Sunday, March 11, 2018

Sunday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Elizabeth Bruenig makes the case for the U.S. to make a much-needed turn toward democratic socialism:
In fact, both Sullivan’s and Mounk’s complaints — that Americans appear to be isolated, viciously competitive, suspicious of one another and spiritually shallow; and that we are anxiously looking for some kind of attachment to something real and profound in an age of decreasing trust and regard — seem to be emblematic of capitalism, which encourages and requires fierce individualism, self-interested disregard for the other, and resentment of arrangements into which one deposits more than he or she withdraws. (As a business-savvy friend once remarked: Nobody gets rich off of bilateral transactions where everybody knows what they’re doing.) Capitalism is an ideology that is far more encompassing than it admits, and one that turns every relationship into a calculable exchange. Bodies, time, energy, creativity, love — all become commodities to be priced and sold. Alienation reigns. There is no room for sustained contemplation and little interest in public morality; everything collapses down to the level of the atomized individual.

That capitalism is inimical to the best of liberalism isn’t a new concern: It’s a long-standing critique, present in early socialist thought. That both capitalism and liberal governance have changed since those days without displacing the criticism suggests that it’s true in a foundational way.

Not to be confused for a totalitarian nostalgist, I would support a kind of socialism that would be democratic and aimed primarily at decommodifying labor, reducing the vast inequality brought about by capitalism, and breaking capital’s stranglehold over politics and culture.

I don’t think that every problem can be traced back to capitalism: There were calamities and injustices long before capital, and I’ll venture to say there will be after. But it seems to me that it’s time for those who expected to enjoy the end of history to accept that, though they’re linked in certain respects, capitalism seems to be at odds with the harmonious, peaceful, stable liberalism of midcentury dreams. I don’t think we’ve reached the end of history yet, which means we still have the chance to shape the future we want. I suggest we take it.
- Drew Brown discusses how the Libs' perpetual attempts to equate progressivism with their interests get in the way of anything resembling the real thing, while also short-circuiting any real democratic decision-making.

- Catherine McIntyre notes that women's equality is becoming ever more distant under Justin Trudeau. And Linda Nazareth rightly argues that everybody stands to benefit from child care and other policies which allow women to participate more fully in the workplace.

- Jess Bidgood and Campbell Robertson view the West Virginia teachers' strike as an important reminder of the power of collective action.

- Finally, David Chudnovsky points out the myths and misinformation being used to try to keep British Columbia stuck with an unrepresentative electoral system.

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