Saturday, March 14, 2009
The Nation is hosting a forum of brief thoughts on socialism. Doug Henwood contributes:
While the current economic crisis probably won't be the magic intervention that will deliver us to a post-capitalist future, there are opportunities to advance the socialist cause. The mass insecurity and impoverishment produced by the imploding labor market are wonderful arguments for a more civilized welfare state. The need for a new dynamic sector to generate an economic recovery is a perfect opportunity to promote high-speed rail and alternative energy research (and in far greater quantities than the Obama administration is proposing). Our banking system is being rescued with public money. Why shouldn't the public get something in return for that, like publicly or cooperatively owned financial institutions that could provide customers with low-cost services and communities with economic development funds? And with the housing market not likely to recover for at least several years, why not experiment with different models of ownership? For example, instead of foreclosing on houses, why not turn them into limited-equity co-ops, which take the speculative motive out of that essential of life? These things won't happen spontaneously; they need state action, prodded by organized and thoughtful activism. The public isn't with us yet, but we're a long way from the days when The Market seemed like a fresh idea.