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Chapters 1-3 of “After Capitalism” by Schweickart Essay

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Updated: Mar 2nd, 2021

Counter-project, successor-System, Revolution

Schweickart inquires whether capitalism is spotted with contradictions or it is a successful system (3). According to the author, moral and pragmatic failures of capitalism are vividly evident in the modern world. Some of the setbacks of this system include extreme inequalities, poverty, pollution, unemployment, crises, and incessant conflicts or wars. The author expounds on a theory that can be used to define and understand the successor system.

For the theory to work, it should provide solid arguments that are both practical and functional. The theory should also reflect the past efforts and note mistakes that need to be corrected. Party platforms and setbacks of current reforms should equally be illuminated by the theory.

It might be misleading to use old revolution models bearing in mind that they hardly win the struggle against insurrection. In addition, it is crucial to spell out structural alternatives. Past failures and new conditions have informed the modern workers. As it stands now, the battle for reform is rife. Hence, flexibility and diversity will be required by the new emerging theories. Schweickart is also emphatic that the international context will continue to experience radical transitions (10). The transitions have been referred to by the author as the global project that affects the wellbeing of species.

There are a number of challenging lessons that have been learned since the era of Karl Marx. In order to comprehend these lessons, it is necessary to compare and contrast socialism both in the 20th and 21st centuries. First, the strategic path being followed by nations is primarily to win democratic conflicts. Second, an ecosystem is made up of subsets within an economy. Third, people are sovereign beings while human rights should be considered to be natural. Fourth, transitions require markets, and finally, women play central roles in politics, civil society, and economic development. Besides, economies of scarcity require material incentives.

Justifying capitalism

Capitalism seems to be justifying itself. It appears that history has not faded away in the realities posed by capitalism. Schweickart asserts that capitalism surrounds humanity in every aspect (26). For example, buyers in the USSR still line up for scarce products, the eastern European socialism collapsed while in California, gated communities are thriving. Capitalism has been fueled by globalization and information technology. In other words, TINA has gone international. A case in point is the rapid expansion of markets necessitated by the internet, globalized production, and robotic assembly.

Perhaps, it is necessary to take a glimpse preview of capitalism in order to understand the reality on the ground. The author defines capitalism from various dimensions:

  • Corporations and individuals privately own most production means.
  • Firms realize profits through competitive marketing of goods and services.
  • Some people work for others as laborers and in turn, earn salaries or wages.

From the above definitions, Schweickart describes a capitalist from various perspectives (42). For example, various political systems can govern capitalism bearing in mind that it is simply an economic system. A society cannot be described as a capitalist merely because it utilizes markets to distribute products. Hence, a capitalist has adequate income and as such, he/she does not necessarily need to work.

However, the author notes that we still need capitalists in any economic system. Although managers may sometimes be capitalists, it is not mandatory for them to be so. Workers who are experts in their own fields can equally be capitalists. Entrepreneurs are sometimes capitalists. The same case applies to innovators and inventors. However, they can still avoid being capitalists. Finally, savings are not required for an economy to grow. In some instances, excess savings can be harmful.

Economic Democracy: What it is

This chapter explores the concept of economic democracy from an in-depth point of view. Schweickart relates the ‘Successor System’ to economic democracy (45). The author posits that when market socialism has a community and worker-controlled variant, it amounts to economic democracy. Hence, it also refers to a mixed economy that is transitional in nature. A democratic economy is largely controlled by the progressive majority while the government still steers the economy. The new socialist order in economic democracy usually marks the first phase while the basic model has three distinct parts:

  • Marketing of products as is the case with capitalism.
  • Workplace democracy.
  • Investment and its democratic control

Economic democracy has three basic institutions

  • Well-regulated markets that deal with selling and buying of goods and services.
  • Investment and its social control
  • Worker Self-Management

Hence, it is crucial to embrace and begin with democracy at the place of work. In regards to the allocation of funds, they are distributed downwards based on factors such as natural disasters, past poverty levels, and demographics.

The author also explores how investment funds are controlled by the public (Schweickart 77). For example, markets are combined with macro planning, the congress may act accordingly, and legislatures are also instrumental in controlling investment funds. On a final note, the author points some case studies of economic democracy such as Mondragon and worker-owned factories.

Works Cited

Schweickart, David. After Capitalism. Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2002. Print.

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