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The Fortress World of Capitalism vs. the Beautiful Possibilities of Cooperation


The Fortress World of Capitalism vs. the Beautiful Possibilities of Cooperation

Cynthia Kaufman

Our beloved world is entering an increasingly unstable period, full of dangers and also full of possibilities. In many countries, old political parties are crumbling faster and anyone thought imaginable. Old geopolitical alliances have come unglued as the US comes to exercise its role as world hegemon in new and unpredictable ways. The development of the internet, of mobile phones and of apps has led to incredible disruption of many aspects of many societies: from how we pay for and listen to music, to how we consume and propagate information and news, to how we shop for almost anything.


“Imagine” … Is Cynthia channeling John Lennon? Why adapt failed “Robin Hood” concepts? Capitalism is the engine that drives tech and innovation. The more freeloading on the backs of “The Rich” there is; the less incentive there is to carry on working hard.
Ayn Rand said "It is the Communists’ intention to make people think that personal success is somehow achieved at the expense of others and that every successful man has hurt somebody by becoming successful. It is the Communists’ aim to discourage all personal effort and to drive men into a hopeless, dispirited, gray herd of robots who have lost all personal ambition, who are easy to rule, willing to obey and willing to exist in selfless servitude to the State.’’ She experienced the drab existence under communism as a child.
Time to 'grow up… Renaming a failed bad idea gets us no where.


Cooperativism begins with direct grassroots democracy.



Just the sort of vision we need to imagine replacement for an unsustainable global system, one racing towards brutal conflict and collapse. We can either have a (brief) future of fighting over scraps, or one of cooperation and innovation.

Christian Parenti talked about this Fortress World concept six years ago in the context of climate change in “Tropic of Chaos”. He called it the ‘politics of the armed lifeboat’. You can see the lifeboats quite clearly in Trump’s Muslim ban, his Wall, and Europe’s attempts to keep out tens of thousands of North African and Middle Eastern refugees.


Given your enamorment with the hopelessly, darkly selfish Rand, I DOUBT very many readers here will view your post with sympathy.

Such selfishness and greed are exactly what have produced the world we face: the destabilization of climate and the biosphere, a state of perpetual war, the removal of all but vestiges of democratic ideals.

People have noticed.


Cooperativism us not communism. Your whole screed is waaaay off base.


a solution based on production, production, production is not valid in our times. marx and engels were writing a solution for their times, and a powerful one.
our job, as i see it, is not to lower pollution by using ‘clean’ fuel - this is just sustaining the current system of supply, demand, growth.
as long as over production of consumer goods goes on, nothing will have changed.
as long as over production of various innumerable almost brands of the same good, we are not changing anything.


Your version of life is just as fictional and nonfunctional as the author. Predatory corporate capitalism is the path to extinction. Just ask any metastasis.


There is much of value in this article but, do you know what, it still falls short of the type of society we should be building towards.
We should be striving for a money-free, State-free world where we have no private property where all the means of production is held by in a world-wide cooperative commonwealth.
This was Marx’s vision, one he acquired from generations before him and held by workers movements that came after him. The author is right. We now have the capability of achieving abundance by ecologically benign methods,
. As one wise person said…our demands are most modest…we only demand the Earth.


Time to grow up? And you’re still living in a Randian fantasy world? If socialism/communism is so unviable, why do capitalists/fascists attack every society that gives it a go?


In ancient times, philosophy was valued by every king, every queen, every leader of great countries. DJT instead consults his chef, “For dessert with the chocolate cake, give me 2 scoops, and 1 for everybody else. , does that sound good ?”


“Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.” --Edward Abbey


Workers’ cooperatives will by nature tend to treat their workers
ethically. But companies also mistreat their customers, and a
workers’ cooperative won’t automatically treat customers better.

For instance, Uber does wrong to its customers by tracking them. It
makes all customers identify themselves, and makes them pay in ways
that identify them too. It puts these names in a database together
with where each person has gone. Under the U SAP AT RIOT Act, the FBI
can collect the whole database at will, without even a court order.

Uber also does wrong to its customers by making them run a nonfree
app, which users can’t rationally trust, to order a ride. See

Would a workers’ cooperative do this differently? It could. It might
allow anonymous use, and anonymous payment, as taxis do. But this is
not automatic from the nature of a workers’ cooperative. If the
organizers of the cooperative don’t give high priority to customers’
privacy, they might imitate the way Uber treats them and make
something no better for customers’ rights than Uber is.


Any if you who want to drop everything and give non-ownershio group living a try, you can. I won’t say that it can’t ever work, but here are some
things that are going on in the US.
I wanted to try a commune, get away from big places for a while. I looked around. There are places called LLCs, limited liability corporations, where a group can have their own rules much like a family can.
I looked in about fifteen states. At hundreds of listing. Made dozens of calls and checked references. Many were religiously strict. Many were corporations putting on a show as they ran ecofarms. Many were scams with no real location, getting applications along with huge donations. Some were seasonal vacation spots. What was left, well, I found one and tried it for a year. Nature, lots of land, environment, common values,share everything. I thought of Alcott and Emerson.

The ways in which the group of ten or so was dysfunctional go beyond the pale. The path to group cooperation involves an awful lot of relearning old ideas.

I have lived in China for much of the last ten years. The ideas of Communism are muted now by a surge in private development. I even have to ask students to take me off the mailing list for the businesses they have started. But there are still ways that it is here. What I find that is stronger, and more powerful in controlling behavior, though, is cultural precedents. Chinese Communism has roots in ancient Chinese group activity.