2012: 3)
  3. 3. It is not possible to leapfrog transitions. The challenge for those seeking to transform the world is to hold on to their emancipatory ideals ‘without embarrassment or cynicism’ while remaining ‘fully cognizant of the deep complexities and contradictions of realizing those ideals.’ (Wright 2012: 3) The types of real utopias he has in mind are impossible without the transformation of capitalist ‘power relations within the economy in ways that deepen and broaden the possibility of meaningful democracy.’ (Wright 2012: 4)
  4. 4. Overall goal: All people would have broadly equal access to the social and material conditions necessary for living a flourishing life. All people would have broadly equal access to the necessary means to participate meaningfully in decisions about things that affect their lives. Future generations should have access to the social and material conditions to live flourishing lives at least at the same level as the present generation
  5. 5. Capitalism: • Allows private wealth to affect political power • Excludes crucial economic decisions from public discourse • Allows workplace dictatorships • Generates huge societal inequalities • Threatens sustainability through its relentless pursuit of profit-seeking growth Not all societal problems are reducible to capitalism, but ‘exploring real utopian alternatives to capitalism is an especially pressing matter in this historical period.’ (Wright 2012: 6)
  6. 6. Possible counter-capitalist institutions and practices: Wikipedia Participatory budgeting Public libraries Solidarity finance Worker-owned cooperatives Urban agriculture Internet-based reciprocity economies Randomocracy Unconditional basic income
  7. 7. Participatory socialism: ‘The transformation of power relations over economic activity, both in terms of how social power is directly involved in shaping economic activity and how it indirectly shapes economic activity through the democratization of the state.’ (Wright 2012: 19)
  8. 8. The fact that these alternatives have been around for so long means that capitalism has had time not only to absorb these alternatives and nullify them but to actually make them fully-fledged capitalist strategies of marketization and financialisation. Today, social enterprises are put forward by capitalism ‘as an evolution to public bodies. As we speak, the shedding of state services within the social economy – in effect the mass re-privatization of that social sphere – is being enabled by some of the very mechanisms that Wright puts forward as socialist-building strategies.
  9. 9. Financialization refers to the increasing importance of financial markets, financial motives, financial institutions and financial elites in the operation of the economy and its governing institutions, both at the national and international levels. Gerald Epstein, ‘Financialization, Rentier Interests, and Central Bank Policy’,2002 1970s – The Monetarist revolution 1980s – war on labour 1990s – Credit as a substitute for wage increases 2000s – Credit solution for wage stagnation fails Present day – open conflict over monetary policy once again
  10. 10. “In the case of the United States, financialization during the 1990s led to a closer alignment of large industrial and financial firms in the U.S., leading to a greater emphasis by Alan Greenspan and the U.S. Federal Reserve in financial asset appreciation as a goal of monetary policy.” Gerald Epstein (2001)
  11. 11. “In the case of the United States, financialization during the 1990s led to a closer alignment of large industrial and financial firms in the U.S., leading to a greater emphasis by Alan Greenspan and the U.S. Federal Reserve in financial asset appreciation as a goal of monetary policy.” Gerald Epstein (2001) “The goal of monetary expansion has been to do just enough to stabilize financial asset prices without going far enough to produce catch-up growth in the labor market” Matthew Yglesias, Rentiers and Financialization (2011)
  12. 12. “What [the wealthy], businesses and banks share is a common interest in supporting asset prices, a lack of interest in seeking full employment unless it is a prerequisite for supporting asset prices, and an aversion to any policies that can trigger wage inflation.” Ashwin Parameswares (2011)
  13. 13. Over the past thirty years, despite their being essential to human life, neoliberal restructuring across the world has privatised, eroded and demolished our shared resources, and ushered in a ‘crisis of social reproduction.’ ‘Cuts are a Feminist Issue’, Soundings (Dec 2011), p.73.
  14. 14. The term social reproduction encompasses all the means by which society reproduces its families, citizens and workers. It includes all the labour that is necessary for a society to reproduce itself: the biological production of people and workers, and all the social practices that sustain the population – bearing children, raising children, performing emotional work, providing clothing and food, and cooking and cleaning.
  15. 15. The term social reproduction encompasses all the means by which society reproduces its families, citizens and workers. It includes all the labour that is necessary for a society to reproduce itself: the biological production of people and workers, and all the social practices that sustain the population – bearing children, raising children, performing emotional work, providing clothing and food, and cooking and cleaning. As a concept social reproduction has been key to feminist social theory, because it challenges the usual distinctions that are made between productive and reproductive labour, or between the labour market and the home.
  16. 16. The term social reproduction encompasses all the means by which society reproduces its families, citizens and workers. It includes all the labour that is necessary for a society to reproduce itself: the biological production of people and workers, and all the social practices that sustain the population – bearing children, raising children, performing emotional work, providing clothing and food, and cooking and cleaning. As a concept social reproduction has been key to feminist social theory, because it challenges the usual distinctions that are made between productive and reproductive labour, or between the labour market and the home. Labour in this sphere is often devalued and privatised, and is typically performed by women in their ‘double day’ or ‘second shift’, alongside paid wage labour. But reproductive labour of this kind is just as central to capitalist accumulation as are other forms of labour, which means that struggles over its structure and distribution are fundamental to any understanding of issues of power and the relationships between labour and capital, as well as the potential for their transformation. http://www.newleftproject.org/index.php/site/article_co mments/cuts_are_a_feminist_issue
  17. 17. Two aspects of modern globalisation: 1. Concentration of capital in fewer hands and the domination of TNCs 2. The growing role of finance capital Visible transfers, that is, the trade in goods, have lost their importance vis-ávis invisible transfers like banking transport, insurances, tourism. Finance transactions play the most important role in this shift.
  18. 18. … right from its beginnings the capitalist economy has been a world system, based on colonialism and the marginalisation and exploitation of peripheral countries and agriculture. This colonial structure was and is the basis for what became known as “free trade” in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Due to its inner logic of permanent growth or accumulation, capitalism has to strive towards universality and globalism.
  19. 19. Colonies were not only necessary to initiate the process of capital accumulation in what has been called the period of „primitive accumulation‟ at the beginning of capitalism. They continue to be necessary even today to keep the growth mechanism going. Therefore we talk of the need for „on-going primitive accumulation and colonization‟. The ever-expanding process of capital accumulation is based on the maintenance or even re-creation of patriarchal or sexist man-woman relations, an asymmetric sexual division of labour within and outside the family… This sexual division of labour is integrated with an international division of labour in which women are manipulated both as „producer-housewives‟ and as „consumer-housewives.‟
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