Wanted: Capitalism With a Human Face


20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it seems like a good idea to ask people around the world how they feel about the system that supposedly scored a history-ending triumph over "really existing socialism" and all other possible challengers. That's exactly what the BBC World Service just did, and the poll's results are rather interesting.

As the accompanying article says, the results find "widespread dissatisfaction with free-market capitalism...only 11% of those questioned across 27 countries said that it was working well." A much higher percentage of respondents - 23% - said that capitalism "is fatally flawed" and needs to be replaced by an entirely new political economy. An astounding 43% of French respondents called for the replacement of capitalism, as did 38% of Mexicans and 35% of Brazilians. In only two countries did 25% or more respondents say that capitalism works well as currently constituted - Pakistan, which is surprising given the depths of socioeconomic misery most Pakistanis experience, and our own country, which is not so surprising considering Ayn Rand has probably become more popular here during the recession than Karl Marx.

A word of caution before we begin preparing the barricades. First of all, such widespread pessimism about free markets likely owes a lot to the grind of the ongoing recession. It would be interesting to see poll results on this question during a relative boom time. And second, a large majority of respondents in all countries, including our own, don't want to get rid of capitalism as such. Most people want capitalism with a human face - more government regulation, greater equality in income redistribution, perhaps some government ownership of key industries.

That's a sentiment socialists and other radicals can work with, as most people would readily concede certain flaws within capitalism and welcome political attempts to redress them in the interests of those at the receiving end of the system's failures. Perhaps in doing so, socialists can bring some people toward a deeper critique of capitalism as such. But this also raises a larger question - is capitalism with a human face really possible anymore, or is it a noble ideal destined to go the way of "socialism with a human face?" While I would do almost anything to live under a full blown example of it, the Keynesian welfare state model underwent a deep structural crisis in the 1970s, and I'm not so sure that that it can just be resurrected. If that is indeed the case, what's the alternative? I don't really know, and I don't think anyone else does yet either. Suggestions welcome.

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Revolution at the Crossroads: Igniting the Socialist Resistance Against Trump

February 17, 2017 · $20.00 USD

Location: MayDay Space
Where: 176 St Nicholas Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237
When: Friday, February 17th at 6 PM to Sunday, February 19th to 4 PM

Political Context

This Presidents’ Day weekend, the Young Democratic Socialists will gather for our annual winter conference in New York City titled Revolution at the Crossroads: Igniting the Socialist Resistance Against Trump. We did not choose the name lightly. In doing so, we call for leftists to collectively confront Trump and Trumpism at every possible opportunity. When a Trump administration attempts mass deportations of undocumented workers, when it attempts to register Muslims or roll back worker protections, when it attempts to take away reproductive, LGTBQ, civil, or any other rights, then we must militantly resist to prevent such measures.

To succeed, this must be explicitly socialist resistance. With liberalism having repeatedly shown itself incapable of combating the far right, it is now the time for socialists to openly declare our place in building the mass, multi-racial, and working class movement necessary for defeating the Trump administration. In this struggle, millennials will play an outsized role. That is why this conference comes at such a critical time—together we must create spaces for democratic and strategic discussion, spaces to gain organizing skills, and most importantly, spaces to form networks of young radicals for the future struggles ahead. These spaces will only come together if socialists come together. Join us this Presidents Weekend and help ignite the movement to defeat the Trump administration, continue the political revolution, and build the socialist alternative.

Key Deadlines

  • January 8th: Travel Scholarship for Air Travel (for application see below)
  • January 15th: Travel Scholarship for Non-Air Travel (ex: bus, car, train, etc.)
  • February 3rd: Early Bird Registration Ends - Tickets prices go up from $5 to $10
  • February 10th: Free Housing - We have limited free housing. You need to first register, then you will be sent an application for free housing.

Apply for a travel scholarship here! (First Deadline January 8, 2017)

Check out the working program (subject to change)