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Neither Revolution Nor Reform: A New Strategy for the Left

1:10 pm in Uncategorized by Gar Alperovitz

“Occupy Wall Street”—More of the same? Or Beginning of an “Evolutionary Revolution”?

Occupy Wall Street, October 1st, Brooklyn Bridge. (Photo: Adrian Kinloch)

Occupy Wall Street, October 1st, Brooklyn Bridge. (Photo: Adrian Kinloch)

Asking: “What does ‘Occupy Wall Street’ want?” many commentators have jumped in with their suggested “practical demands”—everything from a “financial transaction tax” and protecting “Dodd-Frank” to canceling mortgage debt and investigating Wall Street.

Important as they are, traditional reforms clearly do not address the underlying issue that is at the root of the “Occupy Wall Street” protests: In a nation where the top 1% owns more wealth than the bottom half of the society, the fundamental challenge America now faces is systemic and structural, not merely political.

Though simply not covered by the media, the basis of a potential next “evolutionary revolution” concerning the ownership of wealth has, in fact, been quietly emerging for some time in the decaying cities and states of the nation. This is the place where the “Occupy Wall Street” movement should look when considering the next stage of a serious and very American ‘revolution’—one that will truly benefit the “other 99%.”

The following article, providing a detailed look at the possibilities, has just appeared in the current issue of Dissent.


For over a century, liberals and radicals have seen the possibility of change in capitalist systems from one of two perspectives: the reform tradition assumes that corporate institutions remain central to the system but believes that regulatory policies can contain, modify, and control corporations and their political allies. The revolutionary tradition assumes that change can come about only if corporate institutions are eliminated or transcended during an acute crisis, usually but not always by violence.

But what happens if a system neither reforms nor collapses in crisis? Read the rest of this entry →

Movements, History, & Economic Transformation, Part 2: On “Socialism”

7:54 am in Uncategorized by Gar Alperovitz

In this second segment, I examine the history of the idea of “socialism,” tracing out how the ideal of an egalitarian society has animated religious as well as secular movements for change. I also discuss the relationship of “socialism” to the state, and how the caricatured understanding of this relationship—where socialism is synonymous with ‘Big Government’—gets in the way of imagining a bottom-up, 21st century socialism. At the same time, I emphasize the pitfalls of isolated experiments without a framework for engaging politically with the larger economic context.

Interview shot and produced by Jordan Karr-Morse from Softbox Digital.

View part one of this interview here.