Does ‘system change’ advocacy mean ‘anti-capitalism’?

Originally published at: https://systemschangealliance.org/does-system-change-advocacy-mean-anti-capitalism/

To advance system change, it might be more useful to move away from such labels, as they are divisive and confusing for most people. How can we replace what we have now with something built around a non-extractive, free market?

Socialism in the true sense is the social ownership of capital. However, small business and private business up to a certain scale is the social ownership of capital as owners of the business even if not shareholders. The problem comes when large scale industry is not an industrial cooperative as are key industries that are owned by worker share holders. Without splitting hairs it could be said that it is partial capitalism when it comes to small businesses or enterprises but should not be the disparity of wholesale capitalism but actual socialism. Then again the word socialism aligns with traditional socialism as a stereotype so it perhaps is better to talk about a "Progressive Social System’ rather than Progressive Socialism which is still a market economy with specific attributes such as a consumption economy and rational distribution.

Systems Change could take any advocacy position, either incremental, step change or transformational (read replacement, or 10x if you’re a fan of Shoji Shiba). So one advocating anything in the continuum from small change to replacement could be taking a capitalist (read neoliberal), or classical socialist/Marxist, or alternative perspective, and that would still be advocating change to the current as-is system, in favour of any perceived ‘ought-to-be’ desired position.
Take Ayn Rand’s literary and political work of the 1940’s and 1950’s - it clearly advocated systems change but to an extreme objectivist position, which we’d now regard as neoliberal, or the Chicago school advocacy of unrestrained market forces, still largely in force as a dominant mindset in places like the World Bank. These advocate ‘systems change’, but they’re certainly not anti-capitalist.
So, we have to try to make critical sense, when examining any advocacy position, what is the ethos of the advocate; what is their position? Whose voices do they champion, and whose do they seek to minimise, neutralise, sideline or silence? A good framework to use to evaluate this advocacy position is Ulrich’s Critical Systems Heuristics method, since it separates the owners of ‘systems’ from those to whom the system is ‘done’ - powerful and useful thinking in the context of the question, and in any social/environmental situation.

… it’s good to have that historical overview if we are relating to intellectuals. If we are relating to the public then its’ about presenting a new way without too much abstraction but practical outcomes that matter to people.

Craig

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There is nothing intellectual about this - CSH is dead practical, especially if you don’t mention it by name, but just use it. By the way, neoliberalism and capitalism are movements with advocates adept at presenting a ‘new’ way without abstraction, with practical outcomes that matter to people - just a tiny percentage at the top with power, and they just lie to rest of us about trickle-down economics, liberty and other bulls**t that allows them to retain power and wealth, whilst disenfranchising the other 99% of the people. What matters here is the meta-system of power, ownership and patronage - without changing those systems, none of the others will change.

In general, this is a nonsense. Notwithstanding that value flows between people is the same in both, the terms capitalism, socialism, anarcho-capitalism, anarchy, are all just words that we’ve put against particular types of economic activity. Usually characterised by the presence or lack thereof, of money and means of production.

As a mathematician, economic modeller, and former designer of sustainable financial macroeconomies for the UNDP, I’m fed up to the back teeth of reading nonsense about economics, of any form, from people who have no idea how to calculate their change in a shop. People won’t like that, but we are in a pretty dismal position as a society because people refused to engage with the mathematics of societies, nor do they understand what mathematics gives us in systems change. The problem is precisely people. As they keep promoting what they understand, not what’s right. Hint: without the skills, we get what we have at the moment. It gives the UK 172,000 people who died during a pandemic, it gives us a two-faced society that says one thing about climate change, US repeal of abortion rights, UK nationality and borders act. Instead, these movements act with utmost hypocrisy to introduce greater fossil fuel consumption with the other. All of that is rooted in innumeracy. We need to do better!

The reality is not all these economic systems are as stable as each other. Some also fall apart as soon as one meets the other. For example, socialist systems with high collaboration, but low willingness to inflict harm or conflict, reduce to disaster capitalism in the face of selfish capitalism. Like the old saying “Every Utopia descends to totalitarianism”. It’s even mathematically certain. You can model it and every model descends to that, 100% of the time.

There is only one model that successfully beats selfish-capitalism. In a simplified spectrum of disaster capitalism to pure socialism, it’s responsible capitalism. The kind that can fight capitalism with capitalism and acts as a firebreak to create the space for more socially responsible systems to work behind it. So it wears two hats, not just one. But the vast majority of people struggle to hold more than one idea in their mind at anyone time. This becomes an anathema to them. As a result, we ends up punishing the responsible capitalists before they reach sufficient scale to save us, while promoting disaster capitalism’s “con merchants” because society has no idea how to spot the difference, or worse, [identifying] socialists give the inch breathing space to disaster capitalists by holding back responsible capitalism, and voila. Disaster capitalism takes the mile.

Society needs to do better.

Systems change should mean Anti Capitalism since the nature of Capitalism is producing more than we need and convincing us that we need it. We can not continue to produce at these levels and sustain life on this planet. Produce less, distribute it fairly to create a greener world for all.

That’s not the nature of capitalism. Yet another falsehood.

It is not a falsehood, but a reality that one sees everyday.

Why have you called it “capitalism”? That’s a falsehood. As the same problems exist in North Korea, Russia and China. Not only that, there are established socio-economic definitions for capitalism and “Capitalism is producing more than we need and convincing us that we need it.” isn’t it. Since that’s the definition of over-production. Not just that, but the level of fraud carried out by members of the socialist movement is similarly corrupt. The only difference is they convince other people that they need the donor.

The first step to action system change is to know what the enemy looks like. Otherwise, you fall for the same nonsense that blames brown people for coming to Britain and taking jobs, while simultaneously taking benefits. Far-left nonsense is no better than far-right nonsense.