Nov 10, 2017 in Analysis

Socialism Seriously

21st century seems to be one of the most intriguing and challenging times in human history.  There is no doubt about the fact that science development pace has never been higher than now. Every day brings revolutionary discoveries in information technologies and computer science. In its turn, accelerated technological progress rises the concepts of other areas such as medicine, education, administration to the new level. However, is it possible for technological advance and globalization to become universal remedy for most social issues? Moreover, how to explain the fact that nowadays society faces previously unknown and often frightening challenges, such as terrorism? To answer these questions in attempt to create a better future for society it is necessary to consider various social systems. Capitalism and socialism are two leading doctrines that influenced the formation of social structures in the 20th century. In his book Socialism . . . Seriously: A Brief Guide to Human Liberation Danny Katch attempts to get a brand new angle on socialism. Can it become a highly effective tool to resolve any of global problems?   

Being an experienced columnist, Catch avoids complex terminology to explain socialism stating that “it is a society whose top priority is meeting all of its people’s needs – ranging from food, shelter and health care to art, culture and companionship” (Socialism . . . Seriously: A Brief Guide to Human Liberation 3). He further expands to show that this ideology presumes the realization of social justice and equality principles. Production goods and services should be distributed depending on one’s talent and diligence. He describes basic hierarchical model that can help to achieve these goals: “Working people control the government; the government controls the economy” (Socialism . . . Seriously: A Brief Guide to Human Liberation 8). Moreover, socialism does not contradict with the globalization tendency; on the opposite, it may be a foundation for public ownership and planned economy.

On the other hand, Catch acknowledges fair prejudice against socialism: it is inspiring however utopian ideology that never managed to turn into reality despite numerous attempts. Throughout history, every socialist country eventually hang behind in comparison with capitalistic countries. Social ownership proved to have a negative impact on economic development. What is more, socialism inevitably presumed priority of equality over individual freedom that often left the society with no equality and no freedom. Unfortunately, even at its best socialism could not overcome exploitation, social oppression, injustice and inequality.

At the same time, Catch does not deny that capitalism is by far the most productive class society that proved to function. Without a doubt, it is far from perfect: wealth accumulation becomes a priority, rivalry leads to conflicts and wars, the principles of morality do not play any significant role. Catch notices: “Why did we spend the last ten thousand years discovering fire, painting on cave walls, developing writing, building Rome and Timbuktu, and creating philosophy and astronomy if the whole point was to eventually figure out how to live like we were back in the wild?” (Socialism . . . Seriously: A Brief Guide to Human Liberation 27). It is clear that crisis of humanity can only lead to degradation and destruction. It is no wonder that the history proved that capitalism does not save governmental, financial and economic institutions from severe crises and debts.

In such a way, it is unlikely that capitalism ideology is able to lead the society into the future. First, capitalistic countries already experience turbulences that are unlikely to settle unless the main approach towards producing, accumulating and distributing profit will change. Capitalism can no longer guarantee economic growth, full employment, financial stability. Second, the conception of capitalism consist a number of paradoxes that predetermines its own collapse: massive capital formation exhausts resources that are often irretrievable leading to geological and evolutionary changes; intensive expansion of capitalism will soon be limited by the lack of new territories; tendency to globalization often contrasts with capitalistic political authorities. These factors compose the crisis of humanity that, according to Robinson, is a threat to humanity (Global Capitalism and the Crisis of Humanity 6)

As is seen from above, it is obvious that rapid progress requires evolutionary and highly flexible approach. At the same time, both capitalism and socialism proved to be effective only until certain point. However, it is inefficient to neglect negative experience; on the opposite, it seems logical to combine the best from these systems and adapt it to economic, political and social changes. For example, methods of fighting inequality in industrial society and information-oriented society cannot be the same; that can be a worthy challenge for socialists. Next, it is necessary to acknowledge both the value of individual freedom and the value of equal opportunities. Specifically, it is necessary to maintain up-to-date medicine and education of high quality easily accessible and keep the freedom of informational space. In terms of economics, certain countries already practice the combination of market-driven and planned economy with great success.

Without a doubt, positive changes on all levels are possible only upon condition that international military conflicts will be minimized. In the time of globalization, it becomes necessary to accept that poverty, ignorance, terrorism, social inequality, racism, sexism etc. are no longer local but they become issues of global impact; instead of fighting for power and resources, society needs to find a way to unite in order to maintain and amplify previous achievements.  

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