This month’s Big Story is a much-abbreviated version of my book SOS: Alternatives to Capitalism.*
Why SOS? SOS is, of course, a nautical term sent out by ships in distress meaning Save Our Souls. The title of this book adapts this to Save Our Species. And that, I believe, is what is at stake. Not next year perhaps, or even next decade, but certainly in the foreseeable future we are heading socially and ecologically down a slippery slope – the bottom of which promises a very hard landing. The main villain of the piece is our current system which is committed to runaway growth based on ecological destruction and levels of social inequality unimaginable just 30 or 40 years ago. SOS is an attempt to help us put on the brakes and show we have other options.
The purpose of this magazine – and the book from which it is drawn – is to tease out what such genuine alternatives to capitalism might look like. It looks at what the past experience of such alternatives has been, at the issues and problems that have haunted them – and some of the paths not taken. This is a bittersweet history of rich diversity marked by massacre, noble failure and tepid success. SOS then moves into the present to suggest ways out of the maze of life-threatening inequality and eco-catastrophe.
Elsewhere in the issue, we meet Masih Alinejad, the Iranian women’s rights campaigner making waves through social media; and Susana Baca, an award-winning singer-songwriter championing her marginalized Afro-Peruvian community.
* Special offers on book and e-book. See nin.tl/SOSoffer
Richard Swift for the New Internationalist co-operative.
Richard Swift begins his journey through political alternatives to capitalism by looking at the nature of the beast they seek to oppose.
Capitalism as a total world system is a relatively new part of human experience. It has its roots in the 16th and 17th centuries, which means that it has been around for four or five hundred years at most, while we humans (Homo Sapiens) have been around for 200,000 years, reaching anatomical maturity some 50,000 years ago. Our ancestors (the less predatory Homo Erectus) go back over a million years. By these measures capitalism is merely the blink of an eye.
Yet for most pe...