Capitalism, as an economic, political, and social system based on private ownership, directed to the greatest possible profits for particular individuals and corporations, is, in our day, entirely absurd. It has no rational or orderly relationship to human life or to the future of humanity. Socialism, as its heir apparent, stands for the chance that still exists to create a just, egalitarian, and sustainable world directed at human needs, in which the people themselves are sovereign-once the fetters of private profit are burst asunder.
Is this possible? Who knows? What we do know is that, as long as we breathe air, we have no real choice but to rebel, because under capitalism humanity has no future.
The authors go on to address a number of interesting points: social democracy, the Swedish model, etc.
A few supplementary ideas are worth repeating ...
When we state that capitalism is off-limits to critical review and analysis, what we really mean is that socialism, as the only rational successor to capitalism, is off-limits. If there is no credible alternative to capitalism, then there is no more reason to discuss transcending capitalism than there would be to debate the means of preventing lightning storms and earthquakes, as Steinbeck's farmer observed. But in fact we are talking about relations and things made by human beings, and these can be changed, and have been changed enormously over the course of human history.
The above point is developed very well in the article. And one of the interesting conclusions the authors come to is the following ...
The underlying principle, therefore, is clear: progressives need a fundamental critique of capitalism and an open discussion about the possible advantages of socialism-even to attempt major reforms within capitalism. And when they begin that critique, we believe, most progressives and most Americans will come to the conclusion that C.B. Macpherson, in his The Life and Times of Liberal Democracy, reached some four decades ago: It is increasingly difficult to reconcile liberal democratic values (much less anything remotely resembling genuine democracy) with today's monopoly-finance capital. Something has to go. And that is exactly why capitalism is off-limits to honest discussion, and why the constraints placed on public debate in our political culture prevent any real, permanent forward movement.
If opposition to capitalism is like opposition to lightening, what's the point? But, in fact, this points to the necessity of discussing the possible advantages of socialism even for reforms within capitalism.The authors point out that right wing populists in the US, eg, appropriate the political terrain that belongs to advocates of an alternative to capitalism with their bogey man stories about the harmfulness of "big guvvmt".
It puts the lie to the Liberal and/or Social Democratic propaganda that socialism "can't" sell. In fact, their failure to do so shows an utter political bankrupcy on their part.