For the numerous readers who asked: “But what can we do?” after reading my “10 reasons to smash capitalism,” here are ten ways we can build a better economic system:
10. We can elect governments that represent people rather than corporations. This will require serious electoral reform and include laws to make it clear corporations are not people and therefore cannot participate in the political process. A government representing all the people would regulate corporations to ensure socially responsible behaviour and transform psychopathic capitalist monstrosities into democratic, social enterprises that benefit all.
9. We can build communities and organizations that encourage solidarity, compassion and altruism. These will include worker, consumer, housing and producer cooperatives, as well as institutions of government. People must always remain vigilant, especially while capitalism continues to exist, about the pervasive power of greed to destroy these communities and organizations.
8. We can promote and build a democratic economy in which social ownership replaces private ownership of communities’ means of livelihood. The people who work in them and the communities in which they are located should control economic enterprises.
7. Since authentic freedom for any of us can only come when all of us are free we must create enterprises, communities, forms of governance and institutions that respect the rights of everyone and encourage the creativity of all. Socially useful individual enterprise should be encouraged but everywhere people work together we must create effective forms of democratic decision-making to promote creative input from all involved.
6. Everywhere we work we can organize in ways that become the building blocks of a new, democratic economy. Sometimes this will be through existing unions but often we will create new organizations that defend our day-to-day interests while self-consciously preparing to replace capitalist minority rule with democratic social control of all enterprises.
5. We can work to undermine capitalist, consumerist propaganda whether it masquerades as news, entertainment or advertising. We can create forms of newsgathering and information-exchange that challenge capitalism while building the self-confidence of people everywhere to democratically manage our economy. Rather than spend countless empty hours consuming mindless advertising-driven “entertainment,” we can relearn the myriad forms of healthy social interaction that brought joy and solidarity to generations past. Millions of us can discover the fun in making a better world.
4. We can rebuild a progressive taxation system in which people with extreme incomes pay very high levels of taxes. We can promote a one person, one vote system of decision-making everywhere we work together, whether in the political, social or economic realm. The means of bringing about such fundamental change may, in part, come through existing political structures, but will also include diverse forms of mobilization as workers, residents, concerned citizens, producers and human beings supporting a healthy planet.
3. We can speak up for our planet as one community with intertwined interests that can only be satisfied through mutual respect and cooperation. We can learn from indigenous communities to respect the earth. We can act on the principle that an injury to one anywhere and everywhere is an injury to all. At a minimum this requires an end to war and environmental destruction of every sort. We can work together in enterprises and organizations that exist in local communities, but which also connect with like-minded regional, national and international groups to accomplish the changes we need.
2. Through our words and actions we can demonstrate that the realistic alternative to capitalism is an expansion of democracy. In order to build the peaceful, ecologically sane world we desire, our tactics are non-violent, but we understand that people under attack have a right to self-defence.
1. We can replace capitalism with a system based on social ownership, equal human entitlement and workplace democracy. Building an economic democracy is the key to human survival. We can exist in harmony with our environment if we get rid of capitalism and promote respect for nature and understanding the interdependence of all forms of life.
Gary Engler is a Canadian journalist, novelist (The Year We Became Us) and co-author of the recently released New Commune-ist Manifesto — Workers of the World It Really is Time to Unite (www.newcommuneist.com). He is currently working on the first great hockey novel tentatively titled Puck Hog.