False Hopes or Political Strategy?

Brad Hornick and Sam Gindin
System Change

There are two points of common agreement amongst almost all sections of the Left. We are in the midst of a fundamental turning point in the earth's environment from climate change, with many catastrophic consequences unfolding, from species extinction to habitat loss to enormous obstacles and costs for human adaptation; and the Left remains, in almost all zones of the world, but especially in North America, on the margins as a social force in the face of a reconstructed and more authoritarian neoliberalism. How to respond in such a situation?

It has been common for anti-capitalist dissidents to begin from pointing out the social and ecological disasters accumulating from capitalist development, and from there move to a prediction of imminent breakdown of the system and an upsurge in political opposition and spontaneous socialist (or collectivist) consciousness. A mechanical political equation running something like this: growth dynamics tending to gross inequalities and disregard for ecology equals socio-ecological disaster equals emergent anti-capitalist movements equals alternative socialisms. The horrors of what capitalism is and what it does necessarily producing its own opposition.

But what counter-forces does the dynamics of capitalist development also spontaneously generate? How do the ruling classes and its state adapt? What political form might oppositional forces take? How will that opposition collectively determine its strategies and organize across space – from neighbourhoods, to cities to states to planetary collaborations? And, as Marx insisted, how will working-class people and other oppressed groups form the democratic capacities for the collective governance of an alternate social order? The ecological and social challenges of this political moment of permanent austerity and global warming poses very powerfully, the question of strategy. These challenges, it hardly needs saying, do not in themselves provide the answer.

Here, Brad Hornick and Sam Gindin take up some of these issues in response to Sam Gindin's Bullet, “Unmaking Global Capitalism.”