Capitalism or community – or both?

Capitalism versus community, profit or cooperative enterprise? Are we suffering no more than a banker-driven crisis in the only system which really drives human achievement and human welfare? Or we have something of an entirely different order – a terminal crisis in a system which is busted?

I’ve enjoyed dipping into Russell Brand’s Revolution, not least because much of the time I’m rooting for him. But how do we get to utopia? We’ve failed throughout human history. Why should we think we can do better now? Are the internet and social media, one kind of community, the answer? Or local community activity, from running libraries to big cooperatives?

John Plender in his book Capitalism: Money, Morals and Markets argues that capitalism will muddle through. It may be the worst from of economic management – save for all the other forms that have been tried down the years.

Advocacy for radical solutions beyond either capitalism or indeed state socialism is part of the answer. Likewise advocating a more caring and socially responsive capitalism, with outputs more (radically more) equitably shared between the 1% or indeed the 10% elite and the mass of working people. We need both, side by side, with all the argument and even the vituperation that goes with it.

Yes, we need both.

And crucially we need to operate within not outside the system we have. That’s where Brand and other utopians fall short. It’s also where Jeremy Corbin is so out of line. If we spurn the system – think we can, for example, renationalise and still compete – then the system will beat us, and greed not compassion will infuse itself deeper into our political system.

Be a utopian – and a realist. Follow your heart, and use your head. Vote for what you believe in (above all VOTE!), but don’t set yourself up to be a loser. There are too many out there, I first encountered them when I was FOC of an NUJ chapel back in the early 70s, and they’re still gaining new recruits – born to be outsiders, grumbling about the way the world has left them behind.

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