By Chris Spannos at Mar 18, 2009
Below are my replies to a few questions asked by someone writing an essay on "resistance to liberal globalization."
- You describe the quest for a new society/new world as a real utopia. Why did you choose the word 'utopia'?
"Utopia," the word, has a long heritage in the Left tradition to imagine a new society. The word comes from the Greek, meaning "nowhere," and suggests that maybe a vision of a new society cannot exist, or somehow escapes reality and human capacities. I also used the word "real," as you note, in "Real Utopia" the title of my book. I used that title to propose a collectively developed vision that I believe is fully possible and within reach of human potentialities --- meaning designed to accommodate real people in real world conditions.
- Do you think that a more humane capitalism is possible? And would you be satisfied with that?
It is like asking if I think a more humane slavery is possible. Yes, conditions for slaves could have been better or worse but we should not be satisfied with the slave / master relationship --- it needed to be abolished. Yes, conditions under capitalism can be improved, for example, the creation of a national healthcare system in the U.S., higher wages, better retirement and welfare packages --- all very much needed. But, ultimately, it is not enough. The institution of class rule --- of capitalists, and a managerial strata called the "coordinator class," who rule over workers, is, like slavery, and needs to be abolished. Class segregation is neither the product of evolution or hard-wired historical outcome, nor do these relations exist because of some intelligent design by god/s. It is in people's full power to re-organize social and material institutions and relations to embody self-management and classlessness.
- What is your reply to those (and there are many) who say that the system (liberal globalization) needs a reform, not a revolution?
Globalization, the mixing of cultures, ideas, innovations, etc., is good, but, I assume you mean by "liberal globalization" the system of global capitalism, and I would add that there is nothing liberal about it. Globalization was often described as "Liberal" because the technological advances were supposed to initiate a re-distribution of wealth, spread material prosperity, ease poverty, and create conditions for greater peace. It has in fact done the opposite, with greater disparities in wealth, not only within many nations, but between them as well, which has created greater conditions for extremism and war.
Sure, the system needs reforms, not only to alleviate previous damages done, but also to respond to current suffering and potentially worsening conditions into the foreseeable future. However, and this is another attribute to capitalism of any kind that calls into question its description as a "liberal" system, any reforms that we may need in the immediate short-term to address past and present worsening conditions, any improvements, say efforts of labor to organize for unionization and better benefits, tax breaks for lower income earners while more taxing of those at the higher end of the income and wealth scale --- these reformist efforts, while necessary, will always be under threat of being rolled back unless they are done in such a way that further empowers people to exercise more control over the policy and institutions that affect their lives so they can make more changes moving toward fundamental transformation of society's defining institutions --- revolution --- so that these reforms that alleviate suffering and improve social and material conditions can melt into the fabric of a future society, becoming regular features of that society so they acquire an ensured existence, and join other attributes that perpetuate classlessness, solidarity, self-management, and diversity. Anything short of those long-term aims in mind will always be, ultimately, insufficient.