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

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.