a better world
is probable
  1. Einstein: “Why socialism?”

    April 19, 2014

    Einstein talks with students

    This crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism. Our whole educational system suffers from this evil. An exaggerated competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for his future career. I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are owned by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion. A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman, and child. The education of the individual, in addition to promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a sense of responsibility for his fellow men in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society. – Albert Einstein, “Why Socialism?” (1949)

    I’ve read this a few times now. I probably go back over it every few years. I’m always astonished by Einstein’s sharp grasp on social issues, in addition to being one of the most influential physicists in the history of the subject.

    This time around, however, I was struck by some of the topics to which Einstein paid particular attention. His focus on the individual, for instance, and the individual’s attitude toward humanity (e.g., Einstein’s anecdote about the man who asked him why he was opposed to the disappearance of the human race) and their kind of selfish attitude, I think is often posed as a particularity of contemporary, neoliberal capitalism. Capitalism, however, has always attempted to pit the individual against the whole of society, such that, even in the midst of the post-war boom and the height of New Deal reforms, Einstein still felt compelled to confront the claim that the individual and society were mutually exclusive entities.

    You can read the entire essay here.

  2. Is that a TDU pin on Kids in the Hall?

    July 15, 2012

    Is it just me or does that look like Bruce McCulloch wearing a Teamsters for a Democratic Union pin? (Bruce is playing “Shona,” the token feminist in the radical Humanoids for Humanism group.)

    For those that don’t know the Teamsters for a Democratic Union are a rank-and-file reform movement within the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.  They have a very long history, full of lessons for those committed to rebuilding and reviving the US labor movement.  Much of this is laid out by Dan la Botz in his book Rank and File Rebellion.

  3. Rosa Luxemburg: Revolution is not “a condensed series of reforms.”

    June 26, 2012

    “It is contrary to history to represent work for reforms as a long-drawn out revolution and revolution as a condensed series of reforms. A social transformation and a legislative reform do not differ according to their duration but according to their content. The secret of historic change through the utilisation of political power resides precisely in the transformation of simple quantitative modification into a new quality, or to speak more concretely, in the passage of an historic period from one given form of society to another.

    That is why people who pronounce themselves in favour of the method of legislative reform in place and in contradistinction to the conquest of political power and social revolution, do not really choose a more tranquil, calmer and slower road to the same goal, but a different goal. Instead of taking a stand for the establishment of a new society they take a stand for surface modifications of the old society…Our program becomes not the realisation of socialism, but the reform of capitalism; not the suppression of the wage labour system but the diminution of exploitation, that is, the suppression of the abuses of capitalism instead of suppression of capitalism itself.”

    – Rosa Luxemburg, Reform or Revolution (1900)